Tag Archives: Museum Road Trip

2021 Mid-Eastern Road Trip Part 15B

5 Jan

A Slice of Life

Bill Lites

Day 15 – 7/26/2021 (Continued)

Now I headed east 20 miles on US-82 to visit the Old Engine No. 100 Museum located at Jeffords Park in Sylvester, GA.  This small museum is situated in the old restored 1895 Georgia-Ashburn-Sylvester-Camilla (GASC) Railroad line depot that serviced Worth County from 1895 to 1972.  Old 100 is a 1930 Baldwin Mikado 2-8-2 Steam Locomotive that was one of the many that were used to service the GASC line, which included Sylvester (first called ‘Isabella Station’ in 1893), during that time period.

Continuing another 20 miles southeast on US-82, I visited the Tifton Terminal Railway Museum located in Tifton, GA.  This museum is housed in the old 1910 Atlantic Coast Line station and displays railroad artifacts and other exhibits related to the history of the railroad’s influence on the city of Tifton and the surrounding Tift County area in the early 1900s.  The original depot served passengers on the CSX line from 1910 until 1986 when passenger service to this area was discontinued.

Photo credit: Bill Lites

Now I headed east on US-319 out of Tifton and traveled east 20 miles to Ocilla, where I picked up SR-32.  It was another 25 miles on SR-32 to where I visited the Heritage Station Museum located in Douglas, GA.  This small museum is situated in the old renovated 1905 Georgia and Florida Railroad Depot and has on display artifacts and memorabilia related to the history of Douglas and Coffee County dating from 1905.  The depot stopped serving passengers in 1949 and operated only as a freight office until 1985 when it was closed.

Photo Credit: Bill Lites

It was just a few blocks to where I wanted to visit the WWII Flight Training Museum located adjacent to the Douglas Municipal Airport there in Douglas.  The museum was closed, but their website informs me that the Training Base was built in 1941 by the USAAF as a primary flight training school to teach young cadets how to fly.  Thirteen of the original buildings have been renovated to show visitors how cadets lived and worked during their basic flight training at the base.

Photo Credit: Bill Lites

While I was in the vicinity of the Douglas Municipal Airport I stopped to visit my friend Tom Reilly at his restoration facility there at the airport.  Tom was good enough to take time from his busy schedule to give me a tour of his current projects.  Tom has restored many aircraft to flying condition over the years, but he is best known for recently finishing the 12-year restoration of the only flying XP-82 Twin Mustang in the world.  By the way, the airplane is For Sale, so if you are in the market for a superb one-of-a-kind warbird, give Tom a call and he will be glad to tell you all about the airplane.

Tom and his crew are currently restoring a Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress to flight configuration for one customer, while at the same time they are restoring the wings of another B-17 for another customer’s current restoration project.  Tom loves his work and gives his customers the very best product for their money.

Photo Credit: Bill Lites

After that amazing tour with Tom, I told Greta (My Garmin) to take me to my motel for the night there in Douglas.  On the way to the motel, I noticed a sign for the ‘El 1800 Mexican Restaurant’ just across US-441 from the WWII Flight Training Base and decided to give them a try.  I ordered their Enchiladas Plate, which came with refried beans and yellow rice.  It was delicious and there was enough for two dinners, so I’ll get to enjoy it again tomorrow.

—–To Be Continued—–

Bill is a retired Mechanical engineer living with his wonderful artist/writer wife, DiVoran, of 64 years in Titusville, Florida. He was born and raised in the Southwest, did a tour of duty with the U.S. Navy, attended Northrop University in Southern California and ended up working on America’s Manned Space Program for 35 years. He currently is retired and spends most of his time building and flying R/C model airplanes, traveling, writing blogs about his travels for Word Press and supporting his wife’s hobbies with framing, editing and marketing.  He also volunteers with a local church Car Care Ministry and as a tour guide at the Valiant Air Command Warbird Museum there in Titusville.  Bill has two wonderful children, two outstanding grandchildren, and a loving sister and her husband, all of whom also live in Central Florida, so he and DiVoran are rewarded by having family close to spend lots of quality time with.

One of Bill’s favorite Scriptures is:  John 10:10

2021 Mid-Eastern Road Trip Part 15A

29 Dec

A Slice of Life

Bill Lites

Day 15 – 7/26/2021

After a nice breakfast at the motel this morning, I headed southeast out of Columbus, 50 miles on US-280 to visit the Plains Train Depot Museum located in Plains, GA.  This small depot was built in 1888 and served the Plains, GA community from 1888 to 1951 when passenger service to the town was discontinued.  The depot was restored in 1975 and used as the headquarters for the 1976 Jimmy Carter Presidential Campaign there in Plains.  The museum displays photos and artifacts focusing on the activities held in the building during that time period.

Photo Credit: Bill Lites

A few blocks down the road I stopped to take a photo of Billy Carter’s Service Station Museum.  I learned that Billy Carter gave up managing the family peanut business in 1972, and bought this service station, where many of the 1976 Jimmy Carter presidential campaign celebrations were held.  Billy continued to run the station until 2008, when the station was renovated for use as a museum.  The museum displays artifacts and family memorabilia covering mostly the life and times of Billy Carter.

Photo Credit: Bill Lites

Now I continued east 10 miles on US-280 to visit the Windsor Hotel located in Americus, GA.  This hotel should be a museum, as it is one of the most lavish hotels I’ve seen.  Built in 1892, it was designed for many of the same reasons the Alcazar Hotel in St. Augustine Florida, to attract rich northern winter visitors.  This 100-room Victorian masterpiece served the community until it closed in 1972.  It was renovated in 1991 and modernized in 2010 to its present grander when it became part of the Best Western Group.

Photo Credit: Bill Lites

I drove over to the Jimmy Carter Regional Airport, there in Americus, Georga, to see where Charles Lindbergh made his first solo-flight in 1923, at age 21.  As the story goes, Lindbergh rode his blue Harley Davidson motorcycle to Southern Field in Americus to purchase a surplus WWI Curtis JN-4 ‘Jenny’ airplane for his barnstorming career.  He was able to purchase a new ‘Jenny’ (still crated in its shipping container), from a Mr. Wyche for $500.  

That price included the cost of mechanics time to assemble the plane there in one of the hangers at the field.  When the plane was ready to fly, and after several hours of instruction by Glenn Messer, Lindbergh took his first solo-flight in that airplane there at the field.  As you might remember, that young man went on to world fame, by being the first to fly non-stopped (solo) from New York to Paris in his ‘Spirit of St. Louis’ airplane and winning the coveted Orteig Prize ($25,000), in May of 1927.

Photo Credit: Bill Lites

Now I continued southeast 15 miles on US-280 to visit the Georgia Rural Telephone Museum located in Leslie, GA.  This museum is housed in an old 1920s cotton warehouse, across the street from the Citizen’s Telephone Company, and displays antique artifacts, photos, exhibits, and memorabilia explaining the history and advancement of telecommunications from 1878 thru the 19th and 20th centuries.

Photo Credit: Bill Lites

Continuing south 30 miles on US-195 I visited the Thronateeska Heritage Center located at the Heritage Plaza in Albany, GA.  This center, situated in the old restored 1913 Union Station, is dedicated to the preservation of the history of Southwest Georgia, and displays photos, exhibits, and artifacts related to the development of the southwest Georgia area dating from the 16th century.

Photo Credit: Bill Lites

—–To Be Continued—–

Bill is a retired Mechanical engineer living with his wonderful artist/writer wife, DiVoran, of 64 years in Titusville, Florida. He was born and raised in the Southwest, did a tour of duty with the U.S. Navy, attended Northrop University in Southern California and ended up working on America’s Manned Space Program for 35 years. He currently is retired and spends most of his time building and flying R/C model airplanes, traveling, writing blogs about his travels for Word Press and supporting his wife’s hobbies with framing, editing and marketing.  He also volunteers with a local church Car Care Ministry and as a tour guide at the Valiant Air Command Warbird Museum there in Titusville.  Bill has two wonderful children, two outstanding grandchildren, and a loving sister and her husband, all of whom also live in Central Florida, so he and DiVoran are rewarded by having family close to spend lots of quality time with.

One of Bill’s favorite Scriptures is:  John 10:10

2021 Mid-Eastern Road Trip-Part 14

22 Dec

A Slice of LIfe

Bill Lites

Day 14 – 7/25/2021

Leaving Birmingham this morning, I headed south 30 miles on I-65 to visit the Heart of Dixie Railroad Museum located in Calera, AL.  This museum actually utilizes two restored railroad depots as part of their displays.  One served the Southern Railway line and the other served the Louisville & Nashville (L&N) Railroad, both of which were moved to this location over the years.   The museum has restored steam locomotives, and other rolling stock, that are used to take visitors on short excursions, during the year, letting them experience real 1900s train travel.  

Photo Credit: Bill Lites

Both of the ‘Heart of Dixie’ museum’s depots display antique railroad artifacts, photos, and memorabilia relating the history of the railroad’s influence on the Shelby County area dating from 1890 to 2005.

Photo Credit: Bill Lites

Another 60 miles south on I-65 I wanted to visit the Maxwell AFB Air Park located in Montgomery, AL but the park was on the base and was closed to the public without a special pass.  So, I headed downtown to visit several places on my list.  The first was the Old Alabama Town, which is a collection of 50 restored 19th and 20th century structures that show how the early pioneers of central Alabama lived and worked.  This is an amazing attraction!

Photo Credit: Bill Lites

Next was the Hank Williams Museum, where this small store-front museum displays original artifacts and memorabilia from the singer’s short life.  The centerpiece of the museum’s displays is Hank’s 1952 Baby Blue Cadillac convertible.  The car is surrounded by many of his guitars, costumes, and photos as visitors are serenaded by some of his famous songs.  Brings back a lot of memories for me. 

Photo Credit: Bill Lites

It wasn’t far to where I stopped to check out the Riverfront Park there in Montgomery.  As it turns out, this is a wonderful city owned and operated recreation compound that provides an amphitheater for musical and other events, a baseball stadium, a riverboat for rides on the Alabama River, and the restored Union Train Station shed.  This compound is a great place for locals as well as visitors to enjoy a day at the park. 

Photo Credit: Bill Lites

Now I drove past the Capital Building on my way to visit The First White House of the Confederacy.  It is said that President Jefferson Davis and his family lived in this house during the time Mongomery was the capital of the Confederate States of America (1861).  The capital of the Confederacy was moved to Richmond, VA later that year.  The house was built in 1835 and moved to its present location in 1921, where it was restored for use as a museum, and has been furnished with many original mid-1800s period Jefferson family pieces.

Photo Credit: Bill Lites

Just down the street I ran across ‘The Alley’ and stopped to take a photo of that unusual entrance.  It appears that some creative folks have renovated the buildings on either side of this alley and now have all types of upscale boutiques, stores, restaurants, and bars for people to enjoy during their leisure time.

Photo Credit: Bill Lites

I wanted to visit the Hyundai manufacturing plant there in Montgomery but they had discontinued their tours because of Covid-19, so I headed east 40 miles on I-85 to visit the Tuskegee Airman National Historic Site located at the Morton Field in Tuskegee, AL.  This site honors the African American pilots who fought in the air for their country during WWII.  Morton Field was the home of the Tuskegee Airman Museum I visited on a previous road trip, but it has moved or closed, as I couldn’t find it at the field on this trip.

Photo Credit: Bill Lites

Continuing east 45 miles on I-85, across the border, I stopped to visit the National Civil War Naval Museum located in the Rotary Park area of Columbus, GA.  This large museum has the remains of two Civil War ships, the CSS Jackson Ironclad, built in 1864, and the USS Hartford, built in 1858, plus a large selection of scale model Civil War ships and ironclads.  The museum also displays a large variety of original Civil War uniforms, weapons, and a host of other artifacts, and memorabilia.

Photo Credit: Bill Lites

By now it was time to find my motel there in Columbus.  I entered the motel address into Greta (my Garmin) and she took me right to the motel.  After getting checked in, I recorded my day’s activities.  Then I heated up my leftover St. Louis Spareribs and enjoyed them for the third time.  That’s what I call stretching a good thing as far as you can.

—–To Be Continued—–

Bill is a retired Mechanical engineer living with his wonderful artist/writer wife, DiVoran, of 64 years in Titusville, Florida. He was born and raised in the Southwest, did a tour of duty with the U.S. Navy, attended Northrop University in Southern California and ended up working on America’s Manned Space Program for 35 years. He currently is retired and spends most of his time building and flying R/C model airplanes, traveling, writing blogs about his travels for Word Press and supporting his wife’s hobbies with framing, editing and marketing.  He also volunteers with a local church Car Care Ministry and as a tour guide at the Valiant Air Command Warbird Museum there in Titusville.  Bill has two wonderful children, two outstanding grandchildren, and a loving sister and her husband, all of whom also live in Central Florida, so he and DiVoran are rewarded by having family close to spend lots of quality time with.

One of Bill’s favorite Scriptures is:  John 10:10

2021 Mid-Eastern Road Trip Part 13

8 Dec

A Slice of Life

Bill Lites

Day 13 – 7/24/2021

After a good night’s sleep at Terry and Mary’s house, Terry insisted on taking me to breakfast at the local Cracker Barrel, there in Lester.  We talked about airplanes and my trip over breakfast, after which, we said our goodbyes.  Heading south 35 miles on SR-99/US-31, I passed thru Mt. Razell and Athens, where I visited the Old Decatur Depot located 

in Decatur, AL.  This small museum is situated in the restored 1905 Union Railway Passenger Depot and displays antique artifacts and memorabilia which tell the story of the rich railroad history of early Decatur and the surrounding Morgan County area.

Photo Credit: Bill Lites

Now I continued south 30 miles on US-31 to visit the Cullman Railroad Depot located in Cullman, AL.  This is another small railroad depot built in 1913 to replace the original 1870s depot there in Cullman.  The Depot was used until 1968 when passenger service was discontinued, and the building was renovated for the museum.  The museum displays railroad artifacts from the 1930s thru the 1960s.

Photo Credit:Bill Lites

I picked up I-65 out of Cullman and proceeded south 50 miles to visit the Southern Museum of Flight located in Birmingham, AL.  This large inside museum has 25+ beautifully restored aircraft displayed in two galleries dating from the Wright Brothers 1903 Flyer replica to the 1972 Rutan Variviggen.  The outside aircraft display of 20+ aircraft range from the 1948 Lockheed T-33 trainer to the 1968 Lockheed A-12 Blackbird.  I hate to see these wonderful examples of our country’s aviation history exposed to the elements like that.  Oh well, at least they are available for people to see, while they last.

Photo Credit: Bill Lites

I had several places to visit there in Birmingham, but I didn’t want to run out of time and miss the Barber Motorsports Museum, so I headed there next.  I had been to this museum once before on another road trip, but they rotate their exhibits from time to time and I knew their displays would be new.  This museum is housed in a modern 5-story building that shows off some 900 vintage motorcycles dating from 1903, and around 200, mostly Lotus, race cars.  Everything in this museum has been beautifully restored to running condition, and the tour guide I talked to said every one of the items could be running within an hour or so.   This museum was the highlight of this road trip!

After that great experience, I headed downtown to visit the Sloss Furnaces National Historic Landmark.  This site was closed, but their website informs me that the site serves as an interpretive museum for the steel industry and commemorates the pig-iron blast furnace plant that operated here in Birmingham from 1882 to 1971.  

Photo Credit: Bill Lites

It was just a few miles to where I stopped to check out the Golden Flake Factory.  This factory produces UTZ Potatoe Chips and several other snack foods.  I was hoping to get a tour of their facility, but they were closed.

Photo Credit: Bill Lites

Next, I headed toward Five Points South to visit the Vulcan Park & Museum where I wanted to get a photo of the 56-foot-tall statue of the Roman god Vulcan that overlooks the city.  I learned that it was designed in 1903 by Giuseppi Moretti, and was cast in 29 parts at Bethlehem Steel, for Birmingham’s entry at the 1904 World’s Fair in St. Louis Missouri.  I must admit it is very impressive!

Photo Credit: Bill Lites

Now I headed off to look for the motel there in Birmingham.  Greta (My Garmin) found the motel without any problems.  I got checked in and recorded the day’s activities. Then I warmed up my leftover St. Louis Spareribs dinner, from last night, and enjoyed that wonderful meal again.  WOW!  Was that ever good.  Amazingly, I still had enough left over for another meal.  Nothing like enjoying a meal three times, if you can.

—–To Be Continued—–

Bill is a retired Mechanical engineer living with his wonderful artist/writer wife, DiVoran, of 64 years in Titusville, Florida. He was born and raised in the Southwest, did a tour of duty with the U.S. Navy, attended Northrop University in Southern California and ended up working on America’s Manned Space Program for 35 years. He currently is retired and spends most of his time building and flying R/C model airplanes, traveling, writing blogs about his travels for Word Press and supporting his wife’s hobbies with framing, editing and marketing.  He also volunteers with a local church Car Care Ministry and as a tour guide at the Valiant Air Command Warbird Museum there in Titusville.  Bill has two wonderful children, two outstanding grandchildren, and a loving sister and her husband, all of whom also live in Central Florida, so he and DiVoran are rewarded by having family close to spend lots of quality time with.

One of Bill’s favorite Scriptures is:  John 10:10

2021 Mid-Eastern Road Trip Part 12

1 Dec

A Slice of Life

Bill Lites

Day 12 – 7/23/2021

Leaving Knoxville this morning, I headed southeast 30 miles on I-40 and SR-66 to visit the Tennessee Museum of Aviation located at the Gatlinburg-Pigeon Forge Airport in Sevierville, TN.  This museum has several beautifully restored WWII aircraft, in flying condition, and has other aviation artifacts and memorabilia, dating as far back as the Wright Brothers glider replica on display.  Flight demonstrations, put on by this museum’s aircraft, are a frequent occurrence, but that didn’t happen while I was there.  Bummer!

Photo Credit: https://www.facebook.com/TN.Museum.of.Aviation/

It was only a few miles to where I visited the Floyd Garrett Muscle Car Museum there in Sevierville.  This museum has 90+ perfectly restored muscle cars dating from the classic ’50s, ’60s, & ’70s and some of the more recent 2000s – 2010s.  To say this museum is filled with some of the most delicious looking ‘Eye Candy’ is an understatement.  That little tour took me back to my high school hot-rodding days.

Photo Credit: Bill Lites

After that wonderful trip down ‘Memory Lane’ I headed southwest 25 miles on US-441 to visit the Cades Cove Museum located in Mayville, TN.  This small museum can be found in the restored 1790 Thompson- Brown log cabin adjacent to the Cades Cove Visitor’s Center.  The museum displays many family relics and family heirlooms from the generations who lived in this area prior to the creation of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park (1934).

Photo Credit: Bill Lites

Now I headed 20 miles west on US-321, thru Ainwick & Friendsville to visit the Lenoir City Museum & Cotton Mill located in Lenoir City, TN.  The small museum relates the history of Lenoir City, and that of Major William B. Lenoir, who moved to North Carolina in 1810 and settled on land granted to his father.  The Mill was one of several mills built in 1821 by Lenoir to produce cotton yarns and battings.  It survived the Civil War and was converted to a flower mill in the late 1800s.  The mill continued to operate, producing flower until the 1950.  Only ruins of the mill remain, as it was burned by arsonists in 1991 and was not restored.

Photo Credit: Bill Lites

I headed southwest 30 miles on US-11 to visit the Sweetwater Depot located in Sweetwater, TN.  The restored 1852 Sweetwater railroad depot uses photographs and antique railroad artifacts, to tell the story of the development of the city of Sweetwater and the surrounding Monroe County area from the early 1800s.

Photo Credit:Bill Lites

It was another 35 miles southwest on US-411, thru Etowah, Delano, and Wetmore where I stopped to check out the Chilhowee Gliderport located in Benton, TN but there was nothing going on at the airfield.  So, I continued southwest about 10 miles to Ocoee, where I picked up I-75 and another 35 miles southwest to visit the Tennessee Valley RR Museum located in Chattanooga, TN.  This museum is situated in the reconstructed 1920s East Chattanooga Depot and displays restored steam locomotives and other rolling stock.  The museum has antique railroad artifacts dating from the early 1800s and offers daily short excursions, and other special offerings, on their restored 1950s era steam-driven trains.

Photo Credit: http://have-kids-will-travel.com/index.php/2018/11/01/tennessee-valley-railroad-museum-

Now I headed northwest 80 miles on I-24, across the Tennessee River, to visit Beechcraft Heritage Museum located adjacent to the Tullahoma Regional Airport in Tullahoma, TN.  This Museum displays 35+ beautifully restored civilian aircraft, including the very first 1924 Beechcraft Travel Air ‘Mystery Ship’ and many others in the Walter Beech Hanger.  My favorite is their 1932 Beechcraft Staggerwing.

Photo Credit:Bill Lites

After that thrilling tour thru aviation history, I headed southwest 75 miles on US-64 to visit my friends Terry and Mary, who have a beautiful home in the boonies, just across the border, near Lester, AL.  Greta (my Garmin) took me on a few back roads to get me there, but I finally made it to their house.

Photo Credit: Bill Lites

Terry told me I was just in time to go with him to Jim ’N & Nick’s BBQ for dinner.  I ordered their St. Louis Spare Ribs plate with baked beans, cold slaw, and a cornbread muffin.  That was a great meal!  And, I had enough left over for tomorrow night’s dinner.  It was dark by the time we got back to their house, and we spent the rest of that evening reminiscing about old times, when our kids were growing up together in Titusville, FL.

Photo Credit: Bill Lites

—–To Be Continued—–

Bill is a retired Mechanical engineer living with his wonderful artist/writer wife, DiVoran, of 64 years in Titusville, Florida. He was born and raised in the Southwest, did a tour of duty with the U.S. Navy, attended Northrop University in Southern California and ended up working on America’s Manned Space Program for 35 years. He currently is retired and spends most of his time building and flying R/C model airplanes, traveling, writing blogs about his travels for Word Press and supporting his wife’s hobbies with framing, editing and marketing.  He also volunteers with a local church Car Care Ministry and as a tour guide at the Valiant Air Command Warbird Museum there in Titusville.  Bill has two wonderful children, two outstanding grandchildren, and a loving sister and her husband, all of whom also live in Central Florida, so he and DiVoran are rewarded by having family close to spend lots of quality time with.

One of Bill’s favorite Scriptures is:  John 10:10

2021  Mid-Eastern Road Trip Part 9A

3 Nov

A Slice of Life

Bill Lites

Day 9 – 7/20/2021

This morning I headed south out of North Lima 9 miles on US-62 to visit the War Vet Museum located in Canfield, OH.  The museum is housed in the restored original home of Comfort S. Mygatt, built in 1809, and is the American Legion Post 177.  It displays historical military artifacts and memorabilia dating from the Civil War period.

Photo Credit: Bill Lites

Now I headed south 10 miles on SR-46 to visit the Log House Museum located in Columbiana, OH.  This museum is housed in a log cabin that sits on the site of the first U.S. Post Office in Columbiana, which was established in 1809.  The log cabin was built by Jacob Nessly in 1820 and moved to this location in 1975.  This small museum features 1800s quilts as well as pioneer, Civil War, WWI, and WWII artifacts.

It was another 25 miles south on SR-11 to where I tried to visit the Museum of Ceramics located in East Liverpool, OH but they were closed.  So, I found SR-7 and continued 20 miles south, along the Ohio River, to the Historic Fort Steuben located in Steubenville, OH.  This reconstruction of the 1787 Fort Steuben (built to protect early land surveyors from hostile Indians attacks) is situated on the original site of Fort Steuben, was built in 1987. Visitors can tour the eight buildings that make up the original fort, and get an idea of how the men lived and worked in the wilds of the new Ohio Country (Northwest Territory) during the 18th century.

I got a big surprise when I happened to see a historical marker that said Steubenville was the birthplace of the American singer, actor, and entertainer Dean Martin.  I grew up listening to his songs on the radio, watching him in movies, and laughed at him and Jerry Lewis on his TV show over the years.

Photo Credit: Bill Lites

I was really looking forward to visiting the Wheels Gone By automobile collection and the Welsh Classic Car Museum, there in Steubenville, but (Greta my Garmin) couldn’t find either one of them.  That turned out to be a real Bummer!  So, I just headed another 20 miles south on SR-7, skirting the Ohio River, to visit the Sedgwick House Museum located in Martins Ferry, OH.  This museum is housed in what was the Sedgwick family home (built in 1870) and displays rare antiques and artifacts related to the history of Martins Ferry and the surrounding area from the early 1800s.

Photo Credit:Bill Lites

It was only about 5 miles south on SR-7 to where I crossed the Ohio River, and drove into Wheeling, WV to visit the Kruger Street Toy and Model Train Museum.  The museum is housed in the original 1906 Elm Street Elementary School building, and has an amazing collection of dolls, toys, games, and model train layouts that will amaze young and old alike.

As I was leaving Wheeling, I stopped at the WV Independence Hall and discovered that Wheeling is considered the Birthplace of West Virginia and also served as the Civil War Capital of Virginia.   The museum is housed in the original building that was built in 1859 as a Customs House and served many other functions during and after the Civil War. 

Photo Credit: Bill Lites

Photo Credit: Bill Lites

Now I headed south about 10 miles on SR-7 to visit the West Virginia Penitentiary located in Moundsville, WV.  This prison structure was constructed in 1866 and served as a men’s and women’s prison until 1995.  In the later years of its operation the prison was listed as one of the Top Ten Most Violent Correctional Facilities by the United States Department of Justice.

Photo Credit: Bill Lites

—–To Be Continued—–

Bill is a retired Mechanical engineer living with his wonderful artist/writer wife, DiVoran, of 64 years in Titusville, Florida. He was born and raised in the Southwest, did a tour of duty with the U.S. Navy, attended Northrop University in Southern California and ended up working on America’s Manned Space Program for 35 years. He currently is retired and spends most of his time building and flying R/C model airplanes, traveling, writing blogs about his travels for Word Press and supporting his wife’s hobbies with framing, editing and marketing.  He also volunteers with a local church Car Care Ministry and as a tour guide at the Valiant Air Command Warbird Museum there in Titusville.  Bill has two wonderful children, two outstanding grandchildren, and a loving sister and her husband, all of whom also live in Central Florida, so he and DiVoran are rewarded by having family close to spend lots of quality time with.

One of Bill’s favorite Scriptures is:  John 10:10

2021 Mid-Eastern Road Trip Part 7

20 Oct

A Slice of Life

Bill Lites

Day 7 – 7/18/2021

This morning I headed north out of Syracuse on SR-370 about 5 miles to visit the Salt Museum located on the Onondaga Lake in Liverpool, NY.  Salt: that common ingredient that flavors our world, and that most of us can’t do without.  It all started in 1788 when Asa Danforth and Comfort Tayler came to Onondaga County New York, and with the help of the Native Onondagas, erected the first salt works.   The museum has an assortment of exhibits and artifacts used in the early 1800s to mine and process salt.

Photo Credit: Bill Lites

Next it was north 30 miles on I-81 to visit the H. Lee White Maritime Museum located at the Oswego Historic Maritime District in Oswego, NY.  The museum is situated in the 1925 former grain elevator freight house and has a variety of rare marine artifacts dating from the 16th century.  The museum also includes the WWII Tugboat LT-5 and the 1927 Darrick Boat #8.  This museum also maintains the old Oswego West Pierhead Lighthouse built in 1934, to replace the original 1880 light.

Photo Credit: Bill Lites

Before leaving Oswego, it was only a short drive to checkout the Oswego Speedway.  Known as the “Steel Palace” this track is the “Home of the Supermodifieds” open-wheel racecars.  There was nothing going on at the speedway, so I just found SR-104 and headed west.

Photo Credit: Bill Lites

It was some 30 miles west on SR-104 to where I had planned to visit the Chimney Bluffs State Park in Wolcott, NY.  Time was against me, and I knew I wouldn’t be able to see all the places on my list today, so I skipped this park.  I continued west on SR-104 another 35 miles to where I tried to visit the Schutt’s Apple Mill in Webster, NY but they were closed.  So, it was just 15 miles west to Rochester, NY where I visited the George Eastman Museum.  This museum is located in the 1905 George Eastman House (I’d call 35,000 sq. ft. a mansion) and is said to be the world’s oldest museum dedicated to photography open to the public.    

Photo Credit: Bill Lites

I passed up the Charlotte Genesse Lighthouse and continued west another 45 miles on SR-31/31A to visit the Medina Railroad Museum located in the 1905 NYCRR Freight Depot in Medina, NY.  The museum displays antique railroad artifacts and restored rolling stock, and normally provides steam train tours throughout the year.  The museum also has a large model train layout for all to enjoy.

Photo Credit: Bill Lites

It was another 35 miles west on SR-31 to where I had planned to visit the Niagara Falls Wax Museum and the Observation Tower.  But arriving in Niagara Falls, I found the entire area absolutely mobbed with tourists.  I gave up any idea of trying to visiting the museum and tower (that was a real disappointment) and headed for the Niagara Aerospace Museum a few miles east.  This museum located adjacent to the Niagara Falls International Airport has a small collection of rare historic aircraft and replicas dating from the 1950s.  Most of these exhibits and memorabilia represent the historical influence of the Bell Aircraft Company and the Curtiss-Wright Aircraft Corporation on this area dating from the 1920s.

Photo Credit: Bill Lites

Now it was only a few miles south on SR-265, along the Niagara River, to where I visited the Herschell Carrousel Factory Museum located in North Tonawanda, NY.  This museum is housed in the original 1910 factory complex and displays wood carrousels and other rare artifacts representing the many products this company manufactured from 1833 to 1955.

Photo Credit: Bill Lites

Before leaving the North Tonawanda area I drove a few blocks south to check out the National Railway Historical Museum.  This small museum is the Niagara Frontier Chapter of the NRHS and is located in the original 1922 Eire Railroad Freight Depot.  The museum displays railroad artifacts dating from early 1900s and several pieces of restored rolling stock.

Photo Credit: Bill Lites

Now I headed south 20 miles on I-195, along the Niagara River to visit The Steel Plant Museum of Western NY located on Lake Erie in the Heritage Discovery Center in Buffalo, NY (known as one of the “Rust Belt Cities”).   The museum was closed, but their website informs me the museum displays artifacts and memorabilia related to the history of the western New York steel industry dating from the early 1800s.

Photo Credit: Bill Lites

It was only a short drive south on US-62 to find my motel for the night in South Buffalo.  After I got checked in and carried my things into my room, I warmed up my leftover Baked Lasagna, from the Basil Leaf Italian Ristorante and enjoyed that great meal again.  Yummmm!  

Photo Credit: https://www.thebasilleafrestaurant.com/

—–To Be Continued—–

Bill is a retired Mechanical engineer living with his wonderful artist/writer wife, DiVoran, of 64 years in Titusville, Florida. He was born and raised in the Southwest, did a tour of duty with the U.S. Navy, attended Northrop University in Southern California and ended up working on America’s Manned Space Program for 35 years. He currently is retired and spends most of his time building and flying R/C model airplanes, traveling, writing blogs about his travels for Word Press and supporting his wife’s hobbies with framing, editing and marketing.  He also volunteers with a local church Car Care Ministry and as a tour guide at the Valiant Air Command Warbird Museum there in Titusville.  Bill has two wonderful children, two outstanding grandchildren, and a loving sister and her husband, all of whom also live in Central Florida, so he and DiVoran are rewarded by having family close to spend lots of quality time with.

One of Bill’s favorite Scriptures is:  John 10:10

2021 Mid-Eastern Road Trip Part 6

29 Sep

A Slice of Life

Bill Lites

Day 6 – 7/17/2021

Leaving Harrisburg this morning I headed northeast 35 miles on I-81 to visit the Golden Age Air Museum located in Bethel, PA.  This museum consists of three hangers and displays 14 beautifully restored, and flyable, antique airplanes dating from 1916 to 1990, plus a dozen more planes on static display.

Photo credit:Bill Lites

Now it was another 35 miles northeast on I-81 to where I visited the Mid-America Air Museum located adjacent to the Reading Regional Airport in Reading, PA.  This museum displays over 100 aircraft, many of which are flyable.  I was looking forward to visiting this museum as they are in the process of restoring a very rare Northrop P-61B (42-39445) Black Widow night fighter to flight status.  Since i attended Northrop University, the P-61 has been one of my favorite WWII airplanes.  I am hoping to see the miracle of one of these famous airplanes back in the air again in my lifetime, and it looks like MAAM is the outfit to make that happen.

Photo credit:Bill Lites

From the Reading Regional Airport, it was only a few miles to the Reading Area Firefighters Museum.  Located on the site of the original 1854 Reading fire house, this museum’s collection of firefighting equipment and memorabilia dates from the early 1800s. 

Now I took US-222 out of Reading about 15 miles northeast to visit the Kutztown History Museum located in the 1892 school building in downtown Kutztown, PA.  This museum displays local artifacts and memorabilia related to the history of Kutztown and the surrounding Berks County area dating from as early as 1799.

Photo credit: Bill Lites

From Kutztown I continued on US-222 another 30 miles northeast to visit the America on Wheels Museum located in Allentown, PA.  This museum is situated in a renovated 1887 building and is laid out with three main galleries where some 75 beautifully restored antique cars, trucks, motorcycles, and bicycles are on display.  Their Hubcap Café (restored 1950s soda fountain) is part of the museum’s decor and open to the public for snacks and beverages.

Photo credit: Bill Lites

While I was in Allentown, it was only a few blocks to where I could visit the RB Classic Car Collection.  This facility is owned and operated by brothers, Al and Alex Ruozzi, who have dedicated their lives to buying, restoring, selling, and servicing Classic Cars from every era.  Currently their inventory includes vehicles from the 1930s to 1960s,

Photo credit: Bill Lites

I had planned to visit the Mack Truck Historical Museum there in Allentown, and replace my worn-out ‘Mack’ baseball cap, but they were closed.  That was a Bummer!  So, I just headed north out of Allentown on I-475 about 75 miles to visit the Steamtown National Historic Site located in Scranton, PA.  This 62-acre site is the former Scranton railroad yards and displays restored steam & diesel driven trains in the 1902 Roundhouse and on the central turntable.  The History Museum displays other artifacts and memorabilia related to the history of the Scranton Yards “Where the Great Roads Meet.”

Photo credit: Bill Lites

Sharing the parking lot with the Steamtown National Historic Site is the Electric City Trolley Museum, which is a collection of 20+ restored electric trolleys, used in the Scranton and the Lackawanna County  area, dating from 1899 to 1941.  The John Oliver model train set inside  the museum is amazing.

Photo credit: Bill Lites

Leaving Scranton, I headed north 50 miles on I-81 with a stop, just over the border, at the Visitors Center in Kirkwood, NY.  The drive thru the Pocono Mountains was beautiful and you can see the remnants of those mountains in the background of the picture below.

Photo credit: Bill Lites

Then it was another 50 miles north on I-81 to where I visited the Cortland NY Living Center located in Cortland, NY.  This complex includes the Brockway Truck Collection, the Homeville Museum, and the Tractors of Yesteryear collection.  The artifacts and memorabilia included in each of these collections is the history of Cortland County New York from Civil War days to the present.

Now I continued 35 miles north on I-81 to visit the Erie Canal Museum located in Syracuse, NY.  This museum is housed in the 1850 Syracuse Weighlock Building that served as the weighlock toll building for boats using the Erie Canal from 1850 to 1883 when boat tolls were no longer required.

Now it was time to find the motel there in Syracuse and get checked in.  After I got settled in my motel room, I went in search of something good to eat.  I ended up at the Basil Leaf Italian Ristorante, where I enjoyed their Baked Lasagna with warm Italian bread.  Delightful!

—–To Be Continued—-

Bill is a retired Mechanical engineer living with his wonderful artist/writer wife, DiVoran, of 64 years in Titusville, Florida. He was born and raised in the Southwest, did a tour of duty with the U.S. Navy, attended Northrop University in Southern California and ended up working on America’s Manned Space Program for 35 years. He currently is retired and spends most of his time building and flying R/C model airplanes, traveling, writing blogs about his travels for Word Press and supporting his wife’s hobbies with framing, editing and marketing.  He also volunteers with a local church Car Care Ministry and as a tour guide at the Valiant Air Command Warbird Museum there in Titusville.  Bill has two wonderful children, two outstanding grandchildren, and a loving sister and her husband, all of whom also live in Central Florida, so he and DiVoran are rewarded by having family close to spend lots of quality time with.

One of Bill’s favorite Scriptures is:  John 10:10

2021 Mid-Eastern Road Trip Part 5B

22 Sep

A Slice of Life

Bill Lites

Day 5 – 7/16/2021 (Continued)

My next stop today was about 45 miles northeast on I-81 to visit the George Washington Office Museum located in Winchester, VA.  This small museum is situated in the 18thcentury log and stone building that Washington used as his office while performing survey work in the Frederick County area from September 1755 to December 1756.  This same office was used by Washington to command the Virginia Regiment during the French & Indian War (1754-1763).

Photo credit: Bill Lites

I was surprisingly to find that the Stonewall Jackson’s Headquarters Museum was just a few blocks away, there in Winchester.  This museum is located in the house built by William Fuller in 1854 and was used by General “Stonewall” Jackson as his Civil War headquarters during the winter of 1861 – 1862.    The museum displays many of Jackson’s personal items as well as other family artifacts and memorabilia.

Photo credit: Bill Lites

It was only 20 miles northeast on I-81, and across the border, to where I wanted to visit the Bunker Hill Train Club located on the outskirts of Bunker Hill, WV but they were closed.  That was a bummer as I was looking forward to seeing their model train layouts.  So, I kept going another 10 miles up I-81 to visit the Martinsburg Roundhouse, but they were also closed. Another Bummer for me. 

Photo credit: Bill Lites
Photo credit: Bill Lites

Continuing northeast another 25 miles on I-81 I crossed another border and visited the Hagerstown Aviation Museum located adjacent to the Hagerstown Regional Airport in Hagerstown, MD.  This museum is situated in the former Fairchild Flight Test Hanger (built in 1943) and focuses mainly on the history of the Fairchild Aircraft Company, while displaying some 15+ restored rare and antique aircraft dating from 1928. 

Photo Credit: https://www.hagerstownaviationmuseum.org/

While I was in Hagerstown, I also visited the Hagerstown Roundhouse & Railroad Museum located in the City Park Train Hub.  This museum displays a restored 1919 steam locomotive (#202) and rolling stock as well as other railroad artifacts and memorabilia dating from the early 1900s.

Photo credit: Bill Lites

Now I headed north 25 miles on I-81, across the border, to visit The Old Jail Museum located in Chambersburg, PA.  This museum is housed in the original Franklin County jail which was built in 1818.  The jail served Franklin county for 152 years before being closed in 1970.  Many famous criminals, such as “Lewis the Robber” and “Captain John Cook,” among others, were housed in this jail over the years.

Photo credit: Bill Lites

Leaving Chambersburg, it was only 15 miles northeast on US-11 to where I visited the Cumberland Valley Railroad Museum located at the Shippensburg Station in Shippensburg, PA.  This small museum is housed in a restored 1956 Penn Central boxcar, there at the station, and tells the history of the Cumberland Valley Rail Trail (CVRT) and its influence on the local area, from its beginning, over the years.

Photo credit: Bill Lites

I got back on I-81 for another 20 miles northeast to where I visited the U.S. Army Heritage & Education Center located in Carlisle, PA.  This facility was designed to provide educational training and historical materials related to the history of the U.S. Army from its inception, during the Revolutionary War, to the present.

Photo credit: Bill Lites

Now I headed northeast another 25 miles on I-81 to visit the Pennsylvania National Fire Museum located in Harrisburg, PA.  This museum is located in the restored 1899 former Raily Hose Company No. 10 building and displays a unique collection of antique firefighting equipment including an 1804 Juniata hand-drawn engine, plus horse-drawn, and motorized fire engines and much more.

Photo Credit: https://www.facebook.com/Pennsylvania-National-Fire-Museum-114611048582302/

By now it was time to find the motel there in Harrisburg.  After I got checked in and got settled in my room, I relaxed and warmed up my leftover El Cazador Chili Verde from last night.  Ymmmmm!

Photo Credit: http://elcazadortaqueria.com/menu.php?cat=19&item=46&loc=5

—–To Be Continued—–

Bill is a retired Mechanical engineer living with his wonderful artist/writer wife, DiVoran, of 64 years in Titusville, Florida. He was born and raised in the Southwest, did a tour of duty with the U.S. Navy, attended Northrop University in Southern California and ended up working on America’s Manned Space Program for 35 years. He currently is retired and spends most of his time building and flying R/C model airplanes, traveling, writing blogs about his travels for Word Press and supporting his wife’s hobbies with framing, editing and marketing.  He also volunteers with a local church Car Care Ministry and as a tour guide at the Valiant Air Command Warbird Museum there in Titusville.  Bill has two wonderful children, two outstanding grandchildren, and a loving sister and her husband, all of whom also live in Central Florida, so he and DiVoran are rewarded by having family close to spend lots of quality time with.

One of Bill’s favorite Scriptures is:  John 10:10

2021 Mid-Eastern Road Trip Part 5A

15 Sep

A Slice of Life

Bill Lites

Day 5 – 7/16/2021

This morning I headed northeast, from Roanoke, on I-581 & I-81 toward Staunton, VA.  About 55 miles up the road I stopped to visit the Virginia Military Institute (VMI) Museum located in Lexington, VA.  This museum and its 15,000-artifact collection are dedicated to the history of the first state sponsored military college (1839) and its alumni.  Founded in 1856 by then Superintendent Francis H. Smith, the museum now resides in the Jackson Memorial Hall there on the VMI campus.  I passed up a cadet guided tour as it didn’t start for another two hours.

Photo Credit: https://www.vmi.edu/

I continued north on I-81 another 35 miles to visit the Jumbo Antique Fire Engine Museum located in Staunton, VA.  This museum is located in the Staunton Fire & Rescue Station #1 and has the distinction of displaying the oldest motorized Robinson Fire Engine (1911) in Virigina along with other firefighting artifacts and exhibits dating from the early 1800s.

Photo Credit: Bill Lites

Before leaving Staunton, it was only a few blocks to where I visited The Camera Heritage Museum.  This small museum displays a unique collection of antique cameras and camera equipment dating from the early 19th century to the present.  Many of the cameras were used by well-known personalities, which makes their history even more interesting.

Photo Credit: Bill Lites

Now I headed northeast about 10 miles on US-11 to visit the Augusta Military Academy (AMA) Museum located in Fort Defiance, VA.  The museum is housed in the original 1869 home of Charles S. Roller and displays artifacts and representations of 1800s AMA cadet life as well as the accomplishments of many of the AMA alumni. 

Photo Credit: Bill Lites

I continued northeast another 10 miles on US-11 & I-81 to visit the Harrisonburg Fire Department Museum located in Harrisonburg, VA but neither Greta (my Garmin) nor I could find the museum.  Not too far down the street I tried to visit the Virginia Quilt Museum, there in Harrisonburg, but it was closed.  It was too warm for a quilt today anyway.  Ha!

Photo Credit: Bill Lites

As I was leaving Harrisonburg this historical marker caught my eye and I had to stop for a photo.  After reading the marker, I was shocked and amazed at the story it told.  As it turns out, the barn of Mr. Henry Sipe, a prominent Rockingham County citizen, was burned down on February 28, 1878, and Charlotte Harris, a black woman, was accused of instigating the deed.  After being apprehended, Harris was given a preliminary hearing, before local magistrates, and was ordered taken to the county jail in Harrisonburg, 15 miles away, for trial. That night an angry mob of armed local citizens stormeded the building where Harris was being held, dragged her out of town and hanged her.  Not the kind of thing I would think a town would be proud of, much less prominently display on a historical marker there on Main street.

Photo Credit: Bill Lites

Now I continued northeast another 20 miles on I-81, to visit the Virginia Museum of the Civil War located at the New Market Battlefield State Historical Park in New Market, VA.  This museum sits in the middle of what was the New Market battlefield and displays historical artifacts and assorted memorabilia related to that famous 1864 battle.

Photo Credit: Bill Lites

Next on my list of places to visit in this area was the Route 11 Potato Chip Factory located another 10 miles northeast on US-11 in Mt. Jackson, VA.  I got a quick tour of the factory and was surprised to learn that they only got about 10 pounds of chips out of every 100 pounds of potatoes they processed.  The free sample I selected to munch on was their Onion & Chives flavored brand.

Photo Credit: Bill Lites

—–To Be Continued—–

Bill is a retired Mechanical engineer living with his wonderful artist/writer wife, DiVoran, of 64 years in Titusville, Florida. He was born and raised in the Southwest, did a tour of duty with the U.S. Navy, attended Northrop University in Southern California and ended up working on America’s Manned Space Program for 35 years. He currently is retired and spends most of his time building and flying R/C model airplanes, traveling, writing blogs about his travels for Word Press and supporting his wife’s hobbies with framing, editing and marketing.  He also volunteers with a local church Car Care Ministry and as a tour guide at the Valiant Air Command Warbird Museum there in Titusville.  Bill has two wonderful children, two outstanding grandchildren, and a loving sister and her husband, all of whom also live in Central Florida, so he and DiVoran are rewarded by having family close to spend lots of quality time with.

One of Bill’s favorite Scriptures is:  John 10:10

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