Tag Archive | historic toilets

London 2018: Tower of London

Day 3, Tuesday, June 26, 2018

After departing from the City Cruises boat, we made our way up to the Tower of London.  This is another one of those iconic can’t-miss London experiences.

The Tower of London was originally founded in 1066 as a part of the Norman Conquest of England.  The oldest structure on the site, the White Tower, was built beginning in 1078 by William the Conqueror, and it has been in continuous use since then!  The site was added on to several times over the years and has served as a royal residence, a prison and has housed the royal menagerie, the treasury and the Royal Mint.

Despite its reputation as a prison, torture chamber and execution ground, only 7 people were executed here until the 20th century.  Most executions were actually carried out at Tower Hill, which was north of the Tower of London.  During World Wars I and II, 12 men were executed here for espionage, surpassing the total number of executions during the medieval period.

In the 11th and 12th centuries, the tower was expanded to its current size, with two concentric walls built around the White Tower.  There was construction to further fortify the castle with moats and ditches too.  The Tower of London site is large, encompassing 12 acres.

We spent several hours wandering around; checking out the numerous exhibits in various areas of the castle.  There was a very interesting exhibit on the Royal Mint, explaining how money is made and counterfeited, as well as historical attempts to crack down on the counterfeit problem.  The King and Queen’s quarters are open to the public, so you can check out how royalty lived in the medieval period.  I do have to say, I’m glad to live in the modern era – I like flush toilets, being warm and showers a bit too much to have been very happy back then.

From 1235 until the 1800s, the Tower of London housed the royal menagerie, essentially London’s first zoo.  There were lions, a polar bear, an African elephant, and in later years, pumas, eagles, tigers and a jackal were added.  Of course, there was very little real knowledge about the care and feeding of the menagerie’s animals, and the keepers fed elephants a diet of meat because they assumed they were carnivores.  Perhaps even more bizarre, one elephant arrived with instructions from the Spanish King to only feed it wine between September and April.  Sadly the elephants didn’t live long, as I am sure you can imagine why.  Visitors could see the animals, although it was not for the faint for heart.  In later years of the menagerie the animals sometimes injured or killed their keepers, and even visitors!  It’s not a good idea to pet the lions…

There is an exhibit in the White Tower on armor, which was cool!  They had so many suits of armor for horses!  They also had suits of armor that would fit gigantic men, and young children.

There were also lots of other random artifacts, including the original Norman Garderobe.  That’s a fancy way of saying toilet, which is a fancy way of saying hole in the outer wall where your waste could drip down the outer wall of the castle.  Yuck.

Even though the Tower of London didn’t have many executions, there was an exhibit in the Salt Tower documenting the stories of some of the prisoners that were kept there over the years.  And an exhibit of some medieval torture methods, including the rack.

Finally, no visit would be complete without checking out the Crown Jewels!  The line was long, but it moved quickly, and the jewels were incredible!  Room after room of staffs, jewelry, table settings and of course crowns.  No photos were permitted inside this exhibit, but the jewels were very pretty!  They even had two moving sidewalks that took visitors past the crowns – to prevent people from bottle necking at the crowns.  Taryn and I went back and got back on the other sidewalk to get a better view of the jewels on the other side.  What can I say – I like shiny things…

A tower Beefeater

While we were at the Tower of London, we had lunch at the New Armouries Cafe, one of their onsite food options.  I had the fish and chips, which came with peas.  A little malt vinegar and I was happy!  The cafe is cafeteria style, but they do a pretty good job with the food.  Taryn and I also had some sorbet while we were waiting in line to see the Crown Jewels!  Delicious!

The Tower of London was well worth the visit, with so much to see!  We weren’t anywhere close to being done for the day; our visit to the Tower Bridge is coming up next!

Costs: Tower of London – 22.70 pounds (free with London pass), Lunch at New Armouries Cafe.

Circus Trip 2018: Historic Toilet Edition

I have wanted to go to Bodie State Historic Park for such a long time.  It is in mid-eastern California, northeast of Yosemite National Park.  It is pretty remote, and the road closes in winter, so it has been a long time coming.  But, finally, I got to go!!!

Here’s a sneak peak, as a nod to my mom, who celebrated her birthday last week.  She loves historic toilets!

Toilets of Yesteryear…

Apparently my readers are all as strange as I am, and are clamoring for a post on the historic toilets of the United States.  Or, at least the ones I have come across in my travels.  So…  Without further ado… Don’t try to pretend later that you didn’t ask for it…  Weirdos… 🙂

Alcatraz has a few different kinds of historic toilets.  The general population toilet…

One of the General Population Cells at Alcatraz - 5 Feet by 9 Feet

One of the General Population Cells at Alcatraz – 5 Feet by 9 Feet

 

And a slightly more recognizable toilet – in the cell where John Anglin managed to dig out of Alcatraz in 1962.  Perhaps he made sure to go potty one last time before he escaped, never to be heard from again…

The Cell that John Anglin Dug Out of in 1962. He Made it Off the Island, But Was Never Heard From Again, and Presumed Drowned.

The Cell that John Anglin Dug Out of in 1962. He Made it Off the Island, But Was Never Heard From Again, and Presumed Drowned.

 

This prison toilet at the Old Idaho Penitentiary was slightly less fancy than the toilets at Alcatraz…  I wonder if pooping in a bucket helped the recidivism rates.

See that panel in the wall there? That's where prisoners got to keep their shared bucket. Yep - you got to poop in a bucket, and you probably had to empty it out and wash it yourself. Imagine the aroma on a 90+ degree day...

See that panel in the wall there? That’s where prisoners got to keep their shared bucket. Yep – you got to poop in a bucket, and you probably had to empty it out and wash it yourself. Imagine the aroma on a 90+ degree day…

I visited Fort Vancouver with my mom and my cousin and checked out this historic double outhouse (although it is a replica).  Posing optional…

My cousin and I roleplaying in the double outhouse at Fort Vancouver. This one is a replica though

My cousin and I roleplaying in the double outhouse at Fort Vancouver. This one is a replica though

This privy at George Washington’s Mount Vernon is probably original, given that it looks like they are trying to restore it.  That’s my story and I am sticking to it.

A historic privy at Mount Vernon. Sadly, the privy is not discussed in the guidebook, so I can't tell you when it was built, or if it is original.

A historic privy at Mount Vernon. Sadly, the privy is not discussed in the guidebook, so I can’t tell you when it was built, or if it is original.

 

This outhouse at the Wilmer McLean House at Appomattox Court House National Historical Park is almost certainly a replica, but it sure looks the part.

Wilmer McLean's Outhouse

Wilmer McLean’s Outhouse

 

This historic outhouse was discovered in the ghost town of St. Elmo, Colorado.  It looks a little rickety – step on in and try it out!

An old outhouse in St. Elmo

An old outhouse in St. Elmo

 

While this toilet is not historic, it made the blog purely for its “technological advancements.”  Given that it is located in the ladies room at the Dark Horse Brewery in Marshall, Michigan, it seemed worth a mention.

I have no idea what “features” this toilet offers

I have no idea what “features” this toilet offers

 

This toilet at the George Washington Birthplace National Monument isn’t historic either, but I felt I had to include it for the unique foot pedal flush!

 

George Washington Birthplace Toilet

George Washington Birthplace Toilet

 

And although this isn’t a toilet, this bathtub is truly the most historic one I have ever seen.  Discovered at Pompeii.

A Pompeiian bathtub - these folks were shorter than me!

A Pompeiian bathtub – these folks were shorter than me!

 

And of course, those of you who couldn’t wait for the historic toilets post will remember these recent photos from my West trip…

The Prairie Homestead’s double holed outhouse…

I met a new friend in the Prairie Homestead's double outhouse...

I met a new friend in the Prairie Homestead’s double outhouse…

And a genuine nuclear missile Launch Control Center toilet.

A genuine historic toilet! Unavailable for posing on...

A genuine historic toilet! Unavailable for posing on…

 

That’s it for now folks.  I am sure I have more historic toilets in my photo files, so when I come across some more, I will be sure to post another round.  Maybe Toilets of Yesteryear will become a series!

West 2016: Missiles and Sod…

Day 4: August 8, 2016

We began our day with a trip to the Minuteman Missile National Historic Site in Philip, South Dakota. It was on the way to Badlands National Park, which was our ultimate destination for the day.

We didn’t actually tour the Launch Control Center, as that is a few miles down the road and we didn’t have time with our busy agenda for the day.  There are a limited number of spaces on tours each day, for a small per person fee.  The Launch Control Center was active between the 1960s and the mid-1990s, when most of the nuclear missiles were deactivated.  The United States during the peak of the Cold War had about 1,000 active nuclear missiles, and each control center controlled 10 missiles.  So, you can do the math – this was not the only control center.

The Minuteman Missile National Historic Site

The Minuteman Missile National Historic Site

Even without going on the tour though, the Visitor’s Center was well worth the stop. Exhibits covered the length of the history of nuclear armament, from the dropping of the first atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the Cold War, the tense periods with Cuba and Russia, and the eventual agreements to move toward disarming nuclear weapons around the world. Several years ago, I toured the Titan Missile Site in Sahuarita, AZ, near Tucson, so I was able to translate that experience without seeing this silo site.

When I toured the Titan site in AZ, I was amazed by the technology that existed in the construction of the silo. On my tour there, a volunteer was asked to try to open a blast door that weighed several tons. It was so well balanced and constructed that it moved very easily on its bearings.

The Minuteman Missile Visitor’s Center had a piece of the Berlin Wall that visitors could touch.

Mom, with a piece of the Berlin Wall

Mom, with a piece of the Berlin Wall

They also had a genuine missile silo toilet – a historic toilet for my collection! You know I had to get a photo of that!  Sadly it was damaged (probably by other historic toilet photo collectors) so I didn’t get to pose properly for the photo.  This one will have to do…

 

A genuine historic toilet! Unavailable for posing on...

A genuine historic toilet! Unavailable for posing on…

After the Minuteman site, we went just down the road to the Prairie Homestead – a South Dakota State Historic Site. There were two draws to the site – the first was the sod house, built in 1909 by the Ed Brown family. The home also had a later wooden addition; another home that was moved from its original location, and which doubled the size of the original house. It would be difficult to live in sod, which had bugs who would move through it and drop into the home (yuck), as well as the fact that sod walls make for a damp environment and tend to sag over time.

The Brown family sod house - the sod portion on the left was built in 1909

The Brown family sod house – the sod portion on the left was built in 1909

 

The bedroom in the sod house, showing the sod walls.

The bedroom in the sod house, showing the sod walls.

There were also several outbuildings on the site, including an outhouse, but I’m not sure if the outhouse was original or reconstructed. That didn’t stop me from getting photos of the historic toilet and its perpetual guest. There is a root cellar, and an old well.  The barn has animals, including chickens and goats, which I’m sure would keep the kids busy and entertained if for some crazy reason they got bored watching the more famous four legged residents.

I met a new friend in the Prairie Homestead's double outhouse...

I met a new friend in the Prairie Homestead’s double outhouse…

The other big draw of the Prairie Homestead is that they have white prairie dogs! Staff indicated that these prairie dogs are a separate species, but they aren’t.  They are actually leucistic black-tailed prairie dogs, meaning they don’t have the pigment in their skin, but do have pigmented eyes, so they aren’t albino.  Many species of animals have leucistic individuals, including other mammals (white lions and tigers), reptiles and birds.  These prairie dogs were certainly lighter in color than others that we saw during our trip, and they didn’t have the typical black-tipped tail of other members of their species. The fact that these prairie dogs interbred among themselves causes the genetic mutation to continue.

These guys are so cute!

These guys are so cute!

I loved watching them, and took lots of photos of them popping out of their burrows.  They are so adorably cute!

Which way do we look?

Which way do we look?

 

A White Prairie Dog (otherwise known as a leucistic Black-tailed Prairie Dog)

A White Prairie Dog (otherwise known as a leucistic Black-tailed Prairie Dog)

These white prairie dogs were moved to the site in partnership with the Oglala Sioux tribe, but if you aren’t interested in seeing the sod house, you can see the white prairie dogs for free just down the road from the gas station.

Look! Three of them in one photo - triple the cuteness!

Look! Three of them in one photo – triple the cuteness!

By the time we left the Prairie Homestead it was lunchtime, but we had so much left to do in our day!