Elwood Indiana Glass Festival

OnTheRoad.png This past weekend I traveled to Elwood Indiana for a visit to the Elwood Glass Festival. While there were some bright points to the trip it was generally disappointing in that the “Glass” part of the festival has been for the most part forgotten.  In 1886 the Ball brothers were looking to build a factory for their Mason Jars and they chose Indiana. Most of you rural folks like me who can some of their garden produce use Mason jars which were originally produced in or near Elwood/Muncie. The Ball Corporation was a big deal to Elwood and the surrounding area for until the 1990s when it moved it headquarters to Colorado and sold off what little remained of its glass canning business. Here is a little about its hay days from Wikipedia:

Despite the economic panic of 1893, the company was able to produce 22 million fruit jars for the year beginning in September 1894, and 37 million jars by 1897. …

The company’s F. C. Ball machine, patented in 1898, introduced mass production into its glass-blowing process and gave it a competitive market advantage. By 1905 the company was producing 60 million canning jars per year and had acquired other glass manufacturers, expanding its operations to include seven factories in addition to its main facilities at Muncie

Now back to my recent visit. The only glass related events at the festival were a couple of small glass blowing shops that were open for viewing. I did buy a couple of glass paperweights from them. There is little left of any evidence of its Ball history.  The festival itself was pretty typical of most around today. It was made up of vendors mostly selling trinkets and such. Of course it did have a midway and the usual food vendors but nothing really to do with glass.

In some ways Elwood continues to be associated with canning in that the Red Gold Tomatoes are produced there. That is a privately owned family business that was started in 1913 which was during the Ball Corporation apex. I may be prejudice but I think their tomatoes are the best around.

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It ended up that my highlight of the weekend was the Vintage Rollers Car Club’s annual event.  Here are some pictures of that gathering. Being a “car guy” it was a natural for me.

Click on any picture to see a larger slideshow

 

Paperweights..

ISOA BannerI know the topic of paperweights sounds very boring.  A paperweight can be a rock or just about anything with enough weight to hold down a stack of paper. But when you see some of the glass paperweights from around the world  you have no idea of how beautiful they can be. That is what this post is going to try and do.

The Bergstrom-Mahler Museum of Glass in Neenah Wisconsin has one of the largest collections of paperweights in the world. Most people don’t realize that glass blown paperweights have been around for a thousand years or more. It is an art form with incredible beauty.

Here is a collection of pictures I took during a recent visit to Neenah.

As usual click on any image to bring up a larger 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.

St. Lawrence Fisherman.

In my 20,000 photo database I have about 250 five-star pictures and the one above is in my top ten list.  Going beyond that level is difficult as they, like your children, are all special in one regard or another.  This particular photo has a unique story to go with it.

It was taken during our 2011 trip through eastern Canada. We started this three week venture east of Detroit MI in Windsor and ended up in Nova Scotia.  The first thing I want to mention is that Canada is much different than the US. There is practically no such thing as fast food places, especially outside the major metropolitan areas. About the only places to stay the night in the hinterland is in family owned places and they vary GREATLY from one to another.

Now, getting on to the picture. It was taken along the St. Lawrence Seaway south of Montreal. I don’t remember the exact location, my camera didn’t have GPS in those days. Since motels were far and few between we decided to stop in late afternoon. There was a small sign along the road with the motel’s name. It was basically a small house and what appeared to be a pretty long chicken coop.  The husband and wife owners at the small house office were friendly. We discovered that the “chicken coop” was basically about a dozen small rooms  for nightly rent.  The owner first told us not to drink the water.  He also said the shower was kind of intermittent depending on if someone else was using theirs at the same time. Since we were only going to stay that one night  and we didn’t know what was down the road we got a room.

The room was about ten foot square with a double bed, a nightstand and a chair.  After checking in we spent a couple of hours sitting along the river and eating the snacks we had on hand for supper.  As dusk was approaching we went to our room and discovered only one of the lightbulbs in the place worked and that the bed was basically a thin worn out mattress on some pretty hard bedsprings.  I settled in for what I thought was the night.  It ended up that I just couldn’t sleep with springs poking me in the back  so I spent a good deal of the night in the chair.

At the first glimmer of light I decided to watch the sunrise over the St. Lawrence and maybe get a good picture.  As it became lighter I discovered that I was not the only one who was up early. There was a fisherman with a very long pole sitting on a bucket about fifty yards away.  I very discretely took his picture and what you see here is the result.  I don’t know if he caught anything that morning but I know he never moved for the hour or so I was there….

Eventually my wife woke up, I don’t see how she managed to sleep through the night? We were on the road about an hour after sunrise but never to forgot our experience that night.

 

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 🙂 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.

RV Museum..

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My uRV
My uRV.. I’m kind of proud of how it turned out.

On my most recent uRV trip I visited the RV Museum in Elkhart Indiana.  Being that I have spent the last three years converting my twenty-five year old pickup truck with a six foot cap into a rat-rod micro-RV I wanted to learn a little more about the beginnings of that idea.

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Mine is kind of similar…

John Steinbeck, who as one of my favorite authors when I was growing, up wrote a book entitled “Travels with Charley” about when he custom built a pickup truck into an RV he named Rocinante (Don Quixote’s horse) and traveled around the country with it. I have read that book at least a dozen times now and it was the inspiration for me making my own version of vehicle and doing the same thing, sort of…

Anyway, the RV Museum was an interesting visit. There were many historic vehicles on display. Most seemed to be from California. I don’t really know why northwest Indiana became the RV-manufacturing capital, that is a story I will have to study up on that.

Here are some pictures from that visit.

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

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.

Click on any pic below to see a larger slideshow view..

 

South Dakota… Gallery

ISOA Banner   Let’s celebrate South Dakota in this post.  I don’t know why there is a  North and South Dakota, even together they make a very small State population wise. I’m sure it had something to do with politics.  Yankton is one of my favorite small towns but I have also included a couple of others in this gallery.