Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Muddy Tracks At Abbe Creek

Were these tracks made by a velociraptor chasing proto-marsupials who strayed into 42N country eons ago? Chances are these prints can be attributed to a Canada goose and perhaps a single raccoon. Hardened mud becomes preserved by layering dry matter, which in turn can protect tracks for years. Maybe these Abbe Creek (41.94N, 91.45W) mud tracks will be uncovered in a zillion years. Discoverers might trace the footprints to also find muddy shoe impressions cropped just outside this photo. The conclusion reached will be that the animals were scared off by a Bigfoot or Yeti. Know that.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Tama, Iowa's Lincoln Highway Bridge: Then and Now

The Lincoln Highway bridge located in 42N country's Tama, Iowa (41.96N, 92.57W) is almost as old as the highway itself. The unique bridge with the words, LINCOLN HIGHWAY built in the side walls was constructed in 1915, just two years after the idea of the highway hatched. It is believed to be the oldest surviving bridge along the original highway.

Above is a photo believed to be from 1915. Looking east over the bridge is the mud filled highway featuring a horse drawn wagon. The bottom photo was taken 95 years later on March 21, 2010 looking in the same direction. Note how much construction is located along the highway.

In 2010 the Highway 30 (Lincoln Highway) Tama by-pass project is under construction to the left of these photos. The new speedway skirts around this area and will greatly reduce the traffic near the bridge. Once completed travellers on the new Highway 30 will not readily see the bridge or the King Tower Cafe without making a special side journey. The restaurant opened in 1937 as a one-stop filling station, garage, wrecker service, cafĂ©, and featured 18 cabins. It is located along the original Lincoln Highway just about a half mile east from this bridge (on the left.)Join the 3rd Annual Iowa Lincoln Highway Motor Tour across Iowa from August 26-29, 2010 with a stop in Tama. For more information contact Jeff LaFollette at 563-349-3047 or email at Know that.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Passing of Fess Parker: Both "King of the Wild Frontier" and "What a Dream-Come-er-True-er Was He"

Fess Parker passed away on Thursday, March 18th. The actor was best known for playing Disney's version of American frontiersman, Davy Crockett during the mid-1950s. Later, Parker played another bigger-than-life frontiersman, Daniel Boone on the NBC television network from 1964 to 1970.

Parker became an instant icon in the early days of television and was associated with the mega-merchandising of anything coonskin, long rifle and musically related to the Crockett series. Today that first wave of mass marketing via the young TV generation defines the emergence of the modern consumer market. Crockett was gold.

While 42N's exposure to Fess Parker initially came through watching the Daniel Boone TV show, reruns of the Crockett series on Sunday night's Wonderful World of Disney introduced the popular actor to the next generation of impressionable skulls of mush.

For the Boone series, the standout episode for 42N was the first season's The Choosing (air date 10-29-1964) where Daniel accidentally cuts his leg with an axe in the wilderness while travelling with his daughter Jemima (played by Veronica Cartwright.) She patches him up and guides him through hostile territory, gets kidnapped and finally find their way back home.

42N's video tribute to Fess Parker is shown below - in full 78 rpm glory. This recording features Fess singing the theme song known as the Ballad of Davy Crockett.

Fess Parker will forever be the King of the Wild Frontier. What a dream-come-er-true-er was he. Know that.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Bald Eagle Sightings Along Upper Mississippi River

Melting ice along 42N's Mississippi River areas means one thing this time of year - the gathering of the American Bald Eagles. Nestled in a quiet cove just south of East Dubuque, Illinois is a spot where these birds assemble for more than just resting.

At this particular location eight Bald Eagles and hundreds of sea gulls watch over a rapidly melting area of ice. Upon sighting their targets the eagles unleash themselves from the branches and soar overhead, catching the warm winds of nearly 60 degrees today.

Their mission is to catch a meal by selecting a few of the hundreds of dead fish floating just under thin ice. Birds waited for the fish to roll to the surface or in some cases pecked through the ice to grab a crappie, perch or small catfish.

Warm temperatures also brought scores of people to view the once endangered birds. Now it is quit common to see eagles gathered in number to grab a bite of fish. Know that.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Oil Can What?

Dorothy and the Scarecrow meet the Tin Man (with the help of 42N oil cans.)

Why, it's a man! A man made out of tin!




Yes, Oh - look!

Tin Man

Oil can! Oil can!


Did you say something?

Tin Man

Oil can!


He said Oil can.


Oil can what?


Oil can? Oh!

Tin Man



Here it is! Where do you want oiled first?


From the 1939 MGM - Wizard of Oz Script
Know that.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Frytown, Iowa: A Study of Contrast

42N country's Frytown, Iowa (latitude 41.57N, longitude 91.73W) is a small farming community in eastern Iowa. Located between Iowa City and Kalona the region is home to Amish and Mennonite families. Nearby is a FAA radio beacon used to guide intercontinental air traffic between coasts. On sunny days you can spot scores of jets flying nearly overhead from horizon to horizon going east to west and west to east. Little do the 21st-century air travellers know that 33,000 feet below them is a community that embraces some practices from the 19th-century.

While in Frytown for an auction (photo above from the horse hitch area of the auction house) an Amish farmer showed me how their clothes are pressed by irons made around 1900. The auction featured many local farm tools including the old non-electric irons. In return I showed him and two of his friends how my Blackberry works. They heard of the device but had not seen one demonstrated. The younger guy seemed the most interested and asked several questions including whether it had news of the earthquake in Chile that occurred that morning. His older friend offered a sceptical eye. Know that.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Twenty First Century Searching for the Classic Station Wagon

On-line research is a powerful way to obtain information quickly. Recently I came across this fascinating 8x10 sized photo of a unknown vehicle. I made a digital copy of the print not knowing anything about the car. The shiny black and white image was originally made by a sharp lens camera that left many details resolvable. In this case the year of the Illinois (a 42N state) license plate reads either 1951 or 1961.

Studying the photo reveals that the station wagon included wood paneling along its sides - a so called, Woodie. The search began for Woodie station wagons in Google with initial results showing Ford Woodies of surfing fame in California during the late 1950s and early 1960s - think Beach Boys. More refined Google searches ended the quest with an answer to what model is pictured above.

The auto from the shady countryside is a 1950 or 1951 Pontiac Streamliner 8 Station Wagon. In its day the automobile had Hydra-Matic transmission and 268.2 cubic inch engine with inline 8 cylinders that generated 113 hp. The car weighed a whopping 3,669 pounds - almost two tons! In 1950 Streamliners cost $2,411, that's about 65 cents per wood paneling and chrome plated pound.

Fifty years later a restoration project on another Streamliner is proudly shown below. Note the upside down canoe shaped paneling and side detailing by the wheels matching the black and white photo. While this Woodie is far from the endless summer waves of California, its nice to know that the car is still appreciated today. On-line research often yields results containing more than what is expected. Know that.