A Grab Bag from America’s Back Roads – The K Things #AtoZChallenge

In 2018 I  will feature a random (yet alphabetical) selection of photos I have taken from my nearly 20 years of back roads travel in the United States and Canada.  I may even throw in a few random shots from other trips to Japan, Mexico and the Philippines. My theme is called America’s Back Roads: A Grab Bag of Places in Pictures.

 

Kutter’s Cheese Factory – Corfu, New York

Kutter’s Cheese in Corfu, New York
Mural at Kutter’s Cheese Factory in Corfu, New York

Kaskaskia Dragon – Vandalia, Illinois

Sumoflam and the Fire Breathing Dragon of Kaskaskia in Vandalia, IL
Kaskaskia Dragon Breathes Fire in Vandalia, IL

Ketchikan, Alaska

The road in Ketchikan, AK ends with a cruise ship
Road up on stilts in Ketchikan, Alaska

King Kong Burgers – Omaha, Nebraska

King Kong Burgers in Omaha, near the Omaha Zoo

Kitsap Transit Foot Ferry – Port Orchard, Washington

Kitsap Foot Ferry in Port Orchard

Kensington District – Toronto, Ontario

Kensington Ave. in Toronto
King of Kensington
Welcome to Kensington

Kumano Magaibutsu – Kunisaki Peninsula – Oita, Japan

Some of Japan’s oldest stone carved Buddhas can be seen at Kumano Magaibutsu park in Oita

King’s Island – Cincinnati, Ohio

King’s Island Amusement Park north of Cincinnati, OH

Kool Breeze Motel – Irving, Texas

Kool Breeze Motel in Irving, Texas

Kregel Windmill Factory Museum – Nebraska City, Nebraska

Kregel Windmill Factory Museum in Nebraska City, NE
Kregel ELI Windmill framed by a flag on 9/11 in Nebraska City, Nebraska

Kabetogama Lake – International Falls, Minnesota

Kabetogama Lake – Voyageurs National Park
Kabetogama Walleye

Key Tower – Cleveland, Ohio

Key Tower (R – 947 feet) and Terminal Tower (L – 771 feet)

Kemmerer-Diamondville, Wyoming

Welcome to Kemmerer Diamondville
Antler Motel Neon Sign in Kemmerer. Love old neon signs.

Keelboat Park – Bismarck, North Dakota

Lewis and Clark Sculpture – Keelboat Park

Horse Racing at Keeneland – Lexington, KY

Horse Racing at Keeneland

Kanahwa Falls – Glen Ferris, West Virginia

Kanawha Falls in Glen Ferris, WV
Another shot of Kanawha Falls

Kremlin, Montana

Kremlin Post Office, Kremlin, Montana
Kremlin, Montana — USA Style

Kumamoto Castle – Kumamoto, Japan

Kumamoto Castle, Kumamoto, Japan

Kountry Korners Krazy Kreatures – Kingston, Washington

Kountry Korners Krazy Kreatures – Kingston, WA
A couple of wood carved folk at Kountry Korners
With my Eagle pal

Kadoka, South Dakota

Kadoka, South Dakota water tower
Old Wagon Wheel Motel Neon Sign in Kadoka
Flag Bench in Kadoka, South Dakota

Kentucky Stonehenge – Munfordsville, Kentucky

Kentucky Stonehenge Sign
Sumoflam at Kentucky Stonehenge

Keeper of the Plains – Wichita, Kansas

Keeper of the Plains – 50 foot tall statue in Wichita

Kings Hill Pass – Meagher County, Montana

Sumoflam at Kings Hill Summit in Montana

Killbuck, Ohio

Killbuck Depot on the Holmes County Trail in Ohio
Welcome to Killbuck

Keystone, South Dakota

Welcome to Keystone, SD

Ketchum, Idaho

Gnome on a Bike – loved this graphic on a bike shop in Ketchum
Pioneer Saloon – Ketchum, Idaho

Kansas City, Missouri

The Blue Room – Kansas City, Missouri

If you like what you see, you may want to check out my book: Less Beaten Paths of America: Unique Town Names, available on Amazon.  My second book, Less Beaten Paths of America: Quirky and Offbeat Roadside Attractions, will be available in late April or early May 2018. Click on the photo below for more details or to get a copy of the book.

Books 1 & 2

 

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H is for History – #atozchallenge

One cannot travel any road in America or Canada without running into some sort of historical site, monument or building.  That is part of the fun of a back road adventure.  Our country of 2017 is defined in great part by the history of the country dating back to the 1600s (and earlier if you count the Native Americans).

Camp Disappointment west of Cut Bank< Montana looks out towards the mountains of Glacier National Park.  This is one of many Lewis and Clark Monuments across the United States.
Monument in Beachville, Ontario commemorating the first baseball game in Canada.

Dotting the roads of America are historical markers that tell about events that occurred in that exact location or nearby. There are literally 1000s of these. In the eastern US many of them are about Civil War incidents while in the west many are related to Indian Wars, Lewis and Clark or pioneers.  They are often interesting to stop and read.  As a History/Geography major in college, I have found these to be a sort of “roadside wikipedia.”

Historical Marker about West Columbia, TX
Fort Steuben Historical Site, Steubenville, OH
The Overland Trail historic Sign
Pound Gap Historical Sign on the Virginia/Kentucky Border
Rugby, ND in 2014
Alligator Blues Marker in Alligator, MS – One of many markers along the Blues Highway in Mississippi
Plaque describing the naming of the roads This Way and That Way in Lake Jackson, TX
Meriwether Lewis meets John Clark at the Falls of the Ohio in Clarksville, IN

When traveling through the heart of the country, one can come across a myriad of monuments and historical sites dedicated to Meriwether Lewis and William Clark…better known as just Lewis Clark.  From May 1804 to September 1806, these two, accompanied by 29 or 30 others, in what was named by then President Thomas Jefferson as the “Corps of Discovery.” They left Camp Dubois (near St. Louis) and ventured westward to the Pacific Coast.  In my travels I have come across dozens of monuments, plaques, museums and other places all dedicated to or referencing this amazing expedition.  Their pioneer spirit has always amazed me.

One of a number of Lewis and Clark Murals in Independence, MO
A plaque commemorating a Lewis and Clark Campsite near Elk Point, South Dakota
Pioneer Relief Sculpture at Council Bluffs Library

Of course, after them went the pioneers.  There were those who followed the Oregon Trail.  Others, chiefly the Mormons, forged their own trail, now called the Mormon trail.  In the south there was the famed Santa Fe Trail.  Then, along the way there were other smaller, lesser known trails, such as the Oyate Trail in South Dakota, and others.  Travel the roads that follow these trails and an abundance of unique history can be seen.  As a member of the LDS Church (Mormon) I have been able to visit many church historical sites.

A sculpture of a pioneer/trapper overlooks the Shields Valley in Montana
Pioneer brotherhood – Pioneer Memorial, Omaha, Nebraska
Pioneer Monument – Opal, WY
Life size Pioneer Diorama on outside of the National Oregon/California Trail Center in Montpelier, ID
LDS Church founder Joseph Smith’s Cabin in Palmyra, NY
Martins Cove in Wyoming, part of the Mormon Handcart Trail
Sumoflam and Cannons at Vicksburg National Military Park

Across a good portion of the southeast and all the way into Ohio and Pennsylvania, one will come across a plethora of Civil War related monuments, historical sites and otherwise.   Many sites have annual Civil War reenactments.

The big parks such as Vicksburg and Gettysburg are huge and have a ton of history.  But there are smaller ones, such as Perryville Battlefield in Kentucky that are unique in their historic perspective.

Sculpture at Vicksburg
Gettysburg Address Commemorative Sign, July 1998
Seth and Solomon with Civil War reenactors in Perryville, KY October 1994
Perryville Battlefield ReEnactment
One of four bronze statues that surround the large Civil War monument in Cleveland, OH. Called “At Short Range” it is a representation of the Artillery Group

In the far eastern parts of the United States one comes across places like the Jamestown Settlement and Williamsburg.  There are many others.

Kids in the Jamestown Settlement in August 1995
Kids take over the ship at Jamestown, VA – August 1995
Lucille Ball Birthplace

For fun, many cities have the “Birthplace of …” signs when you enter their small towns.  These could be famous actors, historical figures or athletes.  Typically there are monuments or statues.  I have come across many of these.  They are always a fun little side adventure.

I have come across many of these over the years.  Its always fun to “discover” the birthplaces.  (Ironically, Lucille Ball was born in Jamestown, NY…not the same as Jamestown, VA which I posted above.)  Some of the “birthplaces” are a bit on the corny side.

Sumoflam at Judy Garland birthplace in Grand Rapids, MN
Birthplace of John Wayne, Winterset, Iowa
Dean Martin mural in his birthplace of Steubenville, OH painted by Robert Dever in 1998
Singing Perry Como statue in downtown Canonsburg, PA
A couple of my children at the birthplace of Abraham Lincoln in the 1990s
Birthplace of Kermit the Frog, Leland, MS
Future Birthplace of James T. Kirk in Riverside, IA
Washington County Courthouse in Washington, PA

Then, of course, there are the historical buildings.  Hundreds of unique courthouses and their fascinating architecture can be seen in diverse little towns and counties.  There are old churches large and small.  And many long forgotten dilapidated old buildings.  All of them tell some sort of story about the place.

I have visited dozens of courthouses around the country.  I love the old architecture.  I have some favorites.  Some are more interesting than others. I have added a few below.

 

Denton County Courthouse-on-the-Square in Denton, TX
Woodstock, Ontario City Hall
Old courthouse in Wharton, TX
Courthouse in Buena Vista, CO
Madison County Courthouse, Winterset, Iowa
Lit Pillars at Courthouse in Columbia, MO
Old Church “San Xavier del Bac” in Tucson
Sumoflam and Pyramid in Nekoma, ND
Sumoflam Gothic at the Grant Wood American Gothic House in Eldon, IA
Old Prairie School House on Smith-Frisno Road west of Havre, MT. I wanted this one in black and white…
Mustard Display – Plastic Bottles – Mustard Museum in Wisconsin

 

Finally, there are the many “oddball” or “quirky” historical sites and objects.  One never knows what they will run into in a small town.  A quaint historical museum? An oddball monument? A unique cemetery?

 

 

I have had fun discovering historical sites, quirky museums and other fun stuff.  Here are a few below.

Sod House Museum, Gothenburg, NE
Mothman Museum in Point Pleasant, WV
Canadian Warplane Museum in Hamilton, Ontario
“Where’s the Beef?” memorabilia from the famed advertising campaign in the Wendy’s Museum in Dublin, OH
At the Idaho Potato Museum in 2013
My son Seth at the SPAM Museum in Austin, MN July 2004
The Pyramid in Nekoma, ND
Gateway to the Blues, Tunica, Mississippi
Kregel Windmill Factory Museum in Nebraska City, NE
The Rockpile Museum in Gillette, WY

History is the fabric of our country!

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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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