Niagara Falls

Niagara Falls
Canada's Hornblower cruise ship, taking tourists to see Niagara Falls!

Saturday, October 22, 2016

"The Widow of the South" by Robert Hicks

Remember several months ago, when I talked about our trip to the Franklin Tennessee area to visit several Civil War sites?  Well, one of them was Carnton Plantation and I noticed that there was a book written about the place!

Robert Hicks has written a really cool book of historic fiction based on Carnton and what happened there during the Civil War.

I do have one issue with historic fiction, and I generally try to avoid it, because I don't want to get confused on the facts!

This is FICTION, and the writer takes his liberties.  BUT, I think the spirit of people in Franklin at that time is accurately guessed and conveyed.

For example, the main character, Carrie McGavock, who has lost 3 children already before the Confederates declare her home to be a hospital, comes off as suffering from some serious mental health issues.  I don't know if the real life Carrie McGavock would have behaved the way the fictional one does, but I would understand it if she did. 

Robert Hicks is doing a lot of guess work on the characters, but I think he does a great job of his guesses.  The characters are believable.  AND, as he switched voices (different parts of the book are from different character's points of view) they seem right.  The language....  the way of talking and thinking, feels accurate for the 1860s.  Some writers are great at getting their character's voices right, and I think Robert Hicks really has that talent.  That is something that I admire in an author.

And speaking of giving character's a voice that feels accurate....the author has Civil War legend Nathan Bedford Forest show up a couple of times.  Love him or hate him (there are no in-betweens with Forrest) he adds something to any story.  I have to say I felt that Hicks did a good job with estimating how Forrest would talk and act.

So, author Robert Hicks takes a very simple event that we know happened in history- Carrie McGavock selflessly helps out at the Confederate Hospital/Her Home, and then continues her service to the Confederate dead by setting up and maintaining a cemetery for those killed in the battle of Franklin.  He takes this giving character and creates a story for her.

This was a really interesting novel that held my attention.  It was especially interesting reading it after visiting the actual Carnton Plantation AND the cemetery on the property once cared for by Carrie.

Robert Hicks hit it out of the park with this effort.  "The Widow of the South" gets my highest possible recommendation.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Random Thoughts On Friday

I wanted to mention a couple of things while I am thinking about them......

I am still sorting through photos from our road trip to Niagara Falls, but I am coming to an end on that.  I wanted to take a break though, and put some seasonal type posts up.  Mostly I have read some books that are good reading for autumn, and I wanted to give them a mention.

Also wanted to mention that I have caught a couple of episodes of the new TV show Timeless.  Anybody else watching that?  I really like what they are doing.  Sure, some nitpickers might find issue with some of the laws of time travel they are using, but it is still a fun show.  I REALLY enjoyed the whole Lincoln episode a lot.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Skyline, New Orleans, LA

 Sent from New Orleans in 1948 to Orleans Indiana.

"New Orleans covers 200 square miles; is the fourth largest US City in the area; greatest wholesale and financial center of the south.  Here is the hum and throb of industry, natural scenic beauty, the antique and picturesque contrast of old and new civilization."

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

"The Hartford Circus Fire" by Michael Skidgell

One of my favorite folk duos, John and Mary released a very sad song called "July 6th" back in 1991.  That was the first time I had ever heard about the Hartford Circus Fire (which happened on July 6th, 1944).

I was curious again about the fire, and found that author Michael Skidgell put out a book about it called, "The Hartford Circus Fire: Tragedy Under the Big Top".

This is a very non-traditional book in a lot of ways.  Skidgell gives a lot of time to the fire, and discussing how people got trapped (168 circus goers died that day).  Obviously things happened fast and the fire spread quickly.

Then the author spends a lot of time giving a bio of the victims.  Though sad, I appreciated the generous amount of the book that is devoted to those who died at the fire, and their stories.  It was nice that photos were included showing many smiling, and enjoying themselves at an earlier point in their lives.

The last section covers the aftermath of the fire.

"The Hartford Circus Fire" feels more like a nice little tribute to those who died in the fire than a usual book on a topic.  I did appreciate this one a lot!

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Clifton Hill Niagara Falls Canada

There are several great natural and historic places that develop.... well, a Clifton Hill.  You know, rows of fudge shops, rides, restaurants, museums, mini golf, a Hard Rock CafĂ©, etc. etc. pop up near that amazing place.

In general, I am very OK with this.  You can go to Niagara Falls and not even bother with Clifton Hill.  You can visit the Smoky Mountains, and deal with the actual park, while avoiding the lights and shows of Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge if you want.

Some places, you can't avoid the "other attractions".  We visited the Alamo in San Antonio Texas earlier this year and there is no way to avoid all that has popped up around the remnants of the legendary Fort.  A mall, hotels, a Ripley's and infinite shops are all within view of the Alamo.  You would have a hard time standing in front of the Alamo and imagining the landscape of the battle.

To be honest, I think a lot of people LIKE having so much to do near a park.  You can enjoy the natural beauty of a place during the day, and see a show or visit the shops in the evening.  For a family with young kids, this might be a good way to introduce them to parks, nature, and history, while still holding their interest with promises of a festive carnival experience too.

There are some areas that have been resistant to allowing an excessive amount of over the top businesses take over a historic site.

Some towns that have benefited from Civil War tourism in particular have even worked hard to reclaim and restore land in an effort to see the battlefields look like they did at the time of the battles.  Franklin Tennessee and Gettysburg Pennsylvania both come to mind when I think of areas making an effort to get back to what they once were.  With the help of the Civil War Trust (a charity of which I am personally very fond) pieces of battlefields have been purchased from private owners, and donated back to the parks.  Hotels, and fast food buildings have been removed.

Could something like this ever happen to Niagara Falls, or the Smoky Mountains?  I don't think so.  AND, there is something historic and attractive about some of that too.  I remember my dad asking me, after our first trip to Gatlinburg, if we saw the lights and shows.  He told me that when he was younger and passed through the town, he thought a huge carnival had come through.  He asked a local about it, and they told him that it was always there.

I think Clifton Hill and Gatlinburg are part of the experiences that go along with their respective parks.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Niagara Daredevil Exhibit at Niagara Falls, Ontario

While at Niagara Falls, I wanted to swing by and see some of the barrels/contraptions/boxes that have been used to go over the Falls.  Well, they are on display at the Niagara Daredevil Exhibit!

I THINK some were replicas, but many were the real deal.  Plus, there is a nice write up on each adventurer who has gone over.  Some have been successful, some not.

You do have a much better chance of surviving going over the Canadian Falls than the American Falls.  Still, the numbers are small.  Pretty much no one has ever survived going over the American Falls.  Only a couple dozen or so people have ever gone over the Canadian side and survived.

According to Wikipedia, about 5,000 bodies have been found at the foot of the Falls between 1850 and 2011.  About 40 people are killed each year by being swept over.  Wikipedia also notes an estimated 20-30 suicides there each year, most of which are not officially publicized.  Those are some crazy and sad numbers.

A couple of books on the subject are written by T. W. Kriner and cover the whole subject in detail.  I mentioned them here previously.

The Niagara Daredevils Exhibit really covers all of the main barrel jumpers at the Falls.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Niagara Falls Canada

Here are a few random photos we took from the Canadian side of Niagara Falls.

One of my favorite stories/things to see at the Falls involves the scow.  I have mentioned it before, but I am surprised at how many visitors to the Falls never take notice of the barge that just sets right above the Horseshoe Falls.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Skylon at Niagara Falls Ontario

We have enjoyed visiting tall towers in various cities (in Texas and in Tennessee).  So, going to the top of the Skylon Tower in Niagara Falls was a must!

Here are some photos I took.  The Falls and the area are so photogenic- it is very easy to take great photos from this point!  There was a guy doing some work right outside of the observation deck area.  That was interesting.

Friday, October 14, 2016

Niagara Falls Incline Railway in Ontario Canada

There is a short, slow moving incline railway at Niagara Falls.  It does help connect a couple of areas, but I think most people ride it just to ride it.  That's what we did.

The first incline railway went in in 1845!  The only one in the area now is this one, built in 2013 to replace one that had been there since 1966.

Here are a few photos.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

American and Canadian Falls From Oakes Garden Theatre, Niagara Falls, Canada

This postcard is undated and unused.  I am sure it is at least half a century old.  Oddly, a lot of the scenery here still looks similar.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Niagara Falls From Michigan Central Train

This is a unique, dated view of the Falls, and I LOVE the train in the picture!

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Oakes Gardens Niagara Falls Postcard

"View showing part of Oakes Gardens at Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada.  American Falls in background."

Monday, October 10, 2016

American Falls of Niagara in Winter

Another great old postcard showing Niagara Falls covered in ice.

Sunday, October 9, 2016

General View by Illumination, Niagara Falls

"Niagara Falls- a sight unequalled in its splendor.  This is one of the wonders of the world, a real triumph of Mother Nature."

This is another postcard with great.... though exaggerated colors.

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Niagara Falls by Illumination

"Exceeds Sun's Brilliance.  When the new floodlights are marching across the Falls, and resting on either or both of the American and Canadian faces of them, or playing in the mist of spray above them, they are described by beholders as more beautiful than ever the Spray and the Sun combined could make them in the past, or than ever the Moon and the mist could make them.  The effect is described as one suggesting that both the Sun and the Aurora Borealis have combined to do their utmost in the creation of a new spectacle."

I love these old postcards- with vibrant pictures and descriptions.

Friday, October 7, 2016

View From My Room, Niagara Falls Ontario

Just for fun, here are a few photos I took  from my hotel room in Niagara Falls Ontario.  A couple show the fireworks show over the Falls!  It was a cool show, though a bit short.

It was fun seeing the area at this angle.  We did notice that there are some (mostly shabby) houses sandwiched in between various tourist attractions.  I am not sure of the value of those properties, but it was a bit surprising to see these homes taking up space here. 

Thursday, October 6, 2016

General View of Niagara Falls

"Shows the two Falls, Niagara Gorge and the Islands in the Niagara River that separates the flow of the waters causing the formation of two falls."

This is a nice undated postcard, I am guessing from the 1960s.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Arial View of Niagara Falls

This postcard was sent in 1961.