Nine times out of ten, our travels to visit our families in St. Louis Missouri and Omaha Nebraska take us through western Kentucky and across the Ohio River on I-24 at Paducah… We’d never stopped at the town across the river from Paducah. That town is Metropolis, the self-proclaimed home town of Superman!
We held off on lunch until we arrived in Metropolis. Before finding a place to eat, we drove around to check out Superman's town and looking at the historic sites that I’d found listed in the National Register of Historic Places.
This is the Elijah P. Curtis House. This Classic Revival house was built in 1870. It currently houses the Massac County Historical Museum.
Elijah P. Curtis was born in 1834 and he settled in Massac County at a young age. He earned his law degree in 1860 and practiced law just prior to the start of the Civil War. Once the war started, Curtis was one of those responsible for organizing the first volunteer Union regiment from Massac County. During the war, he was promoted to the rank of Major. Following that conflict, Curtis returned to his chosen profession.
This old long railroad bridge across the Ohio River between Metropolis and Paducah (McCracken County Kentucky) is certainly old enough to be listed on the National Register of Historic Places! But it’s not…
The Metropolis Bridge was originally built for the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad. Construction began in 1914 and the bridge was open for business in 1917. Shortly afterwards ownership of the bridge was passed on to the Paducah and Illinois Railroad. This newly formed company was jointly owned by the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad and Nashville, Chattanooga and St. Louis Railway. This single track bridge is still owned by the Paducah and Illinois Railroad. Operations are managed by the Canadian National Railway and bridge maintenance/inspection managed by Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway
The total length of the bridge is 6,424 feet. The largest span stretches 708 feet and it remains the longest pin-connected simple through truss span in the world. When the bridge was built, it cost $4,000,000. It would cost over $400,000,000 to build a similar bridge today. This 99 year old railroad bridge still handles about 15 freight trains per day!
The plaque on the wall by the front gate proclaims that this is the C.C. Roberts House. This huge and handsome Victorian was built in 1901. At one time, C.C. Roberts operated one of the largest plants in the world devoted to the manufacture of fruit boxes and baskets.
· Robert Franklin Stroud, the ‘Birdman of Alcatraz’, is buried in Metropolis. Since he was born in Seattle Washington and died in the Medical Center for Federal Prisoners in Springfield Missouri, it’s not clear why he was buried in Metropolis. Perhaps a family member was responsible for the burial. About a third of the city’s population is of German heritage.
This building wasn’t listed anywhere…but I just liked this second floor apartment adaptation in a building that was built in 1892. That balcony with all those flowers and the flags set it off nicely!
Metropolis is the county seat of Massac County Illinois. As per the 2010 census, the county had a population of 15,429 and Metropolis had 6,537 residents.
· Did you know that following the Civil War some members of Congress suggested moving the capital further west, but President Ulysses S. Grant refused to consider such a proposal? Even before the War some groups worked to establish a Western District of Columbia which would have included present-day Metropolis and the nearby area of Kentucky.
As all fans of super heroes know, Superman resides in a city named "Metropolis". It naturally follows that Metropolis Illinois has this statue of him in the center of town in front of the courthouse. In early June of each year the city holds a celebration "The Superman Celebration". Comic book and superhero fans attend from all over the world. Metropolis Illinois is even featured in one Superman comic-book story!
Diagonally across the street from Superman’s statue, his fans and the curious tourists can get their fill of superman souvenirs and memorabilia at the Superman Museum and Store. To learn more about this attraction, you can go to http://www.supermuseum.com/stores.html.
· On January 21, 1972, DC Comics declared Metropolis the "Hometown of Superman." On June 9, 1972, the Illinois State Legislature passed Resolution 572 that confirmed this, declaring Metropolis as the "Hometown of Superman".
· The Metropolis newspaper is named “The Metropolis Planet”. The name was inspired by “The Daily Planet”, the fictional newspaper in the Superman comics, movies, etc.
As we headed out of town and back to I-24 north, we drove into the Fort Massac State Park. This park along the Ohio River is just on the edge of Metropolis. It’s the home of the aptly named Fort Massac. The fort is listed in the National Register.
Legend has it that, as early as 1540, the Spanish explorer Hernando de Soto and his soldiers constructed a primitive fortification here to defend themselves from native attack. Fort Massac itself was built by the French in 1757 during the French and Indian War. After the war a band of Chickasaw Indians burned it to the ground. In 1794, during the Northwest Indian War, President George Washington ordered the fort rebuilt.
The Fort was destroyed and rebuilt a couple more times, most recently as a scaled down ‘historic’ version in 2002. The original 1757 French fort foundation impression is still visible for visitors. Each fall, re-enactors gather for the Fort Massac Encampment, which interprets life in the 18th century.
Note: The replica 1802 fort at Fort Massac State Park is currently fenced off and it is closed pending structural rehabilitation.
Just click on any of the photos to enlarge them…
Thanks for stopping by and paying your respects to Superman and his ‘hometown’!
Take Care, Big Daddy Dave