Tag Archive | tourist

Circus Trip 2018: Cataract Falls State Park

Day 24, Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Cataract, Indiana

Who knew that the Midwest has such small waterfalls?  I guess it makes sense, being that the Midwest is so very much flatter than the foothills and mountains that stretch out less than an hour from my sea-level home.  I left Marilyn’s house about noon, and made my way towards Indianapolis.  Cataract Falls was along the way!

Cataract Falls State Park contains the largest waterfall by volume in Indiana, a two fall combo that separately measure at 18 and 20 feet, and combine to create an impressive 38 foot cascade!  It is considered to be a little taller than that, because there are a series of smaller cascades over the course of the half-mile of Cataract Falls.  Alright, maybe impressive is a bit of an overstatement, especially for those of us who have seen waterfalls over 600 feet tall at home.  However, if 38 feet is what Indiana has to offer, I’ll go see it.  I wandered around and relaxed a little bit, but it was too hot to hike that day.

The park also has a covered bridge, which largely looks like the covered bridges near Dana, Indiana, except that it a solid red with no white accents.  The Cataract Falls covered bridge was finished in 1876, and is the only remaining covered bridge in Owens County.  It is unusual because of its construction with a Smith Truss design, rather than the more common Burr Arch Truss that is found on most Indiana covered bridges.  It was pretty, but given my experience from the day before, I waited until another man walked inside before I did.  I will probably always do this with covered bridges now.

I also stopped at the tiny community of Cataract just outside of the state park.  They have a historic general store, originally built in 1860, filled with various antiques and snack items.  I didn’t find any antiques I had to have but did purchase a few of their unique soda options – I bought two to try.  That’s one of the nice things about traveling – you get out of your comfort zone and try foods and drinks that you might not otherwise pick at home!

That evening I headed to my friend Will’s house, outside of Indianapolis.  That evening we had turkey tacos for dinner, the first time in almost a month that I actually made a home cooked meal, in a home, with more than a couple ingredients.  It was soooo delicious!

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Circus Trip 2018: Indiana’s Covered Bridges

Day 23, Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Vermillion County, Indiana

Marilyn and I got up for a day of Indiana countryside sightseeing.  We decided we were going to check out several covered bridges, as this tri-county area around Dana, Indiana is known for having many of them.  Unfortunately, the very first bridge we went to, at the Ernie Pyle Memorial Rest Park, we came upon a tragic scene.  I won’t revisit it here, because I blogged about it last year.

That day we visited a number of bridges, historic cemeteries, murals and the General Lew Wallace Study & Museum.  I’m going to divide the posts up by subject, and group the photos together.

Once we steeled our nerves again from our morning, we saw several more covered bridges.  They are gorgeous, each painted red with white accents, each with the same neat, black lettering indicating the year it was built, along with name of the bridge and sometimes the builder.  The earliest bridge we saw was built in 1873, and the most recent was built in 2006.  I suppose now they are probably maintained by the county, or a historical society, but it still seemed odd that they are all painted the same.

They are scattered all around, with some of the bridges off to the side of the road, and others still part of the road so you could drive through them.  One is close to an old historic mill that has been redeveloped – it is quite picturesque!  I got to see quite a bit of the countryside, the Amish homes, and even a few Amish buggies.

The history here is incredible!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Circus Trip 2018: Lincoln’s Home

Day 21, Sunday, August 5, 2018

Lincoln lived and worked in Springfield, Illinois for 17 years.  It is where he established his law practice with William Herndon, and where he purchased his only home.  The home he owned, and several of the neighboring homes, have been preserved as the Lincoln Home National Historic Site.

Sign posing…

When Lincoln first purchased the home, it was a one and a half story cottage, with three rooms on the first floor and three sleeping lofts above.  Even though the home was only five years old when he bought it, Lincoln did extensive renovations, raising the roof to make a full second story, adding an addition on the back, and probably removing a large columned front porch.

After Lincoln’s death, the home was rented to a series of tenants, who began charging visitors to take a tour of the home.  This, and the fact that they did not leave the home in good condition, prompted Robert Lincoln to donate the home to the state of Illinois in 1887, with the stipulation that the home be available to the public at no charge. The home was restored to the period when Lincoln last lived in the home – 1861, so the home looks today like it did in the photographs taken at the time.

Ownership transferred to the National Park Service and it became a National Historic Site on August 18, 1971.  The site preserves the home and other period structures within a four block area around the home.

 

You have to sign up for a tour in order to see the home, but as agreed, it is free of charge.  The rangers take you through both levels of the home, from the public living areas to Lincoln’s and the children’s bedrooms.  The rugs and wallpapers are so loud and busy!  Most of the furniture is not original to the Lincoln’s time but is period.  However, Lincoln’s writing desk is the one he used, and it is humbling to see.  This is the desk where he wrote letters, studied and did his legal work at home.

 

I visited Lincoln’s Home once before, over 10 years ago, and really enjoyed the tour.  It was no less incredible this time around.  The rangers are great about telling the story of the home and answering questions.  The tour moves fairly quickly, because Lincoln’s Home is always a popular tourist attraction, so depending on the size of the group and the time of day you may feel a bit rushed.

A neighborhood home

 

Homes in the neighborhood

Be sure to take some time to wander the neighborhood as well; there are several other historic homes that have been preserved as a part of this historic site, and some interesting exhibits.

If you love Lincoln, you have to visit!

Circus Trip 2018: Lincoln’s New Salem

Day 20, Saturday, August 4, 2018

As I drove toward Springfield, Illinois I was lured away by the sign announcing Lincoln’s New Salem State Historic Site.  My eyes lit up…  New Salem!  (Note: Does this not happen to everyone?!!?)

New Salem was the town where Abraham Lincoln lived as a young adult, between 1831 and 1837, while he was in his twenties.  During that time he worked as a boatman, a soldier in the Black Hawk War, a general store owner, postmaster, surveyor, and of course, what he is most known for in his young life – a rail-splitter.  It was here that he was first elected to the Illinois General Assembly.  New Salem is also where he met and fell in love with Ann Rutledge, the young woman who many believe was the true love of his life.

New Salem as an actual town no longer exists.  It had a very short life; it was founded in 1829 and it was abandoned by 1840, in part because the nearby Sangamon River was not well suited for steamboat travel, and after the county seat was located in Petersburg people just naturally drifted away.  During its existence though, between 20 and 25 families lived in New Salem, and it was an active commercial center.

In the 1930s, the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) reconstructed New Salem, using the original foundations and historical information about the town and what it once looked like.  There are 22 recreated structures, from homes to the types of businesses that once existed there.  One log cabin is original – it was built in New Salem, moved at some point to Petersburg, and later moved back to New Salem when the village was reborn.

New Salem flowers

I arrived in time to have a late lunch and see the village.  I purchased my admission and checked out the museum first.  The museum has artifacts on life in New Salem, information about Lincoln’s time and experience here, and of course, they dive into the Lincoln/Ann Rutledge saga.

There are conflicting opinions on Lincoln’s relationship with Rutledge.  Some believe that Lincoln held Rutledge very close to his heart and was interested in marrying her.  Others believe that their relationship was simply a friendship, and that Lincoln’s affectionate way of writing about her was simply because he wrote the same way about everyone he cared for.  There are also those who believe that William Herndon, Lincoln’s former law partner, spun up the Rutledge story after Lincoln’s assassination in order to take a jab at Mary Todd Lincoln, whom he despised.  We will probably never know, and perhaps all that is known is that Rutledge died in New Salem in 1835 at the age of 22, and that Lincoln sunk into one of his many severe depressions after her death.

The village site itself is amazing.  The reconstructions are very well done and look like the original (I think – given that I wasn’t around to see the original).  It probably helps that these reconstructions aren’t too far from their 100th birthdays…  They are decorated with period artifacts and there are period costumed docents stationed at various places to answer questions and tell you about what their lives would have been like when Lincoln lived here.  One young woman told me that she was refusing to go inside her home because she had been surprised by a snake inside the previous day!  Things we don’t have to consider in Western Washington, but I would have liked to have seen the snake!

I enjoyed wandering around and checked out all the buildings.  The village contains homes, a post office, a general store, a blacksmith shop, and various other businesses reminiscent of the time period.  Even though Lincoln did not work in these buildings, the post office and general store he worked owned would have been similar to these reconstructions.

I took my time, checking out the interiors of each building, enjoying the leisurely afternoon!  There were lots of butterflies and bees on the flowers, and New Salem even has a horse!  It was a great place to learn about Lincoln’s young adult life!

Circus Trip 2018: Knox College and The Lincoln/Douglas Debates

Day 19 & 20, Friday, August 3, 2018 – Saturday, August 4, 2018

I spent the night in Galesburg, Illinois, a small town known for, well, being a small town? I camped at the Allison Campground at Lake Storey Recreational Area, a city park with a lot of RV’s and well, me. I was the only tent camper in a huge field of campsites. I paid my $16.00 and drove out into the field to my choice of sites!  There is a lake nearby in the park, maybe one day I will make it back there to check it out!

That evening, I chatted on the phone with friends, and enjoyed one of my Black Tea Infused Ciders from Four Daughters Winery. I also saw my very first cicada! Mind you, I have heard cicadas a lot when I have traveled in the Midwest, as they are a staple of summer. But they tend to be hidden, and not out in the open, or hanging out on the leg of my picnic table!

Galesburg is the site of one of the debates between Abraham Lincoln and Stephen Douglas in 1858. Can you believe it!? They debated on the front steps of one of the buildings of Knox College, which faces out toward the center of town.  The founders of Galesburg and Knox College were staunchly anti-slavery, so it ended up being the perfect place for Lincoln to challenge Douglas’ views on slavery.

It’s an easy place to get to, so after I packed up camp the next morning, I checked it out. There is a plaque on the wall of the Old Main’s exterior, but otherwise you would have no idea of the history that happened here. Old Main is the only building on the Knox College campus that still exists from the time when Lincoln and Douglas debated here.  Fun fact: According to historical accounts, Lincoln climbed through a window of the Old Main building to get to the debate platform, and was reported to have said, “at last I have gone through college.”

It was a good feeling to be standing on this spot, but strangely, there was no one else around on this Saturday morning in early August. Where were all the throngs of tourists wanting to see Lincoln sites? Sigh… I guess sometimes history goes unnoticed…

After seeing Knox College, I headed over to another little visited site in Galesburg; the place where Carl Sandburg was born. Carl Sandburg isn’t exactly a famous author these days, but at one time he was. He wrote poetry, and political discourse, and a giant, fat, multi-volume tome on Abraham Lincoln. So he has to be cool, even though I will admit to never having read his Lincoln biography. One day…  I’ll share my visit to the Sandburg home next!

Circus Trip 2018: D.C. Booth Fish Hatchery

Day 12, Friday, July 27, 2018

Spearfish, South Dakota is a town that I would love to explore more.  It is certainly on my list of places to return to; there is so much there and I only just scratched the surface.  There is a lot of hiking there that I would love to do!

That morning, I woke up, had breakfast, got ready and set out on my way.  I visited what was to be an unexpected gem.  I went to the D.C Booth Historic Fish Hatchery – oh my gosh wow!  I live in the Pacific Northwest, where we have lots of fish hatcheries – my city has two in town and several more out in the county.  However, the D.C. Booth Hatchery was something else entirely.

The hatchery is right in downtown Spearfish and in a beautiful setting.  They hatched trout from eggs that were gathered from Yellowstone National Park and other sources.  Interestingly, trout and the other fish hatched at Spearfish weren’t native to these waters; they were introduced to the rivers and streams in this area in order to provide stock for sport fisherman.  Over time, the hatchery saw more use as an education and training center, with the majority of the hatching tasks shifting to a newer facility nearby.  The hatchery operated through the 1980s, and then briefly closed due to budget constraints.

Fish in the ponds

 

Ducks at the hatchery

After the closure, the City of Spearfish approached the federal government and asked to form a partnership where the city would operate the hatchery, and use it as an educational tool and tourist attraction.  As a result, the hatchery reopened in 1989 and the city built the underwater viewing area, converted the 1899 Hatchery Building to a museum, opened up the D.C. Booth home for tours.  The home was originally built for D.C. Booth in 1905 and featured modern amenities for the time, including hot water for the bathroom.

A sculpture at the hatchery

The hatchery had all sorts of fry in the various ponds and it was fun to watch them swim around.  The underwater area was interesting; an opportunity to see the fish from a different vantage point!

Fish from below

The museum had historic hatchery equipment; they even had an old crockery storage pot from a hatchery in Winthrop, Washington!  There was a group of kids there working on a scavenger hunt, looking for things in the museum to check off their lists.

The hatchery also has a restored train car that was used to transport fry to places where they would be released into rivers and streams.  The rail car was really cool!  It had specialized holding tanks for the fry, so they could be transported in water, making the journey safer for them.  There were areas to store the fish food, as well as bunks and kitchen and bathroom areas for five employees.  It was fascinating to try to imagine what it would have been like to travel and work on one of these rail cars!

I also toured the D.C. Booth house, which was built for the first Superintendent of the hatchery.  The house was nice, and was large – I would have enjoyed living there!  The home had a lovely flower garden in back that Mrs. Booth used for entertaining.  I was the only person on the tour of the home, so the docent gave me extra time to explore all the nooks and crannies, including a small sewing room and the original electrical panel for the home.

The whole site is free to visit, and you can buy pellet food to feed the fish – that is so much fun for the kids (and those of us who are young at heart)!

I am so glad that I stopped there!  And the day was only half over!

 

Circus Trip 2018: Old Montana Prison

Day 7, Sunday, July 22, 2018

After I visited the Grant-Kohrs Ranch, I still had plenty of time in my day.  I headed over to the Old Montana Prison.  For some reason, I have a morbid fascination with old prisons, and this one didn’t disappoint!

The Old Montana Prison was in use from its construction in 1871, all the way to 1979.  Much of the present facility was built using convict labor, and the sandstone walls are 24 feet tall and extend 4 feet down into the ground to prevent prisoners from digging their way out.  Construction of the exterior walls began in 1893.  The oldest buildings currently standing at the prison are the original women’s building from 1907, and a 1912 prison building.

 

The prison is huge, and you can wander on a self-guided tour to see the cell blocks, cafeteria, women’s block, exercise yard, warden’s office, workshops and more.  I don’t think I would want to visit at night though; I’m sure the place is haunted!  The exhibits in the prison included information on the 1959 riot there, which resulted in the death of Deputy Warden Rothe and the murder-suicide of the two inmates who initiated the plot.  Several guards and other staff were held hostage for about 36 hours, before the Montana National Guard stormed the prison and ended the riot.  The inmates were rioting over the poor conditions at the prison, which got worse after the riot ended.

 

Another notable story is that of “Turkey Pete” Eitner, who was convicted and sentenced to life for murder in 1918. He became a model prisoner and was eventually put in charge of the turkey flock, which he proudly cared for.  His mental illness led to him believing that he owned the flock, which he then “sold” for a profit.  More entrepreneurial ventures followed, and he soon “owned” the prison.  Prisoners were permitted to humor him, and they printed checks on the prison printing press to pay for various things, and Turkey Pete “paid” for all the expenses at the prison.  When he died in 1967 after being incarcerated for 49 years, he received the only funeral ever held within the prison, and his cell was retired.

Turkey Pete’s Cell

The Old Montana Prison site also has four other museums on the site, and your admission fee of $15 (you get a discount with AAA) gets you into all of them.  The Montana Auto Museum has over 160 cars ranging from the invention of the first cars to muscle cars and sports cars.  Many of them are very unusual, including historic campers, and a replica of an 1886 Benz, which had one of the very first internal combustion engines.  I am not that into cars, but it was fascinating!  I was also impressed that they could get them all crammed into the building.  That would take a lot of planning to determine in which order they needed to be moved in, as well as some very good three-point turn skills.

 

The Frontier Museum has artifacts of items that were used by ranchers, farmers and frontiersmen during the Old West period.  There are firearms, saddles, spurs, a wagon, and Native American artifacts.  The Powell County Museum has artifacts that include mining industry items, and a local wood-carver’s collection.  Lastly, Yesterday’s Playthings has exhibits on model railroads, and dolls and toys.  Outside, you can explore an Old West Town, with homes and businesses that have been moved to the site.  None of these other museums take too much time, but are worth peeking into!

 

The museum complex also has a very unique museum shop.  The current prisoners in the Montana State prison system have the ability to make an assortment of arts and crafts, which are sold to the public through the museum store.  There are some very beautiful and intricate items, including paintings and tooled leather bridles.  I was in awe of their talent!

 

 

Soon though, I had to be on my way.  I drove to Dillon, Montana and found a KOA campground for the night.  I wanted to be close to my destination for the next morning!  I got there in enough time to enjoy the swimming pool and sit listening to the creek that ran alongside my campsite.  It was a nice place to park for the night.

Me at the Pool!

 

The creek at my campground, Dillon, Montana