Tag Archives: Museum Tour

America’s North Country Trip~Part 6

18 Oct

A Slice of Life

Bill Lites

 

 

Day 6 (Wednesday)

 

I headed southwest on I-94 this morning. I had been noticing, for the last couple of days as I traveled through the North Dakota and Montana plains country, that the round hay bales were everywhere I looked! They were all over the fields, in huge stacks (40-50’ high & 200-400’ long) and even in the right-of-ways along the Interstate. This was a very unusual site for me, as I was used to the right-of-ways in Florida mostly being swales full of water.

 

 

My first museum visit today was the Range Riders Museum located in Miles City, MT. This was one of the most amazing museums I have ever seen! There were some 20 separate galleries under one huge roof, with 8 additional buildings outside. Every inch of every wall was covered with Indian, Pioneer, Homesteader, Westerner and Rodeo artifacts. I was informed that every single item in this entire museum had been donated by someone over the years, including the large main building.   I couldn’t begin to explain all there is or to try and show you about this museum adequately. Just Google “Range Riders Museum” and click on “Exhibits” to get a slideshow for a better idea of just how much there is to see.

 

 

On down the road a ways I saw a sign advertising the Brinton Museum Store located in Hysham, MT and decided to run up U.S. 10 a couple of miles to check it out. This turned out to be a one-room museum store consisting of a beautifully restored antique soda fountain and some local historical artifacts. The museum was closed but I was able to get a photo thru the front window.

 

 

Next I took a small side-trip, south on SR-47, to visit the Big Horn County Historical Museum located in Hardin, MT near the Crow Agency Trading Post. This museum is another frontier type museum with 24 relocated and restored buildings arranged to represent a 1850s Montana frontier village, with artifacts depicting those of that era in each building.

 

 

Another few miles down the road I visited the Battle of the Little Big Horn Monument, commonly known as the location of Custer’s Last Stand. This monument was packed to overflowing with visitors. At the battlefield there is a monument commemorating the 1876 engagement between the U.S. Army and the combined forces of the Lakota, Cheyenne and Arapaho Indian tribes. There are headstones positioned on the hill where the 7th Cavalry solders died and were originally buried. There is also a new section set aside as a National Cemetery.

 

 

I was interested to learn that several relatives of General Custer were among those who died with him during this battle. There was Captain Thomas Ward Custer his younger brother, Boston Custer his second brother, 1st Lt. James Calhoun his brother-in-law, and Henry Armstrong Reed his 18-year old nephew. History seems to indicate that most of the Custer relatives (including General Custer) looked upon this trip as an opportunity to experience the west in all its grandeur and beauty. I think they got a lot more than they expected!

 

 

Now I headed northwest on I-90 to visit the Moss Mansion Historic Museum located in Billings, MT. I thought this was going to be a museum I could just walk thru, but no, it was a one-hour guided tour and I didn’t think my knees would be able to handle all those stairs. So I just took a couple photos and went to find the next place on my list.

 

 

That turned out to try to find the Boot Hill Cemetery there in Billings. When researching this trip I had discovered this location was going to be a little difficult to find, but I thought Greta (my Garmin) could handle it. However, now that I was relying on her to get me to the exact location, she was confused and was leading me in circles. I finally found it, using my trusty paper map, and was not impressed. I’ve seen much better Boot Hill cemeteries on other trips.

 

 

I tried to find the Rimrocks there in Billings, but here again Greta was unable to locate a specific address. I thought it was a city or county park, but as it turned out it was an area of high cliffs cut into the mountain side by the Yellowstone River that borders the east side of Billings.   I finally found the right road and enjoyed the natural beauty as I followed the road from the river level to the top of the high plateau.

 

 

By now it was time to head for the motel there in Billings, get checked in and relax while I enjoy my leftover CC’s Ground Beef Steak dinner which included green beans, mashed potatoes & gravy with Apple Crisp for dessert. Yummm!!

—–To Be Continued—–

 

America’s North Country Trip~Part 5

11 Oct

A Slice of Life

 Bill Lites

 

 

 

 

Day 5 (Tuesday)

This morning I headed west again on I-94 a short distance, to visit the Fort Lincoln Trolley Co. located in Mandan, ND. This is an attraction that utilizes 1890s open-air trolleys that travel from the old Third Street Station in downtown Mandan to the Fort Lincoln State Park and back. Since they weren’t open and I didn’t have the time to wait for the next trolley (1:00pm), I saved that ride for another trip.

 

 

While I was there in Mandan, I decided to check out the North Dakota State Railroad Museum. This turned out to be another small museum which was also closed. Their website indicates the museum displays mostly local railroad memorabilia; however, they do have several nicely restored items of rolling stock outside.

 

 

On the way to my next museum, I saw a sign for the Theodore Roosevelt National Park and decided to stop in and see what it was all about. The park is located in western North Dakota where the Great Plains meet the rugged Badlands. There wasn’t much to see from the Visitor’s Center, and I didn’t want to take the time to drive around the “Loop” which would have passed the Maltese Cross Cabin where President Roosevelt once lived.

 


After using the restroom there at the Visitor’s Center, I continued west for a visit at the Cowboy Hall of Fame Museum located in Medora, ND. This museum tells the story of the northwest plains horse and cattle culture which is a unique way of life in western America, and includes the Native Americans of the area, Western Ranching and Rodeo history.

 

 

 

 

In the Rodeo Hall of Fame Inductees area I saw several photos mentioning the “North Dakota Six Pack” of Rodeo champions spanning the 1850s-1960s, when North Dakota rodeo riders ruled the National Rodeo Circuit. When I asked the curator where I could find additional information about these men, she directed me to the “Cowboy Café down the street, where the wife of one of the sons of a “Six pack” was the owner.

 

 

 

So I walked down to the Cowboy Café and ordered one of their special Buffalo Burgers. I asked the waitress if the owner was there, and she said she would get her from the kitchen. It turned out that she was the daughter of Thomas J. Tescher, who was one of the “North Dakota Six Pack” champions. His family had been cattle ranchers there in North Dakota for generations. She was very nice and gave me a quick run-down of the family history and their involvement in the National Rodeo Circuit. Her father, Tom, one of 15 Tescher children, entered his first rodeo at age 17 and went on to be ranked in the top 10 saddle bronc riders from 1955 to 1958, and qualified for the National Finals Rodeo in Dallas in 1959.

 

 

Note: “The North Dakota Six Pack” was a group of North Dakota rodeo competitors who dominated the national rodeo scene during the 1950s and 1960s. They included (L to R Below) Tom Tescher, Duane Howard, Dean Armstrong, Joe Chase, Jim Tescher, and Alvin Nelson.

 

 

With a full tummy, I now headed west again, crossing the border into Montana, to visit the Wibaux Railroad Museum located in the little town of Wibaux, MT. This museum turned out to be one train car (the museum) one caboose, and a monument sign telling about Pierre Wibaux, the founder of the town of Wibaux.

 

 

Heading west again, I next visited the Frontier Gateway Museum located in Glendive, MT. This was a small museum that was a mix of displays including fossils recovered from the local area, Native American artifacts, homesteader’s items, settler’s tools, cattlemen’s paraphernalia, and Northern Pacific railroad information.

 

 

Located just down the street was the Glendive Dinosaur & Fossil Museum. This museum has more than 23 full-sized dinosaur and fossil exhibits. It claims to be the largest dinosaur and fossil museum in the United States to present its fossils in the context of biblical history. This unique museum also sponsors “Dig-for-a-day” fossil digs in the badlands close to Glendive, which gives participants an opportunity to experience paleontology first hand as they learn how to identify, collect and interpret fossils from a Biblical creationist’s perspective.

 

 

While I was in Glendive, I stopped by to check out the Makoshika State Park. The word Makoshika (Ma-ko-shi-ka) is a variant spelling of the Lakota phrase meaning “bad land” or “bad spirits.” The park was closed and from the map at the visitor’s center, there didn’t seem to be much to see. So I headed for the motel, to get checked-in and look for a place to eat.

 

 

The motel clerk recommended CC’s Family Café down the road, so I headed that way and enjoyed their delicious Ground Beef Steak dinner which included green beans, mashed potatoes & gravey with Apple Crisp for dessert. Very satisfying!

 

 

—–To Be Continued—–

America’s North Country~Trip Part 1

6 Sep

A Slice of Life

Bill Lites

 

Prolog:

 

Growing up in the Southwest (New Mexico), I have always been interested in the development of the western United States. I have visited all of the southwestern states many times, but have never ventured north. I had always wanted to visit the Western Plaines states or America’s North Country/ (as I call them), so I decided to take this opportunity to checkout this part of our beautiful country. During my research for this trip I quickly discovered that this area of our country is still pretty much wide-open and the trip was going to be much different from many of my recent trips. Whereas, I was accustomed to having multiple airplane, auto, railroad and maritime museums to choose from, I now found very few of these type museums. What seemed most prevalent in these states (Nebraska, North & South Dakota, Montana, Idaho & Wyoming) were Frontier type museums. This consisted of Historic Site & Town restorations, Pioneer Villages, Lewis & Clark Historic Sites, Territorial Prisons and Dinosaur museums. There would be a few airplane, car and railroad museums scattered along the way, but very few. What did I expect?

 

 

Day 1 (Friday)

The only city in any of the six states I was going to visit, into which I could get a non-stop flight on Southwest Airlines, was Omaha, NE. I was amazed to find the curbside check-in stand at the Orlando Airport with less than a dozen people in line to check their bags. The security check line was also minimal, and I was at the gate before I knew it.

 

 

My 2-hour, 10-minute Southwest non-stop flight from Orlando to Omaha, NE was smooth and comfortable. The Honey-Roasted peanuts were fresh and went well with two glasses of apple juice. I had brought along a couple of Roasted Almond Crunch bars to supplement the peanuts, so was not too hungry by the time we landed in Omaha.

 

 

At the rental car desk, the agent asked me where I would be traveling to, and I just picked Fargo, ND off the top of my head. I was informed that the rate I had been quoted by my travel agent would not allow me to take the car out of any state that did not border Nebraska. What kind of scam was this? What could I do? The agent said she could give me a “Commercial Rate” which would allow me to travel in any state I wished, for only $250 more! I said, “No Thanks” and went to another rental car desk. There I was able to rent a top-of-the-line car that I could travel anywhere in, for only about $40 more than my originally quoted price. That car had more “Bells & Whistles” than I knew what to do with.

 

 

With that task finally settled, and since I had gained an hour during my flight, I still had some time left to visit a few museums before they closed for the day. I headed across the Missouri River to visit my first museum. It was only about 3½ miles to the Union Pacific Railroad Museum in Council Bluffs, IA. This museum, located in the old, beautifully restored, Council Bluffs Carnegie Library, has several exhibits covering the construction of the Transcontinental Railroad in the years after the Pacific Railway Act was signed into law by Abraham Lincoln in 1862, and the ultimate growth of the Union Pacific Railroad system.

 

 

I had chosen to go to the Union Pacific Railroad Museum first because it closed early, so now I headed back across the Missouri River, to visit the Lewis & Clark Historic Trail Headquarters in Omaha, NE. I found it very interesting that this area, on the west bank of the Missouri River, was originally obtained by the U.S. Government in 1854 from the U-mo’n-Ho’n (Omaha Indians) or “upriver people.” I really had never related the word “Omaha” with an Indian tribe before. Doesn’t say much for my American History knowledge does it?

 

 

History seems to suggest that the wandering Omaha Indians established their first permanent village west of the Missouri River around 1734. I was impressed to learn that the Lewis & Clark Expedition Trail extends over 3700 miles, thru 11 states, from the St. Lewis area to Fort Clatsop in Oregon Country on the Pacific coast. As part of the Historic Trail, it is said that the Lewis & Clark Expedition traveled, camped, hunted and fished around this area. They also met and traded with the Omaha Indians, and held council with many of the Indian Chiefs in the middle Missouri River area. My travels on this trip would follow much of the northwestern portion of the original historic Lewis & Clark Expedition of 1804-1806.

 

 

Next it was just a short drive to where I visited the Durham Museum located in downtown Omaha. This museum is housed in the beautifully restored former Union Pacific Railway station, and has several displays depicting the early days of the Union Pacific Railway system during the growth of the city of Omaha. The museum also has a nice selection of restored rolling stock outside.

 

 

Next I visited the Omaha Memorial Park, located another few miles west of the Missouri River. This memorial park was dedicated in 1958 to honor all of the men and women from Douglas County, Nebraska who have served in the U.S. Armed Forces.

 

 

Then I drove a couple more miles to visit the Lewis & Clark Landing, located on the west bank of the Missouri River, also near downtown Omaha. The landing represents the original 1804 landing site, in the Omaha area, of the Lewis & Clark Expedition as they explored some of the vast lands (828,000 sq. miles) which made up part of the Louisiana Purchase for the U.S. Government.

 

 

As an interesting side note, there was a “labor” sculpture adjacent to the landing to honor the many men who had been a part of the lead refining industry that operated in this area, by one name or another, from 1871 to 1997.

Note: See the man with the hammer raised over his head in the photo below? When I Googled this sculpture, I came across a photo of this same sculpture during the Great Flood of 2011, showing the water level so high that only his hand and the hammer were above the water, when the Missouri River crested between 30-35 feet above normal.

 

 

Another interesting area in downtown Omaha was the Pioneer Courage Park. This park represents the many struggles and hardships the early pioneers faces on their trip west thru this area. The picture of these stalwart pioneers is beautifully rendered in several bronze action sculptures, one of which is shown below.

 

 

On my way to visit the CAF Museum in Council Bluffs, IA I happened to spot sign for the River City Star. I stopped to see what it was all about and discovered that the “Star” is a passenger excursion riverboat that sails on the Missouri River and is docked at the Miller’s Landing & Yacht Club. The Yacht Club was closed, but a group had chartered the “Star” for a party and people were going aboard.

 

 

Since I was not invited to the party, I headed back across the Missouri River to check out the CAF Museum located at the Council Bluffs Municipal Airport. Unfortunately the museum was closed by the time I got there, so I just headed for my motel located there in Council Bluffs. However, before I got to the motel, I spotted a KFC restaurant and decided to have dinner with the Colonel. Yummm! I do like his chicken. The 3-piece chicken dinner came with green beans, mashed potatoes & gravy and one of their homemade biscuits with butter and honey for dessert. I had a very happy tummy after that delicious meal.

 

 

 

 

—– To Be Continued—–

A 2016 Dawn Patrol Rendezvous Trip Part 6

8 Feb

A Slice of Life

 Bill Lites

Bill Cross Plane

 

 

Day 6 (Tuesday, Oct. 4, 2016)
I headed west, out of Dayton this morning, on my way to visit the first museum on my list for today. The Wayne County Historical Museum is located just across the border, in Richmond, Indiana. This was one of the most interesting historical museums I have ever visited. Created by Julia Meek Gaar (at age 71) in 1930, she selected the 1865 Hicksite Quaker Meeting House for her museum. She filled the museum with many of the items she had purchased, over the years, during several of her worldwide trips.

 

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The Lindemuth collection was added to the museum in 1954. There were also automobiles and an airplane, included as part of the museum’s collection. Many of these items represented the early industrial years in and around the Richmond, Indiana area.

 

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Just around the corner, there in Richmond, I visited the Model “T” Museum. This small museum displays 14 Model “T” Fords spanning the early years (1908 to 1927). This history of the Model “T” production industry provided me with many new and interesting details about the early manufacturing processes, and body style variations, of Henry Ford’s Model “T” automobiles.

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Next on the list today, was a visit to the Wilbur Wright Birthplace & Museum in Hagerstown, Indiana. Born in 1867 Wilbur said, later in life, that he and Orville were initially drawn to an early interest in aviation by a toy helicopter (based on an invention by French aeronautical pioneer Alphonse Penaud), that their father gave them as a gift when he was 11 years old.

 

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Wilbur and Orville of course, went on to improve on the design as their interest in aerodynamics grew, and their creativity turned out to be endless. I was also interested to learn that Wilbur Wright’s father was a traveling minister in the Ohio region during the middle to late 1800s. As it happens, my grandfather was also a traveling minister, in Louisana, about that same time period.

 

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Just a few miles north I visited the National Model Aviation Museum in Muncie, Indiana. Even though the National Model Aviation Association headquarters is located on a 1000+ acre site, I was surprised to see how small the headquarters and museum buildings were. I was however, impressed with the museum’s collection of model aircraft and model aircraft engines, dating from the early 1900s.

 

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Next on the list was a visit to the Kokomo Automotive Heritage Museum located in Kokomo, Indiana. This was a very impressive museum that displayed 300+ beautifully restored automobiles, from many different manufactures, dating from the early 1900s to approximately 1970.

 

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The Kokomo Opalescent Glass Company was located just down the street from the Kokomo Automotive Museum there in Kokomo. This glass company prides itself in the creation of beautiful original stain glass windows, decorative art pieces, and blown glass creations. I was unable to get a tour of the factory while normal working operations were going on, but I did talk to one of the stain glass workers at length, about how the glass company created custom orders and speculation pieces.

 

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Dinner tonight was a great meal, at the local Kokomo Cracker Barrel restaurant, where I had their grilled catfish, green beans, sweet corn, and one of their famous biscuits with honey for dessert. Yummy! There was plenty left over for a repeat tomorrow evening. Double yummy!

 

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—–To Be Continued—–

A 2016 Dawn Patrol Rendezvous Trip~Part 5

1 Feb

A Slice of Life

Bill Lites

 

Day 5 (Monday, Oct. 3, 2016)
Since I had attended the 2016 Dawn Patrol Rendezvous Airshow, and seen the many existing and new aircraft additions at the Museum of the United States Air Force (my two main reasons for this trip), I was a little ahead of my planned schedule for today. So, I decided to visit several local Wright Brothers affiliated locations there in Dayton. First on the list, was to check out the Huffman Prairie Interpretive Center located just down the road a short drive from the USAF Museum. The Center’s exhibits and films focus on the early achievements of the Wright Brothers, that took place at the nearby Huffman Prairie Flying Field.

 

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Next I drove over to the Huffman Prairie Flying Field, to see the actual field where Orville and Wilber performed about 150 flights during 1904 & 1905. This effort is what led to the development of the 1905 Wright Flyer III, which they considered to be the first practical airplane (the original 1905 Flyer III is now housed at the Wright Brothers Aviation Center).

 

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Now I made my way a few miles south, to visit the Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historical Park.  This Park commemorates three of the important aviation historical figures; the Wright Brothers and Paul Laurence Dunbar, and how their lives came together.

 

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The center also exhibits re-creations of the Wright Brothers engineering office, work shop, and one of the Wright Brothers bicycle shops across the walkway.

 

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A short distance west across I-75 I visited the Wright Brothers Aviation Center, located in the Carillon Historical Park. This is where the original 1905 Flyer III is housed, along with many other Wright Brothers artifacts.

 

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The beautifully restored 65 acre Carillon Historical Park is home to many historic buildings and exhibits, associated with the history of technology that has taken place in and around the Dayton area. It also honors the contributions of the many Dayton residents who have been part of that history, dating from 1796 to the present.

 

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After leaving Carillon Park, I swung around a few blocks to check out the historic Patterson Homestead. This beautifully restored mansion was built by Robert Patterson on part of the 2038 acre Rubicon farm, where three generations of Patterson’s lived. As it turned out, Patterson’s grandsons, John and Frank Patterson , who also lived in the house as young children, would eventually go on to found the National Cash Register Company (now NCR Corporation) in 1884. I wasn’t interested in touring another mansion today, so I opted to head for the next museum on my list for today.

 

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Now it was back across I-75 a few blocks, to take a look at the Paul Laurence Dunbar house. This was the home, for a short while, of the famous African-American poet, that in 1890 wrote and edited The Tattler, Dayton’s first weekly African-American newspaper. As it happened, Dunbar’s newspaper was printed by his high-school acquaintances Orville and Wilbur Wright in their fledgling printing company.

 

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Next I stopped by the Veteran’s Memorial Park there in Dayton to take a photo of the Park. I was impressed with the mottos of the various U.S. Military Services. I had not remembered that each of the services was originally created in 1775 to fight the Revolutionary War.

Since things were going quickly, and I had run out of things to see in the Dayton area, I decided to head south to Cincinnati, Ohio. I had never been to Cincinnati, and since it was only about 40 miles south of my last stop, I thought I would drive down and have lunch there and see what things of interest I could come across.

 

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While I was having lunch I Googled “Things to Do in Cincinnati” and one of the first things to catch my eye was the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center. But when I got there the center was closed.

 

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Another place of interest was the Cincinnati Union Terminal, which was listed as one of the Great American Stations. I have to admit the beautifully designed Art Deco terminal building was something to see. But as an active train station, it only had room to display a small amount of Cincinnati Union Station historical memorabilia.

 

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Next I tried the Cincinnati Fire Museum, not too far down the road, but like a lot of museums that stay open on Saturdays and Sundays, they were closed. This was a small building and I’m sure they would not have had room for a large display.

 

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Just a few miles away I checked out the Greater Cincinnati Police Museum, but here again this was another “Closed on Mondays” museum. As a matter of fact, there didn’t seem to be much of anything going on in Cincinnati today.

 

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Well, my score for places to see in Cincinnati wasn’t going too well, and it was getting on in the afternoon, so I headed back to Dayton. Greta took me on some backroads on the way, and as I rounded one bend, I saw the strangest structure I believe I have ever seen adjacent to a farmhouse. I couldn’t begin to describe it. You will just have to guess what it is, like I did. Stretches your imagination doesn’t it?

 

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By now, it was time to head for the motel and warm up my wonderfully delicious repeat of the El Morro Special Mexican dinner from last night. Yummm!

 

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—–To Be Continued—–

 

My 2016 Mid-West Trip~Part 7

17 Aug

A Slice of Life

Bill Lites

Day 7 (Friday)

Since most of the museums on today’s list were on the west side of St. Louis I started with the Historic Aircraft Restoration Museum located at the Creve Coeur Airport. I had been unable to find their hours of operation on their website; I called ahead this morning and was told that they were only open on Saturday and Sunday. They also informed me that any other day of the week the museum was only opened to the public with a 24-hour advance appointment, which left me out in the cold. I was a very disappointed as the museum consisted of three hangers which I’m sure houses many beautifully restored airplanes. Maybe next time.

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Not too far down the road was the St. Louis Museum of Transportation located in the small community of Twin Oaks. This was a fairly large museum consisting of restored cars, trains, and aircraft. The most interesting item at the museum, as far as I was concerned, was their 1/3 scale train ride. The train was modeled after an early 1900s steam engine with open train cars for passengers that circled a portion of the museum grounds. Everything associated with the train ride was 1/3 scale, including crossing safety bars, flashing lights, railroad crossing signs, and the load & unload station. I took a ride and the little kid in me really enjoyed it.

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Next I headed for the Greater St. Louis Air & Space Museum located in Cahokia, but Greta had a hard time finding it. I reset the location three times for her but she never could get me there. Finally I stopped at a motel and ask for directions, which they printed out for me from MapQuest. I tried to follow the written directions, read the street signs and drive at the same time, but that didn’t work. So I tried a final time to input the location to Greta, and what a surprise, she took me right to it. However, when I got there the Greater St. Louis Air & Space Museum I saw at that location was a joke! It was one rundown Hanger with a beat-up C-47 sitting out in front with no engines, and they were closed.

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(This is the sign on the gate where Greta took me)

When I got home and looked up the museum’s website. I couldn’t understand what had happened. All the photos on their website showed something very different from what I had seen and photographed. There was some information about two museum site locations (hangers), so maybe Greta took me to the other location. Whatever, that doesn’t explain her taking me to the address I had for the museum. Mysteries seem to never cease with Greta. I may have to turn her in for the GPS system on my IPhone.

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(This is not the museum location Greta took me to)

Finally I headed for the St. Louis Gateway Arch. I had left visiting the Arch until last because the Internet had said their hours were 8 AM – 10 PM. I have always wanted to ride the elevator up to the top of the Arch, but today it wasn’t going to happen. I had noticed as I came across the bridge, over the Mississippi River, that it looked like there was a lot of construction going on around the base of the Arch. When I pulled into the parking lot I was told that parking was $15, and that Arch tickets might be sold out for the day.

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I was a little surprised at this statement, because it was only 4:30 in the afternoon. The parking attendant was very nice and informed me that today the Arch was closing at 6:00 PM and the last tram ride was at 5:45. I hadn’t known I needed to buy a ticket online before I left home, and would have to drive several blocks to the Courthouse to buy a ticket. Even if I was able to get a ticket, the chances would be slim that I could drive to the Courthouse, find a place to park, buy the ticket, and get back to the Arch parking area and walked to the tram location in time. As I was discussing all this with the parking lot attendant, I noticed a group of at least 75 – 100 school children, all dressed in the same uniform, heading for the Arch tram location. Even if both trams were working, I just knew my chances of getting a ride in one of the small 5-person trams would be likely impossible today. That’s when I called it a day and started looking for someplace to have dinner.

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After all the frustration of this day, I treated myself to a wonderful dinner at the local Cracker Barrel. I had enjoyed their Grilled Catfish so much a couple nights before that I decided to try their grilled Lemon Pepper Trout tonight. It was wonderful, and the collard greens and carrots were great. Honey on one of their famous buttermilk biscuits was my dessert. Once my tummy was full, I was ready to head for the motel for some TV and a good night’s rest.

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—–To Be Continued—–

My 2016 Mid-West Trip Part 3

20 Jul

A Slice of Life

 Bill Lites

Bill Stars Plane

 

 

Day 3 (Monday)

The day trip from Houston to Galveston took longer than I had expected. My first stop was to visit the Lone Star Flight Museum. This was a very nice museum with about 20 aircraft (in one very large hanger) most of which were restored to flying condition.

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I was surprised to see they had a German Me-262 Schwalbe (Swallow) jet fighter on display.  I ask one of the volunteers if the Me-262 was in flying condition and he said, “Yes.”  Then he told me it was on loan from another museum, and it was actually one of the three beautiful new Me-262 reproductions built by the Classic Fighter Industries at Paine Field in Everett, Washington.

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The next stop was to visit the Galveston Railroad Museum which had a very nice collection of rolling stock. Their train station restoration was amazing and reminded me of several stations I had visited on my travels to and from duty stations while in the U.S. Navy. A large variety of train memorabilia, including original dinning ware, from the 1920s through the 1960s was also on display.

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I was disappointed when I couldn’t find the Texas Seaport Museum where I hoped to see the Tall Ship Elissa. Greta took me to the Galveston cruise ship terminal which was bustling with cruise line passengers, taxis and limousines.  The entire dock area was blotted out by the mass of the cruise ship tied up alongside the terminal, taking on passengers. The Elissa is a two-masted, iron-hulled brigantine sailing ship originally built in 1877 in Aberdeen, Scotland by the Alexander Hall & Company. The ship is one of the world’s oldest sailing ships, and is maintained and sailed annually around the Gulf of Mexico.

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I stopped and took a photo of the famous Willis-Moody Mansion there in Galveston. I had read that the mansion is a 31-room Romanesque historic residence that was built in 1895 by Narcissa Willis. It was later bought by the entrepreneur William Lewis Moody Jr. and is now listed on the National Register of Historic Places. I decided not to take a tour of the mansion and headed back toward Houston.

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The route Greta proposed for my return to Houston took me past the small town of Texas City, TX. I was old enough (9 years old) to remember the tremendous disaster that happened at the Port of Texas City in 1947.  So I decided to stop and see if they had a museum or memorial honoring the many people that were killed as a result of that disaster.

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The small Texas City Museum is said to have a section set aside for the 1947 disaster, but the museum was closed. However, there was a Texas City Remembers park that honored the people killed in that horrific disaster.

I stopped to pay my respects.

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I made it back to Houston in time to visit the site of the Battleship USS Texas

(BB-35). I had toured two other U.S. battleships and a U.S. cruiser, so opted not to tour this ship. However, Wikipedia informed me that the ship is a New York class battleship that was commissioned in 1914. The USS Texas was involved in many actions during WWI, and again during WWII including support of Allied landings on North Africa, Normandy, Iwo Jima and Okinawa.

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As I was leaving the Battleship Texas site, I noticed right ahead of me was a very tall monument. So I stopped to see what it was all about. I discovered it was the 567 foot high San Jacinto Monument, located on part of the San Jacinto Battleground State Historic Site. This impressive monument was built to commemorate the decisive 1836 Battle of San Jacinto during the Texas Revolution. It was completed in 1939 and is the world’s tallest masonry column (13 feet taller than the Washington Monument). Leave it to Texas to be and have not only the biggest, but also claim to have the tallest!

9

Next it was over to the William P. Hobby Airport to see if Greta could find The 1940 Air Terminal Museum. And what do you know; she took me right to it! I was surprised to learn that according to Wikipedia, Houston’s Hobby Airport has been around since 1927, and has had several names; W. T. Carter Field, Houston Municipal Airport and Howard R. Hughes Airport, just to name a few. This building was the first airport passenger terminal built in Houston.

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Opened in 1940, this art deco structure served as the Houston Municipal Airport Terminal until 1954 when it was renamed Houston International Airport. As the air transportation business expanded across America, Houston’s airport expanded with it, and in 1967 it was renamed, again, to what we now know as the William P. Hobby Airport. Too bad the museum was closed, as I would like to have browsed through the history of this beautiful air terminal building.

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On the way to the motel, I asked Greta to see if she could direct me to the ArtCar Museum. As it turned out, this was a small museum that displays mostly post-modern age cars, modified by artists/owners to the specifications of their own idiosyncratic images and visions. I was sorry to find this museum closed for the day, since I would have loved to seen some of those “Artists” handy work.

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Dinner tonight was Baby Back Ribs, a sweet potato with cinnamon butter and cold slaw at Longhorn Steakhouse.  It was all wonderful, and put me in the mood to kick back with a relaxing TV show and a good night’s sleep. I couldn’t find any good TV shows, so I just checked out tomorrow’s weather and went to bed.

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—–To Be Continued—–

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