A Follow Up…

Given my last post was about the “repenter” of Times Square I thought I would follow it up with a quite different version.

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Looking back on the posts this week it is interesting to see how they are all linked by common threads. ¬†I definitely wasn’t disappointed by the crowds and revelry on Times Square that Saturday night. ūüôā

Eerie Place..

On my recent road trip I came across an eerie place. ¬†I try to avoid Interstate highways whenever possible so that means that I come across the “bones” of America so to speak. By that I mean towns and other places that have been left to the ravages of time. ¬†I will admit that sometimes I get depressed by taking this route across America. To see towns that are now not more than a couple of occupied houses surrounded by abandoned buildings. If I understand it right that is where most of Mr. Trump’s supporters come from. ¬†But that is a different story…

When I drove by the site just outside a small town in northern Illinois I took a double take. Up near the road was what appeared to be a hundred year old abandoned mansion. That is somewhat unusual for an area like that but what really got my attention is that it was surrounded by razor coiled wire. I hit the brakes and did a U-turn to investigate. It turns out that I had discovered the Dwight Illinois Correctional Center.

Here is what Wikipedia says about that:

Dwight Correctional Center¬†was an¬†Illinois Department of Corrections¬†maximum security prison¬†for adult females. It is located at 23813 E. 3200 North Road in¬†Nevada Township,¬†unincorporated¬†Livingston County,¬†Illinois, near¬†Dwight.¬†Prior to the 2011 abolition of the state death penalty, ¬†Dwight Correctional Center housed the State of Illinois female death row…

The prison was originally opened on November 24, 1930 as the Oakdale Reformatory for Women. It sits on 100 acres of land. The facility was closed at the end of March 2013.

In the last four years time is starting to take over that abandoned facility. Weeds are growing everywhere and tree limbs are scattered on the ground. Well that is enough of a description. Let’s get on to the pictures…

Click on any picture to see an enlarged slideshow view

Waterford VA

ISOA Banner¬† Waterford Virginia is perhaps the most iconic town I have been through. It is located in Loudoun County about 50 miles from DC. ¬†You won’t find any franchises or many other businesses for that matter. Nor will you find cars speeding by.

Here is a little about Waterford from Wikipedia:

After falling into disrepair in the early part of the 20th century, the Waterford Foundation was formed to help save and preserve Waterford and its history. In 1974, the Waterford Foundation helped create an innovative land preservation program in which the historic properties of Waterford are protected through open space and façade easements.

The town today is largely residential, although a number of businesses are based in the village. The Loudoun Mutual Insurance Company has been located in Waterford since 1849.

The village was listed as a Virginia Historic Landmark in 1969.¬†Waterford and a significant portion of its surrounding countryside was declared a¬†National Historic Landmark¬†in 1970.¬†¬†The designation was made in recognition of the town’s well-preserved 18th and 19th-century architecture and landscape.¬†Significant buildings include the mill (circa¬†1750), Arch House Row (circa¬†1750), Camelot School (circa¬†1800), the Hague-Hough house, which is Waterford’s oldest house (circa¬†1740), and the 1882 Presbyterian church.

I’m sure you can see from the pictures below it is almost like you were somehow sent back 200 years when you tour the town. ¬†I don’t remember exactly why we made the detour into the town during our history trip through Virginia six years ago. ¬†But I am glad we did.

Nauvoo IL – Mormon Settlement

ISOA Banner¬† ¬†Nauvoo Village was one of several settlements established and then all but abandoned by Mormons due to battles with their neighbors. ¬†The first was in Ohio, the second in Missouri, and then came Nauvoo in Illinois. This was the site that it’s founder Joseph Smith was killed and Brigham Young took over the leadership.

Mauvoo has recently been been called the “Williamsburg of the Midwest” and to some degree they deserve that title but in others they fall short. Many of the building have been restored to the 1840s but many are still in private hands. Unlike Williamsburg there are obvious places that the 21st century invades including cars parked throughout the village.

I think most, if not all the employees are of the Mormon faith so some don’t take criticisms lightly. ¬† All being said however, I found all the people in the village to be very friendly and more than willing to accommodate my deafness.

Before I close I want to get in my “having my say” mode and talk a little about religion and Mormons particularly. ¬†During the 1800 years or so between the beginning of Christianity and ¬†the settlement of Nauvoo there were thousands of different version of Christianity invented. Many happened after Luther started the Protestant Reformation. ¬†And of course there have been about 20,000 or more different version since that time. ¬† I kind of find it ironic that there was as much ambivalence toward Mormons that there has been. ¬†Why were they driven out of so many settlement locations before they finally reached Salt Lake City? Are they that threatening to other Christians?

I have become a “live and let live” believer in Jesus Christ. ¬†That is I just don’t believe that any of the 35,000 version of this religion have a lock on what to believe. They are all just one person’s view of religion starting with St. Paul who had never seen Jesus and spoke little of the lessons of Jesus during his lifelong ministry. One great thing about America it that we, at least figuratively, believe in freedom of religion. Believe what you want as long as you don’t try to force your beliefs on others.

Finally getting back to Nauvoo, this village is well worth it if you find yourself in the area.

Here are some pictures from my visit.  As usual click on any one to see a larger slideshow view.

 

 

Caterpillar Tractors..

ISOA Banner   Caterpillar Tractors and such are very much a part of my search of America.  So, when I was near Peoria Illinois recently I had to stop in at their museum at the headquarters building.  What I found amazed me.  I never realized the size of much of their equipment.

Peoria is a wonderful city to tour and this exhibit is one of the prime destinations. If you are ever in the area stop by the city and this museum.

Quincy Illinois – Villa Kathrine

ISOA Banner¬† I will admit up front here that I didn’t spend as much time in Quincy IL as I planned. There are about a thousand historical homes in this small town but I will only feature one of them in this post. ¬†Quincy is one of many towns along the mighty Mississippi River and of course that mean it is steeped in history.¬†Villa Kathrine, which is the subject of today is perhaps the most unusual one.

As the sign below states it was built around 1900 and is of a Moorish/Islamic style which is just not that popular in the USA, especially now ūüôā The layout and furniture didn’t make a lot of sense to me and the central space, which I guess is essential to Islamic homes, seemed like a big waste of space. ¬†But it did have some fantastic views of the Mississippi from several windows.

This Is In Indiana???

It is hard for many to believe that the pictures below and above were taken in Indiana. I don’t really know the history of why Indiana got the southern most tip of Lake Michigan within its boundries but it is one unique place.

I visited there years ago but these pics were from a recent uRV trip there this Spring.  From the info found at the site the prominent building in the pics used to be a very popular hotel. Notice all the car parked there in the 1930s.  It still a beautiful place worth the visit just to show you that Indiana is not all cornfields and Notre Dame football.

As usual click on any pic to see a larger slideshow view

Religion In America – Bishop Hill

This week’s Religion in America post will be about Bishop Hill in central Illinois. ¬†Like last week’s post it is about a group who escaped a State sanctioned Lutheran system of belief in the mid 1800s. This time it is from Sweden but pretty much mirrors that of Zoar Village story from Germany.

This group settled into a communal colony where everything was held in common. But unlike most religious colonies escaping to America. Bishop Hill was more intense/fundamental than the one that they escaped from and were often in bitter opposition to many other versions of Lutheranism in America.

Here is a little about what Wikipedia says of Bishop Hill’s founder:

The village was founded in 1846 by Swedish immigrants affiliated with the Pietist movement, led by Erik Jansson. Prior to founding the Bishop Hill Colony, Jansson preached to his followers in Sweden about what he considered to be the abominations of the Lutheran Church and emphasized the doctrine that the faithful were without sin.

This story is common to many religious groups established¬†in America. It was primarily founded around a strong and charismatic leader who chose a few particular verses in one version or another holy document¬†to concentrate on. ¬†But this same thing was also typical¬†of other world religions. Lutheranism, which was founded by Martin Luther who started the Protestant Reformation about 500 years ago¬†when he became fixated on “works” not being important to God and uttering words of faith being the primary purpose of religion. ¬†Some say this was due to an overwhelming inferiority complex by Luther. When he found the words from St. Paul (not Jesus) “you are saved by faith, not works” it became by far the most important aspect of his version of religion.

Getting back to the story at hand in 1854 when Jansson was assassinated by a former member and six years later the communal contract ended due to mismanagement.  There are some common historic buildings left at the site but most of the dwellings in the village are now privately owned.

Religion In America – Zoar Village Ohio

ISOA Banner    I will start off this series of religion in America with the latest place I visited and that is Zoar Village in central Ohio.  I visited here last summer on one of my frequent micro-RV trips.  As is common in many historical religious settlements it is on the National Register of Historic Places.

2017-05-21_09-41-38.pngMost of the info for this post was obtained from the book shown to the right which contains hundreds of pictures of the village throughout its history.  The book was purchased at the village but is also available from Amazon.

Zoar village was settled by Lutheran separatists escaping persecution in Germany in the early 1800s. In Germany at that time the state and church were one and the same. It ran the schools and most civic ceremonies. A group of “Zoarites” or “Separatists” as they were called refused to attend the mandated church, or to send their kids to church run schools and because of their non-violence beliefs refused to serve in the army. As a result many were flogged, imprisoned, had their children and land stripped from them and turned over to the state.

With the help of English Quakers they emigrated to America. ¬†The American Quakers also¬†helped them initially settle near Philadelphia. ¬†But Joseph Bimeler, who became their leader during their three month journey to America had no patience for the well-meaning Quakers and found land in “far-off” Ohio for his group to settle and thus the village of Zoar Ohio was formed.

Separatists had an abiding faith in the Bible and thought that each person should have a “direct” relationship with God. ¬†They also believed in the imminent return of Christ so each individual had to purge himself or herself of evil and become a living example of virtue. ¬†In rebellion to the church they left their worship services were stripped of all ceremony. ¬†Because of the imminent return they also believed in celibacy which demanded that households be divided by sex. That practice ended after about ten years.

By about 1850 the population of Zoar had reached about 500 and land values of the town exceeded $1 million.  However a year later Bimeler died and no one was able to successfully take his place,  and as a result that started years of decline of the town. In March of 1898 to society of Zoar formally decided to disband and everything was basically sold at auction soon thereafter. The remaining 200 or so members were given $200 and a piece of real estate.

As we will learn in future posts on this subject the final fate of the village was similar to many other religious settlements. Today the village of Zoar is struggling to find the resources to maintain the town.  It has lost much of its attraction as a tourist site which kept it going for some time.

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Rendevuous..

5star-bannerOne of my most recent 5Star memory is the rendezvous reenactments  I managed to get to last year.  The pictures below are from the one in Vincennes Indiana. It was an amazing experience.

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Pennsylvania State Museum

In 2014 we went to the State Museum of Pennsylvania on our way back from NYC. It was one of the best of all the state museums we have been in.  It celebrates all aspects of its history.  Here is a small gallery of the art from that visit.

As usual click on any picture to see a larger slideshow view

Vincennes Rendezvous

I have been remiss to put out a gallery post of my visit to the Spirit of Vincennes Rendezvous this past May. Since I am a Hoosier I know I am supposed to see George Rogers Clark as a hero but I just can’t get over his brutal slaughter of so many Native Americans in to clear out the¬†State for others to take over. ¬†He, like Andrew Jackson, are just not heroes of mine. ¬† But that doesn’t take away from the historical significance of the rendezvous.

As usual click on any picture to see a larger slideshow view

Bent’s Old Fort…

5star-banner¬†¬†On this 5Star Wednesday I want to celebrate Bent’s old Fort in southern Colorado. It is one of those mystical places where I almost feel the people that were there a hundred ¬†and fifty years ago. ¬†One of the things that make it special is that it was not a military fort but a commercial trading post.

They say it was the source of the TV mini-series “Centennial”that I much admired years ago. 5Star Wednesdays is about one picture or one thought so I will leave you here with my favorite picture of the place.

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Pleasant Hill — Revisited (again_

Just outside of Lexington Kentucky is my favorite historical village called “Pleasant Hill Shaker Village”.¬† I simply can’t get enough of that place. Whenever I start feeling tension for whatever reason I think of escaping there for a few days. I think I have been there about a half a dozen times now but have really lost count. Staying in the actual rooms where Shakers lived is a fantastic feeling. I almost sense their presence there.

Shaker Hill brings out my creative juices. I have probably taken 500 pictures there but every time I go I find another undiscovered place that inspires me.  The last time I was there was in 2011 and took these pictures. I will have to go again some time soon.

Click on any of the pictures above to see a larger slideshow view…

 

Bent’s Old Fort…

RJC - Best of the best BannerThis is another post in the “best of the best” category. This time it is about my favorite western fort. ¬†Bent’s Old Fort was a commercial fort not a military one. For those of you who are old enough to remember the TV mini-series Centennial this fort was the foundation of the early parts of that series. ¬†They have done a fabulous job of recreating what was probably there originally. I can almost feel the presence of those past trappers and native Americans to traded there.

Bent’s old fort is located near La Junta Colorado which is quite a distance from any interstate highway so it probably doesn’t get the visitors that it really deserves. ¬†But if you want to understand the early years of the west you should visit there. I have been there twice and plan on going again in the not too distant future.