Louisville and Jeffersonville: Ohio River Sisters

Jeffersonville, Indiana
Jeffersonville, Indiana

Two different cities and a shared river and bridge.  In September 2013 one of my daughters and her friends needed some assistance getting to Louisville and had some business to take care of.  So, with camera in hand, we were off and they did their stuff while I drove around Louisville and then across the river to Jeffersonville.  Here are a few the things I saw in a three hour jaunt thru two towns….

Louisville as seen from across the Ohio River in Jeffersonville, IN
Louisville as seen from across the Ohio River in Jeffersonville, IN

This stretch of the Ohio River is the widest and deepest part (about 23 feet) of the Ohio River.

Louisville Slugger headquarters - Louisville, Kentucky
Louisville Slugger headquarters – Louisville, Kentucky

A drive down West Main Street in downtown Louisville offers a number of interesting sights.  You pass by the Art and Museum District of town.  Perhaps the biggest and most interesting site is the amazing Giant Louisville Slugger Baseball Bat at the Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory. The bat replica is actually not made of wood.  It is a 120 foot tall steel bat that weighs over 68,000 pounds. The Big Bat is an exact-scale replica of Babe Ruth’s 34-inch Louisville Slugger bat.

The Big Louisville Slugger Bat in downtown Louisville
The Big Louisville Slugger Bat in downtown Louisville
Closeup of Louisville Slugger Big Bat seal
Closeup of Louisville Slugger Big Bat seal

Ironically, just a mere three blocks away is another “Big Bat”.  This one is located at Caufield’s Novelty Shop and is a huge monstrosity of a hanging vampire bat.  They obviously want to capitalize on the “novelty” factor!

Big Bat at Caufield's Novelty in Downtown Louisville
Big Bat at Caufield’s Novelty in Downtown Louisville

Another business on Main Street, just a couple of doors down from the Louisville Slugger Museum is an advertisement for Kentucky Mirror and Paint Glass with a Giant Baseball going through a Painted Window…

Giant Baseball breaking a Window in downtown Louisville
Giant Baseball breaking a Window in downtown Louisville

Not to be outdone, there is the guy there that could actually use the giant bat and ball and probably fight off that vampire thingy… yes, a giant gold replica of Michelangelo’s “David” statue is a right there on main.

Giant David statue with Louisville Slugger bat in Background
Giant David statue with Louisville Slugger bat in Background
Closeup of David...without the bottom half....
Closeup of David…without the bottom half….

This statue was created by Turkish artist Serkan Ozkaya and was commissioned to be created in Istanbul, shipped to New York and then to Louisville. It certainly must be the largest representation of a male’s complete anatomy in Kentucky and perhaps even the U.S. (See this photo for details if you dare).  The statue is at the 21c Museum Hotel in Louisville, which is a unique contemporary art museum coupled with a boutique hotel. The 21c Museum is North America’s only museum dedicated to collecting and exhibiting contemporary art of the 21st century. The Museum is open free of charge 24 hours a day, seven days a week. More than twenty special exhibitions and installations have been organized by the 21c Museum since its opening in 2006.

21c Hotel Art Car Limo
21c Hotel Art Car Limo
Detail of tile work on the Art Limo
Detail of beadwork on the Art Limo
Pink Penguins can be seen all around the WC21 building
Pink Penguins can be seen all around the 21C building

Learn more about the 4 foot tall Pink Penguins of 21C in this Southern Living article.

Louisville Mural by Bryan Todd
Louisville Mural by Bryan Todd

Mural Artist Bryan Todd completed this giant “Louisville Mural” earlier in 2013. (see article about it).  Around the downtown area and the Highlands district there are other art works…wall murals, street art, etc.

Mural by Louisville artist Noah Church, painted in 2008
Mural by Louisville artist Noah Church, painted in 2008
More of the Noah Church mural in Louisville, KY
More of the Noah Church mural in Louisville, KY

The mural above is a classic piece painted on a retaining wall near Mark’s Feed Store and Ear X-Tacy in Louisville.  Noah has painted a number of murals, many inside cafes and shops around Louisville.  You can see an interview with him here on a mural he was working on in Philadelphia. Following are some detail shots of his whimsical mural.  I have tried to find the story on this one but to no avail…

Detail of Noah Church Mural in Louisivlle
Detail of Noah Church Mural in Louisville
Flying Pig in Noah Church's mural in Louisville
Flying Pig in Noah Church’s mural in Louisville
Duck Head Detail of Noah Church mural
Duck Head Detail of Noah Church mural
Noah Church Mural in Louisville, KY
Noah Church Mural in Louisville, KY
Detail of Noah Church mural in Louisville.  Not sure who all of these folks are...
Detail of Noah Church mural in Louisville. Not sure who all of these folks are…

Another amazing mural can be found at the Artist & Craftsman Supply shop on Barret Avenue.  Just a couple of blocks from the original Lynn’s Paradise Cafe, you can see this huge wall mural from their parking lot. It was painted by Louisville artist Chris Chappell with spray paint (check out a cool time lapse of the work here).

Front entry of Artist and Craftsman Supply store in Louisville with amazing mural artwork
Front entry of Artist and Craftsman Supply store in Louisville with amazing mural artwork by Chris Chappell of Louisville
A detail of the Chappell Mural (and yes, I strategically took this so the tree would look like hair!)
A detail of the Chappell Mural (and yes, I strategically took this so the tree would look like hair!)
Detail of Chappell Mural in Louisville, KY
Detail of Chappell Mural in Louisville, KY
More detail of the Chris Chappell mural in Louisville
More detail of the Chris Chappell mural in Louisville

I found another nice mural on the side of Old Town Liquors on Bardstown Road.  This one is more classic, but nice. Painted by Louisville artists Byron Roberts and Gary Bennett in 2002, it was partially funded by the City of Louisville.  Roberts says of the project “I got my inspiration by standing on a porch in the neighborhood and it presents a perspective of looking inside out.”

Detail of Old Town Liquors mural painted by
Detail of Old Town Liquors mural painted by Louisville artists Byron Roberts and Gary Bennett in 2002
Another detail of the mural at Old Town Liquors in Louisville
Another detail of the mural at Old Town Liquors in Louisville
Detail of Old Town Liquors mural by
Detail of Old Town Liquors mural by Byron Roberts and Gary Bennett
Detail of piano portion of mural on Old Town Liquors in Louisville
Detail of piano portion of mural on Old Town Liquors in Louisville

And a few other odds and ends of art I came across just driving around in Louisville:

Took mural on Ace Hardware store near Bardstown Road in Louisville
Took mural on Ace Hardware store near Bardstown Road in Louisville
Planets mural
Planets mural in Louisville
Some unique street I came across
Some unique street art I came across

Then, in a few places downtown I came across this little guy…apparently somebody’s “tag”

Funny face painted in a number of spots around Louisville
Funny face painted in a number of spots around Louisville

And, to go along with the two “Big Bats” noted earlier, on the other end of Main Street I ran into a Big Batman!

Batman mural in Louisville on Main Street
Batman mural in Louisville on Main Street

Across the street from Batman is the Louisville Slugger Field that has a statue of famed Dodgers shortstop and Louisville native “Pee Wee” Reese.  I remember watching him with Dizzy Dean in the 1960s as they announced the New York Yankees games on CBS.

Pee Wee Reese statue at Louisville Slugger field in Louisville
Pee Wee Reese statue at Louisville Slugger field in Louisville by Louisville artist Raymond Graf

Another unique statue off of main was what I think was an Alice in Wonderland rendition

Alice in Wonderland?
Alice in Wonderland?

While in Louisville I wanted to get a couple of nice shots of the landmark building of Louisville, the Aegon Center building, which is both the tallest and the most noteworthy and recognizable building in Louisville.  It was built in 1993 (I remember well as I was living in Louisville at the time) and is 549 feet tall with 35 floors.

Aegon building - Louisville's tallest building
Aegon building – Louisville’s tallest building
Aegon building dome
Aegon building dome

From Louisville I ventured over the Ohio River into Indiana on the George Rogers Clark Memorial Bridge, that was opened in 1929. The bridge spans over 5700 feet over the river and is one of five bridges from Louisville to Clarksville/Jeffersonville.  I had really never visited Jeffersonville or Clarksville.  My main intent was getting a broad view of Louisville from across the river, but I also was fortunate to see a number of interesting things on the Indiana side of the river….

Clark Memorial Bridge from Louisville to Clarksville and Jeffersonville, IN
Clark Memorial Bridge (US 31) from Louisville to Clarksville and Jeffersonville, IN

On the other side of the river is the colorfully unique Southern Indiana Visitor Center

Southern Indiana Visitor Center - Clarksville, IN
Southern Indiana Visitor Center – Clarksville, IN

Also on this side of the bridge is Water Tower Square…

Water Tower Square in Clarksville, Indiana
Water Tower Square in Clarksville, Indiana

The Clark Memorial Bridge (also referred to as the 2nd Street Bridge in Louisville) has some cool old Art Deco (as if from Superman or Batman) cement pylons. Actually, these columns are identical to each other on each of their respective sides of the bridge. The only differences between the Indiana and Kentucky columns are the state names engraved on the column, as well as each side has their own version of the carved plaque.

Big Entry Pillar on Indiana side of Clark Memorial Bridge
Art Deco Pylon on Indiana side of Clark Memorial Bridge
Art Deco Plaque on Indiana side of bridge
Art Deco Plaque on Indiana side of bridge
Pylon on Kentucky Side of the bridge
Pylon on Kentucky Side of the bridge

Clarksville, Indiana was once a home site to George Rogers Clark (older brother to William Clark of Lewis and Clark fame), and was founded in 1783. It is the oldest American town in the Northwest Territory (the Territory Northwest of the Ohio River). The town is also home to the Colgate clock (seen above behind the water tower), one of the largest clocks in the world. The Falls of the Ohio State Park, a large fossil bed, are also just a short jaunt from the bridge.

Welcome to Clarksville, IN
Welcome to Clarksville, IN
Falls of the Ohio State Park in Clarksville, IN
Falls of the Ohio State Park in Clarksville, IN
Giant Colgate Clock in Clarksville, IN
40 foot tall Giant Colgate Clock in Clarksville, IN

Louisville and the associated Indiana communities—Jeffersonville, Clarksville, and New Albany—all owe their existence as communities to the falls, as the navigational obstacles the falls presented meant that late 18th Century and early to late 19th Century river traffic could benefit from local expertise in navigating the 26-foot drop made by the river over a distance of two miles.

The Falls of the Ohio and the fossil beds along the river
The Falls of the Ohio and the fossil beds along the river
The Fourteenth Street Bridge - a railroad bridge crossing the Ohio River
The Fourteenth Street Bridge – a railroad bridge crossing the Ohio River

The Fourteenth Street Bridge (also known as the Ohio Falls Bridge) was built in 1868 by the Louisville Bridge and Iron Company and was operated for many years by the Pennsylvania Railroad, giving the company its only access to Kentucky. Ownership of the railroad and the bridge passed on to Penn Central and later Conrail, which then sold the line from Louisville to Indianapolis, Indiana to the Louisville and Indiana Railroad, the current bridge owner.

Second Street Bridge as seen from Jeffersonville, IN with Louisville in the background
Second Street Bridge as seen from Jeffersonville, IN with Louisville in the background

Along the Falls is a statue of Lewis and Clark

Lewis and Clark meeting at the Falls of the Ohio
Lewis and Clark meeting at the Falls of the Ohio

Meriwether Lewis met William Clark (younger brother of General George Clark) in 1803. Together they recruited the “Nine Young Men from Kentucky” that formed the core of the Corps of Discovery. Meriwether Lewis and his party left Pittsburgh on August 31st 1803, reaching Louisville on October 14th where he was met by William Clark.  At their handshake upon this meeting the Lewis and Clark Expedition was born.  (see more detailed history here).

Another view of Lewis and Clark meeting
Another view of Lewis and Clark meeting

Over the years I have driven hundreds of miles across the U.S. and have traced the many paths of Lewis and Clark, even to Astoria, Oregon where their final western destination ended at Fort Clatsop. I have been to L & C sites in Nebraska, Montana, Missouri, Idaho and more.  But this is where it all started!!  Here is a map f their entire route.

Lewis and Clark Exhibition Route

After the visit to Clarksville, I headed to Jeffersonville to see what may be there.  To my delight, I discovered a series of floodwall murals, similar to what I have seen in other river communities.

Bench in Jeffersonville, IN
Bench in Jeffersonville, IN

Turns out that the 12 murals depicting the history of Jeffersonville were painted by Robert Dafford and his crew.  This project began in 2007 and was completed in 2012.  Ironically, I had seen his mural works in previous visits to Point Pleasant, WV, Paducah, KY and Portsmouth, OH. (see Paducah work here and the Point Pleasant work here). Dafford apparently has his photorealistic mural art in over 200 locations around the world.

Robert Dafford murals on the floodwall in Jeffersontown
Robert Dafford murals on the floodwall in Jeffersontown
Schimpff's Candy Store - one of 12 floodwall murals by Louisiana artist Robert Dafford
Schimpff’s Candy Store – one of 12 floodwall murals by Louisiana artist Robert Dafford
Band Concert in Town Square - one of 12 floodwall murals painted by Robert Dafford
Band Concert in Town Square – one of 12 floodwall murals painted by Robert Dafford and his team
The Howard House - one of 12 floodwall murals in Jeffersonville
The Howard House – one of 12 floodwall murals in Jeffersonville
A River Scene mural in Jeffersonville by Robert Dafford
A River Scene mural in Jeffersonville by Robert Dafford
A mural depicting Riverboats on the Ohio in Jeffersonville, IN by Robert Dafford
A mural depicting Riverboats on the Ohio in Jeffersonville, IN by Robert Dafford

Just a few blocks away is an entirely different scene.  The Industrial Terrorplex, a massive haunted house and “horror complex” created using state of the art Hollywood effects, offered up some surprises as I rounded the corner.  A couple of huge gargoyles were waiting on the fencepost to pounce down on me.

Gargoyle on fence at Industrial Terrorplex in Jeffersonville, IN
Gargoyle on fence at Industrial Terrorplex in Jeffersonville, IN
Another Industrial Terrorplex gargoyle waits to pounce on someone
Another Industrial Terrorplex gargoyle waits to pounce on someone

The gargoyles were enough to scare me back across the river to pick up my daughter and her friends and make our way back to Lexington.  Along the way I did see a more pleasant statue…Thomas Jefferson said a nice hello as did a few ducks.

Thomas Jefferson statue in Jeffersonville, IN
Thomas Jefferson statue in Jeffersonville, IN
Ducks say hello by the Ohio River
Ducks say hello by the Ohio River
Back to Kentucky over the bridge
Back to Kentucky over the bridge

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Sumoflam Flashback: JFK the Twine Ball Man of Lake Nebagamon, WI

James Frank Kotera - JFK - The Twine Ball Man of Lake Nebagamon, WI
James Frank Kotera – JFK – The Twine Ball Man of Lake Nebagamon, WI

In this Flashback Edition of Less Beaten Paths, I take you back to August 2007 when I visited with James Frank Kotera in the town of Highlands, near Lake Nebagamon, Wisconsin.  Kotera, who just refers to himself as JFK — the most famous JFK — claims to have the world’s largest ball of twine and my son and I had to see it.  And trust me, it as an out of the way drive worth taking!! (Don’t miss the video below!!!)


View Larger Map – JFK, The Twine Ball Man -8009 S. Oakdale Rd., Lake Nebagamon, WI

Satellite shot of JFK's place. The big building on the left covers his 19,000 pound twineball
Satellite shot of JFK’s place. The big building on the left houses his 19,600 pound twineball

Exact directions: From Solon Springs, WI, go north on US 53 to Wisconsin Rd. L. Turn right on L and go all the way to Rd. P. Turn left on P and head north along the east end of the lake to E. Minnesuing Rd. Turn right and drive about 2.5 miles to S. Oakdale. On the right corner you will see a small house with a bunch of flamingos and ducks on sticks in the yard. This is the place.

For those travelers who are always looking for offbeat and interesting roadside attractions, big balls of twine have always been one of the sought after treasures.  The most famous twine balls include the one on Darwin, Minnesota (Weird Al Yankovic even has a song about it).  The Darwin ball is 12 feet in diameter and weighs about 17,400 pounds.  Then there is the Cawker City, Kansas twine ball which was a community effort.  It has a 40 foot circumference and weighs 14,687 pounds.  Finally, there is one in Branson, Missouri that is 13 feet tall and has a 41 foot circumference.  It weighs in at a measly 12,000 pounds.

JFK's Twine Ball - 19,600 pounds
JFK’s Twine Ball – 19,600 pounds

JFK started his twine ball in 1979, and by the time we got there in 2007 he claimed that his ball weighed 19,680 pounds.  He gave us his “business card” at the time which explains it all…

JFK Business Card - Side One
JFK Business Card – Side One
JFK Business Card - Side Two
JFK Business Card – Side Two

During our visit, JFK explained that with a famous name like JFK he needed to do something “famous” and had heard about other twine balls.  As an employee of the Sanitation Department for the Town of Highland (as he says anyway – The only Highland in Wisconsin is 5 hours south of him), he has collected twine and assembled this ball lovingly for over 30 years.  As he gets twine ready to put on the ball, he puts it in a bag and weighs it and then adds it to the twine ball.  He records each weigh in so he has “accurate” records.

JFK's Hand Written Sign about the twine ball
One of JFK’s Hand Written Sign about him and his twine ball

As to being the “Biggest in the World”, apparently the Guinness World book of Records noted in 1993 that the Branson ball was the biggest, but it is obviously the smallest of the four noted above.  I would venture to say that JFK’s is by far the largest.  In fact, it has been 6 years since I was there and I’ll bet it now exceeds 20,000 pounds!!

Sumoflam with JFK, "Mr. Twine Ball" and "Junior" - August 2007
Sumoflam with JFK, “Mr. Twine Ball” and “Junior” – August 2007

I was so enamored with JFK and his antics, his personality, etc., that I actually did a small “documentary” video about him and interviewed him.  See the video below…music by Antsy McClain and the Trailer Park Troubadours.

Here are a couple of more photos we took while there….

JFK brings out "Junior", his 40 pound twine ball
JFK brings out “Junior”, his 40 pound twine ball
JFK has a Guest Book and Comment Book in this mailbox
JFK has a Guest Book and Comment Book in this mailbox
More JFK Signage
More JFK Signage

Ultimately, this is one of those “Ultimate Must See” offbeat tourist destinations.  There are many in this country, and this is one of the best.  Thanks as well to Roadside America for the initial introduction to JFK.

Roadside assistance provided by friends at……

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