Everywhere a Sign – Some WELCOME Signs From 2018 #AtoZChallenge

Well, the Blogging Challenge is winding down.  It has been a wild and wacky challenge for me.

Through the month I have provided readers with a wide variety of wonderful signs which I wandered upon during the year.  As I do with all of my posts, I try to be witty and wry in my presentation. I hope that I have brought out the wanderlust in my readers as well.  This post will be all about Welcome Signs. Please now enjoy my special edition of W Signs from my travels over the years.  Enjoy the Read. Enjoy the Ride.

Welcome Signs Everywhere!

Welcome to my happy place…traveling everywhere

I love feeling welcome in places!  Perhaps one of my bigger “collections” of place signs along the highways of America are the Welcome signs to states, communities and places.  Here are just a few of the dozens and dozens have wandered upon in my travels.  This post features welcome signs taken from 2005 to present.  Want everyone to feel Welcome.

Welcome to my Welcome Blog Post
Welcome to Oklahoma

 

Welcome to Carew Tower Sign in Carew Tower Elevators, Cincinnati
Welcome to Henry, Illinois
Welcome to Kentucky, home sweet home
Welcome to Dime Box, Texas
Welcome to Zelienople-Harmony, Pennsylvania
Welcome to Kingston, Washington
Welcome to Punkyville, Kentucky… near Falmouth, Kentucky

We all know who is really Nice! Nice, CA

Welcome to Nevada sign in Denio, Nevada
Welcome to Leavenworth, Washington
Welcome to Shiner, Texas
Kabetogama Lake – Voyageurs National Park, Minnesota
Welcome to Gauley Bridge, West Virginia
Welcome to Cave City, Kentucky… gateway to Mammoth Cave National Park
Welcome to Tonica, Illinois
Welcome to the Monongahela Incline in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Welcome to Millersburg, Ohio
Welcome to Butte, Montana
Welcome to Big Stone Gap, Virginia
Welcome to Dublin, OH, Home of Wendy’s
Welcome to Estill County, Kentucky
Welcome to Santa Claus, Indiana
Welcome to West, Texas
Welcome to Alligator, Mississippi
Welcome to Silver Gate, Montana
Welcome to Choteau, Montana sign
Welcome to Metropolis, Illinois
Welcome to the Rockpile Museum in Gillette, Wyoming
Welcome to Council Bluffs, Iowa
Welcome to New Mexico at Raton Pass
Welcome to Damascus, Virginia
Welcome to Wyoming sign on US 30
Welcome to What Cheer, Iowa
Welcome to Winner, South Dakota – Pheasant Capital of the World
Welcome to Hope, Arkansas – birthplace of Bill Clinton
Welcome to Pittsburgh
Welcome to Viborg, South Dakota
Welcome to Hell, Michigan
Welcome to Peculiar, Missouri
Welcome to Sisters, Oregon
Welcome to Yellville, Arkansas
Welcome to Boring, Oregon
Welcome to Earth, Texas
Welcome to Vulcan, Alberta sign in Klingon
Welcome to Mystic Seaport, Mystic, Connecticut
Welcome to Seymour, Wisconsin Home of the Hamburger
Welcome to Pella, Iowa
Welcome to Montana in West Yellowstone
Welcome to Clallam Bay and Sekiu, Washington
Welcome to Stanley, Idaho
Welcome to Colorado at WY 789 and CO 13
Welcome to Bemidji, Minnesota
Welcome to Crawford, Nebraska
Welcome to Sharkheads in Biloxi Beach, Mississippi
Welcome to Salem Sue in New Salem, North Dakota
Welcome to Paris, Tennessee Catfish – they claim to be the Catfish Capital
Welcome to Real Goods, a great store in Hopland, California
Welcome to Kountry Korner’s Krazy Kreatures in Kingston, Washington
Welcome to Orr, Minnesota
Welcome to Mena, Arkansas
Welcome to White Castle, Louisiana
Welcome to New Hampshire in Sept 2015 – State #49!
Welcome to Gourdough’s Donuts in Austin, Texas
Welcome to Vermont, near Brattleboro on Vermont Hwy 142 — the 50th state I visited
Welcome to Kansas
Welcome to Alvin, Texas, hometown of Nolan Ryan
Welcome to West Virginia
Welcome to Kensington District of Toronto, Ontario

 

Welcome to Whitetop, Virginia
Welcome to Delaware…first time since 1986. Visited in 2016 during Christmas Holiday
Welcome to Heini’s Cheese Factory in Charming, Ohio
Welcome to Uranus, Missouri
Welcome to Hopkinsville, KY for the Solar Eclipse 2017
Welcome to Egg Harbor, Wisconsin
Welcome to Huntsville, Texas
Welcome to Wilsall, Montana (with the Welcome Bird on top of the sign!)
Welcome to Crookston mural in Crookston, Minnesota
Welcome to Cokeville, Wyoming
Welcome to Gregory, South Dakota
Welcome to Mars, Pennsylvania
Welcome to Talent, Oregon
Welcome to Pascagoula, Mississippi, Birthplace of Jimmy Buffet
Welcome to Waterville, Washington
Welcome to Canonsburg, Pennsylvania
Welcome to Ketchikan, Alaska … from my wife
Welcome to the Guitar Walk at Cavanaugh Park in Walnut Ridge, Arkansas
Welcome to Dienner’s Country Restaurant in Amish Country, Ronks, Pennsylvania
Welcome to Granbury, Texas
Welcome to North Dakota
Welcome to Hugo, Oklahoma… home of the country’s only cemetery dedicated to Circus Performers
Welcome to North Carolina
Welcome to Papa Joe’s Oasis, Crescent Junction, Utah
Welcome to Hochatown, Oklahoma
Welcome to Doolittle, Missouri
Welcome to Nitro, West Virginia
Welcome to Hipp Station of the Holmes County Rails to Trails in Millersburg, Ohio
Welcome to Pierre Part, LA, home of the TV Show Swamp People
Welcome to the Oyster Capital of the World, South Bend, Washington
Welcome to the Corn Palace…Mitchell, South Dakota
Welcome to Sweet Home Alabama with some of my grandchildren in early 2017
Sumoflam in Floodwood, Minnesota
Welcome to Luling, Texas
Welcome to Washington, Pennsylvania
Welcome to Jackson, Wyoming!!
A giant troll sculpture greets you at the Mount Horeb, Wisconsin Welcome Center. Created by Wally Keller
Welcome to Oacoma, South Dakota
Welcome to the Seattle Waterfront
Welcome to Hemingford, Nebraska
Welcome to Saco, Montana, birthplace of 1960s newscaster Chet Huntley
Welcome to Nekoma, North Dakota
Welcome to Jackson Center, Ohio. Home of Airstream
Welcome to Rabbit Hash, Kentucky
Nicholson, Pennsylvania’s welcome sign features the famous Viaduct
Welcome to Chelsea, Michigan
Welcome to Lost Springs, Wyoming Population 1 in 2007. Population 4 in 2017.
Welcome to Chinook, Montana
Welcome to Dallas, South Dakota where the main street goes under the water tower
Welcome to Buffalo, Wyoming
Welcome to Salida, Colorado
Welcome to Swedesburg, Iowa
Welcome to Steubenville, Ohio, a small town full of murals and history
Welcome to Montana on US Route 2 heading west
Welcome to Missouri
Welcome to Salt Lake City, Utah
Welcome to Walnut Ridge, Arkansas…home of the Rock N Roll Highway
Welcome to Wall, South Dakota, home of Wall Drug. Now you know where the heck it is.
Welcome to Many, Louisiana Not just a few here!
Welcome Sign in Indianapolis, Indiana
Welcome to Gold Bar, Washington Gateway to the Cascades
Welcome to Virden, Manitoba
Welcome to Saskatchewan
Welcome to Vulcan, Alberta Sept 2007 (look for me…)
Welcome to Beachville, Ontario…birthplace of Baseball
ENJOY!

Like what you see? Well, there is lots more!  I currently have two books about offbeat and quirky places to take on your road trips. You can see both of my books at http://amzn.to/2ks6fQZ. Working on Book 3, coming in late Spring 2019!!

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Everywhere a Sign – Some O Signs From 2018 #AtoZChallenge

(Editor’s Note:  For  my  2019  posts,  I will be posting photos from my travels in 2018.  I visited 26 states and drive over 13,000 miles in 2018.  These posts will feature of few of the road signs and business signs I came across, as well as some stories behind them. )

Obviously, there are many outstanding places to visit in this outrageously wonderful country. Whether you are an occasional traveler or you take every opportunity to wander, there is always something to see. Here are some of the odd O signs I discovered in my 2018 travels. Enjoy the Read. Enjoy the Ride.

Old Potter, Arkansas

Old Potter, Arkansas

A few miles south of Mena, Arkansas, on US Routes 59/71, is a small unincorporated community called Old Potter.  It is also referred to as Potter Junction.  One can take AR Hwy 375 west from there a couple of miles, to Potter, Arkansas.  I have no idea how the name Potter cam about.  But I like the name Old Potter.  Kind of fun.

Okie Noodling Tournament Sign, Pauls Valley, Oklahoma

Okie Noodling Tournament Sign, Pauls Valley, Oklahoma

I first learned about the sport of Noodling on a documentary television program by Bradley Beesley titled Okie Noodling, which came out in 2001.  If you are not sure what noodling is, well here is the scoop…(or the grab is probably better) — it is the practice of wading in murky water and sticking your hand into dark holes hoping a 30-pound plus catfish will latch onto your hand and arm. Missing fingers and toes on some noodlers attest to the danger and excitement of the sport. The film emphasizes how noodling is believed to have originated with white settlers, with at least one reference known to have dated from 1775.

From that documentary, a tournament was developed at Bob’s Pig Shop in Pauls Valley, Oklahoma.  This year (2019), on June 14/15, the Okie Noodling Tournament will celebrate its 20th anniversary.  There is an “O’FISH’Al” Okie Noodling website with all of the details, if you are interested.  I will be returning from Texas on that weekend and may just drop by for a looksee and maybe a visit to Bob’s Pig Shop on June 15!

Check out the trailer for the movie here:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x8E83pzt_MU

By the way, the rock band, The Flaming Lips, did the original music for the 2001 documentary.

Octagon Hall, Franklin, Kentucky

Octagon Hall, Franklin, Kentucky
Octagon Hall, Franklin, Kentucky

Driving south on US 31W near Franklin, Kentucky, I came across a sign to Octagon Hall Museum. This is one of the joys of traveling back roads.  I have come across so many unique places that were unplanned on my trips.  Though we were early and couldn’t visit this Antebellum eight-sided Civil War home built by Andrew Jackson Caldwell, it was still a unique place to see, especially from the outside. Octagon Hall is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and was used during the Civil War by both Confederate and Federal troops and served as a Civil War hospital.

Orlinda, Tennessee

Orllinda, Tennessee

I always like town signs, but this may be in my favorites list.  I love the “Sunniest Spot in Tennessee” catch phrase.  The town of Orlinda is located off of US Hwy 31W, just south of the Kentucky border (and not too far from Octagon Hall).   There are about 1000 sunshiny folks living in this community.

Okemah, Oklahoma

Okemah, Oklahoma
Okemah Hot, Cold and Woody Guthrie Water Towers

Okemah, Oklahoma was named after a Kickapoo  Indian Chief and is the home to the Creek Nation and specifically the Thlopthlocco Tribal Town, a group that speaks the Mvskoke language (thus Muscogee).  Even though there is a great Native American Heritage here, it is also the birthplace of the famous Folk Singer Woody Guthrie who wrote such well-known songs as This Land is Your LandMule Skinner Blues, and hundreds of other songs.  Okemah is just off of Interstate 40 and US Highway 62 passes through the town.

Olive Hill, Kentucky

Olive Hill, Kentucky

Last on my O list is one closer to home.  Olive Hill, Kentucky is in eastern Kentucky on US Highway 60.   It is an old railroad town established in 1861.  I especially like the town because of its layout and the many murals that can be found along a wall in town.  The main street of town is Railroad Street.  Just a cool little town.

Like what you see? Well, there is lots more!  I currently have two books about offbeat and quirky places to take on your road trips. You can see both of my books at http://amzn.to/2ks6fQZ. Working on Book 3, coming in late Spring 2019!!

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North Texas/Oklahoma Odyssey and beyond

NTexas(Note: This is part 3 of my Texas road trip reports from June 2014, covering the trip from Austin to Ft. Worth and then on to Denton, Paris, Oklahoma, Arkansas and home to Kentucky.)

After spending a nice day in Austin, it was time to head north to Ft. Worth and then on to Kentucky.  Along the way I went from weird to spooky to strange to Friendship.  Here is the map of this portion of the trip.

My route from Austin, TX (weird) to Friendship, AR.  Traveled in late June 2014
My route from Austin, TX (weird) to Friendship, AR. Traveled in late June 2014

On this route I visited friends but also visited some other fun and quirky places.  My first stop was in Georgetown, TX.  Georgetown is home to some lovely Victorian architecture and also has one of the more quirky street statues I have seen.

A Victorian Spire in Georgetown, TX
The distinctive Onion Dome on the San Gabriel Masonic Lodge Building in Georgetown, TX

This building was the home of the San Gabriel Masonic Lodge of the Ancient Free and Accepted Masons of Texas. They built it and met here for over 82 years. For much of that time, locals referred to the building simply as the “Temple.” The building was completed in 1900.

A mural in Georgetown that depicts some of the towns more famed buildings
A mural in Georgetown that depicts some of the towns more famed buildings

Of course, quirkiness seems to be a part of central Texas.  Downtown Georgetown was home to Robert McAlpin “Three Legged Willie” Williamson.  At the age of fifteen, he contracted tubercular arthritis that caused his right leg to permanently stiffen at a 90 degree angle. In order to walk, a wooden leg had to be fastened to his knee. Because of this, he later acquired the nickname “Three-Legged-Willie”. He passed the bar at the approximate age of nineteen before practicing one year of law in Georgia. A lawyer at 19, he fought with the cavalry at the Battle of San Jacinto.  In 2013 a life-size commemorative statue of him was i

Three-Legged Willie
Three-Legged Willie – designed by Georgetown artist and photographer Lucas Adams

After lunch with my friend in Georgetown, it was on to Azle, Texas for my first in-person visit with fellow travel blogger and author Tui Snider. I originally became acquainted with Tui online by coming across some of her wonderful blog posts about quirky places to visit in the Dallas/Ft. Worth/N. Texas area.  I contacted her through Facebook and we soon were corresponding, sharing places and experiences.  I had to drop by for a visit since I would be so close.

Sumoflam and Tui Snider, June 2014
Sumoflam and Tui Snider, June 2014

Tui has written two books on travel in the area.  Her first, Unexpected Texas, is a great read.  Indeed, it is a handbook to the quirky and unique. She gives directions to places such as the Gravesite of an Alleged Space Alien, a Courthouse Displaying a Dead Lizard , the Statue of Jesus Wearing Cowboy Boots (visited on this trip…see below), the Rope used to Lynch “Santa Claus,” a Building Made Entirely of Salt, a Wax Replica of Da Vinci’s Last Supper, a  65 foot tall Eiffel Tower Replica (visited on this trip too), a Petrified Wood Motel & Cafe, the World’s Smallest Skyscraper, and the only Michelangelo Painting in America.

Tui Snider books as of January 2015
Tui Snider books as of January 2015

Her other book, Paranormal Texas, is a guide to quite a few haunted places in the the DFW Metroplex area.  As with her Unexpected, it is a fun read and well worth the small purchase price.

Visiting the Sniders in Azle, TX
Visiting the Sniders in Azle, TX – note the gargoyle in the foreground

Tui Snider’s home is exactly what one would expect of an eclectic writer.  It was more like a small museum with lots of untold artifacts.  I had to sneak a couple of shots…

A view of the inside of Tui Snider's home.  Note the image on the monitor...she was finishing up her Paranormal book at the time.
A view of the inside of Tui Snider’s home. Note the image on the monitor…she was finishing up her Paranormal book at the time.
A collection of oddities on top of an old old piano
A collection of oddities on top of an old old piano – also note the spiral staircase on the upper left

And I have to point out the fresco painted on their domed front porch….

Pointing out the Fresco on the domed front porch.  Classic!
Pointing out the Fresco on the domed front porch. Classic!

It was a great visit with Tui.  And, while there, she introduced me to another author and ghost lover Shelly Tucker of Denton, TX.  You’ll see my visit with her below. She is the owner of Ghosts of Denton, that provides haunted history tours of the area.  She also authored a book by the same name (get it on Amazon).

Tucker Book
Ghosts of Denton by Shelly Tucker

After visiting with Tui, I stopped in Dallas for dinner with another friend.  We visited the BBQ joint called Bone Daddy’s.  It is a small chain of eight restaurants with succulent BBQ and an atmosphere to match.  They have a dish called “The Flying Pig”, which I ordered. Just the day before in Austin I had a “Flying Pig” Donut at Gourdough’s (see that post and a photo). Both Flying Pigs had ham and maple components.

At Bone Daddy's in Plano, TX
At Bone Daddy’s in Plano, TX
They Buy Road Kill at Bone Daddy's!  Yum!
They Buy Road Kill at Bone Daddy’s! Yum!
I had the Flying Pig at Bone Daddy's
I had the Flying Pig at Bone Daddy’s

After dinner it was off to spend the night with my sister in Keller and then, the next morning I was on the road, with my first stop being an early morning meetup in Denton with Shelly Tucker who introduced me to some of the great places that town has to offer.

Sumoflam with Shelly Tucker in front of the historic Denton County Courthouse
Sumoflam with Shelly Tucker in front of the historic Denton County Courthouse

Denton, Texas is a fun place to visit, almost like a miniature Austin in some respects.  The pinnacle of Denton is the old County Court House, which now serves as a museum. Opened in 1979, the Courthouse-on-the-Square Museum is located in the historic 1896 Courthouse in downtown Denton. The museum features rotating exhibits depicting Denton County history. Visitors may walk the halls to discover the history of the settlement of Denton County, learn about their ancestors in the museum’s Research Room, and step into the historical courtroom on the second floor.

Denton County Courthouse-on-the-Square in Denton, TX
Denton County Courthouse-on-the-Square in Denton, TX

The Romanesque courthouse was designed by W. C. Dodson (1829-1914) from Waco.  He also designed a few other courthouses in Texas during his working years. Many consider this to be one of the most beautiful courthouses in Texas.

A view of the Romanesque tower on the county courthouse
A view of the Romanesque tower on the county courthouse

Downtown Denton is also a great place for some old neon signs. Here are a few that I captured while downtown.

Campus Theatre Neon in Denton, TX
Campus Theatre Neon in Denton, TX

The Campus Theatre was a grand movie house built in 1949 in downtown Denton. The manager for Interstate Theatres in Denton at the time impressed the importance of this project upon his company: Denton was in need of a movie theatre that would cater to the “kids on the campus” (University of North Texas and Texas Woman’s University). As a result, the Campus Theatre Movie-House was built. At the time of its construction the Campus Theatre was one of several state-of-the-art movie houses in the southwest. The Campus Theatre remained open and operational as a movie house until 1985 when it closed and was left vacant. It has since been restored and provides the first permanent home for all performing arts organizations in Denton.

Logan's Shoe Shop Neon, Denton, TX
Logan’s Shoe Shop Neon, Denton, TX
Atomic Candy Neon Sign in Denton, TX
Atomic Candy Neon Sign in Denton, TX

Atomic Candy is one of those quirky and off-beat candy shops with a menagerie of old knick-knacks and retro signs and things. Unfortunately, I was there too early but could at least look in to see their bulk candies, soda fountain and novelty items.

Old retro statue of a boy in the window at Atomic Candy in Denton, TX
Old retro statue of a boy in the window at Atomic Candy in Denton, TX
Old Fine Arts Theatre in Denton, TX
Old Fine Arts Theatre in Denton, TX

The Fine Arts Theater was built as the Graham Opera House in 1877
by George & Henry Fastorff.  In 1935 the Interstate Theater Circuit remodeled the building, and put the Texas Theater into operation.
In 1954, the Texas was purchased by Trans Texas Theaters, and in
1957, it received yet another new name … Fine Arts.  It is currently in the midst of a restoration project.

The Old Opera House in Denton is now a shopping center
The Old Opera House in Denton is now book store called “Recycled”

The Wright Opera House was built in 1899 for $25,000, it was the elite showcase of Denton. Built from the bricks from the condemned 1870s Courthouse, the Wright Opera House operated until 1913, due to the advent of cinema.  It now houses the book store and eight luxury apartments.

LSA Burger Company Neon, Denton, TX
LSA Burger Company Neon, Denton, TX

Perhaps the best part of visiting with Shelly was her connections.  The LSA Burger Company has to have been one of my favorite places to visit on my entire trip to Texas in June.  I got to meet one of the managers and got a personal tour of the place before it opened for the day.

With one of the managers of LSA Burger Co in Denton, TX
With one of the managers of LSA Burger Co in Denton, TX

LSA Burger Company is a live music venue and is all about historic Texas musicians (it was even started by a Texas Musician!)  The MUST SEE item in this place is the famed “Great Texas Supper” mural housed inside the eatery.

The Great Texas Supper Mural at LSA Burger Co, in Denton, TX
The Great Texas Supper Mural at LSA Burger Co, in Denton, TX

The painting was actually the idea of LSA Burger Co. owners Jon Christopher Davis and John “Sparky” Pearson.  Eyecon Murals in Dallas did the artwork. The painting depicts a scene similar to “The Last Supper,” and includes (from left): George Jones, Selena, Roy Orbison, Waylon Jennings, Scott Joplin, Janis Joplin, Bob Wills, Willie Nelson, Freddy Fender, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Buddy Holly and T-Bone Walker.

A portion of the Great Texas Supper mural
A portion of the Great Texas Supper mural with Steve Ray Vaughan, Buddy Holly and T-Bone Walker
Sumoflam and the Last Texas Supper
Sumoflam and the Last Texas Supper

Another great piece of art is in LSA.  It is titled “Texas Instruments,” a play on the famed microchip company.  The sculpture is a wire mesh piece that has been fashioned in the shape of Texas. It is filled with a collage of instruments including guitars, violins, horns, and amplifiers. A strategically placed guitar painted with a lone white star pays subtle tribute to Denton’s place on the map.

Texas Instruments, a unique sculpture at the LSA Burger Co., in Denton
Texas Instruments, a unique sculpture at the LSA Burger Co., in Denton
Texas Instruments Sculpture at LSA Burger Co., in Denton, TX
Texas Instruments Sculpture at LSA Burger Co., in Denton, TX.  The guitar with the star denotes Denton’s location on the map.

But these are not all.  LSA Burger Co. also has a shrine to Willie Nelson. Yes, that’s right!!

Willie Nelson Portrait above his shrine
Willie Nelson Portrait above his shrine
Willie Nelson Shrine at LSA Burger Co. in Denton, TX
Willie Nelson Shrine at LSA Burger Co. in Denton, TX

They also have a laminate counter with dozens of album covers

Album Counter at LSA Burger Co.
Album Counter at LSA Burger Co.

And finally, the beer bottle chandelier…quite a work of art.

Beer bottle chandelier at LSA Burger Co.
Beer bottle chandelier at LSA Burger Co. in Denton

Shelly also walked me around the courthouse, told me a few ghost stories and invited me back. Next trip to Texas will most certainly include a prolonged visit to Denton!

Prosper Water Tower, Prosper, TX
Prosper Water Tower, Prosper, TX

From Denton I was off to have a late breakfast with a friend in Prosper, Texas at the Cotton Gin Cafe and then onward to Paris, TX and Hugo, OK.

Breakfast at the Cotton Gin Cafe in Prosper, Texas
Breakfast at the Cotton Gin Cafe in Prosper, Texas

The Cotton Gin Cafe is a nice little place in an old brick building on Broadway in Prosper.  All of their menu items are home made and tasty.  The atmosphere is fun as well with many old posters and signs for eye candy.

Old Prosper Post Office
Old Prosper ISD Tax Office

The establishment of the St. Louis & San Francisco Railroad in March of 1902 created the change that forced the communities of Rock Hill and Richland to merge forming the Town of Prosper. For years, Prosper was the central stop for the railroad between Dallas and Sherman. When community officials applied for a Post Office with the name “Richland”, they were informed that city name was already taken. Postmaster B.J. Naugle asked for an alternative name and J.C. Slaughter suggested the name Prosper, because crops that year had been very prosperous.

Texas Hwy 289 north out of Prosper
Texas Hwy 289 north out of Prosper

From Prosper I headed north on Texas Hwy 289 towards Sherman and then proceeded on US 82 to Honey Grove, Texas. My last visit to Honey Grove was late one evening in February 2010.  I was on my way to  find Bugtussle, TX after having driven all day from Bugtussle, KY (see my original trip journal HERE).  Even in the dark the town looked old and rundown.

Honey Grove, Texas
Welcome to Honey Grove, Texas

Actually, in daylight there were some bright spots in this quiet little Texas town.  But, there are entire sections that are rundown…a sad look at brighter days gone by.

A view of Honey Grove, Texas
A view of Honey Grove, Texas
Old Bank Facade in Honey Grove, TX
Old Bank Facade in Honey Grove, TX
Downtown Honey Grove, Texas
Downtown Honey Grove, Texas – old brick roads are delightful
Old Pool Hall, Honey Grove, Texas
Old Pool Hall, Honey Grove, Texas
Entire street of buildings is rundown in Honey Grove, TX
Entire street of buildings is rundown in Honey Grove, TX

After driving through Honey Grove, I proceeded east on US 82 towards Paris, TX.  Just west of Paris is the small town of Toco.  Off to the north of the highway I saw an old plane parked in the field next to a barn.  What an unusual site as there was not an airport.

Old Airplane in Toco, TX..totally out of place
Old Airplane in Toco, TX..totally out of place

I tried to figure out what is what all about and found a piece on TexasEscapes.com about it.  According to his page, “the plane is a Martin 404 and there wouldn’t be too much more to say about it if photographer Stephen Michaels hadn’t stayed up late to research the ship.  An aircraft electrician in a previous life, Michaels researched the FAA number to find that the plane had been part of the Southern Airways fleet. ” Apparently, the research also led Stephen to the Southern Airways website – which revealed the story of a chance meeting between the plane and its former pilot and a very interesting interview with the planes current owner. See that article here.

Google Satellite view of the Toco Airplane
Google Satellite view of the Toco Airplane

According to the above noted article, the “owner was Isaac Newton (Ike / Junior**) Burchinal, a well-known movie pilot. Some of his credits include; “Flight of the Phoenix,” “Twelve O’clock High,” “Catch 22,” “The Great Waldo Pepper,” and “McArthur.” He also was the pilot for Robert Conrad in the TV series, “Baa, Baa, Black Sheep.”

I drove a little closer to get another shot and saw cockpits from a few other planes in a “Cadillac Ranch” formation.  Turns out that this used to be the Flying Tiger Airport and Air Museum.

Another shot of the Toco Plane
Another shot of the Toco Plane – a Martin 404 – it finished its life as a Pro-Air Airplane
Buried parts of airplanes at the Flying Tiger Museum in Toco, TX
Buried parts of airplanes at the Flying Tiger Museum in Toco, TX
Old Prop plane at Flying Tigers Air Museum
Old Prop plane at Flying Tigers Air Museum

It is for reasons like this small air museum that I love taking back road trips.  You just NEVER know what you will see along the way.  And the joy of it all is reliving the trip as I write so I can do some research an learn a bit.

Paris, Texas
Paris, Texas

My next stop on the way was in Paris, Texas.  I was headed to see the Cowboy Hat topped Eiffel Tower replica.  I actually had hit Paris, Tennessee on my way down to Texas a week earlier and have a fun post about the “Two Towers”.  Check it out HERE if you have not seen it.  Most of the details about this tower are in that post.

The Paris, TX Eiffel Tower replica.
The Paris, TX Eiffel Tower replica. About 70 feet tall with Cowboy Hat on top

Though the tower is the most famous icon of the town, there is also another more obscure item. In keeping with the theme of this post (paranormal, ghosts, haunted places, spooky, graveyards), I visited the Evergreen Cemetery in Paris to see the “Jesus in Cowboy Boots” gravestone.

From the front it seems common as most other gravestones.
From the front it seems common as most other gravestones.

A closer look from the back reveals that this particular Jesus was interesting….as he is apparently wearing Cowboy Boots under his robes.

Cowboy Boots on Jesus
Cowboy Boots on Jesus
A closer look at the boots
A closer look at the boots

Thanks to the guys at WeirdUS.com, a bit more detail about the story can be found. Of course, I too can’t really tell whether it is Jesus or an angel.  But, there are certainly Cowboy Boots and I am sure that Willet Babcock (a furniture magnate and Opera House owner in Paris in the late 1800s), the man buried under this monument, had a sense of humor and certainly made a legacy such that many come to visit him who have never known a thing about him…including me!  By the way, this sculpture is apparently attributed to a German immigrant stone mason named Gustave Klein (see this interesting article), who was responsible for many of the monuments in Evergreen Cemetery and is also buried in the cemetery.

Old Ghost Sign on a building in Paris
Old Ghost Sign on a building in Paris

Like many Texas towns, there are remnants of days past.  Old Ghost Signs still linger on as decor on old buildings. such as the one above and the one below, both in Paris.

Paris Cotton old ghost sign
Paris Cotton old ghost sign

And one last fun view from Paris before heading north to Oklahoma:

Paris Lanes, old bowling alley neon sign
Paris Lanes, old bowling alley neon sign
I bid farewell to Paris...that's me in the reflection...
I bid farewell to Paris…that’s me in the reflection…

From Paris I headed north on US 271 for my first venture into the southeastern Oklahoma town of Hugo.

Welcome to Oklahoma
Welcome to Oklahoma

In the late 1800s and early 1900s this town was apparently a hotbed of activity … the wild west town.  It was a railroad hub and so it had an assortment of dance hall girls, hustlers and gunfighters, and perhaps a dozen circuses wintering nearby taking advantage of the moderate climate and easy rail access. The town was founded in 1901 and was named for the French novelist, Victor Hugo.

Welcome to Historic Hugo, OK
Welcome to Historic Hugo, OK

Nowadays the town is best known for its one-of-a-kind cemetery, a few murals and as the birthplace of 70s singer-songwriter B.J. Thomas (Raindrops Keep Fallin’ on My Head).

Old wall mural in Hugo depicts some of the history of the town.
Old wall mural in Hugo depicts some of the history of the town.
A building made of petrified wood in Hugo
A building made of unique stones (or petrified wood??) in Hugo
Downtown Hugo, OK
Downtown Hugo, OK

The town is perhaps best known as a resting place for Circus Performers and, has become the eternal resting place for many of these performers.  In fact, the town even has acquired a nickname as “Circus City USA.”

Elephant Statue in front of the Hugo Chamber of Commerce
Elephant Statue in front of the Hugo Chamber of Commerce

Hugo has been a circus wintering ground since 1942 and is still such for three circuses and their staff and performers, The Carson and Barnes Circus, The Kelly-Miller Circus, and the Culpepper-Merriweather Circus.  It is a common site to drive past their grounds in the winter and see them taking care of an elephant or working on their equipment.

Showmen's Rest in Hugo's Mt. Olivet Cemetery
Showmen’s Rest in Hugo’s Mt. Olivet Cemetery
Circus sign in Mt. Olivet
Circus sign in Mt. Olivet

The town cemetery, Mt. Olivet Cemetery, has a special area called Showmen’s Rest which features unique headstones and grave sites for circus performers and owners. there is also a section called Bull Rider’s Reprieve set aside as a resting place for rodeo riders that have passed on.  I thoroughly enjoyed the brief visit to this hallowed ground to remember circus performers.  Here are a few photos from this fascinating corner of a cemetery.

Dedicated to Circus Performers
Dedicated to Circus Performers
Whalen...with little clowns
Whalen…with little clowns
James O'Donnell -- Acrobat and Clown
James O’Donnell — Acrobat and Clown
Elephant Posts at Showmen's Rest
Elephant Posts at Showmen’s Rest
Sumoflam with an Elephant Headstone at Showmen's Rest
Sumoflam with an Elephant Headstone at Showmen’s Rest
The Grass Showman
The Grass Showman
A performer's marker
A performer’s marker
Mr. Miller will always be under the big top
Mr. Miller will always be under the big top
Kennedy Swain
Kennedy Swain – Comedian for numerous circuses
Circus Lives Celebrated
Circus Lives Celebrated

Honestly, I was touched at the love I could feel in this place.  Many times my visits to cemeteries are peaceful and tranquil, but they exude some sense of sadness.  In this case, I was filled with joy.  those these performers had passed on, they still brought the joy out in an old guy who has not been to a circus since the 1970s.

A final view of Showmen's Rest
A final view of Showmen’s Rest

After my wonderful visit to Mt. Olivet, I was back on the road heading east on US 70 toward my next unique named town…Valliant, OK.

East on US 70 towards Valliant, OK
East on US 70 towards Valliant, OK
Welcome to Valliant, OK
Welcome to Valliant, OK

Valliant was founded June 2, 1902, and named for Frank W. Valliant, a chief divisional engineer for the Arkansas & Choctaw Railroad being constructed in the area at that time. Valliant is famous for its annual Watermelon Festival at the City Park.  Unfortunately, I was not there for the festivities, so I just passed on through valiantly….

Rolling Hills of SE Oklahoma
Rolling Hills of SE Oklahoma

Lest any of you think that Oklahoma is just a big state with lots of flat land for cattle, think again.  There are some beautiful wooded areas and plenty of rolling hills in the southeast corner of the state.  Driving along OK Hwy 98 to OK Hwy 3 is a wonderfully beautiful drive.

Rolling Hills of Oklahoma on OK 98 north of Wright City, OK
Rolling Hills of Oklahoma on OK 98 north of Wright City, OK
End of OK Hwy 98 at OK Hwy 3
End of OK Hwy 98 at OK Hwy 3

At highway 3 one can either go northwest to Antlers, OK or east to Broken Bow through the Choctaw Nation, which was the direction I went (actually visited Antlers a few years ago).

Antlers or Broken Bow?
Antlers or Broken Bow?
Welcome to Broken Bow...old sign
Welcome to Broken Bow…old sign

Broken Bow has one of those classic old motels with a classic neon sign.  The End of Trail Motel is one of those motels like I visited in the 1960s.  Would love to have stayed there for the night.

End of Trail Motel Neon sign in Broken Bow, OK
End of Trail Motel Neon sign in Broken Bow, OK

I also was scared a bit by the big dragon mural along he side of a building…

Dragon Mural in Broken Bow, OK
Dragon Mural in Broken Bow, OK

From Broken Bow I drove north on US 259 along beautiful Broken Bow Lake and then veered east on OK Hwy 4 onto Arkansas Hwy 4.

Oklahoma Hwy 4 just west of the Arkansas border.
Oklahoma Hwy 4 just west of the Arkansas border.
Welcome to Arkansas about 3 miles west of Cove, Arkansas
Welcome to Arkansas about 3 miles west of Cove, Arkansas

Following Arkansas Hwy 4, a beautiful drive through the woods, I made my way north on US 71/US 59 out of Cove, AR.

Arkansas HWY 4
Arkansas HWY 4
US Hwy 71/59 north of Cove, AR
US Hwy 71/59 north of Cove, AR

I soon made my way into the quaint town of Mena, Arkansas, the gateway to the Talimena National Scenic Byway (which will have to be on a later trip for me unfortunately) and also home to an old railroad depot, a few old signs and a nice atmosphere.  Mena was founded in 1896 as a railroad town at the eastern foot of Arkansas’s second highest peak, Rich Mountain (elev. 2,681).

Welcome to Mena, AR
Welcome to Mena, AR
Old Mena Depot, now the Visitor's Bureau
Old Mena Depot, now the Visitor’s Bureau
Which way do I go?  A large signpost in Mena, AR
Which way do I go? A large signpost in Mena, AR
Old Ghost Sign in Mena, AR
Old Ghost Sign in Mena, AR
Ghost Sign in Mena, AR
Ghost Sign in Mena, AR

Mena had this cool retro Studebaker place and it still had the old Studebaker cars.  It was built in 1948 and designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. (see more here)

Restored Studebaker Dealer building designed by Frank Lloyd Wright
Restored Studebaker Dealer building designed by Frank Lloyd Wright

A nice old mural welcomes you to Mena.

Welcome to Mena mural
Welcome to Mena mural

After Mena I took a beautiful drive down Arkansas Hwy 8 towards Arkadelphia, the last stop on this leg of the trip.

Arkansas Hwy 8
Arkansas Hwy 8
A view of Arkansas Hwy 8 southeast of Mena, AR
A view of Arkansas Hwy 8 southeast of Mena, AR

Highway 8 is a beautiful drive through the Ouachita Mountains of Arkansas. The first major town is Glenwood, which is nestled in the foothills of the Ouchitas along the Caddo River.

Ghost sign in Glenwood, AR
Ghost sign in Glenwood, AR
A fun sign in the town of Glenwood, AR
A fun sign in the town of Glenwood, AR

Glenwood is a cute town with some old antique shops and a guitar store.

Billy's House of Guitars, Glenwood, AR
Billy’s House of Guitars, Glenwood, AR

Billy’s House of Guitars looks like it is not only a guitar shop, but also a live music venue (for a show called Front Porch Pickin’) in the hills of Arkansas.

Billy's sign at Billy's House of Guitars, Glenwood, AR
Billy’s sign at Billy’s House of Guitars, Glenwood, AR

OK, so I have been to a Taxidermy and Cheese shop in Canada. How about a Barber Shop and Auction House?

The OK Barber Shop in Glenwood, AR
The OK Barber Shop and Auction House in Glenwood, AR

Another interesting place in Glenwood is the Cattlemens Livestock Market, which has some awesome murals!  I just happened upon it and had to stop.

Cattlemen's Livestock Market
Cattlemen’s Livestock Market, Glenwood, AR
Front porch artwork at Cattlemen's Livestock Market in Glenwood, AR
Front porch artwork at Cattlemen’s Livestock Market in Glenwood, AR
Large Wall Mural at Cattlemen's Livestock Market in Glenwood, AR
Large Wall Mural at Cattlemen’s Livestock Market in Glenwood, AR

My brief stop in Glenwood was refreshing but I wanted to press on to my overnight stop in Arkadelphia, so soon I was back on the lovely drive down Arkansas 8.

Arkansas Hwy 8 near Amity, AR
Arkansas Hwy 8 near Amity, AR

AS I drove through the hills a rainy mist ensued and every so often a rainbow would pop out in front of me.  It was really nice.

Rainbow near Alpine, Arkansas as seen from Hwy 8
Rainbow near Alpine, Arkansas as seen from Hwy 8

I then came upon a church, which I later found out was the Trinity Temple Assembly of God between Alpine and Arkadelphia.  As I approached the rainbow had moved and looked like it was coming from the church…a pretty unique shot.

Trinity Temple Assembly of God in Arkadelphia, AR with a rainbow
Trinity Temple Assembly of God in Arkadelphia, AR with a rainbow

The rainbow continued on into Arkadelphia and floated over a Shell Station as a double rainbow.  It was so cool!

Rainbow in Arkadelphia, AR
Double Rainbow in Arkadelphia, AR

I finally made way into Arkadelphia.  A great name and a lovely town.

Arkadelphia Water Tower
Arkadelphia Water Tower

The day ended in a spectacular sunset, which I tried to capture.

Glowing sunset in Arkadelphia, AR
Glowing sunset in Arkadelphia, AR
Sunset in Arkadelphia
Sunset in Arkadelphia

Was a great two days of travel.

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