Thursday, September 20, 2018

Small Illinois Towns Offer Offbeat Attractions for Tourism-- Part 3: Casey, "Big Things, Small Town"

Jim Bolin built the large things to get people to come to Casey.  Deb Bohannon says Casey gets about $30,000 a year in local hotel/motel tax revenue and that nine shops have opened in town in just the last two years and that they generally count at least 150 cars every day as tourist come to see the big things.

And, Casey is still building.  there's a giant teeter-totter, as well as a giant spoon, key and a barbershop pole.

The goal is to secure six more Guinness World Records by this fall.

Casey now has taken the slogan "Big Things, Small Town."


Wednesday, September 19, 2018

The Problem With This New World's Largest Rocker: It's Not on 66

The World's largest Rocker is now in Casey, Illinois, but until it was built, honors for the largest went to the Fannon Outpost on good old Route 66 just west of Cuba, Missouri.  To Liz and myself, that remains the largest rocker.  We don't cotton to young upstarts.

It is still there and proudly carries on the tradition of Route 66 tourist traps which would have something to draw attention and attract folks to stop in and spend money.

Plus, the new Fannon Outpost has some of the best specialty popcorn anywhere.

Last year, on Liz and my 66 on 66 tour (we were both age 66) we stopped at Rich Henry's Rabbit Ranch in Staunton, Illinois, and were talking with him when another couple came in who were driving Route 66 for the first time.  They had "idge" phones and were confused when the phone app said the largest rocker was in Casey, Illinois.  This is the first we had heard of the one in Casey.  We told the other couple about the 66 one in Fannon, Missouri.

Only 66, You Know.  --RoadDog

Cruisin' Back to 1968: "Sympathy For the Devil"

From the September 14, 2018, WDRV, 97.1 FM, Ten at Ten by Bob Stroud.

Ten songs from 1968, a good high school year for me.

WICHITA LINEMAN--  Glen Campbell

SON OF A PREACHER MAN--  Dusty Springfield


Name That Tune (from the above songs):  "I Know I Need A Small Vacation But It Don't Look Like Rain." Answer below.  --RoadDog

"Wichita Lineman"

Small Illinois Towns Offer Offbeat Attractions for Tourism-- Part 2: Casey

Small towns generally have fewer attractions than big cities, but increasingly Americans want to go there for vacation.  But, families need a reason to stop.  More Americans are choosing road trips.

Casey resident "big things" creator Jim Bolin had this in mind when he began building his creations.  he now holds eight Guinness World Records.  You can climb into his world's largest mailbox and get a great view of Casey's Main Street (and even send real letters).

He also has the World's Largest Rocking Chair at 56 feet, 1 inch, the World's Largest Golf Tee at 30 feet, 9 inches and the world's Biggest thing that started all of these huge objects, the World's Largest Wind Chime, standing 42 feet tall.

He has other really big, but not record-breaking things as well.  Casey also has a No. 2 pencil and a bird cage which can hold several visitors.


Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Small Illinois Towns Offering Offbeat Attractions for Tourism-- Part 1: The Economic Impact of Kitsch

From he July 29, 2018, Chicago Tribune  "Offbeat attractions bring small towns big notoriety" by Samantha Bomkamp.

There are no fancy waterparks or beaches in Casey, Illinois.  As a matter of fact, it is pretty far from anything.  But, if you want to see things big, this small town, population 2,700, does have some large things to see.  One is the world's largest mail box and hat is just one thing they have which is the "biggest."  Since the first one was built ten years ago, these giant items have sparked a lot of business on Main Street.

Casey is just one of a handful of small one-stoplight towns in central and southern Illinois which have adopted quirky claims to fame.

An hour's drive south of Casey, tiny Olney has white squirrels -- a genetic oddity.  Then, Metropolis, at the southern tip of Illinois,  hangs on to its title as the "Hometown of Superman" and they have been doing that for 40 years.

These oddities help bring the tourists and there is a definite economic impact.

Call it the Economic Impact of Kitsch.  --RoadDog

Monday, September 17, 2018

The Outer Banks Beachcomber Museum: Six Decades of Beachcombong

From the January 18, 2016, Goldsboro (NC) News-Argus  "Artifacts taken from beach are highlights of collection"  AP

**  Nellie Myrtle Pridgen 'didn't throw anything away.'

A wooden carriage from a Civil War cannon is at the front of an old store.  Not far away are century old bottles, a World War I helmet, a toothy shark's jaw and door knobs washed up from a shipwreck.

The cluttered assortment of the rare, the old and the roughed up was gathered over six decades by Nellie Myrtle Pridgen.  There is so much stuff packed on the shelves inside that, "You can look at a shelf ten times and come back and find something different," says Dorothy Hope.

But, this is a museum without a sign out front and no regular hours.

There are problems especially with parking and plans are underway to turn it into the Old Nags Head Cultural Preservation Center.


Saturday, September 15, 2018

The Problem With Horses in 1918

From the September 5, 2018, MidWeek  "Looking Back."

1918, 100 Years Ago.

"A farmer's horse hitched to a single buggy became frightened by a puffing engine last night while waiting ro get across Seventh Street in DeKalb and when the gates were raised the animal started on a gallop and became unmanageable.

"Fortunately, the North Seventh thoroughfare was not a busy one at the time of the accident and the runaway horse had the entire street to himself."

No Harm Done Here.  --RoadDog

Friday, September 14, 2018

North Carolina's "The Rocks"

"The Rocks", built below Fort Fisher in the late 19th century is a long rock jetty built from Fort Fisher's Battery Buchanan to aid navigation by stopping the shoaling of the Cape Fear River from sand coming in through what used to be known as New Inlet.  New Inlet was a major entrance and exit for blockade runners during the Civil War.

It was finished in 1881 and created a huge lagoon behind it now known as "The Basin."  Today, "The Basin" is part of the Zeke's Island component of the North Carolina National Estuary Research Reserve.

The southern tip of New Hanover County (Wilmington) became an island when Snow's Cut was dredged between the Cape Fear River and the sound in 1925. A canal that connects it with Masonboro Sound is now part of the Intercoastal Waterway.

The Cut was named for Major William A. Snow , Chief Engineer for the Wilmington District.

I imagine that now, because of Hurricane/Tropical Storm Florence, the "Rocks" are underwater with all the flooding and surges.  They were already in bad shape before this, but I imagine much worse now.


Thursday, September 13, 2018

Cumberland Gap-- Part 2: Was US-25 E

In the 20th Century, US Highway 25 E crossed Cumberland Gap until it was rerouted as a tunnel under the gap in 1996.  They then recreated the Wilderness Road.

It now takes four and a half hours to drive from Winston-Salem, N.C. now, but back then it took several weeks.

The author hiked  the Wilderness Road Trail from the Daniel Boone Exhibit Area on the Virginia side of the gap.  Some places to visit are Gap Cave and Cudjo's Cave.


Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Cumberland Gap Was Daniel Boone's Route to the West

From the April 11, 2018, Winston-Salem (N.C.) Journal by Walt Links.

From 1912-1915, the DAR placed markers from North Carolina to Kentucky to designate Daniel Boone's 1769 road.  Bison first traveled the road searching for grazing and salt licks.  They were followed by the Cherokee and Shawnee Indians.

In 1750, Thomas Walker was the first recorded white man to follow it.  Daniel Boone made his first trip over it in 1769 and in 1779 he began to blaze and widen it.

It was later named the Wilderness Road and an estimated 300,000 Americans crossed the Cumberland Gap between 1790 and 1810 heading west.


Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Remnant of 9/11 in Tinley Park, Illinois-- Part 1

From the September 11, 2016, Chicago Tribune  "Remnant from 9/11 attacks to get salute" by Mike Nolan.

For the 15th anniversary of the September 11 attacks, a steel beam from one of the World Trade Center towers that is displayed outside a Tinley Park fire station will get some long-overdue recognition.

Village firefighters retrieved the 6-foot-long, 1,000 pound beam and brought it to Tinley Park in time for the 10th anniversary commemoration.  However, those passing the village's public safety building might not be aware of the beam since there is no marker of any sort to connect it to the event.

It is partially perched on some rocks on the building's north side, on 173rd Place just  west of Oak Park Avenue.  Plans call for it to be removed to a more permanent setting in or near Zabrocki Plaza, less than a block to the east.

This will be continued in today's Cooter's History Thing blog.  You can click on it to the right of this.

Monday, September 10, 2018

America's Top Ten Most Beautiful, Least-Traveled Roads-- Part 3: U.S. Route 2

You can go to the site to find out more.


State Route 90003  "Colonial Parkway"


U.S. Route  65  The Great River Road


U.S. Route 212.  Usually closed by snow during the winter.  Leads to Yellowstone National Park.


U.S. Route 2


State Route 32   "River Road"


Saturday, September 8, 2018

Busy Day Today and Tomorrow

In a little while I will be driving to Antioch, Illinois, to see the Lincoln Funeral Railroad Car.  This is not the original one that transported his body back to Springfield, but a faithful recreation that was made for the sesquicentennial of his death back in 2015.  I understand that after this, it goes to a private collector so last chance to see it.

This afternoon Liz and I will drive to DeKalb, Illinois, and attend the NIU President's Reception at the Barsema Alumni Center where we will hear talks by her and athletic folks as well as a synopsis on the NIU-Utah game tonight.  We are invited because of our scholarship to the education department.

Then, we have nice seats for the game.

Tomorrow we will be hurrying back home as Johnsburg has its annual Saufen Und Spiel celebration to honor its German heritage with the parade, bands and even an oom-pah one and German food.  We will watch the parade from Sunnyside Tap.

Too Much Fun.  --RoadDog

America's Top Ten Most Beautiful, Least-Traveled Roads-- Part 2: US-201, US-160 and California 139

Continued from September 4, 2018.


U.S. Route 201  The "Old Canada Road."


U.S. Route 160  Runs through the Navajo Nation.


State Route 139 in northeastern California.


Friday, September 7, 2018

That Gas Station on First and Lincoln Highway in DeKalb Finally Opens

From the July 18, 2018, MidWeek  "Looking Back"

1918, 100 Years Ago.

"Saturday night was the occasion of the opening of the new Ford sales and service station at the corner of First and Lincoln Highway and the Fordson tractor demonstration which was held there was largely attended during the evening.

"The Fordson was not exactly demonstrated but was on exhibition at the new garage and attracted no little attention.

They had originally expected it to open by fall 1917, so this is considerably late.  Perhaps shorgaes because of the war?

Fordson Tractors?  New One On Me.  --RoadDog