Luray Caverns in Virginia

Luray Caverns in Virginia
Luray Caverns in Virginia

Monday, October 28, 2013

Shawneetown Bank- Old Shawneetown, Illinois

Alright Illinois, I have posted several times about how much respect I am developing for you as a state.  I have mentioned that here several times.

HOWEVER, there are some very cool historic sites within your boundaries not open to the public!  Whats up with that!

Check out the Shawneetown Bank, in Old Shawneetown.  Beautiful.  Look at it!  AND, it is in a cool area.

BUT, you can't go inside!  I mean, I am glad they haven't knocked the place down, but it would be nice to get a tour at some point.....

I would love to tour this place, along with the Crenshaw House nearby.



http://www.illinoishistory.gov/hs/shawneetown_bank.htm

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shawneetown_Bank_State_Historic_Site


Saturday, October 26, 2013

Roger Conant Statue and Second Church, Salem, MA

If you have been through Salem, you know this location!  The church is now a significant museum!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Trail of Tears Park, Hopkinsville, KY

I was in Hopkinsville recently and drove by the Trail of Tears Park Unit.

I don't get to that area as much as I would like to and I REALLY wanted to visit this particular site.  However, with the government shutdown, I felt pretty certain that this place would be unstaffed, since it is part of the National Park Service.

I was wrong.  When we arrived the museum was open and no barriers were up to prevent us from going in!  The proud person running the museum told us that she was a volunteer, so she was not affected by the government shutdown.

Think about that for a while.  While our government fought it out, and then shut down, the VOLUNTEER at this site still came in to open up ON SCHEDULE.  Some people believe in what they do too much not to show up.


Though the museum here is small, we still spent a couple of hours here.  The staff was amazing, telling us stories about the Trail of Tears and its hardships, and about the people.

This is easily one of my favorite park sites I have visited.  The heritage center here has a nice collection.  It is in an attractive area.  The staff cares about the park and its mission.

Oh, and they do host a Pow Wow in September!  Go to their web site for more details!

http://www.trailoftears.org/




Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Natchitoches Louisiana

I did want to take a brief moment to mention our stop in Natchitoches Louisiana.

This is a great little town that is just sweet.  Lots of historic stuff to do in and around the area.  We toured one of the plantations now ran by the National Park service.  They filmed a John Wayne movie there!

Also the movie "Man in the Moon" with Reese Witherspoon, was filmed near by.  The area's other theatrical claim to fame involves "Steel Magnolias."


We talked to some very sweet people at the visitor center who gave us directions and more info on other sites.

There is a great Main Street area with a ton of great little shops and restaurants.

Anyway, Natchitoches is a great midway stop between several other larger towns.  Check it out next time you are on the road in Louisiana!


Monday, October 21, 2013

Hostelbookers

If you enjoy learning the main points to a state before you travel to it, check out this site-

http://www.hostelbookers.com/united-sharing-adventure/

I LOVE this map of the US and how you can click on it for an overview of what that state has to offer.  AND, I contributed some to it- click on Kentucky!

I REALLY like the simplicity of this.  The next time I go to visit another state, I will start here first for the basics.

Franklin County Jail, Benton Illinois

http://www.historicjail.com/

I am amazed at how many weird and strange historic sites there are these days that have become pricey tourist attractions because of their link to something supernatural.

Don't get me wrong, I will stop and buy a ticket to tour any odd jail or asylum on a road trip every time I can, but there are a TON of great locations out there with similar dark and mysterious pasts that you can visit for a few bucks!


For example......

I think we paid $3 each to visit the Franklin County Jail in Benton, Illinois.

This is a great place to visit if you are interested in unique small town history.  It is also a great place to add to your "Ghoulish Places to Visit at Halloween" list.

First off, this is a great old jail that has been converted into a local museum.  You can still walk through the old jail area!  Check out the pealing paint, and the dated graffiti on the walls (see photos).  Plus, there is no tour guide leading you through the area, so you can pretty much leisurely walk around and take it all in as long as you want!  For such a cool old site, they are very comfortable with letting people explore unbothered.

They have many strange relics on display, including a replica gallows standing where the actual hanging of Charlie Birger occurred.  AND, the museum has just acquired the ORIGINAL wood that made up the actual gallows used in the hanging!

In the gift shop area, postcards are sold showing the last moments of Charlie's life!

The museum covers a lot of local history too (not just the dark stuff).  Of interest to classic rock fans like myself is a display on George Harrison, who visited this town on a visit BEFORE the rest of his band mates in the Beatles came to the US!  Items from his visit to the local radio station are preserved here, along with articles relating to the house where he stayed at the time.  If you are a Beatles fan, it is easily worth the price of admission to see the George stuff!

Benton is a cool town in general too.  This entire Southern Illinois area is really growing on me.







Sunday, October 20, 2013

Bill Clinton Birthplace Home National Historic Site- Hope Arkansas

We stopped at the Bill Clinton Birthplace Home in Hope Arkansas on our last road trip!

There is something very special about the fact that this place is so well preserved, and the fact that the National Park manages the site!

AND, it is rare that a site associated with a living person gets this kind of treatment.  After visiting sites associated with Lewis and Clark, Lincoln, and others, this one seems a bit modern.

For the low price of FREE, you can have a guided tour and actually walk through the first home that President Bill Clinton knew!

Our guide Mr. Charles actually met President Clinton when he stopped by to dedicate the place!  He said our former president was very nice!  Mr. Charles answered every question and even gave us specific directions to visit the OTHER home in town where Clinton lived.

The second home was was nice, it had a marker, and other relevant displays on the outside.





Friday, October 18, 2013

Tabasco Factory- Avery Island, Louisiana

After leaving New Orleans, we drove a bit out of our way to visit the Tabasco Factory on Avery Island.

I have to say that I am a huge fan of Tabasco.  I have bought other hot sauces before, but there is no reason to.  Tabasco has the perfect amount of heat and flavor.

We got to Avery Island about 10 minutes until 9 to visit the factory, as the place opened at 9.  There is an entry area for the island, and we were told that we needed to wait until 9 to actually go in to Avery Island.  Its a dollar to go to Avery Island.

After waiting we went back and were permitted to enter.  It is a bit of an awkward process to be honest.

The factory tour was actually pretty brief and simple.  Compared to some of the other factory tours we have done this one was a bit basic.  But thats OK, we had fun!


Still, if you are expecting an over the top, 90 minute tour (I am thinking about some of the extensive bourbon tours we take here in Kentucky) you will be disappointed.

You go in and watch a couple of short films about the company, what products they make, how the peppers are picked, etc.  You are able to look in to the bottling process at the factory, and that is pretty cool.  There are a couple of small museum display type rooms.  They do give you some small sample bottles of Tabasco sauce.

The entire thing takes maybe half an hour.  But you can walk around the place and explore the gift shop.  We probably spent an hour in the gift shop!

You can also sample all of the various sauces and other products they make!  There is Tabasco cola and ice cream!



Tuesday, October 15, 2013

NPR Alcatraz article

http://www.npr.org/2013/10/14/231536397/a-night-at-the-rock-former-alcatraz-inmate-journeys-back

Check out the link above!  Its to a great NPR article about a former Alcatraz inmate going back to the island to spend the night!

I like the way the article is written, and I especially appreciate Mr. Baker's feelings of owning a little bit of it at the end.  I understand that kind of connecting to a place.....

Monday, October 14, 2013

Canal Street at Night, New Orleans, LA

Canal Street, so named because in olden days a big drainage canal ran down its center, recently rebuilt at a cost of $3,500,000 is 170 feet wide, one of the widest central business thoroughfares in the world has sidewalks of terazzo marble and neutral grounds.  It marks the upper limits of the old city.

The above was noted on the back of this postcard, sent in 1939.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Entrance and Main Building- Transylvania University, Lexington KY

The entrance to Transy......  Kevin Steele ALWAYS mentions this location on his ghost tour in downtown.  Something is under the stairs!

Saturday, October 12, 2013

The Cottage, Baton Rouge, LA

"The Cottage" was built in 1824 by the great-great grandfather of the present occupants.  Adjoining the 20 room house is the 1000 acre plantation.  The house, with many original furnishings, is now open to the public.  To reach house, go south from Baton Rouge to Louisiana State University.  Take road from stadium to Mississippi River levee, turn left and follow levee 4 1/2 miles.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Road Trip to New Orleans... Part 3

I kind of felt like there was a little more to say about our road trip.  I love hitting the road, and just going.  I enjoy getting in a car, plugging in the Ipod, and driving somewhere new.....

Ofter, we will plan some stops, over night stays, and then move on to the next place.

There was a lot of time in the car on this trip.

I prepared some play lists for our adventure.  One of my all time favorite bands is Cowboy Mouth, FROM New Orleans.  I had a lot of their songs on my play list for our trip south.  Also from the state is Lucinda Williams.  Her song "Lake Charles" is one of the best, and saddest songs I can think of.  There is something special about listening to music associated with an area while you are there.

Also, I was able to pick up some Zydeco stations as we moved along the roads.  I am now hooked on Rosie Ledet!

Oddly, some unexpected stops on this trip became surprise highlights.  Birmingham Alabama and Hope Arkansas were both a lot nicer than we expected.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Unloading Bananas, From Ship Side New Orleans


Noted on the back of this postcard-

"New Orleans is the worlds greatest banana port, more than 700 ships arrive each year loaded with 25,000 to 50,000 bunches of bananas.  Each individual bunch is carried from the hold of the ship to the door of the refrigerator car on mechanical conveyors."

Monday, October 7, 2013

Kevin Steele's Lexington Ghost Walk

Kevin Steele is doing his Lexington Ghost Walk AGAIN this year!!!!

Here is the info, straight from Kevin.....

13th ANNUAL LEXINGTON GHOST WALK & CREEPY CRAWL
Guide Kevin Steele in his black cape, top hat, and lantern leads about a 90 minute one mile walk through historic downtown.  He tells legendary tales of Lexington's Creepy History, Haunts, Duels, and Disasters. Appropriate for all ages.  No reservations needed.  Just show up before tour time on the sidewalk at 325 W. Main St. outside Sawyer's Grille near the corner of Broadway and Main St (next to Starbucks.)    $10 adults, $5 for 12 & under.  Cash only.  No photographs, recordings, or pets.
 
8 p.m. ONLY: October 4, 5, 10, 11, 12, 17, 18, 24, 28, 29, 30, 31
7 p.m. ONLY: October 20, 27.
7 p.m. & 9 p.m. October 19, 25, 26.
 
 
 

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Mardi Gras Parade Float, New Orleans, LA

The other side of this New Orleans postcard says-

Shortly after one Mardi Gras season is ended, plans are made for the next.  On wheeled flat cars, about 20 feet long and eight feet wide, the artificers build the new paper-mache creations.  The floats are never used again in New Orleans.  Each new Mardi Gras brings new parade themes, new float creations.

Friday, October 4, 2013

American Horror Story- New Orleans!

While in New Orleans, I snapped a few quick photos at the house where our tour guide told us they were filming for season 3 of American Horror Story!

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Rosemary Ellen Guiley- "Haunted Salem" and "Monsters of West Virginia"

Its that time of the year when I start talking about weird books!

If you have read this blog for some time (thanks Mom!) you know that I love places with some history to them- especially if that history is somewhat mysterious.  You also know that I love Salem and I have made several pilgrimages to the area.

I ended up ordering a couple of books from Rosemary Ellen Guiley after I heard that "Haunted Salem" was just a good book to have around.

I can safely say that this book has become my favorite on modern Salem.  It is a short and easy to read book but it is still very thorough.  This would be the perfect book for someone to read who will be going to visit Salem for the first time, or for someone just wanting to get a better understanding of Salem.

Guiley gives a brief telling of the events surrounding the witch trials in the first part of the book and then she goes over the curses relating to the trials and executions.

After that, Guiley discusses the many locations considered haunted or of historical interest in Salem, including sites associated with the main characters you have read about from the 1690s.  I was glad to see her section on Gallows Hill, an area that is conspicuously missing from some books on Salem.

I also picked up her book on West Virginia- "Monsters of West Virginia."

I find myself spending more and more time in that state.  With the up and down terrain, the state does have a very hidden and mysterious feel in general to it.  PLUS, the state has some of the best cryptid legends anywhere.

Rosemary does a great job covering the stories of the Braxton County Monster, Mothman, and the others. 

Again, this book's chapter on Mothman offers a thorough and easy to understand telling of the facts.  If you have heard about the creature but don't know much, this would be the perfect starting point.

By the way, if you are interested in weird phenomenon, or just weird stories, you HAVE to read "The Mothman Prophecies".  Even if you don't believe that John Keel is telling the truth, you can appreciate the story.  Oh, and this is definitely a case of the book being better than the film.  Don't bother with the movie.

I was able to stop and say hello to Rosemary at the Mothman Festival this year!  She is there every year, and it is great seeing her and other authors of similar books in one place!

http://www.visionaryliving.com/

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Lyle Blackburn "The Beast of Boggy Creek"

After our visit to Fouke Arkansas recently (see my previous post on that great town and their super cool local shop, Monster-Mart), I was super thrilled to hear that Lyle Blackurn would be at the Mothman Festival!  Lyle has authored the definitive book on the Fouke Monster, "The Beast of Boggy Creek".

I read his book after our visit to Fouke, and I really enjoyed it!  It is one of the best books out there about something unexplained.

If you are unfamiliar with the Fouke Monster, it is a bigfoot type creature that has been spotted around Fouke Arkansas for decades.  In 1972 the unverified animal was immortalized in the film, "The legend of Boggy Creek".

Mr. Blackburn goes into detail about all of the sightings before and after the film, and he talks at length about the film, how it was made, and its sequels.  He discusses and interviews pretty much all of the living people associated with the creature and with the film based on it.

The whole Boggy Creek/Fouke Monster story is so interesting because you have a film based on a legend surrounding a small town, and the film, the legend, and the town develop a bit of a love/hate relationship with each other.

One local resident helped with the film a lot at first, and later he hates the fact that he did.  Other locals also helped with the movie, and later wished they had not, as tourists came in and invaded their privacy.

One thing that Blackburn notes is how the movie does follow actual sighting reports pretty accurately, in general.  When I watched the film, I figured it was very roughly based on the monster, but Charles B. Pierce did a great job of reproducing documented sightings.  Actual witnesses and locations were used when available.  Lyle Blackburn includes a chart in the book comparing each movie scene to the individual report!

Blackburn discusses a lot of detail about the film and the very unsuccessful sequels.  I enjoyed learning about how much director Charles B. Pierce contributed to the movie, including the soundtrack!

Another area covered by Blackburn that was very fascinating involves the story of a skeleton!  The remains of an animal, minus the skull, were discovered and eventually end up in the hands of Smokey Crabtree.  He allows some to see the skeleton.  The author does a great job of tracing where the remains came from.

Anyway, Lyle Blackburn's "The Beast of Boggy Creek" is just a fun read about one of the few mysteries left in the world.  He notes in the book that he leaves out some first hand reports that he found questionable, and only considered credible reports for inclusion in his book.

Talking to him at the Mothman Festival, Lyle seemed like a thoughtful and reasonable fellow himself.  I look forward to more books from him in the future!  It looks like ANOTHER book will be coming out from him around Halloween!

http://www.lyleblackburn.com/