Midwest Road Trip 2019

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jtbell

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Day 11

After spending the night some distance west of St. Louis, I wanted to avoid the traffic on the expressways over the Mississippi River. Instead, I crossed the river on the Golden Eagle Ferry north of the city.

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About 12 miles later over winding country roads, I crossed the Illinois River on another ferry.

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In Alton IL, I stopped to get a picture of the grain elevators at the entrance to town.

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Across the street to my left was a small park with statues. It turned out this was the site of Alton’s old city hall, outside which Abraham Lincoln and Stephen A. Douglas held the last of their famous debates while running for the US Senate in 1858.

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Douglas won the Senate race, but Lincoln got a lot of national attention. He went on to defeat Douglas for President two years later.
 

jtbell

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Day 11 (continued)

I crossed Illinois mainly on US 40, the former National Road built in the early 1800s from Maryland to St. Louis.

Along the route is Vandalia, which was the state capital 1819-1839. This building was built in 1836 to serve as the statehouse (capitol).

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Lincoln served in the House of Representatives during those years. He was a key figure in moving the capital to Springfield in 1839, making this building vacant after only three years.

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One of Lincoln’s paychecks during this period.

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Near Greenup IL, running parallel to US 40 is a side road which was the old National Road, crossing a river at this point. Originally there was a covered wooden bridge here, but it was wiped out by a flood in 1865. After that came a ferry, then a steel truss bridge, then a concrete deck bridge. In the late 1990s, the supports were damaged by yet another flood. The state ended up replacing it with... a wooden covered bridge, built 1998-2001.

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A key factor here is tourism based on the National Road, similar to what has happened along the former Route 66 further west.
 

davenn

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what a wonderful trip through history :smile:
 

jtbell

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Day 12

On Friday I drove across Indiana, through the cornfields and small towns north of Indianapolis. No stops here except for gas and lunch.

I entered Ohio and stopped briefly in Celina, on the shore of the largest inland lake in the state (not counting Lake Erie). It’s an artificial lake, created in the early 1800s as a reservoir for a canal between Lake Erie (at Toledo) and the Ohio River (at Cincinnati).

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Celina has a typical Midwestern small town Main Street, lined with buildings from probably the 1890s-1910s.

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In Celina, people call the lake “Grand Lake”, whereas people at the other end of the lake call it “Lake St. Mary’s”. So on maps you often see “Grand Lake St. Mary’s”.
 

jtbell

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Day 12 (continued)

A bit further east is Wapakoneta, the home town of Neil Armstrong. His boyhood home has a marker in front, but someone lives there so there are no tours.


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Just outside town next to I-75, the main north-south artery through western Ohio, is the Armstrong Air & Space museum. It opened in 1972, just three years after the first moon landing. It has exhibits about Armstrong’s life and the space program.


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The Gemini 8 space capsule, which carried Armstrong and David Scott in 1966:

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A moon rock from the Apollo 11 mission:

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jtbell

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Day 13

I spent yesterday in Marion OH at the same railfans’ gathering that I did on my road trip a year ago. That time, I didn’t show you the inside of the theater where the presentations took place, a restored movie “palace” from the 1920s:

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I had to skip the final presentations last night because I came down with a cold. The runny nose and coughing and sneezing got to be too much. I decided to take a rest day and spend another night in Marion before hitting the road again. That’s why you’re getting three posts today while I’m sitting up in bed.
 

jtbell

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Day 13 (continued)

Make that four posts... I forgot to mention... for some reason, it’s become a tradition at this gathering to wear tropical themed shirts. I didn’t find this out until after I got here last year, but this year I came prepared.

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One of the presenters actually wore the very same shirt. Because of my cold, I didn’t get a chance to catch up with him and ask if he got it from Walmart, too.
 

jtbell

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Day 14

This afternoon I actually felt pretty good, just a bit of coughing, so I drove to Columbus to re-visit the Ohio Railway Museum. It uses about a mile of a former electric interurban trolley line that ran to Marion. This line is electrified, so they can run electric streetcars, etc.

Unfortunately the museum fell on hard times as the original generation of railfans who built it up in the 1950s-1960s died off. A younger group is trying to turn things around. I think their biggest problem is that they don’t have a carbarn, so their stuff is always exposed to the weather.

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This is the only surviving Columbus streetcar. They’re trying to raise money to restore it.

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After returning to Marion, I visited the sites related to its most famous son, President Warren G. Harding (elected 1920, died in office in 1923). His home, now being restored, and his tomb are both here.

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jtbell

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Day 15 & 16

I’m now wrapping up a day and a half in Dayton, Ohio, after driving down from Marion yesterday morning. I’ll save my main business here for the next post.

For a trolley buff like me, Dayton is interesting because it’s one of only five cities in the US that still have electric trolleybuses: rubber-tired buses that run on electricity from a pair of overhead wires. At their peak, 65 US cities had them. Now they exist only in San Francisco and Seattle (large systems), Philadelphia and Boston (small remnants of large systems), and Dayton, with a medium sized system that has remained sort of intact.

“Sort of”? Out of seven routes, in recent years only three have used trolleys regularly, for various reasons. During this visit, only one route was using them, apparently because of road works.

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The last time I visited Dayton, > 15 years ago, these trolleys were very new. Now they’re showing their age. Fortunately a new fleet will arrive during the next year or so, which should allow restoring trolleys to routes which have been using diesel buses. I understand the new trolleys will be able to run “off wire” for longish distances, thanks to present-day battery technology.

That single route passes the historic district where the Wright brothers did their pioneering aviation work, in their bicycle shops. Here’s the next to last one:

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The successor to this shop was in the vacant lot to the right of the trolley in the first picture. What happened to it? Henry Ford dismantled it, shipped it to Dearborn, Michigan, and rebuilt it at his Greenfield Village.

Downtown there is a distinctive building that was the last survivor of a local chain of hamburger joints dating back to the 1930s. Alas, it closed ten years ago, but it recently reopened as a Colombian restaurant.

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The old name presumably comes from a character in the old Popeye cartoons... the guy who loves hamburgers.

A few blocks away is the Oregon district, home to restaurants, bars, nightclubs, tattoo parlors, etc. It was the site of that mass shooting nine days ago. A memorial has sprung up in front of the bar which was at the center of the event. As I passed by, a local TV reporter was filming a report. Then a truck from another TV station passed by. Obviously this is still “live news” here.

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jtbell

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Day 16

I spent the afternoon today at the Air Force Museum at Wright-Patterson AFB. This place is mind-boggling. I had to skip about a third of it for lack of time.

It’s not all fighters and bombers, which for me tend to become alphabet soup after a while. There are a lot of historically significant items. Herewith, a sample.

When entering the World War II hall, the first thing I saw was the B-29 that dropped the atomic bomb on Nagasaki:

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Next to it is a sibling of the yellow “Fat Man” bomb.

The German V-2 rockets (along with the captured rocket scientists who designed and tested them) were the starting point for our space program.

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A Wright Flyer built for the Army in 1909.

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You can walk through the Air Force One that carried Presidents Kennedy through Clinton.

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There are also predecessor planes that carried FDR, Truman and Eisenhower.

An early attempt c. 1950 at a vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) craft, built by a Canadian company and tested at WPAFB. Does it remind you of something?

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Janus

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Day 16

I spent the afternoon today at the Air Force Museum at Wright-Patterson AFB. This place is mind-boggling. I had to skip about a third of it for lack of time.
From the pictures I would say that this is a much more extensive collection than the one at the Museum of Flight where they were hosting the Apollo traveling exhibit I visited, the actual Air Museum part was fairly sparse. (Though they did have a V-1 to go with your V-2.)
 

jtbell

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Day 17

From Dayton I zipped down to and around Cincinnati via the Interstates (motorways), then headed east along the north bank of the Ohio River via US-52. This was my first time on this section of the river.

The first town I encountered was New Richmond.

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A bit further on in the village of Point Pleasant, I visited the birthplace of Ulysses S. Grant, commander of the Union Army in the Civil War and later President.

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A year after he was born, his parents built a new house in the nearby inland town of Georgetown which I also visited.

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After growing up here, he enrolled in the US Military Academy (West Point). I learned something about this today that sounds like a bad Army joke:

His parents had given him the name Hiram Ulysses Grant. When he arrived at West Point, a bureaucratic snafu entered him in the Army’s records as Ulysses Simpson Grant. When he tried to get it fixed, he was told in effect, “Sorry, kid, this is the Army. You’re stuck with it.”

Next came another ferry ride, across the river to Augusta KY.

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And then back to Ohio on the next bridge.

Near the southern tip of Ohio, the town of South Point has a little park on the river. The cape on the far bank in the center of the picture marks where the Big Sandy River flows into the Ohio from the south. On the left is West Virginia, on the right is Kentucky.

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Tonight I ended up in Louisa KY on the Big Sandy, in the same motel where I’ve stayed on previous trips through this area.
 

jtbell

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Day 18 (and home)

I didn't stop anywhere for sightseeing on the way home yesterday. I did take a different route than usual between Louisa and Pikeville KY: through West Virginia via US-52 and US-119 instead of directly through Kentucky via US-23.

These sections of US-23 and US-119 are both four-lane divided highways, although not Interstate-highway (motorway) standard. They have grade crossings and occasional traffic signals. They're rather fast anyway, because of extensive cuts through hills, bridges and fills across valleys, etc. US-52 on the other hand is a two-lane road which follows the terrain, mostly in narrow, tightly winding river valleys, passing through small towns, and with a coal-hauling railroad running close nearby.

The coal industry in this area has declined a lot during the past decade, mainly because electric power plants have been converting to natural gas which can now be extracted inexpensively from other areas using "fracking." Also because it's difficult to burn coal cleanly to satisfy environmental regulations. So I didin't see a single train on the railroad that I drove along. Instead, the railroad (Norfolk Southern) is apparently using one of the two tracks to store unused coal hopper cars, miles and miles of them. I would have gotten a picture if I had found a place to pull off the road, which was nearly impossible because of narrow shoulders.

Today I did put together a couple of panoramas from pictures earlier in the trip. Here's a broader view from Clingman's Dome in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park (day 1):

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And a broader view of the Mississippi River at Wickliffe KY (day 2):

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davenn

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Thanks so much for this thread of another of your road trips
So enjoyable to see the history and other interesting sights

Looking forward to your next trip :smile:


Dave
 
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Andy Resnick

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I warned jtbell I would post some of my recent photos here. As it happened, he posted those amazing Clingmans Dome photos 1 week prior to my family leaving for a couple days in Asheville, NC on our way to the Outer Banks; we had never been to Asheville and had no idea what to do.

Clearly, we needed to check out the Dome. Indeed, it was amazing.

Here's a photo from my first climb up, carrying my 2 smaller lenses (15mm and 105mm). To get to the viewing platform after walking a 6% grade for 0.5 miles, you walk along a large spiral-shaped structure that carries you above the treetops:

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Naturally, I then ran down to our car and climbed again, carrying the somewhat larger 400mm lens (and tripod) to get these:

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The last one is a 1:1 crop of Santa's Land amusement park in Maggie Valley, 23 miles away.... FWIW, I used the tripod like a monopod- not a lot of room up there.

I totally recommend visiting. The one regret we have is that when driving through the town of Cherokee, located within a reservation, is that we didn't stop to find out what the 'rat cheese' and 'bear meat' available for purchase was, exactly.
 

jtbell

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Ha ha, Santa's Land! I remember driving past the place on US-19 while headed towards the park. Did you drive through Pigeon Forge while coming towards the park from the north? If your kids are the right age, I bet they would have liked stopping there for a day. Lots of tacky tourist stuff. I actually want to visit Dollywood sometime, because they have a live steam train running around a loop through the grounds.
To get to the viewing platform after walking a 6% grade for 0.5 miles
... at an elevation of about 6500 ft (2000 m). The path is paved and smooth, but it's still a bit of work for most people from the "flatlands". You can see the parking lot way down below at the right:

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At least you can stop and rest and admire the view and the wildflowers along the way.

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