Friday, December 30, 2022

2021-03-28: Visiting Presidents Lincoln and Reagan in Illinois on Day 6 of Turning a 1400 Mile Road Trip into a 3404 Mile Adventure!

Welcome back friends, family, RV'ers, Geocachers, Jeepers, and fellow travelers of the open roads. In this edition of our AwayWeGo Adventures blog, we pick up where we left off yesterday at the state line entering Illinois from Indiana. We spent the whole day in Illinois as we grabbed new geocaching counties and picked up some Presidents Lincoln and Reagan historical sites. And a really cool college ghost campus along the way! There's no debate about it, we've got lots to show you. So join us as we do some sightseeing along Illinois backroads...

So yesterdays blog focused on the General Lew Wallace Study / Museum and the Ben-Hur story. We did continue on and cross the state line that afternoon, but I wanted to hold those geocaching stops into todays Illinois post.

A geocache needed in Vermillion County was our next stop. Driving westbound on I-74 past Danville, is the Salt Kettle Rest Area. While many may stop for a much needed break at the rest area, few realize that there is a pioneer cemetery (GC35GC9) just a short hike along a trail to the east.

Edward M. Wilson was born 1785 in Ireland and immigrated to the United States in 1802 at age 17. He served in the Battle of North Point, in Baltimore, MD, which occurred on Sept. 12, 1812 and the following 2 days, the Battle of Baltimore at Fort Henry occurred. During this battle and bombardment on Fort Henry, Francis Scott Key penned the words to The Star-Spangled Banner. In 1832, Edward migrated west, married Caroline Searl on June 29, 1835 (she was born Feb. 23, 1811 in Mass.) and she died April 14, 1867 and is buried next to him here in Searl Cemetery. Edward died Sept. 4, 1840 age 55. Edward bought property in Vermilion County in 1832 and before he died, he amassed quite a bit of property which included this family cemetery.

Moving west along I-74 into Champaign County, the was another cemetery right near the exit. That made for a quick geocaching find for the county (GC2739Z).

Passing through the northeast corner of Piatt County, there was a quick park and grab geocache (GC6CA0A) right at the exit that allowed us to continue moving and putting miles behind us. And the same thing just a few miles further in DeWitt County (GC3X0ZC). I already had McLean County from my truck driving days back in 2008, so we turned north on I-39 in Bloomington to Woodford County. There we grabbed a quick roadside cemetery cache near the small town of El Paso (GC971CA), didn't know there was an El Paso in Illinois.

Continuing north into Marshall County, there was an earthcache (GC1BRDJ) I decided to stop for. An earthcache is a geocache without a traditional container and logsheet. To get credit for the cache, you are to observe something geological there and answer the specified questions within the description on the cache page. At this location in the middle of vast farmland is this huge boulder sitting where it's difficult to find even the smallest of rocks. Supposedly this was carried down to this location on ancient glaciers and left here when they melted.

Making good time and now up in LaSalle County, we stopped for a quick geocache (GC473T0), some fuel, and some food. Then a quick geocache (GC17KM8) stop at the Willow Creek Northbound Rest Area.

Then we took the Lincoln Highway east over into DeKalb County for two cemetery geocaches (GC7PRVY, GC8D9GA).

Back to I-39 northbound, we stopped for a quick roadside geocache (GC39RYA) near the exit in Ogle County. But it was missing and we had to DNF it. So I looked up another nearby cemetery geocache (GC4GVX3) that was a little further out and found that one to get credit for the county.

So that finished up Day 5 from yesterday. Today we began in Rockford, IL. Now the original plan for our extended roadtrip going from North Carolina to Texas via the LONGWAY across the northern states, had us jumping up into Wisconsin and Minnesota also. But this morning we were met with an artic blast of temps in the low 30's and an expected high of only 45 degrees! And that was for Rockford. Why would we even want to go further north?? Change of plans...

After some coffee and breakfast, we grabbed a quick parking lot geocache (GC28T0P) for Winnebago County.

Because of the artic blast, I head west on I-90 instead of north. The next stop was a geocache (GC5WQ5A) in Stephenson County. It was outside the old Lincoln School building. The front of the building says Lincoln School. On one side above the door it says Boys Entrance. On the other side it says Girls Entrance. I don't think it's a school anymore. Other than that, an hour of searching the web and I can't find any history on the building.

A few blocks away was the historical Debate Square. In 1858, the Democratic Party was the majority party in Illinois and Douglas was by far the most popular member of this party. Lincoln was not well known because his party, the newly formed Republicans, were still trying to create an organization. As a result, Lincoln had trouble drawing crowds as he canvassed the state in his bid to unseat Douglas.

Finally Lincoln suggested to Douglas that the two of them share their platform and divide their speaking time. Douglas had nothing to gain by agreeing with Lincoln, but loving a good political brawl, Douglas agreed to Lincoln's proposal.

Photo Bomb!

Seven debates were scheduled in each of the congressional districts in which the two had not already appeared in close proximity. Ottawa, Illinois was the location of the first debate on August 21, 1858. On this square in Freeport was the second debate on August 27, 1858.

On the corner of the Stephenson County Courthouse Square is this Civil War Memorial honoring those citizens of this county who gave their lives during the war.

One more county in the northwest corner of the state and we take the very backroads to get to the nearest two geocaches. The first was along a heavily wooded area on the north side of the Ward's Grove Nature Preserve (GC302PR). The geocache was hidden by the rock wall in the back near the shallow cave-like openings. As thick as this looks now, I'm just glad spring hadn't sprung yet and the whole area covered in foliage!

The second geocache (GC8PA44) in this county was further down a rural country road to view a tree carving on the lawn of a farm house. This is a carving of Chief Black Hawk, between this site and the Black Hawk Monument at Kellogg’s Grove is where the skirmish of 1832 took place. Makataimeshekiakiak (“Black Sparrow Hawk”) was known to European-Americans as Black Hawk. Born around 1767 in the village of Saukenuk, he grew up very anti-American supporting the British during the war of 1812. Commonly referred to as “Chief,” he has no official position in his tribe. He did, possess, however, natural leadership skills that caused many warriors to follow him.

Working our way south now towards warmer weather, the next county on the list is Carroll County. I have three geocaches selected here and the first two are in the town of Mount Carroll. The Shimer College Campus (GC8FXG4, GC5FGN9) was originally founded as the Mount Carroll Seminary in 1852 by Francis Shimer. It grew from just 11 students in one room to over 100 students in four main classroom buildings. And it was primarily an all girls school ranging in ages as young as 3 to college students. There were some boys that had attended over the years, but they were only allowed to be day students not living on campus.

In 1896, the school partnered with the University of Chicago and the Baptist Church and became the Francis Shimer Academy. Over the years there were many changes as the college struggled financially and admissions rose and fell. In 1950 the name was changed the Shimer College and it became coeducational school once again. The highest number of students was in the 1960's with just over 500 attending classes. Disagreements with the older more conservative faculty and the younger faculty and students of the late 1960's led to a third of the students and some faculty leaving. Several bankruptcies and school closers later, the yearly student enrollments fell below 100 and around 50 most of the time. In 1979 the school board decided to move classes to the town of Waukegan, Illinois.

During the 1980's, a group of Mount Carroll residents organized the Restoration College Association which later became the Campbell Center for Historic Preservation Studies to prevent the campus from being broken up. As I walked around this campus, the more than a dozen buildings appeared to be abandoned. I kept thinking to myself that these would be cool to own, restore and turn them into something useful. Well that is currently the intent. It is now call Shimer Square and more than $30 Million will be invested over the coming years to convert building to housing, business, and community amenities. You can read about the future plans and progress here.

OK, back to geocaching. From there we drove over to State Road 84 which follows along the banks of the Mississippi River, stopping for a quick cemetery cache in the town of Ayers (GC8C16J).

Continuing south into Whiteside County and the town of Fulton, we stopped at Calvary Hill Cemetery for our next geocache (GC39WDR). Resting atop the hill overlooking the great river is a historical headstone of presidential significance. Buried in this cemetery are President Ronald Reagan's paternal Irish ancestors. His great-grandparents, Michael and Catherine Mulcahey Reagan, emigrated in 1856 and after Michael's 1884 burial in Calvary Hill Cemetery, Catherine and three children moved to Fulton. One son, John, married Jennie Cusick. Both died in their thirties and left four orphans. One of those was Jack, whom became the father of the future president. A total of 16 Reagan relatives are buried here.

From there we drove over to the town of Tampico. The geocache (GC90AHG) happen to be missing at the time of our visit so we did have to log a DNF. But we did find some more presidential history. From the historical marker: "On February 6, 1911, Ronald Wilson Reagan was born in an upstairs apartment at 111 South Main Street. His father, John "Jack" Reagan, of Irish-Catholic ancestry, was a clerk in the H.C. Pitney Store also on Main Street, and gave Ronald the nickname "Dutch." His mother, Nelle Wilson Reagan, was of Scots-English background."

"The small town atmosphere of Tampico played an important role in Reagan's formative years. As a child he played on a cannon in the park. Both of Reagan's parents were known for their acting ability in productions at Burden's Opera House on Main Street. Ronald Reagan became a sports announcer, a well-known movie star, served as Governor of California from 1967-1975, and then President of the United States from 1981-1989. He died in 2004 and is buried at the Regan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California."

Unfortunately the Reagan Birthplace Museum was closed while we were here and we didn't get a chance to take the tour.

Now back over to the banks of the Mississippi River, we entered Rock Island County and the town of Rapids City. There we made a quick roadside geocache (GC33PJR) find for the county.

Being so close, we took the I-80 bridge across the river into Iowa to check off a bucket list item. The American Pickers is a popular TV show and they happened to be based right there Le Claire, Iowa, just outside of Davenport. There's also a geocache hidden there too (GC3MYET)! Well, we found the geocache but arrived just as two girls were locking the doors to leave. I didn't recognize either from the show, so no autographs.

Jumping onto I-74 eastbound, which in reality goes straight south through three counties, we stop at the rest area in Henry County for another quick geocaching find to claim the county (GC2BVRR).

Our jump over into Iowa for the cache at the Antique Archeologists put us back on track with our original planned route if we had gone up into Wisconsin, Minnesota and then down into Iowa. We would have then crossed back into Illinois to where we are now.

That's it for a long day today. Join us again next time for Day 7 as we continue finding more President Lincoln history and make our way over to the Historic Route 66.

To follow along on our travels and keep up with my latest blogs, you may do so here of course by clicking the "Follow" button to the right. But also by using one or more of your favorite of these social media platforms: FacebookMeWeGabRedditParlorTwitterRVillageGETTRInstagram, and TruthSocial. These all link directly to my profiles. Again, please feel free to comment and / or share.

Friday, December 23, 2022

2021-03-27: Visiting the Birthplace of Ben Hur on Day 5 of Turning a 1400 Mile Road Trip into a 3404 Mile Adventure!

Today was a special geocaching roadtrip day. While I've never heard the name of General Lew Wallace before, I'm VERY familiar with his work. Or more specifically a 1959 interpretation of his work. In 1880 Lew Wallace's second book, "Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ", was published. Today we got to visit General Lew Wallace's Study and Library. So come aboard and join us on Day #5 of our 3404 mile road trip adventure. Today's journey has us finishing up Indiana and into Illinois. Are you in? Let's go for a drive...

We started out the day in Crawfordsville, Indiana in Montgomery County. The first stop was downtown for a virtual geocache (GCHXCT). The Montgomery County rotary jail and sheriff's residence was built in 1882. The first rotary jail built in the United States constructed based on plans based on patented design of William H. Brown and Benjamin F. Haugh of Indianapolis. Used as a jail until 1973 and opened as a museum and restoration begun in 1975. It was also listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1975.

The circular cell block has sixteen wedge-shaped cells on a two-story turntable around a central shaft. The design promised better prisoner security and jailer safety. The cell block was immobilized in the 1930's as a hazard to prisoners. County jails were first established in 1792 under laws of Northwest Territory; continued under laws of Indiana Territory and state constitutions of 1816 and 1851.

We then drove over to the homesite of Lew Wallace. It was still a little early and the grounds and museum wasn't open yet. So the next three geocaches were located just outside the northwest side of town in the Oak Hill Cemetery (GC2JHCJ, GCVTJ8, GC2GGZB). Formed on April 12, 1875, the Oak Hill Cemetery Company purchased 100 acres and the cemetery was dedicated on October 20th. Today the cemetery hosts over 14,000 interments.

Among the many notable permanent residents here, like Civil War officers, Congressmen, a Governor, and others, is General Lew Wallace and his wife Susan Arnold Wallace. This is the monument for the Wallace burials. Let me first tell you about Susan Wallace.

Susan Arnold Elston was born on Christmas Day in 1830. She was an accomplished author who wrote travel articles for several magazines and newspapers across the country. Susan married Lew Wallace in 1852. She also wrote six books that were published in her lifetime: "The Storied Sea" (1883), "Ginevra" (1887), "The Land of the Pueblos" (1888), "The Repose in Egypt" (1888), "Along the Bosphorus and Other Sketches" (1898), and "The City of the King" (1903). Before her death in 1907, Susan completed Lew Wallace's 2-volume autobiography which he started before his death in 1905.

Now back at the General Lew Wallace Study and Museum (GC1EQWB), these are the north grounds of the Wallace estate. Lew and Susan Wallace built their modest Victorian home on Elston Family land in 1868. The house was sold to outside the Wallace family in 1919. A brick wall was then built by Lew's son Henry to separate the two properties. The main house is still private property and not a part of the museum.

Upon entering the grounds, you'll first encounter the Carriage House which is now the museum office. The Wallace's built the carriage house by 1875. It contained a stall for Lew's horse, "Old John", a carriage room, a hay loft, and a workshop where Lew worked on his inventions. The house was first remodeled in 1946 and used by the girl scouts. The exterior was restored in 2006 retaining its Queen Ann elements from the 1800's. The interior was adapted to be used for the museum office, gift shop, exhibit room, kitchen and storage. The Wallace's original unrestored carriage (seen below) is located in the basement of the study.

Copied from the informative sign on the grounds: The Ben-Hur Beech Tree and Statue of Lew Wallace. "Its spreading branches droop to the ground... and under them I am shut in as by the walls of a towering green tent. How often while lending me its protection and fragrant coolness, it has been the sole witness of my struggle to whip an obstinate thought into comeliness of expression; and how often out of respect for me it has maintained a dignified silence when it might have laughed at my discomfiture." -- Lew Wallace, about his beloved tree.

Lew Wallace wrote much of his famous novel, Ben-Hur, under this huge tree which came to be known as the Ben-Hur Beech. Because he loved the outdoors, Lew often brought a favorite rocking chair and lap desk outside to work. The tree was struck by lightning in 1907 and taken down in 1908.

In 1910, the Indiana State Legislature honored Lew by placing a statue of him in Statuary Hall in Washington, D.C. Lew's son Henry was so impressed with sculptor Andrew O'Conner's work, that he ordered this bronze copy and placed it where the Ben-Hur Beech Tree once stood.

Now for the main attraction. In 1879, Lew had written to his wife Susan: "I want a study, a pleasure-house for my soul, where no one could hear me make speeches to myself, and play the violin at midnight if I chose. A detached room away from the world and its worries. A place for my old age to rest in and grow reminiscent, fighting the battles of youth over again."

Construction of his "pleasure-house," known today as the Lew Wallace Study, began in 1895. It was designed by Wallace himself and combines elements of the Greek, Roman, and Byzantine architecture that he saw in his travels. Lew Wallace enjoyed his refuge for the last ten years of his life.

Stepping inside the study was like stepping inside the mind of Lew Wallace. In his public life, Lew was a lawyer, a soldier, Union General during the Civil War, Governor of the New Mexico Territory, U.S. Ambassador to the Ottoman Empire, and author. As well as writing, he also enjoyed painting, fishing, music, reading, inventing, and the outdoors.

The first thing that caught my eye is what I was most interested in, the Ben-Hur display! The short sword was used in both the 1925 and 1959 movie. The wrist band was worn by Francis X. Bushman (Messala) in the 1925 movie. The album is a souvenir from the Broadway Play. The photo just to the left of the red Ben-Hur spice cans is of Charlton Heston while visiting the Lew Wallace Study in 1993.

The book is a "first edition, binding state 1" of Ben-Hur. This first edition was approximately 2,500 copies and featured a floral pattern on blue-gray cloth. Susan Wallace objected to the cover, so subsequent bindings of the first edition were brown mesh cloth (binding 2) and brown pebbled cloth (binding 3). While all these are considered first editions, the floral binding was the initial cover and the rarest. If you ever see one of those at a garage sale... BUY IT QUICKLY!!

Standing tall next to that display case was the complete suit, robe, sword and armor worn by Charlton Heston in the 1959 movie.

Lew Wallace had an extensive collection of books in his study. This is just a section of those shelves that practically wrapped around the entire room. Ben-Hur had been translated into more than twenty languages and there's a least one copy of each on the shelf. He also has a large selection of bibles and study guides. His portrait is at the top left in the photo below as well of the smaller photograph in the bottom right corner.

Not only did Lew own and play some of the finest violins of his day, but he also learned the craft of building his own violins as well.

Painting was another of his hobbies. Much of the artwork hanging in the study was painted by him. This was his watercolor set along with a small sketch and a finished painting.

Fishing and inventing were a couple more of his many interests. The silver piece at the bottom of the next photo combined both of those. An invention of his that spooled the fishing line inside the pole, not externally.

The last thing I want to show you is the large skylight in the center of the study. You can get a good look at it from the outside in the photo at the top of the page. This skylight actually has a crank on the corner which Lew Wallace used to open and close it allowing for a cool breeze to circulate on the warm summer days.

There is much more to be seen here at the General Lew Wallace Study and Museum. But I'll just leave that up to you to go and visit this historic place in Crawfordsville, Indiana, just northwest of Indianapolis. We spent a few hours here.

A great example of what I like about geocaching. Driving from point A to point B like I used to and I would have just passed these places all the time. Now because of geocaching, I look for the places to see and stop along the backroads.

A few more geocaches in Indiana to pick up Fountain, Warren, and Vermillion Counties before moving into Illinois. We did grab some geocaches in Illinois today also, but I decided to tell you about those in the next blog with the other Illinois caches. I wanted to focus on the Lew Wallace story in this one. So, see you back again real soon.

To follow along on our travels and keep up with my latest blogs, you may do so here of course by clicking the "Follow" button to the right. But also by using one or more of your favorite of these social media platforms: FacebookMeWeGabRedditParlorTwitterRVillageGETTRInstagram, and TruthSocial. These all link directly to my profiles. Again, please feel free to comment and / or share.

Friday, November 25, 2022

2021-03-26: Day 4 of Turning a 1400 Mile Road Trip into a 3404 Mile Adventure! From Ohio into Indiana.

So today was Day 4 of our adventurous road trip where we turned a simple 1400 mile drive from NC to TX into a 12 day 3404 mile sightseeing tour! On this fourth day we finished traveling through Ohio and into Indiana, continuing to pick up new geocaching counties and finding more remnants of the old National Road. So come ride along with us as I share our geocaching adventures with you.

Waking up in Columbus, Ohio this morning, our first stop was for some Starbucks coffee. Well, Candy got a Starbucks coffee. I got the geocache in the parking lot (GC25QYX). Then we drove a few blocks away to a Dunkin Donuts where I then got a coffee and donuts for myself as well as a muffin for Candy.

Continuing our westbound roadtrip and following the Historic National Road (now US-40), we pulled into the Sunset Cemetery in Franklin County for several geocaches hidden here (GC77D86, GC4QFG8, GC54E7E, GC4ER7X). All three geocaches had a lot of favorite points awarded to them so we just had to stop by and find them. A nice Veterans Memorial was on display. But Jack's Cache was by far the favorite and even posted both a photo and video of it below. Be sure to have your sound turned up when playing the video!

(Turn Sound ON With Video!)

One of the advantages of driving the backroads on a roadtrip are the unexpected gems that get to be discovered along the way! Passing through the small Village of Lafayette in Madison County, Ohio, what first got me to stop was spotting this tour of Jeep history somebody had displayed on this fence. It was a perfect photo opp for the Geo Jeep Travel Bug!

Then taking a closer look at the old buildings along this stretch of the historical highway. This first one here I can't find much information on it. The plaque above the front entrance says "Deer Creek Tp, Sub-Dist No 1, 1906." I'm thinking it was an early school that has long been closed. One of the rear buildings has B. S. A. on it and can only assume that at some time in its historical past that the Boy Scouts of America had rented the building. If any of you can provide further details, please use the comment box below. It would be greatly appreciated.

This other building across the street is on the National Register of Historical Places. From the historical marker: "The Red Brick Tavern is a classic roadside inn and tavern from the heyday of the National Road. Constructed between 1836 and 1837, it was in operation when the road was completed past its front door. Over the years, the Red Brick Tavern was a popular place for travelers along the Historic National Road in Ohio. The Tavern hosted six presidents of the United States; John Quincy Adams, Martin Van Buren, William Henry Harrison, John Tyler, Zachery Taylor, and Warren G. Harding."

Running north and south along the west side of Lafayette is Deer Creek. To claim a geocache in Madison County we went to the Deer Creek Cemetery (GC1ZDYX) which is next to the creek. While some of my favorite geocaches are cemetery caches, I was more interested in the geocache next to the cemetery.

Crossing the creek about a 1000 feet south of the current alignment of the National Road / US-40, spans the remnants of an early railroad bridge This Interurban bridge was part of the railway that was part of the Springfield London Columbus route. This railway was run by the Columbus London & Springfield Railway from 1902-1939. The Interurbans provided a quick and cheap alternative to regular railroad for transporting people. As for the geocache, well I couldn't find it. Along with many others. It has since been archived.

The next county over is Clark County. It's also where my next two geocaches are located (GCZEFX, GCRDQC). In 1841, Ezra Baker gave the township land to the northeast edge of Enon for a cemetery. Land was added to the Enon Cemetery in 1884, in 1906, and again in 1978. There are earlier burials than 1841, but these were moved from family plots. Three Revolutionary soldiers, two War of 1812 soldiers, many from the Civil War, plus soldiers of more recent wars, are buried in the cemetery. There is a Soldier’s Monument, bearing the names of 31 local men who died during the Civil War, but not necessarily brought home for burial.

Continuing westbound a few miles and dropping down into Greene County, we make a stop for a quick geocache in the corner of a parking lot to claim the county (GC104NY).

After Greene was Montgomery County and the next three geocaches. The first one was located at the Polk Grove Cemetery (GC3W2YG). The cemetery is located next to the Polk Grove United Church of Christ. Since I didn't have time to look around the cemetery, I'll just leave you with this little tidbit. What's the difference between a cemetery and a graveyard? A graveyard is what they used to call a cemetery located on church grounds.

The second geocache was another location along the historic National Road. Patty's Bridge (GC196PD), located in Englewood Metro Park, is named after the James Patty family who owned a 160-acre farm in Butler Township. The Patty's brick farmhouse, torn down in about 1975, was located on the high ground northeast of the bridge. The original stone abutments for the bridge are still in place and demonstrate the skill of the workman building the highway. The National Road was America's first interstate highway.

Thomas Jefferson was president when construction of the road began in 1807. It started in Cumberland, MD and reached this part of Ohio in about 1838. The original route of the National Road took it due west of Patty's Bridge and into Harrisburg (now Englewood) Ohio. After Englewood Dam was completed in 1922, the National Road (which later became U. S. Route 40) was rerouted to the south and over the dam. By 1840, the National Road was completed to Vandalia, IL and then later to St. Louis, MO. Today this road spans the entire United States from Cumberland, MD to San Francisco, CA.

We stopped for one more geocache in Montgomery County. It was for a tasty treat at the Esther Price Candies chocolate factory (GC44BKB). It was an expensive geocache. Yep, we bought about $60 worth of chocolates by the time we left!

Our final county geocache for Ohio was a quick roadside stop in Preble County (GC2PMGT).

Crossing over into Indiana, the first county is Wayne County. And for our next geocache we stopped at the Old National Road Welcome Center (GC1WJPK). The Indiana portion was built between 1829 and 1834, linking the eastern seashore with the western interior. The automobile revived The National Road in the 1920's. As cars and trucks took to the road, the federal government established a nationwide network of paved, all-weather highways.

The Old National Road was one of the first routes designated under the new federal highway numbering system in 1926, US Route 40, a transcontinental highway. Once again, the new road gave way to new opportunities. Like the blacksmith shops and taverns of the past, gas station, diners, and motels lead the way to a new era of prosperity. Until the 1970's, with the completion of Interstate 70, US-40 was one of the country's primary east-west routes.

Next door over in Henry County, my geocaching county stop was at the New Lisbon Cemetery (GC8RFP1). After finding the geocache, just a quick glance around and a photo before continuing down the road.

Wanting to make up time and get to Indianapolis before it gets too late, I hop onto Interstate 70. The next county is Hancock County. We stopped for a quick westbound rest area geocache (GCPTZV).

We finally pulled into Indianapolis and I head to the Indianapolis Speedway. But it was too late. The Speedway was closing. From there we drove to the south side of the city to the Holy Cross and St Joseph Cemetery. I was here once before way back in 2007. I was once an over-the-road truck driver. The trucking company I worked for had a terminal several blocks away. While I was there getting the truck serviced, I saw online that there were some famous interments in this cemetery and walked down to see them.

Now they have some much needed upgraded headstones to replace the neglected and broken previous headstones. And a new historical marker which reads: "There are few better known names in automotive circles world wide than Chevrolet. Millions drive the Internationally respected cars, but few know that the company and its revered name originated with three brothers, Louis, Gaston and Arthur Chevrolet. Of Swiss heritage, their story is one that reflects the very foundation of American society. Louis migrated to America at the turn of the 20th century, and after earning enough money, sent for his brothers.

"The brothers immersed themselves in automotive technology as designers, mechanics, and racing drivers. All three raced multiple times in the famed Indianapolis 500, with Gaston winning the 1920 classic. Capitalizing on their huge popularity, Louis founded the Chevrolet Motor Company in 1911. And, despite leaving the firm in 1916, the automotive giant retains the name."

After Gaston won the 1920 Indianapolis 500, he died later that year in a racing accident. Louis died of a heart attack in 1941. Arthur retired in 1942 to Slidell, Louisiana where after suffering from depression, he committed suicide in 1946.

To get credit for Marion County, we went to Concordia Cemetery just a block away. There we found two geocaches to complete the spot on the map (GC2B3N9, GC2B45F).

That was it for Day #4. We drove up to Crawfordsville in Montgomery County. That's the next county we need and the next location of our geocaches. So we found a place to stay there for the night. Tomorrow we'll finish up Indiana and start into Illinois. I look forward to seeing you back again.

To follow along on our travels and keep up with my latest blogs, you may do so here of course by clicking the "Follow" button to the right. But also by using one or more of your favorite of these social media platforms: FacebookMeWeGabRedditParlorTwitterRVillageGETTRInstagram, and TruthSocial. These all link directly to my profiles. Again, please feel free to comment and / or share.

Saturday, October 29, 2022

2021-03-25: Day 3 of Turning a 1400 Mile Road Trip into a 3404 Mile Adventure!

Hello again friends, family, RV'ers, Jeeper, Geocachers, and Roadtrippers! Welcome to Day 3 of our adventurous road trip where we turned a simple 1400 mile drive from NC to TX into a 12 day 3404 mile sightseeing tour! On the third day we traveled through Maryland, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Ohio, finding some really cool historic places like this very first toll booth in the country. So come ride along with us as I share our geocaching adventures with you.

So for our first stop today, we were passing by the very northern tip of Mineral County, West Virginia. It was one of the needed counties on my geocaching map. We took the exit off of I-68 in Cumberland, MD and crossed the bridge over the North Branch Potomac River into Ridgeley, WV. It was a quick stop for a quick find near the rail yards along the river (GC3HYE8).

Back across the bridge into Maryland for Allegany County. We start with a virtual geocache at Riverside Park (GC37CB). A couple of things here in this park to see. First we'll start with a historical highway. Probably the most famous of the highway's and byway's is Route 66, which we'll highlight in an upcoming blog as we travelled on it later in this adventure.

But here in Cumberland, Maryland at Riverside Park is a monument which marks the starting point of the very first federally funded road project. Envisioned by George Washington, the "Cumberland" or "National Road" as it was called, was a means to develop the continent and to unite the country. The highway was promoted by Thomas Jefferson and authorized by Congress in 1806. Construction work began in 1811 and this monument was erected in 2011 at the 200th anniversary. The flags that surround the monument represent each state the road traverses and one for the U.S. flag of 1811.

Also located within Riverside Park is George Washington's Headquarters. From the historical marker: "Our founding father spent much of his time in this vicinity while a young man as a surveyor, ambassador, aide-de-camp to General Braddock, and Commander of the Virginia military forces. This cabin served as his headquarters during part of this time."

"During the French and Indian War, a 23-year old Lt Col Washington studied military customs and tactics from this cabin while General Braddock's army encamped at Fort Cumberland in May-June 1755. As aide-de-camp to Braddock, he marched with the ill-fated expedition against the French. His advice to Braddock concerning backwoods warfare was ignored by the arrogant General. Washington led the retreat of those left from the field."

"George was made commander of all Virginia forces in August of 1755 and in the next three years spent much time in this area with his forces. He wrote ardent love letters to his future bride from this cabin at Fort Cumberland. He was with General Forbes in the successful campaign against Fort Duquesne in November of 1758. As President, in 1794, Washington reviewed troops gathered here to suppress the Whiskey Rebellion in Pennsylvania." George Washington's headquarters is the only remaining structure left of Fort Cumberland.

Up on the hill overlooking downtown and the river, the Emmanuel Episcopal Church was built on the site where Fort Cumberland once stood. Constructed from 1848 to 1851, beneath the floor of the church sanctuary are portions of the cellar, magazines, and earthen works of the fort. Research shows that tunnels beneath the church were used as a station on the Underground Railroad in the 1800's.

It was common for forts of this period to have rifle pits or trenches outside the walls as a line of first defense. Two water gates were along the palisade walls near the point of the fort. Trenches, tunnels, or both ran from these to the creek below. They were necessary to protect men going for water or to the storehouses located down the hill from Indians.

At the west end of Cumberland is the Rose Hill Cemetery (GCM8C3). With nearly 8,000 interments, the oldest dates all the way back to 1754. Col Joshua Fry was a surveyor, adventurer, soldier, map maker and a member of he House of Burgess, the legislature of the colony of Virginia. He was educated at Oxford and upon arrival he was made a professor at William & Mary College. He created an important map of Virginia along with Peter Jefferson, Thomas Jefferson's father. In the early days of the French and Indian War he was given command of the Virginia Regiment and ordered to take the French Fort Duquesne near present day Pittsburg. In May of 1754, during the advance he died at Cumberland, MD and George Washington succeeded him in command.

Built into one side of the hill is a row of family mausoleums. This one belongs to the Shriver family and contains nine of its members from 1863 to 1890.

Crossing over the state line north into Pennsylvania, we stopped for two geocaches in Somerset County. The first was in the town of Addison off of US-40 at what used to be the Old National Road that I mentioned earlier. Here is located the countries first toll booth (GC2TVCN). After several years of construction, the National Road officially opened in 1818. Decades of debate over the constitutionality and expenditure of an 800 mile road and it was eventually turned over to the various states through which it passed in 1831-1834.

Pennsylvania, like other states, erected 6 toll booths to help pay for the expense of maintaining the new highway. The Petersburg Toll House was constructed in 1835 at a cost of $1,530. Toll keeper William Condon collected $1,758.87 from Nov 10, 1840 through Nov 19, 1841 and received a $200 salary and the use of the building for his family. The toll collections ended in 1906.

Iron toll gates were added in 1836. Leading into the park across the street is a walkway between two columns. These may have been the ones that held the gates in place.

Posted on the toll house is an old "Rates of Toll" sheet listing the prices for all the various horses, wagons, pedestrian combinations that may be passing through the gates. The Petersburg Toll House underwent a complete restoration in 1997.

Just down the road was our next geocache at the Newbury Cemetery (GC15N55). The geocache highlighted the grave of Captain Black. Son of James and Catharine Black, Milton Black enlisted as 2nd Lieutenant on November 12, 1861 in Company H, 85th Infantry Regiment, Pennsylvania. He died on June 23, 1862 at White Oak Swamp, Virginia. According to his grave marker, he died in Camp Richmond of typhoid fever.

Upon finding the geocache and opening the lid, I was all excited seeing two $100 bills inside. I've heard stories about cachers finding cash or valuables inside geocaches. But with further inspection of the bills, I noticed the "For Motion Picture Use Only" printed on the front and back. Oh well, I found the cache but not the cash. So I left them in the container to surprise the next cachers.

Continuing west on the National Road and US-40 just before crossing the Youghiogheny River Lake and the Great Crossing Bridge, I saw this old abandoned building on the side of the road and had to pull over for a closer inspection and photos. After doing some research, I still don't know what this place actually was at one time. It kinda looks like it might have been a restaurant. If any of you might have some information on this place, please leave it in the comments below.

Continuing a few miles over into Fayette County, we grabbed a quick stop and go cache near the sign of a nursing home (GC3PFBR). Trying to continue momentum and putting some miles behind us, another quick park and grab for Greene County (GC7WMEG). This one was a pretty cool container hanging in a tree like a bird house.

Crossing over into the narrow top of West Virginia, we made a quick exit off the Interstate 70 in Ohio County for fuel, lunch, and a quick geocache (GC4191Z).

Now in Ohio, we're back following the National Road in Guernsey County. One of the great things I like about geocaching is that some of them bring you to some historical places I wouldn't otherwise know about. This is the "S" Bridge which was built around 1828 (GC71EA). Where the National Road crossed a creek at an angle, this stone arch bridge was built at right angles to the stream flow. "S" shaped walls were then built to guide traffic around the jog from the direction of travel across the bridge and back onto the road line. An arch parallel with the stream flow and in line with the road would have been more difficult and costly to build.

With time running out this afternoon, we quickly made it through some more Ohio counties grabbing easy caches to put the county on our map. The first was a cemetery geocache (GC1JV08) in the town of New Concord and a gas station geocache (GC2339T) in the town of Sonora for Muskingum County. I didn't spend much time in the cemetery looking for a story like usual, but I did spot a Harley Headstone.

After that it was dropping down into Perry County for a roadside park and grab (GC1WPEB). And finally passing through the very NW corner of Fairfield County, it was enough for a quick LPC (light post cache GC48ZFH) in a shopping center parking lot to complete that spot on the map.

That was it for this day of our North Carolina to Texas via the LONG WAY around geocaching adventure. I hope you have enjoyed virtually riding along with us and maybe inspiring you to go and visit some of these places too. Tomorrow we finished up Ohio and made it into Indiana visiting more sites along the historic National Road. So join us again for more of our adventure.

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