September 23, 2012 – West Memphis, Arkansas

After two thoroughly enjoyable days in Nashville, we started west again, this time along I-40, headed toward Memphis.  Unlike many other Interstates, it runs through mostly rural areas and is lined with trees, many overgrown with invasive vines,


occasionally crossing rivers and small lakes.


and, the further west we traveled, fields of cotton.


As we crossed the

we were surprised at how little water seemed to be flowing despite having seen and heard news reports on the slowing or suspension of barge traffic on the river due to the drought in the central part of the country.

Once across the river and into


we had just a short drive to our campground which sits along the banks of the Mississippi.  There we saw some “unusual” RVs.

A very old bus-to-motorhome conversion

An ancient motorhome

The first Airstream motorhome we’ve seen (as the company is known for its trailers and manufactures very few motorhomes)

The park offices were on easily movable mobile trailers and its electrical transformers and WiFi hotspots were located on tall posts … all to ensure they will be out of harm’s way when the inevitable next flooding occurs


Meanwhile, an early, daytime moonrise appeared in the cloudless sky.


During a walk along a trail through and around the campground, two pretty flowers stood out.

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September 22, 2012 – Grand Ole Opry and The Hermitage

It’s the first day of fall under a cloudless blue sky!

Contrary to what we’d thought, the current setting for the Grand Ole Opry is not in downtown Nashville but some 8 miles to the east in an area known as Opryland.

The first thing which stuck us was the unusual speed limit signs in the Grand Ole Opry complex.

Whereas we were somewhat under-impressed with the Country Music Hall of Fame, we thoroughly enjoyed the Grand Ole Opry, the world’s longest running live radio program; since its beginnings November 28, 1925!

Landscaped with some colorful plantings

which were aflutter with butterflies.

Nearing the front of the building, its wooden doors and towering three-story windows provide dramatic entrance.

However it was the backstage tour which was so interesting.

Artists’ Reception Room

Artists’ Reception Room (Member’s Plaques and Mailboxes)

An Artist’s Dressing Room

Artists’ “Green Room” (where they can relax before going on stage)

Grand Ole Opry Stage

4,400-seat audience seating area

And we were privileged to see the next super stars on center stage

(standing under the lights on the famous six foot circle which was taken from the Opry’s original home at the Ryman Auditorium)

From there, after a brief stop at Camper’s World, we drove to The Hermitage, General, and then, President Andrew Jackson’s home.  The 1,120 acre property is reputedly our nation’s most authentically preserved early presidential home site. The museum includes original artwork, furniture, textiles, personal items, wallpapers, and much more.

The original home built by Jackson and his wife, Rachel, was a two-story log home (when the later mansion was built, the first floor of their original home was removed with the remainder becoming a slave quarters).

The mansion was constructed between 1819 to 1821 by skilled carpenters and masons from the local area, the original section of the Hermitage mansion was a brick Federal-style house.

The house contained eight rooms; the first floor contained two parlors, a dining room, and Andrew and Rachel Jackson’s bedroom. The upstairs held four bedrooms.

Fire heavily damaged the house in the fall of 1834.  Remodeling transformed the entrance façade into a fashionable Greek temple.  Six two-story columns with modified Corinthian capitals range across the front porch. Similar columns with Doric capitals support a two-story rear porch. A coat of light tan paint on the front façade and sand coating on the front porch columns and trim simulated the appearance of stone.

Inside the house, the builders thriftily re-used Federal-style woodwork, Greek Revival-style mantels and woodwork, taken from the design pattern-book of a New England architect.  The highlight of the interior architecture is the cantilevered elliptical center staircase, which replaced the earlier “dog-leg” staircase, a straight flight of stairs with two landings.  The builders completed the repaired and remodeled house just before Jackson returned from Washington in 1837 at the end of his second term

Unfortunately, interior photos were not permitted.  However, when reviewing my daily pictures, look what I found on my camera …

The grounds were beautiful, although vastly different than when Jackson lived there and while most of the slave quarters were demolished a long time ago, a few such building have been preserved or reconstructed.

This photo shows furniture of a former slave who continued o live on the property after Jackson’s death and his emancipation … and the only non-Jackson to be buried on the property

Jackson and his beloved wife Rachel, and many decedents of their adopted child, Andrew Jackson II, are buried on the property.

Andrew and Rachel Jackson’s Tomb

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September 21, 2012 – Nashville

Today we set out to visit downtown Nashville and many of the popular sites of interest.  We started out by taking the narrated Hop-On/Hop-Off Trolley Tour.  This gave us a chance to learn about the many famous and not-so-well-known points of interest.  After the trolley tour, we struck out on our own to visit many of those sites

Downtown District

The lower end of Broadway reminds us a bit of New Orleans’ Bourbon Street or Key Wests’ Duval Street.  Its honky-tonk section boasts one music bar after another where aspiring musicians play and patrons can stop by between 10:00 AM and the following 3:00 AM.

And where you can find any number of those without a gig trying to get noticed or simply play for pay.


At the abutting Riverfront Park, LST-325 (these ships were not named), which landed troops in Sicily, Salerno and on Omaha Beach during the Normandy D-Day invasion of Europe.


where some real characters, all naval veterans, provided tours for school groups and the general public.


We also wondered about “How Much Was Doggie in the Window?”

And marveled at some of the other tourists.


Centennial Parthenon

The Parthenon, constructed for the 1897 Tennessee Centennial, was a full-scale replica of the original Parthenon located in Athens, Greece.  By 1920, however, it was crumbling.  Rather than rebuilding the structure as it appeared at the Centennial, a decision was made to rebuild it as an “exact” replica of the original Greek temple.  It is an extraordinary building!

West Façade and Pediment


 East Pediment


South Promenade


Statue of Athena (the Goddess of Wisdom) holding Nike (the Goddess of Victory) in her right hand.


 The statue of Athena is 42’10” high and partially covered with 8 lbs. of 23.75 carat gold.

Country Music Hall of Fame

The most famous landmark in Nashville is the


On its upper two floors, it tells the story of the history of country music, beginning in the 1960s through hundreds of artifacts, photographs, archival films and original recordings.

The Happy Ranch Boys singing “Rolling Stone” (1933)

Performance Costumes

Showcases of performers’ clothes and instruments

Webb Pierce’s “Silver Dollar” Convertible

Elvis’ Golden Piano (given to Elvis by his wife Priscilla on their 1st Anniversary)

Huge walls are adorned with copies of gold and platinum records,


and plaques of the Hall’s inductees (although we thought many of the reproductions of these singers’ faces were poor representations of the entertainers).



Ryman Auditorium

The history of the Ryman Auditorium dates back to the 1880s when Thomas Ryman,


a river boat captain and businessman attended a revival by famed traveling evangelist, Sam Jones.


Legend has it that Captain Ryman planned to heckle the preacher who was campaigning against alcohol, gambling and certain activates of women and, thus, hurting Ryman’s business.

Instead, Ryman converted on the spot and decided to raise money for a permanent place for Jones to preach.  Seven years and $100,000 later, the Union Gospel Tabernacle was completed.  Upon Ryman’s death, Jones would see that it was renamed the Ryman Auditorium.

From 1904 until the Grand Ole Opry came in 1942, the Ryman served as a venue for a wide variety of events, religious revivals, jazz recitals, operas, ballets, political debates, and even boxing matches.  Such luminaries as Rudolph Valentino, Katherine Hepburn, Mae West, W.C. Fields, Bob Hope, Eleanor Roosevelt, John Philips Sousa, William Jennings Bryant, Booker T. Washington, Eddie Rickenbacker, Helen Keller, Charlie Chaplin, Harry Houdini, Miriam Anderson and Will Rodgers all appeared at the Ryman.


Bicentennial Capitol Mall State Park

This is a very dramatic park was actually the highlight of the day for me.

Located at the southern entrance of the park on James Robertson Parkway, the 200-foot granite state map highlights Tennessee’s 95 counties, major roads, rivers, interesting geographic formations, and other state features. It is designed to scale, with 12 inches equal to 2½ miles.

I’m shooting looking east from Memphis and Debbie is standing in Nashville

At the far end of the Mall, the Court of 3 Stars is a focal point.

Tennessee State Capitol in the distance


It is flanked by 50 granite columns and its three stars represents the three Grand Divisions of the state – East, Middle and West Tennessee.  Atop the columns is a 95-bell carillon representing Tennessee’s musical heritage and the citizens of Tennessee’s 95 counties.


A 96th bell, known as the answer bell, is located on the grounds of the State Capitol and rings in answer to the 95 bells, symbolizing government answering to the people. The carillons are some of the largest in the world.  They play Tennessee-themed songs at the top of the hour, every hour.

When you stand on a metal pin on in the exact center of the granite pillars and speak softly, you can hear an echo of your voice.


 Along the west side of the park, a 1,400-foot Wall of History is engraved with historic events that have occurred for the past 1 billion years,



with an emphasis on the past two centuries.   After the region was settled, granite pylon marks each ten-year period along the wall.

The wall “breaks” at the time of the Civil War to represent the divisive nature of the war on the state.

McNairy Spring is a monument and fountain that represents the founding of Tennessee. The fountain is on top of the sulfur spring that fed the Old French Lick Creek. The greenway trail is located on top of the creek today and leads to the Cumberland River.

The World War II Memorial features an 18,000 lb. granite globe, depicting the way it was during the War, floating (constantly turning) on 1/8 inch of water.

The countries on the globe are as they were during the war. There is a small map of Tennessee with lines showing the mileage to different theatres of war. Visitors may stop the globe and turn it with their hands.

The Memorial also has ten large granite markers that give a brief history of such historic events as the bombing of Pearl Harbor, the Battle of the Bulge, as well as scenes from here in Tennessee by using sand blasting engravings of actual photographs on the markers.


There is a bench that lists the seven Congressional Medal of Honor winners from Tennessee. A time capsule will be opened on November 11, 2045 and contains lists of donors, persons who served, and a separate list of the 5,731 Tennesseans who served and were killed in combat.


As part of the Bicentennial celebration, many Tennesseans reserved their place in history by purchasing commemorative bricks. These granite bricks engraved with their names are placed along the Path of Volunteers, a central tree-lined granite walkway extending down both sides of the park and terminating at the Court of 3 Stars.


The east side of the park features the Walkway of Counties that contains a time capsule from each of Tennessee’s 95 counties.


These time capsules will not be opened until the Tercentennial in 2096.


This 95-county historical journey highlights the topographical features of each region of the state, depicting the flat, mountainous and rolling hills sections of the state. Native trees, shrubs, ferns, grasses and wildflowers along the walkway represent the diverse vegetation found across the state. Time capsules will be opened on June 1, on the state’s three-hundredth birthday.

Also found along this stretch of the park are the remains of several Doric columns which were part of the “original” Nashville Parthenon.


Located on each end of the River Walk are clusters of Tennessee flags. Each cluster contains one large 12 x 18-foot flag, and eight smaller 5 x 8-foot flags for a total of 18 Tennessee flags. The 16 small flags represent Tennessee being the 16th state admitted to the Union June 1, 1796. The two large flags represent the state’s bicentennial celebration.

The American flag is not flown in the mall since the park is an extension of the State Capitol, which flies the American flag high above the Bicentennial Capitol Mall State Park.

Across the street from the Mall we saw two of the cleverest bicycle racks although very apropos for their location outside a Farmer’s Market.

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September 20, 2012 – Heading South

On Tuesday evening we were watching a show on PBS on the construction (1732-1753) and history of Pennsylvania’s first state house, a building we know today as Independence Hall.  One of the last segments showed other buildings which have copied the design of Independence Hall.  Once of these was Independence Bank of Bowling Green …which it turned out was located just 2 miles from our campground.


The major difference between the bank’s building and Philadelphia’s Independence Hall, is the placement of the tower in front of the building rather than in the rear.  Other than that, the building is a near duplicate.

Leaving Bowling Green we headed south along I-65 toward the Nashville, TN area with the predictable landscape of more fields and old barns.

When we arrived at our next campground, we were delighted to learn that there was a community dinner, complete with fried chicken, pulled pork, potato salad, baked beans, biscuits and (to Dick’s delight), homemade toll house cookies.

 In addition there was a 2½ hour country-western show.


And a beautiful crescent moon above.

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September 19, 2012 – Bowling Green, Kentucky

We finally left beautiful Lexington, heading for Bowling Green.  Our route took us west across the Bluegrass Parkway which passes through only a few towns and then south on I-65, also known as the


 and crossing from Eastern into Central time.

We were again intrigued by the rock strata exposed when sections of road required blasting which disintegrates in moments what it took nature millions of years to create.



And, for the 359th consecutive day of RVing, we were greeted by road work.

After checking in at our campground, we stopped right across the street at the recently opened Aviation Heritage Park.

USAF T-33A-5 Shooting Star

Grumman F9F-5 Panther

USAF F4-D Phantom

And then headed out for the Corvette assembly plant only to discover that it was temporarily closed for a $130 million dollar overhaul.  However, just ½ mile away was the

While we are not car buffs, we do retain fond memories of the “original” Corvettes of the 1950s … before their designers took too many liberties and altered the car’s classic appearance.  However, it was still a fascinating place to visit with many one-of-a-kind cars on display.

1953 (first year) Corvette … only 300 made

Replica of 1953 gas station with ’53 Corvette (Note the price of gas)

Roy Orbison’s Corvette

1952 Corvette stolen in 1970 and subsequently recovered in 2009 (39 years later)


The only Melon-colored Corvette ever made

And, several Corvettes whose owners detailed their cars as memorials to 9/11.






There was a unique “picture” of a Corvette


Actually, each “pixel” is a photograph of a Corvette.

Of equal interest was the evolution of the Corvette logo.  When the first Corvette was about to be debuted in New York City, the logo was a pair of crossed flags.


Then someone remembered that it was illegal to use the American flag for commercial purposes.  As a result a new logo had to be designed, manufactured and flown to NYC for the debut.  The result was the logo the world knows to this day.


And, little did we know, but between 1954 and 1964, the company also manufactured Corvette-Schwinn bicycles, then the most popular in the country.

As we entered the last room on the walking tour of the museum, we were taken aback.  Instead of more cars, we were walking through a gut-wrenching exhibit of relics and stories of 9/11 … a portion of which which included:

Lisa Frost’s United Airlines Mileage-Plus Card

Part of an Antenna which stood 1,368’ up on Tower 1 of the World Trade Center

Fuselage Window Fragment from either American Flight 11 or United Flight 175


Portion of the landing gear from American Flight 11

Quilt Made by Susan Walsh of Chicago incorporating photos of all 373 NYC Firemen who perished on 9/11

From there we took a brief tour of downtown Bowling Green.

Fountains at Circus Square Park (which put on a pre-programmed show, similar to that at Bellagio, albeit on a much smaller scale)

Where there were unusual “No Smoking” signs posted.


There is also a restoration of Standard Oil Filling Station #1 (circa 1920)

which at one time dispensed

Crown Gasoline

Crown Gasoline with Ethyl



By the way, did you catch the price of gas in 1920?

Driving through the more historical section of the city, we stopped at Fountain Square.

Where prohibitionists have marched around it, trolleys have encircled it, parades of all types-circus, military, historical, homecoming, Irish, political and patriotic- have taken place around it, scrap drives headquartered here, Civil War soldiers knew this place, hundreds of farm animals have been sold here as well as fine horses, pageants have been held here, veterans were welcomed home here, people have sold and traded every kind of item imaginable here, and buildings here have come and gone.

Hebe (Goddess of Youth) tops the central fountain

Around which four other statues are mounted on locally-quarried limestone.

Ceres (Goddess of Grain)

Flora (Goddess of Flowers)

Melpomane (Goddess of Tragedy)

Pomona (Goddess of Fruit)

And just outside the park’s entrance

Father and Children Reading a Newspaper

This park, too, had yet another twist on smoking …

Around the park, there were several examples of art deco architecture.

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September 15, 16, 17 and 18, 2012 – Lexington Kentucky – Visiting Jack and Kathy Kelly

Saturday – September 15th

Our prime reason for coming to Lexington was to spend time with Jack and Kathy Kelly.

As first cousins, Jack’s mom and my dad were brother and sister, our relationship goes back to 1945 when we first met … and when he still had very little hair.


That evening we drove to Danville and saw the Center for the Arts at Centre College

where this fall the Vice Presidential debate between Paul Ryan and Joe Biden will take place, and then found a truly “local” restaurant.

Sunday – September 16th

Kathy arranged for us to participate in an auto tour of some of the more rural areas of Lexington.  After passing through a couple of upscale neighborhoods,

 we drove by the Bloomberg/Delong mansion.


 With over 24,000 sq. ft. of living area, it is the largest home in Lexington and has one of the largest entry foyers in the country, some 84’ long with a fireplace, double staircase, and an upstairs gallery.

Throughout the tour, we passed by many horse farms,


grazing thoroughbreds,

barns, many with paintings, a tradition which originated with the Pennsylvania Dutch,


Nearly treeless pastures,

Tobacco fields (which are not cut, not picked, when their leaves turn amber in color),

Narrow, stonewall-lined roads,

Where avoiding the ever-present bikers was often a challenge.


One of our final stops was at the Grimes Mill Winery … where we were able to sample some delicious vino!


And there was the lonesome RV we spied in a field.


Monday – September 17th

Today was the first really rainy day we’ve had on this trip.  However, we used the time to take a tour of part of downtown Lexington and the


Undoubtedly, the most famous “resident” is Henry Clay whose burial monument towers above everything else in the cemetery and is visible from downtown Lexington.



Clay  1777 – 1852), one of the most influential men in the US during the first half of the 19th century who was not president, was a lawyer, politician and skilled orator who represented Kentucky separately in both the Senate and in the House of Representatives. He served three different terms as Speaker of the United States House of Representatives and was also Secretary of State from 1825 to 1829.

Henry Clay made numerous attempts at becoming president, making five serious runs. He secured a major party nomination three of those times and lost all three elections.

He was dubbed the “Great Pacificator,” as he brokered important compromises during the Nullification Crisis and on the slavery issue.  As part of the “Great Triumvirate” or “Immortal Trio,” along with his colleagues Daniel Webster and John C. Calhoun, he was instrumental in formulating the Missouri Compromise of 1820 and the Compromise of 1850.

Equally impressive is the towering American Basswood which stands beside his tomb and began its life prior to the signing of the American Constitution.


Also interred is John Breckenridge, the nation’s youngest Vice President (assuming office at the age of just 36), serving under James Buchannan … although we were never able to find his grave site.

As with the Hope Cemetery in Barre, Vermont which we’d visited this summer, we saw a number of interesting grave stones; some etched,



others employing stained glass (or a plexiglass substitute),

and still others very ornate.


Just prior to leaving we stopped at the site of the soldier’s section, in which the graves of Civil War and soldiers from other wars are arranged in concentric circles.


Tuesday – September 18th

Today, the weather was rainy and we spent much of the day doing some housekeeping, paying bills and reading … the first really “down” day since leaving home.

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September 14, 2012 – Lexington, Kentucky

Today’s drive from Milton to the Kentucky Horse Park Campground in Lexington was the best kind … uneventful.

Soon after crossing into

we saw our first signs of fall.

Continuing further west, the crystal blue sky began to billow with brilliant cumulus clouds,

although no rain ultimately resulted.

The traffic along I-64 was very light, often with no cars in sight


as it runs through gently rolling hills, framed by treed hillsides, recently hayed fields but few towns.

Nearing Lexington, we began to see some of the spectacular horse farms for which the region is so famous.

This evening, we had dinner with Kathy, Dick’s cousin, Jack’s, wife as he is not due back from a business trip until late this evening.

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September 13, 2012 – West Virginia

Having changed our plans and spent and extra day visiting Gettysburg, we decided to by-pass Greenbrier and head toward our next stop in Lexington, KY.   It meant a long day on the road (366 miles) ending in Milton, WV, between Charleston and Huntington.

Driving across the Appalachians, our trip was a winding course

up and through the Cumberland and other gaps

and fog shrouded valleys,

picturesque towns.

numerous farms and scenic barns

where cattle,


and hay

appeared to be the agricultural mainstays.

There were unique roadside signs,

messages from local churches,

and even a lighthouse;

which turned out to be the “World Worship Lighthouse Center”.

Near the West Virginia state line, we crossed over the Eastern Continental Divide

East of which waters flow toward the Atlantic and west of which they flow toward the Mississippi River.

At one point, Debbie spotted a patriotic tree

And two deer who had second thoughts when trying to cross the Interstate.

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September 11-12, 2012 – Gettysburg – Three Terrible Days in July 1863

Perhaps it was fitting that on 9-11, while remembering those who lost their lives 11 years ago, that we spent the day at Gettysburg where 165,000 Americans (90,000 Union forces and 75,000 Confederates) faced off in mortal combat July, 1863.  Of that number, there were more than 51,000 casualties; 23,049 Union  forces (3,155 dead, 14,529 wounded, 5,365 missing) and Confederate casualties of 28,063 (3,903 dead, 18,735 injured, and 5,425 missing), more than a third of Lee’s army … many the results, directly or indirectly, of the estimated 569 tons of ammunition was fired during the three day orgy.

We opted to take a tour, a wise decision as we had an incredibly knowledgeable tour guide who shared a tremendous amount of detailed information about the battles which took place there and many of the combatants.  It gave both Debbie and I a far deeper understanding of what occurred and an appreciation of the people whomet on a great battle-field of that war”. 

We also learned that to qualify as a licensed tour guide at Gettysburg, hundreds of books must be devoured and a vigorous test passed!

So interesting was the day, we changed our plans for the following few days in order to return for another day at Gettysburg, this time touring on our own.

It is difficult to depict what we saw and learned at

without putting it in some historical perspective.  Otherwise, it becomes a series of pictures of monuments and fields.  At the same time, without actually visiting the site it’s still difficult to comprehend the way the battle unfolded and why so many lives were lost

First, why Gettysburg?  Gettysburg, a small community of 2,400 inhabitants, was an unlikely place for such an engagement, and not the location at which the Union had hoped to fight the Confederate army.  Rather, it was determined by General Robert E. Lee who hoped to strike a fatal blow to the Grand Army of the Potomac (Union Army).   He chose Gettysburg as it was the crossroads of eleven roads, facilitating military logistics, it was in the North and it was close to Washington, DC.

Leading his Army of Northern Virginia north through the Shenandoah and Cumberland Valleys, he arrived to the west and north of Gettysburg in late June 1863.

On July 1st, elements of the two armies collided west of Gettysburg during the early morning hours.  The fighting escalated throughout the day as more Union and Confederate troops reach the battlefield.  By 4:00 PM the defending Federal troops are defeated and retreat through Gettysburg, where many are captured.  The remnants of the Union force rallied upon Cemetery and Culp’s Hills.

By July 2nd, the main strength of both armies had arrived by the morning.  General Lee launched attacks against the Union’s left and right flanks in an attempt to dislodge Meade’s army from its strong position.  Confederate General Longstreet’s assault upon the Union left made good progress but is eventually checked by Federal reinforcements from the center and right flank.  On the Union’s right, General Ewell’s Confederate troops are able to seize part of Culp’s Hill but, elsewhere, are repulsed.

On the final day of the battle, July 3rd, while Ewell renews his efforts to seize Culp’s Hill, Lee turned his main attention to the less well-defended Union center.  After a two-hour artillery bombardment, he sent 12,000 Confederate infantry to try to break the Federal lines on Cemetery Ridge.  Despite a courageous, but ultimately futile, effort, the attack (subsequently dubbed “Pickett’s Charge”) is repulsed with heavy losses.  East of Gettysburg, Lee’s cavalry is also checked in a large cavalry battle.  Crippled by the loss of over 40% of his force, Lee can no longer continue the battle.

July 4th saw little action other than some spasmodic sniping by the opposing sides.  The following day, under the cover of a rainstorm, General Lee’s armies moved south in a strategic retreat.  While the Union won the Battle of Gettysburg, the war would grind on for another year and one-half before the slaughter of Americans by Americans finally came to an end.

For years I have wondered, given the history of the successes of the tactics of the Americans during the Revolutionary War, why during the Civil War the Union and Confederate forces lined up shoulder-to-shoulder and marched across open territory into the killing and maiming artillery and rifle firepower of their enemy.

It seems that both nearly all Union and Confederate generals were initially trained at West Point, where Napoleonic battle tactics were gospel.  However, since the Napoleonic wars, armies stopped using muskets with a maximum effective range of perhaps 100 yards and began using early rifles with which a soldier could hit his target at up to 500 yards.  And, while shoulder-to-shoulder formations made for easy communication during battles before the days of radio communications, such formations made such armies easy targets for rifle-equipped armies … not to mention putting them within range of canons with 1-2 mile ranges.

Strategically, the Civil War was a sad example of young men fighting and becoming canon-fodder for old mens’ wars and outdated tactics!

After watching the movie and visiting the museum at the Visitor’s Center and touring the battlefields of Gettysburg, the lasting memories are of the some 1,328 monuments, most dedicated to the various state and local militias, participants in the various battles and plaques describing the horror of those three days in July 149 years ago and canons lining the redoubts and ridge lines where they were positioned during the battle;

Tennessee State Monument

North Carolina Battlefield Monument (designed and sculptured by Gutzon Borglum, the sculptor of Mount Rushmore)

Pennsylvania State Memorial (largest at Gettysburg – contains the names of all 33,530 Pennsylvanians who fought at Gettysburg)

42nd New York Infantry Memorial

General Robert E. Lee (on Seminary Ridge)

General George G. Meade (on Cemetery Ridge)

New York Second Brigade Memorial

Massachusetts First Andrews Sharp-Shooters

Eternal Flame at the Top of the Light Peace Memorial

Minnesota 262 Regiment Charge Memorial

several hundred canon, although only 1 cannon can be officially documented as having actually seen action at Gettysburg, and that is “Cannon Number 233” of Lieutenant John Calef’s Battery A, 2nd U.S. Artillery, which fired the first Union artillery shot of the battle while under the command of General John Buford’s Cavalry Division on McPherson’s Ridge on July 1st;

Bronze Canon Pointed Across the Field Stormed by Pickett’s Charge

Memorial Canon at the site of the Confederate “high water mark” on Cemetery Ridge

scattered homes and barns (only one barn from 1863 remains);

McPherson Barn (site of the first skirmish of the Battle of Gettysburg)

Robert E. Lee’s Brief Headquarters in Gettysburg

and visions of the horror which took place on the now tranquil fields and hills.

Devils’ Den on Union Left Flank of Cemetery Ridge

Cemetery Ridge from Confederate Position on Seminary Ridge

View from Cemetery Ridge looking toward Seminary Ridge and across the fields over which Pickett’s ill-fated Charge took place

Among the other anecdotes we learned was the during World War I, a young Captain Eisenhower used the fields over which General Picket’s troops charged as a tank training area and during World War II, the area became a Prisoner of War facility for captured German military personnel.

It is also interesting to note that it was Robert E. Lee who captured John Brown at Harper’s Ferry after his takeover of the armory.  Further, prior to the war, Lee was the Superintendent of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and he was married Mary Anna Randolph Custis, the great-granddaughter of Martha Washington by her first husband Daniel Parker Custis, and the step-great-granddaughter of George Washington.

While on Cemetery Ridge on our second day at Gettysburg, we were joined by Jim Lovell,

who flew on Gemini 8 and 12, Apollo 8 (the first manned craft to fly around the moon and return to earth) and was the commander of Apollo 13 (of “Houston, we have a problem” fame), who was being given a private tour (we listened in on) prior, we suspect, to attending the memorial service for Neil Armstrong in Washington the following day.


On November 19th of that year, 4½ months after the Union and Confederate forces have slaughtered each other, an ailing President Lincoln traveled to Gettysburg at the invitation of David Wills, the man charged with “cleaning up the Gettysburg battlefield”, to help dedicate a Cemetery to the Union dead (at that time, the Confederate dead were often buried close to where they fell … although later reburied in cemeteries across the South);

After a lengthy speech by Edward Everett, Lincoln spoke briefly, after which he returned to Washington where he was diagnosed with a mild case of smallpox.

When he spoke the following words, the crowd fell silent.

“Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation, so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate, we can not consecrate, we can not hallow this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us—that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion—that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”

Despite the historical significance of Lincoln’s speech, modern scholars disagree as to its exact wording, and contemporary transcriptions published in newspaper accounts of the event and even handwritten copies by Lincoln himself differ in their wording, punctuation, and structure.

The five known manuscript copies of the Gettysburg Address are each named for the associated person who received it from Lincoln. Lincoln gave a copy to each of his private secretaries, John Nicolay and John Hay.  Both of these drafts were written around the time of his November 19 address, while the other three copies of the address, the Everett, Bancroft, and Bliss copies, were written by Lincoln for charitable purposes well after November 19. In part because Lincoln provided a title and signed and dated the Bliss copy, it has become the standard text of Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address.

The two earliest drafts of the Address are associated with some confusion and controversy regarding their existence and provenance. The Hay draft differed from the version of the Gettysburg Address published by John Nicolay in 1894 in a number of significant ways: it was written on a different type of paper, had a different number of words per line and number of lines, and contained editorial revisions in Lincoln’s hand.

Today, both the Hay and Nicolay copies of the Address are within the Library of Congress, encased in specially designed, temperature-controlled, sealed containers with argon gas in order to protect the documents from oxidation and continued deterioration.

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September 10, 2012 – Pennsylvania State House, Harrisburg, PA

We’d heard so much about Pennsylvania’s State Capitol Building that we were prepared for something of a letdown.  However,

from the moment it loomed into view, we knew we were in for an extraordinary day!

Since the seat of the Commonwealth’s government was relocated to Harrisburg in 1812, the current capitol, known as the Huston Capitol, is the third state capitol building to be built in Harrisburg. The first, the Hills Capitol, was destroyed in 1897 by a fire and the second, the Cobb Capitol, was left unfinished because the structure was considered undignified and unattractive in 1899.

The present, 600 room Capitol was designed by Philadelphia architect Joseph Huston who envisioned an American Renaissance style building as a “Palace of Art”.  The building incorporates various Renaissance designs in some of its largest rooms; Italian in the House Chamber, French in the Senate Chamber and English in the Governor’s Reception Room … as well as Greek, Roman and Victorian influences in its art and ornamentation.

 It was completed in 1906 and dedicated by President Theodore Roosevelt who, upon entering the Rotunda, proclaimed, "it was the most beautiful building he had ever seen." 

 A sad footnote, however, after its completion, the capitol project was the subject of a major scandal.  Costing $13,000,000, its construction and subsequent furnishing cost three times more than the General Assembly had appropriated for the project.  Ultimately, Huston and four others were convicted of graft in relation to costs of the total project.

Today, it is an architectural and artistic treasure and a majestic symbol of history and power and an icon of democracy and freedom!

Its five-story exterior and surrounding entrances are faced with Vermont granite

while the roof is composed of green glazed terra cotta tile


 and topped with a 17’8” high domed entitled ‘Commonwealth” holding a garlanded mace in her left hand upholding the standard of statehood.  Her right hand is extended in benediction.

 Climbing the steps toward the main entrance, we passed between the Barnard Statues which flank the massive 17’bronze doors, each weighing a ton … but easily swung open with the touch of a hand.  Twenty-seven figures are represented in these two sculptures.

To the Left is “Labor and Love / The Unbroken Law”, representing humanity advancing through work and brotherhood

To the Left is “Labor and Love / The Unbroken Law”, representing humanity advancing through work and brotherhood

To the right is “The Burden of Life / The Broken Law”, portraying the lives of degradation and spiritual burdens

Entering the dramatic Rotunda, your attention is immediately drawn to the grand staircase, modeled after the Paris Opera House.

  As your gaze is cast upward, you are captivated by the spectacular dome


 which soars 272 feet above.  Weighing 52 million pounds, its design was inspired by Michangelo’s design for St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome.

At the top of the dome, the natural light 48 portholes together with 4,000 lights illuminate the Rotunda.

The floor you are standing on is also a work of art.  A 16,000 sq. ft. mosaic of Moravian tile, it was designed by Henry Chapman Mercer and is punctuated by nearly 400 tile pictures which relates the story of Pennsylvania’s rich history from the time of the Native Americans who inhabited the area before the arrival of European settlers up through the beginning of the 20th century when the floor was laid.



 Two long hallways run right and left of the center of the Rotunda


and another, leading to the elevator,  draws you attention to a dramatically tiled ceiling.

 Our guided tour took us to the fourth floor where we could have a better view of the dome,

an opportunity to view the Rotunda from above,

and the upper walls and their art work.

 You might note that the inscription from William Penn which runs around the upper reaches of the Rotunda wall is also comprised of thousands blue and gold 1” square tiles.

 On the third floor while the Supreme Court courtroom was off-limits due to a Superior Court schedule, we were able to visit both the Senate Chamber

and the House Chamber.

The wooden desks used by Pennsylvania’s representatives were constructed of mahogany imported from Belize and date back to the building’s 1906 opening.

The lights in the two-ton chandeliers hanging in both chambers appear in an "x" pattern.

When the State House was completed 25-watt bulbs were the standard.  Unfortunately, the light they gave off was too dim to illuminate the large rooms in the building.  The solution was to use cut-glass globes surrounding the bulbs to scatter their light.  The result in both the chandeliers and and other permanent lamps was to create the pattern seen above.

Both chambers boast stained glass windows, 10 in the Senate Chamber and 14 in the House Chamber.  These were created by a Philadelphia native, William Van Ingers, a former student to famous glass artist Louis Tiffany.  Each features a theme, such a Military, Education, Commerce, History, Liberty, Justice, etc.

We next set out for the Forum, with its 22 bronze doors depicting “Man’s Creative and Recreative Occupations”,

an exact, full-sized replica of the Liberty Bell,

and the State Museum of Pennsylvania …

which was, regretfully closed on Mondays!

The State Capitol complex is also populated with numerous statues and memorials including,

Mexican War Memorial

Civil War hero Gen. John Harttanft

War Veterans Memorial

Being the Keystone State, naturally, keystones are found throughout the State Capitol Complex …


as are many interesting views of the exterior of the Capitol.

Finally, we found the predictable protesters, this group part of the so-called 99%.

Nearby, we visited several churches.


Grace Methodist Church (which was used as a temporary state capitol after the February 2, 1897 fire destroyed the former capitol building until the present facility was opened in 1906)

St. Patrick’s Cathedral

Mass at St. Patrick’s


Cathedral Chapel of St. Lawrence

Pine Street Presbyterian Church

After leaving the State Capitol complex and downtown Harrisburg areas, we drove back to Fort Hunter Park to see a late 19th century period Methodist church


(constructed in 1885 – damaged by fire in 1927)

and the Rockville Bridge which spans the Susquehanna Rover and is the longest stone masonry arch bridge in the world.

Constructed between 19000 and 1902, it is 3,820’ in length, 52’ wide and sits 46’ above the river’s mean height.  The present bridge has 48 spans, some say intentionally representing the 48 states before Alaska and Hawaii; although it is worth noting that when the bridge was built there was only 45 states, each 70 feet long.

From there we continued a few miles north where a 25th tall replica of the Statue of Liberty sits in the middle of the Susquehanna River’s Dauphin Narrows.

The original 18 ft. tall version was built by Gene Stilp in 1986 out of venetian blinds.  Demolished in a storm, it was later recreated taller and out of sturdier materials.


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