Tuesday, August 29, 2023

On the Road Again – Into Missouri (1)

Another month and yet another road trip.  The end goal was to visit our family in Omaha but we took 3 extra nights to allow us to explore south and north central Missouri.

To get to where I wanted to start in southern Missouri, we had to pass through parts of Kentucky and a little bit of Illinois.  After passing Paducah Kentucky, we continued west on US Hwy 62, then KY Hwy 286…all the way to Wickliffe Kentucky.

The photo above is of the Ballard County Courthouse in Wickliffe.  This courthouse was the first and only permanent courthouse in the County Seat.  It was completed in 1905.  The original courthouse and county seat was in Blandville…but it burned down in 1880.  I can't imagine living in a town called 'Blandville'.  

It’s unusual for me to be unable to find any significant information about a specific county or town…but I didn’t find much history about either in this case.  I can say that both the county and city were much more populated at some point.  It appears that coal mining was the driving economic force in the 1800s and into the early 1900s.  Ballard County had a population of 14,378 in 1880.  Even as late as 1910, there were still 12,690 residents.  Today, only 7,650 people call the county home, about half of the number here in 1880.  Wickliffe has 670 residents, down from 1,211 in 1970.

Ballard County is one of 8 that were eventually created from the “Jackson Purchase”, commonly known as ‘the Purchase’.  In 1818, Andrew Jackson and the then Governor of Kentucky purchased this western tip of Kentucky from the Chickasaw Indians.  During the Civil War, this area of Kentucky was the strongest supporter of the Confederacy.

Cairo Illinois is right across the Ohio River from Ballard County.  This river city, right at the conjunction of the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers is the only city in the state that is surrounded by levees.  This watery portion of Southern Illinois is known as “Little Egypt”, hence the town’s name…Cairo…after the capital of Egypt on the Nile River.  Cairo is the county seat for Alexander County Illinois.

The Church of the Redeemer, an Episcopal church at 600 Washington Street in Cairo was completed in 1886.  This eye-catching and solid looking church is an outstanding historic structure, a true survivor in a blighted city.  It replaced an earlier wood frame church that had been completed in 1862, only to be commandeered by Union Forces as a hospital during the Civil War.  That original structure was still standing in the late 1980s, having been used by the Catholic Church as church and school for ‘colored’ children for many years.

Unfortunately, at least from our observation, Cairo today is a wasteland.  Developed as a river port and as the southern terminus for the Illinois Central Railroad, the area was later bypassed by changes in transportation and industrial restructuring.  Racial tensions and related violence, including lynching, also contributed to the town’s slide into obscurity.  In 1920, the city had 15,203 residents but in 2020, only 1,733 folks call Cairo home… Much of Cairo is best described as a shabby and deteriorating ‘ghost town’.

So how bad can Cairo be?  Look for yourself.  Check out the photos at Photos of Cairo IL - Bing images.  Believe me, in person it looks much worse than these photos show...

The first 2 photos are of the old Thebes Courthouse in Thebes Illinois.  The first view is looking at it from below the bluff where it was built above the Mississippi River.  The second photo was taken up on the bluff...and it shows just how modest in size it is.  A meeting or event of some kind was taking place in the old building.  The mid-1800s log cabin in the third picture was recently added to the site.

The Alexander County seat was moved here from Unity in 1845.  This ‘Southern Greek Revival’ style structure was completed in 1848 at a cost of $4,400.  In 1860, the county seat was moved again, this time to Cairo Illinois.  Thebes, like the city of Cairo, was named after the Egyptian city of the same name.

The village was established in 1835 but then it was known as 'Sparhawk Landing'.  In 1880, the town had 114 residents.  By 1920 the population peaked at 857 and today only 208 people reside here.  Abraham Lincoln practiced law here and legend holds that Dred Scott, a slave whose freedom suit reached the Supreme Court may have been imprisoned here while his case was heard. 

The local community has centered on maintaining and expanding this historical spot.  See Thebes Historical Courthouse - Home (thebescourthouse.com).

Note: In popular literature, Thebes is the home of Captain Andy Hawks, his wife and daughter in the novel “Show Boat” by Edna Ferber.

This is the Thebes Railroad Bridge.  This 5-span cantilever truss bridge was completed in 1905 as a joint endeavor between the Missouri Pacific and Southern Pacific Railroads.  It served both rail lines and, 118 years later, it still carries Union Pacific trains across the Mississippi River.

This 3,959 foot long bridge has a clearance over the river of 104 feet.  The longest span is 651 feet long.  It is now owned by Southern Illinois and Missouri Bridge Company, a Union Pacific subsidiary.

Upon arriving in Cape Girardeau, our first stop was The Annie Laurie Antique Shop.  It was planned to be one of our high points for our visit to Cape Girardeau Missouri, an historic city that was our first overnight destination.  Note the well dressed manikin waiting for the bus in front of the store...

This attractive structure/former home has over 5,000 square feet of showrooms.  The website states that they feature ‘a curated collection of vintage finds and high quality new merchandise’.  They also have a sizable selection of fresh plants and floral items.

We thought that Annie Laurie’s was OK…but it lacked enough antiques, our primary interest, and much of what they had to offer was a bit too quirky for our tastes.  They were nice folks though and the store was busy.  To learn more, go to Annie Laurie's Eclectic Emporium (annielauries.net).

History: Cape Girardeau Missouri is named after Jean Baptiste de Giradot, who established a trading post in the area ca. 1733.  Before railroad construction destroyed it, there was a rock promontory, (Cape), nearby that overlooked the Mississippi River.  Settlement of the town is said to date from 1793 when the Spanish government granted a French-Canadian the rights to establish a trading post.  Spain had acquired Louisiana from France in 1764 after France’s defeat in the Seven Years’ War.

Note: There are 39 historic sites in Cape Girardeau that are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.  Eight of the 39 sites are historic districts, each of them containing multiple structures.

This handsome Mission/Spanish revival style former hotel is located at 338 Broadway Street in Cape Girardeau.  It was built in 1928 with a north wing added in 1936.  This 7-story structure featured 115 guest rooms.  Love the Mission décor and the Spanish-style towers at each side of the building’s façade…

The Marquette tower has been completely renovated with several businesses occupying offices in portions of the building.  Space is still available.  See Marquette Tower – The Rhodes Group.  This handsome building is also home to the ‘Top of the Marq’, an upscale restaurant on the 7th floor.  See Top of the Marq | Fine Dining in Cape Girardeau, MO.  In addition, the ground floor is home to ‘The Ground-A-Bout’, one of 4 locations for this local chain of coffee shops.  See Welcome - The Ground-A-Bout (thegroundabout.com).

Some areas of the USA are up to date with their on-line listings on the National Register of Historic Places.  Apparently, the multiple listings for parts of Cape Girardeau Missouri aren’t readily available and haven’t been digitized by the National Park System... 

I was able to identify this attractive 2 story brick building as the Kage House at 120 Broadway in the Old Town Historic District.  This structure was built ca. 1880 – 1882.  The look calls to mind eighteenth-century New Orleans architecture.  While the signing on the windows would indicate that the lower level of the building is involved in banking, I couldn’t verify that…

Interestingly, the second level of the building is offered as a VBRO short term rental.  The apartment is right in the middle of the historic and shopping district and it's only a 10 minute walk to the local casino.

This is the Mount Moriah Missionary Baptist Church at 200 Broadway in Cape Girardeau.  It was formerly the First Baptist Church.  This building was nominated for the National Register of Historic Places earlier this year.  I couldn’t discover any history regarding the building but I did find photos that show that part of the building…the second floor…had been converted to an apartment.  Note the new addition to the rear of the church.  

Apparently, at least the lower portion of the old church is once again being used for its original purpose.  Given its recent nomination for listing on the National Register, it is almost certainly over 100 years old.

Once again, I’ve been mildly duped.  It happens at least once on every one of our road trips.  This ‘old’ cabin near Cape Girardeau’s riverfront on the Mississippi River…isn’t old.  It’s called the “Red House Interpretive Center and it was completed in 2004 through a cooperative effort between the City and the Cape Girardeau Lewis and Clark Bicentennial Commission.  The architectural style is from the French colonial era in the Mississippi Valley.  The Center commemorates the life of community founder and French-Canadian, Louis Lorimier as well as the visit here by Meriwether Lewis and William Clark in November of 1803. (The Lewis and Clark Expedition)

The original ‘Red House’ was built by Lorimier in 1797.  It was destroyed by a tornado in 1850.  In the early part of the 1800s, the ‘Red House’ was the best known trading post between St. Louis Missouri and Memphis Tennessee.  It also served the community and governmental center for the area.  Lewis and Clark had stopped at the ‘Red House’ to buy supplies for their planned expedition.

This handsome old home is known as the William Henry and Lilla Luce Harrison House, or alternatively as the Dr. Samuel Harris House.  This classic 2.5 story Queen Anne style brick home was built in 1897.  The wraparound porch and circular verandah were added between 1900 and 1908.  The Mississippi River is a short distance away and it can be seen from the kitchen and the attic room.  Dr. Harris had the home built but within a year after completing it, he sold it to William Henry Harrison.

The Harrison family was one of the most important families in Cape Girardeau’s history.  William Harrison was a business owner and executive and banker.  He also owned several major buildings in the downtown area.  His wife Lilla worked to establish the city’s first sanitary ordinance and create a public library.  The couple’s son, Charles, was involved in the construction of the Marquette Hotel and the building of the original Mississippi River Bridge, among other things.  The home remained in the Harrison family until 1988.

This building at 121 Broadway was originally built as Cape Girardeau’s Masonic Temple.  It was completed in 1892.  In 1970, the Masons sold it to Vida Key.  The Vida Key Music Store continued operations until 2001.  Rust and Martin Interior Design is now the primary occupant of the building.  That company began as a small re-upholstery shop in 1933 during the Great Depression.  To learn more, go to Rust and Martin – Interior Design.

In a portion of the lower level of the same building, Minglewood Brewery is right across the street from that second level VBRO rental in the Kage House.  In addition to craft beer, this brewpub features salads, sandwiches, wraps, a number of appetizers and pizza.  You can learn more at Minglewood Brewery | Cape Girardeau | Craft Beer, Pizza, & More.

That's enough for now.  Just click on any of the photos to enlarge them…

Thanks for stopping by for a visit!

Take Care, Big Daddy Dave

Friday, August 25, 2023

An Old Depot Transformed + More Stuff

Continuing with yet another new restaurant near our home…and yet another neighborhood estate sale.

This is Monkey Town Brewing Company’s new restaurant in Loudon Tennessee.  It is located in Loudon’s old railway depot just about 3 blocks from US Hwy 11.  Monkey Town has 2 other locations, one in Chattanooga Tennessee and the other in Dayton Tennessee.  

Why Monkey Town as the name for this small local chain of restaurants?   Well, the first restaurant using this name is the one in Dayton Tennessee.  That town was home to the famous or infamous Scopes Trial, and the struggle over teaching evolution vs. creationism in 1925.  It was termed the Monkey Trial…hence Dayton became ‘Monkey Town’ in the popular press of the day.  William Jennings Bryan was the prosecutor and Clarence Darrow was the principal defense counsel.  Oddly enough, Bryan died in his sleep in Dayton only 5 days after the trial ended.

These 2 interior photos of Monkey Town Brewing in Loudon give you an idea of the ‘look’ of the restaurant.  It’s basically an open space with brick walls, high ceilings and a concrete floor.  There is that accent wall of wood.  At some time in the past the interior of the building was ‘gutted’ and none of the charm of an old depot remains.  Even though there isn’t anything wrong with space, we like ‘old stuff’ and we were disappointed by its appearance.  The ambiance of Monkey Town was enhanced during our meal when a freight train rumbled past the back of the building...

This used to be Loudon’s passenger station.  It was built by Southern Railway.  The railroad first came to town in 1855 when a bridge spanned the Tennessee River near here.  At that time, the town was known as Blair’s Ferry...

We started out with the House-Made Beer Cheese accompanied by house-made potato chips. ($7.95) The beer cheese dip was very tasty and it was complemented by nicely done house potato chips.

No photo…but Laurie did have a Monkey Town brew with her appetizer.  It was a 16 oz. “Road to Mordor”, an India pale lager. ($5.50) It was easy to drink...

There are a wide variety of appetizers on the menu.  They include Honey Butter Biscuits ($6.95); Mexican Sweet Corn – 3 half cobs ($6.95); Potstickers ($9.95), Irish Nachos with corned beef ($12.95) and; Chicken Wings…easily the most expensive price per wing we’ve seen yet, $12.95 for 6 wings, or $2.16 each.

For her dinner, Laurie ordered the Thai Chicken Lettuce Wraps…4 ‘wraps’ for $13.95.  Sesame pulled chicken with peanut sauce, red cabbage slaw, sweet Thai chili sauce, sesame seeds and fried wonton were stacked on top of pieces of bibb lettuce.

The only issue that Laurie had with her entrée was that the bibb lettuce sections were way too small to ‘wrap’ anything in…much less the stack of goodies that overwhelmed the lettuce.

For my entrée, I ordered the Shrimp Scampi with angel hair pasta, roasted tomatoes, fresh basil, white wine, garlic butter, parmesan cheese, and garlic crostini’s. ($13.95) It was OK but like many other dishes in East Tennessee that say they contain garlic…I struggled to find any garlic flavor in the meal. 

OK…Service was a huge problem for us at Monkey Town Brewing in Loudon.  We were seated and got our drinks fairly quickly and then we were ‘abandoned’ for quite a while.  Finally our server showed up again and we ordered our appetizer, foolishly holding off on ordering our entrees until after we received the appetizer.  Bad move…yet another wait!  When I got my entrée, there weren’t any crostini with it and you can see how little parmesan cheese was sprinkled on top.  I asked for the crostini and more parmesan…but I ended up finishing my entrée with neither request ever being delivered.  We won’t be in any hurry to return to this restaurant…

The Monkey Town Brewing Company in Loudon Tennessee is located at 318 Angel Row.  They are open for lunch and dinner Thursdays through Sundays.  Phone: 865-657-9624.  Website: Monkey Town Brewing Company - Loudon - Loudon, Loudon, TN.  FYI...the menu at Monkey Town has a wide and imaginative varied number of entrees and appetizers...

Living in a community that is primarily comprised of retired folks, there are always estate sales going on.  As a matter of fact, we will be trying to go to another sale either today or tomorrow.

In any case, the last one we ‘explored’ was in the home shown above…after all, we 'need' more stuff!

This was my big purchase!  I spent a dollar for this book, “The Best Little Stories from the White House”.  If nothing else, it should be entertaining and the price was right.

Laurie went a little bigger with her estate sale purchase.  We paid $50.00 for this nicely done and very old ‘postage stamp’ pattern quilt for a double bed.  It was perfect for our 3rd bedrooms antique double bead!  Even I like it…

That’s all for now… Next time I’ll start covering yet another road trip, this time, in mid-July, we traveled to southern and northern Missouri on our way to Omaha for a family visit. 

Just click on any of the photos to enlarge them…

Thanks for stopping by for a visit!

Take Care, Big Daddy Dave

Tuesday, August 22, 2023

New Restaurant and More

Back home in East Tennessee… Not too much happening but we did go out for dinner and couple of times. 

El Senor took over and remodeled a building close to I-75 on TN Hwy 72 in Loudon.  It has served as the location for several different restaurants in the 14 years that we’ve lived in the area.  The exterior and the parking area have been refreshed…and it’s hard to miss the visual that is El Senor when driving past it.

Inside El Senor, there is plenty of color with matching decor everywhere!  It is almost ‘de rigueur’/required to see a portrait of Frida Kahlo in Mexican restaurants these days…and El Senor is compliant as regards this trend.  Plenty of other paintings, posters and colorful décor cover the walls.  Even the table tops and the front of the bar are highly decorated.  The only items lacking ‘color’ are the chairs and the seats in the booths.  Actually, those bland items, actually prevent color sensory overload… The effect is that this is a ‘happy’ and upbeat place to be.

We did imbibe… I had my usual Miller Lite ($4.07) while Laurie opted for a 20 oz. Lime Margarita. ($10.25) Laurie thought that her Margarita was a nice change from the usual…

Of course, our server brought us the usual corn chips and salsa.  We stepped it up a bit with an order of Choriqueso…cheese sauce topped with some spicy chorizo sausage crumbles.  It was excellent, one of the best we’ve had lately.

A total of 9 different appetizers are offered.  I made note of the Buffalo Wings, 10 for $13.99, which I will compare to another restaurant in my next post.  Tex-Mexi Egg Rolls ($9.49) and Shrimp Ceviche ($13.99) were a bit unusual and worth noting.

For her entrée, Laurie went ‘vegan’!  She ordered the Quesadilla Vegetariana stuffed with spinach and mushrooms. ($11.32) She topped it with a bit of the red salsa and she was a very happy camper.  Mushrooms don’t ‘happen’ at home…

El Senor has a huge menu.  In addition to the appetizers, burritos and quesadillas, there is a large selection of vegetarian offerings, nachos, steak, pork, seafood, chicken, house specials, combos, fajitas, salads and much more.

For my dinner, I ordered the Burrito Carnitas. ($11.93) My 10 inch flour tortilla was filled with shredded pork and then topped with cheese sauce and salsa verde/green sauce.  It was a very good burrito and there was enough cheese and green sauce to mix in with my rice too!

We were very happy with our dining experience at El Senor Mexican Restaurant.  It is hard for a Mexican Restaurant to really stand out in our area.  I can think of 3 or 4 other Mexican dining venues within 15 – 20 minutes of our home that also offer quality Mexican food.

El Senor Mexican Restaurant is located at 10058 TN Hwy 72 in Loudon Tennessee.  Phone: 865-657-3777.  Website: Home (google.com).   

Now onto our home and a family photo…

A prolonged cold snap this past winter resulted in the death of the 2 boxwoods which stood sentinel by our front entrance.  We recently replaced them with a pair of Japanese Cleyera Japonica.  These new bushes can get quite large but they can also be pruned to keep them from overwhelming the space.  The leaves change colors with the seasons and with age, so we’re expecting them to accent the entry to our home.

A couple of pluses include the fact that Japanese Cleyera Japonica are low maintenance plants…except for pruning…that is mostly pest and disease-free and they’re also deer resistant. 

The two planters between the new bushes are home to a selection of colorful flowers chosen for Laurie by our local plant expert at our local hardware, lumber and garden center.  They just keep blooming and don’t require much attention...other than water depending on the weather.

I thought I’d end this post with cuteness!  This is Elliot Jane, Laurie’s youngest great grandniece.  Elliot is holding her bunny, whose name is ‘Pistachio’.  With those ‘shades’ on, the bunny is looking really cool…

Just click on any of the photos to enlarge them…

Thanks for stopping by for a visit!

Take Care, Big Daddy Dave    

Friday, August 18, 2023

Redevelopment, Food and Beer

…continuing with our family visit to the St. Louis area.  Once again we were out and about with Laurie’s sister Bonnie and her husband Bill.  This is the last…and lengthy post…from this particular trip which took place back in June.

We love redevelopment…reuse of existing but ‘discarded’ or abandoned structures.  Several years ago, a developer in St. Louis Missouri imagined the transformation of the former Federal-Mogul/Century Electric foundry into a bona fide food hall…an attraction for locals and tourists alike.

The preceding photos show the old railroad trestle and support columns that at one point were used to provide rail transport to and from the foundry. 

At the beginning of the project, ca. 2017, this nearly 100 year old structure, located near St. Louis’ Midtown, with its rust, rubble, chipped paint, and standing water had been completely abandoned for more than a decade.  Scrap thieves and graffiti ‘artists’ had left their mark as well. 

The old 15-acre foundry complex shut down completely in 2007 and, as recently at 2014 it was slated for demolition.  Century Electric Co. was once one of the ‘big three’ electrical manufacturers based in St. Louis.  The other 2 were Wagner and Emerson.  Electrical manufacturing was a major industry in the St. Louis economy following the advent of electricity.  The city was the site of early innovation in the field.  Century’s inventiveness made the development of early household appliances possible.  The first automatic electric home refrigerator was equipped with a Century Electric Motor.

As you can see from the photos above, The Foundry STL is huge and growing.  In addition to the growing Food Court, this multi-use facility now features 16 retailers, a drafthouse, a winery, a fitness center and a number of entertainment enterprises.  As regards retail, offerings range from Candles to Bicycles.  In the distance in that second photo, you can see that construction is underway for offices and high rise apartments...

Of course, ‘me’ being me and Bill being Bill, our main interest other than the redevelopment of this huge facility, was the still growing Food Court.

I bought some quality fried chicken from 4Hens Creole Kitchen.  No photo but I did get a picture of a pizza from Fordo's Killer Pizza.  I didn’t track what the others snacked on but I noted the Kalbi Taco Shack and the Kitchen Bar among many other dining or drinking opportunities.  Love the carry on of the industrial theme at the bar...

Here is one overview look of the Food Court area at The Foundry.  As you can see, the space for the Food Court is huge!  In addition to the 3 venues listed previously, here are your other current food options:

Buenos Aires Café; Berry Box Superfood Bar; Chez Ali – Afro-Caribbean Food; Good Day – soups and salads; Hello Poke; Intergalactic Burgers; Patty’s Cheesecakes; Poptimism STL – usual and exotic popsicles; Press Waffle Co.: STL Toasted – varieties of toasted ravioli; Subdivision Sandwich Co.: Sur Este – Yucatan Mexican cuisine, and Turmeric Street Style – Food from the Indian sub-continent. 

I really liked the way that The Foundry’s developers/owners utilized the industrial nature/original purpose and design of this big facility.  Love the large piece of industrial wall art as well as the incorporation of industrial features in the landscaping.

For fun beyond food at The Foundry STL, I’d mentioned the Drafthouse and the Winery.  The Sandbox VR (a virtual reality experience) and Puttshack offer opportunities for family and group recreation.  Puttshack is from the makers of Top Golf and it’s an upscale tech-infused mini golf game.

When we saw this wall with a touch of graffiti still in place at one of the entrances to the entertainment venues at The Foundry, it was only natural that I ‘had’ to take a picture of Bill at ‘his’ wall.

To learn more about The Foundry STL, you can just go to Home (cityfoundrystl.com).

From The Foundry STL, we headed over to another part of St. Louis.  This area used to be known as the “Manchester Strip” in the late 1800s.  Today The Grove is described as “St. Louis’ Bohemian Paradise”.  The area is diverse, colorful, on-trend and vibrant.  This thriving district stretches for about a mile along Manchester Avenue and it is home to more than 50 businesses that offer great places to eat and drink, several dance floors, spots to shop and more.  In addition, many apartments and condo buildings have been built in The Grove...

We stopped at Urban Chestnut, a brew pub/beer hall with large communal tables, designed for large groups or folks who just want to meet others.  As you can see, the bar itself is huge.  The beerhall wasn’t very busy in the mid-afternoon when we visited. 

We didn’t have anything to eat and earlier in the day, snacks and food options are limited.  When the kitchen opens, salads, a burger, chicken sandwich, pork schnitzel, brats, a currywurst, French fries, large pretzel sticks, a variety of pizzas and Berliners (donuts) are available.

Bill ordered some beer for our group from the printed menu available on clipboards.  Our group had a Bavarian Dunkel ($6.00), a Stan Musial #6 American lager ($6.00), an Urban Underdog Lime Beer ($6.00) and a Stutz Pale Ale ($5.00).

As I’ve mentioned previously, breweries must really have to stretch their imagination to come up with a name for their beers now that we have this hyper craft beer boom in place.  They weren’t too weird at Urban Chestnut, but Red Panda Zoo Bier and Balkan Treat Box were imaginative.  My favorite beer name on the menu was Oachketzlschwoaf…an Austrian slang word for the tail of a squirrel.  I won’t even try to pronounce it!

To learn more about Urban Chestnut and their two St. Louis locations, go to The Grove Brewery and Bierhall | Urban Chestnut Brewing Company.

I’ll end this post with a photo looking down Manchester Avenue in The Grove area of St. Louis Missouri.  As you can see, the area is popular and growing fast with new apartments on every block.  The area is also famous for its wall art.  My favorite is the wall mural/advertisement for Vails Brothers Shrimp, Chicken and Fish just down the street from Urban Chestnut.  The storefront is colorful and the mural is a piece of urban art.  To learn more about Vails Brothers, their other location and their food truck, go to Chicken Wings - NEW RESTAURANT, Food Truck/Catering/Special Events (vailsbrothers314.com).

This was a long one.  If you got all the way to the end, thanks!  Just click on any of the photos to enlarge them.

Thanks for stopping by for a visit!

Take Care, Big Daddy Dave