A 5 Day Midwest Adventure – Day 3: Hanging around Nebraska City, NE

Old Car - Nebraska City, Nebraska
Old Car – Nebraska City, Nebraska

After two days of hard driving with three children, we were ready for a brief break.  Marissa’s friends live near Nebraska City, so we stayed here for a couple of nights.  After a good night’s rest, I took them over to the Arbor Day Farm so that they could enjoy each others company.  Nebraska City is also the home of Arbor Day, which is a holiday in which individuals and groups are encouraged to plant and care for trees. It originated in Nebraska City United States by J. Sterling Morton. The first Arbor Day was held in Nebraska on April 10, 1872.

Arbor Farm Tree House - 50 feet tall
Arbor Day Farm Tree House – 50 feet tall (from arbordayfarm.org)

I didn’t attend the Arbor Day Farm with Marissa and her friends, but would have liked to.  Here are a couple of photos from Marissa’s visit…very kid friendly indeed!! The 260 acre of Arbor Day Farm is full of natural beauty and is also a National Historic Landmark.

Arbor Day Farm Tree Adventure - Nebraska City, Nebraska
Arbor Day Farm Tree Adventure – Nebraska City, Nebraska
View of the Tree House
View of the Tree House (by Marissa Noe)
Kids at the summit of the Canopy Tree House
Kids at the summit of the Canopy Tree House (by Marissa Noe)
Grandson Landen hangs in a canopy in the tree house
Grandson Landen hangs in a canopy in the tree house (by Marissa Noe)
The kids can climb on old tractors...at Arbor Day Farm in Nebraska City
The kids can climb on old tractors…at Arbor Day Farm in Nebraska City (by Marissa Noe)
The kids got all tangled up in this giant spider web at Arbor Day Farm (by Marissa Noe)
The kids got all tangled up in this giant spider web at Arbor Day Farm (by Marissa Noe)

While they spent a couple of hours at the farm, I spent my time driving around and enjoying the nice atmosphere of Nebraska City.  The farm not only has trees, but also fruit bearing trees and lots of flowers.  I snapped a couple of shots before I headed into town.

Apple Trees at Arbor Day Farm
Apple Trees at Arbor Day Farm
A tree full of fresh Jonathan Apples...I was SO tempted to hop out of the car and pull one off.
A tree full of fresh Jonathan Apples…I was SO tempted to hop out of the car and pull one off.
More Apples in Nebraska City
More Apples in Nebraska City
Beautiful Roses
Beautiful Roses

For me, there were actually two interesting highlights of the visit to Nebraska City.  The first was the “Enchanted Arboretum,” which began in the fall of 2012. Professional artists from around the country submitted 12-inch maquettes of suggested designs that were then juried by area arts experts for project inclusion. Of the 55 submissions, only 21 could be chosen. The artists of the winning designs received their blank sculpture along with a materials stipend in January 2013 and set to work on their creations.  This kind of fund raising and art event seems to have become a popular trend in recent years.  I have noted the “Horsemania” event held in my hometown of Lexington, KY in a previous post.  And just a couple of weeks ago Lexington rolled out another one called “Town Branch Bourbon Barrel Project” which features painted bourbon barrels (I will have a post about that in a week or so).  I have seen others, such as painted buffaloes, painted cows (see Cow Parade), Moose in the City (in Toronto), and many more.  I have, on occasion, run into some and have photographed them.

Enchanted Arboretum in Nebraska City, Nebraska
Enchanted Arboretum in Nebraska City, Nebraska

We were very fortunate (the kids saw a few as well) to have seen these as they all went on the auction block on September 28, just about two weeks after our visit on September 11.

Old Style Wall Advertisement in Nebraska City
Old Style Wall Advertisement in Nebraska City

The other delightful surprise for me were the newly painted Old Fashioned product Wall Advertisements that covered the walls of many of the downtown buildings.   Following are a few photos of the Enchanted Arboretum and the Wall Art of Nebraska City….

Painted Tree from Enchanted Arboretum
Painted Tree from Enchanted Arboretum
Enchanted Arboretum - Nebraska City, NE
Spring Awakening in Blue by Eliska Greenspoon
Enchanted Arboretum - Nebraska City, NE
Elementals by Sharon Ohmberger
Missing Trees by Greg Holdren
Missing Trees by Greg Holdren
Why the Crow's Feathers are Black by Sharon Cech
Why the Crow’s Feathers are Black by Sharon Cech
Growth Rings by Sue Kalicki
Growth Rings by Sue Kalicki
Spirits of the Wind by Janelle McKain
Spirits of the Wind by Janelle McKain

By far my favorite is the “Spirits of the Wind”, as seen above.  Very detailed and intricate.  Following is a detail of this nice piece of art….

Detail of Spirits of the Wind
Detail of Spirits of the Wind

I plan on doing another blog post about this kind of art work as seen from my travels.  Hopefully I can include much more.

Green Machine by Corby Renard
Green Machine by Corby Renard

As I mentioned above, I also got a kick out of the numerous wall advertisements painted on buildings in the downtown area.  These works have all been painstakingly recreated and painted by local artist Kent Schwartz thanks to a charitable donation from the Paul John Anton and Doris Wirth Foundation of Nebraska City (which was also one of the organizations providing grant assistance for the Enchanted Arboretum). Most of these are from products in the 1950s-1970s (and maybe earlier).  I remember some of them from when I was younger. Here are some samples

SELX Wall Advertisement - Nebraska City, Nebraska
SELZ Wall Advertisement – Nebraska City, Nebraska
Dr. Prices Baking Powder Wall Advertisement - Nebraska City, NE
Dr. Prices Baking Powder Wall Advertisement – Nebraska City, NE
Morton's Salt Wall Advertisement - Nebraska City, Nebraska
Morton’s Salt Wall Advertisement – Nebraska City, Nebraska
Old-style Coca Cola Wall Advertisement  - Nebraska City, NE
Old-style Coca Cola Wall Advertisement – Nebraska City, NE
Argo Baking Soda wall advertisement being added in Nebraska City, NE
Argo Baking Soda wall advertisement being added in Nebraska City, NE

We visited Nebraska City on September 11 and the town was decked out in flags in remembrance of all those who lost their lives during the 9/11 attacks.  Many small towns across America do the same thing.

Flags hang all along main street in Nebraska City on 9/11
Flags hang all along main street in Nebraska City on 9/11
A Flag frames the top of the courthouse in Nebraska City
A Flag frames the top of the courthouse in Nebraska City
A nice handcrafted flag decorates a house in Nebraska City
A nice handcrafted flag decorates a house in Nebraska City

Nebraska City is also home to the Kregel Windmill Company, which manufactures the famous ELI windmills used on farms across the midwest.

Kregel Windmill Factory Museum
Kregel Windmill Factory Museum

The Kregel Windmill Company operated as a commercial enterprise in the same building in Nebraska City, Nebraska from 1903 to 1991. Even though they have not been mass produced since the early 1940s, Kregel Windmill Company “Eli” brand windmills are still found in service pumping life-giving water for both humans and livestock. They demonstrate clearly how wind power without polluting the environment can serve the needs of humans now and in the future to improve their lives.

Kregel ELI Windmill framed by a flag on 9/11 in Nebraska City, Nebraska
Kregel ELI Windmill framed by a flag on 9/11 in Nebraska City, Nebraska
Small Kregel Windmill
Small Kregel Windmill

Little Nebraska City offered a few other things to see as I drove around the quiet, seemingly All-American town…here are a few more shots:

Downtown Nebraska City
Downtown Nebraska City
Historic Otoe County Courthouse in Nebraska City
Historic Otoe County Courthouse in Nebraska City

The Otoe County Courthouse is currently on the National Registry of Historic Places and is the oldest public building in the state of Nebraska.

Old Neon Sign for Fraternity of Eagles in Nebraska City
Old Neon Sign for Fraternity of Eagles in Nebraska City
Nebraska has its own Duck Dynasty at a local antique shop
Nebraska has its own Duck Dynasty at a local antique shop
Yes, these appear to be antiques as well...
Yes, these appear to be antiques as well…
Many of the Nebraska City streets are paved with brick
Many of the Nebraska City streets are paved with brick
Old Wooden Bridge in Nebraska City
Old Wooden Bridge in Nebraska City
An Old Rock House adorns a corner in Nebraska City
An Old Rock House adorns a corner in Nebraska City

Every town seems to have that one odd house with a collection of junk or perhaps their version of folk art.  I found Nebraska City’s house on one of the neighborhood roads…..

The Junk Collector house - every town has one
The Junk Collector house – every town has one
Reflector Mailbox - bet he doesn't have trouble finding his place at night
Reflector Mailbox – bet he doesn’t have trouble finding his place at night
Rocking Horse Gate - this is really folk art at its best!
Rocking Horse Gate – this is really folk art at its best!

Whenever I travel I am always watching for animals…I found the following “animal” – but I am not sure what to call it….

Man in Wheelbarrow
Man in Wheelbarrow – a real Truper….

Naturally, when I am on the road I am always looking for interesting animal shots as well.  Here I found a red-tail squirrel scampering for nuts….

Scampering Squirrel
Scampering Squirrel
Squirrel with a mouthful
Squirrel with a mouthful
Ready for Storage
Ready for Storage

And how about a couple more shots of Nebraska City

An old bell in someone's yard
An old bell in someone’s yard
Fresh Crabapples
Fresh Crabapples
Gotta add some wood carvings - these from Nebraska City
Gotta add some wood carvings – Welcome to Nebraska City
Honoring Squirrels
Honoring Squirrels
Great Name for a Lawn Care Business - Lawn Order
Great Name for a Lawn Care Business – Lawn Order

I really got a kick out of this sign and their website. Their Motto: Lawn Order – Do Your Lawn Justice!

Curious Car in a motel parking lot.  Saw it driving around town later in the day.
Curious Car in a motel parking lot. Saw it driving around town later in the day.
Old Pioneer Theatre in Nebraska City
Old Pioneer Theatre in Nebraska City
Tacos anyone? - A Pink building in the middle of small town America.  Priceless!
Tacos anyone? – A Pink building in the middle of small town America. Priceless!

And perhaps the best thing in town??  How about a park with an old Merry Go Round.  I don’t see these much anymore.  Too many parks are concerned about safety I suppose.  My grandkids and my daughter loved it!!

Merry Go Round in park in Nebraska City, NE
Merry Go Round in park in Nebraska City, NE

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I’ve Been Everywhere – Part II: Signs, Signs, Everywhere a Sign

Sumoflam's Signs
Sumoflam’s Signs

One of the norms of driving the back roads of America are the town signs.  Anyone that drives any roads typically sees hundreds of them.  Of course, some are pretty typical town names, but, there are many that aren’t typical.   Here are a few “descriptive” town name signs that I have picked up along the less beaten paths of America.  I have written about some of these places, but now we can “compare.”

I would like to say I have made it to all of the strange and wacky town places, but indeed I have not.  Here is one non-definitive list from infoplease.com.  Here are a couple more links to the topic – Top 10 Worst Named Cities, Bad Names for Towns, Interesting Town Names.

As my photo above shows, there are quite a few adjective towns….

Uncertain, TX
Uncertain, TX

Uncertain is a small town in Texas on the shores of the mysterious Caddo Lake, which is the only naturally formed lake in the state of Texas. Uncertain derives its name from surveyors who were attempting to delineate the border between Texas and Louisiana and discovered that they were “uncertain” as to which side of the line they were on as they began surveying that particular part of Caddo Lake.

Odd, West Virginia
Odd, West Virginia

Odd is an unincorporated town in Raleigh County, West Virgina. According to one story, a group of people gathered at the post office to name the town. Several names were suggested, and to one suggestion, someone in the group responded “That’s odd.” And so the name of Odd was adopted for the town.  Odd is basically south of some other towns – Hurricane, Tornado and Comfort…all on the same road in West Virginia.  Odd is home to the Odd Elementary School, which was apparently the last remaining wooden school house in West Virginia.

Oddville, Kentucky
Oddville, Kentucky

Travel west from West Virginia into the Lexington, KY area and you can work your way to Oddville, Kentucky. Oddville is located on U.S. Route 62 5.4 miles (8.7 km) north-northeast of Cynthiana. Settlement began in 1799. The name was apparently an attempt to satisfy the postal authorities with a unique name for the post office, which opened in 1851.

Peculiar, Missouri
Peculiar, Missouri

Further west into Missouri is the town of Peculiar, easily reached from Interstate 64 just east of Kansas City.  On July 29, 1868, the county surveyor, Robert Cass, platted Peculiar and was filed as “The Town of Peculiar”. Apparently, the community’s first postmaster, Edgar Thomson is attributed to the name. His his first choice for a town name, Excelsior, was rejected because it already existed in Atchison County, Missouri. Several other choices were also rejected. The story goes that the annoyed Thomson wrote to the Postmaster General himself to complain saying, among other things, “We don’t care what name you give us so long as it is sort of ‘peculiar’.” Thomson submitted the name “Peculiar” and the name was approved. The post office was established on June 22, 1868.

Normal, IL
Normal, Illinois

Unlike the Odd and Peculiar and Uncertain names, Normal, Illinois got its name from the Normal School located in the town.  Of all of the strangely named towns I have come across, Normal is by far the largest, with well over 50,000 people and a college.

Okay, Oklahoma
Okay, OklahomaOkay, Oklahoma sign

Heading further west into Oklahoma you can come to the town of Okay. The town is located in the southeastern corner of Wagoner County on State Highway 16. The community lies on the east bank of the Verdigris River in the Three Forks area about fifty miles southeast of Tulsa.  Formerly known as Rex, North Muskogee and Falls City, the name was changed in the early twentieth century the settlement was became Okay in 1919, honoring the O. K. 3-Ton Truck and Trailer manufactured there by the Oklahoma Auto Manufacturing Company.

Boring, Oregon
Boring, Oregon

Head way west into Oregon and you can get to Boring. The townspeople call it an “exciting place to live and work.”  It actually got its name from 1n 1903 whenthe unincorporated area was named after one of its first residents, W.H Boring. The town is very close to Portland and really is not boring.  There is a new restaurant that just opened there and was not there on my last trip.  Called “The Not So Boring Bar and Grill“.

Cool, Texas
Cool, Texas

If the other names were not so interesting, then try out Cool, Texas. It is a very small incorporated town on U.S. Highway 180 eleven miles west of Weatherford in western Parker County, Texas. Cool was incorporated after 1960 and was first shown on county maps in the mid-1960s.  I have not been able to find out how it got its name, but it was likely after someone named Cool.  There is a Cool Cafe there is they are open when you go though.

Coolville, Ohio
Coolville, Ohio

And then there is Coolville, OH. This town is located in the extreme southeast corner of Ohio. In 1818 Coolville was platted by Ashel Cooley, for whom it is named, and incorporated in 1835. I believe that Ashel Cooley is actually a distant cousin of my wife, whose grandmother was a Cooley. Coolville is located close to a couple more “hot/cold” communities: Torch and Frost.

Torch, Ohio
Torch, Ohio

Speaking of Torch, I might as well add it and warm things up.   Not sure how it got its name, but, since we are getting warm here, let’s take the real jump….

Hell, Michigan
Hell, Michigan
Direction to Hell from Pickney, MI
Direction to Hell from Gregory, MI

Hell, Michigan is probably one of the more famous wacky town names in the United States (along with Intercourse, Pennsylvania).  The story of Hell starts out around a sawmill, gristmill, distillery and tavern. All four were operated by George Reeves. Reeves moved to the area in the 1830s from the Catskill Mountains in New York.  Apparently, soon after Michigan gained statehood, George Reeves was asked what he thought the town he helped settle should be called and replied, “I don’t care, you can name it Hell for all I care.” The name became official on October 13, 1841.  The town has a bar, an ice cream shop and a tourist shop.  That’s about it.  But, it is a beautiful drive from Pinckney, through Gregory, which is the gateway to Hell.

Ponder, Texas
Ponder, Texas

So, these names make me want to ponder what other places I can visit.  Ponder, Texas.  Ponder is located about 10 miles from Denton, Texas.  Not sure how it got its name. But how about these next few places?

Talent, Oregon
Talent, Oregon

Looking for Talent?  You can find it in the far southwestern part of Oregon.  Like its counterpart Oregon town of Boring, Talent was actually named after a person. In 1889, A.P. Talent platted a town-site and named it “Talent.” On November 2, 1910, Talent became an incorporated town.

Wisdom, Kentucky
Wisdom, Kentucky

Seeking Wisdom? Well, it is a dot on the map in Metcalfe County, Kentucky.  There is not much from here, but the country rock band Kentucky Headhunters, famous for their cover of Bill Monroe’s “Walk Softly on This Heart of Mine” hail from Wisdom.  As for the name, I have not found out how it got the name yet.

Success, Missouri direction
Success, Missouri direction
Success, Missouri
Success, Missouri

Looking for Success? It is a small town about 17 miles northwest of Houston, Missouri. The road to Success from Houston is lined with old doublewides and rusted out cars.  No joke!!  And once you find Success, you will see that there is not much there.  At least you can say you found it.

Romance, Missouri
Romance, Missouri

Maybe you are looking for Romance instead?  Well, good luck.  Romance is down in the Ozarks, about 9 miles north of Gainesville, MO.  I took the partially paved and partially dirt road to Romance and found nothing but a couple of houses.  There apparently used to be a church there.  But, take it from me, the road to Romance is a dead end.

Friendship, Arkansas
Friendship, Arkansas
Friendship, Arkansas
Friendship, Arkansas

Perhaps you are looking for Friendship instead.  It is located in north of Arkadelphia off of Interstate 30 in Hot Spring County and has a population of just over 200. It is a quaint little town.

Comfort, West Virginia
Comfort, West Virginia

Or maybe you just want some Comfort. You can find it on the windy Coal River Road (Hwy 3).  If you go to Hurricane, WV off of Interstate 64 and then head southeast on US 60 through Tornado and get on Coal River Road you will eventually find Comfort.  Yes, you must go through a Hurricane and a Tornado to get to Comfort.  By the way, keep going south and you will get to Odd.

Charm, Ohio
Charm, Ohio

Or, maybe you just want some Charm. This small town on Hwy 557 in the heart of Ohio Amish Country got its name in 1885. If you like cheese, there is plenty of cheese in the area. Other Amish goods are available.  Honestly, this little burg really lives up to its name!!

Flippin, Arkansas
Flippin, Arkansas
Flippin, Kentucky
Flippin, Kentucky

There are two Flippin places that I have been to.  The larger Flippin is in Arkansas.  It is close to some great recreational areas in the Ozarks and is the home to ranger Boats.  There is a Flippin Police Department, a Flippin High School and a few Flippin Churches.  There are about 1500 residents in Flippin, Arkansas.  The name of Flippin comes from Thomas J. Flippin, who left Hopkins County, Kentucky in 1821. There is a nice history of the town here. Flippin, Kentucky, on the other hand, is very small.  It is located in southern Kentucky in Monroe County.

Part III will cover some of the more unique place names I have visited.  Enjoy the Ride!!

 

 

 

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