During the month of April 2016 I participated in the Blogging from A to Z Challenge. The challenge had each blogger select a theme and then do a post thematically from A to Z during each day of April , except Sundays.
This was my first opportunity to really participate in this annual event, which just completed its 6th year. It was not easy!! I had to not only post something daily, but also create a theme and stick with it. And, in my perfectionist way, I wanted to make sure there were plenty of photos and commentary. I wrote in such a way to draw people to the more detailed posts, where ever possible.
It was a load of fun and I completed the challenge. Not sure how many actually did, but it was certainly tough, yet fulfilling.
What I really loved about the event was being able to communicate and link up with others doing the same thing. I have made some new friends on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook. I have found some interesting blogs to follow and also have a few new followers.
I most certainly look forward to participating again next year. Now to start thinking of a good theme for next year. May actually take a long time!!!
A BIG Thanks to Arlee Bird and her wonderful team!!
My blog was number 1337 out of 1670 participating blogs. This year my A to Z posts took readers across the back roads of America to many unique towns. See what other bloggers posted about, check out the link: A to Z Theme Reveal List for 2016
Following is a complete listing of each with the banners associated with each post’s link. Click on the Lettered Banner to go to the specific post.
The A Towns: Amarillo, TX – Adair, IA – Alzada, MT – Alamogordo, NM – Alligator, MS – Alliance, NE – Ada, MI – Akela Flats, NM
The B Towns: Bemidji, MN – Boring, OR – Blackfoot, ID – Burk’s Falls, ON – Booger Holler, AR – Brownsville, TN – Babb, MT – Blackwater, MO – Bena, MN – Bucksnort, TN – Bugtussle, KY – Bugtussle, TX
The C Towns: Cactus Flat, SD – Centralia, MO – Cape Elizabeth, ME – Climax, NC – Climax, KY – Choteau, MT – Cave City, KY – Charm, OH – Chelsea, MI – Champaign, IL – Cut Bank, MT – Caledonia, ON – Cut and Shoot, TX – China Grove, TX – Cool, TX – Coolville, OH
The D Towns: Douglas, WY – DeForest, WI – Discovery Bay, WA – Dublin, OH – Dublin, TX – Dragoon, AZ – Denton, TX – Durant, OK – Danville, IL – Dallas, SD – Denver, NC – Damon, TX
The E Towns: Earth, TX – Eureka Springs, AR – Elbe, WA – Easton, PA – Eldon, IA – Egg Harbor, WI – East Peoria, IL – Embro, ON – Eagle, CO – Endeavor, WI
The F Towns: Flagstaff, AZ – Friendly, WV – Friendship, AR – Flippin, AR – Fair Play, SC – Fergus Falls, MN – Feely, MT – Flippin, KY – Fly, OH – Four Way, TX – Future City, IL
The G Towns: Gainesville, TX – Gothenburg, NE – Guthrie, KY – Gregory, SD – Galata, MT – Glasgow, MT – Glasgow, KY – Gardiner, MT – Gillette, WY – Granbury, TX – Grand Forks, ND – Gravel Switch, KY – Gilboa, OH – Georgetown, TX
The H Towns: Hell, MI – Hamtramck, MI – Hamilton, ON – Hatch, NM – Hico, TX – Hopland, CA – Hoboken, NJ – Hugo, OK – Hershey, PA – Home on the Range, ND – Hamburg, IA
The I Towns: Indian Head, SK – Intercourse, PA – Ironwood, MI – Independence, MO – Idaho Falls, ID – Iona, ID – Inverness, MT – Iron River, WI
The J Towns: Jamestown, ND – Joseph, OR – Jeffersonville, IN – Juneau, AK – Jackson Hole, WY – Janesville, WI – Jackson Center, OH – Jamaica Beach, TX – Jamestown, NY
The K Towns: Kemmerer, WY – Keystone, SD – Ketchikan, AK – Kensington District, ON – Kadoka, SD – Kremlin, MT – Kirkwood, MO
The L Towns: LeClaire, IA – Lake Nebagamon, WI – Lesage, WV – LeRoy, NY – Lizard Lick, NC – Lake Jackson, TX – Lost Springs, WY – Langdon, ND
The M Towns: Mt. Horeb, WI – Meadville, PA – Metropolis, IL – Marshfield, WI – Moenave, AZ – Mystic, CT – Montrose, SD – Minot, ND – Mitchell, SD – Mapleton, ON – Medina, NY – Moose Jaw, SK – Mars, PA
The N Towns: Nicholson, PA – Nekoma, ND – Natchez, MS – Neah Bay, WA – Nauvoo, IL – Newport, OR – Newark, OH – Normal, IL – Nice, CA – New Salem, ND
The O Towns: Only, TN – Old Orchard Beach, ME – Okay, OK – Oil Springs, ON – Oak Creek, CO – Oacoma, SD – Odd, WV – Onawa, IA – Oddville, KY
The P Towns: Pella, IA – Peculiar, MO – Pierre Part, LA – Point Pleasant, WV – Paris, KY – Paris, TX – Paris, TN – Paris, ON – Port Orchard, WA – Powder River, WY – Paducah, KY – Port Gibson, MS – Palmyra, NY – Perryville, KY – Paxton, NE – Pembroke, NY – Penn Yan, NY – Ponder, TX
The Q Towns: Quincy, IL – Quartzsite, AZ – Queen City, OH (Cincinnati) – Quicksand, KY
The R Towns: Roswell, NM – Regent, ND – Rhinelander, WI – Rabbit Hash, KY – Raton, NM – Red Lodge, MT – Riverside, IA – Rugby, ND – Rudyard, MT
The S Towns: Steubenville, OH – Stanley, ID – Sedona, AZ – Santa Rosa, CA – Staunton, IL – Sisters, OR – Seymour, WI – Santa Claus, IN – Sandwich, NH – Sweet Grass, MT – Shakespeare, ON – Stratford, ON – Sikeston, MO – Success, MO – Soda Springs, ID
The T Towns: Tightwad, MO – Talent, OR – Toad Suck, AR – Thermopolis, WY – Teton Valley, ID – Tetonia, ID – Tuba City, AZ – Tornado, WV – Tavistock, ON – Tomahawk, WI – Tripp, SD – Tunica, MS – Tioga, TX – Ten Sleep, WY – Torch, OH
The U Towns: Uncertain, TX – Uncasville, CT – Upper Lake, CA – Ukiah, CA – Upton, KY
The V Towns: Vulcan, AB – Valier, MT – Vernal, UT – Vandalia, IL – Vicksburg, MS – Versailles, KY – Vincennes, IN
The W Towns: Wharton, TX – Welland, ON – Wapiti, WY – Wall, SD – Winterset, IA – Winner, SD – Walla Wall, WA – Worland, WY – Walcott, IA – Waldo, AR – West Montrose, ON
The X Towns: Xenia, OH – Lexington, KY – Cotopaxi, CO – Oxford County, ON – Texarkana, AR – Texline, TX – Rexburg, ID – Exie, KY
The Y Towns: Yampa, CO – West Yellowstone, MT – Yellville, AR – York, NE
The Z Towns: Zanesville, OH – Zelienople, PA – Zurich, MT
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 I Towns
Indian Head, Saskatchewan
It is interesting that three of my I Towns in this post have something to do with Indians (American Indians) and so I am starting off in Canada at Indian Head, Saskatchewan. Indian Head is anchored against the mainline of the Canadian Pacific Railway at the junction of the Trans-Canada Highway just 65 km east of Regina. The town was both a railroad hub and is in the center one of the wheat producing areas of Canada. The Indian Head statue (shown above) was officially unveiled on August 4, 1985. The statue is 18 feet high (the head itself is 10 feet tall). It weighs approximately 3,500 pounds and is made from metal pipe, metal mesh and cement. The statue was designed by sculptor Don Foulds of Saskatoon. It is very easy to get to, just off of Highway 1 in Indian Head.
Contrary to those with dirty minds, Intercourse was formerly known as “Cross Keys”, which was founded in 1754. The name was changed to Intercourse in 1814. There are several explanations concerning the origin of the name of Intercourse, but none can really be substantiated. The first centers around an old race track which existed just east of town along the Old Philadelphia Pike. The entrance to the race course was known as “Entercourse”. Some suggest that “Entercourse” gradually evolved into “Intercourse”. There are others, but perhaps the most quantifiable to me comes from the “old english” language which was is use in the early 1800’s. It refers to the “fellowship” or social interaction and friendship which was so much a part of an agricultural village and culture at that time. The Amish are really quite a social people and are well known for working as groups to raise barns, etc. The town’s sign is considered the most frequently stolen town sign in the US and is now on a pole that is difficult to get to. You can read more about my visit to Intercourse and Amish Country in central Pennsylvania back in 2008 HERE.
Ironwood, Michigan was the starting point of my massive US Highway 2 Roadtrip across half of the US Continent back in 2014. I started in Ironwood, which is on the western end of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula and it sits on the border with Wisconsin. Ironwood has a number of unique things to see including a giant Hiawatha statue which is touted to be the biggest Native American Indian statue in the United States (it stands 52 feet tall in the midst of a park in town). They also have some nice murals and a few other unique things to see. Its actually a great place to visit. As the name implies, Ironwood is a town that was settled due to iron mining. It’s history goes back to the 1800s. There are a couple of monuments to the iron workers in this town including a beautiful mural with paintings of the faces of almost 100 of the former iron workers. There is also a nice chainsaw carved sculpture in front of the old train station. See more about my visit to Ironwood and my drive on US Highway 2 HERE.
Independence is one of the great historical towns in Missouri. Decorated with murals all over town, filled with history and nearby in Liberty is the home of a major LDS (Mormon) Church Museum. It is the birthplace of American President Harry Truman. Lewis and Clark ventured here in the 1800s and many pioneers came here on the Mormon, California and Oregon trails. It is also home to one of America’s really quirky museums in Leila’s Hair Museum.
Idaho Falls, Idaho
I try not to include too many “big” cities in these posts, but I wanted to include Idaho Falls. Its a nice place to visit and has plenty to see. There are vintage restaurants and burger places, such as Scotty’s above, a beautiful Mormon temple, one of the 55 Peter Toth wooden carved “Whispering Giants” Indian Statues and more. The Snake River runs through the middle of town with some wonderful waterfalls (thus Idaho Falls). You can see more about my 2013 visit there by clicking HERE.
Iona, Idaho (Honorable Mention)
On a hill just northeast of Idaho Falls is another small town called Iona, a town settled by Mormon pioneers in 1884. It is now home to the Wolverine Creek Wind Farm. There are 43 turbines, which can be seen from Rexburg on a clear day. This site produces about 64.5 Mw of power.
Inverness, Montana (Honorable Mention)
Driving along US Highway 2 in northern Montana near Rudyard, is the small community of Inverness. It was named by “Scotty” Watson, pioneer stockman, in memory of his native town in Scotland. The Scottish town is located on the inlet to Loch Ness, famous for the Loch Ness monster. There is a population of about 55 living there, including sculptor Byron Wolery who made an interesting scrap metal dinosaur that greets passersby near Rudyard. They have their own “monster” now! See more about the Hi Line drive of Montana HERE.
Iron River, Wisconsin (Honorable Mention)
West of Ironwood, MI on US Highway 2 is the small town of Iron River, Wisconsin. This small town has a huge mural done by the same artists that did a number of lovely murals in Ashland, Wisconsin. They began this project in 2006 sponsored by the Iron River Lion’s Club. The town is proud to claim 96 Lakes, 12 Trout Streams, 4 Rivers, 500 miles of groomed ATV trails, Chequamegon National Forest, North Country Hiking Trail and many more great hiking trails, Camba Mountain Biking Trail System, Skiing, Snowshoeing, Dog Sledding, Waterfalls, Fishing, Birding, Berry Picking, Wildlife and Summer Sunsets. I hope to visit the area again in the future on a more extended visit. See more HERE.
Did You Miss My Other A to Z Challenge Posts? Click on a letter below to see the others.
One of my “bucket list trips” is to drive the entire length of US Route 2 from the East Coast to the West Coast. Not necessarily in one trip, but to have been able to drive the length of that highway as the opportunity affords itself.
Route 2 is one of the longest continuous highways in the continental United States, spanning 2,571 miles and is also the northernmost US numbered route in the country. The western segment of US 2 extends from the Upper Peninsula of Michigan across the northern tier of the lower 48 states. Most of the western route was built roughly paralleling the Great Northern Railway. US 2 adopted the railway’s route nickname “The Hi-Line” as the most northern crossing in the U.S.
On this trip to Montana, I chose to drive north to Ironwood, Michigan (see the first leg of the trip here if you missed it) and use that as my starting point for the trip westward on US Route 2 since it represents the western end of the Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. I would then traverse across Wisconsin, Minnesota, North Dakota and a good part of Montana all the way to US Route 89 near Glacier National Park.
Ironwood also has a number of unique things to see including a giant Hiawatha statue which is touted to be the biggest Native American Indian statue in the United States. They also have some nice murals and a few other unique things to see, so this would be how I started my day off.
As the name implies, Ironwood is a town that was settled due to iron mining. It’s history goes back to the 1800s. There are a couple of monuments to the iron workers in this town including a beautiful mural with paintings of the faces of almost 100 of the former iron workers. There is also a nice chainsaw carved sculpture in front of the old train station.
According to roadsideamerica.com, Ashland artists Kelly Meredith and Sue Martinsen spent over four years researching and painting the mural, which depicts over 100 real miners. It was unveiled on June 16, 2012, and proved so popular as a photo-op that in 2013 the city created a car-free zone in front of the mural.
Perhaps the biggest drawing card is the aforementioned Hiawatha statue which stands 52 feet tall in the midst of a park in town. I have been to many tall statues over the years including the Green Giant in Blue Earth, Minnesota (55 feet), the 15 foot tall Superman statue in Metropolis, Illinois, and of course the giant “Salem Sue” cow statue in New Salem, North Dakota (38 ft tall, 55 foot long), among others. But this Hiawatha was quite amazing. It was built by Gordon Displays of St. Paul, Minnesota and erected in 1964, so it is quite a long-running Roadside attraction. It was made totally out of fiberglass and weighs 18,000 pounds. Amongst the “big things” of this country’s unique tourist attractions, this is certainly one of the bigger ones.
Ironwood also has one of those classy looking theater fronts at the Historic Ironwood Theatre. A drive around the town also shows a number of vintage motel neon signs, which are always of interest to the seasoned back roads traveler.
As I left Ironwood, I made sure to get the requisite selfie with the Welcome to Wisconsin sign (one of 100 planned selfies on this trip!)
By morning I was well on my way westward on US Route 2 traversing across the birch forests and farmland of northern Wisconsin.
As I neared WI 169 I saw a sign to Copper Falls State Park. There was no distance noted, so I made a left and headed down the road towards Gurney, WI. Great drive, but after about 8 miles I figured it was too far, so I headed back. I had wanted to head to Copper Falls because a verse of my friend Antsy McClain‘s song Field Trip.
Back on US Route 2 on continuing west one enters the Bad River Reservation, which is the home of the Bad River Band of the Lake Superior Chippewa Tribe. After driving past the Bad River Casino and the very small town of Odanah (pop 13), I came across a most unique “Collectibles Shop” on the side of the road. This is one of those really unique “junk all over everything” places. In some ways it is another form of Americana Art as far as I am concerned. Here are a few shots of the place….which some research showed me was Boudreau’s Antiques and Collectibles with an Ashland, WI address (65782 Hwy 2).
Once I left Boudreau’s and headed further west I could see Lake Superior to my right (north) and seagulls were everywhere. Definitely near water!
Ashland, Wisconsin sits on the shore of Lake Superior and is a nice little town with numerous brownstone buildings. It is also called the “Mural Capital of Wisconsin” due to its 13 wonderful murals. It is also the gateway to the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore. The Lakeshore features 21 islands and 12 miles of mainland and hosts a unique blend of cultural and natural resources.
The Ashland Mural Walk offers some amazing work by Ashland mural artists Kelly Meredith and Susan Prentice-Martinsen. They have also done murals in Ironwood, MI and other spots in northern Wisconsin. The first of their murals is a three story tall mural called the Asaph Whittlesey mural, which was completed in 1998.
The next mural is actually a set of three along the same wall and is called the Ellis Avenue Historical Mural and features three famous redstone buildings including Northland College’s Wheeler Hall, Ashland High School and the Knight Hotel. these were apparently completed in 2012.
In 2007 the artists painted the “The Bus Stop Waitresses,” which I actually enjoyed quite a bit as it is somewhat whimsical.
The next one is quite large and is called the Ore Dock Mural. This mural depicts the Ashland Ore Dock, which was built in 1916. The top portion of the mural is a “to scale” painting of the ore dock itself, including every properly numbered ore chute. The lower section includes 21 “postcards” telling the history of the varied uses of the structure over the years.
Another extensive mural is the “Veteran’s Mural” which runs along the side of the old Bay Theatre. This mural features 41 veterans and all the veterans painted in the mural are actual people from the area.
Another nice mural is the “Lighthouse Mural.” Completed in 2000, the mural depicts three Apostle Island lighthouses and their “keepers.”
A smaller yet unique mural is the “Dhooghe’s Store Mural” on the front of the Chequamegon Food Co-op building in Ashland.
Finally, there is the “Lumberjack Mural.” This one was also completed in 2000 and depicts some of the men (and one woman) of Ashland’s lumber era.
Due to all of the murals, some other shops have gotten in on the action and done their own. The one below was quite colorful and was in a back alley.
But murals are not the only attraction in Ashland. Like many small towns, they still have their old theatre front, in this case, the Bay Theater.
On the wet end of town is a nice park on the shores of the lake and I had to get a couple more seagull shots…
After a 30 minute stopover in Ashland, it was time to get moving so I continued west on US Route 2. Not too far out of town I cam across Pagac’s Bar on the south side of the road. The drawing card here was the robotic looking Green Bay Packer quarterback made out of scrap metal and a keg. Pretty unique.
Continuing west on Route 2 I came to the small town of Iron River, WI. This small town also had a huge mural by the same artists that did the Ashland murals. They began this project in 2006 sponsored by the Iron River Lion’s Club.
Continuing west the drive was lovely as it took me into the small community of Blueberry, WI
Not too much further down the road I came into Maple, WI and discovered a wonderful place called Grizz Works. This place does chain saw and wood work and has some fabulous pieces. I stopped and spoke with Justin Howland, the owner. He was very pleasant and amenable. In fact, I will be doing a separate post just for them. But here are a couple of shots…
US Route 2 out of Maple eventually heads into Superior, WI, which is the end of the road in Wisconsin. Just before town is one of those offbeat eateries…this one is called Gronk’s Grill and Bar. This is one of thos places that has a Burger Challenge (which I did not try….but would have liked to have….) . Called the Great Divide Challenge, it involves eating 8 pounds’ worth of burger and fries. The first person to accomplish this was a woman!! It was named after the Great Divide (which is south of Superior and not visited on this trip).
After fun at Gronk’s it was back on the road and to the bridge crossing over into Minnesota.