Monday, April 30, 2012

Colorful Corn Planting Time

Area fields are prepared for planting and in some cases have already been seeded. As corn prices remain high the amount of acres planted in corn continue to rise annually. Ethanol production and the worldwide demand for other corn products are the reasons. Each planting year is interesting - that's for sure. Here's a look into the not so distant past with seed sacks of yesteryear. Know that. 

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Air Force One Visits CID Today

Presidential election season brings candidates to 42N's Cedar Rapids (CID) area quite often. This morning the President of the United States (POTUS) came to Iowa City to address a closed session for roughly 5,000 University of Iowa students, faculty and media. After the ground entourage left the airport bound for Iowa City, the daily air traffic resumed. It was also an opportunity to see Air Force One and the support plane for aviation buffs.

Air Force One (USAF 28000) parked away from the main passenger terminal near the overnight parcel service terminal. For security concerns the tarmac fence line was obstructed by cargo containers, equipment and other vehicles making it near impossible to see the entire plane. However there were few places to see portions of the huge 747. Air Force One is, as you would expect – shiny, clean and impressive, and guarded by a security detail.

While looking for best area to photograph the plane, a member of Cedar Rapids’ finest drove up and asked the small crowd to leave the area for security reasons. He was polite and the five people took a souvenir photo of the plane and left. He then positioned the squad car in the general area as to ward away more onlookers. Other airport property and nearby roads were patrolled by police, sheriff, homeland security, airport security and unmarked, large black vehicles.

At a different section of airport property, a C-17 Globemaster III sat. This plane probably delivered the special presidential limo and security vehicles. C-17 (23291) is home based with the 62nd Airlift Wing at McChord AFB in Washington.

While the 2012 election season continues, the opportunity to see Air Force One again at CID may be frequent. That opportunity depends on how the campaign is progressing. Know that.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Lion's Tooth Signal Spring

Spring is here. And its been here since February and March. In areas where no one picks up leaves in the Fall, the vegetation is protected from the cold and snow. One sure sign of the Spring is dandelions - old french for Lion's tooth. Bright green and yellow, these plants are hearty enough to burst through a pile of oak leaves and announce the season. If left unspoiled by herbicides the plant can be eaten, the flower made into wine and the root used for a diuretic. So much uses for a plant that is the bane of lawn owners but also cherished by children. Know that.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Cedar Rapids’ Connection to the Titanic Disaster

Much has been written about the 100th anniversary of the Titanic disaster. Here in Cedar Rapids, Iowa the event touched the community by the death of local industry captain, Walter Douglas. Mr. Douglas’ parents and brother, George’s family lived in Cedar Rapids. Walter's father co-founded Quaker Oats. Douglas and George were founders of a starch company here.

In the spring of 1912, Walter and wife Mahala (and their maid) were in Europe purchasing furnishings for their new home in Minneapolis. They booked passage back to America on the Titanic’s maiden voyage. At some point during the sinking of the Titanic, Mahala and the maid boarded a lifeboat and later rescued by the Carpathia’s crew.

Walter’s fate was unknown for several days until his body was found in the ocean buoyed by a life preserver. A description of his body included his fine clothing with the embroidered initials of W.D.D on the shirt. His body was brought to his home in Minneapolis, then later traveled to Cedar Rapids in special Pullman rail cars. The train arrived at Union Station near 4 PM Sunday, May 5th – nearly three weeks after the sinking. Walter’s casket and procession was observed by thousands of people from downtown to Oak Hill Cemetery. A service was conducted a half hour later at the Douglas family vault (where Walter’s parents are interred too.) The local paper reports that the service was conducted inside the vault for the immediate family. Many flowers adorned the inside and outside of the Douglas vault.

Today, the Douglas vault at Oak Hill Cemetery shows signs of deterioration of the stone and metal works but overall looks to be surviving time. A few floral arrangements have recently been added to the vault’s entrance from unknown sources – I checked. Currently the story of this event is told at the nearby Brucemore mansion, once owned by Walter’s brother George. In the blockbuster movie, Titanic, the character of the elderly Rose Dawson is living in Cedar Rapids before she is summoned to return to the ship. Whether mentioned in the movie or recounted from real history the connection between Cedar Rapids and the Titanic's sinking at sea is forever forged. Know that.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Cooperative Venture Southbound Near Burlington, Iowa

Working life on the Mississippi River is often characterized by towboats and their cargo. Commerce on the river also includes excursions, fishing, channel maintenance and the like, plus hundreds of support industries positioned for the manufacture and delivery of goods and services.

On this day the towboat, Cooperative Venture from St. Louis passed southbound pushing an array of barges under the Great River Bridge at Burlington, Iowa. Painted numbers on the bridge support indicate the distance from water level to the lower portion of the bridge to aid tows and other craft in negotiating the overpass. The barge configuration, three abreast, carries a flag designating the lead formation.

Upon close examination it appears that these 15 tied barges are empty as they ride high on the waterway. After passing the bridge the Cooperative Venture quickly changed orientation as to align with the next passage, an aerial lift bridge just a short distance away. Once again the river provides endless entertainment through its natural vistas and working commerce. And all of that just a few hours or less from the mighty 42N observation station. Know that.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Iowa's WPA Castle Worthy of Any Grail Romance

Love or hate them, the Works Progress Administration kicked out some enduring projects during the Great Depression years. Several masonry projects located in the 42N area include the construction of city and state park structures like stone paths, stairs, shelters and scenic lookouts. Many of these stone works have survived into the 21st century with all the intended natural charm of quality design and construction. This example of a WPA project is located in Clinton, Iowa's Eagle Point city park. It is simply known as the castle.

Constructed of native limestone, the castle is a cylindrical stone tower with a winding staircase to a small top observation area. Inside the castle is a winding staircase that narrows as you approach the upper third of the structure. At some time the castle had a flagpole that stood from the interior center all the way through the stone roof and above. It appears to be long gone. The castle overlooks the Mississippi River at Clinton, north of Lock and Dam Number 13 - the so called General Zebulon Pike Lock and Dam. Today the view from the top is spectacular and probably even more so in autumn. The stone work from the same WPA project at Eagle Point Park can be found throughout the property attesting to the workmanship of the era.

Just add a few knights, a secret passage or chamber and Templar treasure and you have all the makings for a blockbuster book or movie. Know that.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Danger, Will Robinson

On this day no one was working above, or to the side or below for that matter. No sightings of the Jupiter 2 either. Must be a false flag or a poorly developed plan by Dr. Smith to return to Earth. Oh the pain, the pain. Know that.

Monday, April 2, 2012

C-17A Globemaster Visits Cedar Rapids (CID) Today

HH 55151 made its way to Cedar Rapids this afternoon. The C-17A Globemaster is part of the United States Air Force Air National Guard (HIANG) based at Hickam AFB, Hawaii. HH 55151 belongs to the 15th AW, 154th WG and 535th Squadron Airlift Support.

Designed for short runways, the C-17A's powerful jets can lift 585,000 lbs and can be refueled in flight. This evening the massive plane parked away from the main terminal and some 4,500 miles from its home base. For more information about the Globemasters watch this video here. Know that.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Union Calvary Rides in Henry County, Illinois

Union Calvary rides on a granite monument located on the Henry County, Illinois courthouse property in Cambridge. Like so many veteran-themed statues North or South found throughout the land, the sculptures are often singular, usually a sole Civil War era soldier or sailor standing at rest. This relief featuring a horse is rare in these parts. Because it is made of granite and because it faces east, the relief remains in remarkable condition for being a hundred years old. Seek these monuments out. They are excellent photo targets and you might even learn something of the town and its people. Know that.