Legends of America Photo Prints: Blog http://photos.legendsofamerica.com/blog en-us (C) www.legendsofamerica.com orders@legendsofamerica.com (Legends of America Photo Prints) Tue, 28 Feb 2017 16:21:00 GMT Tue, 28 Feb 2017 16:21:00 GMT http://photos.legendsofamerica.com/img/s3/v23/u83229107-o603934654-50.jpg Legends of America Photo Prints: Blog http://photos.legendsofamerica.com/blog 120 61 That Time When...Walking the Streets of Tombstone http://photos.legendsofamerica.com/blog/2017/2/that-time-when-walking-the-streets-of-tombstone As part of our series "That Time When...", we take a look back at our 2007 journey to Tombstone, AZ, where we found more than just an Old West tourist destination. We found the Ghost Town Trail. 

We had stayed in Sierra Vista and decided to day-trip it out for adventure. Coming up Highway 90, then east on 82, first on our list was the ghost town of Fairbank. 

Fairbank, AZ - Adobe BuildingFairbank, AZ - Adobe BuildingOld commercial buildings in the ghost town of Fairbank, Arizona. They once held a post office, saloon and general store. Settled in the late 1870's, this town was first called Junction City, and at the time was a simple stage stop on the way to Tombstone. Later it would be renamed Kendall, before finally becoming Fairbank when it gained its post office in 1883.  We found the old adobe commercial building that once housed the post office, a saloon and general store. 

1920 Fairbank SchoolThis old school house now serves as a visitor's center and museum. The 1920 Fairbank School now serves as a visitors center and museum. The school served children through 1944, and the post office didn't close until the late 1970's. In 1987 the Bureau of Land Management took over the property and it became part of the San Pedro Riparian National Conservation Area in November of 1988. The NCA has since stabilized, preserved and in some cases restored the old remaining buildings. 

Fairbank, AZ - HouseFairbank, AZ - House Read about the mining and railroad history of this neat little stop in our article Fairbank - Dead in the Desert

On to Tombstone, the Town too Tough to Die!

Tombstone, AZ - Allen Street TodayTombstone, AZ - Allen Street TodayThe famous silver-mining town of Tombstone, Arizona once had some 10,000 people and was the county seat. It was called "Tombstone" because it was feared that the Apache would kill anyone encroaching on the area. Today it is referred to as "The Town Too Tough to Die". Ed Schieffelin, a prospector, looked out on the mountains from where he stood at Camp Huachuca, commenting that the rich colors of the mountains looked like a promising place. A nearby soldier was quick to warn him that the area was controlled by Apache indians and said "All you'll find in those hills is your tombstone." Luckily for us, Schieffelin was a stubborn man. 

Tombstone, AZ - StreetTombstone, AZ - Street Tombstone was officially established in March of 1879 and quickly became a boom town with the promise of Silver Mining. Tombstone, AZ - StagecoachTombstone, AZ - Stagecoach

In fact, by the time Wyatt Earp arrived in December that year in hopes of establishing a stage line, he discovered the town already had two. So off to the gaming tables he went, as did many of the towns rowdy residents.  

Tombstone, AZ - Crystal PalaceTombstone, AZ - Crystal PalaceBuilt to attract the "finer" elements of Tombstone, the Crystal Palace Saloon provided shining crystal tableware, elegant deacor, the finest wines and spirits, and as many as five bartenders standing on duty to quickly serve their patrons around the clock. From the start, owner Wehrfritz also insisted on strictly honest games of chance. Though it was just one of 110 establishments licensed to sell liquor in the booming city, the new establishment soon attracted the most prominent businessmen. Open 24 hours a day, the Crystal Palace attracted everyone from the doctors, to lawyers to mining officials, as well as other hangers on wishing to rub elbows with the prominent, but would brook no funny business within its walls, protecting itself from the many bullet holes found in other lesser establishments in the community. The rich Old West history runs deep in this now tourist town. The post office, established shortly before the town was laid out, continues to operate to this day. The local Newspaper, the Tombstone Epitaph, is the oldest continually published paper in Arizona, and the infamous Allen Street has been restored to attract thousands of visitors from around the world each year. 

Tombstone, AZ - Big Nose KatesTombstone, AZ - Big Nose Kates We had a blast visiting Big Nose Kate's Saloon, a large and colorful cowboy bar that began life as the Grand Hotel in 1881. 

Tombstone, AZ - Birdcage TheatreTombstone, AZ - Birdcage TheatreThe famous Birdcage Theatre opened its doors on December 25, 1881 and for the next eight years would never close, operating 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. Also called the Bird Cage Opera House Saloon, the establishment featured a saloon, gambling parlour, theatre, and a brothel. In no time, the theatre gained a reputation as one of the wildest places in Tombstone, so bad that the few self-respecting women in town refused to even walk near the place. The New York Times reported in 1882, that "the Bird Cage Theatre is the wildest, wickedest night spot between Basin Street and the Barbary Coast". During the years that the theatre was open the wicked little place witnessed a number of gun and knife fights that took some 26 lives, and left 140 bullet holes in the ceilings, walls, and floors, many of which can still be seen today. The Bird Cage Theatre, an 1881 dance hall, gambling house, saloon, brothel and theatre provided a peak at history as it now serves as museum. The scene of twentysix deaths during its eight years in business, you can actually see the faro table that Doc Holliday once dealt cards among the many items that never left the building from the early days. 

Tombstone, AZ - Ok CorralTombstone, AZ - Ok Corral Although the O.K. Corral and Historama is not the actual site of the famous gun fight, you will enjoy the recreation of the past during a 30 minute tour, complete with films, animated figures and more. Next door is the 'corral', where you can enjoy the "gunfight". 

Tombstone, AZ - Boot Hill GraveyardTombstone, AZ - Boot Hill GraveyardOne of the most famous cemeteries in the country, Boot Hill Graveyard was originally platted on a slight hill just northwest of Tombstone in 1878 and called the "Tombstone Cemetery." It was used for all burials until 1884, when a new Cemetery was built at the end of Allen Street, when it then took on the name, the Old Cemetery. And of course no trip to Tombstone would be complete without a visit to Boot Hill Graveyard, the final resting place of such notables as the Clanton Gang, John Heath and others. 

For old west lovers, this is a must stop, and well worth the time spent walking the streets and soaking up the history. Re-enactments, characters and more abound to please audiences of all ages.  

Read about the incredible story of the Earps, Holliday, Big Nose Kate, the Clantons and more in our article "Tombstone - The Town Too Tough to Die."

Here's a slideshow of our visit, along with some other historical photographs. Continue reading below for information on the Ghost Town Trail. 

 

Ghost Towns: America's Lost World DVDA 5-Part Journey into Abandoned History, including appearances by Legends' own Kathy Weiser and Dave Alexander.

The Ghost Town Trail - Gleeson, Courtland & Pearce

On a dusty road winding out of Tombstone, we began an adventure on the Ghost Town Trail. 

Gleeson, AZ - HospitalGleeson, AZ - Hospital About 16 miles on the trail you run into Gleeson. The first mining camp here was called Turquoise when the post office opened in 1890, however the camp was short lived and the post office closed.  

Gleeson, AZ - JailGleeson, AZ - Jail However in 1900, John Gleeson arrived to begin mining again, and after finding copper, a new camp sprung up in his name and yet another post office was established, this time as Gleeson. 

Gleeson, AZ - RuinsGleeson, AZ - Ruins After the mining was done, the town was done as well, with the post office closing by 1939. Today the old settlement has numerous ruins, including an old hospital, saloon, dry good store, jail and mining remnants. 

After Gleeson, just about three and a half miles, you'll come to Courtland.

Courtland, AZ - RuinsCourtland, AZ - Ruins Although it got its start after Gleeson, it grew four times the size, although it has far fewer remains. Another mining town, Courtland was established around 1909. 

Courtland, AZ - JailCourtland, AZ - Jail The town once boasted a movie theatre, ice cream parlor, pool hall and swimming pool. Though it hung on through the Great Depression, its post office closed in 1942. Today most of what remains are ruins. 

Another 10 miles or so down the road found us in Pearce. 

Pearce, AZ - General StorePearce, AZ - General Store Founded by the discovery of Gold by Jimmie Pearce, the town was established in 1896.  Pearce, AZ - Post OfficePearce, AZ - Post Office The post office, closed in the late 1960's, is now a private residence, but the area has seen some rejuvenation. 

There's some rich old west history to be found in all three of these Arizona Ghost Towns.  Learn more in our article "The Ghost Town Trail - Gleeson, Courtland & Pearce."

Here's a slideshow of our trek on the Ghost Town Trail

See more about our time in Tombstone via our old travel blog HERE

 

Ghost Town Photo Prints for SalePrint's, canvas wraps and more from our Ghost Town galleries.

 

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orders@legendsofamerica.com (Legends of America Photo Prints) Arizona Courtland Fairbank Ghost Towns Gleeson Pearce Tombstone history information photos prints travel http://photos.legendsofamerica.com/blog/2017/2/that-time-when-walking-the-streets-of-tombstone Sat, 25 Feb 2017 13:56:50 GMT
A Walk Through Our Nations Oldest City - St. Augustine http://photos.legendsofamerica.com/blog/2017/1/a-walk-through-our-nations-oldest-city-st-augustine Our primary destination for our 2017 Winter trip was St. Augustine, Florida, and I must say we were not disappointed. 

St. Augustine, FL - Castillo de San Marcos SkylineSt. Augustine, FL - Castillo de San Marcos SkylineSt. Augustine skyline as seen from the top of Castillo de San Marcos. Photo by Dave Alexander

Looking at the skyline from the Castillo de San Marco, the oldest existing permanent seacoast fortification in the continental United States, over 400 years of history lay before our camera's lens.

St. Augustine, FL - Castillo de San Marcos Interior WallSt. Augustine, FL - Castillo de San Marcos Interior Wall

Castillo de San Marco's existing walls have stood since the late 1690's, but even that is over a hundred years after the original fort was built, and the community of St. Augustine grew beside it. 

St. Augustine, FL - Castillo de San Marcos AerialSt. Augustine, FL - Castillo de San Marcos AerialThe Castillo De San Marcos in St. Augustine, Florida. By the Historic American Buildings Survey. Made of coquina, a kind of stone that had been found near the coast on Anastasia Island, it replaced earlier wood forts as a formidable fortress to withstand the heaviest of attacks. It's walls are 12 feet thick around the inland portions, and 19 feet thick facing the harbor.  St. Augustine, FL - Castillo de San Marcos Bastion BirdsSt. Augustine, FL - Castillo de San Marcos Bastion BirdsPhoto by Dave Alexander.

The fortress has switched hands several times over its long history, and for a long time, after Florida was sold to the U.S., was named Fort Marion. In 1924 it was designated a National Historic Monument, and was renamed back to Castillo de San Marco in 1942. 

St. Augustine, FL - Castillo de San Marcos Soldier QuartersSt. Augustine, FL - Castillo de San Marcos Soldier QuartersPhoto by Kathy Weiser-Alexander. You'll enjoy the exhibits, walk through the living quarters, interact with the period re-enactors, and learn from National Park presentations during your visit. 

Read about the long history of the nation's oldest seacoast fortification, the Castillo de San Marcos HERE.

St. Augustine, FL - Large CrossSt. Augustine, FL - The Great CrossErected in 1965 to commemorate 400 years since the landing of Pedro Menendez de Aviles September 8, 1565, and the establishment of the Mission Nombres de Dios and city of St. Augustine.

The "Great Cross", built in 1965, stands over the grounds of the Mission Nombre de Dios to commemorate 400 years since Spanish Captain Pedro Menendez de Aviles arrived on September 8, 1565 to establish the Mission and city. 

St. Augustine, FL - City GatesSt. Augustine, FL - City GatesPhoto by Dave Alexander

We strolled through the city gates, the pillars of which were erected by residents in 1808. This is some of the last remaining wall that surrounded the community. In earlier days, it was the only way in and out of St. Augustine. 

St. Augustine, FL - St. George StreetSt. Augustine, FL - St. George Street The streets are narrow and laid out in such a way as to bring in the ocean breeze to cool the city, as well as provide advantage during attack. 

St. Augustine, FL - St. George Street ShopsSt. Augustine, FL - St. George Street Shops A walk down St. George street is a tourist delight. Boutiques, bistros, galleries and gift shops line the narrow path, some of them in original buildings.

St. Augustine, FL - St. George Street Bistro'sSt. Augustine, FL - St. George Street Bistro's While we're not real estate experts, we would guess the rent is high in this heavily trafficked area of St. Augustine, so it's no surprise we found some of the best eateries of our entire journey on St. George Street. Being the frugal type, we passed up some real fancy dining, including restaurants established in the early 1900's, but SHOUT OUT to Pizza Time!  Ranked 2nd Best Pizza in the U.S. by Trip Advisor and absolutely delicious. Burrito Works Taco Shop nearby wasn't bad either. Don't worry, we ate at each on separate days :)

Time to walk off the food with more history nearby...

St. Augustine, FL - Cathedral BasilicaSt. Augustine, FL - Cathedral BasilicaThe Cathedral Basilica is the oldest church in Florida, constructed between 1793 and 1797. The church was established in 1565 with the founding of St. Augustine. After the shops on St. George Street, and walking past the Cathedral Basilica, constructed in the late 1700's, you will enter the Plaza de la Constitucion.

St. Augustine, FL - Plaza de la ConstitucionSt. Augustine, FL - Plaza de la ConstitucionThe oldest public square in America, the Plaza de la Constitucion was laid out by Spanish Royal Ordinance in 1573. It features the Constitution Monument, which may the the only remaining Monument in the Western Hemisphere celebrating the Spanish Constitution of 1812.

The oldest public square in America, the Plaza was laid out by Spanish Royal Ordinance in 1573. It features the Constitution Monument, which may the the only remaining Monument in the Western Hemisphere celebrating the Spanish Constitution of 1812.

St. Augustine, FL - Flagler CollegeSt. Augustine, FL - Flagler CollegeNamed for Henry Flagler, Flagler college use to be the Ponce de Leon Hotel, built by Flagler in 1888.

Not far from the Plaza you'll find the old Ponce de Leon Hotel, now Flagler College. Built by oil tycoon Henry Flagler in 1888, the Ponce de Leon was one of several hotels that Flagler owned, as part of his goal to make St. Augustine a Winter Haven. 

St. Augustine, FL - Presbyterian Church - 3St. Augustine, FL - Presbyterian Church - 3Henry Flagler had the Presbyterian church built in memorial to his daughter and granddaughter. Flagler had workers build around the clock to finish the church in a year. Flagler's mark on St. Augustine wasn't limited to Hotels.  He's also responsible for funding of several churches, including the Presbyterian Church, built in memorial to his Daughter and Granddaughter, who both died of illness shortly after birth. 

St. Augustine, FL - Presbyterian ChurchSt. Augustine, FL - Presbyterian Church We learned on our tour of the city that Flagler made an arrangement with all the other town churches that the Presbyterian Church would be the only one to ring a bell. Considering his sizeable impact on the city they obliged. 

Learn more about the impact the Spanish, and later Henry Flagler made on this historic city.. Read St. Augustine - Oldest U.S. City Here.

St. Augustine, FL - Ripleys Museum Match Stick Space StationSt. Augustine, FL - Ripleys Museum Match Stick Space Station In addition to the city's great history, you'll find more fun and entertainment for the entire family at Ripley's Believe It or Not! Odditiorium. Visitors will marvel at exhibits like this space station model made entirely of matchsticks. 

St. Augustine, FL - Ripleys Museum Shrunken HeadSt. Augustine, FL - Ripleys Museum Shrunken Head This actual shrunken head was part of Robert Ripley's original collection of oddities that made him famous worldwide. This isn't just any "Ripley's Believe It or Not!" museum -- this is the first permanent Odditorium started by the Ripley family just a year after Robert Ripley died. 

St. Augustine, FL - Ripleys Believe it or Not MuseumSt. Augustine, FL - Ripleys Believe it or Not Museum Even the building has an interesting history, starting as the winter "Castle" of William G. Warden in 1887, then a decade as the Castle Warden Hotel, before becoming the museum. 

Read more about the history of the Warden Winter Home and Robert L. Ripley in our article Ripley's Original Odditorium Here.

St. Augustine, FL - Colonial Quarter GudeSt. Augustine, FL - Colonial Quarter Gude We also took an excellent guided tour of Colonial Quarter, a living history outdoor museum depicting life in St. Augustine over three centuries. 

St. Augustine, FL - Pirate Museum - 2St. Augustine, FL - Pirate Museum - 2 Next door we toured St. Augustine's Pirate and Treasure Museum, which includes items used in several movies, like Johnny Depp's Pirates of the Caribbean.  

St. Augustine, FL - Pirate Museum - 4St. Augustine, FL - Pirate Museum - 4 This isn't just any Pirate Museum either -- it houses the largest authentic collection of pirate artifacts in the world. 

See more about Colonial Quarter on their website here

See more about the Pirate and Treasure Museum via their website here

St. Augustine, FL - Red Train TrolleySt. Augustine, FL - Red Train TrolleyRipley's Red Train Tour is a 90 minute ride through St. Augustine's more notable historic and entertaining attractions. The trolley stops at many places, allowing you to hop on and off as another one comes to each stop every 20 minutes. Worth your time and money is the Red Train Tour offered by Ripley's. This trolley stops at many locations around the city as the driver gives interesting tidbits on the history of St. Augustine. The entire ride is about 90 minutes, however it stops at several places along the way, allowing riders to hop on and off, with another trolley coming by every 20 minutes. 

Find out more about the Red Train Tours via their website here

St. Augustine, FL - Alligator Farm SignSt. Augustine, FL - Alligator Farm Sign Finally, before we left we had to catch the St. Augustine Alligator Farm Zoological Park on Anastasia Island.

St. Augustine, FL - Alligator FarmSt. Augustine, FL - Alligator Farm The Park, established in 1893, began as a small collection of Florida Reptiles, and now serves as a modern zoo, providing important research and conservation efforts, in addition to just being a fun and informative stop. 

St. Augustine, FL - Alligator Farm TurtleSt. Augustine, FL - Alligator Farm TurtlePhoto by Dave Alexander. No visit to St. Augustine is complete without a visit to this fun place.  Read our article on the long history of St. Augustine Alligator Farm Zoological Park Here.

 

We also produced a video from our time here in St. Augustine that includes more about the history and a few other extra's. 

In addition, here's our St. Augustine Slideshow

There are many sites we didn't get to during our visit, so make sure to plan some quality time in St. Augustine. We would suggest the winter months if possible, not only to avoid the major crowds during tourist season, but also the Florida heat during the summer months. 

We want to thank Ripley's Believe It or Not!, Colonial Quarter, Pirate & Treasure Museum, Ripley's Red Train Tours, the Alligator Farm Zoological Park, and the Lightner Museum (sorry we didn't make it). Each helped out tremendously during our tours and gave a warm Florida welcome. 

During our time in this portion of our journey, we stayed about 40 miles away from St. Augustine next to the town of Crescent City in Sned Acres RV Park. We'll give this park a 4 out of 5 on RV Park Reviews. Good location for the price (New monthly rate of $350 plus electric, which was very reasonable) Good facilities and close to store. Wifi had issues while we were there, but we understand things will likely change in that department this year. Friendly staff. Would stay there again. Ps. Since we were there in January, didn't have a chance to use the pool, but we can imagine it being packed in the summer months. 

Our travel and website are supported through this Photo Print Shop, as well as our General Store. We appreciate greatly each and every reader and customer. For information on support beyond our merchandise, see our Tip Jar Here

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orders@legendsofamerica.com (Legends of America Photo Prints) Castillo De San Marcos Florida Pirate Museum Red Train Tours Ripley's Believe It or Not! Odditorium Slide Show St. Augustine St. Augustine Video St. George Street history photos prints travel http://photos.legendsofamerica.com/blog/2017/1/a-walk-through-our-nations-oldest-city-st-augustine Tue, 24 Jan 2017 21:02:38 GMT
From Mardi Gras to Seaside Defense - Our Journey along the Gulf Coast http://photos.legendsofamerica.com/blog/2017/1/from-mardi-gras-to-seaside-defense---our-journey-along-the-gulf-coast After a drenching in Texas, we had a brief reprieve in Lake Charles, Louisiana as we continued our journey along the Gulf Coast. Time enough to make a short trip south of the city and stretch our legs on Holly Beach to enjoy a little sun. Sun we hadn't seen since Goliad

Holly Beach, LA - Play TimeHolly Beach, LA - Play Time"No leashes?! No Rain?! Beach!!? We're Free, We're Free!!!!"

We also discovered that Lake Charles has the second largest Mardi Gras Celebration in the United States. So we paid a visit to the Mardi Gras Museum of Imperial Calcasieu to find out more. Here's our video of the visit. 

We had a great time at the Museum and want to give a big thanks to David Faulk for the tour. If you would like to find out more about the museum, you can see their website HERE

Read about the fascinating history of Mardi Gras in the U.S., and see our Mardi Gras Slide Show in our article HERE

After time with our friend Ann (thanks for the use of your driveway), we pushed out of Lake Charles to begin our exploration of historic forts along the coast. 

Fort Morgan

Gulf Shores, AL - Fort Morgan EntryGulf Shores, AL - Fort Morgan EntryAbove the entry tunnel into the sea fortress of Fort Morgan.

First established as Fort Bowyer during the War of 1812, the strategic location on the coast of Alabama, some 20 miles west of Gulf Shores, proved advantageous for America as the British suffered a humiliating defeat here. Construction on a new fortress began in 1819, and years later, in 1833, it was named Fort Morgan before being completed the next year. 

Gulf Shores, AL - Fort Morgan TunnelsGulf Shores, AL - Fort Morgan TunnelsInside the walls of Fort Morgan. Standing guard where the bay meets the Gulf of Mexico, the fort played a significant role in the Battle of Mobile Bay in August, 1864 during the Civil War.  Falling into Union Hands, it was used it as a base for reconnaissance raids, and then as a staging area for the Battle of Spanish Fort and the Battle of Fort Blakely, which occurred days before General Robert E. Lee surrendered at Appomattox.

Gulf Shores, AL - Fort Morgan - CannonGulf Shores, AL - Fort Morgan - CannonPhoto by Dave Alexander. Read about the history of the Fort Morgan National Historic Site Here

This is worth a stop and price of admission, but our relationship with Mother Nature was still on the rocks as the Alabama coast was experiencing an unusual bitter cold blast with enough wind to numb your nose while we were there. If it had been a nice day, there's a ferry just outside the fort grounds that we could have taken over to historic Fort Gaines, but not this day. We also missed historic Fort Conde in Mobile due to rain. Still, we captured the moment at Fort Morgan.

 

Fort Barrancas 

Pensacola, FL - Fort Barrancas Spanish Water BatteryPensacola, FL - Fort Barrancas Spanish Water Battery

Fort Barrancas was built on the site of numerous previous forts, including Fort San Carlos de Austria, which was constructed by the Spanish in 1698. The British used this site as a harbor fortification, building the Royal Navy Redoubt in 1763.

Pensacola, Fl - Fort Barrancas EntrywayPensacola, Fl - Fort Barrancas Entryway During the War of 1812 between the United States and the England, the fort was the scene of the American victory at the Battle of Pensacola in 1814. When the United States purchased Florida from Spain in 1821 the U.S. Navy selected Pensacola Bay as the site for a United States Navy Yard.

Pensacola, FL - Fort Barrancas CannonPensacola, FL - Fort Barrancas Cannon Fort Barrancas was deactivated in 1947. The U.S. Navy then incorporated the site into Naval Air Station Pensacola. In 1971, Congress authorized the establishment of the Gulf Islands National Seashore, which included Fort Barrancas National Historic Site. After a $1.2 million restoration, Fort Barrancas was opened to the public in 1980.

Fort Barrancas is located on the Naval Air Station in Pensacola but they are both managed as historic properties by the National Park Service. Access to Naval Air Station Pensacola by non-Department of Defense affiliated personnel may be subject to homeland security and military force protection concerns. Oh, and make sure you go to the right entrance.  We got a little lost trying to find our way in.... you want the West Entrance to the base. Take my word, don't go to the East entrance..unless you belong there of course. 

On the way in to see the historic Fort, stop in at the Pensacola Lighthouse and Museum, established in 1859.  

Pensacola, FL - LighthousePensacola, FL - Lighthouse The Lighthouse overlooks three historic forts and the historic Naval Yard, and provides some spectacular views. Just across the street you'll find the National Naval Aviation Museum, the largest Naval Aviation Museum in the world and the most visited in Florida. Historic Fort Barrancas is right around the corner from the museum. 

For more about Fort Barrancas and the area, read about it HERE. 

Also read more about Florida's Maritime History HERE

During our travels we were spending quite a bit of time in the Gulf Islands National Seashore.

Fort Massachusetts, MSFort Massachusetts, MSFort Massachusetts by the National Park Service Stretching for miles along the southern coasts of Mississippi, Alabama, and the northwestern corner of Florida, this National Seashore helps tell the story of the development of the United States as an independent nation.  

Read more about the Gulf Islands National Seashore HERE.

There was plenty we didn't see and do, and at some point we'll need to come back to this area and explore more. Additional heavy rains changed a few of our plans again, however, by the time we got further into Florida, we made peace with Mother Nature.  On our last stop before our primary destination of Crescent City, we sighed a bit of relief and enjoyed the Sunset of this leg of our journey. 

Keaton Beach. FL - SunsetKeaton Beach, FL - SunsetPhoto by Dave Alexander. During this portion of our Journey, we stayed at: 

Pass Christian RV Park (Pass Christian, MS) - We gave this overnight stay 4 out of 5 stars on RV Park Reviews, primarily for friendliness. No wifi here, and a bit off the beaten track, but a pleasant overnighter.  (P.S. Don't believe your Tom Tom for directions here, unless of course you want a scenic tour of a neighborhood before coming back out only to turn just a few hundred feet into the park). 

Foley Sunchase RV Park (Foley, AL) - We stayed 3 nights at this one while exploring history and gave it 3 out of 5 stars on RV Park Reviews. To be fair, the manager we dealt with indicated he wasn't there much longer, and I would say that's a good thing as he was a bit odd (roaming around the outside of the trailer when he thought we weren't there, having his dog piss on our truck, etc).  Great new Community building and lots of planned activities, and overall great people, including who I believe was the incoming new manager ready to take creepazoid's place.  Wifi had issues due to a recent storm, but otherwise would be adequate, with the typical exception of peak traffic times. 

Old Pavilion RV Park (Keaton Beach, FL) - We stayed overnight before pushing on to our month long stay in Crescent City.  Gave it 3 out of 5 stars on RV Park Reviews.  Mostly sandy sites right by the beach, although the beach seemed a little unkept. Also noticed standing water smells and a tinge of sewer, however it did look like they were working on something while we were there. Location is the key on this park (Sunset photo above taken from a campsite we weren't on). Hard to find the office, but the owners were really nice. Couldn't attach to their wifi during our brief stay. 

 

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orders@legendsofamerica.com (Legends of America Photo Prints) Fort Barrancas Fort Morgan Lake Charles Mardi Gras Museum Pensacola Lighthouse historic gulf coast forts photo video http://photos.legendsofamerica.com/blog/2017/1/from-mardi-gras-to-seaside-defense---our-journey-along-the-gulf-coast Sat, 14 Jan 2017 16:12:21 GMT
Black Gold of Beaumont http://photos.legendsofamerica.com/blog/2017/1/black-gold-of-beaumont After moving on from our adventure in Goliad County, we went in search of Black Gold, Texas Tea...Oil that is.  First though, we decided to take a side trip down to the lost city of Indianola.

Indanola, TX - StreetIndanola, TX - StreetOnce one of the most important settlements on the Texas Coast, Indianola suffered severe Hurricanes and tropical storms before becoming a ghost town in the late 1800's. Now only a few call the settlement home. Once one of the most important Texas ports along the Gulf of Mexico, the settlement was established in 1846 as Indian Point. Stage coach service began in 1848 as it became firmly established as a deep-water port. Soon, it was the chief port through which European and American immigrants flowed into western Texas.

Indanola, TX - OceanIndanola, TX - Ocean

Indianola Texas in the 1800's As Indian Point began to grow and merge with the nearby settlement of Karlshaven, the two towns became one and changed its name to Indianola in February, 1849. With its rapid growth, the town soon expanded three miles down the beach to Powderhorn Bayou when Indianola was chosen as the terminus to Charles Morgan’s New York-based steamship line.

In 1852 Indianola was made the Calhoun County seat, and at its peak had around 2,000 residents, but in 1875 it was practically wiped off the coast in a Hurricane. Another storm in 1886 would be the death knell of the city and the county seat was moved.

Today there is a chunk of granite from the original courthouse along the coastline

Calhoun County Courthouse GraniteOne of the few remaining remnants of the original Indianola is this chunk of granite put here as a monument from the original Calhoun County Courthouse. . It's inscription reads: 

Calhoun County Courthouse
Edward Beaumont Architect 1859
During the Storms of 1875 and 1886
precious lives were saved within its walls
of shell, concrete and lime.
Abandoned 1886

You can read more about Indianola HERE.

After a windy time in Indianola, we pushed our way to Galveston Island for a quick pass through on our way to find Oil.

Galveston, TX - Pleasure PierGalveston, TX - Pleasure PierAmusement on the Pier on Galveston Island Galveston, TX - Pleasure Pier - 3Galveston, TX - Pleasure Pier - 3 Sorry folks, no time to stop and explore in Galveston Island, but you can check out our little Galveston Photo Collection HERE.

Our primary destination for this portion of our journey was Beaumont, a city built by fortunes in Oil. Unfortunately, our timing for staying here on New Years weekend wasn't ideal as Mother Nature provided her own "gusher" and washed out many of our plans. However that didn't stop us from paying a visit to some pretty cool museums, including the Texas Energy Museum in downtown Beaumont. 

Beaumont, TX - Energy MuseumBeaumont, TX - Energy Museum The Texas Energy Museum opened in 1990 in the downtown district, and explores the history, various equipment used, and companies associated with the Texas Oil Boom of the early 1900's.

Beaumont, TX - Energy Museum - Western Co. Miss 101Beaumont, TX - Energy Museum - Western Co. Miss 101"Miss 101", the symbol of the Western Company, serviced areas of Texas from 1939 to 1948. Exhibits and videos walk you through the timeline of Texas Oil, and explain how the various products are gathered from the area's many Oil Refineries.

Beaumont, TX - Energy Museum - NeonSignBeaumont, TX - Energy Museum - NeonSign

Captain Anthony F. Lucas You'll really enjoy the animated exhibits with talking characters, including Patillo Higgins and Captain Anthony F. Lucas, and their roles in the nation's first big oil gusher at Spindletop, the Lucas Gusher. The characters tell the tale of how Higgins was mocked for insisting large amounts of Oil were just waiting to be found here, and how Lucas prevailed in finding it.

The Lucas Gusher began the boom for Beaumont, which grew from around 8,500 residents to 30,000 in just three months. 

The boom would also leave a lasting impact on the U.S., bringing in the nation's industrial age and spawning some of the most successful oil companies.

Beaumont, TX - Energy Museum - Texaco TruckBeaumont, TX - Energy Museum - Texaco Truck

You can read more about the Texas Energy Museum HERE

Once the rain stopped, we ventured on to Gladys City Boomtown Museum

Beaumont, TX - Boomtown MuseumBeaumont, TX - Gladys City Boomtown Museum A continuation of our education on the Lucas Gusher at Spindletop, this is a replica of what the old town of Gladys City might have been. The museum complex was built in in 1976 through the combined efforts of the Lucas Gusher Monument Association, the Heritage Committee, the Southeast Texas Chapter of the American Institute of Architects, and Lamar University. 

Beaumont, TX - Boomtown Museum BoardwalkBeaumont, TX - Boomtown Museum Boardwalk It's a fascinating look at the beginnings of the Texas Oil Boom in 1901 and how Gladys City and Beaumont were ground zero for building America into a true Super Power.

Read the incredible tale of fortune of Gladys City and the Spindletop Gusher HERE

We missed a lot in Beaumont due to the holiday weekend and pouring rain, but there is plenty to see and do here. From historic homes to wonderful family entertainment, learn about the attractions that make this historic city a must see in South Texas. Visit the Beaumont Convention and Visitors Bureau's Things To Do. They were most excellent hosts and welcomed us Texas Style. 

Here's a peek at more of Beaumont including the museums we visited

On our way to Beaumont, we stayed at a really nice RV Park in Bay City, Texas. 60 North RV Park is a great stop for RV'ers passing through or spending time in the area and we would put this one above all others in Bay City.  We gave them 4.5 out of 5 stars on RV Park Reviews.

In Beaumont we stayed at Gulf Coast RV Resort, another excellent choice for spending time exploring the rich history around the city.  They even served up a continental breakfast, had private showers and a fitness room (not that we used it LOL). We gave them 4.5 out of 5 stars on RV Park Reviews, however I would note that this place practically turned into a marshland after about 2 inches of rain. Thankful for concrete pads! 

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orders@legendsofamerica.com (Legends of America Photo Prints) Beaumont Galveston Island Gladys City Boomtown Indianola Texas Energy Museum ghost town http://photos.legendsofamerica.com/blog/2017/1/black-gold-of-beaumont Fri, 06 Jan 2017 14:12:44 GMT
Exploring Deep Texas History in Goliad http://photos.legendsofamerica.com/blog/2017/1/exploring-deep-texas-history-in-goliad We're starting the new year doing what we like most, exploring history. And here in South Texas there's plenty of it. Our primary destination for this part of our trip took us to Goliad County, but of course we found a gem or two along the way, like the old town of Dime Box. 

Dime Box, TX - ChattingDime Box, TX - ChattingA lazy afternoon finds locals outside the barber shop chatting it up in Dime Box, Tx. The town started a few miles away as a sawmill built by settler Joseph Brown sometime in the early 1870's. Known as Brown's Mill, local residents would put their outgoing mail in a box in Brown's office, along with a dime, for weekly delivery to Giddings, twelve miles to the southwest. An official post office was opened in 1877, but was closed for a short while in December of 1883.  After it reopened that next spring, confusion between the towns name of Brown's Mill and another Texas city, Brownsville, led the small community to rename itself Dime Box. 

Dime Box, TX - Dusty CarDime Box, TX - Dusty CarA dusty old classic sits under a false promise of ice cream in the hot Texas Hill Country. The town moved three miles to it's location on what is now farm road 141 after the Southern Pacific Railroad built a line in 1913. The original location, on State Highway 21, is now called Old Dime Box.  At its peak, Dime Box had about 500 residents and today continues to be a laid back, unincorporated, small Texas town full of charm and memories with a population of around 300.

See more of Texas Hill Country in our galleries here.

After passing through Giddings, burial place of vicious gunslinger Bill Longley, we pressed on to our destination of Goliad. Our first stop was between Victoria and Goliad, just off U.S. 59 (future I-69 at the time of this writing) at the site of the Battle of Coleto.

Fannin, TX - Battlefield SignFannin, TX - Battlefield SignEntry to the Fannin Battleground State Historic Site, commemorating the Battle of Coleto in March of 1836 which led to the Goliad Massacre. After the fall of the Alamo in March of 1836 during Texas bid for independence from Mexico, General Sam Houston ordered Colonel James Walker Fannin and his 400 men to retreat from the Presidio La Bahia at Goliad to Victoria.  On March 19, during their retreat, Fannin and his men were overtaken by a large Mexican force near Coleto Creek.  

Fannin, TX - BattlefieldFannin, TX - Battlefield After making a valiant stand, the remaining Texan's surrendered, believing they would be treated as prisoners of war of a civilized nation. Instead, they were taken back to the Presidio La Bahia, and on Palm Sunday, March 27, most were slaughtered in what is now known as the Goliad Massacre.  Some escaped and a few were spared after a Mexican woman known as the "Angel of Goliad" convinced a Mexican Colonel not to kill approximately 20 captives, including two doctors, along with orderlies and interpreters. In the end, between the battle and the massacre, almost 350 Texan's perished. With the defeat at the Alamo fresh on their minds, and the atrocity of Goliad, Texan resistance against Mexico was hardened and led to the battle cry "Remember the Alamo, Remember Goliad" (also "Remember La Bahia").

GoliadFanninGraveGoliad, TX - Fannin Grave In May, the Texan army would return to Goliad, and under the direction of General Thomas Rusk, would gather the bones of the men slaughtered by the Mexican Army.  On June 3, 1836, the bones were carried in procession from the Presidio La Bahia and given a military funeral. Today the grave is marked with the Fannin Monument close to the Presidio.  

Read more about the Battle of Coleto and the Goliad Massacre Here.

The Presidio La Bahia is the military fortress built by the Spanish to protect Missions in South Texas, including Mission Espirtu Santo just across the San Antonio River.  

Goliad, TX - Presidio La Bahia Loreto ChapelGoliad, TX - Presidio La Bahia Loreto ChapelInside the grounds of the Presidio La Bahia looking toward the chapel. There is a rich history here dating back to the 1700's, and several flags have flown over the Presidio as the land changed hands during various conflicts, including its crucial role during the Texas Revolution.

Goliad, TX - MissionEspirtuSanto-flagsGoliad, TX - Presidio La Bahia FlagsSeveral flags have flown over the Presidio La Bahia since it was established in 1749.

As both a State and national landmark, Presidio Nuestra Señora de Loreto de la Bahía and its chapel are now a popular attraction. The Chapel of Our Lady of Loreto is one of the oldest extant churches in the United States and has been continually operated by the Catholic Diocese of Victoria, Texas since 1853. 

Goliad, TX - Presidio La Bahia Loreto Chapel InteriorGoliad, TX - Presidio La Bahia Loreto Chapel Interior The Presidio de la Bahia also houses a history museum within the old officers' quarters. The museum offers exhibits, artifacts, and an award-winning documentary movie. Another favorite is the annual living history program, a series of reenactments that takes place each March to mark the tragic events of 1836. 

PresidioLaBahiaChurchRoof-da-2Goliad, TX - Presidio La Bahia Roof - 2Photo by Dave Alexander. Today the military compound, including the chapel, have been carefully restored to their 1836 appearance, and is an important reminder of the influence of Spanish and Mexican culture on the United States. 

Right beside the Presidio you'll find the birthplace of General Ignacio Zaragoza. General Zaragoza assumed command of the rag-tag Mexican Army and welded it into a staunch fighting force, which met and defeated the French on May 5, 1862, in the Battle of Puebla, against Napoleon III's invading army (now celebrated as Cinco de Mayo in both the U.S. and Mexico).

Read more about the Presidio de la Bahia, also known as Fort Goliad, Here.

Coming out of Goliad, just before crossing the river and reaching the Presidio, be sure to stop in at Goliad State Park, home to the reconstructed Mission Nuestra Señora del Espíritu Santo de Zúñiga, also known as Aranama Mission or Mission La Bahia. 

Goliad, TX - Mission Espirtu SantoGoliad, TX - Mission Espirtu Santo The Mission, established by the Spanish in 1722 on Matagorda Bay, moved here in 1749. Educating and serving the tribes of the Aranama, Piguique, Manos de Perro, Tamique, Tawakoni, and Tonkawa to great success proved destructive for the tribes' traditional way of life. In return for food, shelter and protection from more aggressive tribes, they agreed to live in the mission and follow its discipline and religion, which resulted in the gradual erosion and eventual destruction of their traditional tribal culture.

MissionNuestra-2-daGoliad, TX - Mission Espirtu Santo - Warehouse Interior - 2Goliad, TX - Mission Espirtu Santo - Warehouse Interior - 2Photo by Dave Alexander. By the 1830's most of the Christianized Indians had left and the mission which was facing opposition from raiding Apache and Comanche. These conditions coupled with a lack of money and political turmoil in Texas, forced the mission to close in 1830.

Goliad, TX - Mission Espirtu Santo RooflineGoliad, TX - Mission Espirtu Santo Roofline The mission itself became part of the City of Goliad and the old mission's stones were allowed to be removed and used for local construction. 

Goliad, TX - Mission Espirtu Santo - Wall DetailGoliad, TX - Mission Espirtu Santo - Wall DetailFound over one of the side doors into the Mission. The skull and crossbones are common at old Spanish Missions, indicating the grounds act as a cemetery, in which many of the markers of wood crosses have been lost in time. The mission ruins became part of the newly created Goliad State Park in 1931. In 1933, the Civil Works Administration with funds provided by the Works Progress Administration, began reconstruction of the stone chapel and granary, which were completed in 1941. Additional construction in the 1960s and 1980s brought the mission back its 1749 appearance. During the 1970s, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department rehabilitated the chapel and built exhibits in the restored granary.

Goliad, TX - Mission Espirtu Santo - WarehouseGoliad, TX - Mission Espirtu Santo - Warehouse

Read more about Mission Espiritu Santo HERE. 

The community that grew around the Presidio and Mission was originally known as La Bahia.  In 1829 the name was changed to Goliad, believed to be an anagram of Hidalgo, minus the the "H".  

Goliad, TX - DowntownGoliad, TX - Downtown

The history beyond Spanish and Mexico control includes the fact that Texas gunfighter John King Fisher once lived here. In fact he was arrested for breaking into a house before moving on. 

The existing Goliad County Courthouse, erected in 1894 and later expanded, is on the National Register of Historic Places. 

Goliad, TX - County Courthouse Clock Tower-daGoliad, TX - County Courthouse Clock Tower-da You'll also find the Hanging Tree on the Courthouse grounds, where court sessions between 1846 and 1870 were held.  Death penalties were carried out immediately back then. 

Goliad, TX - Coffins & CasketsGoliad, TX - Coffins & CasketsPhoto by Dave Alexander. Beside its troubled times during wars, the city of Goliad suffered greatly in 1902 when a devastating tornado killed 114, including then sheriff Robert Shaw. It's tied as the deadliest twister in Texas History, and is currently the nation's 10th deadliest on record. 

We greatly enjoyed our stay in one of the oldest Counties in Texas, and encourage everyone with a love of early American History to visit Goliad.  

During our time in Goliad we stayed at the Angels of Goliad RV Park. We gave it 4.5 stars on RV Park Reviews and would recommend it to any traveler coming to see the rich history. 

Here's some more images from our adventure in Goliad. All are available for prints and downloads HERE

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orders@legendsofamerica.com (Legends of America Photo Prints) Fannin Battle Field Goliad Goliad State Park Presidio La Bahia history massacre missions photos texas travel http://photos.legendsofamerica.com/blog/2017/1/exploring-deep-texas-history-in-goliad Mon, 02 Jan 2017 14:59:34 GMT
That time when... Our Visit to Sego Canyon Utah http://photos.legendsofamerica.com/blog/2016/11/that-time-when-our-visit-to-sego-canyon-utah [A look back at our 2008 visit to Utah, and Sego Canyon, including the ghost town of Sego, in the fourth of our series "That time when.." a revisit to some of our favorites over the past]

In April of 2008 we drove up from Nevada into Utah for a swing through the southeastern portions of the state, going through what seemed to be endless changing landscapes and one National Park after another.  After making it up to I-70, and stumbling upon the ghost town of Thompson Springs, we made a small jaunt north on State Highway 94/BLM159, along Thompson Wash to Sego Canyon Rd (BLM160).  Here we found ancient rock art by the side of the road that dates back hundreds of years to the Fremont culture.  

Sego Canyon, UT - Petroglyphs - 2Sego Canyon, UT - Petroglyphs - 2Petroglyphs dating back hundreds of years still visible near the ghost town of Sego, UT.

The Fremont culture, a contemporary of the Anasazi, thrived from 600 A.D. to 1250.  There is also rock art from around 1300 A.D from the Ute tribe

Sego Canyon, UT - Petroglyphs - 3Sego Canyon, UT - Petroglyphs - 3Petroglyphs near Sego, UT

Unfortunately, although preservation efforts are made, there is quite a bit of graffiti and damage to the art done over the past couple of centuries. However there's plenty to see and a great reminder of just how long this continent has been inhabited.  Some of the art found in Utah dates back to the Archaic period from around 7000 B.C.

Heading north on Sego Canyon Road, we came upon Sego's Old cemetery, with the ghost town another mile or so up the canyon.

Sego, UT - Town View, 1920Sego, UT - Town View, 1920Town view in 1920 Sego started as a community in the 1890's when Harry Ballard discovered coal on land next to his ranch. Mining operations soon started and a town sprang up, originally called Ballard. As news spread of the high quality coal there, Salt Lake City businessman B.F. Bauer bought out Ballards property and formed the American Fuel Company. 

One of the more prominent structures you'll find here is the old Company Store dating back to 1911. 

Sego, UT - Company StoreSego, UT - Company StoreSego Company store built in 1911.

Around the same time the company store was built, the settlement was renamed to Neslin after the company's general manager Richard Neslin. In 1914 rail lines were brought to the coal camp, which brought its own issues as railroad spur trains were often off their tracks. 

Sego, UT - Railroad BridgeSego, UT - Railroad Bridge Not happy with profits, Bauer fired Neslin in 1916, changed the name of the company to Chesterfield, and renamed the town again, this time after the state flower, Sego. During our visit here in 2008, the old American Boarding House, built in the early 1900's, appeared to be on it's way to complete ruin. 

Sego, UT - Boarding House - 3Sego, UT - Boarding House - 3American Boarding House as seen in 2008, is now just a pile of kindling. We were told by a reader in 2011 that this building is now just a pile of kindling.  In addition to crumbling houses, we also found the old Powder House nearby.

Sego, UT - Powder HouseSego, UT - Powder HouseThanks to Legends' reader Gwen Korfus who confirmed this was the powder house in Sego. Gwen's mother lived as a child in the boarding house nearby. Sego became an official ghost town in the mid 1950's, and in 1973 most of it burned to the ground. You can read more about the interesting history of Sego Canyon and the ghost town of Sego HERE.

We recommend high clearance vehicles to visit the ruins and take extra caution during and after heavy rains as flash floods are common here. 

Here are more of the sights we found around Sego in 2008. 

 

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orders@legendsofamerica.com (Legends of America Photo Prints) American Fuel Company Ballard Chesterfield Company Fremont Neslin Photos Sego Ute about ancient rock art camp coal mining ghost town history petroglyphs ruins http://photos.legendsofamerica.com/blog/2016/11/that-time-when-our-visit-to-sego-canyon-utah Wed, 30 Nov 2016 12:10:50 GMT
That time when... Our Visit to Shakespeare http://photos.legendsofamerica.com/blog/2016/8/that-time-when-our-visit-to-shakespeare [This is the third in our series "That time when..." a look back at our favorite travels through history since 2003.]

In March of 2008 we took a trip to southern New Mexico to visit some history. Shakespeare alone was worth the trip. 

Shakespeare, NM - Town ViewShakespeare, NM - Town ViewOriginally called Ralston, the town was established somewhere around 1870. Today tourists can relive some of the old west in this privately owned ghost town of Shakespeare. This mining settlement got its start as Ralston around 1870, with glowing accounts given of the richness of the silver mines. 

Shakespeare, NM - Chuck Wagon - 2Shakespeare, NM - Chuck WagonA chuck wagon on display in Shakespeare brings back its Old West days.

During the early years, Ralston boomed big, with some reports of up to 3,000 here looking to strike it rich. However, the towns namesake, William Ralston, would lose credibility with his involvement in the Great Diamond Hoax of 1871, and by 1873 there were only a few people left. By the late 1870's Ralston was a ghost town for the first time. 

Shakespeare, NM - WindowShakespeare, NM - WindowView of the landscape from within a building at Shakespeare. Then in 1879, Colonel Boyle of St. Louis staked a number of claims under the name of the Shakespeare Mining Company and renamed the settlement. Mining was once again in full force, but the town never settled so much as to gain a school, church or newspaper. 

Shakespeare, NM - Perry E Borchers HomeShakespeare, NM - Perry E Borchers Home As for the law, it would primarily be handled by the citizens, with some offenders hanged by the timbers of the Grant House Dining Room. 

Shakespeare, NM - Grant Hotel Dining RoomShakespeare, NM - Grant Hotel Dining RoomInside the Grant House Dining room, hanging ropes dangle from the ceiling testifying to a more violent past. February, 2008, Kathy Weiser-Alexander. When the railroad bypassed Shakespeare in the 1880's, favoring Lordsburg instead, the town once again began to decline. 

Shakespeare, NM - Grant House InteriorShakespeare, NM - Grant House Interior Although there was a brief resurgence in mining in the early 1900's, it was not enough to save Shakespeare, and it became a ghost town for the second time. 

Shakespeare, NM - Grant House and SaloonShakespeare, NM - Grant House and SaloonThe Grant House on the right and saloon on the left. The back portion of the Grant House once held the stage station. The front dining room sometimes served as the hanging room. February, 2008, Kathy Weiser-Alexander. Taken over as part of a working ranch by the Hill family in 1935, Janaloo Hill did a lot of work to keep the history alive in the 1970's, with the town being listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1970. In 1984 she married Manny Hough, who helped her maintain the site. She passed away in 2005, but to this day Manny continues her work in Shakespeare.  

Today the town can be toured on the weekends, but be sure to check their website for exact information HERE

Read more about the interesting history, some of which conflicts with the legends told about Shakespeare, in our full article HERE

In the meantime, enjoy the views of Ralston/Shakespeare from our 2008 visit

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orders@legendsofamerica.com (Legends of America Photo Prints) Ralston Shakespeare about blog ghost town information new mexico old west photos http://photos.legendsofamerica.com/blog/2016/8/that-time-when-our-visit-to-shakespeare Mon, 08 Aug 2016 15:03:56 GMT
Split Rock - More than Just a Lighthouse http://photos.legendsofamerica.com/blog/2016/7/split-rock-more-than-just-a-lighthouse It's been the subject of a stamp, featured in film, notable photography and postcards. It's also one of Minnesota's best known landmarks.

Lake Superior, MN - Split Rock LighthouseLake Superior, MN - Split Rock Lighthouse Yet Split Rock Lighthouse, southwest of Silver Bay on the North Shore of Lake Superior, is best recognized for it's service saving ships on Lake Superior. In the early 1900's, Iron Ore shipments on the lake were increasing dramatically.

Two Harbors, MN - Ore DockTwo Harbors, MN - Ore DockOre Dock in Two Harbors, down the road from Split Rock Lighthouse U.S. Steel Corporation dominated the business with 112 steel freighters. On November 28, 1905 a strong gale, known as the Mataafa Storm, damaged 29 ships, of which a third owned by U.S. Steel were uninsured.  Two of the ships hit the rocks here, one of which still lies on the bottom of the lake just north of Split Rock. 

Lake Superior, MN - Split Rock ViewLake Superior, MN - Split Rock ViewView from Split Rock Lighthouse along the shoreline of Lake Superior. With lobby from company officials, Congress appropriated $75,000 to build the lighthouse, other buildings and land. Construction was was completed in 1910 by the United States Lighthouse Service.

Lake Superior, MN - Split Rock Lighthouse Keepers HomesLake Superior, MN - Split Rock Lighthouse Keepers Homes Run by the U.S. Lighthouse Service until 1939 when the Coast Guard took over, Split Rock was decommissioned in 1969 when modern navigational equipment made it obsolete. 

Lake Superior, MN - Split Rock Lighthouse - 3Lake Superior, MN - Split Rock Lighthouse Minnesota had it named an historic and scenic landmark in 1971, and in 1976 the Minnesota Historical Society took over operation. The site includes the original tower and lens, the fog signal building, the oil house, and the three keepers' houses. It is restored to appear as it did in the late 1920s. 

In 2011 it was designated a National Historic Landmark and is considered one of the most picturesque lighthouses in the United States.

Lake Superior, MN - Split Rock LighthouseLake Superior, MN - Split Rock LighthousePhoto by the late David Fisk. Make plans to visit this beautiful historic site, complete with museum at the visitors center and guided tours.  Or just take a self guided tour around the 25 acre site, with several views of the lighthouse that are sure to make a great photo.  Walk up the spiral staircase to the light itself and see more displays in the fog signal building.  Costumed guides in the keepers home and Lighthouse show what life was like in the early 1920's.  

In addition, the adjacent Split Rock Lighthouse State Park offers many recreational activities and scenic trails along the shoreline. 

Find out more via the Minnesota Historical Society's website HERE.

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orders@legendsofamerica.com (Legends of America Photo Prints) Minnesota Split Rock about history information lighthouse photos http://photos.legendsofamerica.com/blog/2016/7/split-rock-more-than-just-a-lighthouse Wed, 27 Jul 2016 01:56:09 GMT
A Frivolous Post on Lanesboro http://photos.legendsofamerica.com/blog/2016/7/a-frivolous-post-on-lanesboro I don't have a lot to write about Lanesboro, Minnesota, at the moment. But Kathy and I had the opportunity to stop there not long after entering Minnesota last week, and it was just too hard to resist not sharing this sleepy little town, population 754.   Lanesboro, MN - Main StreetLanesboro, MN - Main Street

Platted in 1868 along the Root River, the town is named after one of its founders, F.A. Lane. 

Lanesboro, MN - Hank's Diner - 2Lanesboro, MN - Hank's Diner - 2Photo by Dave Alexander It has a nice waterfall on the edge of town that the ducks love. 

Lanesboro, MN - Root River WaterfallLanesboro, MN - Root River WaterfallPhoto by Dave Alexander It's dubbed the Bed & Breakfast capital of Minnesota

Lanesboro, MN - Outfitters and InnLanesboro, MN - Outfitters and Inn And it's full of quaint little shops along 'main street' that just scream...take a picture!

Lanesboro, MN - SignsLanesboro, MN - SignsWith a history that dates back to 1868, quaint shops and eatery's, against the backdrop of the Root River, Lanesboro promotes itself as the Bed & Breakfast capital of Minnesota. Photo by Dave Alexander. We even found a working phone booth in this town!  I know, I know, that's not that old, but still, I just had to. 

Lanesboro-phonebooth-daveLanesboro-phonebooth-dave Much of the downtown in Lanesboro is on the National Register of Historic Places. With lots of art, culture and cutsy shopping, I can see why it was named by Author John Villani as one of the 100 Best Small Art Towns of America.  

So, I didn't want this trip to pass by without sharing what caught our eye in Lanesboro.  Enjoy :)

 

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orders@legendsofamerica.com (Legends of America Photo Prints) Lanesboro Minnesota amish diner photos root river shops waterfall http://photos.legendsofamerica.com/blog/2016/7/a-frivolous-post-on-lanesboro Sun, 24 Jul 2016 20:46:00 GMT
North West Company Fur Post - A Trip to the early 1800's on Snake River http://photos.legendsofamerica.com/blog/2016/7/north-west-company-fur-post---a-trip-to-the-early-1800s-on-snake-river Just a few miles outside of Pine City, Minnesota sits an historic site found by chance. The 1804 fur post of the North West Company.  

North West Co. Trading PostNorth West Co. Trading PostRecreation of the 1804 fur trading post, created from evidence found in excavation of the site in the 1960's. Evidence of the post was found in the early 1930's, when a boy brought home some interesting looking "rocks". His father recognized them as flints for rifles, and decades later, in the 1960's, excavation of the site led the Minnesota Historical Society in their accurate reconstruction of the post. The journal of John Sayer, the posts manager, helped further recreate life there as they traded with the Ojibwe tribe along the Snake River. 

North West Co. Trading Post - FursNorth West Co. Trading Post - FursFurs were brought by the Ojibwe to trade with the Northwest Company for other goods. Anything from cooking utensils to cloth. Furs were brought by the Ojibwe to trade with the North West Company for other goods. Anything from cooking utensils to cloth. Each of the furs had different values, with Beaver having the most. For each fur, the Native would be given a credit for other goods. 

North West Co. Trading Post - Beaver PeltsNorth West Co. Trading Post - Beaver PeltsBeaver Pelts were worth more than others because they were used to make expensive hats and clothing. Here at the post the company would spend the winter trading with the tribe for wild rice, maple sugar and meat in addition to the furs. John Sayer married the Chief's daughter earlier, and established close bonds with the Ojibwe tribe, who viewed the transactions as gifts between friends. 

North West Co. Trading Post, MN - Trade Room - 2North West Co. Trading Post, MN - Trade Room - 2 There's a lot to learn about here at this most excellent historic site, with very knowledgeable re-enactors who give guided tours that really take you back to the early 1800's.  Our tour guide portrayed a French Canadian company man complete with the french language if you wanted him too. 

North West Co. Trading Post - GuideNorth West Co. Trading Post - GuideThis historical site gives excellent tours with re-enactors who really take you back to the 1800's.

We learned about the Ojibwe and how the women of the tribe were essential and valorized members of their community, and how in marriage the couple would take on complementary roles.

North West Co. Trading Post, MN - Ojibwe Living Quarters - 2North West Co. Trading Post, MN - Ojibwe Living Quarters - 2 We also learned how the tribe named the river Kanabec or Snake, for their enemy, the Dakota.

North West Co. Trading Post - Snake verNorth West Co. Trading Post - Snake River

While here you'll be taken through a tribes camp on your way to the fur post.  Then at the post, you'll learn about each room and the roles of the company employee's, the way they lived and played. 

North West Co. Trading Post, MN - Bunk RoomNorth West Co. Trading Post, MN - Bunk Room

You can read more about North West Company Fur Trading Post in our Article Here.

Read more about the Ojibwe Native Tribe Here.

Learn more about this excellent site on the National Historical Register via the Minnesota Historical Society's website HERE. Be sure to check out some of their signature events to enhance your visit even more.  Kathy and I want to thank everyone at the Historical Society and Museum for a wonderful experience!

Here are some of the views that caught our eye while there. 

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orders@legendsofamerica.com (Legends of America Photo Prints) British Canadians French Fur Traders Native Americans North West Company Ojibwe Scottish early 1800's photo slide show http://photos.legendsofamerica.com/blog/2016/7/north-west-company-fur-post---a-trip-to-the-early-1800s-on-snake-river Sun, 24 Jul 2016 00:58:42 GMT
Mill City Museum - Exploring Flour Power in Minneapolis http://photos.legendsofamerica.com/blog/2016/7/mill-city-museum---exploring-flour-power-in-minneapolis Another excellent site from the Minnesota Historical Society is Mill City Museum in downtown Minneapolis.  Housed in the ruins of the Washburn A Mill, the museum chronicles the storied past of what once made Minneapolis the Flour Milling Capital of the World. 

Minneapolis, MN - Mill City Museum ExteriorMinneapolis, MN - Mill City Museum ExteriorHoused in the ruins of the Washburn A Mill, the museum tells the story of Minneapolis' rein as flour capital of the world. Nicknamed "Mill City", Minneapolis growth from a small 13,000 residents in 1870, to over 165,000 in 1890, is attributed to the construction and innovation of the Mills on the Mississippi River. Grain came from all over the Northern Plains by rail to be processed here. 

Minneapolis, MN -Gold Medal Flour Sign - 2Minneapolis, MN -Gold Medal Flour Sign - 2At the Mill City Museum. Photo by Dave Alexander. The power behind the boom in industry came from Saint Anthony Falls, the highest waterfall on the Mississippi River, which led to saw mills, woolen mills, cotton and paper mills, and our focus of the day, flour. 

Minneapolis, MN - Saint Anthony FallsMinneapolis, MN - Saint Anthony FallsPhoto by Dave Alexander. We started our tour with an excellent movie on the history of Minneapolis called "Minneapolis in 19 Minutes Flat". 

Local humorist, playwright and radio personality Kevin Kling takes a light hearted look at the city every half hour, and it's included in your admission price. There's a lot we didn't know about Minneapolis before watching this film and we think you'll find it very entertaining. 

After the film we took the self guided tour of exhibits, checked out the Baking Lab and soaked in the power of flour. 

Minneapolis, MN - Mill City Museum BisquickMinneapolis, MN - Mill City Museum Bisquick The museum also includes ruins of original brickwork and limestone walls that are all that's left from a devastating 1991 blaze.  It just so happened that the Minnesota Historical Society was working to build the museum at the time of the fire, and simply incorporated it into the overall theme. 

Minneapolis, MN - Mill City Museum Ruins - 2Minneapolis, MN - Mill City Museum Ruins - 2Photo by Dave Alexander. We wrapped up our tour of Mill City Museum with another excellent journey through history, this of the Mill itself on the Flour Tower.

Minneapolis, MN - Mill City Museum -Flour TowerMinneapolis, MN - Mill City Museum -Flour Tower We were impressed with the 8 story freight elevator ride through exhibits, complete with stories told by workers of the Mill, ending up on the 9th story observation deck overlooking St Anthony Falls and the Mississippi. 

Minneapolis, MN - River View - 2Minneapolis, MN - River View - 2View from the 9th story observation deck at Mill City Museum.

The Flour Tower and Movie alone are worth the price of admission to this most wonderful museum.  For more information, see the Mill City Museum official website HERE.

After, or before, your visit to the museum, be sure to check out Mill Ruins Park just beyond down by the river. On the National Register of Historic Places, walk around ruins of the Mill industry and over the historic Stone Arch Bridge. 

Minneapolis, MN - Mill Ruins ParkMinneapolis, MN - Mill Ruins ParkPhoto by Dave Alexander Minneapolis, MN -Mill Ruins Park Stone Arch BridgeMinneapolis, MN -Mill Ruins Park Stone Arch BridgePhoto by Dave Alexander. It's a fun way to spend the day with family and friends, and an entertaining way to learn about the history of Minneapolis. We recommend you set aside a couple of hours at the Mill City Museum, and check ahead for special events and concerts

In the meantime, here's a view from our eye while at the Museum and Mill Ruins Park. 

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orders@legendsofamerica.com (Legends of America Photo Prints) Mill City Museum Mill Ruins Park Minneapolis history museum photos travel http://photos.legendsofamerica.com/blog/2016/7/mill-city-museum---exploring-flour-power-in-minneapolis Fri, 22 Jul 2016 01:00:56 GMT
Sibley Historic Site and Fort Snelling http://photos.legendsofamerica.com/blog/2016/7/Sibley-Historic-Site-and-Fort-Snelling We couldn't come to Minnesota without touring and learning about Mendota.  This area is rich in history with the Dakota tribe long before fur traders arrived here in the 1760's.  The Dakota called this place bdota, which in english translates to where two waters come together.  The town of Mendota sits at the confluence of the Mississippi and Minnesota Rivers. Ann Essling writes in her book for the Minnesota Historical Society "Historic Mendota Before 1863", that the english speaking  fur traders, while trying to spell and pronounce bdota, spelled it Mendota. The Dakota's name for the river was Mnisota or sky-tinted waters. 

Active in fur trading with the Native Americans, just outside of Fort Snelling the area was known as St. Peter's,  then as a settlement formed it was renamed Mendota in 1837. The village would be the first city in what would eventually be Minnesota. At the Sibley Historic Site, we toured three homes, some of the oldest in the state, that were not only witness, but had active roles in the events that would shape Minnesota. 

You'll enter the Dupuis Home to purchase tickets for the tours of the homes.  

Mendota, MN - Sibley Site Visitor CenterMendota, MN - Sibley Site Visitor CenterHome of Hypolite Dupuis built in 1853-54.

Built in the early 1850's, it was home to Hypolite Dupuis, a fur trade clerk and manager of the American Fur Company store.  Dupuis, as best history can tell, was an assistant to Henry Sibley during his time in the fur trade here. He built the home after the fur trade had died out. 

Down the hill the next stop was the Cold Store for the American Fur Company.  Here things could be refrigerated by carving out large chunks of ice and putting them under the building.  

Mendota, MN - Sibley Historic Site Fur Trading - 2Mendota, MN - Sibley Historic Site Fur Trading - 2

The Cold Store and warehouse held many goods for the American Fur Company during the fur trading years here.

Mendota, MN - Sibley Historic Site Fur TradingMendota, MN - Sibley Historic Site Fur Trading

Read more about the Great Fur Trading Companies HERE

 

The Sibley Home, and the Cold Store, were built in 1836.  Henry Hastings Sibley, regional manager for the American Fur Company's "Sioux Outfit", built it not only for a private residence, but business office and hotel for travelers. 

Mendota, MN - Sibley HouseMendota, MN - Sibley HouseBuilt in 1836

After he married Sarah Jane Steel in 1843, Sibley converted everything to a family home and added an addition, a privy and ice house. The fur trade went bust around that same time, but Sibley stayed, making a living as a land speculator and later influential politician, including the state's first Governor. 

Mendota, MN - Sibley Historic Site - Sibley House Dining RoomMendota, MN - Sibley Historic Site - Sibley House Dining Room Mendota, MN - Sibley Historic Site - Sibley House LivingRoomMendota, MN - Sibley Historic Site - Sibley House LivingRoom Sibley's role in the U.S.-Dakota War of 1862 remains the most controversial aspect of his career. While working for the release of hostages, he made promises to the Dakota that he failed to keep. He had been told by Major General Pope to treat the Indians "like wild beasts" and bowed to public demands for a mass execution.  Many natives were tried and convicted with little due process,  with 38 hung en masse in the largest public execution in American History. 

Read more about Henry Hastings Sibley Here

Read more about the Dakota War of 1862 HERE.

Next stop on our tour was the Faribault House. Jean-Baptiste Faribault had been a trader with the natives for many years and was lured to the area from Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin in 1819 by Lt. Colonel Henry Leavenworth, on his way to build Fort Snelling.  Leavenworth was impressed at Faribaults knowledge of the Dakota language and thought he could be a key player in the fur trade at St. Peter's.  

Mendota, MN - Sibley Site Faribault HouseMendota, MN - Sibley Site Faribault House

Faribault would eventually move next door to Sibley and had the home built in the same style around 1839 at a cost of $5,000. He would leave Mendota in 1847, after which the home was converted to a hotel in 1853 and later a warehouse. 

The Sibley Historic Site provides tours during the summer on Saturdays and Sundays, and on Holiday Mondays.  Plan on about 45 minutes for the tour, but take some time to mosey around this historic location.  For more information about the Sibley Historic Site, see their website HERE.

Update from comments below: Peter Clark wrote - "At the Sibley site, we usually in April and May get many school groups, some of whom return every year. This is all before Minnesota became a territory and state. There are over twenty different sites around the state to visit, but this gem is tucked away at the Minnesota river and across from Fort Snelling. In the fall, one can stand on Sibley's front porch and see the Fort through the bare trees.

Make this a weekend outing for you and family/fiends. This is where Minnesota began and where Sibley set site in 1836 and built his limestone house, which has stood for over 150 years and is the first historic site in the state. The grounds are public property and you can enjoy a picnic here in the midst of the Sibley site. Come see us!
"

Fort Snelling

Across the Minnesota River, and sitting on the Mississippi is Fort Snelling.  Founded in 1819 as Fort Saint Anthony, the fort sits on the bluff above the Minnesota and Mississippi Rivers to control the exploration, trade, and settlement on these waterways. 

Fort Snelling, MN - View From AboveFort Snelling, MN - View From AboveA view standing on the Round House looking over Fort Snelling, as a re-enactor walks the grounds below. Led by Colonel Josiah Snelling, commanding the 5th Infantry Regiment, the fort was constructed between 1820 to 1824. During construction, most soldiers lived at Camp Coldwater, which provided drinking water to the fort throughout the 19th century. Upon its completion in 1825, the Army renamed the fort as Fort Snelling in honor of its commander and architect.

Fort Snelling, MN - Parade GroundFort Snelling, MN - Parade Ground

The Round House at Fort Snelling is the oldest structure known still standing in Minnesota. 

Fort Snelling, MN - Round HouseFort Snelling, MN - Round HouseThe Round House is the oldest structure known still standing in Minnesota. Photo by Dave Alexander. Life for the soldiers at the fort was pretty routine and structured, and most every need taken care of by the government. However their families and others at the fort relied on the sutler's store for their goods. 

Fort Snelling, MN - Sutler Store InteriorFort Snelling, MN - Sutler Store Interior Prices were negotiated and set with the U.S. Government so the sutler couldn't gouge the residents, but pricing took into consideration transportation costs up the Mississippi River from St. Louis.  

Fort Snelling, MN - Sutler Store Interior - 2Fort Snelling, MN - Sutler Store Interior - 2

You can learn more about the store just by talking to the very knowledgeable and friendly re-enactors here, who also give scheduled presentations on everything from the Surgeon to how the soldiers performed drills. 

Fort Snelling, MN - DrummerFort Snelling, MN - DrummerPhoto by Dave Alexander. Fort Snelling, MN - Infantry DrillFort Snelling, MN - Infantry DrillPhoto by Dave Alexander. One of those presentations taught about Fort Snelling's slaves, despite the fact this was free territory.  Records show at least 30 slaves were at one point in time here. The most famous of which were the Scott's. 

Fort Snelling, MN - Dred Scott MarkerFort Snelling, MN - Dred Scott MarkerDred Scott met his wife Harriet at Fort Snelling as a slave owned by Dr. John Emerson, despite the fort being in free territory.

Dred Scott lived here from around 1836 to 1840.  Owned as a slave by Dr.  John Emerson, Scott met his wife Harriet at Fort Snelling.  Arguably the most influential people to live here, the Scott's left the fort in 1840, and while living in St. Louis, Missouri, sued the government for their freedom, arguing that since they had lived in free territory while at Fort Snelling, they and their children should be freed.  They would spend the next eleven years fighting their case before the Supreme Court decision of 1857 rejected their claim on the basis that they were property, not citizens, and therefore could not sue. Although freed that same year despite the decision, the Scott's case further inflamed the growing tensions in America leading up to the Civil War, and was a major catalyst to the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. 

There is a lot to see, learn and do at Fort Snelling. To experience it in full, be sure to plan ahead and count on a few hours exploring, watching demonstrations and interactive presentations, and enjoying this crucial piece of Minnesota history. 

For more information see the Historic Fort Snelling's official website HERE

Read more about Fort Snelling in our article HERE

Plan a full day at both these great Minnesota Historic Sites.  Until you do, here's a taste of the sights we saw in our Fort Snelling Slide Show: 

 

 

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orders@legendsofamerica.com (Legends of America Photo Prints) American Fur Company Dred Scott Fort Snelling Henry Sibley Minneapolis St. Paul area attractions Minnesota Sibley House enactments historical tours http://photos.legendsofamerica.com/blog/2016/7/Sibley-Historic-Site-and-Fort-Snelling Thu, 21 Jul 2016 01:42:25 GMT
On the Road - Fort Dodge...The Other One http://photos.legendsofamerica.com/blog/2016/7/on-the-road-fort-dodge-the-other-one We're on the road again, this time heading north through Iowa with our farthest destination being the head waters of the Mississippi River. Along the way we're finding interesting history, and in Iowa it was Fort Dodge. Yes, the first Fort Dodge, before the more famous one in Kansas that was established a couple of decades later.  

Fort Museum & Frontier VillageThe Fort Museum & Frontier Village in Fort Dodge, Iowa is a recreation of the original, however some liberties were taken. The original Fort did not have a stockade like the one seen here surrounding it.

The Fort Museum & Frontier Village provides a peak at the past with wonderful displays and thousands of items in the many buildings, most of which have been donated throughout the years.  Run by the Fort Dodge Historical Foundation, the museum explores how around 1850, Brevet Major Samuel Woods lead a couple of military Companies along with a group of U.S. Dragoons from Fort Snelling, Minnesota with the goal of returning the Sac & Fox tribes back to the reservations in Kansas.  Afterwards, they built a post near what is now Fort Dodge city square and Company C, along with the Dragoons, remained to serve the Fort. 

Fort Dodge Barracks

Fort Dodge Blockhouse

The site was chosen from reports of the area 15 years earlier. Overlooking the Des Moines River, the location provided good water, timber and stone for building and possible coal.  A stream sawmill was brought in to speed up the construction of the Fort, and groundwork was laid out for a city to grow along side the fort. By November of 1850 twelve buildings were ready to live in and they named it Fort Clarke, in honor of the commanding officer of the 6th Infantry.  

The next spring, nine more buildings were constructed and the fort was renamed Fort Dodge, in honor of Col. Henry Dodge, U.S. Senator of the Wisconsin Territory and founder of the Dragoons.  At this time, the fort consisted of 3 commissioned officers, 10 non-commissioned officers, up to 80 enlisted men and 40 civilians, most of which were family members of the soldiers.  Scouting the area between the Cedar and Missouri River, they found that instead of dealing with fighting the Native Americans, they instead were getting trespassers of the Sioux lands. In addition they were finding bootleggers and pursuing deserters from the military. Life at the Fort was routine, with Garrison duties consisting of drill, tending post fields and gardens, guard duty, building maintenance and more drill. 

Meanwhile frontier life was basic and mostly boring.  As a private in the military, the pay was only $7 a month, but food was plentiful. Hunting, drinking and gambling were the main entertainment at the fort. Single women were rare, as well as news from the outside world. 

In 1853 Fort Dodge was abandoned and troops moved to Minnesota to establish Fort Ridgeley.  William Williams, the post sutler (store keeper), bought the store building and military post and a year later platted the City of Fort Dodge.  

Fort Dodge  -Sutlers StoreFort Dodge -Sutlers Store

The Fort Dodge Historical Foundation has done a good job in recreating 'main street' next to a replica Fort.  The actual Fort, when built, did not have a stockade around it like you see today.  We were told during our tour that when the museum was created back in the 1960's, most people associated Forts with a wall around it, mainly due to television westerns, which is why it was re-created this way. 

You'll find everything from the local newspaper office to the general store, each staged with interesting items of the times.  Each of the main street buildings have its own unique history, some brought in from other locations, to help create the look and feel of the young city back in the 1800's. 

In addition to touring the buildings of the frontier town and fort, be sure to see the Cardiff Giant. The story of the Giant is a tale as big as he is; a colossal 19th century hoax that was billed as a petrified man.  Actually it was a block of gypsum that was purchased by a Fort Dodge resident, who had it hauled to Chicago, carved into a man, then buried to be discovered in New York 2 years later.  All part of the plan of course, and even after it was discovered to be a hoax, P.T. Barnum continued to display it for the masses.  It was described as "an immensely lucrative practical joke whose author was a near genius at evoking the gullible in man."  While the original is in Cooperstown, New York, a slightly smaller replica can be seen at the Fort Museum. 

FortDodge, IA - Cardiff GiantFortDodge, IA - Cardiff GiantThis hoax of gypsum suckered many into believing it was actually a petrified giant.

Read more about the Cardiff Giant HERE.

Here are just a few of the scenes from the Fort Museum and Frontier village that we enjoyed.  The Fort Museum and Frontier Village are located off of Business 169 at 1 Museum Road, Fort Dodge, Iowa. See their website for more information HERE.

 

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orders@legendsofamerica.com (Legends of America Photo Prints) Fort Dodge Fort Museum & Frontier Village Iowa Museum cardiff giant historic history recreation town travel http://photos.legendsofamerica.com/blog/2016/7/on-the-road-fort-dodge-the-other-one Sat, 16 Jul 2016 19:05:27 GMT
That time when... A journey to our beginnings http://photos.legendsofamerica.com/blog/2016/6/that-time-when-a-journey-to-our-beginnings Editor's Note:  This is the second in our series "That time when...", looking back at some of our favorite travels since 2003. 

Thirteen years ago, on June 27, 2003, Kathy registered the domain name "LegendsOfAmerica.com" as a continuation of a hobby website she had created, which focused on the Moreno Valley of northeast New Mexico.  Kathy's own history in this area dates back to her childhood, when she would spend summers with her Grandma Foster at the family cabin in Idlewild, a small home association between Eagle Nest and Angel Fire. 

The gold rush brought many to the area, but even after the rush faded, some were convinced there was still gold to be found in the early 1900's.  One of those being Fred Montague, who along with other investors, purchased property and dug three tunnels in 1920.  One of those would become the Klondyke Mine

Eagle Nest, NM - Idlewild Klondyke MineEagle Nest, NM - Idlewild Klondyke MineUnfortunately the Klondyke Mine has been torn down since this photo was taken. In the beginning, assay reports from the mine showed that the tunnel had large amounts of gold, silver and copper. An engineer from Denver advised the investors to build a mill. Before the mill was built, the owners first built several buildings on the property, including a mining office, a cook house, a general store and cabins for the miners.

Eagle Nest, NM - Idlewild CabinEagle Nest, NM - Idlewild Cabin

Only after the mill was built did the investors find, in 1926, that the grade of ore found needed to be smelted, and the nearest facility was in Pueblo, Colorado. Trucking the ore to Pueblo was too expensive to justify continuing the endeavor. 

The Klondyke Mine was never very productive and the mining company was constantly in search of additional working capital, though they continued to hold board meetings until the 1940's. Finally, the mine was abandoned as a business venture, but the Montague family still retains the ten acres surrounding the mine.  The remaining buildings of the mine were torn down in January of 2011. 

Eagle Nest, NM - Idlewild Klondyke Mine EquipmentEagle Nest, NM - Idlewild Klondyke Mine EquipmentBy David Alexander, 2004. Idlewild developed adjacent to the Klondyke Mine in the 1930's. Originally, the land was owned by Charles Gallagher, who married Mae Lowery, the daughter of Joseph and Elizabeth Moore Lowery, for whom Elizabethtown was named. Forced to sell some of his land due to a bad cattle deal, Gallagher sold off 160 acres to Thomas cook in 1929, who developed the Idlewild 'retreat.  

Most of the properties in Idlewild were sold to visitors from Texas and many are passed from generation to generation, including Legends of America founder and editor, Kathy Weiser's family's cabin, one of the oldest in Idlewild. It was here that Kathy spent summers with her Grandparents, Ben & Irene Foster, and developed her love of history.  Kathy says Irene was and still is the inspiration for Legends of America. 

 

Eagle Nest, NM - Idlewild Foster Cabin - 2Eagle Nest, NM - Idlewild Foster Cabin - 2 This small community means a lot to both of us, as Kathy and I (Dave) were married at the outdoor church here in June of 2006. 

Eagle Nest, NM - Idlewild ChurchEagle Nest, NM - Idlewild ChurchLegends of America owners Kathy Weiser and Dave Alexander said their vows to each other here on June 19, 2006.

Read more about Idlewild & the Klondyke mine HERE.

 

Often on the list of places to see and explore, Kathy spent many a day at the ghost town of Elizabethtown

Elizabethtown, NM - Main Street, 1943Elizabethtown, NM - Main Street, 1943Main Street in Elizabethtown New Mexico, by John Collier, 1943. E-Town, as it was known to residents, is nothing but ruins and a museum now, but once was a thriving mining community of over 7,000 residents. Drawn by a gold find in 1866, miners rushed to the area. In June of 1867, Captain William Moore and his brother John opened a General Store nearby, and by the end of the month it was clear that the store would become the center of a town.  The next year, Moore along with other businessmen, platted Elizabethtown, named after the Captain's daughter, Elizabeth Catherine Moore.  She would grow up to become the town's first school teacher. 

A fire in 1903 wiped out most of the original buildings. One of the only businesses to survive the blaze was the Froelick Store. 

Elizabethtown, NM - Froelick Store & Mutz HotelElizabethtown, NM - Froelick Store & Mutz HotelTragedy struck Elizabethtown in 1903 when fire caught in the second story of one of the largest retail establishments, the Remsberg Store. In the dry mountain conditions the flames quickly engulfed the mostly wood buildings, flames spreading throughout the town. One of the only businesses to survive was Herman Froelick's Store. One of several hotels, the Mutz Hotel was built by Herman Mutz, a rancher and cattleman of the area. Today the ruins of the hotel are some of the more striking features of this ghost town. 

Elizabethtown, NM - Mutz Hotel, 1943Elizabethtown, NM - Mutz Hotel, 1943Mutz Hotel in Elizabethtown, New Mexico, by John Collier, 1943. In 1870, Elizabethtown had seven saloons, three dance halls, five stores, a school, two churches and several hotels.  The Mutz Hotel was one of the first buildings to catch fire in 1903, but it was rebuilt of stone. The town never fully recovered from the fire, and since the 1943 photo above, the hotel has continued to fall into ruins. 

Elizabethtown, NM - Mutz HotelElizabethtown, NM - Mutz HotelRuins of the Mutz Hotel in Elizabethtown Elizabethtown, NM - Mutz Hotel - 3Elizabethtown, NM - Mutz Hotel - 3Mutz Hotel - Photo by Dave Alexander, 2004.

Read more fascinating history of Elizabethtown HERE.

 

Just a few miles away is Eagle Nest, another historic community that continues today. 

Eagle Nest, NM - Vintage Street SceneEagle Nest, NM - Vintage Street Scene One of the earlier buildings in Eagle Nest, originally known as Therma, is the Laguna Vista Saloon, which started as the El Monte Hotel. Allegedly it was built in 1898 with stolen railroad ties from Elizabethtown.  

Eagle Nest, NM - El Monte Hotel Eagle Nest, NM - El Monte Hotel The El Monte was one of the busiest saloons in the 1920's and 30's when the politicians stopped over on their way to the horse races in Raton, New Mexico to partake of the many roulette, gaming tables and slot machines offered in the saloons, inns, and businesses of Eagle Nest. 
 
It was sometime during this period that the El Monte's name was changed to the Laguna Vista Lodge. 

Eagle Nest, NM - Laguna VistaEagle Nest, NM - Laguna Vista Eagle Nest is located in the Moreno Valley in the midst of the beautiful Sangre de Cristo Mountains. Nestled between the state's two highest peaks - Baldy Mountain (12,441 feet) and Wheeler Peek (13,161 feet), it sits at the junction of US Hwy 64 and State Hwy 38. High above sea level, at 8,300 feet, the village rests on the western slope of Baldy Mountain.  The town sits by Eagle Nest lake, created by a dam in 1918, the largest privately constructed dam in the U.S. The story goes that Eagles built a nest on the side of the new dam, which is how the lake got its name. 

Eagle Nest Lake - From Mount BaldyEagle Nest Lake - From Mount BaldyThe town of Eagle Nest and Eagle Nest Lake are located in the Moreno Valley in the midst of the beautiful Sangre de Cristo Mountains. Nestled between the states two highest peaks - Baldy Mountain (12,441 feet) and Wheeler Peek (13,161 feet), it sits at the junction of US Hwy 64 and State Hwy 38.

In 1927, Oklahoma oilman Walter Grant built the Eagle Nest Lodge, which featured 12 rooms, a lounge and restaurant in a luxurious building. The lodge was considered one of the finest for miles, and soon expanded to include five studio units.  The Lodge also offered horseback riding, fishing and hunting expeditions to the many travelers who stopped to enjoy Eagle Nest Lake. It's been long abandoned, and the last word we had in 2008 was that several of the buildings still stand. 

Eagle Nest, NM - Lodge FrontEagle Nest, NM - Lodge Front

Today, the Village of Eagle Nest is lined with arts and crafts shops, lodging, restaurants, and saloons. Known as a laid-back mountain town, unbothered by the traffic and noise of city life, the village has seen a renaissance in recent years with the addition of sidewalks, old-fashioned streetlights, park benches and flowerboxes, making the stroll through the town a pleasure. The less than mile long Main street features numerous specialty shops carrying locally-made crafts and fine arts, sculpture, sterling silver jewelry, Indian jewelry, antiques, pottery, candies, fudge, clothing, souvenirs, and much more.

Eagle Nest, NM - Main Street - 2Eagle Nest, NM - Main Street - 2 Read more about Eagle Nest HERE.

Kathy talks more about this area in our latest Newsletter as she reminisces about how our website began 13 years ago.  If you are not a subscriber you can see the online version HERE.

As always, all our images here in our photo print shop are available not only for prints in many sizes, but also on merchandise and as downloads.  Just go to a photo, click "buy" then browse our products.  In the meantime, enjoy this slideshow of the Eagle Nest Area, and thank you for your support during the past 13 years.

 

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orders@legendsofamerica.com (Legends of America Photo Prints) Eagle Nest Elizabethtown Idlewild Klondyke Mine Laguna Vista Saloon Legends of America Anniversary Moreno Valley New Mexico http://photos.legendsofamerica.com/blog/2016/6/that-time-when-a-journey-to-our-beginnings Sat, 25 Jun 2016 14:56:32 GMT
That time when... Our Trip to Virginia City Nevada in 2009 http://photos.legendsofamerica.com/blog/2016/6/that-time-when-our-trip-to-virginia-city-nevada-in-2009 Editor's Note:  This is the first in our series "That time when...", looking back at some of our favorite travels since 2003. 

In July of 2009, during a trip out west to California, we ventured to Lake Tahoe, then over into Nevada to check out Virginia City, once heralded as the most important settlement between Denver and San Francisco.  Along the way there we ran into a couple of 'bonuses', Silver City and Gold Hill; mining camps along State Road 342 not far from our destination. 

Silver City - EnteringSilver City - EnteringAs you enter Silver City, Nevada south of town on Highway 341. We first reached Silver City, turning off Highway 50 onto State Road 341 east of Carson City, Nevada. Silver City history dates back to June of 1850, when John Orr and Nicholas Kelly discovered the first gold nugget in what would become Gold Canyon.  The town would be officially settled in 1859. 

By 1861, Silver City had several boarding houses, a number of saloons, four hotels and a population of about 1,200.  The town thrived for several years, though its mines and mills were never as productive as Virginia City and Gold Hill just up the road.

Silver City - MineSilver City - MineOld Mining operations still stand in Silver City, Nevada

Today, this Nevada 'ghost town' is home to less than 200 residents, and during our visit, still displayed a number of historic structures, including old mining equipment scattered in the hillside. 

Silver City - Fire DeptSilver City - Fire DeptThe old Fire Department building in Silver City, Nevada looks like it could crumble any moment during our visit here in 2009.

After you pass through Devil's Gate just north of Silver City on State Highway 342, it's not long before you reach the ghost town of Gold Hill.

Gold Hill, NV - 1867Gold Hill, NV - 1867Gold Hill, Nevada by Timothy H. O'Sullivan, 1867 Gold Hill got its start about the same time as Virginia City in the late 1850's. Initially a little more than a few miners living in tents and crude shacks, it grew quickly and by 1862 incorporated as an official town to avoid being annexed.  During its peak the city boasted some 8,000 residents. 

Gold Hill, NV - Bank buildingGold Hill, NV - Bank buildingThe old bank building in Gold Hill appears to still be in use during our visit in 2009.

Today Gold Hill is home to less than 200 residents, but still features the historic Gold Hill Hotel. Gold Hill, NV - HotelGold Hill, NV - HotelBuilt around 1860, the Gold Hill Hotel continues to welcome visitors to the Virginia City area with rooms, dining and a saloon. Built around 1860, the Gold Hill Hotel has been through quite a bit of changes, with the wooden part of the structure added in 1987. Although it's been sold to the current owners since our visit here in 2009, the Gold Hill Hotel continues to serve travelers visiting Virginia City with rooms, dining and a saloon. 

 

Read more about Silver City and Gold Hill Here

 

See our Silver City and Gold Hill Photo Gallery Here

 

But our primary destination of the day was the historic Virginia City, one of the oldest settlements in Nevada.  And although the town's earliest beginnings revolved around the finding of Gold, it would be Silver that would bring the fortunes, with what is known as the Comstock Lode. 

Virginia City - Territorial Enterprise MuseumVirginia City - Territorial Enterprise MuseumA once bustling mining town in the late 1800s, Virginia City Nevada was heralded as the most important settlement between Denver, Colorado and San Francisco California in the time of its heydays. It is a popular tourist destination today. The Silver was so rich in this area that California Gold Miners did a reverse migration back over the Sierra Nevada Mountains to take part in the find. The story goes that one of those miners, James Finney, who was more often called "Old Virginny", dropped a bottle of whisky on the ground and christened a newly founded tent-and-dugout town "Old Virginny Town".  Later changed to Virginia City, the population exploded to 4,000 by 1862, with some of the more rich and famous businessmen getting in on the action, like William Ralston, George Hearst and William Flood to name a few. 

Virginia City - 1866Virginia City - 1866Vintage view of Virginia City, Nevada, 1866. Vintage photo restored by Kathy Weiser-Alexander.

In 1861, all that new wealth caught the eye of President Abraham Lincoln, and needing to find wealth to pay for the Civil War, Nevada was made a Territory.  Statehood came just three years later, despite the fact Nevada didn't have enough residents to constitutionally authorize statehood.  At its peak, Virginia City supported some 30,000 residents (1870's), including 150 saloons, at least five police precincts, a thriving red-light district, three churches, hotels, restaurants, ten fire stations, etc. 

Virginia City, NV - Pioneer Stage leaving Wells  FargoVirginia City, NV - Pioneer Stage leaving Wells FargoVirginia City, Nevada - Pioneer Stage leaving Wells Fargo, by Lawrence and Houseworth. 1866.

There's a lot to see and do here in Virginia City, and the entire community is a National Historic Landmark, designated in 1961. Although the towns population of 1,000 is a fraction of what it once was, it draws more than 2 Million visitors a year to its many attractions.   Virginia City - Way it was MuseumVirginia City - Way it was Museum

Numerous historic buildings continue to stand including Piper’s Opera House, which still entertains customers today and the Fourth Ward School, built in 1876 which today is utilized as a museum. Numerous mansions also continue to stand which provide visitors of the sophisticated and lush lifestyle of these long ago residents and the Virginia & Truckee Railroad runs again from Virginia City to Gold Hill. The landmark is the largest federally designated Historical District in America is maintained in its original condition. "C" Street, the main business street, is lined with 1860's and 1870's buildings housing specialty shops, restaurants, bed and breakfast inns, and casinos.

Virginia City - McKay MansionVirginia City - McKay MansionA once bustling mining town in the late 1800s, Virginia City, Nevada was heralded as the most important settlement between Denver, Colorado and San Francisco, California in the time of its heydays. It is a popular tourist destination today. We didn't spend near enough time during our visit, and would recommend at least 2 days to see and do everything here. 

Here's a slideshow of our Virginia City gallery 

As a federally designated National Historic District, it is illegal to dig for artifacts, remove any found items from the community, or mistreat any property.

Virginia City is located about 23 miles south of Reno, Nevada.

 

Read More about Virginia City, Nevada Here

 

Go to our Virginia City Photo Gallery Here

 

Dave Alexander/Kathy Weiser-Alexander - Legends Of America

Virginia City & the Comstock Lode - Yesterday and Today (DVD)New for 2016, this DVD is the most extensive produced on Virginia City and perfect for your own "tour by DVD". Available now in Legends' General Store.

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orders@legendsofamerica.com (Legends of America Photo Prints) Comstock Lode Gold Hill Silver City Virginia City history information photos http://photos.legendsofamerica.com/blog/2016/6/that-time-when-our-trip-to-virginia-city-nevada-in-2009 Fri, 03 Jun 2016 20:18:16 GMT
Kansas Rail Towns and Little House on the Prairie http://photos.legendsofamerica.com/blog/2015/10/kansas-rail-towns-and-little-house-on-the-prairie Augusta, KS - SunriseAugusta, KS - SunriseA beautiful way to start the day in Kansas Our journey home to Missouri, from Old Cowtown Museum in Wichita, was planned with an eye on Kansas ghost towns, near ghost towns, and a quick stop at the Little House on the Prairie Museum.  What we found were a lot of towns established with the anticipation of the railroad in the 1880's. There were a lot of photo opportunities as well, and between the two of us, Kathy wound up with over 2,500 to choose from. So she's spent the last week going through and loading up additions to our Kansas galleries. This blog will cover only a portion of the trip home, but you'll get the idea of what you see in this part of the Land of Ahh's. 

After a gorgeous Kansas sunrise, we left our campsite at Santa Fe Lake, and headed East. Along the way, just outside of Augusta, we made a quick stop at Henry's Sculpture Hill.

Artist Frank Jensen bought "the Hill" in 1986, just outside of Augusta, as a place to work on his cast iron art, made out of old farm machinery.  He named his place "Henry's Sculpture Hill" in honor of famed author David Thoreau who wrote in Walden, "If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer." Indeed, Jensen does have a different beat than most, and it was a great stop (although we didn't catch them open, and were only able to get some shots from outside the fence).  [Note: click on a photo to go to its gallery. Click on links in the content to go to more information about that subject]

Augusta, KS - Henry's Sculpture Hill - HouseAugusta, KS - Henry's Sculpture Hill - HouseCast Iron art from old farm machinery sits in front of artist Frank Jensen's place just outside of Augusta.
Artist Frank Jensen bought "the Hill" in 1986 as a place to work on his cast iron art. He named his place "Henry's Sculpture Hill" in honor of famed author David Thoreau who wrote in Walden, "If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer."

Augusta, KS - Henry's Sculpture Hill - BuffaloAugusta, KS - Henry's Sculpture Hill - BuffaloBuffalo (2004)
Artist Frank Jensen bought "the Hill" in 1986, just outside of Augusta, as a place to work on his cast iron art. He named his place "Henry's Sculpture Hill" in honor of famed author David Thoreau who wrote in Walden, "If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer."

Augusta, KS - Henry's Sculpture Hill - Going to Town on SaturdayAugusta, KS - Henry's Sculpture Hill - Going to Town on SaturdayGoing to Town on Saturday (2004)
Artist Frank Jensen bought "the Hill" in 1986, just outside of Augusta, as a place to work on his cast iron art. He named his place "Henry's Sculpture Hill" in honor of famed author David Thoreau who wrote in Walden, "If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer."

Augusta, KS - Henry's Sculpture Hill - Operating a Dump RakeAugusta, KS - Henry's Sculpture Hill - Operating a Dump RakeOperating a Dump Rake (2005)
Artist Frank Jensen bought "the Hill" in 1986, just outside of Augusta, as a place to work on his cast iron art. He named his place "Henry's Sculpture Hill" in honor of famed author David Thoreau who wrote in Walden, "If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer."

Augusta, KS - Henry's Sculpture Hill - RedboneAugusta, KS - Henry's Sculpture Hill - RedboneRedbone - The Running Bison
Artist Frank Jensen bought "the Hill" in 1986, just outside of Augusta, as a place to work on his cast iron art. He named his place "Henry's Sculpture Hill" in honor of famed author David Thoreau who wrote in Walden, "If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer."
Augusta, KS - Henry's Sculpture Hill - Riding to the MeadowAugusta, KS - Henry's Sculpture Hill - Riding to the MeadowRiding to the Meadow (2005)
Artist Frank Jensen bought "the Hill" in 1986, just outside of Augusta, as a place to work on his cast iron art. He named his place "Henry's Sculpture Hill" in honor of famed author David Thoreau who wrote in Walden, "If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer."
After gandering at the iron through the barbwire fence, we pushed on with travel trailer in tow for some photo ops of towns that have seen their better days. We turned off the main highway (US-400) at Leon and headed south on a county road toward US 160, running through the small town of Atlanta Kansas along the way.  Population less than 200 today, this town got its first post office in 1885. 

AtlantaKSPostOfficeAtlanta, KS- Post OfficeThe post office here was established in 1885. This building of the 1921 High School in Atlanta continues to stand

Atlanta, KS - 1921 High SchoolAtlanta, KS - 1921 High SchoolThe 1921 High School (Gym?) still stands in Atlanta, Kansas. Surely this is the gathering spot for the small number of residence here.

AtlantaKSCafeAtlanta, KS Cafe

South of Atlanta and almost to Burden, we caught this Flag with our lens, seemingly in need of some care but still standing tall. This was one of those "hard to miss" flags, as it really stuck out on the landscape. 

Burden, KS - Large Flag North Of TownBurden, KS - Large Flag North Of TownA large flag, on a hill in Kansas, is definitely hard to miss. This one looks like it could use some care. We were seeing a theme with most of the towns in this area.  All seemed to start in the late 1870's, early 1880's. First called Burdenville, this railroad town was established in 1879 and changed to "Burden" in 1884 when the post office came. The town became a station and shipping point on the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway. Although it's population was never high, the small city still supports just over 500 residents. It's named after Robert F. Burden, who was part of the company that surveyed and laid out the town in anticipation of the railroad.

Burden, KS - Main StreetBurden, KS - Main StreetFirst called Burdenville, this railroad town was established in 1879 and changed to "Burden" in 1884 when the post office came. The town became a station and shipping point on the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway. Although it's population was never high, the small city still supports just over 500 residents. It's named after Robert F. Burden, who was part of the company that surveyed and laid out the town in anticipation of the railroad.

Burden, KS -Old City HallBurden, KS -Old City HallFirst called Burdenville, this railroad town was established in 1879 and changed to "Burden" in 1884 when the post office came. The town became a station and shipping point on the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway. Although it's population was never high, the small city still supports just over 500 residents. It's named after Robert F. Burden, who was part of the company that surveyed and laid out the town in anticipation of the railroad.

Burden, KS - BankBurden, KS - BankFirst called Burdenville, this railroad town was established in 1879 and changed to "Burden" in 1884 when the post office came. The town became a station and shipping point on the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway. Although it's population was never high, the small city still supports just over 500 residents. It's named after Robert F. Burden, who was part of the company that surveyed and laid out the town in anticipation of the railroad.

Yet another railroad town just East on US 160 is Cambridge, named after the the University in England.  Cambridge was established as a railroad town in 1880. It suffered through some major fires in the 1920's and early 1930's which destroyed most of the original buildings.  The Stockman's Cafe was established in the 1980's, but we read one description that says it's the longest continually operating Cafe under one name of its kind in Kansas. Obviously the building is much older.

Cambridge, KS - Stockman's CafeCambridge, KS - Stockman's CafeCambridge was established as a railroad town in 1880. It suffered through some major fires in the 1920's and early 1930's which destroyed most of the original buildings.
The Stockman's Cafe was established in the 1980's, but we read one description that says it's the longest continually operating Cafe under one name of its kind in Kansas. Obviously the building is much older.

After quick passes through Grenola and Moline, both rail towns established in the late 1870's, early 1880's, we pushed on to Elk Falls, once touted as the world's largest living ghost town. 

The first settler to locate upon the town site was a man by the name of R. H. Nichols in February, 1870.  Soon after, the enterprise of establishing a town site was conceived, and Nichols, with six other businessmen, formed a town site company laying out lots and making plans for the new settlement. Nichols built a small house, which also served as a loan and real estate office, a general store was built, a drug store and blacksmith shop opened, the post office was established and school was taught to 25 pupils by Miss Dora Simmons at her father’s residence.

By 1871, the site was named Elk Falls, deriving its name from a nearby waterfall on the Elk River. In order to create a water supply for severe droughts that often plagued the area, several dams were built along the Elk River, from logs, lumber, and timbers, but one after another they were destroyed by high waters during floods. Finally, a man by the name of Jo Johansen, a Swede from Minnesota, built the present dam, made of sandstone rocks cemented together, which has withstood the floods more than a century.

Elk Falls, KS - Elk River FallsElk Falls, KS - Elk River FallsPhoto by Dave Alexander.

The same year, a school building was erected in a small one-story frame house, where services for the Methodist Episcopal Church were also held.

Elk Falls, KS - One Room SchoolElk Falls, KS - One Room School

In 1879 a Baptist Church was built and in the following year a Methodist Episcopal Church was built.

Elk Falls, KS - Calvary ChapelElk Falls, KS - Calvary Chapel Elk Falls, KS - Methodist ChurchElk Falls, KS - Methodist ChurchThe Methodist Church in Elk Falls, Kansas was built in 1880 and still serves a congregation today.

Elk Falls' population peaked in 1880 at 513 people. By 1883 the new and rising town had attracted many prospects and numerous improvements had been made, with much of the population being children, as the school included more than 200 students.
 
On November 15, 1892, the board of Elk County Commissioners, voted to build an iron truss bridge over Elk River, connecting the dirt roads into the main thoroughfare leading into Elk Falls from the northeast. Built at a cost of $2,000, it was completed in 1893. Pratt Truss Bridge, as it is called, was unique for its type since expansion joints were made from rollers, rather than wheels. The bridge still stands today and is on the National Register of Historic Places.

Elk Falls, KS - Iron Truss BridgeElk Falls, KS - Iron Truss Bridge

It also touts itself as the "Outhouse Capital of the World", and even has an annual Outhouse Tour held on the Friday and Saturday before Thanksgiving. In addition to some creative outhouses, visitors enjoy live music, handcrafts, food, and more.. Though we didn't get to take the tour, we got the gist. 

Elk Falls, KS - Outhouse - 6Elk Falls, KS - Outhouse - 6 Elk Falls, KS - Outhouse - 2Elk Falls, KS - Outhouse - 2

Elk Falls, KS - OuthouseElk Falls, KS - Outhouse Elk Falls, KS - Outhouse - 5Elk Falls, KS - Outhouse - 5

Elk Falls, KS - Outhouse - 8Elk Falls, KS - Outhouse - 8 Elk Falls, KS - Outhouse - 9Elk Falls, KS - Outhouse - 9

This town really got our Goat

Elk Falls, KS - GoatsElk Falls, KS - GoatsPhoto by Dave Alexander. You can read more about Elk Falls here

Continuing east on US 160, we tootled through Longton, established in 1870, and considered a sister city to Elk Falls. The town has seen its glory days pass, but still holds on as a sleepy farming community.  We read that some residents are alarmed by the rate of decline here, pointing out old buildings that are being demolished instead of repaired, the decline of businesses, and lack of interest in historical preservation in general.  Here's some of what we saw coming through Longton.

Longton, KS - Business BuildingsLongton, KS - Business Buildings

Longton, KS - Post OfficeLongton, KS - Post Office Longton, KS - Building - 2Longton, KS - Building - 2 Longton, KS - Building - 3Longton, KS - Building - 3 You can see more of our Elk County photos here.

Elk City is in Montgomery County, one we've been too before, and includes historic Cherryvale and Coffeyville.  Not needing to revisit those, we concentrated on Elk City, which itself is historic. 

Elk City, KS - Old TruckElk City, KS - Old TruckPhoto by Dave Alexander, 2015. Elk City began as a trading post established by John Kappell in early 1868 when the area was still part of the Diminished Reserve of the Osage Indians. It's population peaked at just shy of 800 in 1890.  By 1910, the town boasted a brick and tile manufacturing works, a flour mill, a weekly newspaper, two banks, express and telegraph offices, a post office with six rural routes, and a population of 659 people.

Elk City, KS - Old Building - 2Elk City, KS - Old Building - 2Photo by Kathy Weiser-Alexander, 2015. Elk City, KS - Building Ruins - 2Elk City, KS - Building Ruins - 2Photo by Kathy Weiser-Alexander, 2015. After 1940, Elk City's population began to drop each decade. As more and more people continued to leave, businesses began to close one by one. The high school continued to serve students until 1970 when it graduated its last class. Sometime along the way, the grade school also closed. Elk City's High School remained standing and silent for more than four decades until it was engulfed by fire and today only the rubble remains.

Elk City, KS - High School Ruins - 2Elk City, KS - High School Ruins - 2Photo by Kathy Weiser-Alexander, 2015. Elk City, KS - High School Ruins - 3Elk City, KS - High School Ruins - 3Photo by Kathy Weiser-Alexander, 2015. Today, Elk City is called home to just a little over 300 people. Students attend school in Independence, about 15 miles to the southeast. The town still boasts a post office, a bank, and a tavern amongst its many vacant business buildings. Unfortunately, Elk City lost another historic building in May, 2015 when the 1900 historic 1st Christian Church was destroyed by fire. You can read more about its history on our Legends of Kansas website here.  Also see more photos from Montgomery County here.

Our final stop before heading off to our next RV Park was the Little House on the Prairie Museum about 15 miles outside of Independence, Kansas, not far off Highway 75.  This is the location of the childhood home of Laura Ingalls Wilder, famed author of the Little House on the Prairie book series. The only structure originally located here is the hand dug well made by her father Charles Ingalls, but the site now exhibits a replica of the Kansas Homestead of the Ingalls family (1869-1871), where Carrie Ingalls was born, along with historic buildings which have been moved here, including Sunny Side School, which operated from 1872-1948, and the Wayside Post Office (1885-1977).  

Independence, KS - Little House on the Prairie Museum - SignIndependence, KS - Little House on the Prairie Museum - SignThe original hand dug well built by Charles Ingalls, and the location of the childhood home of famed author Laura Ingalls from 1869-1871 is located around 15 miles outside of Independence, Kansas. The museum features a recreation of the Ingalls cabin, as well as other historic buildings from the 1800's that have been relocated to the museum grounds. The well was crucial to finding the actual location of the Ingalls family homestead, which was discovered by Margaret Clements in 1969, on the Horton Farm. 

Independence, KS - Little House on the Prairie Museum - WellIndependence, KS - Little House on the Prairie Museum - WellThis is the actual hand dug well created by Charles Ingalls for his family. Famed author Laura Ingalls lived here as a child from 1869-71, with her younger sister Carrie being born here. The Ingalls family home was built by Charles as a stopgap until he could make enough to build Caroline the home of her dreams. This recreated cabin, based on Laura's own descriptions, is open certain hours for tours and gives you an idea of the tiny quarters the family lived in at the time. 

Independence, KS - Little House on the Prairie Museum - Cabin and WagonIndependence, KS - Little House on the Prairie Museum - Cabin and WagonThe childhood home (1869-71) for famed author Laura Ingalls was a one room cabin as depicted here in this recreation at the cabins original location. Added to the museum grounds is this donated Hitching Post from the home of Captain J.E. Stone in Caney, KS. Stone was the first Sheriff of Montgomery County, after the Ingalls left, and was a witness at Appomattox during the famous surrender ending the Civil War in 1865.

Independence, KS - Little House on the Prairie Museum - Hitching PostIndependence, KS - Little House on the Prairie Museum - Hitching PostAdded to the museum grounds is this donated Hitching Post from the home of Captain J.E. Stone in Caney, KS. Stone was the first Sheriff of Montgomery County, after the Ingalls left, and was a witness at Appomattox during the famous surrender ending the Civil War in 1865. Next to the Ingalls Homestead, the Museum also features a couple of other historic structures from the region that were moved here in 1977 to preserve them for future generations, including the historic 1885 Wayside Post Office, and 1871 Sunnyside one room schoolhouse, which was originally four and half miles from the Ingalls home, though the Ingalls sisters were too young to attend school during their time in Kansas. 

Independence, KS - Little House on the Prairie Museum - Wayside Post OfficeIndependence, KS - Little House on the Prairie Museum - Wayside Post OfficeThe historic 1885 Wayside Post Office served residents until the US Postal Service consolidated services. It was moved to the Little House on the Prairie Museum site in 1977 to save it from destruction and preserve it for future generations. Independence, KS - Little House on the Prairie Museum - Sunnyside SchoolhouseIndependence, KS - Little House on the Prairie Museum - Sunnyside SchoolhouseBuilt in 1871, about four and a half miles from the Ingall's homestead, the Sunnyside one room schoolhouse was moved to the museum grounds when it opened in 1977. The Ingall sisters were too young to go to school during their time in Kansas. We were there on a weekday and didn't get a chance to tour the but they do offer tours. Find out more by visiting the Little House on the Prairie Museum website here.  

It was a great way to wrap up our adventure in this part of Kansas, although Kathy did have me going on back roads all the way to the RV Park in Oswego, and we had to turn around more than once when running into dead ends.  Kathy's famous for saying "This road is going the direction we need to go, just keep going."  That's part of finding the bonuses though, and I'm sure there are a few that will get added up to our Kansas galleries, including the Montgomery County Gallery here.

 

About the RV Park we stayed at during this portion of our journey: 

Hillside RV Park, Oswego, KS - This RV park is part of a larger area of Trailer homes, but was very nice.  Management was laid back and Kansas friendly. We had our choice of pull throughs with full hookups and sewer.  Only stayed one night, but would stay longer. I will say they may need some better signage to the office, as we pulled up to another building at first, not realizing the office was just up the road a few feet. Well worth the price for this Passport America holder. We camped here in a 22 foot KZ Sportsman Classic. 

 

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orders@legendsofamerica.com (Legends of America Photo Prints) Atlanta Burden Cambridge Elk City Elk Falls Henry's Sculpture Hill Little House on the Prairie Museum history kansas photos http://photos.legendsofamerica.com/blog/2015/10/kansas-rail-towns-and-little-house-on-the-prairie Sat, 31 Oct 2015 19:16:34 GMT
A Kansas Roadtrip to Old Cowtown Museum http://photos.legendsofamerica.com/blog/2015/10/a-kansas-roadtrip-to-old-cowtown-museum We hadn't been on the road since last Spring, so Kathy and I were aching for a least a little roadtrip. Our last adventure of two months in the Southwest wound up doing in our 2005 Toyota Highlander, so this was a our first trip with our 2013 Ford F-150XLT, which we have dubbed "Big Red". After getting past the usual "Oh, you want to go on a trip? Gotta fix this first" routine, we loaded up the trailer and headed out for a quick four day excursion in Kansas, with our primary destination being Wichita's Old Cowtown Museum. 

Wichita, KS - Old Cowtown MuseumWichita, KS - Old Cowtown Museum

This accredited open-air history museum is one of the oldest in the Midwest, established in 1952.  One of the workers there told us about a third of the 54 historic buildings are original, with another third rebuilt, and the rest brought in from other locations. It was a great experience, and something we didn't expect in the middle of the bustling city of Wichita.  Situated along the Arkansas River (while in Kansas you must pronounce this "Ar - Kansas River"), the museum tells the story of Wichita's transformation from a frontier settlement to a cattle town, then to an Ag and Manufacturing area. 

Just looking at the "modern" visitors center from the parking lot, one would have no idea that the 23 acres just off the Chisholm Trail behind it would be so educational and entertaining. After paying the admission, which was well worth the price, you enter the Old West Kansas style with one of the newer additions to the museum, the Heller Cabin, which was introduced in 2009.  Originally located in Elmo, Kansas, the cabin is considered as one of the top 10 intact structures in the United States from the settlement period.  It was heavily documented and all parts numbered before being dismantled and brought to Old Cowtown.  

Wichita, KS - Old Cowtown - Heller CabinWichita, KS - Old Cowtown - Heller Cabin

The cabin was built in the 1870's by Civil War veteran Leonhard Hoffman, and was donated by the estate of Wichita resident Donna B. Heller.  As part of the restoration, some logs were replaced and the interior was restored with historically accurate features.  It was a great way to start our tour. 

Wichita, KS - Old Cowtown - Heller Cabin Interior - 2Wichita, KS - Old Cowtown - Heller Cabin Interior - 2 Wichita, KS - Old Cowtown - Heller Cabin InteriorWichita, KS - Old Cowtown - Heller Cabin InteriorPhoto by Dave Alexander, 2015.

After the Heller Cabin, and past an old broken down wagon, the the Buffalo Hunter's camp with Chuckwagon, we made a pit stop at the Orientation building for a bit of history and a well produced video on the beginnings of Wichita.  The 49th largest city in the U.S. got its start as a trading post on the Chisholm Trail in the 1860's, before becoming incorporated in 1870. 

Wichita, KS - 1870Wichita, KS - 1870

Its position on the trail, and by the Arkansas River, made it a destination for cattle drives coming from Texas, on their way to the railroad towns already established to the north.  However, it would only be a couple of years before the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway reached the town in 1872. 

Wichita, KS - Old Cowtown - Depot Interior - 2Wichita, KS - Old Cowtown - Depot Interior - 2 You really get a great feel of how it used to be as soon as you enter town after the Orientation building. Many movies have had scenes filmed here, and we could immediately see why. 

Wichita, KS - Old Cowtown - Main StreetWichita, KS - Old Cowtown - Main StreetPhoto by Dave Alexander, 2015. Wichita, KS - Old Cowtown - Main Street - 3Wichita, KS - Old Cowtown - Main Street - 3Photo by Dave Alexander, 2015. We made it just in time for a "Dime Novel" play in the middle of town.  It was a fun and quirky skit with gun fight that is performed through most of the season at least a couple times a day.  

Wichita, KS - Old Cowtown - Shoot Out Cowboy ShotWichita, KS - Old Cowtown - Shoot Out Cowboy Shot There is a lot to see here in Old Cowtown.  We could have stayed longer, but as it was we spent 4 hours roaming the town, exploring the insides of businesses, and enjoying the historical actors in period dress who occupied several of the buildings. Including a Sheriff, Dress Maker, Blacksmith and more. Here are a few more of the scenes from our visit. 

Wichita, KS - Old Cowtown - School InteriorWichita, KS - Old Cowtown - School Interior Wichita, KS - Old Cowtown - Wichita City Eagle Interior - 2Wichita, KS - Old Cowtown - Wichita City Eagle Interior - 2 Wichita, KS - Old Cowtown - Carpenter Shop InteriorWichita, KS - Old Cowtown - Carpenter Shop Interior

Wichita, KS - Old Cowtown - Ohara's Barber ShopWichita, KS - Old Cowtown - Ohara's Barber ShopPhoto by Dave Alexander, 2015. Wichita, KS - Old Cowtown - Meat Market Interior - 2Wichita, KS - Old Cowtown - Meat Market Interior - 2
Wichita, KS - Old Cowtown - Drug Store Products - 2Wichita, KS - Old Cowtown - Drug Store Products - 2 Wichita, KS - Old Cowtown - Wichita City EagleWichita, KS - Old Cowtown - Wichita City Eagle

Wichita, KS - Old Cowtown - General Store Interior - 5Wichita, KS - Old Cowtown - General Store Interior - 5Photo by Dave Alexander, 2015. Wichita, KS - Old Cowtown - General Store Interior - 3Wichita, KS - Old Cowtown - General Store Interior - 3

Wichita, KS - Old Cowtown - Grain ElevatorWichita, KS - Old Cowtown - Grain ElevatorPhoto by Dave Alexander, 2015. Wichita, KS - Old Cowtown - Southern HotelWichita, KS - Old Cowtown - Southern Hotel
Wichita, KS - Old Cowtown - Jail PadlockWichita, KS - Old Cowtown - Jail PadlockPhoto by Dave Alexander, 2015. Wichita, KS - Old Cowtown - LaundryWichita, KS - Old Cowtown - Laundry

Wichita, KS - Old Cowtown - DeVore Farm GoatWichita, KS - Old Cowtown - DeVore Farm Goat Wichita, KS - Old Cowtown - DeVore Farm KitchenWichita, KS - Old Cowtown - DeVore Farm Kitchen Wichita, KS - Old Cowtown - Bank InteriorWichita, KS - Old Cowtown - Bank Interior It was a great way to spend a lovely October Afternoon, and we would highly recommend paying a visit to the Old Cowtown Museum in Wichita, Kansas. Its collection of artifacts is now over 12,000, and is good way to experience what it was like to live in the city's early years. Be sure to see all our images in the growing Wichita Gallery Here

For more information, pricing, directions, events and more, visit the Old Cowtown Museum Official Website Here.

We'll share some of our favorite Kansas ghost town images from our trip in the next blog, along with a visit to the childhood home of Laura Ingalls just outside Independence Kansas. 

About the RV Park we stayed at during this portion of our Journey: 

Santa Fe Lake - While visiting Cowtown, we stayed about 20 miles away just outside Augusta, Kansas. Within 10 minutes driving distance to Wichita, this was an ideal location, and a great time of year to stay, as we had our pick of campsites right by this small lake.  The area includes picnic tables, electric hookups, and plenty of outdoor recreation.  It appears to be privately owned, and during our stay we did note that the electric box for the campsite next to us was out of service, and our own electric hookup (30amp) was damaged where we had to hold our tongue just right to get the plug to stay in. No water hookup on site, but a convenient and long hose for fill up is provided as you come in, which is right by the dump station on the way out. 

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orders@legendsofamerica.com (Legends of America Photo Prints) downloads history kansas old cowtown museum outdoor museum photos prints purchase travel wichita http://photos.legendsofamerica.com/blog/2015/10/a-kansas-roadtrip-to-old-cowtown-museum Mon, 26 Oct 2015 16:32:51 GMT
The Passing of David Fisk http://photos.legendsofamerica.com/blog/2015/10/the-passing-of-david-fisk


We are saddened by the loss of Legends' Photo contributor David Fisk on October 9, 2015.  Our heartfelt condolences go out to his girlfriend and partner Charlie Wolfe and all the Fisk family. We were fortunate to have David agree to let us share some of his wonderful work with our readers. 

A native Texan and longtime Oklahoman, David Fisk was a retired newspaper editor, writer and photographer, living in Edmond, Oklahoma since 1986. 

Fisk worked for newspapers in Texas and Oklahoma since he first picked up a camera about 1970, and had a knack for finding interesting perspectives in his photography.

He and his trusty girlfriend/companion/co-driver Charlie Wolfe spent much of their time traveling the back roads and byways of America with David's camera and unique eye. His many passions included baseball, great Barbecue, spicy foods, Rock N' Roll and Blues music, and discovering new places. He lived just a few miles from historic Rt. 66 and spent many hours discovering it's nooks and crannies.

In Feb 2014 his book "Legendary Locals of Edmond" was published by Arcadia Publishing Company as a part of their series of historical books.

Rest in peace Sir.  It has been an honor. 

 

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orders@legendsofamerica.com (Legends of America Photo Prints) David Fisk photos route 66 travel http://photos.legendsofamerica.com/blog/2015/10/the-passing-of-david-fisk Sat, 10 Oct 2015 12:28:33 GMT
Journey Home Via Arizona, New Mexico and Texas http://photos.legendsofamerica.com/blog/2015/3/home-via-arizona-newmexico-and-texas After being on the road for a while we finally started making our final push home, leaving Yuma for some time in the Phoenix Area, then on to some boondocking near Fort Bowie before catching some great Mexican/American history in New Mexico.  Despite the fact that winter caught up with us in Texas, overall it was a good way to end a glorious two months in the southwest. 

Click on images to go to their respective galleries. Links in text will take you to more information about that subject. 

On our way out of Yuma, we made a quick stop for the ghost town of Aztec about 70 miles to the east, just off I-8. There's really nothing left of this town but a few run down structures and foundations.

Aztec, AZ - BuildingAztec, AZ - BuildingEstablished in 1889, by Charles A. Dallen, the town of Aztec is no more. This ghost of Arizona was once a stop on the Southern Pacific Railroad between Yuma and Phoenix. Foundations were about all that remained during our visit here in 2015. Photo by Kathy Weiser-Alexander. Aztec, AZ - Remains of an Old Gas StationAztec, AZ - Remains of an Old Gas StationEstablished in 1889, by Charles A. Dallen, the town of Aztec is no more. This ghost of Arizona was once a stop on the Southern Pacific Railroad between Yuma and Phoenix. Foundations were about all that remained during our visit here in 2015. Photo by Dave Alexander.

 Established in 1889, by Charles A. Dallen, the town of Aztec is no more. This ghost of Arizona was once a stop on the Southern Pacific Railroad between Yuma and Phoenix.

Aztec, AZ - Can on a PostAztec, AZ - Can on a PostEstablished in 1889, by Charles A. Dallen, the town of Aztec is no more. This ghost of Arizona was once a stop on the Southern Pacific Railroad between Yuma and Phoenix. Foundations were about all that remained during our visit here in 2015. Photo by Kathy Weiser-Alexander. Aztec, AZ - Water TankAztec, AZ - Water TankEstablished in 1889, by Charles A. Dallen, the town of Aztec is no more. This ghost of Arizona was once a stop on the Southern Pacific Railroad between Yuma and Phoenix. Foundations were about all that remained during our visit here in 2015. Photo by Kathy Weiser-Alexander.

On down Interstate 8, we decided to take a side trip about 12 miles north of Sentinel to the ghost town of Agua Caliente.  Here, local Native Americans used the nearby hot springs long before the American West was settled.  About six miles from the hot springs, the Flap-Jack Ranch was established in 1858 as a stagecoach station on the Butterfield Overland Mail route. The ranch changed it's name to Grinnel's Ranch in 1862. This same area was also noted by the Union Army as Stanwix Station, which was the site of the westernmost skirmish of the Civil War.

The Agua Caliente Ranch at the site of the hot springs, owned by King S. Woolsey, became a well known spot by the early 1870's, and in 1897 a resort was built, complete with 22 rooms and a pool which collected the hot waters from the spring.   Agua Caliente, AZ - Ruins 3Agua Caliente, AZ - Ruins 3About 12 miles north of Sentinel and I-8, Agua Caliente Ranch hosted guests for it's hot springs starting in the 1870's, and became a resort by 1897. The hot springs were used by Native American's long before the American West was settled.
Agua Caliente was a popular resort, with 22 rooms and a pool which collected the hot waters from the spring. Today, the springs have dried up and there's not a lot left. However the resort still stands, along with some other ruins. Photo by Kathy Weiser-Alexander.
Agua Caliente, AZ - Pioneer CemeteryAgua Caliente, AZ - Pioneer CemeteryAbout 12 miles north of Sentinel and I-8, Agua Caliente Ranch hosted guests for it's hot springs starting in the 1870's, and became a resort by 1897. The hot springs were used by Native American's long before the American West was settled.
Agua Caliente was a popular resort, with 22 rooms and a pool which collected the hot waters from the spring. Today, the springs have dried up and there's not a lot left. However the resort still stands, along with some other ruins. Photo by Kathy Weiser-Alexander.

Government agent, artist, writer and American traveler, J. Ross Brown passed through here in 1864 and wrote: 

"While the Company were encamped at Grinnell's, Poston, White, and myself crossed the Gila, and rode about six miles to the ranch of Martin and Woolsey, situated near the Aqua Calliente. Mr. Woolsey had left, a few days before, with a large quantity of stock for the gold placers. We were hospitably entertained by his partner, Mr. Martin, who is trying the experiment of establishing a farm here by means of irrigation. The soil is excellent, and the prospect is highly encouraging. An abundant supply of water flows from the Aqua Calliente. We had a glorious bath in the springs next morning, which completely set us up after the dust and grit of the journey. They lie near the point of the hill, about a mile and a half from Martin's. I consider them equal to the baths of Damascus, or any other in the world. The water is of an exquisite temperature, and possesses some very remarkable qualities in softening the skin and soothing the nervous system."
 
"A Mr. Belcher lived at this place for four years, surrounded by Apaches. Indeed it was not quite safe now; and I could not but think, as Poston, White, and myself sat bobbing about in the water, what an excellent mark we made for any prowling Tontos that might be in the vicinity. It was here that the Indians who had in captivity the Oatman girls made their first halt after the massacre of the family. The barren mountains in the rear, and the wild and desert appearance of the surrounding country, accorded well with the impressive narrative of that disaster."

The hotel still stands today, though long closed. There are also some stone ruins standing testament to better times.    Agua Caliente, AZ - ResortAgua Caliente, AZ - ResortAbout 12 miles north of Sentinel and I-8, Agua Caliente Ranch hosted guests for it's hot springs starting in the 1870's, and became a resort by 1897. The hot springs were used by Native American's long before the American West was settled.
Agua Caliente was a popular resort, with 22 rooms and a pool which collected the hot waters from the spring. Today, the springs have dried up and there's not a lot left. However the resort still stands, along with some other ruins. Photo by Kathy Weiser-Alexander.
Agua Caliente, AZ - Resort 2Agua Caliente, AZ - Resort 2About 12 miles north of Sentinel and I-8, Agua Caliente Ranch hosted guests for it's hot springs starting in the 1870's, and became a resort by 1897. The hot springs were used by Native American's long before the American West was settled.
Agua Caliente was a popular resort, with 22 rooms and a pool which collected the hot waters from the spring. Today, the springs have dried up and there's not a lot left. However the resort still stands, along with some other ruins. Photo by Kathy Weiser-Alexander.

Agua Caliente, AZ - Resort PoolAgua Caliente, AZ - Resort PoolAbout 12 miles north of Sentinel and I-8, Agua Caliente Ranch hosted guests for it's hot springs starting in the 1870's, and became a resort by 1897. The hot springs were used by Native American's long before the American West was settled.
Agua Caliente was a popular resort, with 22 rooms and a pool which collected the hot waters from the spring. Today, the springs have dried up and there's not a lot left. However the resort still stands, along with some other ruins. Photo by Kathy Weiser-Alexander.
Agua Caliente, AZ - RuinsAgua Caliente, AZ - RuinsAbout 12 miles north of Sentinel and I-8, Agua Caliente Ranch hosted guests for it's hot springs starting in the 1870's, and became a resort by 1897. The hot springs were used by Native American's long before the American West was settled.
Agua Caliente was a popular resort, with 22 rooms and a pool which collected the hot waters from the spring. Today, the springs have dried up and there's not a lot left. However the resort still stands, along with some other ruins. Photo by Kathy Weiser-Alexander.

We stayed for a few days in Queen Creek, Arizona with family, boondocking out of their back yard.  While there, we had the chance to explore some places we last visited on a quick trip in 2007, including the ever popular ghost town attraction of Goldfield

Goldfield, AZ - Railroad Water TowerGoldfield, AZ - Railroad Water TowerAn old railroad water tower welcomes visitors to Goldfield Ghost Town, Arizona, by Kathy Weiser-Alexander. Goldfield, AZ - Main StreetGoldfield, AZ - Main StreetMain Street at Goldfield Ghost Town, Arizona, by Kathy Weiser-Alexander.

Situated atop a small hill between the Superstition Mountains and the Goldfield Mounts, the settlement of Goldfield got its start in 1892 when low grade gold ore was found in the area. Low-grade or not, a town soon sprang up and on October 7, 1893 it received its first official post office.
 
This "official" find, coupled with the legend of the Lost Dutchman Mine, which had been circulating for years, led plenty of new miners to the area and in no time, the town boasted three saloons, a boarding house, a general store, brewery, blacksmith shop, butcher shop, and a school. 
Goldfield, AZ - Superstition MountainGoldfield, AZ - Superstition MountainSuperstition Mountain from Goldfield Ghost Town, Arizona, by Dave Alexander. Goldfield, AZ - WagonGoldfield, AZ - WagonAn old wagon at Goldfield Ghost Town, Arizona, by Kathy Weiser-Alexander.
Goldfield, AZ - BordelloGoldfield, AZ - BordelloBordello at Goldfield Ghost Town, Arizona, by Kathy Weiser-Alexander. Goldfield, AZ - HeadframeGoldfield, AZ - HeadframeAn old head frame at Goldfield Ghost Town, Arizona, by Kathy Weiser-Alexander.
Goldfield's bustling days were quickly dashed when the vein of gold ore started to play out and the grade of the ore dropped even more. Just five years after it began, the town found itself quickly dying. The miners moved on, the post office was discontinued on November 2, 1898, and Goldfield became a ghost town.
 
However, some prospectors clung on to the area, sure to find the elusive Lost Dutchman Mine or perhaps, a brand new vein. Others tried to reopen the existing mines, but all attempts were unsuccessful until a man named George Young, who was the secretary of Arizona and the acting governor, arrived on the scene in the first decade of the 20th century. Young brought in new mining methods and equipment to recover the ore and the town began slowly to come alive once more. Also built was a mill and a cyanide plant. A second post office was established on June 8, 1921 and the "new" town was called Youngsberg. However, the town’s "rebirth” would last only about as long as it did the first – just five years. Finally, the gold was gone, the post office was discontinued on October 30, 1926, and the town died once again.
 
Goldfield, AZ - Mining ToolsGoldfield, AZ - Mining ToolsOld mining equipment hangs on a wall at Goldfield Ghost Town, Arizona, by Kathy Weiser-Alexander. Goldfield, AZ - JunkGoldfield, AZ - JunkLots of interesting old equipment at Goldfield Ghost Town, Arizona, by Kathy Weiser-Alexander.
Robert F. "Bob" Schoose, a long time ghost town, mining, and treasure-hunting enthusiast moved to the area in the 1960's, and wanting to own his own ghost town, started looking at Goldfield. After seeing little left, he and his wife Lou Ann bought the 5 acre site of the old Goldfield Mill in 1984 and decided to rebuild the town.
 
Today, Goldfield is filled with authentic looking buildings, includes underground mine tours, and the only narrow gauge railroad in operation in Arizona. Numerous shops and buildings include a brothel, bakery, leather works, a jail, livery, and more. The authentic looking street is filled with people in period costume, horses and wagons, and sometimes authentic gunfighter presentations.
Nearby the tourist attraction of Goldfield there is more history to be explored, including the Lost Dutchman State Park and Superstition Mountains.  Of course, we would discourage most from trying to find the treasure of the Lost Dutchman, as many have and perished in doing so. 
 
One of the best treasure tales in the history of the American West is the Lost Dutchman Mine. Shrouded in mystery, the mine is not only allegedly rich in gold, but is also said to have a curse upon it, leading to a number of strange deaths, as well as people who mysteriously go "missing” when they attempt to locate the old mine.

The Superstitions are now a federal wilderness area and Arizona State Park, so even if the gold were found it would have to be surrendered to the government. This does not deter the many seekers – the search, itself, is simply to intriguing. The lost mine is thought to be located somewhere near Weaver’s Needle, the main landmark of the Superstition Mountains, even though the area has been diligently search by hundreds of people. The Superstition range covers approximately 160,000 acres of desolate, rugged terrain, so arid that only a bit of desert vegetation and a few sparse strands of Ponderosa Pine are all that grows. 

We made a quick stop at the Superstition Mountain Museum just down the road from the State Park and Goldfield.  Formed in 1979, the museum was organized to collect and preserve the history and legends of the Superstition Mountains, as well as support research and education involving the region.  It's worth your time to visit this 12.5 acre museum with plenty of photo opportunities, nature walks, and reproductions of 19th Century life. 

Apache Junction, AZ - Superstition Mountain Museum Saloon ExhibitApache Junction, AZ - Superstition Mountain Museum Saloon ExhibitSaloon exhibit at Superstition Mountain Museum in Arizona. Photo by Kathy Weiser-Alexander. Apache Junction, AZ - Superstition Mountain Museum ExhibitApache Junction, AZ - Superstition Mountain Museum Exhibit19th Century life on display at the Superstition Mountain Museum in Arizona. Photo by Kathy Weiser-Alexander.

Apache Junction, AZ - Superstition Mountain Museum Exhibit - 2 2Apache Junction, AZ - Superstition Mountain Museum Exhibit - 2 219th Century life on display at the Superstition Mountain Museum in Arizona. Photo by Kathy Weiser-Alexander. Apache Junction, AZ - Superstition Mountain Museum Drug Store ExhibitApache Junction, AZ - Superstition Mountain Museum Drug Store ExhibitExhibit at the Superstition Mountain Museum shows items from a 19th Century Drug Store. Photo by Kathy Weiser-Alexander.

The Elvis Memorial Chapel at Superstition Mountain Museum is actually movie memorabilia showing the movies that were filmed at Apacheland. The chapel survived two fires, one in 1969 and another in 2004, which destroyed Apacheland Movie Ranch. It was then donated to the Superstition Mountain Museum.

Apache Junction, AZ - Superstition Mountain Museum  Elvis ChapelApache Junction, AZ - Superstition Mountain Museum Elvis ChapelThe Elvis Memorial Chapel at Superstition Mountain Museum is actually movie memorabilia showing the movies that were filmed at Apacheland. The chapel survived two fires, one in 1969 and another in 2004, which destroyed Apacheland Movie Ranch. It was then donated to the Superstition Mountain Museum. Photo by Kathy Weiser-Alexander. Apache Junction, AZ - Superstition Mountain Museum Elvis Chapel InteriorApache Junction, AZ - Superstition Mountain Museum Elvis Chapel InteriorThe Elvis Memorial Chapel at Superstition Mountain Museum is actually movie memorabilia showing the movies that were filmed at Apacheland. The chapel survived two fires, one in 1969 and another in 2004, which destroyed Apacheland Movie Ranch. It was then donated to the Superstition Mountain Museum. Photo by Kathy Weiser-Alexander.

After our days of visiting family and enjoying a little down time, we started our big push toward home, which would take us through parts of southern New Mexico and west Texas.  Along the way we boon docked again at the Bureau of Land Managements' Indian Bread Rocks Picnic Area.  This was a popular spot, as we counted at least 4 other campers nearby.  This is the access point to the Dos Cabezas Mountains Wilderness. 

Indian Bread Rocks, AZ - CampgroundIndian Bread Rocks, AZ - CampgroundThe Bureau of Land Management's Indian Bread Rocks Campground is the access point to the Dos Cabezas Mountains Wilderness near the town of Bowie. Photo by Dave Alexander. Indian Bread Rocks, AZ - LandscapeIndian Bread Rocks, AZ - LandscapeThe Bureau of Land Management's Indian Bread Rocks Campground is the access point to the Dos Cabezas Mountains Wilderness near the town of Bowie. Photo by Dave Alexander.

It is also nearby our next destination, Fort Bowie Historic Site.  Located in the southeast corner of Arizona, the site commemorates the story of the bitter conflict between the Chiricahua Apache and the United States military. It also stands as a lasting monument to the bravery and endurance of U.S. soldiers in paving the way for westward settlement and the taming of the western frontier.

Fort Bowie, AZ - Ruins - 2Fort Bowie, AZ - Ruins - 2Fort Bowie, Arizona. In 1868, a second, more substantial Fort Bowie was built which included adobe barracks, houses, corrals, a trading post, and a hospital. The new fort became the focal point of military operations for more than 30 years. Photo by Kathy Weiser-Alexander. Fort Bowie, AZ - Parade GroundFort Bowie, AZ - Parade GroundLocated in the southeast corner of Arizona, Fort Bowie National Historic Site commemorates the story of the bitter conflict between the Chiricahua Apache and the United States military. It also stands as a lasting monument to the bravery and endurance of U.S. soldiers in paving the way for westward settlement and the taming of the western frontier. Photo by Kathy Weiser-Alexander.

To get to the historic site, you hike a mile and a half in, and along the way you'll pass more than one historic place that was nearby the fort, including ruins of the Butterfield Station, the cemetery, an Apache Camp, The Chiricahua Apache Indian Agency, and the original fort, which was built in 1862.  

Fort Bowie, AZ - Stage Station RuinsFort Bowie, AZ - Stage Station RuinsFort Bowie, Arizona. The Apache Pass Stage Station was built of stone in July, 1858. Within its 6-8 foot-high walls were a kitchen-dining room, sleeping rooms, a storage room for feed and weapons, and mule corral with portholes in ever stall. The stage stopped here for a change of mules, a moment of rest, and what passed for a meal -- bread, coffee, meat, and beans -- for 50 cents. Photo by Kathy Weiser-Alexander. Fort Bowie, AZ - Post CemeteryFort Bowie, AZ - Post CemeteryFort Bowie, Arizona. The Post Cemetery predeated the establishment of Fort Bowie, when soldiers of the California Column were interred here in 1862 after the Battle of Apache Pass. Also interred here are military dependents, civilian employees, emigrants, mail carriers and three Apache children, one of which was Geronimo's two-year-old son. Photo by Kathy Weiser-Alexander.

Fort Bowie, AZ - Apache CampFort Bowie, AZ - Apache CampApache Pass and the surrounding area was home to the Chiricahua Apache for hundreds of years. During the 18th and early 19th centuries, when this region belonged first to Spain and then to Mexico, the pass was an identified landmark. Fort Bowie, Arizona. Photo by Kathy Weiser-Alexander. Fort Bowie, AZ - Chiricahua ApacheIndian AgencyFort Bowie, AZ - Chiricahua ApacheIndian AgencyRuins of the Chiricaua Apache Indian agency at Fort Bowie, Arizona. U.S. Indian Agent Thomas Jeffords governed some 900 Chiricahua Apache here in 1875-76, under the vigilance of the U.S. Army at Fort Bowie. Cochise, Chiricahua chieftain and friend of Jeffords, died in 1874, leaving the band divided in leadership and conduct. Some Apache lingered on the reservation, while others slipped away to plunder Mexican settlements. In June 1876, the government removed Jeffords and moved 325 Apache northward to the San Carols Reservation. However, many escaped and fled to distant sanctuaries to renew hostilities for another decade.

The agency building was made of adobe and featured wooden flooring and fireplaces in each of its three rooms. A rock shelf in front of the building suggests it had a porch. It most likely had a flat roof, covered with brush and earth and small windows with deep sills.

Photo by Kathy Weiser-Alexander.

Fort Bowie, AZ - RuinsFort Bowie, AZ - RuinsRuins of the first Fort Bowie, Arizona. The fort was named in honor of Colonel George Washington Bowie commander of the 5th Regiment California Volunteer Infantry who first established the fort. Initially, the post resembled more of a temporary military camp than a fort. Photo by Kathy Weiser-Alexander.

Immediately after the first forts ruins you come to the second, more substantial fort complex built in 1868 and in operation for more than 30 years. 

Fort Bowie, AZ - Ruins - 4Fort Bowie, AZ - Ruins - 4Fort Bowie, Arizona. In 1964, the site was authorized as a National Historic site. Today, the remains of Fort Bowie are carefully preserved, as are the adobe walls of various post buildings and the ruins of a Butterfield Stage Station. Photo by Kathy Weiser-Alexander. Fort Bowie, AZ - BellFort Bowie, AZ - BellLoved this old iron bell at Fort Bowie, Arizona. Photo by Kathy Weiser-Alexander.
Located in the southeast corner of Arizona, Fort Bowie National Historic Site commemorates the story of the bitter conflict between the Chiricahua Apache and the United States military. It also stands as a lasting monument to the bravery and endurance of U.S. soldiers in paving the way for westward settlement and the taming of the western frontier.
Fort Bowie, AZ - Visitor CenterFort Bowie, AZ - Visitor CenterFort Bowie, Arizona Visitor's Center. Photo by Kathy Weiser-Alexander. Fort Bowie, AZ - Powder MagazineFort Bowie, AZ - Powder MagazineFort Bowie, Arizona. The Battle of Apache Pass was fought near here on July 15 and 16, 1862, when a regiment under the command of General James Henry Carleton was ambushed by a band of Chiricahua Apache while en route from California to New Mexico, where they were to confront troops. This battle led to the establishment of Fort Bowie later that year in order to protect Apache Pass as an important source of water.
Photo by Kathy Weiser-Alexander.

There's lots of history here, including The Bascom Affair of 1861, which would ultimately result in the building of the fort, as well as the abandonment of the southern Butterfield Overland Mail route.  You can read all about the fascinating history with Cochise and Geronimo and how the fort played its role in our Fort Bowie story HERE.  It was well worth the hike in to see this part of American and Native American history. 

After Fort Bowie we pushed on into New Mexico, parking ourselves for a couple of days at an RV Park in Vado, New Mexico, between Las Cruces and El Paso Texas.  There is some rich Mexican and American history just outside of Las Cruces at Mesilla, home of the signing of the Gadsden Purchase, which resulted in the current boundaries between Mexico and the US.  

Mesilla, NM - PlazaMesilla, NM - PlazaThe historic Mesilla Plaza is the site of the signing of the Gadsden Purchase, which resulted in the current boundaries of Mexico and the United States. Mesilla, NM - WallMesilla, NM - WallArchitecture of historic Mesilla Plaza.

Mesilla, also called Old Mesilla and La Mesilla, was incorporated in 1848 after the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo.  Citizens, unhappy with being part of the United States, moved south across the new border and established the colony.  However, threats of attack by Apache Indian's led the United States to build Fort Filmore and declare the Mesilla Valley region part of the U.S.  The resulting boundary dispute with Mexico led to the Gadsden Purchase of 1853. 

Mesilla would see its share of excitement, including being the capital of the Confederate Territory of Arizona in 1861 and 62, then after its capture, headquarters of the Military District of Arizona until 1864. Later in the 1880's the town would attract such characters as Billy the Kid, Pat Garrett and Pancho Villa.  

Mesilla, NM - Basilica of San Albino ChurchMesilla, NM - Basilica of San Albino ChurchEstablished in 1852, and rebuilt in 1906, the San Albino Church of Mesilla was given minor Basilica status by the Roman Catholic Church in 2008. It is one of the oldest churches in the region. Mesilla, NM - Plaza DisplayMesilla, NM - Plaza DisplayPhoto by Kathy Weiser-Alexander

Today, in Mesilla Plaza, a National Historic Landmark, visitors can see the building where Billy the Kid was tried and sentenced to hang. It is also the same building that once housed the Capitol of Arizona and New Mexico.  Today it's a gift shop.  Immediately across the street you'll find La Posta de Mesilla Restaurant, Cantina and Chile Shop. This used to be the historic Corn Exchange Hotel, and has been a dining establishment since 1939. Travelers on Butterfield's Overland Stage would "lay over" here after getting off at the Stage Station a block away at what is now the El Patio Restaurant [corrected 11/8/15].  Over the years this building sheltered such famous characters as Kit Carson, Billy the Kid, Pancho Villa and in more recent history, General Douglas MacArthur. 

Mesilla, NM - La Posta de MesillaMesilla, NM - La Posta de MesillaLa Posta de Mesilla Restaurant, Cantina and Chile Shop used to be the historic Corn Exchange Hotel, and has been a dining establishment since 1939. Over the years this building sheltered such famous characters as Kit Carson, Billy the Kid, Pancho Villa, and was a "lay over" place for those getting off the Overland Stage a block away at what is now the El Patio Restaurant. Photo by Kathy Weiser-Alexander. Mesilla, NM - La Posta de MesillaMesilla, NM - La Posta de MesillaLa Posta de Mesilla Restaurant, Cantina and Chile Shop used to be the historic Corn Exchange Hotel, and has been a dining establishment since 1939. Over the years this building sheltered such famous characters as Kit Carson, Billy the Kid, Pancho Villa, and was a "lay over" place for those getting off the Overland Stage a block away at what is now the El Patio Restaurant. Photo by Kathy Weiser-Alexander.

There are other historic buildings in this plaza, including Thunderbird de la Mesilla, the oldest documented brick building in New Mexico built in 1860 , and more.  Well worth your time to visit, shop the various stores and enjoy the local cuisine. 

Mesilla, NM - Thunderbird de la MesillaMesilla, NM - Thunderbird de la MesillaIn the Historic Mesilla Plaza, this building, now a gift shop, is the oldest documented brick building in New Mexico, built in 1860. Photo by Kathy Weiser-Alexander. Mesilla, NM - WineMesilla, NM - WineA shop in historic Mesilla Plaza welcomes visitors to sample their wine.

We were pretty much wrapping up our two month journey of the Southwest at this point, pushing on past El Paso and running into a bit of Winter that had us hunkering in for an extra day at Van Horn Texas.  Along the way we passed through Sierra Blanca, which has most definitely seen it's better days. 

Sierra Blanca, TX - CafeSierra Blanca, TX - Cafe Sierra Blanca, TX - General Store - 2Sierra Blanca, TX - General Store - 2

Sierra Blanca, TX - Truck StopSierra Blanca, TX - Truck Stop Sierra Blanca, TX - TheaterSierra Blanca, TX - Theater

Sierra Blanca was founded in 1881 at the completion point of a long-sought southern transcontinental railway. The town is the junction of the Southern Pacific and Missouri Pacific railroads.  It would go on to become the county seat of Hudspeth County, which was carved out of El Paso County in 1917. 

Sierra Blanca, TX - DepotSierra Blanca, TX - DepotSierra Blanca was founded in 1881 at the completion point of a long-sought southern transcontinental railway. The town is the junction of the Southern Pacific and Missouri Pacific railroads. Sierra Blanca, TX - Railroad HotelSierra Blanca, TX - Railroad HotelSierra Blanca was founded in 1881 at the completion point of a long-sought southern transcontinental railway. The town is the junction of the Southern Pacific and Missouri Pacific railroads.

Sierra Blanca, TX - Southern Pacific Railroad CarSierra Blanca, TX - Southern Pacific Railroad CarSierra Blanca was founded in 1881 at the completion point of a long-sought southern transcontinental railway. The town is the junction of the Southern Pacific and Missouri Pacific railroads. Sierra Blanca, TX - Closed LodgeSierra Blanca, TX - Closed Lodge

Don't come through here with drugs.  Among those that have enjoyed a stay at the jail here are singer Fiona Apple, a member of the entourage of singer Nelly, singers Snoop Dogg, Willie Nelson, and actor Armie Hammer. 

During our stay in Van Horn, Old Man Winter decided to make sure we knew where we were headed and gave us a 'cool' shot of the historic Hotel El Capitan, complete with frozen fountain. 

Van Horn, TX - Hotel El CapitanVan Horn, TX - Hotel El CapitanWinter leaves its mark on the fountain at the historic Hotel El Capitan in Van Horn, Texas. Photo by Kathy Weiser-Alexander. Van Horn, TX - Hotel El Capitan FountainVan Horn, TX - Hotel El Capitan FountainThe water fountain at the historic Hotel El Capitan in Van Horn, Texas is frozen solid. Photo by Kathy Weiser-Alexander.

The hotel was built in 1930 and just recently went through a 2.5 Million Dollar renovation.  Van Horn began as a settlement in the late 1850 in support of the San Antonio-El Paso Overland Mail route.  The town got a boost with the construction of the Texas and Pacific Railway in 1881. 

Van Horn, TX - Auto Court - 2Van Horn, TX - Auto Court - 2An old auto court in Van Horn, Texas. Photo by Kathy Weiser-Alexander. Van Horn, TX - Auto Court - 4Van Horn, TX - Auto Court - 4An old auto court in Van Horn, Texas. Photo by Kathy Weiser-Alexander.

Van Horn, TX - BarVan Horn, TX - BarAn old bar in Van Horn, Texas. Photo by Kathy Weiser-Alexander. Van Horn, TX - Sands Motel SignVan Horn, TX - Sands Motel SignColorful Sands Motel Sign in Van Horn, Texas. Photo by Kathy Weiser-Alexander.

Van Horn, TX - Antique StoreVan Horn, TX - Antique StoreAntique Store in Van Horn, Texas. Photo by Kathy Weiser-Alexander. Van Horn, TX - Antique Store - 2Van Horn, TX - Antique Store - 2Antique Store in Van Horn, Texas. Photo by Kathy Weiser-Alexander.

As we left Van Horn for our final push toward Missouri, we were dazzled with a bit of Texas frozen fog to welcome us back to Winter. These images were taken in the ghost town of Kent, Texas. 

Kent, TX - FrostKent, TX - FrostMorning fog brings a Texas sized frost to the area around to the town of Kent Texas one late February day. Kent, founded before 1892, was originally known as Antelope due to the large number of the animal in the area. In 1914 the town had four cattle operations, a general store and a population of about 25. That doubled by 1924, however the Post Office was closed in 1960, followed by the school in 1961. In the late 1960's Kent had four businesses and 65 residents, and as late as 2000, Kent still had six businesses.
Although it could be the fog, we didn't see much life left in Kent while passing through in 2015. Photo by Dave Alexander.
Kent, TX - Texas Frost, Ghost SignKent, TX - Texas Frost, Ghost SignMorning fog brings a Texas sized frost to the area around to the town of Kent Texas one late February day. Kent, founded before 1892, was originally known as Antelope due to the large number of the animal in the area. In 1914 the town had four cattle operations, a general store and a population of about 25. That doubled by 1924, however the Post Office was closed in 1960, followed by the school in 1961. In the late 1960's Kent had four businesses and 65 residents, and as late as 2000, Kent still had six businesses.
Although it could be the fog, we didn't see much life left in Kent while passing through in 2015. Photo by Dave Alexander.

It was a fantastic journey through the southwest, but we sure were glad to make it back to our home in Warsaw Missouri.  We'll be updating plenty of stories with new photos from our travels, as well as writing up a few more, so be watching our What's New page.  In the meantime, thanks for following along and don't forget to click on the images to go to their respective galleries.  

About the RV Parks we stayed at during this portion of our journey:

In addition to the great boondocking experience at Indian Bread Rocks in Arizona, we stayed at the following RV Parks. 

Western Sky's RV Park, Vado New Mexico - We probably wouldn't stay here again. Although the Wifi was alright, they promoted having cable.  After hooking everything up though we found they only had 3 channels.  The laundry room was a bit run down, with warnings of not overloading the drain by turning on washers at the same time (told to stagger them out).  

Desert Willow RV Park, Van Horn, Texas - We would definitely stay here again if passing through.  Great management, very clean, wonderful showers, and even though the laundry room was smallish, it was very adequate and updated.  We found our stay here very pleasant. 

Sweetwater RV Park, Sweetwater, Texas - This place was for sale during our stay.  If the same ownership continues, would not stay here again. Run down RV Park that's going to need quite a bit of updating under new ownership. 

Five Star RV Park, Tyler, Texas - Good location outside Tyler, friendly management and was a nice stay. 

Meadow Brooks RV Park, Muskogee, Oklahoma - Good location inside town.  Friendly management, level spots (concrete slabs). Great way to end our overnights on this journey. 

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orders@legendsofamerica.com (Legends of America Photo Prints) Fort Bowie Indian Bread Rocks Mesilla New Mexico Sierra Blanca Texas Van Horn Texas agua caliente arizona aztec arizona goldfield arizona superstition mountain museum http://photos.legendsofamerica.com/blog/2015/3/home-via-arizona-newmexico-and-texas Thu, 26 Mar 2015 19:20:18 GMT
Death Valley to Yuma via the Salton Sea http://photos.legendsofamerica.com/blog/2015/3/death-valley-to-yuma-via-the-salton-sea After repositioning ourselves closer to the southern parts of Death Valley National Park, we took some time to explore a bit more of this rugged and beautiful valley, along with some of it's interesting mining history.  While we did not do "all" of Death Valley, we did enough to see why this would be a harsh environment to make a living. 

Click on images to go to their respective galleries.  Links in text will take you to more information about that subject. 

Our first destination was Furnace Creek Inn and Furnace Creek Ranch.  Along the way we made a quick side trip to go along part of the original 20-Mule Team Road. The famous Twenty Mule Teams first pulled massive wagons hauling borax from William T. Coleman's Harmony Borax Works near Furnace Creek to the railhead near Mojave, California, a grueling 165 mile, ten day trip across primitive roads. Although the teams only ran for six years from 1883 to 1889, they made an enduring impression of the Old West and Death Valley. 

Death Valley, CA - 20 Mule Team RoadDeath Valley, CA - 20 Mule Team RoadFor many people, nothing symbolizes Death Valley more than the famous Twenty Mule Teams. These "big teams" first pulled massive wagons hauling borax from William T. Coleman's Harmony Borax Works near Furnace Creek to the railhead near Mojave, California, a grueling 165 mile, ten day trip across primitive roads. Death Valley National Park, California. Photo by Kathy Weiser-Alexander. Death Valley, CA - 20 Mule Team Road 2Death Valley, CA - 20 Mule Team Road 220-Mule Team Road in Death Valley National Park, California. Photo by Dave Alexander.

Death Valley, CA - 20 Mule Team Road - 2Death Valley, CA - 20 Mule Team Road - 2Twenty Mule Team Raod in Death Valley National Park, California. Photo by Dave Alexander

In the 1920s, as it became apparent to the Pacific Coast Borax Company that the emphasis of borax mining was swinging away from Death Valley, it was decided that it might be a good time to start encouraging tourist travel to the area in order to make some money. 

The primary concern of the company centered around providing adequate and comfortable accommodations. It was first thought that the natural and easiest solution would be to house people at Furnace Creek Ranch, and plans were accordingly made to add 10-12 bedrooms plus dining facilities. On further thought, however, this locale seemed too remote from Ryan, and thus impractical as a tourist headquarters. After lengthy consideration of alternative locations at Ryan and Shoshone, it was finally decided that the small mound and former Indian ceremonial area at the mouth of Furnace Creek Wash would be an ideal site.
Furnace Creek, CA - Furnace Creek InnFurnace Creek, CA - Furnace Creek InnBuilt in 1926 and opening the next year, the Furnace Creek Inn came about after it was apparent that the emphasis of Borax Mining was shifting away from Death Valley. It was decided to be a good time to start encouraging tourism in the area instead. It was decided that the small mound and former Indian ceremonial area at the mouth of Furnace Creek Wash would be an ideal site. Not only was a good fresh water supply available 6,000 feet up the wash at Travertine Springs, but, the view up and down the valley and of the surrounding mountains was breathtaking. Today the Furnace Creek Inn continues to please guests with those beautiful views.
Construction of the hotel started in September 1926, and its official opening was held on February 1, 1927. In the fall of 1927, five more terrace rooms on either side of the parking area were added and more construction would continue over the next decade.
 
The Pacific Coast Borax Company extensively promoted use of its own standard-gauge Tonopah & Tidewater and narrow-gauge Death Valley railroads to transport tourists to the site. At that time, tourists could purchase a package that included transportation, hotel accommodations for one night at Furnace Creek Inn, meals for two days, and bus tours to nearby attractions for $42.
 
With the proclamation of Death Valley as a national monument in February, 1933, highways in Death Valley were constructed by the federal government and taken over by the California State Highway Commission. 
 
In 1956 Fred Harvey, Inc., took over management of the Furnace Creek Inn and Ranch for the borax company and in 1969 purchased the properties outright. Today, the property is owned by the Xanterra Corporation and part of the Furnace Creek Resort.  A massive fire destroyed the historic laundry facilities across the highway in December of 2014. 
 
 
Nearby, you'll find the Furnace Creek Ranch. After establishing a location for the Harmony Borax Works about 1.5  miles north of the mouth of Furnace Creek, William T. Coleman next addressed the need for a supply point to provide essential provisions for his mules and workmen at this plant and at his Amargosa Borax Works.
 
 
A logical place for this operation was the spot near the mouth of Furnace Creek Wash that had been homesteaded in the 1870’s by a man named Bellerin Teck. The ranch consisted of a large adobe house with a wide northern veranda, and was first referred to as "Greenland" and occasionally as "Coleman." It was given its present name by the Pacific Coast Borax Company sometime after 1889.
 
The presence of water, shade trees, and grass in the area led to temperatures that usually ranged from eight to ten degrees cooler than elsewhere in the valley, and by 1885 the farmstead was rich in alfalfa and hay, while cattle, hogs, and sheep were supplying fresh meat for the tables of the Harmony Borax workers.
 
The promotional possibilities offered by this cool oasis greatly appealed to Coleman, who at one point envisioned eventually establishing a resort here. However, Coleman's fortunes waned and the property wound up with Francis "Borax" Smith by 1890.  It would finally become a resort around 1933 and today, like the Furnace Creek Inn, is part of the Furnace Creek Resort, complete with golf course, RV Park and more.  
 
Just one of the interesting things to do here is visit the Borax Works Museum at the Ranch.    Furnace Creek, CA - Furnace Creek Ranch Borax MuseumFurnace Creek, CA - Furnace Creek Ranch Borax MuseumBorax Museum at Furnace Creek Ranch in Death Valley National Park, California. This building was constructed in 1883 by Francis "Borax" Smith, founder of the Pacific Coast Borax Company. The oldest house in Death Valley, it originally stood in 20-Mule Team Canyon where it served as an office, bunk house and ore-checking station for miners at the Monte Blanco deposits. In 1954 the building was moved to Furnace Creek Ranch to serve as a museum. Photo by Kathy Weiser-Alexander. Furnace Creek, CA - Furnace Creek Ranch Borax Museum RailroadFurnace Creek, CA - Furnace Creek Ranch Borax Museum RailroadDeath Valley Railroad on display at Borax Museum at Furnace Creek Ranch in Death Valley. Photo by Kathy Weiser-Alexander.
Right next to the ranch is the Harmony Borax Works. The discovery of borax north of the mouth of Furnace Creek was made in 1881 by Aaron and Rose Winters, whose holdings were immediately bought by William T. Coleman and Company for $20,000. He subsequently formed the Greenland Salt and Borax Mining Company (later the Harmony Borax Mining Company), which in 1882 began operating the Harmony Borax Works, a small settlement of adobe and stone buildings plus a refinery. The homestead, later known as the Furnace Creek Ranch, immediately to the south was intended as the supply point for his men and stock.
A land of extremes, Death Valley is one of the hottest, driest and lowest places on earth. With summer temperatures averaging well over 100 degrees and a long history of human suffering in the vast desert, the valley is aptly named. However, this place of eroded badlands, sand dunes, and golden hills also has a haunting sense of beauty. Just down the road a piece from Furnace Creek Inn, Artist's Palette is a prime example of the rugged beauty here. The Palette drive rises from the desert floor to the edge of the Black Mountains where the rock has been colored by oxidation of various metals. This is the area of the valley's most explosive volcanic periods. Death Valley, CA - Artist RoadDeath Valley, CA - Artist RoadA road in Death Valley National Park, California near Artist's Palette. Photo by Kathy Weiser-Alexander.
Death Valley, CA - Artist Palette RoadDeath Valley, CA - Artist Palette RoadRoad into Artist Palette in Death Valley National Park, California. Photo by Kathy Weiser-Alexander. Death Valley, CA - Artist PaletteDeath Valley, CA - Artist PaletteArtist's Palette in Death Valley National Park, California is noted for having various colors caused by the oxidation of different metals. Sitting on the face of the Black Mountains, this area is the result of Death Valley's most explosive volcanic periods. Known as the Artists Drive Formation, chemical weathering and hydrothermal alteration are also responsible for the variety of colors.
From there you continue to go down into the valley's lowest point, Badwater Basin. As you stand looking at the desert, be sure to turn around to see the cliff behind you and the "Sea Level" marker 282 feet above you. 
There's more evidence of mining in Death Valley, including the small ruins of Ashford Mill. In January, 1907 a man named Harold Ashford wandered into the Death Valley region, and attracted by the gold strikes at the Desert Hound Mine, prospected in that vicinity. Within a few months, he discovered that the Keys Gold Mining Company had failed to do the required assessment work on several of its claims, and Ashford relocated them and started to work on his own. It took the Keys Gold Mining Company almost two years to discover that someone else was working their former claims, and when Ashford refused to vacate, the company took him to court In January, 1910; however, the judge found in favor of Ashford and he retained title to his claims.
 
The mine continued to be worked for years, and a mill was established on the floor of Death Valley, five miles and 3,500 feet below the mine, where the ore from the mine was trucked for preliminary treating. The mill included a jaw-crusher, a ten-foot Lane mill, a Wilfley table and a Diester slime table. The ruins of Ashford Mill stand on the floor of Death Valley. Structures here consist of the crumbling walls of a concrete office building, and the ruins of the mill itself. Not much is left of the mill, with the exception of the large concrete foundations and a very limited amount of debris.
There's plenty more to see and do in Death Valley National Park.  We suggest spending several days of exploring in the Spring or Fall for the best enjoyment. 
 
After Death Valley we headed through the Mojave National Preserve to boondock our travel trailer at Amboy Crater.  Along the way we stopped in Kelso for a quick peek at the past at the Kelso Railroad Depot Depot Museum and the remains of this once important stop.  Around the turn of the 20th Century, construction began on what would become the San Pedro, Los Angeles & Salt Lake Railroad. Union Pacific made a deal to purchase half of the railroad, and the Salt Lake route spread across the Mojave Desert by 1905.  Siding #16 became Kelso, with the first depot opening in 1905, followed by a post office, engineer house, eating house, and eventually a small town.  By the 1940's, Kelso had a population of around 2,000. But with the closing of a nearby mine, and diesel engines replacing steam engines on the railroad, Union Pacific began moving employee's and jobs away.  It wasn't until 1985 that the railroad completely closed the depot.  In 1994 the California Desert Protection Act created the Mojave National Preserve, putting the depot into the hands of the National Park Service.  Renovations to the historic structure began in 2002 and opened as a new visitor's center to the preserve in 2005. 
Ludlow, CA - Motel SignLudlow, CA - Motel Sign
After making our way out of the Mojave National Preserve we decided to do a small bit more of Route 66, this time back tracking from Ludlow to Amboy.  During our visit, parts of the Mother Road were still closed due to flooding in the fall of 2014, but the path from Ludlow to Amboy was enough to wrap up this day's adventure. 
 
Though Ludlow is a virtual ghost town, you will see a few open businesses due to its proximity to I-40. Founded in 1882 as a water stop for the Central Pacific Railroad, the water was hauled from Newberry Springs in tank cars. Before long, gold was discovered in the area and Ludlow began to grow until the mining petered out in the early 1900s. Declining for the first time, Ludlow saw a revival when Route 66 came through, becoming a busy rest stop along the new highway. Ludlow died a second death when I-40 replaced the Mother Road. Though there are still a few people living in the area, supporting the service businesses along the interstate, the town is mostly littered with the decaying buildings of its former past.
 
On the other side of the railroad tracks behind the old settlement of Ludlow is an interesting cemetery surrounded by a rusty wire fence. Here, nameless graves are marked by a couple of dozen wooden crosses, leaving no testament to those who died here many years before.
 
Ludlow, CA - Route 66 Closed West Of Ludlow-daLudlow, CA - Route 66 Closed West Of Ludlow-daDuring our visit in February 2015, parts of Route 66 in California were still closed from flooding in the fall of 2014. Photo by Dave Alexander. Ludlow, CA - Route 66 ShieldLudlow, CA - Route 66 ShieldRoute 66 shield beckons visitors east toward Amboy just outside of Ludlow, California. Photo by Dave Alexander.
Ludlow, CA - Fire TruckLudlow, CA - Fire TruckPhoto by Kathy Weiser-Alexander. Ludlow, CA - Ludlow CafeLudlow, CA - Ludlow CafeClosed cafe in Ludlow, California on Route 66 sits wasting away. Photo by Kathy Weiser-Alexander.
Ludlow, CA - Fire Truck2Ludlow, CA - Fire Truck2 Ludlow, CA - Ludlow Cafe DoorLudlow, CA - Ludlow Cafe Door
To end the day we paid a visit to Amboy. The town was originally owned by Roy and Velma Crowl in the 1930s and the cafe, motel, and service station were built somewhere around 1938. The Crowl's had two children who helped them with the business - Lloyd Irwin and Betty.
 
Over the years the station, motel and cafe served thousands of customers who would rave about Roy's burgers and the service that they received along that desolate stretch of Route 66. In those days, Amboy was an oasis in the desert where hot and tired travelers could stop for food, a cool drink, mechanical services, and gas, while a big smile and a kind voice awaited them at Roy's Cafe and Motel.
 
Today, Roy's Cafe and Motel are under new ownership, and while they  aren't serving food yet, during our visit they were working on the Motel and we were told that despite water issues, they are still trying to re-open it.
Amboy, CA - Roy's Sign & CafeAmboy, CA - Roy's Sign & CafeRoy's Sign and Cafe on Route 66 in Amboy, California. Photo by Dave Alexander. Amboy, CA - Roy's MotelAmboy, CA - Roy's MotelThey were working to bring Roy's Motel on Route 66 in Amboy, California back to life during Legends of America's visit in February, 2015. Photo by Dave Alexander.
Amboy, CA - Roy's SignAmboy, CA - Roy's SignRoy's Motel & Cafe Sign on Route 66 in Amboy, California. Photo by Kathy Weiser-Alexander. Amboy, CA - Roy's Motel WindowAmboy, CA - Roy's Motel WindowLove windows. This one at Roy's Motel on Route 66 in Amboy, California. Photo by Kathy Weiser-Alexander.
We boondocked our RV at Amboy Crater nearby.  Estimated to be around 79,000 years old, the crater was a popular spot for those traveling Route 66 before I-40 came along, and is one of the few extinct volcanoes along the route.  It has seen a resurgence of interest in recent years as people re-discover the Mother road. 
Amboy Crater, CA - SunriseAmboy Crater, CA - SunriseSunrise at Amboy Crater along Route 66 near Amboy, California. Photo by Dave Alexander.
After Amboy we decided to make a quick jaunt over to the Salton Sea on our round about way to Yuma, Arizona.  Situated in the Sonoran Desert in southeastern California is the Salton Sea, the largest lake in the state. The Salton Basin has held various waters over the last three million years as the Colorado River changed its course and spilled over, filling up the basin with fresh water lakes that would eventually evaporate. Then, the process would start all over again. By the time European explorers came to the area in the 16th century, the Salton Basin was completely dry, though just a half a century before it had been some 26 times larger than the size of the current Salton Sea.
 
In the late 19th century the California Development Company and its ambitious president, Charles R. Rockwood, determined to make the Imperial Valley into an agricultural oasis in the desert. A series of canals were constructed in 1900 to allow for irrigation and for a few years the river flowed peacefully, regulated by a wooden head gate, and watering the fields of fruits and vegetables. However, the flowing waters contained large amounts of silt, which soon blocked the head gate. To correct this problem, the California Development Company then cut a new channel a few miles south of the Mexican border. Unregulated by U.S. authorities, the new channel crossed an unstable river delta and when the Colorado River waters began to peak from heavy rainfalls and snowmelt in the summer of 1905, the dike broke and the Salton Basin began to fill at an alarming rate.
 
For two years, the Colorado River flooded the Salton Sink, destroying the town of Salton and the Southern Pacific Railroad siding. The railroad, having substantial business interests in the region, spent some three million dollars to stop the river's flow into the Salton Sink, finally succeeding in 1907. However, a "new" lake body had been created, which was called the Salton Sea.
 
The large sea, surrounded by desert terrain, was a natural site for fishermen, but without an outlet, the sea became more and more saline as fresh water was pumped out of the lake for irrigation and when the water returned through run-off it included dissolved salts from the soil, pesticides and fertilizer residue. As the saline levels increased, the fresh water fish died and over the years, officials began to experiment with bringing in various species of salt water fish, including salmon, halibut, bonefish, clams, oysters, and more. Unfortunately, these fish also died due to the high saline level.
 
However, in the early 1950s, certain species survived including gulf croaker, sargo, orange corvine and tilapia. As the fish began to thrive, it fueled a recreation boom in the 1950s and the inland desert sea became an inviting sport-fishing and vacation destination. In no time, its coastline developed numerous resorts and marinas catering to water skiers, boaters, and fishermen. Billed as "Palm Springs-by-the-Sea,” restaurants, shops, and nightclubs also sprang up along the shores. The lake enjoyed immense popularity, especially among the rich and famous as movie stars and recording artists flocked to the area. From Dean Martin, to Jerry Lewis, Frank Sinatra, and the Beach Boys, the lake became a speedboat playground.
 
However, Salton Sea’s bright lights would quickly fade in the 1970s when the sea’s water level began rising from several years of heavy rains and increasing agricultural drainage. Shorefront homes, businesses, resorts, and marinas flooded several times until the water stabilized in 1980 after a series of conservation measures to reduce field run-off. However, for the many resort areas, it was too late. The salt and fertilizers of the run-off had accumulated to such a degree that they had reached toxic levels, which began a cycle of decay. As algae fed on the toxins, it created massive amounts of rotten smelling matter floating upon the surface of the lake and suffocated many of the fish.
 
Within just a few years, the resorts had closed, the marinas were abandoned, and those who could afford to, had moved, leaving in their wake, abandoned businesses and homes, and scattered junk. 
Salton Sea, CA - Desert Shores MarketSalton Sea, CA - Desert Shores Market Salton Sea, CA - Bombay Beach Ski InnSalton Sea, CA - Bombay Beach Ski InnPhoto by Kathy Weiser-Alexander.
Salton Sea Beach, CA - SignSalton Sea Beach, CA - Sign Salton Sea, CA - Desert Shores Sans SouciSalton Sea, CA - Desert Shores Sans Souci Salton Sea, CA - EastsideSalton Sea, CA - Eastside Salton Sea, CA - State Recreation AreaSalton Sea, CA - State Recreation Area Salton Sea, CA - WestsideSalton Sea, CA - Westside Salton Sea, CA - Westside-2Salton Sea, CA - Westside-2 Salton Sea, CA - Westside-3Salton Sea, CA - Westside-3 Salton Sea, CA - Westside-4Salton Sea, CA - Westside-4 Salton Sea, CA - Westside-6Salton Sea, CA - Westside-6
After a brief visit to the Salton Sea State Park, we moved on down the road toward the border, then over to Yuma, Arizona. Along the way we passed Imperial Sand Dunes, which looked like quite a bit of fun for off roading.
Imperial Sand Dunes, CAImperial Sand Dunes, CAPhoto by Kathy Weiser-Alexander.
Just past the sand dunes, Yuma is home of the famed Yuma Territorial Prison.  From 1876 to 1909, this prison held criminals from all over Arizona Territory, including famous outlaws like Pearl Hart. Over 3,000 prisoners, including 29 women, stayed here during its 33 year history.  Due to severe overcrowding, the prison was closed in September 1909 and today is an Arizona State Park. 
Yuma, AZ - Territorial PrisonYuma, AZ - Territorial Prison Yuma, AZ - Territorial Prison Guard TowerYuma, AZ - Territorial Prison Guard TowerPhoto by Dave Alexander. Yuma, AZ - Territorial Prison Main Cell BlockYuma, AZ - Territorial Prison Main Cell BlockPhoto by Dave Alexander.
We also paid a visit to old Fort Yuma. Fort Yuma was established near the Gila River in Arizona to defend the newly settled community of Yuma, Arizona and immigrants taking the southern route to California. However, shortly after it was established, it was moved across the Colorado river to protect the ferry crossing in March, 1851. However, the fort was virtually abandoned just a few months later due to the high costs incurred in maintaining it and by the end of the year, the troops were entirely gone. It was reoccupied by Captain Heintzelman on February 29, 1852. From 1858 until 1861, the fort was situated along the Butterfield Overland Mail route. In 1864 the quartermaster Corps erected a depot on the left bank of the Colorado River, below the mouth of the Gila River, which continued to provide supplies until the railroad made the supply depot obsolete. The fort was abandoned for the last time in May, 1883 and the land transferred to the Department of Interior the following year.
 
Today, the site of the military reservation is occupied by the Fort Yuma Indian School and a mission, which features the Quechan Indian Museum housed in the old officers' mess quarters. 
Fort Yuma, CA - BarracksFort Yuma, CA - BarracksPhoto by Kathy Weiser-Alexander. Fort Yuma, CA - Bldg2Fort Yuma, CA - Bldg2
Fort Yuma, CA - Commander QuartersFort Yuma, CA - Commander Quarters Fort Yuma, CA - Inspection Station-daFort Yuma, CA - Inspection Station-da
Fort Yuma, CA - St Thomas ChurchFort Yuma, CA - St Thomas Church Fort Yuma, CA - St Thomas Church StatueFort Yuma, CA - St Thomas Church Statue
We did get to know the local Native American Authorities after someone reported that we may be hauling a body on top of our SUV.  No folks, that's just a carry bag with chairs and a table :)
Fort Yuma, CA -Dave copFort Yuma, CA -Dave copNo, that isn't a body on top of our SUV, just a table and chairs. But thanks for checking on us :) Photo by Kathy Weiser-Alexander.
 
After Yuma, we wrapped up our tour of the Southwest with a visit to Goldfield, Fort Bowie, and more...before finding winter again in Texas :( We'll show you some of that journey on our next Photo Blog. 
 
About the RV Parks we stayed at during this portion of our journey: 
 
In addition to our great boon docking experience at Amboy Crater, we stayed at Westwind RV and Golf Resort.  Fantastic stay, with a community that has lots of activities, bar, restaurant and more!  We definitely recommend this park, especially if you are thinking about having a second "home" for winter. 
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orders@legendsofamerica.com (Legends of America Photo Prints) Amboy Amboy Crater Ashford Mill Death Valley Furnace Creek Kelso Ludlow Mojave National Preserve Route 66 Yuma http://photos.legendsofamerica.com/blog/2015/3/death-valley-to-yuma-via-the-salton-sea Sun, 08 Mar 2015 17:44:25 GMT