Sunday, October 30, 2016

Casey Jones Home & Railroad Museum

Train accidents were fairly common in the 1900s. Most were soon forgotten but the wreck of Engine No. 382,  which killed Engineer Casey Jones, will always be remembered thanks to a song written by Casey’s friend Wallace Saunders.

  At 12:50 AM on April 30, 1900 Casey Jones was asked to fill in on the Memphis, Tennessee to Canton, Mississippi run for an engineer who had called in sick. The train was 75 minutes behind schedule but Casey was always ready to push the limits and took the challenge to get the train to Canton on time.  By the time he reached Vaughan Mississippi, only 18 miles from Canton, he had made up most of the time. Unfortunately that was where disaster struck. Three trains had been diverted to sidings to let Casey pass but there wasn’t room for all of the cars and some were still on the mainline. Casey reversed the throttle and slammed on the airbrakes but couldn’t stop in time. Engine No. 382 plowed in the stopped train cars, killing Casey but sparing all of his passengers.

  Investigations by the Illinois Central Railroad after the accident put the blame on Casey for failing to slow down for a flagman and flares that supposedly had been put on the tracks well in advance of the stopped train cars. Fireman Sim Webb, who was riding with Casey and jumped off the train before the wreck, reported that they did not see a flagman or flares in time to stop. Many people consider Casey Jones a hero for managing to slow the train down enough to save the passengers and other crew members.

  The museum and house are part of a complex that includes a restaurant, gift shops, a country church, a Pullman railcar and several building that can be rented for gatherings. We visited the museum and house only. Both are accessible but some of the doors are heavy. The museum has a short video about Casey’s life and exhibits about the wreck and investigation plus a lot of railroad memorabilia. The house is furnished as it would have been when Casey and his family occupied it.

The parking lot is large enough for RVs. On-street parking is also available.
Museum   35.65985, -88.85549

Friday, October 28, 2016

General Motors Corvette Assembly Plant

    GM makes about 30,000 Corvettes every year and each one is a special order, rolling off the assembly line with the all of the options specified by the new owner. And the base price is a mere $55,000! We didn’t order one but we did shell out $10.00 each to take the tour which is very well done with a good look at different stations along the assembly line and a lot of information about the care and detail that goes into making sure that each car is built to precise standards. No photographs are permitted.

  The tour is wheelchair accessible. For safety reasons crutches and walkers are not allowed but wheelchairs are available at no charge. Read over all of the restrictions before going on a tour. It’s a bit of a trek to the entrance from the main parking lot. There are accessible parking spots close to the doors but they’re not long enough for RVs.

  The main parking lot is large enough for any RV. There’s a sign reserving the lot for Ford, Chevy or GMC vehicles only. Foreign vehicles are to be parked in a small lot off to the side which we thought was pretty silly since many of them are made in the US although the plants may not be unionized.
Tour  37.01066, -86.36029

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Mammoth Cave National Park

  Mammoth Cave is the longest cave system in the world with 400 surveyed miles and many passageways yet to be explored. The cave was formed by water flowing through cracks in a caprock layer of sandstone and dissolving the underlying softer limestone creating the passageways. The harder sandstone, which protects the cave from collapsing, also means the cave is mostly dry so “flowing” type formations are not as common as they are in wet caves.

  As many as 19 cave tours of varying length and difficulty are offered depending on the time of year. Reservations are recommended. The park also has a large network of hiking trails and 20 miles of gravel and natural surface bike trails. The visitor center has very good displays covering the natural and human history of the cave.

  An elevator and paved path provide wheelchair access for one tour which a half mile tour roundtrip and visits the Snowball Room.  This tour is mostly a history and geology talk because the cave section visited is not very spectacular.

  The visitor center is accessible and worth the trip. Three short trails are accessible. We walked/rolled along the Heritage Trail which can be accessed from the visitor center. It’s 3/4 mile, paved and boardwalk, with a couple of overlooks.

   The accessible sites in the campground are excellent with wide parking pads, extended tops on the tables, pavement under the tables and around the fire rings. Paved paths lead to the restrooms.

  The visitor center has long RV spaces.  Visitors taking the accessible tour must drive their own vehicle to the entrance. Parking is along a loop road with room for RVs.
Park    37.18762, -86.10129

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Portsmouth Floodwall Murals

  Portsmouth was founded in 1803 after residents of the small town of Alexandria decided to move from the flood plains of the Ohio and Scioto River junction. The new location on higher ground was safer but was still prone to flooding so a levee and a floodwall were built in the 1940s. The floodwall mural project was started in 1993 and finished in 2003. There are over fifty murals along a 2000’ stretch of wall. The murals are beautiful - finely detailed and in excellent condition. They cover the history of Portsmouth beginning with a Native American Hopewell culture settlement and touching on 200 years of important events, people and industries. Signs along the sidewalk give details about the murals. There’s also a cell phone tour.

  The sidewalk does not have good curb cuts and the signs are a little too high to be easily read from a seated position. Visitors using wheelchairs may find it easier to roll down the street and listen to  the cell phone tour. Driving by is another option. Traffic was light when we visited on a Sunday afternoon and many people were driving slowly or even stopping to see individual murals.

  Parking is limited along Front Street but there’s a parking lot on the river side of the flood wall.

Murals    38.73072, -83.00111

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Leo Petroglyphs State Memorial

  Petroglyphs sites are pretty rare in the eastern states so this is a real treasure even though the figures are weathered and damaged slightly by graffiti. The Fort Ancient Culture of Native Americans who lived in the area from 1000AD-1750AD carved the figures into the flat top of a large sandstone boulder. A wooden shelter with a circular walkway has been built over the boulder to protect it from further damage.

  The site is not accessible due to steps down to the shelter and steps on the circular walkway.

  The parking lot is large enough for RVs but it may be difficult to turn a large RV around plus the roads in this area are very narrow.
Petroglyphs   39.15052, -82.67483

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Back in the City

   We’re hanging out in Pittsburgh for a few weeks to take care of our yearly checkups, vehicle inspection, etc. In between that boring stuff we’re having a great time visiting all of our friends and relatives whom we haven’t seen since last year. :-)

  Back in a week or so. Thanks for visiting our blog!

Monday, October 10, 2016

Allen County Historical Society & Museum

  Lima, Ohio, founded in 1831, has a long and interesting history and many aspects are touched on in this museum. Exhibits include Native American artifacts, an original Conestoga wagon used by a local family and a Shay locomotive built in the city.


  A very nicely maintained Children’s Garden and a log house, built in 1848, are located on the grounds. The MacDonell house, a Victorian mansion built during the oil boom era of the late 1800s, is located adjacent to the museum and can be toured.

  The museum is accessible. Most of the paths in the Children’s Garden are accessible. It’s possible to peek into the log house and view the exhibits. The MacDonell house is not accessible.

  The parking lot at the north lot side of the museum, near the entrance, is large enough for RVs.
Museum   40.74106, -84.11402

Friday, October 7, 2016

Charley Creek Gardens

  This tiny, 6 acre park seems secluded even though it’s in the middle of a neighborhood. It features a maze, a little waterfall, a wildflower meadow and a paved trail.

  The paved trail is accessible but it’s very steep going down to lower section where the waterfall and meadow are located. A short connecting trail is graveled and has steps. The maze trail is surfaced with mulch and is accessible but a bit tight.

  The parking lot is large enough for RVs.

Garden   40.80522, -85.82107


Thursday, October 6, 2016

Paradise Spring Historical Park & Riverwalk

The park preserves the location of the 1826 treaty meeting between the US government and the Potawatomi and Miami Indian tribes. The Potawatomi and Miami agreed to cede lands north of the Wabash River opening the region to white settlement. The park has a paved trail with interpretive signs and a small grouping of reconstructed cabins representing the ones where government officials stayed during the negotiations which lasted for several weeks.

  The trail in the historic park is wide and smooth with gentle grades. The cabins are not opened. The trail along the river is also wide and smooth but with a fairly steep section at the east end.

  We parked in the lot at the intersection of Huntington Street and Fulton Street. The lot is large enough for any RV.
Park   40.79467, -85.81662

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Par-a-dice Casino

  This is a riverboat casino with four floors. It has wide aisles and is fairy roomy for a riverboat. Most of the machines are easy to use and the chairs are not very heavy.

  RV and truck parking is located on the west edge of the parking lot.

Casino   40.6781, -89.56555


Gridley Telephone Museum

   A first glance this museum appears to be just a collection of antique telephones but it's actually much more. This is the story of a small, independent, rural phone company that has been in business since 1900. In the early years of telephone communication people living in rural communities formed co-ops and installed poles and lines to all of the homes in their area which were then patched into other rural communities’ phone companies.

  Gridley Telephone Company was started by three men but by 1915 the Hoobler family was the sole owner of the company. Charles Hoobler Jr. kept everything and when he retired in 1970, the new owner, Rogers Kaufman, went through all of the old items, artifacts and documents and realized that he had the makings of a museum. Our visit was made very interesting by a personal tour from a  knowledgeable and sharp volunteer so take the tour if it is offered.
  The museum is accessible. It may be necessary to enter through the library if the museum door is locked. The library door opens out over sloped concrete making entry a bit difficult.

  The parking lot behind the museum has enough space for RVs.
Museum   40.74294, -88.88066

Monday, October 3, 2016

John L. Lewis Mining & Labor Museum

  John L. Lewis, the son of immigrants from Wales, was born near Lucas, Iowa where his father worked in the coal mines. He started working in the mines himself at age 16 but quickly moved up the ranks to become a recording secretary, president of a local, national organizer and field representative, vice president of the UMWA and finally president in 1920. As president of the UMWA for 40 years he fought for higher wages, safer working conditions,  medical benefits and pensions for the miners. He was also instrumental in forming the CIO which organized unions for workers in the steel, rubber, meat, autos, glass and electrical equipment industries.

  The museum has many letters, documents, newspaper and magazine articles, and memorabilia of John L. Lewis but there’s little organization and no coherent story line. A good curator is really needed to add interest and information to this museum. The museum also covers the history of coal mining and the town of Lucas.

  The museum is accessible. There isn’t a curb cut near the museum entrance but a lift can be deployed onto the sidewalk.

  Parking is on the street.
Museum  41.02878, -93.46097

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Missouri River Basin Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center

 When Lewis and Clark passed by here in July, 1804 they were only a few months into their two year Corps of Discovery mission. The center focuses on the plant and animal life that the team studied and documented, and the specimens that were carefully preserved to be sent back to Washington. A large section concentrates on just the different types of fish, all unfamiliar to people living in the eastern US.

 The interpretive center has three floors of exhibits, a theater, walking trails, a Plains Indian earth lodge and a keelboat.

The interpretive center is accessible. The keelboat is partly accessible. The trail to the earth lodge is paved but it’s very steep. Wheelchair users will need assistance. The lodge is accessible. The other trails are not accessible due to the steep grades and surface materials.

 Long bus/RV spaces are located along the edges of the parking lot.
Center     40.66545, -95.83098