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Arizona Getaway 2019: Chiracahua National Monument

Day 3, Saturday, March 16, 2019

The last day of our Arizona trip, Mom and I went to Chiracahua National Monument.  It is located in the Chiracahua Mountains of southeast Arizona.  We had been planning to visit the day before, because I really, really wanted to go, but it had been closed due to an unusual cold front and snow the day before.  When I found out it was scheduled to reopen the next day, I made sure we took the opportunity!  I was so excited!  However, when we got there, we learned that although the monument was technically open (The Visitor’s Center at least), the road was closed past the Visitor’s Center; basically, the scenic drive up the mountain.

Chiracahua National Monument

Chiracahua National monument is a rugged section of land, of which approximately 85% is designated as wilderness.  It protects the hoodoos and balancing rocks of a volcanic eruption 27 million years ago, when the Turkey Creek Caldera exploded and spewed white hot ash all over the area.  The ash has, over time, eroded away and created the hoodoos and rock formations that exist there today.  Chiracahua is high-elevation, ranging from 5,124 feet at the entrance station to 7,310 feet at the summit of its tallest mountain.  In addition to the volcanic eruptions, they get the effects of seasons, and a lot of erosion from the winter rain and winds.  The area was designated as a National Monument on April 18, 1924, by President Calvin Coolidge.

Chiracahua is known as the Wonderland of Rocks for its beautiful rock formations.  Apparently though, people in general are less impressed by rocks than I am, as it is one of the lesser visited monuments with annual visitation in 2018 of 60,577.

Faraway Ranch windmill

We checked out the Visitor’s Center, got my passport stamps, and did a bit of shopping.  There was a tour starting at the historic Faraway Ranch, so we headed over there to catch it.  The Faraway Ranch started as a cattle ranch in 1886, owned and operated by Neil and Emma Erickson, Swedish immigrants who met and married in the United States.  They ran the ranch as a cattle ranch from 1886 to 1917, when Neil accepted a job with the new National Park Service and had to relocate.  At that point, his oldest daughter Lillian took over the operation of the ranch and began renting it out to tourists as a guest ranch.

The house at the Faraway Ranch

The guest ranch was quite popular, and many people visited over the years; even though it was remote, you got all your meals provided, a chance to relax, and later on there was even a swimming pool!  After running the ranch for many years, Lillian died in 1977 and the family decided to sell it to the National Park Service to be added to the monument.  It was a fitting end of the ranch of the family who for so long had been a part of protecting and advocating for this beautiful area.

The home is very well preserved to its time as a guest ranch and had many artifacts belonging to the family and stretching back to the late 1880s.  It was fun seeing products and items that were used there over time.  An antique butter churn!  Vintage cleaning products!  One of the lamps in the living room was fascinating, with a beautiful hand painted shade painted by one of the women in the Erickson family.  Lillian went blind as she got older, and although she still managed the ranch with help from her staff, she did need accommodations.  One of the items on display are her Braille playing cards!

A quarter mile away, there is a rustic cabin that once belonged to a neighbor of the Erickson family.  Mom and I walked down there to check it out, despite the cold.  It would have been tough to live in such a remote area during a cold, Arizona winter.  And yes, in case you were wondering, parts of Arizona get very cold.

The cabin at the Faraway Ranch

 

Mom and me, in the cold

Interestingly, it was near here that Park Ranger Paul Fugate disappeared without a trace in 1980, so there’s a cold case for you amateur sleuths to research.  Hopefully one day they find out what happened to him, so his family can have closure.

After we visited the ranch, we ate lunch at a picnic table and got word from a park employee that the road up the mountain had reopened!  We got to drive up and see the beautiful scenery!  Chiracahua is known for its hoodoos, narrow canyons and rock formations.  Unfortunately, there was a thick layer of fog blanketing the higher elevations of the monument.  We drove to the top of the road, but our views were non-existent once we got very high.  We did get to see some gorgeous rock formations at the lower elevations though, which were still above 5,000 feet!

I still enjoyed visiting, but definitely want to return when it is warm enough to do some hiking and see the view.  I bet it is spectacular!

 

Circus Trip 2018: Lincoln Boyhood NM

Day 28, Sunday, August 12, 2018

Lincoln City, Indiana

After I left the Indiana Military Museum, I had one more stop I wanted to make in Indiana.  I was headed to the Lincoln Boyhood National Memorial.

Lincoln Boyhood National Memorial

The site was home to Abraham Lincoln and his family for 14 years, from 1816 – 1830.  Lincoln was only 7 when Thomas Lincoln moved the family to Indiana, after losing his previous homestead due to bad surveying and challenges to land titles.

Unfortunately for the Lincoln family, white snake root plant grew widely in the area; cows ate the plant and their milk and meat became contaminated and poisonous to humans.  Lincoln’s mother, Nancy Hanks Lincoln, ended up dying of the milk sickness in 1818, when Lincoln was 9 years old.

Lincoln’s older sister Sarah became Lincoln’s caregiver, until Thomas Lincoln remarried another Sarah, Sarah Bush Johnston, who nurtured Lincoln’s children as if they were her own.  The blended family and one of Lincoln’s cousins all lived in the one room cabin together.

Lincoln lived in the settlement until he was 21; in 1830 Thomas Lincoln moved the family to Central Illinois.  The homestead faded into obscurity until interest was renewed in 1879.  Nancy Hanks Lincoln’s grave was discovered, as well as the graves of several others who had died over the years at the settlement.

In the 1920s, funds were raised to do an archaeological study to learn more about life in the community during the time Lincoln lived there.  The site became Lincoln State Park in 1932 and ownership of the land was transferred to the National Park Service to create the National Memorial in 1962.  The living farm on site was created in 1968.

When I visited, I checked out the Memorial Building, which has a movie about Lincoln’s childhood, as well as exhibits about the Lincoln’s time in Indiana.  The Park Service has a few of Thomas Lincoln’s possessions on display.  After I saw the Memorial Building, I walked down the trail to see Lincoln’s mother’s grave, and the reconstructed settlement site.

The cabin where Lincoln lived with his family is long gone, but flagstones and a reconstructed hearth mark the outline of where the cabin was.

Me with the foundation of the original cabin

Reconstructed barns and cabins provide visitors a sense of what life was like on the frontier during Lincoln’s time there.  Historical interpreters are there to answer questions and describe what they are doing during their days.

There is also a trail where you can see various stones from important times in Lincoln’s life.  There is a stone from the store Lincoln owned in New Salem, Illinois, as well as a stone from the boarding house where Lincoln was taken after he was shot at Ford’s Theatre in Washington, D.C.  There are twelve stones in all, with explanations of where they came from.

A stone from the Berry-Lincoln store

It was interesting to see what life would have been like for Lincoln as a child and young adult.  The site has been planted with new trees that better represent what the land would have looked like 200 yeas ago, and about 150,000 people visit annually.   I enjoyed checking it out, and talking to the interpreters.  It was so profound to be able to walk where Lincoln had walked as a child and young man!

 

 

 

Circus Trip 2018: Vincennes State Historic Site

Day 27, Saturday, August 11, 2018

Vincennes, Indiana

Just steps away from Grouseland is the Vincennes State Historic Site.  The site preserves a few original buildings from the early 1800s, as well as a few replica structures.

The Visitor’s Center for the site is in an 1830s cabin.

The original Indiana Territorial government building (the red building above) was where the bicameral legislature met.  One part of the legislature met downstairs and the other met upstairs.  It isn’t fancy but it served their purpose!  Fourteen men were elected to the houses of the territorial government and made decisions to be implemented across the territory, which was an enormous area of land!  The building served as the government building from 1800 to 1813.

The Elihu Stout Print Shop is a replica building that housed the printing press, used to print the news that was coming in from the East Coast.  The Indiana Gazette began publication in 1804, using a Ramage printing press.  It often took a month or more for information to make it as far west as the Indiana Territory, so people were eager to hear what was going on in the rest of the nation.

The Jefferson Academy building is a replica built to look like the first school of higher learning in Indiana; it is the predecessor of Vincennes University.  The school began teaching students in 1801!  The school taught only boys at the time, when people largely considered girls’ learning to be exclusively in the home.  It is interesting to think about how children learned at the time, with very few supplies, and none of the technology that we have today.

Jefferson Academy

Desks at Jefferson Academy

The site also contains an old frame house, where Maurice Thompson, author of Alice of Old Vincennes, was born.  It’s likely you haven’t heard of the book; it was written in 1900 and is a novel about the Revolutionary War and an orphan named Alice Roussillon.  Fun Fact!  It was the second best selling book of 1900, and it is still in print and available on Amazon, if you are interested in checking it out.

Old Frame House at Vincennes SHP

I also got to visit the Old French House, built circa 1806.  It is basically just that; an Old French style house.  It was built by a French fur trapper, in the French architectural style of the day – posts on sill.  It has a unique feature in how the framing was done, the upright posts sat on a horizontal beam (the sill) at the base of the structure, instead of the posts being sunk into the ground.  This apparently ensured that it stood the test of time better than a lot of other 200-plus-year-old buildings.  The Old French House also has an antique box bed (known as a lit clos in French).  It is an enclosed bed!  Back in the days before central heating, being able to close yourself up in a box bed meant that you would stay warmer; plus it provided some privacy when many homes only had one or two rooms and the whole family slept in the same room.

The buildings on the site are open only on a tour, and there was only one guide the day I was there, so you might have to wait outside while the tour guide is conducting the tour for others.  Don’t get discouraged – it is worth waiting!  The Old French House isn’t always open, and is a few blocks down the street, so I felt pretty lucky to get the tour of it.  I enjoyed chatting with the guide about some of the area’s history while we walked down there.

It was neat to see these historic buildings, even if some of them were replicas.  We just don’t have many buildings this old on the West Coast!

Circus Trip 2018: Grouseland

Day 27, Saturday, August 11, 2018

Vincennes, Indiana

Grouseland is incredible.  It is the Federal/ Georgian style home of future President William Henry Harrison, during part of the time when he served as the governor of the Indiana Territory.  The home was completed in 1804, and was the first brick home in Indiana, built at a cost of $20,000, which is between $700,000 and a million dollars in today’s money.  Interestingly, it was also built as a fortress to protect the family and the seat of government from Indian attack and other situations of unrest in the territory.

 

Harrison had his home built with a number of unusual features that made it particularly able to withstand any attack.  The walls were 28 inches thick in places, and there are strong shutters on both the outside and the inside of the windows, that allowed them to be closed without leaving the house.  There is an armory in the basement complete with a well, to allow for the collection of water without leaving the house.  This place was definitely ready for any potential siege.  Even with all of its protective features, it is still a beautiful, ornate home.

After Harrison moved out because the territory’s capitol moved to Corydon, the home was occupied by another prominent Vincennes man, and then it was acquired by the Vincennes Water Company, who intended to demolish it.  The Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR), managed to buy the home on a limited deed for $2,000, which allowed them to operate it as a historic house museum, and then they saved enough money to restore the home.  It was opened to the public in 1911.  It has been a museum for over 100 years!  Today Grouseland contains some furnishings that were original to the Harrison family, and you can see still most of the original features of the home.

And as for Harrison?  Well, it you are up on your Presidential history, you will know that Harrison has the dubious title of being the American President with the shortest term.  He served 31 days, from March 4, 1841, to April 4, 1841, before dying in office of what was likely either pneumonia or typhoid from drinking contaminated water at the White House – the scholars disagree.  His death sparked a controversy over the succession of the office; some believed that the Vice-President became the next President automatically, while others believed that the VP only assumed the duties until an election could be held. Harrison’s Vice-President, John Tyler, asserted the former, and fulfilled the role until the end of Harrison’s term.  Eventually the language was clarified in favor of the “VP becomes the President” view.

There were three of us on my tour, me and a father son duo who joined a little late.  The docent was knowledgeable, explaining facts about Harrison both before and after his Presidency.  My knowledge of the Revolution and the French and Indian Wars is a bit sketchy, so although I’m sure I heard about the Battle of Tippecanoe, it wasn’t something I feel well versed in.  In case you were wondering, it is where the Presidential campaign slogan, “Tippecanoe and Tyler, too” came from.

Harrison was a controversial figure in his dealings with the Native Americans, with many tribal leaders feeling like he was making deals with chiefs who didn’t have the authority to sell the land.  Of course, we know how that all turned out for the tribe.  It seems having 28-inch-thick walls in his home was probably a pretty good idea.

The mansion is incredible, with 13 rooms and a finished basement.  It was fancy for the time period, and they had period furnishings that show it off as it would have looked at the time.  She also explained the spot outside where Tecumseh is thought to have stood with his warriors and expressed his dissatisfaction with Harrison’s land treaties.

The drawback is that you aren’t allowed to take pictures; I did manage to sneak one of the dining room though – I’m such a rebel!

I didn’t know much about Harrison, but it was a fascinating place to check out!

 

Circus Trip 2018: Oldfields (Lilly House)

Day 25, Thursday, August 9, 2018

Indianapolis, Indiana

Oldfields was built between 1909 and 1913 on what was then the country outside of Indianapolis.

Oldfields is representative of the Country Place Era that was prevalent between 1885 and 1939; a reaction to increasing industrialization and urbanization around the United States during that time period.  It was built in the French Chateau style of an old country estate, providing the family an escape to the country when life in the city had a tendency to be dirty and stifling, especially in the summer.  While it was originally designed and built for the Hugh McKennan Landon family by his brother-in-law, architect Lewis Ketcham Davis, the 26 acre estate was purchased by Josiah K. Lilly, Jr. in 1932.

After the Lilly family donated Oldfields to the Art Association of Indianapolis they used Oldfields as exhibit space for several years, before putting the home on display as a historic house.  The first floor has eight rooms decorated in the 1930s country house style, and there are a few exhibits upstairs.  Your admission to Newfields includes a self-guided tour of the Oldfields Mansion.  It is beautiful and worth seeing!  I enjoyed wandering from room to room, checking out the period furnishing and the 1930s styling of the home.  Again, though, the whimsical plastic elephants were not really my taste.

If you are at Newfields, be sure to check this home out!

Note: Newfields refers to Oldfields as Lilly House and Gardens, but I am choosing to call it by its original given name.  I’m wild like that.

 

Circus Trip 2018: Oldfields Gardens

Day 25, Thursday, August 9, 2018

Indianapolis, Indiana

I went to the Indianapolis Art Museum!  But first, I must try to explain the names…  Newfields is the official name of the Indianapolis Art Museum complex; it is named for the newer house built on the site that the museum is on.  The art museum is just one building on the site, though.  In 1966, Ruth Lilly and Josiah K. Lilly, the younger generation of the pharmaceutical king family, donated the estate to the Art Association of Indianapolis for their museum complex.  The donation included the country homes of the family; the original home was named Oldfields, and the new house was Newfields!

The Newfields complex includes the Oldfields gardens, the Oldfields Mansion (also called Lilly House), which was accessible through a self-guided tour, and the Indianapolis Art Museum, the Clowes Pavilion (another mansion which is currently closed for restoration) as well as the 100 acre Virginia B Fairbanks Art & Nature Park, which I did not have time to visit.  Admission is $18, which is high, especially after they had no admission fee for years, but it is incredible!  I feel like that $18 was good for two days, but I can’t remember, and I couldn’t turn up any mention of it on their website.

I started with the gardens, figuring that I could spend some time outside earlier in the day before it got unbearably hot.  Well, to be honest, it was already unbearably hot, but I am nothing if not dedicated to my touristing.

The gardens were designed for the original owners of the home; and include a sunken formal garden, a ravine garden, an orchard, a fountain, the Grand Allée (vista) and a border garden. When the Lilly family purchased the estate in 1933, the gardens were mature and thankfully the family didn’t change the design of the gardens.  It is incredible to have these historic gardens available to the public!

There is a lot to see, and outdoor art installations also add a touch of whimsy to the gardens.  I have to admit though, the brightly colored, nearly life sized bears, alligators, meerkats, turtles and other animals scattered around added a bit too much whimsy for my taste.  I prefer my art a bit more traditional.  It was fun to wander around and check everything out though!

 

 

Circus Trip 2018: General Lew Wallace Study and Museum

Day 23, Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Crawfordsville, Indiana

Marilyn took me to the Lew Wallace Study and Museum.  I had no idea this was in Crawfordsville, Indiana.  Wallace was born in 1827 in Brookville, Indiana, and lived in Crawfordsville at several points during his life, retiring to his family home after a long career in the military and public service.

Lew Wallace was a lawyer and a Civil War Major General (and also one of the youngest Union officers to ever hold the rank).  He played important roles in the battles of Fort Donelson, and Shiloh, and he went against orders to protect Washington, D.C. from the Confederates at the Battle of Monocacy.

At the conclusion of the war, he served as a member of the military tribunal who tried those responsible for assassinating Abraham Lincoln, as well as the tribunal that tried Commander Wirz, the infamous officer who ran the Andersonville Confederate POW camp.

 

After the war tribunals were over, he went down to Mexico to provide supplies to the Juaristas so they could kick the French out of Mexico, and he served as the governor of the New Mexico territory from 1878 to 1881.  During his time in New Mexico, he signed the execution warrant for Billy the Kid (who then escaped again and died after being shot by Sheriff Pat Garrett instead of being executed).

In 1880, he authored Ben-Hur, the epic biblical saga, despite the fact that prior to writing the book, he wasn’t a particularly religious man.  He also wrote several other books, including his own auto-biography.  Marilyn gave me her vintage copy of Ben-Hur, since I have never read it.  I haven’t yet, but plan to!

In 1881 Wallace was appointed by President Garfield as the U.S. minister to Turkey and the Ottoman Empire.  In 1882 he and his wife Susan made a pilgrimage to Israel.  Makes you feel like kind of a slouch, right?

 

Those accomplishments made him pretty spectacular already, but in addition to that, he also invented a fishing pole with an internal reel, and he even designed the study we visited.  Yes, you heard right.  Wallace wanted his own study where he could read, design and invent; basically the 19th century man-cave with fewer neon beer signs and flat-screen TVs with football games.

Wallace designed a gorgeous brick building, and had it constructed between 1895 and 1898, at a cost of $30,000 dollars.  It combines several different architectural styles; Byzantine, Romanesque, and Greek.  The outside of the study has a face on each side; each one a character from Ben-Hur.  He filled it with amazing books, art and historical artifacts.

 

I would love to have a study like this!  Our tour was wonderful, and I was so excited that they allow photographs inside!  Our docent had an incredible knowledge of Wallace and his accomplishments, as well as the historical details of the study.  This is truly a labor of love for these folks.

And get this – they had a little library in the shape of the Lew Wallace Study!