Tuesday, November 30, 2010

All Aboard! Last Stop, St. Louis

These are the last of the locomotive photos, (plus one airplane), from our visit to the Museum of Transportation in St. Louis Missoui.

This is a 2-8-2 USRA Light Mikado type freight locomotive that was built in 1928 by the Lima Locomotive Works. Thousands were built. This was considered the Workhorse of the railroads. During WWII, since Japan was our enemy, they were renamed to "MacArthur".

This 0-6-0 switching locomotive was built by the Baldwin Locomotive Works in 1896. In 1923, it's appearance was changed by adding a new boiler. In 1941, it was sold to the East St. Louis Junction Railroad, serving the stockyards. In the early 1950's, it was purchased by St. Louis Material & Supply...remaining in use moving hopper cars full of gravel until 1963. It was the last conventional steam locomotive to operate regularly in the St. Louis area. Hard to believe...67 years of service!

This is a Union Pacific 4-8-8-4 "Big Boy". It was built in 1941 at a cost of $265,000 by the American Locomotive Company. This is one of only 25 built. The "Big Boys" were the largest successful steam locomotives ever built. They weighed 600 tons and measured 132' 9 1/4" long. They carried 33 tons of coal and 25,000 gallons of water.

This is the "Daniel Nason". It was built in the Boston & Providence Railroad Shops in 1858. This is the only surviving example of a locomotive that has the steam cylinders inside the locomotive. This style of wood burning engine was popular before the Civil War.

Many of the locomotives at the Museum of Transportation are sheltered in shed like the one shown here. While this is very good from a preservation point of view, it does mean that there were many locomotives and a lot of rolling stock that couldn't easily be photographed. I have good photos of a dozen or so engines, but this is just a fraction of the 70 locomotives that this museum owns.

At the entrance to the museum, they have a WWII vintage C-47. (The military version of the DC-3) There is also a river tow boat that used to operate out of Kansas City MO. Another building contains a small collection of automobiles. Of course, there is also a gift shop.

The Museum of Transportation is located at 3015 Barrett Station Road in St. Louis, Missouri. Phone: 314-965-6885. Web Site: http://www.museumoftransport.org/.

Monday, November 29, 2010

New Best PIzza!!

Courtesy of Guy Fieri and his TV Show, Diners, Drive-Ins & Dives, Laurie and I made a visit to Geraci's Restaurant in Cleveland Ohio. Geraci's is an old style Italian Restaurant that's been operated by the same family since 1956. Founders Michael (87) and his wife (90) have now turned over the operation to their daughter Fran. Fran has been working here since she was 10 years old.

We are always looking for the next 'best' pizza...and this is our new best thin crust pizza! It had a crispy crust, nice 'clean' tasting tomato sauce with small chunks of tomato, good sausage and terrific Margherita pepperoni!
The menu at this Italian restaurant is huge. So are the meatballs! We watched a woman devour a platter heaped with pasta and topped with 2 huge meatballs. The menu has are 3 dozen pasta dishes plus 9 veal, 3 steak, 14 chicken and 10 seafood selections...plus 27 sandwiches and subs and 4 or 5 omelets.
The problem is that we may never have the opportunity to test the menu...the pizza is just too good! Maybe we can order a small pizza and share an entree.
We had a chance to visit with Fran and one of the cooks... It was very interesting to learn about what goes into the filming of an episode of Diners, Drive-Ins & Dives. In addition to many phone calls with the producer and her assistants, the actual filming involved 3 days of filming! The restaurant actually had to close for a day in order to complete the shoot. Guy was actually there only for the 3rd day of filming... Despite the challenges, Fran told us that it was well worth the effort!
After dinner, when I passed the kitchen on the way to the front of the restaurant, I noted an older...much older...gentleman working in the kitchen. I asked Fran if he was her dad. She told us that it wasn't. She said his name is Harold, he's 87 years old and he's been working for her for 14 years. He never misses a day, he takes 2 buses to get to work, he doesn't like to take breaks and Harold even lugs 50 lb sacks of flour up the stairs by himself. He won't accept any help!
Geraci's Restaurant is located at 2266 Warrenville Road on the east side of Cleveland. Phone: 216-371-5643. Geraci's Website with link to the Diners, Drive-Ins & Dives episode: www.geracisrestaurant.net/.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Railway Depots Along the Road

As I've mentioned previously, one of my retirement hobbies involves the search for and photographing of old railroad depots. This ties nicely into our fondness for traveling the back roads of America...and elsewhere.
From a trip in September, this is the renovated Chicago & Alton passenger depot in Glasgow Missouri. It now serves as a museum. Of interest to railroad buffs, the nearby Glasgow railroad bridge over the Missouri River is the site of the first all-steel railroad bridge. It was built in 1879 and it allowed direct rail connection from Chicago to Kansas City. The current bridge was built in 1899.

The first Missouri Pacific railroad depot in Washington Missouri was destroyed in a Civil War raid in 1864. This depot was built in 1865 and it was used until January of 1924. It had separate waiting rooms for men and women. This is the oldest railroad passenger depot still adjacent to active railroad tracks in Missouri.

This is the Craftsman style depot in Washington MO that replaced the one shown above in 1924. Washington still has passenger service, with the Amtrak 'Missouri River Runner' providing service to Kansas City and St. Louis. There are 2 westbound trains and 2 eastbound trains each day.

The Missouri-Kansas-Texas (KATY) Railroad built this Boonville MO Mission Revival/Spanish Revival style passenger depot in 1912. At the peak of passenger service, 25 - 30 trains per day stopped in Boonville. Passenger service ended in 1958 and the last freight train chugged by the depot in 1986. It now serves as the office for the Chamber of Commerce, the district office for the State Park System and as the Boonville Tourist Information Center.

This handsome passenger depot is located in Jefferson City Missouri. It was built by the Missouri Pacific railroad, (MoPac), and it's now owned by the Union Pacific Railroad.
For those that might be unaware, Jefferson City is the Capitol of Missouri. It is located roughly in the middle of the state between St. Louis & Kansas City.

This is the rail side view of the former Jefferson City passenger depot. Note that I said former passenger depot...
Yes, Jefferson City still has passenger rail service, but no, service isn't based in this building. Apparently, the building just serves as offices for the Union Pacific.

This is the 1855 building in Jefferson City that was the former Union Hotel. It now houses a restaurant and, yes, on the first floor, we found the Amtrak waiting room. This new 'depot' is just a short distance along the tracks from the Union Pacific's offices.
Amtrak serves Jefferson City with 2 trains eastbound and 2 trains westbound each day. Members of our family use the trains to and from St. Louis on a periodic basis. In 2008, a total of 45,032 passengers boarded a train via this 'depot'.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Back To Willie's!!

Back to Willie's, an Italian Restaurant in Seymour Tennessee, that I've written about on 2 other occassions... As prevously mentioned, Willie's is run by a true New Yorker, and he truly knows good Italian food!

This time we went with other 2 couples... We ordered a small pizza as a appetizer but once it hit the table, we'd eaten almost half of it before we remember to take a photo! Maybe next time.

Here we have the Baked Spaghetti with Ricotta & Parmesan Cheeses, marinara sauce and melted Mozzarella! A cheese lovers dream!

All three ladies, Laurie, Karen & Holly, ordered the same thing, Lobster Ravioli, Laurie's favorite. There were no leftovers! For a photo of the Lobster Ravioli, go to my earlier blog on 8/12/10, which is titled "Real Deal Italian".

This is "Willie's own recipe" Lasagna. It's all about layers of pasta, meat sauce, ricotta & parmesan cheese with marinara sauce and topped with melted Mossarella cheese. None of this dish went home either!

Prices at Willie's are very reasonable...and dinners include a salad and garlic knot rolls.

This is my dinner... I decided to keep it simple. Penne pasa with meat sauce, along with a side of 3 meatballs in marinara sauce. I politely consumed only about 2/3's of this feast...taking the rest home for a nice little lunch.

The sauce at Willie's nice and 'clean' or 'fresh' tasting...with just the right amount of seasoning.
Willie's is located at 11612 Chapman Highway in Seymour Tennessee. Closed on Mondays. Open for lunch & dinner Tuesday - Sunday. Phone: 865-773-0170. For more information and to see Willie's menu, go to http://dininginthesmokies.com/_seymour/willies_restaurant_seymour_tn.htm.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Treasure Found in Ohio!

During a recent family visit to the Cleveland area, we were pleased to find a truly significant automobile/transportation museum to explore. This is a general view of part of the Crawford Auto-Aviation Collection at the Western Reserve Historical Society.

This collection is partially focused on early Autos built in Cleveland. Frederick Coolidge Crawford was the President of Thompson Products, later the TRW Corporation. In 1963, Mr. Crawford had the company donate the collection to the Historical Society.

Interestingly, Crawford is one of two people who is in The National Business Hall of Fame, The National Automotive Hall of Fame and the National Aviation Hall of Fame. Mr. Crawford, an important Cleveland industrialist, died in 1994 at the age of 103.

This is a 1909 Simplex. It was the first American car that combined race car engineering with elegance. With 90 HP and guaranteed to achieve speeds of 90 miles per hour, this was the most powerful car available in 1909. Much of the technology used was borrowed from Mercedes.

The Simplex Auto Company was based in New York City and it produced cars from 1905 to 1917, when it switched to the production of war time products.

This is a 1914 Peerless Model 60-six/seven Passenger Touring Car. It was built in Cleveland by the Peerless Motor Company. The company operated from 1900 to 1931.

The car was powered by a 60 HP motor and it had a wheelbase measuring 140". It's marketing slogan was "All that the Name Implies". The price for this automobile was 'peerless' as well... Imagine paying $6,000 for a car in 1914!

And here is a 1920 Jordan 'Playboy'! Ned Jordan founded the Jordan Motor Company in Cleveland. The company produced 43,000 cars in it's 15 years of operation. This particular model sold for $2,000 each and the company made a profit of over a million dollars from it in the first year of production.

Ned got the idea for this model from a dancing partner. She suggested that he build "a swanky roadster for the girl who loves to swim, paddle and shoot and for the boy who loves the roar of the cut out".

The Crawford Auto-Aviation Collection at The Western Reserve Historical Society is open from 10 am to 5 pm Tuesday - Saturday. Parking is $5.00. Admission for Adults is $8.50, Seniors $7.50, 17 and under $5.00, Veterans $6.50 and active military is half price. The museum is located at 10825 East Boulevard in Cleveland Ohio. Phone: 216-721-5722. Website: www.wrhs.org/index/php/crawford

I will post additional photos from the museum at a later date. This collection contains many exceptional vehicles...

Friday, November 19, 2010

The Catfish Hotel...

When I told Chris Garrabrant, a former colleague of mine at Montgomery Ward, that we were going to visit the Shiloh National Battlefield Park in Tennessee, he provided me with this road food lead. Many thanks, Chris!

This is Hagy's Catfish Hotel... The Catfish Hotel is one of the oldest family owned restaurants in the USA. The family first settled on this piece of land back in 1825. The restaurant was established over 70 years ago, but the original building was destroyed by fire in 1975. This new building opened for business in 1976.

Of course, the specialty of the house is catfish...but they do have menu that includes chicken, ham, steaks, burgers, and seafood...to include frog legs

When we ordered, we stayed with the house specialty, the reason for the Catfish Hotel's existence and it's success.

The meal started with a nice salad...topped with homemade Blue cheese dressing. Then came the main act...fried catfish! The fillets were huge, thick and juicy and the light cornmeal based
breading was seasoned perfectly! This meal ranked at the top of my list of fried catfish experiences... My better half actually complained that the fillets were hard for her to get used too...they were so thick in comparison with her previous experiences.

There was no disagreement about this basket of golden gems! Laurie is not a hush puppy fan...but we both loved these beauties! Just terrific...

The Catfish Hotel is definitely on a back road... Just north of the Shiloh Battlefield on Tennessee Rte. 22, you have to be looking for Hagy Lane. The restaurant is located at the end of this winding country road, right on the Tennessee River. The address is: 1140 Hagy Lane, Shiloh, TN 38376. Phone: 731-689-3327. Website: http://www.catfishhotel.com/.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Where is Corona Kansas??

Where in the heck is Corona Kansas!? Well, we love the back roads of America. So, if you take US 69 south from Kansas City KS until you come to US 400 west...and then you follow that road to KS Rte. 7 south...and then you turn right on KS Rte. 102 west for 2 miles...and then you turn left at the large blue building and cross the tracks...you've arrived!

This is the Corona KS railroad depot. It was built in the 1940's and was used for passenger service until the early 1960's. It's now one of three buildings comprising the Heart of the Heartlands, Inc. Corona Depot Museum.

This classic depot, relocated from Boston Missouri, was built in 1882 by the Missouri-Pacific and was taken out of service in 1932.

A third building houses the indoor portion of the museum but it's only open on the 1st and 3rd weekends from June through Labor Day, from 1 to 5 pm. The grounds are open year around.

The Diesel Locomotive is part of the collection and it last served on the now defunct South East Kansas Railroad. (1987 - 1999) The outdoor collection also includes boxcars, a couple of cabooses and a selection of railroad signaling devices. Railway excursion trains are operated on a published schedule as are railroad motor car/work car trips.

If you're over 50 years old, you may remember the Railway Express Agency Delivery Trucks. I can't remember the last time I saw one of these in use...

The Heart of the Heartlands organization is a non-profit group that has even managed to obtain a 60/40 grant from the Kansas Department of Tourism...

This little gem is a 1932 Plymouth 0-6-0 Switch Engine. (I didn't know that Chrysler dabbled in the railroad business) In any case, this former Missouri-Pacific RR locomotive ushered in a new form of motive power that was to eventually replace the steam engine. The locomotive is mechanically driven through a transmission and has drive chains to the wheels. It was used by a mining company into the 1970's.
For more information on the Corona Depot Museum and on The Heart of the Heartlands organization, just go to http://www.heartlandstrainclub.org/.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Why We Live in East Tennessee!

We moved south to East Tennessee more than a year ago... We'd lived in the Chicago area for almost 3 decades, but when the time came to retire, we wanted warmer weather...but with 4 distinct seasons. (Also property prices, taxes, cost of living, gas, etc., were all significantly lower than in Illinois)

So, this is what late fall looks like in East Tennessee. The first 4 photos were taken within 25 miles of our home...

Not too bad, is it?! Lots of color, clear blue skies and mild temperatures...

Pretty little stream in the foothills of the Smoky Mountains

This photo is of the upper reaches of Tellico Lake up the Little Tellico River valley.

These 4 late Fall photos from Tennessee were taken during the last week of October...

What the Heck!! Snow!! Oh yes, these pictures were taken at David II & Amy's home in northern Ohio. (First week in November) Laurie took the photos...and then told me that she wanted to head back to Tennessee, ASAP!

At least it didn't snow for Halloween...

Friday, November 12, 2010

Memphis Barbeque!

In October, we'd taken a road trip out to Missouri and Kansas, visiting friends and family and just doing some 'backroading'. The rule is the less we use the four lane 'superslabs', the better!

In any case, on our way back home we passed through the Memphis area and we couldn't resist stopping at a local barbecue landmark for lunch.

This attractive old building is the Germantown Commissary, located appropriately enough, in Germantown TN. The town is an upscale suburb of Memphis.

Laurie ordered the BBQ Half Chicken. As you can see, it came with a roll, beans, slaw and half of a deviled egg. Laurie really enjoyed the chicken.
We both agreed that the deviled egg wasn't as delicious as the ones Laurie makes... Yummy! The slaw was very good but the beans just didn't measure up to the standard set by Jack Stack BBQ in Kansas City.

I ordered the 2-Meat Combo Platter, with the BBQ Baby Back Ribs and a sausage link. The link was very nice and the ribs were excellent! They were cooked just right and they were very meaty. These were the only ribs we've enjoyed in the past couple of years that were as good as those produced by our talented friend, Larry, aka "Big Dude". (http://bigdudesramblings.blogspot.com/)

As this was lunch...and we knew what I'd planned for our road trip dinner...we were going to skip dessert. But then we saw Banana Pudding on the menu...and couldn't resist!
It was Excellent!

As a side note, Commissaries historically were small country stores in the south that sold everything from food to apparel. The building housing the restaurant had been used as a commissary/country store for over 90 years.
The Germantown Commissary is listed in "Roadfood", a coast-to-coast guide written by Jane & Michael Stern, that lists 700 classic places to eat across the USA. The Commissary is located at 2290 Germantown Road. Hours are M - S from 9 am to 9 pm and Sundays from 11 am to 8 pm. Phone: 901-754-5540. Website: http://www.commissarybbq.com/.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Trick or Treat!

This year, Laurie (Nana) and I (Papa), were lucky enough to be visiting our son and his wife's home at Halloween! Where we live now, we don't have any trick or treaters. Back in Chicago, we could expect 200+ little witches & goblins at our door. So, this was a chance to enjoy our grandson's at this high point of their year...and to revisit the Halloween experience in general.

This is Emmett Lee...our youngest grandson. The costume was his idea...any guesses? Turn off the lights and the reflective tape does it's thing...and we have a stick figure!

This is David III, our oldest grandson. As in Emmett's case, David came up with this rather original costume idea, avoiding the old 'superhero' routine!

Any guesses? The controller by his right hand should be a dead giveaway! He's a Couch Potato!! He did experience a little operational difficulty though... This costume made it a bit tougher to run from house to house. No fear though...he persevered and succeeded in his 'collection' efforts!

Ahhhh, shades of the days, actually decades, gone by... I can remember when I took that little fellow on my right out trick or treating on Halloween! It was non-stop for us...the houses were close together and 'he' really raked in the goodies!

So, in this photo, we have David III and Emmett Lee in the front row, with myself and David II in the second row. The grandsons kept going for quite a while...with Amy picking up the 2nd shift with David II...while I joined Nana on the candy detail at the house.

How did the boys do with their trick or treating efforts? Check out the photos below...and keep in mind that what is shown is only what hadn't been eaten 3 days after Halloween! (Note: By the time that these photos were taken, both grandsons had classified and inventoried the remaining loot)

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

National Historic Sites - Kansas

Probably one of the best purchases I ever made was to buy a Golden Age Passport from the National Park Service. It's free lifetime admission for myself and Laurie at our National Parks, Historic Sites, National Recreation Areas, etc. On this recent trip, we visited the Fort Scott National Historic Site in Fort Scott, KS.

The fort was established in 1842. It served as one of a line of forts stretching from Minnesota to Louisiana was intended to enforce the promise of a "permanent Indian frontier". Soldiers were to keep the peace between white settlers, native peoples such as the Osage, and Eastern Indian tribes that had been relocated west.

The first photo is of the Hospital. Built in 1843, it now houses a reconstructed ward, the Visitor Center and a bookstore.

This is the post commander's residence. In total, there are 11 major buildings on the site, plus 7 lesser outbuildings.

In the 1950's, a group of Fort Scott's citizens started a movement to refurbish and rebuild the fort as a historic site and tourist attraction. Buildings that were not part of the original fort were torn down and some historic buildings that had been demolished were rebuilt. In 1978, the fort became a National Historic Site.

This is Laurie's favorite building at the Fort... It's the Dragoon Stables. Built in 1843, this structure could house 80 horses with their feed, tack and hay. During the Civil War, it was used as a storehouse for over 1,000,000 rations.

Interestingly enough, no soldiers were ever killed in battle while stationed at Fort Scott.

This photo of the Bake House (1848) is a bit dark but this is where the food staple for the soldier's diet was baked. We were surprised to learn that the enlisted men took turns in baking the daily ration of bread.

For more information on Fort Scott, go to http://www.nps.gov/fosc/.

Another little known historic site is also found in Fort Scott, KS. This is the Fort Scott National Cemetery. Small in comparison to the rest of the National Cemeteries, this was one of the fourteen National Cemeteries so designated by President Lincoln and the US Congress on 11/15/1862.
Many Civil War casualties are interred here, to include 13 Confederate soldiers, 63 Colored troops and 16 Indian troops. There are also group graves for WWII flight crews whose individual bodies couldn't be identified.
For more information, go to http://www.cem.va.gov/pdf/ftscott.pdf.