Thursday, December 31, 2009
Tracks Under the Lincoln Highway
Not far from this spot is the seedling mile experiment site (just a few miles west of this location) where the benefits of a concrete highway were first demonstrated in Iowa on this highway. Up until this time the dirt roads were the norm and axle deep clay mud thwarted Model Ts as they tried their luck navigating the early highway road.
My high school French teacher once explained how some regional transportation paths developed. First the paths along waterways (rivers, creeks, streams) which were created by animal trails or local natives were discovered. Sometimes wagon trails widened these paths, then rail service was built along these paths - often with teletype wires overhead. Finally auto roads were built nearby, distances shortened and modifications were made.
This is why along some of the older roads in the country, such as pikes and former tollways you can see this pattern applied.
Sunday, December 13, 2009
Rocketing 42N Observations to Number One
42N blogging reached the one year milestone two days ago. Along the way a few technical enhancements have improved topic presentation. Several posts of note garnered attention by other blog/web sites while traffic from news organizations increased following the reporting of weather incidents, haunting stories, military convoys and Buddy Holly's last concert anniversary. Other high traffic getters were the two articles about artist Grant Wood's burial location and his Indian Creek painting.
Style wise the site falls somewhere between retail blogs, nocturnal neurotics fueled by liquid lunches of Red Bull and vodka blogs, "mommy" blogs and journal travel blogs. This site is closer to an educational, historical, travel and whatever else is on my mind blog. The 42N experiment continues. Know that.
Tuesday, December 8, 2009
Welcome Aboard the Pearl Button, Miss Turner
Take some fresh water mussels (clams) from the Mississippi River, discard the meat, wash the shells and you have the raw materials that helped put 42N city Muscatine, Iowa on the map in the mid-1800s. Clams were harvested, brought to shore, cleaned, shells drilled, blanks polished and packaged for the emerging American clothier market. The ride lasted until the 1960s when synthetic material (plastic) replaced organically produced pearl buttons.
Saturday, December 5, 2009
Late Autumn in Muscatine, Iowa
Friday, December 4, 2009
Cup Full of 42N Cities
In years past passengers could glance at on onboard display in their rail car to see what city stops were coming up next. These days the various stop announcements on modern trains are done through a combination LED displays, audio reminders and sometimes braille. Know that.
Tuesday, December 1, 2009
Cirrus Over 42N Country
Monday, November 30, 2009
Button Making from Mississippi River Clams
One method used to collect clams involves a series of hooks that when lowered to the river floor would allow the clam to attach itself. After a period of time the harvester would pull the assembly up and detach the clam.
Once the meat was gathered the shell was sold to the button factories along the river. Using mechanical means the shells were cleaned, drilled for the button blank, cut, polished and packaged. The pearl button business declined in the 1960s with the availability of a cheaper to make material - plastic.
Drilled shells like the one above now in the at the National Mississippi River Museum in Dubuque, Iowa can still be found today where button factories once stood. Try looking in Guttenburg, Iowa for button shells. Know that.
Saturday, November 28, 2009
Old Style Steerin' on the Mississippi River - Port of Dubuque
One of the inside displays is a hands-on recreation of a steamboat pilot's wheel and bridge. This throwback display is not as flashy like the computer animated modern tow and barge counterpart located on the museum's second floor - where kids of all ages line up to pilot a 15 barge behemoth up river.
Yesterday's hand operated pilot wheel turns as you would expect a ship's wheel should turn - as seen in numerous old movies. Here's one thing that I noticed. To keep the wheel in the know of where center rudder is located a simple rope and wooden block device is positioned just ahead of the wheel That way the navigator knows how far the rudder is off center when turning the wheel. Ingenious yet simple. Know that.
Thursday, November 26, 2009
Thanksgiving Greetings from Amana, Iowa
Wednesday, November 25, 2009
Beatles in a Box
While these remastered albums are available in CD format with booklets and other packaged goods, digital downloads will apparently be available perhaps as early as 2010 per Paul McCartney's November 14th statement. You don't have to wait though. A form of digital downloads, available on a limited edition USB flash drive, can be found on the group's official store website.
As the trend for digital music format distribution continues, older versions of file storage (vinyl records, cassettes, 8-tracks and reel-to-reel tapes) fade quickly from popular use. Still, holding a 45 rpm piece of vinyl that was issued when the band still recorded at Abbey Road Studios provides a tangible reminder of the longevity of the Beatles' music and the generational remarketing as technology evolves. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Know that.
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
Veterans Day 2009 Plus 7 Days
In 1940 George Cohan was presented with a Congressional medal honoring him as the creator of "Over There." Cohan remains the only American composer to receive such an award. Know that.
Tuesday, November 17, 2009
Veterans Day 2009 Plus 6 Days
For years I have looked at this statue, ultimately forging a memory. Recently I again remembered this soldier positioned on a corner, part of four military effigies chiseled into a stone monument. Perhaps Veterans Day six days ago jarred that distant impression or unearthed some mnemonic threads of location, time and place.
What seems appropriate is to tie the monument to those who served their countries. Lt. Colonel John McCrae of the Canadian Army wrote one of the most famous World War I poems, after experiencing war first hand at the battle of Ypres. His words became the catalyst to remember the war dead internationally and serves to symbolically link the thoughts by wearing a red poppy. Know that.
In Flanders fields the poppies blow
We are the Dead. Short days ago
Take up our quarrel with the foe:
Monday, November 16, 2009
Belle Plaine Iowa's Lincoln Cafe Status
In Belle Plaine, Iowa the locally famous Lincoln Cafe operates. This diner has been feeding the travellers and town folk for generations. However this year something went terribly wrong. One of the cafe's co-owners was murdered at his home.
The co-owner's common law wife, her son and his girl friend were all charged in July with the crime. Their trials begin in December and early 2010.
While Belle Plaine offers a peek at what small town USA looked like back in the 1920-30s with the Lincoln Highway, cafe and Preston's gas station (a very small museum to the Lincoln Highway and other area things) it would not be complete without a lunch stop at the Lincoln Cafe. Check first before planning a trip there as the cafe may or may not be open during the trial period.
If for no other reason Lincoln Highway enthusiasts should stop by and photograph the exterior of the landmark diner. Know that.
Sunday, November 15, 2009
Late Season Work for the Ed Renshaw Up Bound Near Port Byron, Illinois
Directly across from Port Byron is Le Claire, Iowa. The small town (located at 41.59N, 90.35W) was the home to river pilots back in the day and is the birthplace of William F. Cody, also known as Buffalo Bill Cody. There are museums to both interests located in Le Claire.
The steamboat City of Baton Rouge, built in 1916 is now anchored in Le Claire (just right of the double stack boat (Twilight) above.) Boat traffic defines the history of this portion of 42N country on one of the greatest rivers in the world. Know that.
Saturday, November 14, 2009
Atop an Underwood
Last week's auction in 42N country included this model. The pallet made up of a mish-mash of items failed to generate any bids. The items are either kept for the next auction or are pitched if determined to be worthless. Know that.
Wednesday, November 11, 2009
Veterans Day 2009: Thank You Over There From Over Here
On the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month in 1918 Germany signed the armistice with the Allied Powers — including the U.S., France, Britain, Japan and Italy — ending major hostilities and proclaiming the end to World War I. Know that.
Tuesday, November 10, 2009
The Final Days of the Palisades Hotel
Its hard to imagine the century-old Palisades Hotel, also known as Upper Palisades Hotel, Biderman Hotel, Cedar Springs Hotel, and the Old Dutch Inn will not be around long after Thursday, November 12th. That is the day when this digger will demolish the landmark structure which was substantially destroyed by the 2008 flood of the Cedar River. Hotel debris will be loaded and carried away to a local landfill by this dump truck.
An archaeologist is documenting the scene before and after the work of the crews as they tear down cabins and the hotel this week. He noted that the geological nature of the setting diminishes the potential for finding Indian relics. He said that the land sits on an alluvial deposit that tends to wash away with seasonal floods. Additionally the former quarry owners who originally built the Cedar Springs Hotel in the 1880s probably had the area plowed to make room for the railroad that moved rock out and later brought guests to the hotel.
Update: The Palisades Hotel was demolished on May 5, 2010 when weather conditions and paperwork were all in order. See post from that date.
Monday, November 9, 2009
Coggon, Iowa's 2009 Fall Harvest: Here Comes the Propane
Yesterday (11/8/09) corn and soybeans fields north of Coggon teamed with harvesters, grain trucks and support crews. By taking advantage of the near summer-like conditions of the past two days, the area farmers hope to get a crop in before winter snow and other wet conditions prevent further harvest.
Today Iowa Governor Chet Culver authorized additional propane deliveries to Iowa so that grain can be dried to help prevent spoilage. Didn't know you needed a governor to authorize something for your own business. Know that.
Thursday, November 5, 2009
Delaplane Virginia's Historic Rail Station
In this immediate area of Virginia you can find the sites of the French Indian War, the Revolutionary War, the War of 1812, and the Civil War. Preservation of these sites help teach the real history of this area and nation. Know that.
Thursday, October 29, 2009
New Brick Work Ordered Again for West Freemason Street Historic District
The street supervisor told 42N that street bricks were most likely of African origin from the 1800s. The bricks served as ship ballast during the voyage and were eventually unloaded onto huge brick piles near the city’s docks during that period.
Norfolk, Virginia’s West Freemason Street Historic District is known for its visual chronology of residential architecture that represent over three centuries of styles dating from 1686. Surviving fires, floods, wars and the march of time, this area displays a progression of homes from the Federal style, Greek Revival, Italianate, Second Empire, Romanesque Revival, Beaux Arts Classicism, Queen Anne, and Georgian Revival styles. The street was entered in the National Register of Historic Places in 1972. Know that.
Tuesday, October 27, 2009
Fifes and Drums in Williamsburg, Virginia
Colonial Williamsburg, Virginia, America's Revolutionary City, knows how to end an October 14th day. The Fifes and Drums of Colonial Williamsburg marches west along the Duke of Gloucester Street before turning north at the courthouse.
Following this march the band drums for the Virginia militia while we see a demonstration of rifle shooting, more parade marching and the setting off of a cannon. All of this happens in conjunction with a visit by General George Washington on horseback. The general addresses the gathered crowd - many of whom are from England. Huzzah! Know that.
Monday, October 26, 2009
Touring the USS Nitze During Fleet Week 2009
The crew assigned to the 42N group greeted each member and asked if there were any active or retired military in our group. An ex-navy guy and his family from the Norfolk area identified himself. The Nitze crew thanked him for his service and began the tour.
Our guide (the woman pictured above) explained the name of the ship and their ongoing mission. We toured the helicopter landing area and hanger, the ship's fire fighting team, the galley (which was filled with cooks and hungry sailors), and many tight passages. Part of the 'wow' factor was a walkthru of the ship's combat information center - a subdued lighting, computer screen filled room located directly below the bridge. It looks like what you see in the movies. Any sensitive data was scrubbed from the computer screens for these public visits.
Our guide explained that she doesn't recommend standing anywhere near the 5-inch gun when it fires nor when the missiles start their climb out of the hatches. She said its pretty noisy. 42N thinks its probably worse to be on the receiving end of either of those two weapon systems.
The Commander of the USS Nitze, CDR Richard Brawley, wished us well at the end of the tour. He is proud of his ship and his people. So is 42N. Know that.
Wednesday, October 21, 2009
Almost Cotton Pickin' Time at Shirley Plantation
Near Hopewell and Charles City, Virginia Shirley Plantation is open to the public for tours and events. Part of the ongoing revenue for the plantation is the cash crops like cotton and soybeans. Cotton in full bloom adds that dimension of authenticity when visiting the oldest plantation in Virginia (1613.) More on the Shirley Plantation at a later post. Know that.
Sunday, October 18, 2009
The Haunting of Colonial Williamsburg
A Williamsburg worker told us that people can occasionally see small orb-shaped glowing clouds floating down the Duke of Gloucester Street at night. She described these clouds as the size of small children which move along the street and at times move from side to side in the street.
The second report came from a woman working the gift shop at the DeWitt Wallace Art Museum and Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Museum. The woman told us about encounters when she worked in the nearby Celebrations shop (110 S Henry St.) In the basement after Celebrations closed she would tidy the place up and organize it for the next day. In the morning she and others would find items moved from where they were placed the night before. She also reports hearing footsteps after all people were out of the building. She claims that this is a male entity who is just messing with them and is doing no harm. Our visit to Celebrations yielded no brushes with ghosts but we did talk to the sales people.
This week during our night strolls on the streets of Colonial Williamsburg we encountered no mysterious vapors but did observe the ever popular ghost tours in progress. Coincidentally, the Bruton Parish Church, located on the Colonial Williamsburg property, conducted an evening music performance which allowed for its cemetery grounds to be visited at night - another place of many reported sightings.
One thing is for certain, the interest in ghosts especially at such a historic place like Williamsburg is a big draw for the property and privately guided groups. People enjoy hearing a good ghost story, getting scared and trying their luck in seeing or capturing a photo of a colonial spirit. Know that.
Monday, October 12, 2009
USS Wisconsin Prepares for Navy's 234th Birthday
While the USS Wisconsin was closed to tours on this Monday, the ship is readily accessible along the Cannonball trail - the extended sidewalk that allows spectacular views of the warship. Take time to read the various information displays along the walkway. Statues and monuments to other Norfolk-based personnel who gave their lives in defense of our country are located along the path. Know that.
Friday, October 9, 2009
Rennes Le Chateau at 42N - Surely Just a Coincidence
42N country stretches around the world - as you would expect. While previous posts here concentrate around 42N and 92W, its time to expand the coverage. A quick look around for other interesting places located on the 42N meridian starts pretty much near the prime meridian or the rose line - the first prime meridian.Located at 42°55'41" N, 2°15'46" E is a church, castle and french town connected closely with the work of Henry Lincoln, Richard Leigh and others -- Rennes Le Chateau. What better place to tie in previous 42N posts with masonic and other related references. Indeed a mysterious place and a mysterious story - enough to inspire author Dan Brown with the creation of The Da Vinci Code and become a tourist spot for decades. Know that.
Sunday, October 4, 2009
Biderman Hotel Nears the End Along Cedar River
In the late 1890s the Cedar Springs Hotel was built along the northern banks of the Cedar River, adjoining present day Palisades - Kepler State Park in eastern Iowa (42N country) near Cedar Rapids. By 1914 the property was sold to Adolph Biderman who turned the hotel and grounds into a major destination place. Adolph's granddaughter Pat Biderman is the present owner of the property. Pat says the hotel's registration book is filled with names from all over the world.
On a September 2009 tour of the property Pat explained how the Cedar River's historic flood in June 2008 put an end to any plans of saving the structure. She started the demolition process of the wooden building noting that the paperwork is more tedious than the eventual bulldozing of the structure. At present Pat has no plans to rebuild on the site.
The hotel was known by the names, the Cedar Springs Hotel, Upper Palisades Hotel and the Biderman Hotel. The image above shows the hotel in the 1930s with many people formally dressed and positioned on the hotel's two porches. The bottom photo was taken in early September. The second story porch was removed many years ago.
In its present condition it is hard to imagine that on certain Independence Day celebrations upwards to a thousand people would come on to the grounds for enjoying nature, fireworks, hotel dinners, and the company of others.
Much more information exists on the property and will be the subject of a later blog entry. Know that.
Saturday, October 3, 2009
"Just One Word - Plastics"
Long ago when I started took up photography with a friend, we concentrated on black & white imagery as it was the easiest way to process and print photos in his basement darkroom. Later, courses in college emphasized both the news value and the art of black & white photography.
Today with online photo editors and other powerful image software it is a snap to shoot, edit and publish. Still, composition is the key for basic good photography. Look for lines, contrast, and the moment to capture the IT image. Know that.
Wednesday, September 30, 2009
House of the Rising Sun
Tuesday, September 29, 2009
Serious Snow Removal for Linn County
Ready for snow in 42N country? Linn County, Iowa is prepared for almost any snow accumulation. Huge snow drifts require big equipment. Linn County's secret weapon is the SNOGO snow plow. This two-stage auger plow can heave-ho 2,500 tons of the white stuff an hour. See if you can do that with your Toro.
Last winter's storms produced near record level of snow in the Midwest - almost a return to the levels from the 1970s. Back in 1974 Time magazine and other popular media proclaimed the eventual return of the ice age based on geologic records. Twenty years later other experts predict global warming and point to their data as evidence. A better theory is that politics entered the discussion, insisting that elected officials are the voice for nature. Gag where appropriate.
Regardless of which theory, if any, is correct the roads in these northern latitudes still need to be cleared in a timely fashion. Linn County is prepared for anything - just add snow and fuel.