Wednesday, December 16, 2015

T'anks for the Memories

For those of you who don't know it, I was in the hospital off and on for the first 6 months of 2014. But I did get to come home occasionally, relying on a friend to pick me up and bring me back. On one of those trips I spotted something out of the corner of my eye that became the object of a search (Or was it an Obsession) for the next two years.

That day way back in early 2014 I swore I had seen an Army Tank sitting by the side of the road. Not some military vehicle broken down with a squad of soldiers guarding it but an actual Tank, sitting in amongst the tree's. I told all my buddies about it but they knew nothing. I can't say how many photo excursions Lil' Nick and I took trying to find it again, all in vain.

But this last Monday my search was Over. Coming back from Peoria on route 26, we had just turned off route 18 and THERE IT WAS! Sitting back in the trees just as I remembered it. Looks like it had just been repainted which is probably why it stood out this time. I made sure to snap lots of photo's this time, so I have proof it wasn't a figment of my imagination.

I searched thru pictures and images online but I couldn't find an exact match so I have no idea what kind of tank this is. Or perhaps it's not a tank at all, but a parade vehicle or a home built project. Either way it was fascinating to see it sitting by the side of the road.

Monday, November 30, 2015

Praise the Lord! and pass the Ammunition.....

On a recent photo excursion with Scott Mecum and his wife, Lil Nick and I were treated to a unique sight. A series of WW 2 ammunition bunkers sitting on land near Amboy.  These sturdy survivors are easily seen from the road and are part of the Green River arsenal complex built in 1942. It was decommissioned in 1945.

They were operated by the Stewart-Warner corp. which produced rocket propelled ammunition for bazooka's. As well as Artillery shells, Naval shells, bombs, Rifle Grenades, fuses and rockets for use during the war.  It should be noted that these sit on private land. ALWAYS get the land owners permission before stopping to take a photograph.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Alaska doesn't have the market cornered on a Bridge to Nowhere

On a recent photo outing with Scott Mecum and his wife, we came across this bridge out in the middle of nowhere. Scott assured me we were 'around Kasbeer' but I wouldn't have sworn to it.  Anyway this is typical of the bridges built in the early half of the 20th century and has been bypassed by a replacement bridge (That's a lot less interesting).

It still looks sturdy and I'll bet the kids in the area have a grand time fishing, swimming, jumping into the creek below.  Now that colder weather is here it might not be smart to jump in the water but when spring rolls around again I know where I want to be. Thanks to my lil' Sidekick Nick for helping with the photo's.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Tuning in to the right frequency...

In most of my blog posts I write about going out in search of history. Well this time, history came in search of Me. A little over a week ago I was contacted by one of the followers of my blog with an intriguing proposition. He had a collection of antique radio's and he wanted to know if I would like to have them.

I went and looked at his collection and it was Huge. I asked the man time and time again if I could at least pay him for the collection but he said no, he was giving them to me free of charge. So last week I went and rented a storage locker and on Friday I and some friends and family congregated at this man's house and we filled three suv's with radio's and speakers. I should mention these radio's are for the most part from the 1920's and 30's.

This was a time when there was no internet, no instant news 24 hours a day. A time when even the radio itself was a fairly new invention. And these examples show that. Some are very plain and others are elaborately constructed with scroll work and inlays. Most of these are in well constructed wooden cases. Many have tubes the size of a mans fist.

Oh, I almost forgot to mention. They all work, too.  The collector, a man here in Princeton named Doug, is a serious radio enthusiast who spent a lot of time making sure these survivors can still play music and receive radio broadcasts. He told me jokingly that he was often asked if he could pick up the Pearl Harbor attack on the radio's. They say that the signals bounce around in space so I wouldn't be a bit surprised to hear that some day. Or live coverage of the Hindenburg disaster...or the triumphant landing of the Spirit of St. Louis in France...Or FDR's speech to congress taking us into world war 2.

Saturday, November 7, 2015

When can I get my Buick in for service?

I recently took a road trip. Now it would behoove me to get it serviced. There's a dealership in Varna that Lil' Nick and I stumbled across a few weeks ago. The building is sitting empty and forlorn but still has a few bits of glory clinging to it.

Above the door is a neon sign that reads "Varna Auto Service". Another faded sign reads "Chevrolet" with a still legible logo at the bottom of the sign. But the Icing on the cake is the beautiful "Buick" neon sign. Dating from the 1950's it has some broken tubing but the frame and coloring is still strong and could be easily restored. If you're ever up that way stop in and have a look!

Monday, October 26, 2015

Abraham Lincoln slept here....No, really!

Just north of Ohio is a marker for the site of Dad Joe Smith's tavern. Built in the early 1800's first as a residence then as a way stop for travelers along the old Galena Trail. It was THE place to be for gossip, protection, and really good food. One of it's many claims to fame is when a relatively unknown Abraham Lincoln stayed there in 1832.

Today all that remains is a concrete and rock marker covering the old well that served the inn. There's a boulder next to it that commemorates Lincoln's stay on May the 12th.  If you're ever up that way stop for a moment and if you close your eyes and listen real hard you just may hear the sound of laughter and the clip clop of horses hooves along the road.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

It was a Time of Dread

In 1832 fighting had erupted between members of the Fox and Sauk tribes and the Illinois and Michigan territorial militia in what would become known as the Blackhawk war. Pioneer families living in remote homesteads fled their lands leaving behind their personal property and livestock.

Two weeks after fleeing, several men decided to go back to their homes to reclaim what they could. One of these men was a young private in the militia, Elijah Phillips. On June the 18th, as the men saw to their property a band of 30 Native Americans crept into hidden positions around the cabins....and waited.

Philips and another man, Sylvester Brigham, walked out onto the porch of one of the cabins and spoke for a few minutes before Brigham returned inside. When he did the Indians opened fire. Philips was struck down by two shots and the band of natives swarmed upon him with their tomahawks.

To mark this event a memorial boulder and plaque was erected on the site of the killing in 1932. The plaque reads "To Commemorate the One Hundredth anniversary of the death of Elijah Phillips who came from New Hampshire to Illinois, in 1831,in his 21st year and was killed by Indians,June 18th,1832 during the Blackhawk war. Of such Stern Fabric was Woven the History of Bureau County."

A big shout out and Thank You to Scott Mecum and Sleek Images Photography for helping me locate the spot and joining me on the photo shoot.

It lies just a mile and a half off route 34 north of Dover. And as you can see from the photo's it's well looked after. If you're ever out that way, stop for a moment and pay homage to one of the early pioneers of our great land.