During the month of April I am participating in the Blogging from A to Z Challenge. The challenge has each blogger select a theme and then do a post thematically from A to Z during each day of April , except Sundays. My blog is number 1337 out of 1670 participating blogs. This year my A to Z posts will take you across the back roads of America to many unique what other bloggers will be posting about, check out the link: A to Z Theme Reveal List for 2016
The J Towns
Jamestown, North Dakota
One of my fun places to stop in North Dakota is Jamestown. It is known as the “Buffalo City” and one can find all kinds of Buffalo things, including “the World’s Largest Buffalo” statue and the National Buffalo Museum. It was commissioned in 1959 by local businessman Harold Newman, and built by art students from Jamestown College, under the supervision of art instructor and designer, Elmer Peterson. It is visible from Interstate 94, overlooking the city from above the James River valley. The statue is 26 feet tall, 46 feet long and weighs 60 tons. It was constructed with stucco and cement around a steel beam frame shaped with wire mesh and is one of the giants across the US. See more about my visit to Jamestown HERE.
Known as “The Little Switzerland” of the United States, Joseph, Oregon is a scenic town on the shores of the lovely Wallowa Lake. I visited this community in 2007 and was enthralled by the beauty. Like many towns, they have an art walk with many fine outdoor sculptures, including the intricate eagle sculpture “The Spirit of Joseph” by Steve Parks. Joseph was named after Chief Joseph of the Wallowa Band of the Nez Perce Tribe. Joseph is also about an hour away from the awe inspiring Hell’s Canyon. Despite the grandeur and wide expanses of the Grand Canyon in Arizona, Hell’s Canyon has been carved much deeper by the Snake River. The canyon is about 100 miles in length and there is one 40 mile section that is nearly 5500 feet deep. But the steepest point from river to rim is at Granite Creek. This is an amazing 7900 foot deep section of the canyon!! The widest expanse across the canyon is 10 miles. The Hell’s Canyon Scenic Byway is an awesome way to spend a day driving and taking in the wonderful views. See more about my NW Oregon and SW Washington roadtrip from 2007 HERE.
Just across the Ohio River from Louisville, KY is the river town of Jeffersonville, Indiana. Two different cities and a shared river and bridge. In September 2013 , with camera in hand, I drove around Louisville and then across the river to Jeffersonville. The town has a series of floodwall murals which are delightful to walk along and see. Turns out that the 12 murals depicting the history of Jeffersonville were painted by Robert Dafford and his crew. This project began in 2007 and was completed in 2012. Ironically, I had seen his mural works in previous visits to Point Pleasant, WV, Paducah, KY and Portsmouth, OH. (see Paducah work here and the Point Pleasant work here). Dafford apparently has his photorealistic mural art in over 200 locations around the world. Jeffersonville is also home to The Industrial Terrorplex, a massive haunted house and “horror complex” created using state of the art Hollywood effects, offered up some surprises as I rounded the corner. A couple of huge gargoyles were waiting on the fencepost to pounce down on me. See more about this unique Ohio River town in my 2013 post HERE.
One of the few places you cannot get to on a backroad by car is Juneau, Alaska. Only accessible via air or boat, we visited while on a cruise in June 2004 with other family members. Sitting along the Gastineau Channel, the town is picturesque and touristy. It is the gateway to Mendenhall Glacier as well. Mendenhall Glacier is about 13.6 miles long located in Mendenhall Valley, about 12 miles from downtown Juneau. We also took the Mount Roberts Tramway to the top of the mountain and enjoyed a spectacular view. The tramway’s cars rise 1,800 feet from the cruise ship dock in downtown Juneau through the rain forest to the Mountain House, offering expansive views of Juneau and Gastineau Channel. The Tramway is one of the most vertical tramways in the world. See the entire report of this trip HERE.
Jackson Hole, Wyoming
One of my FAVORITE places in the US is Jackson Hole, Wyoming. It is the gateway to the Grand Tetons National Park and is a beautiful town nestled in a picturesque valley. See my full post from a 2013 visit HERE. It is one my “Heaven on Earth” places.
Janesville, Wisconsin (Honorable Mention)
Another of the interesting towns in Wisconsin, Janesville is not too far from Madison and north of Beloit. The town has big cows and cheese factories as well as a great history. Definitely worth a visit.
Jackson Center, Ohio (Honorable Mention)
Jackson Center, Ohio is the home of the Airstream Factory. Everyone has seen these iconic trailers on the roads. This is where they come from. They give tours!! Check out a report about my visit there in May 2008 right HERE.
Jamaica Beach, Texas (Honorable Mention)
On one end of Galveston Island in Texas is Jamaica Beach, with nice beaches, condos to stay in and wonderful views of the Gulf of Mexico. Brown pelicans are in the air everywhere. See my 2014 post with many pelican shots and lots of views of the beautiful gulf coast HERE.
Jamestown, New York (Honorable Mention)
Finally, I would be remiss if I didn’t include another Jamestown. (And yes, I have also been to Jamestown, VA to see the old Jamestown history!!) Jamestown, New York is the birthplace of iconic TV star Lucille Ball. There is Lucy and Desi stuff all over town. We didn’t have time to visit the Lucy-Desi Center, but I did at least get shots of the facilities and the murals. See my full report about my New York trip to Jamestown and other places nearby by clicking HERE.
Did You Miss My Other A to Z Challenge Posts? Click on a letter below to see the others.
Two different cities and a shared river and bridge. In September 2013 one of my daughters and her friends needed some assistance getting to Louisville and had some business to take care of. So, with camera in hand, we were off and they did their stuff while I drove around Louisville and then across the river to Jeffersonville. Here are a few the things I saw in a three hour jaunt thru two towns….
This stretch of the Ohio River is the widest and deepest part (about 23 feet) of the Ohio River.
A drive down West Main Street in downtown Louisville offers a number of interesting sights. You pass by the Art and Museum District of town. Perhaps the biggest and most interesting site is the amazing Giant Louisville Slugger Baseball Bat at the Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory. The bat replica is actually not made of wood. It is a 120 foot tall steel bat that weighs over 68,000 pounds. The Big Bat is an exact-scale replica of Babe Ruth’s 34-inch Louisville Slugger bat.
Ironically, just a mere three blocks away is another “Big Bat”. This one is located at Caufield’s Novelty Shop and is a huge monstrosity of a hanging vampire bat. They obviously want to capitalize on the “novelty” factor!
Another business on Main Street, just a couple of doors down from the Louisville Slugger Museum is an advertisement for Kentucky Mirror and Paint Glass with a Giant Baseball going through a Painted Window…
Not to be outdone, there is the guy there that could actually use the giant bat and ball and probably fight off that vampire thingy… yes, a giant gold replica of Michelangelo’s “David” statue is a right there on main.
This statue was created by Turkish artist Serkan Ozkaya and was commissioned to be created in Istanbul, shipped to New York and then to Louisville. It certainly must be the largest representation of a male’s complete anatomy in Kentucky and perhaps even the U.S. (See this photo for details if you dare). The statue is at the 21c Museum Hotel in Louisville, which is a unique contemporary art museum coupled with a boutique hotel. The 21c Museum is North America’s only museum dedicated to collecting and exhibiting contemporary art of the 21st century. The Museum is open free of charge 24 hours a day, seven days a week. More than twenty special exhibitions and installations have been organized by the 21c Museum since its opening in 2006.
Mural Artist Bryan Todd completed this giant “Louisville Mural” earlier in 2013. (see article about it). Around the downtown area and the Highlands district there are other art works…wall murals, street art, etc.
The mural above is a classic piece painted on a retaining wall near Mark’s Feed Store and Ear X-Tacy in Louisville. Noah has painted a number of murals, many inside cafes and shops around Louisville. You can see an interview with him here on a mural he was working on in Philadelphia. Following are some detail shots of his whimsical mural. I have tried to find the story on this one but to no avail…
I found another nice mural on the side of Old Town Liquors on Bardstown Road. This one is more classic, but nice. Painted by Louisville artists Byron Roberts and Gary Bennett in 2002, it was partially funded by the City of Louisville. Roberts says of the project “I got my inspiration by standing on a porch in the neighborhood and it presents a perspective of looking inside out.”
And a few other odds and ends of art I came across just driving around in Louisville:
Then, in a few places downtown I came across this little guy…apparently somebody’s “tag”
And, to go along with the two “Big Bats” noted earlier, on the other end of Main Street I ran into a Big Batman!
Across the street from Batman is the Louisville Slugger Field that has a statue of famed Dodgers shortstop and Louisville native “Pee Wee” Reese. I remember watching him with Dizzy Dean in the 1960s as they announced the New York Yankees games on CBS.
Another unique statue off of main was what I think was an Alice in Wonderland rendition
While in Louisville I wanted to get a couple of nice shots of the landmark building of Louisville, the Aegon Center building, which is both the tallest and the most noteworthy and recognizable building in Louisville. It was built in 1993 (I remember well as I was living in Louisville at the time) and is 549 feet tall with 35 floors.
From Louisville I ventured over the Ohio River into Indiana on the George Rogers Clark Memorial Bridge, that was opened in 1929. The bridge spans over 5700 feet over the river and is one of five bridges from Louisville to Clarksville/Jeffersonville. I had really never visited Jeffersonville or Clarksville. My main intent was getting a broad view of Louisville from across the river, but I also was fortunate to see a number of interesting things on the Indiana side of the river….
On the other side of the river is the colorfully unique Southern Indiana Visitor Center
Also on this side of the bridge is Water Tower Square…
The Clark Memorial Bridge (also referred to as the 2nd Street Bridge in Louisville) has some cool old Art Deco (as if from Superman or Batman) cement pylons. Actually, these columns are identical to each other on each of their respective sides of the bridge. The only differences between the Indiana and Kentucky columns are the state names engraved on the column, as well as each side has their own version of the carved plaque.
Clarksville, Indiana was once a home site to George Rogers Clark (older brother to William Clark of Lewis and Clark fame), and was founded in 1783. It is the oldest American town in the Northwest Territory (the Territory Northwest of the Ohio River). The town is also home to the Colgate clock (seen above behind the water tower), one of the largest clocks in the world. The Falls of the Ohio State Park, a large fossil bed, are also just a short jaunt from the bridge.
Louisville and the associated Indiana communities—Jeffersonville, Clarksville, and New Albany—all owe their existence as communities to the falls, as the navigational obstacles the falls presented meant that late 18th Century and early to late 19th Century river traffic could benefit from local expertise in navigating the 26-foot drop made by the river over a distance of two miles.
The Fourteenth Street Bridge (also known as the Ohio Falls Bridge) was built in 1868 by the Louisville Bridge and Iron Company and was operated for many years by the Pennsylvania Railroad, giving the company its only access to Kentucky. Ownership of the railroad and the bridge passed on to Penn Central and later Conrail, which then sold the line from Louisville to Indianapolis, Indiana to the Louisville and Indiana Railroad, the current bridge owner.
Along the Falls is a statue of Lewis and Clark
Meriwether Lewis met William Clark (younger brother of General George Clark) in 1803. Together they recruited the “Nine Young Men from Kentucky” that formed the core of the Corps of Discovery. Meriwether Lewis and his party left Pittsburgh on August 31st 1803, reaching Louisville on October 14th where he was met by William Clark. At their handshake upon this meeting the Lewis and Clark Expedition was born. (see more detailed history here).
Over the years I have driven hundreds of miles across the U.S. and have traced the many paths of Lewis and Clark, even to Astoria, Oregon where their final western destination ended at Fort Clatsop. I have been to L & C sites in Nebraska, Montana, Missouri, Idaho and more. But this is where it all started!! Here is a map f their entire route.
After the visit to Clarksville, I headed to Jeffersonville to see what may be there. To my delight, I discovered a series of floodwall murals, similar to what I have seen in other river communities.
Turns out that the 12 murals depicting the history of Jeffersonville were painted by Robert Dafford and his crew. This project began in 2007 and was completed in 2012. Ironically, I had seen his mural works in previous visits to Point Pleasant, WV, Paducah, KY and Portsmouth, OH. (see Paducah work here and the Point Pleasant work here). Dafford apparently has his photorealistic mural art in over 200 locations around the world.
Just a few blocks away is an entirely different scene. The Industrial Terrorplex, a massive haunted house and “horror complex” created using state of the art Hollywood effects, offered up some surprises as I rounded the corner. A couple of huge gargoyles were waiting on the fencepost to pounce down on me.
The gargoyles were enough to scare me back across the river to pick up my daughter and her friends and make our way back to Lexington. Along the way I did see a more pleasant statue…Thomas Jefferson said a nice hello as did a few ducks.
On Thursday (Feb. 28, 2013) my wife and I made a trip to Stanford, KY for a meeting. Stanford is the second oldest town in the state and Lincoln County is one of Kentucky’s three original counties. Benjamin Logan accompanied Daniel Boone to the area and in 1775 built a fort in what is now Stanford. It was originally called Logan’s Fort. A diorama replica of the fort is housed in the Lincoln County Public Library.
I figured that while we were in Stanford we could also catch a bit of the history and scenery of of the area, so we made it a half day “Sumoflam Road Trip” and took some back roads. Following is the map of our route for the day.
Just before our meeting at the beautiful Lincoln County Public Library, we took a drive around the small town of Stanford and caught a couple of the sights. Just next to the library is the old Stanford L & N Railroad Depot and next to that is a very old grist mill, which was known as Baughman’s Mill. I didn’t get a photo of the depot, but following are a couple of photos of the mill.
The first steam mill in Lincoln County was built in 1848 at Buffalo Springs. When it was torn down in 1895 the logs were used to build Baughman’s Mill. This mill became the first steam powered flour mill in Kentucky. The building is currently in bad disrepair. The mill, along with the railroad depot, are all included in the National Register of Historical Places.
After driving by the mill, we drive down main street in Stanford and came across the plaque above. This was on the site of the first church built in Kentucky. This first church building was a one-room log meeting house built in 1792. This building has been preserved and currently sits inside the Old Presbyterian Meeting House and Museum.
The Meeting House was built in 1788 and served as the first church and then later became a home in the 1930s and then a library.
Once the meeting ended, we headed to Crab Orchard, KY where we planned to eat a late lunch at the Past Time Cafe, which has typically had great reviews for its home cooking.
This small cafe has two rooms, one for smoking and one for non-smoking. Lincoln County currently has no smoking ordinance. The place has dozens of old photos, newspaper clippings, etc., about Crab Orchard’s history. Pretty nice to look at while waiting. The fare is typical cafe fare – hamburgers, french fries, sandwiches and a few other items.
They have a daily “home cooked special” which was as close to a healthy meal as a place like this would serve. We ordered their battered mushrooms and their battered cauliflower (which neither of us had eve tried). These were pretty good, though the mushroom stems were still a bit on the frozen side. We ordered the Salmon Patty special which included soup beans, an onion slice, corn muffins, homestyle potatoes and collard greens. The soup beans were rather bland and needed some salt and pepper, but, overall, it was a nice warm meal and really did taste homemade (at least in my opinion.)
After a nice late lunch, we were back on the road. Crab Orchard is in the middle of Amish Country and there are some great places to buy bulk foods and enjoy the scenery at the same time, even in the middle of winter. We headed out to Yoder’s General Store, which is on HWY 3246 just off of KY 39.
The nice thing about this store is that it is traditionally Amish in nature. They have plenty of bulk foods for sale, they use no electricity in the building (even their cash register is run off of a 12 volt battery). When you walk under the gas powered lighting you can hear the hiss of the burning fuel right above your head. Bertha Yoder and her husband were more than friendly and accommodating.
From Yoder’s we next thought we would go to Byler’s Kountry Kitchen. We had to continue on HWY 3246 until we got to Harmon’s Lick Road, a narrow windy road going through farmland.
Unfortunately, when we got to Byler’s we discovered it was closed. They are closed on Sundays and Thursdays. But we did see some ceramic bird houses hanging outside of the store. Typically these are made from gourds and this was the first time I had seen these. These attract purple martins.
From there we continued following a number of the backroads. I had to plug my GPS in to make sure we didn’t get too lost. We made our way through the countryside and eventually to I-75 in Berea, KY. It was a pleasant trip!!