Sunday, December 11, 2016

Godspeed John Glenn

Mercury astronaut John Glenn died this week. He was the last of the original Mercury 7 astronauts and a true American hero. I found this 45 record two years ago from the Hasbro GI Joe collection. It was a companion piece to the astronaut version of GI Joe, complete with space suit and Mercury capsule. Side two contains audio clips from John Glenn's Mercury 7 flight that orbited the earth. Listen to the recording here. Although not included on this recording, fellow astronaut and mission Capcom, Scott Carpenter issued, "Godspeed John Glenn" as a traditional voyage wish during Freedom 7's liftoff from the Cape.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Remembrance Day Gettysburg - Iowa Connection

This year is the 153rd anniversary of President Abraham Lincoln's Gettysburg Address delivered at the dedication ceremony of Soldiers' National Cemetery. Remembrance Day is an annual event to reflect upon the Gettysburg battle, watch modern reenactors parade through Gettysburg and hear Lincoln's famous speech. While I have detailed the Iowa connection before in the 42N blog (post here), today's anniversary of the Lincoln speech (actually it was yesterday) served as a reminder to re-photograph the monument in the Lisbon, Iowa cemetery before the winter snows come.

I submitted a story idea to the Cedar Rapids Gazette some time ago for their Sunday column about area history. The reporter did a great job in crafting the story of how the boulder got from the battlefield to Lisbon, Iowa. It is only one of two boulders to have been removed from the Gettysburg battlefield for display purposes. Read the Gazette article here.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Iowa Union Soldier Christian Brenner Buried in Tennessee

I visited Stone's River National Battlefield where Union and Confederate forces fought on December 31, 1862 in Murfreesboro, Tennessee. Across the road from the battlefield park is the National Cemetery where 6,100 Union soldiers are interred among others. While many of those buried in the cemetery are from the battle, several other buried dead are from area battles or other time periods up to the modern day.

On the white headstone markers are the names of the soldier and the State where he was from. I sought out my state, Iowa since that's where 42N Observations is based. Near a small tree in Lot L, a marker (number 271) stands for the Union soldier Christian Brenner, who served in Iowa 5th Cavalry, Company C. He died on Christmas day, 1864.

From web research on the unit and its history, Christian fought in the Battle of Anthony's Hill (also known as the Battle of King's Hill) just south of Pulaski, Tennessee, two years after the Stone's River battle. Christian was born in 1835 in Hancock County, Ohio. At the time of his death he was married to Sarah J and had one daughter, Mary C. Brenner. The family lived in Clarinda, Iowa. Christian enlisted as a Private on September 28, 1861 at the age of 26 and was mustered on Oct. 2, 1861. He re-enlisted and re-mustered January 14, 1864. Christian transferred to Company C, Fifth Veteran Cavalry Consolidated, on August 8, 1864.

Christian Brenner was killed during the Pulaski battle as the Union troops pursued the fleeing Army of Tennessee following the Battle of Nashville. There is a summary on that battle here. Brenner was initially buried near Pulaski (Giles County, Tennessee) and later re-interred at Stone's River National Cemetery with other soldiers who died at the Pulaski battle. The Iowa 5th Cavalry lost 20 men during the skirmishes around Pulaski.

Brenner served just over three years in the Iowa 5th Cavalry. That unit was involved in several major battles in the western theater and would later conclude in Selma. Following the end of the war, the unit was stationed in Atlanta and Nashville during August 1865 before traveling to Clinton, Iowa where the unit was disbanded.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

TVA Survey Mark Mag Spike

The 8,000 feet long Kentucky Dam is a TVA project on the Tennessee River that was designed for many uses including electricity generation, commercial navigation and flood control. On top of the dam is this survey marker. Apparently to make it easier to sight, a layer of bright orange paint marks the survey spike's location. Its not hard to miss.

Monday, November 7, 2016

Illinois Central 1518 Locomotive in Paducah

Nighttime near Paducah, Kentucky's floodwall is highlighted by one of Illinois Central's best examples of steam power. Locomotive 1518 on outdoor display represents one of several railroad related fixtures at the city's rail museum. According to this locomotive was built by Lima in 1923. It is classified as a 2-8-2, that is the wheel count on the engine, 2 on the front, eight in the middle and two wheels on the back. The lead locomotive is massive, well preserved and worth returning for more of an extensive investigation, perhaps during the day light.

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Moonrise on the Ohio River

Last month's journey through the mid-South included a stop in Paducah, Kentucky. One evening was capped off with very warm temperatures, Oktemberfest, a zombie walk and this spectacular moonrise as seen beyond the floodwall on the Ohio River. I timed this photo to include a tow and barge moving east upriver. Paducah is an operational port for the Ingram Barge Company.

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Pixie Street Performance

Usually street performances play out in larger cities but not in Paducah, KY. This pixie strikes a pose on a downtown street corner for a few dollars tip. Street art - like them or avoid them. Interesting at the least.

Monday, October 31, 2016

Zombies Walk in Paducah

Zombie family selfie moment in downtown Paducah, Kentucky. Just four of an army of zombies.

Harley Quinn or Zombie Blondie - Call me, I'm alive.

Captured Nazi SS zombie soldiers - the worst kind of zombies.

Zombie prom queen and her mom.

Zombies apparently love to eat their own leg.

Alienated lost soul teenage zombies in search of angst.

Another family of zombies walk in Paducah looking for brains but only finding the Ohio River in front of them.

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Industrial Transition in Cedar Rapids

In August 2016, construction work along one of Cedar Rapids' once busy industrial zones changed again. The area on the city's NE side was once home to heavy industrial manufacturing. As the local economy shifted throughout the last 30 years, buildings that once housed industrial machining were downsized or shuttered or demolished.

In this case, the work in August involved pulling up dormant rail lines that once serviced the industrial neighborhood. A bike way is planned as a replacement for the rail, which will connect other trails in the area to Coe College's new athletic complex.

A bit of rail iron still remains in the ground prior to the bike path's completion. Perhaps it serves as a reminder of what was once produced here. Now the rusting iron pieces are but part of an industrial-economical change debris, representing how cities, technologies, and market forces morph over time.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Fiddlin' in Paducah KY

A bit of Irish inspired music following Paducah's Oktemberfest and Zombie Walk on a very warm October 15th evening downtown near the Ohio River. This talented musician was excited to play a selection of three songs - "Young Ned of the Hills", "Streams of Whiskey" and "Rocky Road to Dublin."

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Somewhat Rare Storm Shutters in Eastern Iowa

Many homes here in the Midwest have window shutters as decorative attachments. They are usually thinner than the windows and are securely bolted to a wall. But true storm shutters, those that actually are able to move on a hinge and close, are somewhat rare. True, the Midwest has its fair share of wind, rain, snow and ice, so the need for closed window protection seems slight compared to coastal dwellers. But sometimes if you look closely, especially on century old homes here, you may find properly hinged shutters such as this multi-painted wooden example found in Mount Vernon, Iowa.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Four Star General John J. Pershing Meets a Real One Star

Its not everyday when you see World War I General John J. Pershing hanging out at a tradeshow but that's exactly what happened earlier this year. The four star general was present to promote the creation of the WWI Memorial in Washington D.C. While Gen. Pershing made his rounds a real U.S. Army one star general stopped by to say hello. At first there was some confusion as to who should salute who, but the modern day general offered his salute to General Pershing. The four star promptly returned the salute. All in good fun.

Friday, September 9, 2016

A Wisp of Fall is Evident

See that? Look harder. Its the changing of the summer greens to other shades on Labor Day weekend. In Marquette, Iowa along the Mississippi River in northeast Iowa just across from Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin, the bluffs are covered in trees. This summer has seen above normal precipitation in much of the region, which has kept greener greens around from crops to lawns to cliff clinging trees. But as the sun angle changes and the amount of sunlight diminished daily, the leaves know what to do next.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Glass Treasure in a Box

Sometimes the ordinary is extraordinary. Take for example these telephone line insulators. While some are rare and quite collectable you can often buy the more common glass fixtures for a few dollars a piece - sometimes by the box. At a Labor Day weekend flea market in Marquette, Iowa a vendor displayed a variety of tools, glassware and this and that. I'm always on the lookout for a photo target and was not disappointed by the shapes, reflections and colors of these simple glass jewels of the wires.

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Unicorn Face Painting in Marquette, Iowa

Labor Day weekend in Marquette, Iowa means experiencing an annual flea market under the bridge which connects Iowa to Wisconsin over the Mississippi River. One of the vendors at the market offered face painting.

Kristi, a face painting artist created a colorful design on the forehead of a girl named Ella. Nearby, Ella's grandmother supervised the work. As the design took shape, I thought it was going to become a Batman design because of the color and wings, but I was wrong.

With a few additional touches, the finished work turned out to be a unicorn which Ella had selected. She was delighted with the outcome, as was her mother and grandmother.

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Vanishing Industry in Cedar Rapids

Just outside of downtown Cedar Rapids is a complex of once lively manufacturing buildings. Now these structures are either being torn down or being renovated for other purposes. The point is that medium to large manufacturing companies that were present in many Midwestern cities are disappearing like this Cedar Rapids Inc., property. Business evolution continues but what skillsets or abilities have been lost or shipped outside our borders?

Monday, August 8, 2016

A Tree Grows Near Ely, Iowa

This maple tree is huge! It may be easily over a hundred years old and looks quite healthy. The giant tree resides on farm property just to the northwest of Ely, Iowa where it has enjoyed an undisturbed environment for decades. While not an apple tree this outstretched maple resembles those nasty trees in the Wizard of Oz movie. I'll just follow the yellow brick road.

Monday, August 1, 2016

P-51 Mustang and F4U Corsair at Dubuque

A photo from last weekend. A WWII era P-51 Mustang and F4U Corsair wait at the Dubuque Regional Airport for landing times at OSH16 Airventure. Both planes departed together (side by side) about 2:30 PM last Sunday. No doubt they caught up with the formation of T-6s headed that way. I did see the Corsair appear in other Oshkosh photos posted in social media sites last week.

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Now and Then: Prairie Ridge School Near Ely, Iowa

Between Cedar Rapids and Ely, Iowa fields of corn and soybeans stretch for miles. At a particular farm property on Spanish Road the remains of Prairie Ridge School, a one room schoolhouse still stands. The building was relocated on the farm and may have been originally located just yards from its present location. The top photo is courtesy of the website which I found via a detail rich schoolhouse website.

Compare this photo taken today to the 1910 photo above. Visible in both are the boys and girls separate entrances, the lattice work, the double windows and much of the original shape. The school bell tower has collapsed. Note the newer foundation on limestone.

A view inside the school room looking towards the boys and girls entrance. The floor is covered in debris and the walls are stripped of anything that would indicate that this was a school room.

A view to the left of the previous photo.

A view of the left hand entrance lattice work. I don't know the style of the school house in architectural terms but its' simple design includes a few accents like these vertical bars.

Another view of that same entrance. I don't know if that saw-like metal is associated with the school or part of the general out buildings in the immediate area.

How many times was this door opened and closed during the school's active years? This hardware is located on the left hand side entrance.

A view looking through four window frames on one side of the building to reveal the other set of four windows. These frames form the word, "HI."

The final photo is a look from the back of the building from the 1910 photo. The windows on the right are the one's featured in the previous photo. Looks like at one point a hanging door was added (not there anymore) on a roller hinge as well as a garage door. New home owners are moving into the farmhouse property. Perhaps they will have some restoration plans for the 100 year old plus Prairie Ridge School.

Monday, July 25, 2016

T-6 Walk Arounds at DBQ Before Leaving for OSH16

Some scenes from the Dubuque Regional Airport which hosted the NATA for T-6 aircraft before the Airventure 2016 show in Oshkosh, Wisconsin.

T-6s are everywhere and from everywhere. In all 28 of them flew in formation to OSH16 on Sunday.

Stitch jumps off his T-6 as he prepares for the early afternoon takeoff.

Time to move the oil around or whatever you kids call it these days.


Several T-6s were present at the airport. Many of them in military colors.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

A T-6 Formation Salute to Dubuque Regional Airport (DBQ)

A formation of 28 T-6s heading for AirVenture 2016 salutes the Dubuque Regional Airport where the WWII era trainers refined their group flying skills for two days. The formation is comprised of 28 T-6s plus one twin engine plane in the back. OSH16 runs through July 28 and is expected to draw over a million visitors. If you are in Oshkosh look for the North American T-6s.

Corsair Readies at Dubuque Regional Airport Prior to OSH16

This afternoon a World War II vintage Corsair sat at the Dubuque Regional Airport prior to traveling to Oshkosh for the EAA Airventure 2016 event. For the past 11 years WWII planes have staged at Dubuque while waiting for landing slots at the Wisconsin event. More the a million people are expected to attend OSH16. If you can't make it to OSH be sure to visit DBQ a day or two ahead of Airventure next year to see a segment of the flying entertainment.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Feathery Tempation Eyes

A peacock's vivid plumage is pure art. This particular display comes courtesy from the University of Iowa's Hall of Birds located at Macbride Hall, which is part of oldest existing university museums west of the Mississippi. Be sure to visit Bird Hall, Mammal Hall and the Natural History Museum all within that building. Many students are not aware of the museums let alone visit the displays.

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Toys From the Attic: Union Pacific in a Box and Magic Mike II the Robot

Somebody's childhood is contained in this box...and its for sale. I didn't see the asking price for the box of last century Union Pacific train set but it may not of been too much due to the condition of many of the rail cars. Its always interesting what people want to sell and buy.

Magic Mike II the robot from 2002 (but really made in Hong Kong in 1984) was also for sale at the same booth. Mike's asking price was only $8.00 but had it been a toy robot from the 1950s or 60s you might have to part with a few hundred dollars if you want it for your collection. Fortunately I don't need a coal burning train or a robot...or do I?

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Living in a Material World

A recent wave from an Union Pacific engineer is reminiscent of the album cover from 1973's Living in a Material World by George Harrison. While not exactly the same hand with Hindu script the gesture acknowledges that he sees me and I see him - from the safety of an overhead bridge. The fast moving train is probably doing about 60 mph at this point as it travels east through eastern Iowa.