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.
Let’s start this off with a Whispering Bang!!
Whispering Giants – art by Hungarian artist Peter Toth – Idaho Falls, Idaho; Bethany Beach, Delaware; Murray, Utah; Red Lodge, Montana; Ottawa, Illinois; Hopewell, Illinois; Paducah, Kentucky; Astoria, Oregon; Ocean City, Maryland; Iowa Falls, Iowa; Utica, Illinois
Over 62 of these around the U.S. Here are the ones I have seen:
Wigwam Village – Sleep in Wigwam – Cave City, KY
Wahkeena Falls – Corbett, Oregon
Wupatki National Monument – near Cameron, Arizona
Water Buffalo – Cebu, Philippines
Murals of Welland, Ontario
Winner, South Dakota
Wyoming Dinosaur Center – Thermopolis, Wyoming
World Trade Center (before 9/11) – New York City
One World Trade Center (after 9/11) – New York City
Wall Drug – Wall, South Dakota
West Virginia Capital Building with the gold dome – Charleston, West Virginia
Wonderland Road – Upton, Kentucky
Winter Wheat – Sparta, Ontario
White Sands National Monument – east of Alamagordo, New Mexico
Walnut Ridge, Arkansas
Wendy’s Museum – Dublin, Ohio
Wigwam Drive-In – Ravenna, Kentucky
Washington Court House, Ohio
West Side Theater – Newman, California
Wimpy’s Hamburgers – Dallas, Texas
Walcott Castle – Walcott, Iowa
Wind Farms – Shelby, Montana; Nekoma, North Dakota; Adair, Iowa; Bloomington, Illinois; Iona, Idaho; Rugby, North Dakota; Port Burwell, Ontario
An old cabin falls apart in the midst of the giant wind turbines of the Glacier Wind Farm near Shelby, Montana
Watkins Glen State Park – Watkins Glen, New York
Mount Washington – Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
West Yellowstone, Montana
Whiskey Rebellion – Washington, Pennsylvania
Webster Falls – Hamilton, Ontario
White Castle, Louisiana
Working Women mural – Welland, Ontario
Wolf Creek Pass – Colorado
Wind River Canyon – Wyoming
Walking to the Sky Sculpture – Pittsburgh, Penssylvania
Washington Monument – Washington, D.C.
Willie the Walleye – Baudette, Minnesota
What Cheer, Iowa
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.
In May, I had occasion to take my wife to Kirtland, Ohio for a conference and spent time myself in my birthplace of Little Italy and Cleveland. I’ve covered most of this in some previous blogs (Little Italy postCleveland postKirtland/Novelty post), but wanted to touch on a couple of other places that we passed on our way to Kirtland and on our way back home to Kentucky.
Visiting Dublin, Ohio
On the way up, we had a friend to visit in Dublin, Ohio and so made our way there. While my wife was tied up at her friend’s house for an hour or so, I made a drive over to Wendy’s headquarters. Dave Thomas got his start here in Dublin with the first Wendy’s in the company which has become an international Burger Company second or third only to McDonald’s and possibly Burger King. I actually have a daughter that is worked for Wendy’s for nearly 16 years, more than half of her life, so it has had an impact on my family in a sense.
Although the original Wendy’s restaurant is no longer around, just down the road from their headquarters building they have built a Flagship restaurant that includes a Wendy’s museum, a nice statue of David Thomas holding a bag of burgers and a frosty, and a number of other unique little trinkets including a $105,000 Crystal Wendy’s Classic Single.
There is a “where’s the beef?” Section where you can see some of the memorabilia from that particular campaign for Wendy’s a few years back.
The little museum is also filled with a variety of Wendy’s and Dave Thomas memorabilia. Many of them are fun to take some time and look at .
Finally, you can’t miss the great statue of Dave Thomas that welcomes visitors from the parking lot into the store. He holds the recognizable Wendy’s bag and a Frosty in the other hand.
Honestly, the little Dave Thomas/Wendy’s museum at this Dublin Wendy’s is well worth a visit. It is free (though you can also walk through with a Frosty and peruse all of the displays. Lots to see!
While in Dublin, I drove through the little downtown area of the town. I have been to Dublin before, but never to the downtown area which has some good old rustic buildings and historic places. They also have a corner with honorary street names for Jack Nicklaus and Johnny Miller.
It is the home of the Ohio native Jack Nicklaus designed Muirfield Village Golf Club which was dedicated in 1974. This is home to the prestigious Memorial Tournament, which recently named golf hall of famer Johnny Miller as its 2016 Honoree. The Tournament, founded and hosted by Jack Nicklaus, is conducted each year with three goals in mind: to honor the memory of individuals living and deceased who have distinguished themselves in the game of golf; to showcase the world’s best golfers competing on one of the most challenging venues in the world for the enjoyment of spectators; and to benefit many Greater Columbus Charities in alliance with the Nicklaus Children’s Healthcare Foundation, Nationwide Children’s Hospital and numerous other local organizations.
Another point of interest in Dublin which I did not visit on this trip but which I have been to on a couple of occasions is the unique and fun Cement Corn Cob park. I’ve written about this park in the past in the past but, I figured I would just include a shot about it here as well.
The “Field of Corn” is a publicly funded art installation in Dublin. The installation consists of 109 concrete ears of corn positioned in rows and standing upright in a grassy field. Sculpted by Malcolm Cochran, a professor of sculpting at Ohio State University, the park was named the Sam and Eulalia Frantz Park, and was originally farmed by Sam Frantz, an inventor of several hybrid corn species. This is not the only unique public art work in Dublin. This is one of a few towns that has worked to bring in a plethora of unique, cool and sometimes quirky works of outdoor art. Check out the Dublin Arts Council’s website.
Visiting Wilmington, Ohio
On our return home, after a nice visit to Cuyahoga Valley National Park, my wife and I stopped along the way for some dinner. Not certain as to where we should go, we decided on taking a little side trip into the small town of Wilmington, Ohio, which is about 5 miles east of Interstate 71 on US Highway 22 and also US Highway 68, almost exactly halfway between Columbus and Cincinnati. I did not know what to expect when I got there, but I was pleasantly surprised that this small college town had a couple of wonderful murals on the sides of the buildings. Something fun to add to my collection!!
One of the murals depicts a farmers market and covers a few of the little archways in one building. This was done by artist Jason Morgan from Yellow Springs, Ohio, just north of Xenia.
Another of the nice murals is the Community Garden Mural on E. Locust St. This too was painted by Jason Morgan, one of four that he has done in the city.
The last mural that we came across was the Heritage Harvesters Mural which is located on N. South St. This mural is huge and covers the entire side of a three-story building. It represents some of the history of the farmers in this put on the farmland-centric community.
I also enjoyed the downtown area. They have a wonderful old theater sign, which is shown below. The Murphy Theatre is historic and is apparently as nice inside as it appears on the outside. It was originally built in 1918 by Charles Murphy. It was a movie theater from 1929 to the mid-1980s, but is now used as a venue for concerts and community events.
The Mexican restaurant (the El Dorado Restaurant) that we ate at was so-so, but it did fill us up enough for the remainder of our trip home. And thus we were back on the road returning back to Lexington after a good time in northern Ohio. If you did not see my other posts, please give them a visit (the links are at the top of this post).