Category Archives: History

Climbing all Day in St. Louis.

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On Monday night my oldest son said “You know where I’d really like to go again? City Museum.” City Museum is in St. Louis, Brad just happened to be working in St. Louis this week. So, I called Brad, we did some juggling. He changed hotels to one that allows pets, I started packing, and we told our son that we could go to City Museum. It is about a 6 hour drive from home, we got started late afternoon Tuesday and drove.

Wednesday morning I decided we probably couldn’t spend the whole day at City Museum. I remembered passing some signs on the highway for Cahokia Mounds, Historic Site. We decided to go there first thing in the morning.

There is an interpretive center on the grounds, that gives the history of the mounds. There is a short, 15 minute video that you can watch. (The people that work there are all very happy to tell you that it is an award winning video.) It is really interesting. The rest of the building is a museum. There is a LOT of information there too. Toward the end of the museum they talk about how they excavate the area without damaging things.

From November to April the center is closed Monday and Tuesday. The rest of the year is is open 7 days a week. 8am to dusk. The center is free to enter, but has a suggested donation of $7 for adults and $2 for children, or $15 for families. I think it is worth it, they really try to make it a nice experience, with guided tours if you like groups, or iPod tours if you prefer to do your own thing.

Around the Center are a lot of hills, in various sizes. Theses are the Mounds. I’ll write another post about the history (those have become my favorite to write.) The mounds were build around 1100A.D., using stone tools to dig the dirt out of the ground, and woven baskets to haul it to the site of the mounds. Some mounds were the town’s barriers. Some were to build houses on top of. And, most were burial mounds.

Monks Mound is the largest one, that is the one in the picture above. The Chief’s home was built on top of it. Monks Mound is the largest prehistoric earth work in North America. There are a couple hundred steps to the top, and the view from the top is pretty cool.

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Weaving in and out of the mounds are several trails. Some, just a mile or so, up to 10 miles long. There is a play ground and a picnic area as well. There is also a spot named Woodhenge. It is a large circle made from pillars. They believe it was a sort of calendar.

I don’t think small children would be very interested in going here. My kids are 9 and 11, and they only pretended to be interested because I told them I knew where a Barnes and Noble was, and I was more than happy to go buy them a history book instead. But, once we got into the museum area, I had a hard time getting them out! I thought it was really interesting too.

After the Cahokia Mounds, we headed to City Museum. We’d been here once before. When you pull up, odds are good you will consider leaving right away again. It looks very strange. I sent my husband some photos last time and he replied with “Are you playing in a construction zone or a junk yard?”

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The best way I can describe City Museum is an Art Museum/Play ground. It is $5 to park, and $12/person to get in. Right now, they are closed Monday and Tuesday, they go back to open 7 days a week on March 14. They have a coat check inside, $1/coat. Or you can leave your coat in your car.

Wear real shoes, not flip flops, not ballet flats, wear gym shoes and make sure they are tied on tight. Wear pants. Jeans. I will have to take a picture of what my jeans looked like when we got done yesterday, I got caught, somewhere, and my back pocket is destroyed. Next time, I will use a carabiner and hook my camera to my belt loop. I learned that the hard way, after my camera fell 20 feet.

There is a small snack station down stairs and a pizza/deli type place upstairs. It’s really expensive, that is why we went after lunch. Down stairs by the snack station in a pool. Filled with turtles. Off the side of the eating area is a bathroom. The door doesn’t lock, and the water is iffy. IMG_0446

Yes, the bathroom gets it’s own photo, because it amuses me that this is considered perfectly fine. There are more modern bathrooms, like you’d expect to find in a museum as well, but, that isn’t interesting.

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This is a 3 story slide, right by the entrance. There are SO many slides here. There are random stairs, and ramps. Take them. There are holes in the floor, that lead to tunnels, that take you to different areas. Some stairs take you to a slide. Some take you to the ceiling, where you can slither your way around the first floor, above the other guests. There are wire cages that make their way up around fake trees, climb through the cages. There is a giant hamster wheel to run on. There is a stateless park to run on. It looks like a skate park, but you can’t skate.  There is a fish tank with piranhas and a 35 pound catfish. The gift shop sells knee pads, if that tells you anything about this place.

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They are laying on the floor, under a giant whale. Behind them is a hole in the floor, that leads to a pitch black tunnel, that leads you to a set of stairs, that will then take you to the ceiling tunnels.

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This is me, in one of the ceiling tunnels. I’m laying flat on my stomach, my head is touching the top of the tunnel. So, it does get a bit tight in some spots.

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But, most of the tight areas aren’t much worse than this. I’m still in the ceiling. There was enough room for me and two boys to move around each other.

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This is the view up, from the bottom, of the 10-Story slide.

When you are done inside you can head out to MonstoCity. It is the outdoor area. There is also a rooftop play area, with a ferris wheel, but we are never there when that is open. It is only open in the warmer months. MonstroCity has a giant ball pit.

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I took the photo with my son for scale. If you get bored in the ball pit, you can climb it.

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I would just like to say, that child is afraid of heights. That is a real fire truck on the ground behind him. But, the rest of the play area was too irresistible.

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I’m pretty sure, almost everything in that picture can be climbed or walked across. That blue, cone-shaped thing? It has rebar steps to the top, where you can squeeze out a small opening, then down a crane boom, to another slide.

We spent about 4 hours there. The last hour I just sat and stared at the ceiling to watch my kids climb across. I don’t have a lot of pictures of my oldest, because he has no fear and runs off before I can even give him a warning of what to be afraid of. My younger son is in the pictures, because he stays near me most the time.

I had grand plans for today, and woke up to an 11 yr old, puking and crying. He’s napping, and I’m writing.

Maybe we just enjoy the nice hotel room today, before heading home tomorrow.

 

History Comes Alive in Boston

I homeschool the kids, which I’ve mentioned before. Last week we learned about the Revolutionary War for history. Several months ago I took a trip to Boston, I knew I was standing in spots that held historic significance, but, I’m also 13 years out from my last history lesson. So, to read them this information, and know I had stood there just months before was so cool.

I love Boston. We stayed in a small town outside of Boston. I think it was about a 45 minute drive, or train ride into the city. Brad and I shared one car, so, he drove to work, while I took the train into the city. The first day, I decided to take the train, so he dropped me off at the station. I was concerned because this was a 730a train. Brad wouldn’t get off work until 5p, so if I got bored and wanted to come back to the hotel, I was out of luck. I’d have to bring the train home, then walk about 3 miles back to the room.

I didn’t need to worry, I had all day in Boston. I walked 11 miles. I was not bored.

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This is the train station. I got off the train and had no idea what I was doing. Luckily, I like to wander, so I walked a couple blocks, through the Financial District. Then, I came out into a very crowded area, where a red line is painted on the sidewalk, in front of a very old building. This red line is the Freedom Trail, it is 2.5 miles that will take you through 16 different historic sights. I felt like, every time I turned one way to see something, I missed 3 other interesting sights the other way.

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This is the Old State House, this is where the Declaration of Independence was read to the people of Boston for the first time. This was also the site where the Boston Massacre happened. John Adams declared the Revolution began here. This is Boston’s oldest public building, built in 1713. I used this all week to figure out where I was.

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This is the Old South Meeting House. You walk in, and walk where George Washington one stood. Where the colonists prepared for the Boston Tea Party. It was built in 1729, and Benjamin Franklin was baptized here. It was the largest building in all of colonial Boston. FIVE THOUSAND colonists crowded into this building to decide what to do about the ships full of tea in the harbor.

This is the interior, can you even imagine, 5,000 people in here?IMG_5408

Next we have Kings Chapel.

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I loved Kings Chapel, enough I went back every day. I even went to a church service there, and I’m not particularly religious. The church was founded in 1686. When it was time to build a new building, they weren’t able because there was no more land. So, they build this stone building around the old wooden one, in 1749, then carried the wooden one out, piece by piece. The pulpit from the original church remains in the building. Over 30,000 sermons have been preached from this spot. IMG_5238

It was very powerful to kneel at this alter where so many people have been. Where people were worshiping before the United States even existed!

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The history of the pews was very interesting, in my opinion.

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The pews are not in rows, they are in high-walled boxes. You could “buy” a pew, and pay a yearly rent. This allowed the family that owned it to make it fit their needs. The walls kept the area warmer in the winter. These are original pews, from the 1600s. The owners could decide how the seating was set up. This one held the most people. I saw many with a single row, and one with just 2 seats in it. While the upholstery has been redone, the padding is still the original horse-hair! The owners were able to decorate them as they wished until the twentieth century.

I did not go into the bell tower, though I wish I had. in 1772 a bell was shipped for the tower from London. It fractured in 1814 and Paul Revere offered to remake the bell. It was one of the largest bells ever cast in the Revere foundry and it was the last one made by Paul Revere.

That is all for today, if I include everything I’ll be writing for days!

The U.S.S. Cod, A Submarine in Cleveland Ohio

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The U.S.S Cod was a World War II submarine, One of the few large submarines that the US Navy had that was not damaged in Pearl Harbor. It was launched on March 21, 1943.  The Cod made 7 successful war patrols before the end of the war. It was based out of Perth, Australia.

The U.S.S. Cod is 312 ft long, and weighs 1,525 tons.

While the Cod was a very successful submarine, it also holds a place in history as the only submarine to preform an international sub-to-sub rescue ever.

In July of 1945 a Dutch submarine, the O-19 was grounded on a coral outcropping. The Cod spent 2 days trying to pull the O-19 off the reef, breaking several chains in the process.  While the Cod tried to pull the O-19, the O-19 was busy trying to help itself, by putting its engines completely in reverse, blowing the ballast tanks, and firing the torpedoes, hoping that all together, this would pull the submarine loose. It didn’t work. So, the Cod took on the 56 man crew, in addition to the full crew already on the U.S.S. Cod, and then they put demolition charges on the stuck O-19, finishing with shooting 2 torpedoes at it as well, to destroy it so enemy ships couldn’t get to it.

In 2003, the Dutch Navy honored the U.S.S. Cod.

The Cod was removed from service in 1946, only to be recommissioned in 1951 as a part of NATO anti-sub training missions. She was decommissioned again in 1954, but in 1959 was used as a naval reserve training vessel, based in Cleveland, Ohio. The U.S.S Cod quickly became a stop for school children to learn about a bit of history.

Today, the U.S.S. Cod is a war memorial, and a historic landmark. It is the only submarine that allows visitors that had not had ramps built, and holes made in it to allow visitors easier access. If you want to visit, you need to be prepared to enter the hatches and climb down the ladders.

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This is the site that greets you when you enter the U.S.S. Cod. You will be in the forward torpedo room. There are 6 torpedo tubes that will hold 16 torpedoes total. There were 2 types of torpedoes used. The MK-14 and the MK-18. The 14 was faster, but also left a wake, pinpointing the sub’s location. In addition to the torpedo tubes, this room also holds 15 bunks for the sailors.

The next section is the Forward Battery. It holds 126 lead-acid, electric storage batteries. But, it is also where the officer’s areas are. IMG_7446

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The next section is the Control Room. When you enter this section, you will notice it is lit with red lighting. This red light is used at night, so if anyone has to go topside, their eyes will already be adjusted to the darkness.

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This room is where the controls are that power and steer the submarine, as well as control its depth.

The Conning Tower is right above you while you stand in the control room. IMG_7457

The picture is terrible, because you aren’t allowed to climb into the conning tower. You are allowed to climb halfway up the ladder, for a view. But, I’m short. So, my view was just the rungs of the ladder in front of me that they had put plexiglass over.

The conning tower is the attack center. This is where the periscopes are used, it holds the main steering station, as well as the 2 red firing buttons for the torpedoes.

Next is the After Battery Compartment. It holds another set of batteries. But, it also holds the galley and the mess hall for the elicited men. Only 24 men can sit and eat at a time, so each meal requires 3 shifts.

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It was hard to get a decent picture of the space, because it was so small. Now, picture it with a full crew. Up to 97 men filled this submarine, for months at a time.

I found the refrigerator interesting. It is under the floor, so you look down at it. You cannot enter it.IMG_7472

The refrigerator not only held the tons of meat the crew needed, but other perishables. Under the floor is also the ammunitions locker, that doubled as a jail cell for any Japanese prisoners of war they may have.

When you venture out of the mess hall, there is a berthing area.

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On the left, the bunks are stacked, three high and three deep, with no space between side to side. There is a total of 36 bunks in that small space.

Next we have the Forward Engine Room.

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This room holds four 1,600HP diesel engines. The engines were actually made in Cleveland, Ohio. This room also holds 2 freshwater stills.

That’s all the pictures I have of the inside. But, next is the After Engine Room that holds additional generators, for use when necessary.

Then is the Maneuvering Room, the men in this room would control the speed of the Cod using a combination of large levers on one side of the room.

Finally, there was the After Torpedo Room. It holds 4 more torpedo tubes, 15 bunks, a signal flare ejector, and a tiny engineering office. On April 27, 1945 this room caught fire and almost destroyed the submarine. Crewman Andrew G. Johnson was helping to fight the fire when he was washed overboard and drowned.

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Outside the submarine sits a M-14, on the last known, working, WWII Navy torpedo crane truck. It was used to carry torpedoes to the pier, to be loaded by a larger crane.

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More Info:

U.S.S. Cod Home Page

U.S.S. Cod (SS-224)

Historic Navel Ships

Dutch Submarines: The Submarine O 19

Cod Rescues O-19- This is actual video footage of the rescue.

 

Squire’s Castle, History and a Ghost Story

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In northern Ohio, in the North Chagrin Reservation, part of Cleveland’s Metro Parks District, is a castle. Or what looks like a castle. In reality, it is the shell of what was to be the caretaker’s house for a mansion that was never built.

Feargus B. Squire was one of the founders of the Standard Oil company, so he was very wealthy. (At one point, after the castle was built, Squire served a term as mayor of a nearby town.) He owned a home in Cleveland in the late 1800s, but wanted to live in the country. (Which is funny when you think about how it, how much of a city was Cleveland in 1890, especially compared to now?)  Squire bought himself 525 acres of land in a forest, and planned to build a giant estate, intending to live at this estate with his wife and daughter. The home was built from stone, quarried from the property itself.

Before construction on the mansion began, the caretaker’s home was built. It was 2 stories, though there is some speculation there was a basement as well, though you can’t find it now. Squire was going to live there, while the mansion was being built.

The home was supposedly quite beautiful designed after castle is Europe, with Tiffany glass in the windows, carved moldings, and European finishings.

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Mrs Squire, however, hated the country. She had been raised in the city and that was where she wanted to stay.

Legend says that Rebecca Squire would be unable to sleep at night, and would wander the home, holding her lantern. One night, she was startled by one of her husband’s hunting trophies hanging on the wall, she tripped and fell down the stairs to the basement, breaking her neck in the fall that killed her.

Mr Squire was so distraught, he abandoned the property and moved away. But, you can sometimes see a woman in the upstairs window, or a red glow, as is coming from a lantern, moving through the house at night.

The real story is not as interesting, or as tragic.  Mrs. Squire did hate the country, and Mr Squire abandoned the dream of a country estate.  Squire sold the property in 1922, and Cleveland Parks got the property in 1925.

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This is the fireplace that stands in what was once the library.

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When you stand in the library and look out, this is the view of the rest of the castle. There are 2 large rooms you can’t see from the photo, and once there was a second floor, but, the castle had been left to the elements and the 2nd floor deteriorated to the point the parks department removed everything except the shell; there is no roof either. If you believe the legend, Squire had the basement filled in after his wife died. But, others say there never was a basement.

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Can you see it? This castle as it once stood? Perhaps the window was stained glass, blocking the beautiful view. Or perhaps this window by the fireplace was one you could sit by on a winter day, watching the snow pile up around the home. Maybe the floor had furs as coverings, since Squire loved to hunt and show off his skill.

The park is actually open until 11pm, and as the sun goes down, I’m sure you can also see why this abandoned castle has also lent itself to a ghost story.

More Information

Squire’s Castle, Cleveland Metroparks

Squire’s Castle, Travel Cleveland

Squire’s Castle, Wikipedia

Ghosts of the Prairie

Exploring the Cleveland Area, Part 2

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Trying to fit a lot into 2 days, made a busy day 2.

I went to see the submarine the U.S.S. Cod. It is a World War II era submarine. It was actually hard to find. I know you are thinking “How can this giant thing be hard to find”. Well, water doesn’t have much of an address. So, if you want to visit, make your way over to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and if you come in off 9th, the Hall of Fame will be in front of you, turn right. You’ll head towards the Burke Lakefront Airport. It will be on your left, there is a small, gravel parking lot. Parking is free. You will pay your $10 admission at a small booth that looks like the kind you’d find in a carnival to buy tickets to the tilt-a-whirl. Across that sidewalk is the “gift shop” which is a bulletin board with examples of things you can buy. I don’t know where they keep those things though.

You walk up a ramp, and then you are on the submarine. To get into the sub, you go down a hole, with a ladder on the side. So,needless to say, it is not handicap accessible.
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The sub is interesting, there are a lot of signs to tell you about the areas in the sub. There are 4 or 5 audio “tours”. You push the button, and hear about the area you are in. You can sit at a table or lay in a bunk.
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Or, you can pretend to enjoy a cup of coffee.

I really found the kitchen the most interesting part. Just to think about having to cook for that many people in such a tiny space.
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I began to write you out a history of the sub, but it’s really interesting and deserves its own post. So, upcoming is a U.S.S. Cod history post.

After the sub, I decided to go to the Cleveland Museum of Contemporary Art.

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So, I will admit it, but it’s embarrassing. I walked past this museum several times, trying to find it. The GPS was clear, the building LOOKED like a contemporary art museum. But, the only sign is the one on the door. That says “Mocha a la Carte” the hours talk about lunch time. And, there is a small script on the door that says something like “healthy, nourishing” So, I saw this and thought “what a strange restaurant.” and kept walking. Like, 10 minutes later I decided to go in and ask, and wound up in the gift shop.

It was a bit disappointing in my opinion. There were only 2 exhibits. One was by a nun. The Art of Corita Kent. That will be on display until August 31, 2014. Her art is very pop art inspired.

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The next exhibit was Staging Silence by Hans Op De Beeck. There were only 3 photos, but there was a room where a video was shown, and he slowly moved pieces to create beautiful landscapes. This is also on display until the end of August, 2014.

The admission is $8.

Finally, I ended up at Euclid Creek Reservation. I had read there was once an amusement park there, and some parts remained, such as the entrance, and the beach walkway. I drove through the whole park and found several playgrounds and picnic shelters. Also, there were many places to pull of and view the creek. IMG_7525This pretty flowered area is a monarch stop station, designed to draw the butterflies in on their migration.

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There are a lot of beautiful views of the creek, and the park is just as nice as the one previously mentioned.

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There are signs warning you to stay out of the creek. The creek is only a few inches deep, but many people have drown in it because it is really bad about flash flooding because it is surrounded by all the rock, and the creek bed is rock, so when there is a heavy rain, the water has no place to go, except to flood the creek.

I never found the old amusement park markers, and left very disappointed. Once I got home and could do some more research, and not just look on my phone, I found that this particular park has 2 sections. That are oddly far away from each other. I was in the wrong section. Now I know for next time.

Information

U.S.S. Cod- General information about the submarine

Cleveland Museum of Contemporary Art 

Euclid Creek Reservation

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I just thought this was cute, it is the bike rack outside Starbucks.

Photo Friday- Boston Chipotle

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Photo Friday, where the picture makes the story. This was supposed to be a quick post, but as I began trying to find the information to give you, it became very interesting. And, really, this is one of the reasons for the blog. So enjoy reading about a restaurant and history.

We were in Boston last month. That is going to require a few posts on its own. It seems every turn you take, you see something historical, but miss 2 things for the turn you didn’t take.

For example, one evening Brad and I decided to go to Chipotle. The restaurant is in an old building.
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Once you order, you can go upstairs. That section was added later, so the stairway is on the outside of the old building. The wall you see in the first photo was built in 1718. The United States didn’t even exist yet!

This building was once known as the Old Corner Bookstore. It was also once home of a printing press, where the first editions of The Scarlett Letter, Uncle Tom’s Cabin, and Walden were printed.

It was the first building to be saved by Historic Boston, it had been scheduled for demolition in the 1960s.

Repurposing these building is called “adaptive reuse”. It has been used multiple times in Boston with great success.

If you are ever in Boston, go have lunch in a 300 yr old bookstore. It’s pretty cool.

Chipotle Moving to Historic Boston Building

I found this in my search, which while not about travel, is about adaptive reuse and how it may be facing opponents.
Saving the Plant, One Old Building at a Time

The sign on the outside of the building, giving a brief history.
The sign on the outside of the building, giving a brief history.