Rust Belt road trip redux

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I’m on the road in the “rust belt” again, although mostly not to the same places as last year. My first major destination is Columbus, Ohio, which hosts the American Philatelic Society’s big annual stamp show.

I’m taking the same route north through Kentucky as in the previous trip, just with different sightseeing stops. This is just after entering Tennessee on I-26:

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This huge excavation is in Pikeville KY, where they cut through a mountain in order to reroute the river which had a habit of flooding the town. While they were at it, they rerouted the main highway and railroad.

The town loops behind the mountain in a U and “emerges” on the left side. The river, highway and railroad all pass in front of and below where I’m standing.

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A marker here claims that this is the second largest excavation after the Panama Canal.
 

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Aha, now I see Wikipedia has an article about the Pikeville Cut-Through. Looks like Boston’s Big Dig beats it, but that probably happened after the marker was erected.
 
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I’ve driven through Pikeville several times, because it’s on what turned out to be my favorite route to my old “home turf” in Ohio and Michigan. (Fewer trucks and less traffic than I-75 and I-77.) But this is the first time I’ve investigated the cut-through and went to that overlook.
 
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Arrived in Columbus at lunchtime and went straight to the stamp show.

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Not all stamps are for postage. Revenue stamps were once used also to show payment of various taxes. One exhibit here shows alcoholic beverage tax stamps from Ohio, including a beer bottle with stamp affixed.

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I’m sharing a hotel room with a friend from school years ago who is also a stamp collector. We’ll spend the day at the show tomorrow, then split up on Saturday.
 

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Before I leave for my next stop, another tidbit from the stamp show yesterday...

An exhibit of early mail between Philadelphia and overseas had this letter from Ben Franklin to his wife. At that time he was deputy postmaster general for the colonies, living in London and advocating for the colonists on the side.

His position allowed him to send mail for free, which was normally indicated by writing “Free / <name>” on the front. He had the idea of writing it as “B Free Franklin” which probably didn’t please his superiors. :rolleyes:

Also note the address. I don’t know whether its simplicity says more about his reputation or about the size of Philadelphia in those days.

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On my way out of Columbus this morning I met King Gambrinus, whose beer was in the bottle I showed a couple of posts back. He used to stand atop his brewery, but now he’s on the ground in front of where the brewery used to be.

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My destination today was Marion, Ohio, about an hour’s drive north of Columbus. It’s a major railroad junction. Although no passenger trains pass here anymore, its Union Station has been preserved as a museum and is popular for trainspotters.

Three lines pass by here: an east-west one (to the right of the station) and two north-south ones (in front of and behind it).

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Today a special event was held for railfans in a restored movie theater near the station: an afternoon and evening of slide shows of railfan photography.

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I’m spending a second night in Marion after driving around north central Ohio today. I visited a railroad museum, two railroad viewing sites that are popular with railfans, two dead presidents and a robot. I figure the last one might be of most interest here, so...

Meet Elektro, the star of the Westinghouse exhibit at the 1939-40 New York world’s fair.

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On the left is the real Elektro. On the right is a replica made a few years ago.

After WWII he helped promote Westinghouse appliances. Then he went to California where he was apparently discovered by a talent scout, and appeared in some cheap sci-fi movies.

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Now he lives at the Mansfield Memorial Museum in Mansfield, Ohio, because he was built at a Westinghouse factory in that city.
 

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Today I drove from Marion down to the Cincinnati area, then west along the Ohio River to Madison, Indiana. This is a new section of the river for me. Some of you may remember that I followed a different section on my previous “rust belt road trip” last year.

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What would a road trip be without a stop for ice cream at a local non-chain place? Especially if it has a nice view of the river.

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Now I’m in French Lick, Indiana, which is mainly known for two large resorts with golf courses. It also has a couple of attractions for railfans, which I’ll check out tomorrow.
 

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davenn
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I’m on the road in the “rust belt” again, although mostly not to the same places as last year. My first major destination is Columbus, Ohio, which hosts the American Philatelic Society’s big annual stamp show.

I’m taking the same route north through Kentucky as in the previous trip, just with different sightseeing stops. This is just after entering Tennessee on I-26:


This huge excavation is in Pikeville KY, where they cut through a mountain in order to reroute the river which had a habit of flooding the town. while they were at it, they rerouted the main highway and railroad.

The town loops behind the mountain in a U and “emerges” on the left side. The river, highway and railroad all pass in front of and below where I’m standing.

A marker here claims that this is the second largest excavation after the Panama Canal.
woohooo, am looking forward to another tiki tour with pictures :smile:
 
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This is actually two small towns, French Lick and West Baden Springs, right next to each other. You can tell when you’re passing from one to the other only by a small city-limit sign. Each town has a large resort hotel. I guess the hotels were once competitors, but now they’re owned by the same company.

The one in French Lick has a casino.

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The one in West Baden Springs has an ornate entrance arch. The small building was once the town’s bank.

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A few years ago, the resort company built a “trolley” to connect the two hotels, in collaboration with a railway museum in French Lick. No trolley wire, though. It uses a diesel engine. It doesn’t run in the street, but instead uses mostly a former railroad branch line with some new track to reach the hotel entrances. It’s maybe about a mile long.

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The railroad museum operates an excursion train from the former Southern Railway station which is near the French Lick resort. It crawls for nearly an hour out into the surrounding forest, then stops so passengers can get off for a few minutes, and finally retraces its route back to town.

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The resorts are too expensive for me. My hotel is half the price, at the “cost” of a 15-minute walk to the action. Besides the resorts and a casino attached to one of them, there are restaurants, bars and various “family” attractions (miniature golf, go-karts, etc.)

Things were actually pretty quiet here today. I suspect the crowds show up mainly on weekends and for concerts.
 

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Today I made a day-trip from French Lick to some nearby places. First, mainly because I happened to pass through it anyway, was the town of Jasper. It has a small central square with an imposing county courthouse.

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Tucked in a corner of the square, right behind our vantage point in the preceding picture, is a movie theater.

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Next was the Lincoln Boyhood National Memorial, which preserves the land where Abraham Lincoln’s family lived while he was age 7-21. The foundation of one of their cabins was located by an archaeological dig, and is marked with a metal replica of the foundation beams and fireplace.

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Nearby is a reconstruction of what the farm might have looked like.

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At the visitor center, I watched a short film about the Lincolns in Indiana. At the end I found out the narrator was... Leonard Nimoy!

A few miles away is a more modern attraction of sorts, the town of Santa Claus. Yes, another one, for those of you who remember Santa Claus, Georgia, from my Florida road trip earlier this year.

This one is bigger: a shopping plaza with some Christmas shops, and hardware store next door. There’s also Santa’s Candy Castle, Santa’s Lodge, Santa’s Stables, a neighborhood called Christmas Lake Estates, etc.

To top it all off, there’s an amusement & water park named Holiday World.

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Tomorrow I start towards home, probably stopping overnight somewhere in Kentucky.
 

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Today I drove past the Bullion Depository in Fort Knox, where the government keeps its gold. No public access, and not even a place to pull off the expressway to take a picture.

My two actual stops were in Bardstown. First was something different: a whiskey museum. No samples, unfortunately, but still some interesting exhibits about the whiskey industry, moonshining and Prohibition.

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Next was “My Old Kentucky Home” which inspired Stephen Foster’s song. He didn’t live there, but knew the people who did, and visited the place a few times. The property is now a state park.

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Tonight I’m in Corbin KY. Tomorrow is the last day of the trip. I have one stop in mind. Others will depend on the weather...
 

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I’m at home now. My last sightseeing stop yesterday was actually in Corbin, just after I left my motel. I left a bit later than usual so I could eat an early lunch at the Sanders Cafe, the birthplace of Kentucky Fried Chicken. The original 1940 building now serves as the seating area for a more modern KFC which is attached to it on the other side, behind where I'm standing in the second picture.

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There are some exhibits in both parts of the building.

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thankyou so much for another wonderful tiki-tour :smile:
 

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