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Cuyahoga Valley NP History

Cuyahoga Valley National Park is one of our newer national parks, having been designated on October 11, 2000 by President Bill Clinton.  It is the only national park that began its public life as a National Recreation Area, having been designated as an NRA in 1974.  Cuyahoga Valley is unique in several other respects as well; it is the only national park in Ohio, located between Akron and Cleveland in a fairly populated area.  It was already filled with roads, farms, small towns and several existing parks before it became a national park, so the National Park Service coordinates with the towns and the metro park system to administer the park.

The land that Cuyahoga Valley National Park sits on has a long history of use by several tribes, including the Wyandot, Ottawa, Objibwe, Munsee, Potawatomi, and Shawnee, but the Lenapé Nation is considered the grandfather of many of the other tribes in the upper Ohio River Valley.  A series of treaties and white encroachment on their land pushed the tribes off the land in this area in the late 1700s and early 1800s.

White settlement began in the late 1700s, and increasing when the Ohio and Erie Canal established a well defined trade path between Akron and Cleveland in 1827.  Towns and services sprung up along the path of the canal, feeding passengers and workers on the barges, and quenching their thirst at the taverns!  Farming and sawmills were also common in the area.  Even after the railroad came to the valley in the mid-1800s and greatly lessened the use of the canal, it still operated as a method to move coal to the Great Lakes for the ships there.  The canal was finally doomed when a flood in 1913 washed out large portions of its banks, and some of the locks had to be dynamited in order to release the floodwaters.

The park is located along a 20 mile section of the old Ohio and Erie Canal, and it’s towpath has been turned into the Towpath Trail, for walkers, runners and bicyclists.  The park also has dozens of waterfalls, including the 65 foot Brandywine Falls, which is the tallest in the park and the second tallest in Ohio; some of the waterfalls dry up in the dry season though.  There are historic buildings, and living history museums, and some old cemeteries scattered throughout the park.  A rebuilt covered bridge, a marsh and lots of wildlife round out the park!

The park has an annual visitation of 2,096,053 in 2018, and I was one of them!  I spent two days there in August 2018; I’m excited to share my experiences!

 

Book Review: Death in Yellowstone

My aunt and uncle got Death in Yellowstone: Accidents and Foolhardiness in the First National Park, by Lee H. Whittlesey, for me as a gift.  It’s like they know me!  They have spent a couple of summers working in the bookstore near Old Faithful, so I imagine this book was screaming out at them from the shelves until they couldn’t ignore it anymore!

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First, let’s get this out of the way.  Yes, I appreciate the morbid.  It helps me cope; I get it from my mom…  But who wouldn’t want to know about all the strange and grisly ways there are to die in the nation’s first National Park?  Yellowstone was designated as a National Park on March 1, 1872, so that’s almost 150 years of opportunity to die there.  And Whittlesey has done a great job of compiling a comprehensive list of all of the deaths in the park.

There are a lot of ways to die!  He covers drownings, falling into thermals, deaths caused by horses and wagons, falls, deaths caused by wildlife, exposure, poison gases, suicides, murders and more!  Some, like deaths by wildlife, are less common than I would have guessed, with most of those being caused by grizzly bears (which is to be expected).  It also impressed upon me that you should never, ever, go roaming around Yellowstone at night, in the dark.  There are too many opportunities to fall in thermals, to fall off cliffs, to freeze to death (even if it isn’t winter), or to get eaten by a bear!  I mean I knew this already, but apparently there are people who don’t.

The writing style, leaves a bit to be desired; Whittlesey compiles information and presents it in a matter of fact manner, rather than spinning a excellent story.  At points it almost seems that bullets would be his preferred method.  That said, it is still interesting, and I enjoyed where he was able to get additional information about a victim (or a perpetrator) from the folks that knew them.

If you love our National Parks, and have a fascination with the macabre, you are sure to like this book!

3 stars.

Stay at Home Forever…

Hearts all over Washington State were broken this evening.  “Stay at Home” is extended until May 4.  32 more days of staying home, at a minimum.  UGH…

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t disagree that it is necessary, but ugh all the same.  I was feeling kind of mopey today anyway.  So let’s explore some things I’ve learned about staying home in the time of COVID…

  1. I use more toilet paper. I’m currently mapping this, but I think I am going through a roll a week.  I didn’t hoard, but I did buy 1 package last time I could find some, so I have about 19 rolls.  That will last me a while!
  2. I run the dishwasher way more often.  It’s all that eating at home.  I’m tired of eating at home by the way.
  3. COVID is stressful.  I’m safe at home, but I’m on the front line of decision-making for how to keep my essential government organization safe.  I am back to my stress-induced 3 am insomnia wake up call.  Ugh.
  4. You can’t make everybody happy (see #3).
  5. I never knew it was possible to obsess so much about having to clear my throat.  Was that cough “dry”?!?!?!?!?!?
  6. Working 40 hours a week from home does give me more time at home to get things done in my non-work hours, but that doesn’t mean I will!
  7. I’m really grateful that I had my surgery in December, before all elective surgery got canceled.
  8. Even introverts crave time with people.
  9. Putting on nice clothes doesn’t really have an impact on my mood.  But taking a shower does!  The last time I did laundry, I washed and folded exactly one pair of work slacks from the Board meeting I attended almost two weeks ago; since then the Governor has ruled that all public meetings must be conducted remotely.  I can’t say I’m disappointed!
  10. Coraline enjoys busting in on video meetings!

I like to get out for a walk each day or do some yard work; thankfully I’m only a short walk away from a college campus that is eerily empty…  I’m praying that our efforts are working to flatten the curve and save lives.  I’m heartbroken for the people who have lost their lives, and lost loved ones.  I hope that sooner rather than later, we are able to move on from this.  Meanwhile, I’ll keep doing my part.

 

Circus Trip 2018: National Museum of the Air Force

Day 34, Saturday, August 18, 2018

Dayton, Ohio

The National Museum of the Air Force is located at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, near Dayton, Ohio. It is the oldest and largest military in the world, and it has 360 aircraft and missiles on display. The museum was first created in 1923, with technical artifacts being collected for preservation. In 1954, the museum first opened to the public.

The museum has many rare aircraft and other memorabilia. They have the only surviving North American XB-70 Valkryie, as well as the Bockscar, the B-29 Superfortress that dropped the bomb on Nagasaki in 1945.

They have a huge collection of planes with interesting and beautiful nose art, which I have long been fascinated with.

One of the artifacts that I love are the goblets and bottle of Cognac given by the City of Tucson, Arizona to the Doolittle’s Raiders. The brave men who participated in the raid each had a goblet with their name engraved on it. When each man died, their goblet is turned over in the case; some men’s goblets were always overturned, as they were killed after they crash landed in China and were captured by the Japanese. The intent was that the last living survivor of the raid was to open the bottle of Cognac and toast the other raiders.  The bottle was from 1896, the year their Commanding Officer, Doolittle, was born.

Several years ago, there were 4 remaining raiders and they decided they wanted to complete the toast before they were down to one; three of them were able to travel to the museum and participate. The museum live-streamed the ceremony and the toast and I had the opportunity to watch. It was powerful to see, and impacted me greatly.  The last Doolittle Raider, Retired Lt. Col. Richard “Dick” Cole, died on April 9, 2018.  What a brave group of men they were!

The museum also had a special exhibit on the Holocaust; artifacts and information related to the concentration camps. The exhibit had information both on civilians and the airmen who were captured and held at the camps.  It was hard to walk through the exhibit and see the faces of those who died or whose lives were destroyed.

There are uplifting exhibits at the museum as well.  According to the Museum’s website, John Silver was a homing pigeon “used in World War I to deliver messages when other means such as telephones, telegraph, radio or dispatch riders were unavailable. They proved their value carrying messages from front line outposts to pigeon lofts at command centers, which they returned to by instinct and training.  John Silver was hatched in January 1918 in a dugout just behind the lines in France. During the Meuse-Argonne offensive, he was one of the most active pigeons in the Army, and his barrage-dodging skill was apparent in many exciting flights from the front line trenches to divisional pigeon lofts.

On Oct. 21, 1918, at 2:35 p.m., this pigeon was released at Grandpre from a front line dugout in the Meuse-Argonne drive with an important message for headquarters at Rampont, 25 miles away. The enemy had laid down a furious bombardment prior to an attack. Through this fire, the pigeon circled, gained his bearings and flew toward Rampont. Men in the trenches saw a shell explode near the pigeon. The concussion tossed him upward and then plunged him downward. Struggling, he regained his altitude and continued on his course. Arriving at Rampont 25 minutes later, the bird was a terrible sight. A bullet had ripped his breast, bits of shrapnel ripped his tiny body, and his right leg was missing. The message tube, intact, was hanging by the ligaments of the torn leg. Weeks of nursing restored his health but could not give back the leg he lost on the battlefield. The pigeon became a war hero and earned the name “John Silver,” after the one-legged pirate in Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island. He was retired from active service and in 1921 was assigned as a mascot to the 11th Signal Company, U.S. Army Signal Corps, Schofield Barracks, Honolulu, Hawaii. John Silver died Dec. 6, 1935, at the age of 17 years and 11 months.”  He was a hero! You can read more about him here.

John Silver, the homing pigeon

Outside, they have monuments and sculptures dedicated to various units of the Air Force.

 

I was there for a few hours in the afternoon, but you could easily spend a couple of days here. After two visits, I’m still nowhere near seeing it all, I’m sure!

Wish I Could See the Tulips

So many of us are staying home, and let’s face it, it is sad that so many social events have been canceled.  It can get lonely…  A local pride and joy each spring, the Tulip Festival, will instead be beautiful blooms of millions of tulips, with very few people to see them.

Here’s a photo from the 2019 Tulip Festival, in case you need a little pick me up for your stay at home life…

Stay safe everybody!

 

 

Rest in Peace Biz

Today, at about 3:20 pm, Biz crossed over the rainbow bridge.  It was a nice, spring day, and he went outside for one last day in the sunshine before he came inside, lay down, and was suddenly gone.

He was 32 years old, and had used up at least 17 lives, so it wasn’t a surprise, but that doesn’t make it hurt any less.

My parents bought Biz for me when I was 14 years old, in January 1990, over 30 years ago.  He was a two year old at the time, with no common sense, but he never really acquired much of that.  He was spastic his entire life, spooking at nothing, barging through doorways and gates, always in a rush to get in for dinner.  Unless it was spring, when on nice days, he would decide he wanted to stay outside, and whoever was trying to catch him could just go pound sand…

He was always high spirited, and full of piss and vinegar.  He trotted around, blowing and snorting, with his tail in the air whenever he had the chance.

The first time I tried to give him an apple, he didn’t know what it was, and wouldn’t eat it, so I gave it to his neighbor.  You better believe he never made that mistake again!

He let the cats ride him, but he loved to chase the dogs, and bite the cows.

He had a special talent for injuring himself or getting sick and was close to death at least four times that I can think of.  He had an immense capacity for healing.  He proved the vets wrong time and time again, living through horrific wounds, incredibly high fevers, equine influenza, suspected salmonella poisonings (yes that’s plural).  We made bets on whether he would go out in a blaze of glory, or just lie down and go when it was time.

He was patient about being poked and prodded, unless you wanted to poke or prod his face.  That required the good drugs…

He was a pain in the ass, but a sweet one at that.

 

I’m incredibly sad, but he lived a very good life, and he didn’t have to suffer a long, slow decline.  Rest in Peace, Biz.

Circus Trip 2018: William Howard Taft NHS

Day 34, Saturday, August 18, 2018

Cincinnati, Ohio

On my way through Cincinnati I stopped at the William H. Taft National Historic Site.

Taft was the 27th President of the United States, as well as the 10th Chief Justice of the United States.  He was born in 1857, and lived at his family home in Cincinnati, Ohio until he went to Yale University in 1874.  Even before he was President, he achieved many notable accomplishments!  Taft rose quickly through the ranks, becoming a judge while he was still in his twenties and then he was appointed as a judge of the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals.  He also served as the civilian governor of Philippines, from 1901 to December 1903.

William Howard Taft (from Wikipedia)

Roosevelt spoke with Taft about appointing him to the Supreme Court in 1902, but Taft didn’t feel like his work in the Philippines was finished, and he also still had a desire to run for the Presidency.  One of Roosevelt’s goals that year was to eliminate Taft as a potential rival to the Presidency, as Roosevelt wanted to run himself.  Taft did accept the role of Secretary of War in 1904, and added Presidential Cabinet member to his list of accomplishments.

In 1908 he was elected President against William Jennings Bryan with Theodore Roosevelt’s assistance.  Taft and Roosevelt’s relationship deteriorated due to political disagreements during Taft’s Presidency and ultimately Roosevelt decided to run for President as a third-party candidate and split the vote, resulting in Woodrow Wilson’s win in 1912.

Several years after Taft left the Presidency, he did finally realize his dream of becoming the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court in 1921, and served until his death in 1930.  He was the only person in our nation’s history to serve both as President and as Chief Justice!

The National Historic Site is located in Taft’s birthplace and childhood home in Cincinnati.  The home was built in the Greek Revival style and is believed to have been built in 1842 in the Mount Auburn neighborhood of the city.  At the time, Mount Auburn was a popular place for wealthy residents of Cincinnati, where they could escape the heat and humidity of the inner area of the city.  Taft’s parents lived in the home until 1889, when they moved to California to benefit from the better climate.  The home was leased for ten years, then finally sold to a local judge in 1899.

The exterior of the Taft family home

The home went through the usual decline in the time period after it was sold out of the Taft family.  Outbuildings were destroyed, the home was divided into apartments, and by the time it was acquired by the William Howard Taft Memorial Association in 1953 for $35,000 it was in a sad state of disrepair.  The home needed restoration, and once it was completed, the home was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1964.

The home has been restored to the period when William H. Taft lived there during his childhood.  The first floor of the home has rooms decorated in period furnishings, and it’s beautiful!

The upstairs rooms are set up as exhibits, with information on Taft’s life and career.

The home is open as a part of a tour, but you are welcome to go through the upstairs exhibit areas at your own pace and take your time.  The Visitor’s Center has an interesting movie on William H. Taft and his life and career.  Be sure to check it out!  The day that I was there, there was a large bus tour of elderly women, but they were on the tour in front of me; my tour was fairly small.  You can see it all in about 90 minutes; and keep in mind, I go slowly…

Taft wasn’t a President I knew much about, but the William J. Taft National Historic Site provided an interesting overview of an accomplished man.