Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Edison's Birthplace, Milan, Ohio.

The day I went to visit Rutherford B. Hayes family home in Fremont, I also went to visit Thomas Edison's birthplace in Milan, about 30 miles east.

Built by Edison's parents in 1841, this is the house he was born in in 1847.  The family only lived here for seven years and in 1854, they sold the house and moved to Port Huron, Michigan. Edison bought the house back in 1906 and after his death in 1931, his wife and daughter turned it into a museum which opened to the public in 1947 on the centennial of his birth. This house, along with his houses in West Orange, New Jersey and Fort Myers, Florida, are now all museums dedicated to the most prolific inventor in the United States.

Unlike the docent at the Hayes home, the tour guide here, while enthusiastic about her subject and his life in Milan, went on and on and on about every tiny little thing in the house - right down to the fake cheese in the kitchen. I thought I would have to knock her down and make my escape out the door to get away, but I think she finally realized (probably from my eyes rolling back into my head and the other visitor sidling towards the exit), that she needed to cut the whole thing short or risk being trampled in our attempt to leave.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Scotch Thistle

I never did find the final lighthouse. Later I learned that the one that I was looking for was five miles off the coast near Maumee State Park and only visible on good days through a high powered telescope.

I did find Pickerel Creek Wildlife Area near Marblehead which was full of blue and white herons along with some ducks I couldn't identify. Unfortunately I didn't get any decent pictures. They were either too far away for my zoom or would take off when I finally got them in focus.

So here is a picture of the only thing I could get into focus because it was the only thing in the wildlife area that would stay still long enough for me to get a snapshot.

A Scotch Thistle going to seed.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Marblehead, Ohio Lighthouse

So far on that day trip in Ohio, I had only found one lighthouse, the one in Lorain, and the water tower disguised as a lighthouse in Bay Village. By my calculations that still left at least three more within driving distance.

The Sandusky Breakwater Lighthouse is just a light on top of a concrete tower. Built in 1996, it is still an active lighthouse operated by the US Coast Guard. Unable to get close enough to get any better than a 24x digital zoom, here is a not-so-good snapshot.

So, on to Marblehead, Ohio right across the bay from Sandusky in search of the 1821 lighthouse which is still in operation.

I missed the entrance to the state park the first time and had to backtrack. I pulled off on  the side of the road to take this snapshot:

And then drove into the state park to take this wonderful photo:

Although the lighthouse and the lightkeeper's house were given to the state of Ohio to become a park in 1998, the lighthouse itself is still under Coast Guard control and its three and one-half order Fresnel* lens still warns pleasure boats and large container ships every night.

*Is a lens composed of a number of small lenses arranged to make a lightweight lens of large diameter and short focal length.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

When is a Lighthouse Not a Lighthouse?

When it is actually a cleverly disguised water tower located in Bay Village, Ohio.

One of the reasons I drove along the coast of Lake Erie on US Highway 2 is that I read there were six historic lighthouses within sight of the road. A couple were too far east of Cleveland to add it to my itinerary, but I thought I would be able to see at least three or four during the day.

Of course, I saw the one in Lorain which is still closed to the public but close enough for a good snapshot.

And then when I drove into Bay Village, west of Cleveland, I spied this in their large city park and whipped the car into the parking lot. I thought it was one of the lighthouses that had been mentioned on the Web, but when I got closer, I saw from the sign at the base that it was a water tower.

The park was once the John Huntington estate and this water tower provided water to his vineyard. The stairway, water pipes and water tubs are still inside. When John Huntington was still alive, he used to go to the top of the tower to watch the sun set on Lake Erie. Unfortunately the tower is closed to the public and here is a video from YouTube showing the damage that it sustained when Superstorm Sandy roared through last month.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

The Lorain Lighthouse

During my trip back to Ohio, I took a drive along the Lake Erie shore. I stopped in Lorain and took this snapshot of this lighthouse. This is the Lorain West Breakwater Lighthouse commissioned by the United States Coast Guard and built in 1916. It was decommissioned in 1965 and slated for demolition.

A group of concerned citizens formed the Port of Lorain Foundation which bought the lighthouse in 1977 from the US government for $1.00. Over the years they've repaired and restored the lighthouse almost back to how it was in 1916. It currently isn't open to the public, but the Foundation has raised enough money the past couple of years to finish interior restoration which will finally allow the public to tour the inside.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Walhalla Road, Columbus, Ohio

When I go back to Ohio and Columbus, I always drive down Walhalla Drive which is one of the prettiest streets in Columbus. It is located in the Clintonville neighborhood which was developed during the early part of the twentieth century and at the time considered a streetcar suburb.

And this is just a mile from the edge of The Ohio State University campus (and my alma mater. Go Buckeyes!) which looks like this:

(Courtesy of Google Street View as after I left Walhalla Road, it just opened up and poured rain)

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Spiegel Grove and an Earlier Presidential Election

While we're waiting for the results of the US Presidential election tonight and breathing a sigh of relief of no longer being inundated with political ads, here's a snapshot of the home of the president who was elected during an even more contentious contest than that of today - Rutherford B. Hayes. He lost the popular vote, but won the electoral vote (click on this for an article in Wikipedia which tells about the election of 1876 in greater detail).

I like to visit presidential homes if they are near to where I am and Fremont, Ohio, where Spiegel Grove, Hayes' home after his presidency, was only 25 miles from I was staying. So down the road I went to take a tour of the house.

It has been restored in loving detail, right down to hand-printed wallpaper reproduced from fragments found where it had been painted over. Unfortunately I wasn't permitted to take snapshots indoors, but you can go here to take a virtual tour.

Sometimes we forget that history can repeat itself. For those who thought that Al Gore was robbed of the 2000 election, I am sure that Samuel Tilden who actually won the 1876 election just to see it handed to  Rutherford by his Republican cronies felt the same way.

And the most gorgeous maple tree on the grounds.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Kimball, West Virginia and the WWI Monument

Twenty miles up the road from Bramwell is the small town of Kimball which holds an amazing surprise.

This is the only World War I memorial in all of the United States dedicated to the 400,000 African-Americans who volunteered to serve in combat during what was then called "The Great War." 1,500 of those men came from McDowell County, West Virginia where Kimball is located and where this monument was built in 1928.

It became the community's focal point with meeting rooms, an auditorium with a small stage, kitchen facilities and a trophy room. It served as the social center and hosted such activities as high school proms, wedding receptions and performances by such well-known entertainers of the day like Cab Calloway and others.

But by 1991, the county and its towns had suffered from shrinking demographics due to the decline in the coal industry - the county had gone from more than 100,000 inhabitants to less than 20,000 - along with the huge decline in income that left McDowell County the poorest county in the US outside of Mississippi.

A fire that year along with the community abandonment of keeping up the building left the memorial in ruins with only the  exterior shell still remaining.

But a few in the community worked to raise funding to restore the building back to its original glory. Along with a grant from the McDowell county commissioners and the Federal Scenic Byways department of the US Department of Transportation (Kimball sits along the Coal Heritage Byway), the building was finally restored and rededicated in 2007.

It is only open during the week for a few hours each day, so I only got to admire it from the outside.