Tuesday, June 30, 2009

New Amish Arrivals in Wisconsin

A lone Amish buggy trots near Platteville, Wisconsin on Father's Day 2009. Since the year 2000 hundreds of Amish families have moved from Pennsylvania to southwest Wisconsin. The main reasons seem to be the much lower price of farm land and the lure of rural settings of the Midwest - away from the growing metro centers in the East. On this day a young man in black, duster-like rain gear navigates the rolling prairie, passing other wet Amish-worked fields. Know that.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Military Convoy Retraces Historic Route through Cedar Rapids

On Sunday, June 21, a convoy retracing the 1919 transit of military vehicles on the Lincoln Highway pulled into Cedar Rapids, Iowa for the night. Some 60 registered military jeeps, trucks, staff cars, and assorted other vehicles, and their support units, filed into the Clarion Hotel parking lot in 42N country. The convoy left Washington D.C. on June 13 and will finish the transit in San Francisco on July 8th while riding on much of the original Lincoln Highway as possible. In addition to the registered convoy vehicles a number of other military surface tracks and cars join the procession along the way for a short period to show off their historical vehicle.

The convoy is part of the Military Vehicle Preservation Association (MVPA.) As part of its mission to honor our country's military vehicle history, the MVPA decided to recreate the famous 1919 Convoy in 2009 as a 90th Anniversary celebration of the achievement and in conjunction with the nation's President Lincoln Bicentennial celebration. The original convoy in 1919, was part of the US Army's Military Transportation Corps idea to demonstrate the need for a mechanized Army. The plan to modernize America's fighting force involved the idea of a convoy parading the Army's military might from coast-to-coast along the then new Lincoln Highway.

In 1919 the Convoy stopped in Cedar Rapids and was treated to a huge meal in the city's Greene Square Park. Among the original participants of the convoy was Lt. Colonel Dwight D. Eisenhower. As a result of the 1919 Convoy he reportedly saw the value of a mechanized land army and the need for better roadway infrastructure to move vehicles across the nation. As President Eisenhower in the 1950s he approved federal legislation to build the country's interstate system - called the Dwight D. Eisenhower National System of Interstate and Defense Highways (Eisenhower Interstate System for short.) Know that.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Climbing Platteville, Wisconsin's Mighty M

Just to the east of Platteville, Wisconsin is a rise of land off the prairie with a gigantic white "M" on it, facing to the west. You can see it for miles, in fact you can see it from Wisconsin, Iowa and Illinois. After several trips past the 241 foot tall M over the years we decided to get closer and snap a few photos.

At the base of the whitewashed stone and concrete M completed by students in 1937 from the nearby University of Wisconsin-Platteville, School of Mines (mining is no longer offered at the school) is a picnic table and a set of stairs leading to the top of the hill. After climbing 266 named-stairs by financial donors you can see the midwestern prairie stretching for miles. If you take your time - and an oxygen tank - you can climb the stairs stopping at three lookout posts along the way. Consider the lookouts as basecamps. At the top of the climb is a large platform for scenery viewing including a freestanding set of binoculars (no charge to view through it.)

The best part of the journey up is the outstanding view of the rolling country side. To the south is Amish country where you can see horse and buggies and well-kept farms. To the west is Platteville. Ironically you cannot readily see the M once you are on top of the hill (see photo above.) The other best part of the journey up is the much easier descent. Know that.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Trucking Fleets Idle in Eastern Iowa

A visible sign of the nation's economic health can be seen within a city block of each other in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. For several months two large trucking firms based in 42N country, CRST International and Westside Transport Systems have parked a large number of semi-trailer truck fleets at their respective corporate headquarters. At no time in recent memory have these two regional icons been so concentrated in their idle behavior. At CRST, the maintenance garage is completely filled with trucks being tuned. A positive sign in recent weeks is a few less trucks parked in these lots. Perhaps the freight transportation industry is turning around. Know that.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Ultralights Fly in Marion, Iowa

Update from December 30, 2008 post: Each year around Independence Day the small private airport located in Marion, Iowa hosts the fly-in/drive-in breakfast. Highlights of the one day event include plane rides (always a crowd pleaser) and static displays of small aircraft sometimes including ultralights. The event in 2009 will be held rain or shine on June 28 from 6:00 am to 11:30 am. This video was taken at the 2005 event and remains my number one most watched YouTube posted video - currently at 17, 735 views to date. Who would have guessed? Apparently there is enormous interest in ultralights worldwide. Know that.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Ford Model T Battery / Coil Survives into 21st Century

Placed in a lot box of old mason jars at a recent auction in Raymond, Iowa was this ancient-looking battery or coil housing. Clearly the Ford logo is still recognizable on the hardwood case that had metal parts on one end. I don't know if this is a battery or a coil housing. A search of the Internet provides that use of these objects were in Ford's Model T roadsters back in the day. While I was not present when the item (and the jars) sold, one can find examples for sale on eBay for about $15 to $35. Know that.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

JOB 38:11 Stop Right Here

Basically the translation of verse 11 of chapter 38 is 'stop right here and go no further.' Silas did not accept that notion but Sister the guardian did. Each edition is different depending on the translation. The Priory used it to throw off those who sought the sangreal. You decide. Know that.

Monday, June 8, 2009

BNSF Moves Coal Through Raymond, Iowa

A fast moving line of freight cars trekked through Raymond, Iowa on Sunday, afternoon June 7th. Led by two locomotives from the BNSF (Burlington Northern Santa Fe) the dominant item of transport was eastbound coal in open cars. Following up the long train was an attached locomotive (bottom photo) pushing the line. I have been told that the coal is mined in Wyoming. America at work. Know that.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Statue of Liberty on a Dry May's Island

About a year ago this miniature Statue of Liberty was up to her heels in Cedar River flood water on May's Island in Cedar Rapids, Iowa - the heart of 42N country. Today she oversees a much more normal Cedar River, an abandoned City Hall, and a vibrant Quaker Oats plant. City officials are still deciding how to proceed with the Veterans' Coliseum building as it relates to housing the city's government offices. Here's a view of the flooded river from last year. Note the statue's location in the flood waters to the far right. Know that.

(Photo courtesy of sbphotoblog.com)

Monday, June 1, 2009

Demon's Hole in 42N Country

Though not quite an ossuary annex, this fixture located at the heart of 42N country certainly holds one of its Renaissance church counterpart's features - stench. A year ago this fixture was covered by a historic river flood. Now the likely manhole cover is visited by more than one Angels and Demons clue finders. But unlike the movie where the demon's hole held a victim branded with "Earth," this oculus holds no more than water - another of the infamous four brands. Know that.