Friday, October 31, 2014

Greenbelt, Maryland

We are now parked in College Park, Maryland- about 9 miles north from our son Dan and Amanda who live in the D.C. area.   John and I decided yesterday that, before doing any touring in the Washington area, we would first explore what is closer in to where we are parked.   We had heard about the Greenbelt Museum, but also realized that it would be closed as it had very limited visiting hours.   However, we had learned that there would be some exhibits on the history of Greenbelt in one of the town's public buildings.  We first drove to the public library, but,  before entering that building we walked over to the one next door to it and there found exhibits related to the town's history.  That building is pictured below, it is what use to be Greenbelt's elementary school, but now serves as the town's community center.
It is an art deco-styled building with stone friezes carved below the windows.  The artist, Lenore Thomas, chose the preamble to the constitution for those sculptures, with the thought that the school children needed to learn of the political foundations of our country.  The one below has the words "Establish Justice".
During the Great Depression many people were unemployed,  moving into our nation's cities looking for homes and work.   As part of President Roosevelt's New Deal the government built the town of Greenbelt, an experiment in town planning and cooperative living.  Here cinder block homes with flat roofs were erected in clusters, and for families needing larger homes there were frame houses with brick veneers. 
Thirteen thousand were employed for this project, it was one of the largest single programs of the New Deal.  It provided housing for 900 people, and in 1941 Greenbelt provided additional housing for 1,000 military personnel.  Of note is also that during the earlier years each family was given an electric range and refrigerator.  After learning about the history of Greenbelt, John and I took a self-guided tour along the pedestrian paths which surround the public buildings and original houses.  Greenbelt was planned with children in mind.  The town contained thirteen playgrounds originally located in the green space between the buildings.  Pedestrian underpasses were also built so that children would not have to risk crossing traffic.
Our walking tour also took us to the town's center which includes the original movie theater, Co-Op grocery store, cafe, and other small businesses.  The city also provides an aquatic and fitness center. 
Outside of the town is a large park and lake.  Construction on the Greenbelt Project began with this lake in 1935.  Originally this was a 23-acre heavily wooded valley cut by a stream.  Land was cleared here by hand and a 22- foot dam built to create the lake.  It is only about a mile and one-half trek around the lake, which John and I completed before leaving the town of Greenbelt.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Day Two in Winchester, Virginia

There is probably no way that I can completely write about all the historic buildings of Winchester in even several postings.  I will just mention several significant buildings before moving on to what we saw Monday while touring around the town.  In the main historic area we also saw the house/headquarters of Stonewall Jackson.  He also spent some time at the Taylor Hotel, built in 1848.  Union Generals Banks, Sigel,  and Sheridan also used the hotel a headquarters during the war.  We had time Sunday to tour one building, which was the Patsy Cline house.  She was a country music singer who lived from 1932 and died in 1963in a plane crash.  She was then at the peak of her singing career.  From 1948 to 1957 her home was on 608 S.Kent Street.  This is where Patsy lived when she won the Arthur Godfrey's Talent Scout Competition, she signed her first recording contract, and debuted on the Grand Ole Opry.
The house may look big, but when Patsy, her mom and brother and sister lived there it just had two rooms on the first story; a living room and one other room where the family cooked, ate and bathed.  A kitchen and bathroom were added later.  The house was at one time a log cabin, built 10 years before the Civil War.  In the living room part of a wall has been exposed to show the logs underneath.  On Monday we drove to the oldest home in Winchester, called "Abram's Delight".
The original log house on this estate was built by Abraham Hollingsworth in 1728.  The current 1754 house was built by Abraham's son Isaac. On this site Abraham claimed he had everything he wanted, which was fertile land and an ample water supply.  He found "delight" in what he owned.  Until the mid 20th century the springs on this land met the water needs of Winchester.
 From this site we drove to Mount Hebron Cemetery, to find the Lutheran church ruins.
Pictured above are the ruins of the first stone Lutheran church built by the German Lutheran population of  Winchester.  The cornerstone was laid in 1764 and the church burned down in 1854.  However, the cemetery continued to expand into what it is today.  Grace Lutheran has maintained a garden around the ruins.  In the cemetery we also found the grave of General Daniel Morgan.
We learned more about General Morgan at the old stone Presbyterian Church where he once was a member.  The church is pictured beyond his statue, which sits on the church grounds.  The words below him are: "Fought everywhere,beaten nowhere".  He fought in many Revolutionary War battles and in 1878 further served his country in the House of Representatives.  The old stone church has its own interesting story to tell.  It was built in 1780, served both as a Presbyterian as well as a Baptist Church.  It also has been used as a Federal Troop stable, a public school for African American children, and a National Guard armory.  Needless to say, we enjoyed our stay in Winchester very much- the history here is fantastic.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Historic Winchester, Virginia

Our Sunday began with a Reformation service at Grace Lutheran.  It was quite an inspirational service enhanced by trumpet and pipe organ accompanying such great old hymns as "A Mighty Fortress Is Our God" and the "Church's One Foundation".  The congregation was organized in 1752, its' present building sits in the historic district of Winchester.  After services John and I started our walking tour down Winchester's main street, once known as the Great Philadelphia "Wagon" Road.   This was the main artery to settlement west of the mountains during the early days of our country.

  Winchester is the oldest community west of the Blue Ridge Mountains, so it is not unusual to find buildings here over 200 years old.  The Godfrey-Miller home was built in 1788, passed down through the Miller family until 1934 when it was donated to the Lutheran church for an elderly ladies home.
As I had mentioned in a previous posting, Winchester changed hands between Union and Confederate forces many times.  The same thing can be said for the courthouse which was used as a hospital and prison by both armies.  During the Civil War 6 major battles were fought in and around the town.
Young George Washington arrived in Winchester in 1748 as a surveyor, later to become adjutant of the militia, and representative to the colonial House of Burgesses for this county, Fredrick, in 1758.  Pictured below is the original blockhouse portion believed to predate 1758 and used by Washington as a surveyor and adjutant of the militia from 1755-58.
It looks like I will not complete writing about this historic town in one posting, and we still have some more touring around to do today.   Just maybe I will finish up on this tomorrow! 

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Museum of the Shenandoah Valley

John did not realize when he made the reservation for the rv park here in Winchester Va. that we would be sitting in one of the more historical towns of the state.  We got a hint of that very quickly when we started collecting the brochures of the area.   Winchester was founded in 1752, so its' history goes back to the Colonial era when young George Washington was a surveyor in the town.  During the Civil War the town changed hands between the Confederate and the Union armies over 70 times, and even as much as 13 times in one day!  Yesterday we visited the Museum of the Shenandoah Valley to learn more of the legendary past of the valley.   The museum does a great job, through numerous displays, of showcasing the natural resources of the area as well as the people who have lived here over the centuries.  On the museum grounds is the Glen Burnie House, the older sections of which were built in 1793.
Colonel James Wood and his Mary settled on the land in 1738.  He was the founder of the town of Winchester.  It was his son Robert who built the older parts of the house which we see today.  The estate has remained a home of the Wood Glass families from 1738 to 1990.  During the Civil War each side occupied the house several times, fortunately the house was not damaged.  Julian Wood Glass Jr. and his partner Lee Taylor restored the home and gardens in the 1960s.   They were able to restore the then decaying house into a country estate with the fortunes Julian Glass had inherited from the Oklahoma oil industry.  Much of what we saw, while touring the house and gardens, was the changes those two made while living here.  The gardens include vegetable and herb, rose, perennial, as well as Chinese and a parterre garden.  The latter garden is pictured below.  It is a formal garden consisting of bedding plants or shrubs, as well as gravel paths, laid out in pattern.  A statue of Mercury stands in the middle of the garden.
We were told by one of the docents of the house that the Chinese garden has elements of a Japanese garden as well, perhaps it should be called Asian.  The moon gate and bridge over a small pond is pictured below.
I will conclude this posting with a picture of the rear of the home.  It perhaps gives you a better idea of the size of the home.  Today we plan to tour the historic sites of Winchester.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Hocking Hills State Park- Part Two

Yesterday the rain stopped, but it remained cool and overcast.  However, we had a wonderful day and hardly gave much thought to the weather.  Returning home that evening I discovered that I had taken close to 300 pictures!  Part of my problem the whole day was that I could not figure out whether to concentrate my photography on the large rock formations, cliffs, fall colors, towering hemlocks and oaks, various ferns, or the last wildflowers of the year.  We saw a lot of God's wonderful world, to put it simply.  Ash Cave was our first stop, and we were surprised to find the parking lot almost full.  The cave was given its name because of the large pile of ashes found here by early settlers.  The pile, measuring l00 feet long, 3 feet deep and 30 feet wide, was believed to be the campfire ashes of Native Indians which had been built up over the years.
The massive recessed cave measures 700 feet wide and 100 feet high.  It is believed that ancient people were here 8,000 BC, they left their mark in the stone in the form of sharpening grooves and effigies.  Our next stop was Conkle's Hollow.  As we walked into this nature preserve we were soon surrounded by sheer cliffs rising nearly 200 feet above the valley floor.
The deep gorge at Conkle's Hollow measures 100 feet wide at places.  As we walked through the gorge we noticed the cliffs literally closing in on us, in other words, the gorge was becoming narrower.  In the dark recesses of the gorge ferns and moss seem to take over.  Many of them are draped over the slumps, or rocks which litter the valley floor.  The boulders, as pictured below, once clung to the bedrock walls of the hollow.  Our walk through the gorge ended at a large rock shelter similar to the one we had seen at Ash Cave, although it was not as massive.
I would say our most awesome area of the day was our next stop, the rock house.  It is a massive cavernous corridor with natural Gothic looking windows-like openings.  A park brochure claims that it is the only true cave in the park.  The house is situated midway up a 150-foot cliff and has a ceiling which is 25 feet high.  It is quite colorful with  shades of brown, red, and orange splashed on its walls- that is caused by iron staining.
Our last stop of the day was at Cantwell Cliffs.  Here we had a choice of winding our way between large boulders on the valley floor or getting a good view of the cliffs and rock shelters from the rim trail.  I think we did a little of several trails, it all became quite confusing to me after awhile.  We saw more slump rocks, which here have created some very narrow passage ways.  Pictured below is what has been called Fat Woman's Squeeze.  Hiking through this area was just as thrilling as all the other places we had visited.
I am writing this posting now from Virginia.  We saw some beautiful fall colors driving through the hills of West Virginia.  Not sure whether we want to drive Highway 50 again, however.  John had to contend with some very steep grades and our motor home certainly got all shook up with the wild swinging around the curves.  However, the scenic vistas made it all worthwhile.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Hocking Hills State Park- Part One

We have certainly been dealing with some nasty cold wet weather recently.  However, we got a break from it yesterday and were able to visit Hocking State Park. The park received its name from the Wyandot Indians who called it “hockhocking” referring to the Hocking River’s bottle shaped gorge near Lancaster,Ohio.  The park has 6 separate areas all total encompassing 2,000 acres.  Each one of those locations has their own unique features varying from towering sandstone cliffs to waterfalls and streams to deep gorges.  We hiked two of those areas yesterday and were quite fortunate that rain did not come down until our last hour of trekking. 
Old Man’s Cave is one of the more popular spots in the park.  It was given that name because a reclusive man, Richard Rowe, made the cave his home in the 1800s with his two hound dogs.  A great deal of our afternoon was spent in and around this large cave, which has five principal sections to it.  There is the upper and lower gorge, as well as upper, lower and middle falls.  Pictured below are the lower falls.
It was fascinating looking at the hollows in the streams and small recesses in the cliff walls- all created by the forces of cascading waters as well as percolating groundwater.  An eroded out spot in  Clear Creek here has been dubbed the “Devil’s Bathtub.
We were going to call it a day after seeing Old Man’s Cave, but it was still light out and the weather was holding out for us.  Near the cave, and up the gorge from it, is located Cedar Falls.  A path connects the two places, but in the interest of saving time, we drove to the falls.  They were called Cedar Falls by the early settlers who mistook the large hemlock trees around it as Cedar trees.
Cedar Falls is the most abundant waterfall in the park.  Queer creek cascades down the front of it.  Just as we were leaving this area we notice a memorial plaque for Grandma Gatewood (she lived from 1887-1973), who hike the Appalachian Trail several times after the age of 67 years.  I had recently learned about her when a book on her life came up on my kindle list.  I did not know she was a “long-time Hocking Hills enthusiast”!  Six miles of a trail running from Cedar Falls to Ash Creek has been dedicated to her.  Hopefully today, Wednesday, the weather will clear up and we can see more of the park.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Columbus Washboard Company

On Sunday afternoon we parked in the beautiful hills of Hocking County in southeastern Ohio. 
We came to this area to see the awesome sights of Hocking State Park, but or first goal on Monday was to tour the Columbus Washboard Company in Logan,Ohio.  It was as interesting as the mustard museum!
  I have been writing about all the fall festivals currently taking place in this part of the country.  There is one small town festival which I would love to attend, and that is the Washboard Music Festival which takes place in June in Logan.  It is probably the only washboard festival in our country, just as the Columbus Washboard Co. is the last remaining washboard manufacturing company in the United States.  It began in 1895 making washboards for laundry use, but since then has also made them as decorative items as well as musical instruments.  Hard to believe, the company makes 60,000 a year.  When we arrived to take the factory tour the two workers from the shop, as well as the tour guides, were out for lunch.  John and I opted to take the tour on our own as there were informative signs posted on the factory walls..  It was not a very long tour, as it just includes one large room.
The factory serves also as a museum.  On display is a gravity fed nailer, which has since been replaced by the nail gun.  We also saw the original metal crimper and metal slitter.  The crimper bends the metal to create various rubbing surfaces.  One can customize their own washboard and make it with galvanized metal zinc or brass.  Stainless steel is durable for musical use and is most durable.  For decorative uses slate or glass may also be used instead of metal.
The burning question I had was whether anyone uses the washboards for laundry today.  We were told that some people still use them to do their laundry, the company distributes washboards to Ace Hardware stores.  Also our military appreciates them- in the factory was a large display regarding the Kuwait Fund.  For a $25.00 donation the company will mail to any service person a small washboard (the boards come in family, pail and mini size), tub, clothesline, pins, 3 soap bars and foot powder.  Instructions are included with the package, and a suggestion is made that the dirty water be saved to wash their feet.  That explains the foot powder! 

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Waynesville, Ohio

We continued to have problems securing reservations for a place to park our home through out the rest of this past week.  And no wonder, on Saturday in the small town of Bainbridge we drove right through the middle of their Fall Leaves Festival, and when we stopped for gas earlier we encountered people dressed for a Renaissance Festival.  Fortunately Waynesville had their Ohio Saurerkraut Festival last week-end,  there we did find a place to stay for a couple of nights.  Our sister-in-law Mary Jo drove down from Dayton and joined us for lunch in Waynesville on Friday.  There is certainly plenty to do in this small town, it has about 13 antique shops and around 30 specialty shops.  We also discovered that it has many fine eating establishments, as the Hammel Inn Restaurant and B and B.  It may have been used for a tavern as early as 1800.  The town, founded in 1797, held its first election here in 1803.
We picked up a walking tour and map of Waynesville at one of the stores, which helped us find the historic homes and also filled us in on some of its history.  A room in the basement of the Hammel House could have been part of the Underground Railroad, and there is also another house in the town, the Seth Haines House,
which has parts of a tunnel used to bring slaves up from the river.  Quaker Seth Haines was Waynesville's first millionaire.  The original brick house, built in 1854, was covered with stucco in 1909.
Quakers moved into Waynesville from four eastern states in the early 1800s as a protest to slavery.  There are several Quaker historic buildings still in town, as well as the Friends Burying Ground.  The White Brick Meeting house was completed in 1811, it is the oldest regularly attended religious building west of the Allegeheny Mountains.
David and Rachel Evans were the first couple to be married in the meeting house in 1813.  Their son, Dr.John Evans, was the founder and first president of Northwestern University as well the founder of the University of Denver.  He was also the first governor of the Colorado Territory.  We visited Mt.Evans in Colorado last year, and now learned that the mountain was named after him, as is Evansville Illinois.  It is interesting for us to sometimes discover connections between places that we visit, from one part of our nation to another.   The Evan's home, built in 1836, is pictured below.
Just for the season of Halloween I will close with a picture of a Gothic styled barn.  It was not on the list of historic buildings, but I am sure it has its interesting own story to tell.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Red Hills Illinois State Park

We left St.Louis,Mo. this past Wednesday, after waiting out storms which were passing through and going eastward, the direction we intended to travel.  The weather is rapidly changing and bringing about beautiful fall colors, which we have enjoyed seeing this past week during our travel.
In all of our five years of traveling in our motor home we have not had as much of a problem finding a place to stay as we have encountered this past week.  Red Hills State Park was filling up for the week-end because of Halloween festivities,  however the campground host did find a place for us.  His trailer home, all decorated for Halloween,  is pictured below. His was not the only one ready for Halloween!
The park is located in southeastern Illinois between Olney and Lawrenceville.  It sits on Red Hill, which reportedly is the highest point between St. Louis and Cincinnati.    After we had settled in and eaten our supper at the park’s lakeside inn, we drove up that hill to take in the view of the surrounding countryside.
We also discovered historical markers in the park noting that it was the westernmost edge of the first land ceded by Native Americans to the United States by a treaty made in 1795.  At that time the area was designated as the Vincennes Tract.  It was bisected by the old Cahokia Trace, which ran east and west just north of what is now U.S. 50.  The "Trace Road" use to be the major road between historic Vincennes, Indiana and St.Louis and the west.
The next day, before we moved out, I walked down to Red Hills Lake.  It was a joy to no longer need an umbrella and the sun was making an attempt to peek out. The latest spate of storms have certainly caused many trees to turn from their bright summer green to the vibrant red and golden hues of fall.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Ulysses S. Grant's White Haven, a National Historic Site

Saturday was a very cool day, in fact the night before we had our heater running- I cannot remember when we ran it last!  My sister Julia and her husband Cal wanted to get together with us, but the challenge was to find something to do with them that did not involve being out in the chilly weather.  We found the perfect place for that challenge at White Haven.  This national historic site was quite fascinating to us on several levels.  First, imagine St.Louis in the 19th century.  It had three main thoroughfares: Gravois Road to the southwest, Manchester to the west and Natural Bridge to the northwest.  In 1854 one "improved road" took farmers into the city, and there was a toll to be paid for that privilege.
For those of you familiar with St.Louis, White Haven is next to the site of Anheuser-Busch's Grant's farm, which has nothing to do with Grant.  However, on the park's ground is the cabin Grant had built called Hardscrabble.  He and his young family lived there before moving int White Haven in 1854.  Colonel Dent, Grant's father-in-law, bought White Haven as a summer home in 1820.  As you can see in the picture above, it is not a white house.  Colonel Dent named the home after his home in Maryland.  During the nineteenth century it was painted various colors, including Paris Green with a dark green trim, which can be seen also inside the home.
 During the nineteenth White Haven remained a working farm of 850 acres.  Gravois Creek ran through the land which included cleared fields and orchards.  That leads me to another interesting level of historic facts which this home provided.  Enslaved workers were vital to the success of the plantation, upwards of 30 worked at White Haven.  General Grant began courting Julia Dent in 1843 when slavery was an important part of life in Missouri.  One of the household slaves, Mary Robinson, recalled one night the Colonel and Grant had a conversation which was a "long and heated one" regarding the owning of slaves.  They never agreed on the subject- Grant came from Ohio, a free state.  Until Grant entered her life Julia had no concept of the harshness of life which the slaves endured to make life easier for her and her family.
Pictured above is the winter kitchen, located below the main house.  Porous stone and poor drainage made it a damp and musty room with poor ventilation.  It had only one window, opening it for better ventilation chilled the room very quickly.  General Grant and his family lived in White Haven during the 1850s when he enjoyed his life as a farmer and breeder of thoroughbred horses.  The Civil War his victory at Vicksburg and the surrender of Lee at Appomattox then thrust him into the national limelight.  He served two terms as our eighteenth president, a museum at White Haven provides another level of the fascinating story regarding Grant and his family during their years in the White House.   In 1884 he sold White Haven, he died in 1885 in Mount McGregor, New York after battling throat cancer for a year. 

Friday, October 3, 2014

A Day Trip to Southwest St.Louis County

Our last posting, written by John, may have left some of you confused.  Seems like last week we were in southern Illinois, and this week in St.Louis.  That is pretty much what happened, on Monday of this week we did move to St.Louis.  Perhaps it will be a short stay, we do not know as yet until we make the round of all our doctor appointments.  The weather, until today, has been quite warm here and staying cooped up in our home with the air conditioning running did not seem like a good option for us.  Hence we decided to go on a road trip south on Wednesday.   It was certainly a day of unexpected surprises.   Our first stop of the day was to be Engelmann Woods, however we decided to first check out the town of St.Albans.  We soon discovered that the town has many small subdivisions with such lovely names as the Moors, Heathers and the Hollows, to name but a few.  It is also a town largely dominated by country club and at least two golf courses.  We learned that the town was founded in 1837 and has at the least two historic buildings.
Pictured above is Heads Store, established in 1892.  Remember I mentioned in previous postings that St.Louis is currently celebrating its 250th birthday?  One of the birthday cakes noting that fact is in front of this historical building.  St.Albans is on the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail, because the expedition stopped here in  1804.  Actually, the location was at Tavern Cave, a short distance from the town.  It was a natural cave where French fur traders took shelter during their river voyages.
Our trip took us through the river hills of the Missouri River.  We did not expect that trees would be showing their fall colors yet, but they are out and our trip was a very pretty one as we drove over many back country roads.  We reached Engelmann's Woods, but before parking we chose to check out what was further down the road.  At the end of the road is ensconced a large gated home with a guard tower.
Hobbled next to the guard tower was a horse, he probably wondered what we were doing there, as much as we questioned what he was doing there!  Nearby is an old barn, probably the residence of the horse.
Hiking through Engelmann Woods proved to be a bit of a challenge, what with hills to climb, the humidity and presence of many annoying gnats and mosquitoes.  Overhead we heard woodpeckers drilling on the old growth trees, and we could tell squirrels have been busy by the evidence of the cracked black walnut and hickory shells on our path.  Acorns are also in abundance on the forest floor.
Our last stop was Shaw Nature Reserve, where a couple of surprises awaited us.  I did not expect to see such an abundance of wildflowers at this time of the year, pictured above.  In the setting of the tall grass prairie they were quite stunning.  Unfortunately that was the extent of what we saw in the reserve, because the tree climbers were checking out a tree in the area and we stopped to talk with them.  John posted the rest of that story yesterday.