A Grab Bag from America’s Back Roads – The L 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.

 

Lost Springs, Wyoming (Was Population 1, now Population 4)

Visited Lost Springs, WY, Pop 1 in 2007. Went back in 2014 and it had grown 400% to Pop 4. And yes, I have a photo of that sign too!
Lost Springs in 2014 – ironically I was wearing the same shirt 7 years later!!!
Lost Springs Store and Post Office, Lost Springs, WY

Lake Andes, South Dakota

White Pelicans at Lake Andes in South Dakota

Lambert’s Cafe – Home of Throwed Rolls – Sikeston, Missouri

Sumoflam and wife at Lambert’s Cafe – Home of Throwed Rolls
Lambert’s Cafe – Sikeston, Missouri – big place
Throwing Rolls at Lambert’s

Lima, Montana

Downtown Lima, Montana
“Not the Hotel California” in Lima, Montana

Lexington Cemetery in Spring – Lexington, Kentucky

Spring Colors at Lexington Cemetery

Letchworth State Park – Castile, New York

Letchworth State Park, New York

Lindley Sign Post Forest – Danville, Illinois

Lindley Sign Post Forest Sign
Lindley Sign Post Forest in Danville, IL

Lake Oswego Art Walk – Lake Oswego, Oregon

Large Skelephant, part of the Lake Oswego Art Walk

Lethbridge, Alberta

High Level Bridge in Lethbridge, Alberta was built in 1909. It is 5327 feet long and the largest of its type in the world
Ric’s Grill – Restaurant in a Water Tower – Lethbridge, Alberta

Lawn Order – Nebraska City, Nebraska

Great Name for a Lawn Care Business – Lawn Order

Lincoln Mural – Lexington, Kentucky

Completed Painting on November 15, 2013

Lordsburg, New Mexico

Interstate 10 near Lordsburg, New Mexico

Leland, Mississippi – Birthplace of Kermit the Frog

Birthplace of Kermit the Frog, Leland, MS
Sumoflam at the “Birthplace of Kermit the Frog” in Leland, MS

Lake Wobegon Trail – Avon, Minnesota

Lake Wobegon Trail

Libby’s Pumpkin Factory – Morton, Illinois

Welcome to Morton, Illinois – Pumpkin Capital of the World
We missed the Morton Pumpkin Festival by only a few days.

Lookout, West Virginia

Lookout, WV Post Office

Log Cabin Motel – Ashton, Idaho

Log Cabin Motel – Ashton, Idaho

Lucy in Disguise Costumes – Austin, Texas

Lucy in Disguise, Austin, TX

Louisville, Kentucky

Louisville, KY as seen from across the Ohio River in Indiana
Louisville Bridges
Detail of Noah Church mural in Louisville. Not sure who all of these folks are…

Larry Vennard Iron Sculpture Park – Centralia, Missouri

Sumoflam and Larry Vennard at his Iron Sculpture Park in Centralia, MO
Larry Vennard’s Highway “T” Rex near Centralia, MO
“Dimetrodon” by Larry Vennard

Lostant, Illinois

Id the ant is lost, how do they know which direction it is?

Leif Erikson Statues – Cleveland, Ohio and Duluth, Minnesota

Statue of Leif Erikson in Cleveland, Illinois
Leif Erikson Statue in Duluth, Minnesota

Lava Hot Springs, Idaho

Welcome to Lava Hot Springs, Idaho

Abraham Lincoln Statue – Jackson Hole, Wyoming

Sumoflam and Lincoln in Jackson Hole

Leaning Tree Cafe – Babb, Montana

Leaning Tree Cafe, Babb, Montana
Kade and Charlie, with their Dad Aaron at Leaning Tree Cafe in Babb, MT at the base of Glacier National Park – March 2013

Laboratory, Pennsylvania

Community Honor Roll for Veterans in Laboratory, PA

Large Wooden Trolls – Mt. Horeb, Wisconsin

One of dozens of HUGE trolls in Mt. Horeb, Wisconsin
Ahhh..trolls

Welcome to Louisiana

Welcome to Louisiana on US Hwy 61

Laughing Ladies Cafe – Salida, Colorado

Laughing Ladies Cafe – Salida, Colorado – love the name and the sign

Langdon Wind Energy Center – Langdon, North Dakota

Langdon Wind Farm Info Center near Langdon, ND
Silo and Wind Turbine near Nekoma, ND

Little Big Horn National Monument – Crow Agency, Montana

Grave markers of the US Calvary Soldiers that died at the Battle of Little Big Horn in Little Big Horn National Monument in Montana

Lizard Lick, North Carolina

Lizard Lick, North Carolina
Lizard Lick Towing mural on sign outside of towing place
Lizard Lick lizard on top of gas station

Lucille Ball Birthplace – Jamestown, New York

Lucille Ball Birthplace
Jamestown Banner advertising Lucille Ball Festival

Landry and Lombardi – NFL Coaching Icons – Dallas, Texas and Green Bay, Wisconsin

Legendary Dallas Cowboy Coach Tom Landry (At Cowboys Stadium)
Legendary Green Bay Packers Coach Vince Lombardi (At Lambeau Field)

Longaberger Baskets – Newark, Ohio

Amaree, Solomon and Seth at Longaberger Basket HQ in Newark, OH Fall 1999

Lynn’s Paradise Cafe – Louisville, Kentucky

Unfortunately, this place closed down around 2010 or so.

Sumoflam at Lynn’s Paradise Cafe
Legs on walls at Lynn’s Paradise Cafe

Lovesick Falls – Ontario, Canada

Lovesick Falls in Ontario

Little Italy – Cleveland, Ohio

Little Italy Historic District in Cleveland
Mayfield Road and Random Road, by the little park in Little Italy

Lopatapillar – Butterfly House – Chesterfield, Missouri

Grandkids play on the 30 foot long “Lopatapillar”, created by artist Bob Cassilly at the Butterfly House in Chesterfield, Missouri

Logan’s Shoe Shop Neon Sign – Denton, Texas

Logan’s Shoe Shop Neon, Denton, TX

Lusk, Wyoming

US 20 East out of Lusk, WY
Old Lusk Drive-In Theatre Marquee
Covered Wagon Motel in Lusk, Wyoming

Little River Cafe – Oregonia, Ohio

The Little River Cafe in Oregonia, OH is most easily reached by bike. It is literally on the side of the trail. The road to Oregonia is way out of the way.

Troy Landry – Swamp People icon – Pierre Part, Louisiana

Sumoflam and Troy Landry from Swamp People

LSA Burger Company – Denton, Texas

LSA Burger Company Neon, Denton, TX
Texas Instruments, a unique sculpture at the LSA Burger Co., in Denton
Album Counter at LSA Burger Co.

Lewistown, Montana

Golden Statue of Liberty in Lewistown, Montana
Deer grazing in the snow in Lewistown, Montana
Eagle I saw when driving by Lewistown, Montana (my very first Bald Eagle sighting/photo)

Lund Theatre – Viborg, South Dakota

Lund Theatre – Viborg, South Dakota

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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Highway 61 Visited: The Blues Highway of Mississippi – Day 1

Bob Dylan, Eric Clapton and Stevie Ray Vaughn have all sang about it. And now, Sumoflam has driven it. US Highway 61 cuts down the middle of Mississippi, all the way from Memphis to Natchez and more.

Map of the Blues Highway (US 61) through Mississippi
Map of the Blues Highway (US 61) through Mississippi

Highway 61 is better known as “The Blues Highway” as many of the famed Blues musicians grew up along this swath of the state just east of the Mississippi River.

Sumoflam at the Blues Highway in Mississippi
Sumoflam at the Blues Highway in Mississippi

In July 2014 I had the opportunity to travel this famed highway from North to South, visit many of the small towns and learn more about Blues History. It was an amazing drive through rural Mississippi!

Alligator, Mississippi
Alligator, Mississippi

The highway, Route 61, actually extends 1407 miles north to south all the way from Wyoming, Minnesota to New Orleans. The highway generally follows the course of the Mississippi River, and is designated the Great River Road for much of its route. This route goes through St. Louis, Hannibal, MO, Davenport, IA, Memphis, Vicksburg and eventually to New Orleans. It’s “Blues Highway” designation really begins at the Mississippi/Tennessee in border in Memphis.

Mississippi Welcomes Me with Open Arms - Big Muffler man statue at the border
Mississippi Welcomes Me with Open Arms – Big Muffler man statue at the border

As you leave Memphis and cross into Mississippi on US 61, you are greeted immediately be a big Muffler Man statue and then the Blues Highway sign (as seen above) is in the same location.  The Blues Highway has become so popular that it even has its own website and they have developed a Blues Trail app (or for Android) for travelers too.

The Blues Highway Marker at the Gateway to the Blues.  One of dozens of markers along the US 61 and neighboring towns.
The Blues Highway Marker at the Gateway to the Blues. One of dozens of markers along the US 61 and neighboring towns.

The Blues Trail features dozens of historical markers along the way and their site features a comprehensive list with maps to each.  Due to my typically tight schedule, I was only able to hit a few of these.  Some that I missed include: B.B. King’s Birthplace, the historical “Birthplace of the Blues,” the Elvis Presley marker in Tupelo, the John Lee Hooker marker, the Johnny Winter marker (which I unfortunately overlooked when I visited Leland to see the birthplace of Kermit the Frog — see below), the birthplace of Muddy Waters and more. But, I did hit a few along the way.

Gateway to the Blues, Tunica, Mississippi
Gateway to the Blues, Tunica, Mississippi

My first stop, however, was at the “Gateway to the Blues” Visitors Center just north of Tunica on old US 61.  The Visitors Center is built in a rustic train depot, circa 1895.  It is filled with guitars, maps, souvenirs, etc.

Old Benches outside the Gateway to the Blues
Old Benches outside the Gateway to the Blues

Tunica is a big resort town along the Mississippi River, dotted with casinos, hotels and other resorts.  But, there is still some good old history.  On Magnolia Street near downtown Tunica is the “Tate Log House” which the locals claim has the distinction of being the “oldest and most traveled structure” in Tunica County.

The Tate Log House in Tunica, MS
The Tate Log House in Tunica, MS

The cabin was built in the 1840s near Robinsonville, Miss., and later purchased by Samuel Kerr in the 1860s. When Robert F. and Simpson Tate purchased the land in 1890, the cabin was converted to a plantation commissary.  In 1952, the Tate family sold the land to the another family and the cabin was moved south to Elsie, Miss., and then later to a place  near Austin, Miss., in the early 1990s.  Finally, in 2000, the house was donated to the Tunica Museum and moved again to its current location in Tunica.

The Tate Log House in Tunica, MS

The Tate Log House in Tunica, MS

The drive along this stretch of US 61 is flat as can be as it shadows the giant Mississippi River not too far to the west…

Sumoflam at US 61 south just south of Tunica, MS
Sumoflam at US 61 south just south of Tunica, MS
US 61 South of Tunica, MS
US 61 South of Tunica, MS

I could have stopped at some of the real small towns along the way, but it was getting later in the afternoon and I wanted to get to Vicksburg before dark, so I kept pushing on…into Clarksdale, Mississippi, which probably has one of the most renown Blues Highway markers and monuments.

Clarksdale Monument, Clarksdale, MS
Clarksdale Monument, Clarksdale, MS

Known as “The Crossroads”, where US 49 and US 61 meet, it is believed to be the legendary crossroads where famed blues guitarist Robert Johnson made his pact with the devil.  Robert Johnson was born in 1911 and only lived until 1938. He was a dirt-poor, African-American who would grow up, learn to sing and play the blues, and went on to become known the world over.  Since his death, his music has been picked up by some of the most well know rock stars of the 60s, 70s and on, including the Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, Eric Clapton, the Allman Brothers – have recorded his songs.  In fact, Clapton has called Johnson “the most important blues singer that ever lived.” Someone has made a video with his famed “Cross Roads Blues.”

And of course, Eric Clapton has made this song immortal with a number of versions of this song.  In this video he pays homage to Johnson.

So, a visit to the Crossroads is a must on this trip.  I went down to the Crossroads!!

Sumoflam at the Crossroads in Clarksville, MS
Sumoflam at the Crossroads in Clarksdale, MS

Some say that new evidence suggests this is NOT the Crossroads where the famous pact was made.  I guess I should have made a visit down to Rosedale, but I didn’t have my rider by my side….

The Crossroads in Clarksdale, MS
The Crossroads in Clarksdale, MS

And of course, what is a visit to Mississippi without Bar-B-Q (which I didn’t get to try either).  Abe’s was right there at the Crossroads.

Abe's Bar-B-Q in Clarksdale, MS at the Crossroads
Abe’s Bar-B-Q in Clarksdale, MS at the Crossroads
Retro Greyhound Sign in Clarkdale, MS
Retro Greyhound Sign in Clarkdale, MS

Not far from the Greyhound Station is the “New Roxy” Theatre in the Historic New World District on Issaquena Road in Clarksdale. This old movie theater has been converted into a live event venue, with some very unique characteristics. What remains of the old theater is basically is a shell of the former theater with a sloping concrete floor, a masonry stage, lots of distressed brick walls, and a view of the night sky (as there is no longer a roof remaining. This rustic setting is home to many local blues shows and festivals.

New Roxy in Clarksdale, MS
New Roxy in Clarksdale, MS

Not too far from the New Roxy is a Blues Road marker for Sam Cooke (famous for songs such as “You Send Me, ” “Chain Gang,” and “A Change is Gonna Come,” which was sung by Bettye Lavette and Jon Bon Jovi at the inauguration celebration President Barack Obama.

Blues Road Marker for Sam Cooke in Clarksdale, MS
Blues Road Marker for Sam Cooke in Clarksdale, MS

Practically next to Sam Cooke’s marker is one for W.C. Handy, who lived on Issaquena Road.  Known by many as “Father of the Blues,” Handy remains among the most influential of American songwriters. Though he was one of many musicians who played the distinctively American form of music known as the blues, he is credited with giving it its contemporary form. While Handy was not the first to publish music in the blues form, he took the blues from a regional music style with a limited audience to one of the dominant national forces in American music.  I recall playing his compositions in Jazz Band in high school…tunes such as “St. Louis Blues,”, “Beale St. Blues,” and more.

Historical Marker for W.C. Handy on Issaquena Rd. in Clarksdale, MS
Historical Marker for W.C. Handy on Issaquena Rd. in Clarksdale, MS

Another icon of Clarksdale is the historic Paramount Theater.  Originally known as the Marion Theatre, the facility opened in 1918 on Yazoo Avenue in Clarksdale. The theatre one of the first in the area to be built mainly for showing movies. During the 1930’s, the Marion Theatre was acquired by the Saenger Amusements chain, which went on to rename it to the current Paramount Theatre. The theater was in operation until 1986, but is apparently being renovated by the Mississippi Arts Council.

Paramount Theater in Clarksdale, MS
Paramount Theater in Clarksdale, MS

Of course, in a town borne of the blues, what better design for benches around town?

Musical Benches around Clarksdale, MS
Musical Benches around Clarksdale, MS

Continuing south on US 61 about 12 miles, I came to one of my “sought after destinations” in the town of Alligator, Mississippi (population abt. 200).  My original intent was to visit just because of the name, but this town is, in my mind, all about the blues and how I imagined it.

Sumoflam in Alligator, MS
Sumoflam in Alligator, MS
Welcome to Alligator, MS
Welcome to Alligator, MS

I didn’t see any real alligators in Alligator, but I did see lots of history.  The town is home to the “Alligator Blues,” as the Blue Highway Marker below indicates.  Alligator has a blues history that rivals that of many a larger town. Once a bustling business center, Alligator has had entertainment spots in town in addition to outlying country juke joints, plantation house parties and storefronts where musicians played as they traversed the surrounding communities.  Robert Johnson apparently lived in the area in 1930.

Alligator Blues Marker in Alligator, MS
Alligator Blues Marker in Alligator, MS

Alligator also had some wonderful wall murals including the one at the top of this post and the one below.

Alligator Wall Mural, Alligator, MS
Alligator Wall Mural, Alligator, MS
Wall Mural at Blues Tourist in Alligator, MS
Wall Mural at Blues Tourist in Alligator, MS

A few more scenes from Alligator, Mississippi

Alligator, MS Town Hall
Alligator, MS Town Hall
Alligator Water Tower, Alligator, MS
Alligator Water Tower, Alligator, MS
Keep Alligator Clean!
Keep Alligator Clean!

Solidly entrenched in the heart of Delta Blues country, I continue my journey, next to Shelby, MS. This town of about 2000 is home to a couple of Juke Joints including the Do Drop Inn (not to be confused with the famed Dew Drop Inn of New Orleans).

Welcome to Shelby, MS
Welcome to Shelby, MS
Colorful buildings of Shelby, MS
Colorful buildings of Shelby, MS
Colorful yellow abandoned building in Shelby, MS
Colorful yellow, seemingly abandoned building in Shelby, MS

Juke joint is a term used by locals for the informal establishments that featured music, dancing, gambling, and drinking.  These were mainly operated by African American people in the southeastern United States. The term “juke” is believed to derive from the Gullah word joog, meaning rowdy or disorderly.  A juke joint may also be called a “barrelhouse”. Juke Joints catered to the rural work force that began to emerge after the emancipation. Primarily African-American establishments, juke joints were opened in the southeastern United States during the era of the Jim Crow Laws. Since black sharecroppers and plantation workers were barred from white establishments, juke joints provided a space for these people to kick back after a long week of work.  Places like the Do Drop Inn are slowly disappearing as a result of large casinos in many of the areas along the Mississippi.

Famed Do Drop Inn Juke joint in Shelby, MS
Famed Do Drop Inn Juke Joint in Shelby, MS
Wall mural depicting a river baptism in Shelby, MS. Its not all about the blues
Wall mural depicting a river baptism in Shelby, MS. Its not all about the blues
Daniel's Snack Shack, Shelby, MS
Daniel’s Snack Shack, Shelby, MS

Next stop on US 61 was Mound Bayou.  This town was an all black town in the Yazoo Delta in Northwest Mississippi. It was founded during the spring of 1887 by twelve former slaves led by Isaiah Montgomery.  This fledgling black colony continued to remain predominantly African America, and, by percentage, its 98.6 percent African-American majority population is one of the largest of any community in the United States.

Welcome to Mound Bayou, MS
Welcome to Mound Bayou, MS
Much of US 61 in the Delta is falling to ruins, such as this place. Sad....
Much of US 61 in the Delta is falling to ruins, such as this place. Sad….
US 61 north of Cleveland, MS
US 61 north of Cleveland, MS

Cleveland, MS is one of 11 towns named Cleveland in the United States. I was born in Cleveland, OH so visiting any Cleveland has meaning.  (I have also been to Cleveland, TN and Cleveland, IN).

Cleveland, MS
Cleveland, MS

Cleveland is one of the great places to experience the heritage and culture that is the blues, Just outside of town is Dockery Plantation . Often called the “Birthplace of the Blues.”  This was home to Delta blues musician, Charley Patton, and was recently honored with a marker on the Mississippi Blues Trail. He is considered by many to be the “Father of the Delta Blues”, and is credited with creating an enduring body of American music and personally inspiring just about every Delta blues man.  Indeed, it is said that Patton inspired Blues greats John Lee Hooker, Howlin’ Wolf and even Robert Johnson at Dockery Farms.

Dockery Farms Plantation near Cleveland, MS
Dockery Farms Plantation near Cleveland, MS – considered by many to be birthplace of the Delta Blues

Cleveland is also noted as the place where W.C. Handy was inspired after hearing a blues band in 1905.

Historical marker about W.C. Handy being inspired in Cleveland, MS
Historical marker about W.C. Handy being inspired in Cleveland, MS

Downtown Cleveland has a beautiful tree-lined walkway in downtown, near the old railroad station.

Cleveland Railroad Station
Cleveland Railroad Station
Tree-lined Walkway in Cleveland, MS
Tree-lined Walkway in Cleveland, MS

As evening closed in on me after the long drive from Lexington, KY, I scooted southward into Leland, MS.  I had hoped to see more of the historic town, but light was running out and I definitely wanted to get to Leland to see the “Birthplace of Kermit the Frog.” Though closed, there was enough light to get a couple of photos.

Sumoflam at the "Birthplace of Kermit the Frog" in Leland, MS
Sumoflam at the “Birthplace of Kermit the Frog” in Leland, MS

Famed puppeteer and mastermind of “The Muppets” Jim Henson grew up around Leland, MS, played along Deer Creek and became word famous.  This is where he got his start.

Birthplace of Kermit the Frog, Leland, MS
Birthplace of Kermit the Frog, Leland, MS
Oh Kermie...
Oh Kermie…
Walkway over Deer Creek in Leland, MS
Walkway over Deer Creek in Leland, MS
Frog Parking only in Leland, MS
Frog Parking only in Leland, MS

So, the day finally ended and darkened as I left Leland and headed for my overnight stay in Vicksburg. End of Day 1 on the Blues Highway – nearly 670 miles of driving from home to here. My next post will complete the trip from Vicksburg to Natchez and into Louisiana.

Sunset in the Delta of Mississippi
Sunset in the Delta of Mississippi

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