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
Kaskaskia Dragon – Vandalia, Illinois
King Kong Burgers – Omaha, Nebraska
Kitsap Transit Foot Ferry – Port Orchard, Washington
Kensington District – Toronto, Ontario
Kumano Magaibutsu – Kunisaki Peninsula – Oita, Japan
King’s Island – Cincinnati, Ohio
Kool Breeze Motel – Irving, Texas
Kregel Windmill Factory Museum – Nebraska City, Nebraska
Kabetogama Lake – International Falls, Minnesota
Key Tower – Cleveland, Ohio
Keelboat Park – Bismarck, North Dakota
Horse Racing at Keeneland – Lexington, KY
Kanahwa Falls – Glen Ferris, West Virginia
Kumamoto Castle – Kumamoto, Japan
Kountry Korners Krazy Kreatures – Kingston, Washington
Kadoka, South Dakota
Kentucky Stonehenge – Munfordsville, Kentucky
Keeper of the Plains – Wichita, Kansas
Kings Hill Pass – Meagher County, Montana
Keystone, South Dakota
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.
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).
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.”
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.
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.
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.
In the far eastern parts of the United States one comes across places like the Jamestown Settlement and Williamsburg. There are many others.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 Farmis full of natural beauty and is also a National Historic Landmark.
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.
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.
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.
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….
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….
I plan on doing another blog post about this kind of art work as seen from my travels. Hopefully I can include much more.
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
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.
Nebraska City is also home to the Kregel Windmill Company, which manufactures the famous ELI windmills used on farms across the midwest.
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.
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:
The Otoe County Courthouse is currently on the National Registry of Historic Places and is the oldest public building in the state of Nebraska.
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…..
Whenever I travel I am always watching for animals…I found the following “animal” – but I am not sure what to call it….
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….
And how about a couple more shots of Nebraska City
I really got a kick out of this sign and their website. Their Motto: Lawn Order – Do Your Lawn Justice!
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!!