Sunday, December 9, 2018

Illinois Bicentennial

By Ruth A. Ringelstetter

From December 3, 2017 through December 3, 2018, Illinois celebrated their Bicentennial anniversary as a state.

Illinois has had three capital cities during its statehood. The first was Kaskaskia, the second was Vandalia, and the third is Springfield which remains the capital today.

The original city of Kaskaskia has been washed away over the years by the Mississippi River. No trace of the original city remains. The first capitol building in Vandalia burned, but the second still stands and was returned to the county of Fayette and the city of Vandalia. We haven’t managed to visit Vandalia yet, but it is on our list.


The cornerstone of the first capitol building built in Springfield was laid on July 4th, 1837, and the building was finally finished in 1853 at approximately double the estimated cost. The building is still in use today as a courthouse.

The current capitol’s cornerstone was laid in October of 1868. It was still unfinished in 1876 when it was first occupied. It was completed 20 years after the cornerstone was laid.


It’s interesting to know that the original northern border of Illinois was a line running east-west along the southern border of Lake Michigan at about 41 degrees, 38 minutes north latitude. This would have placed the current city of Chicago in Wisconsin and not allowed Illinois access to Lake Michigan.


Joann and I usually prefer other routes than through Chicago to get where we’re going. Chicago traffic just makes us crazy! But we did decide to leave, basically in the middle of the night, on a trip in 2010 to be at old Graue Mill at dawn. (Considering that it’s a three-hour trip to the mill, and Joann snapped her first photo at 5:30, we must have left at 2:00!)

The waterwheel at the mill first turned in the summer of 1852 and today is the only operating waterwheel-powered gristmill in the Chicago area. The mill was also a station on the Underground Railroad, harboring slaves in the basement of the mill.


If your image of Illinois is the bustling, congested tollways through Chicago, or the miles and miles of nothingness along the interstates, you should get on some of the state highways and county roads, and drive through some small towns.


Almost every town we’ve passed through has given us some sort of photo opportunities, whether it be old advertising, abandoned buildings, or small businesses. And you never know what you’ll find. We found this little North Pole building with Santa’s mailbox in April.


If you’re interested in the old highways, Illinois has three of the most famous – Route 66, The National Road (Highway 40), and the Lincoln Highway running across the state. You can also choose The Great River Road which follows the entire state along the Mississippi.

We found the old Hub Theater along the Lincoln Highway in Rochelle. It opened in 1931 and closed its doors in early 2011. After a restoration effort of the historic, 8,000-square-foot movie theater fell through, it was transformed into the Kennay Farms Distillery, with plans to open by the end of 2018.


So Happy Birthday Illinois! We hope to do a lot more shunpiking through your state in the future. If you travel through Illinois, do a little shunpiking yourself.

Happy Shunpiking!
Ruth

Photos in this blog post can be purchased as wall art, paper prints, downloads, phone cases, and keepsakes by clicking on the photo. You will be taken to the gallery website where you will see a big blue "BUY" button. Or to see all photos available, click on the "Browse Galleries" button on the menu at the top of this page. Thank you for your interest!

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Historic Bridge Awareness Month

By Joann M. Ringelstetter

I just discovered that November is Historic Bridge Awareness Month. So, I decided that before the month is over, I would sneak in a blog post about the beautiful and historical John A. Roebling Suspension Bridge.


The Roebling Suspension Bridge spans the Ohio River, connecting Cincinnati, Ohio and Covington, Kentucky. When it opened to traffic on January 1, 1867, it was the longest suspension bridge in the world. It held this title until 1883 when it was surpassed by the Brooklyn Bridge, Roebling’s most famous project.


The Roebling Suspension Bridge is impressive in its design and several new bridge-building techniques were used in its construction. The two main cables each contain 5,180 individual wires imported from England. It is an engineering wonder, but the thing that impresses me the most is that it is now over 150 years old and is still serving these two neighboring cities. It is a National Historic Landmark, a National Historic Civil Engineering Landmark, and is on the National Register of Historic Places.


There were many challenges that had to be overcome in the building of this bridge. Although the first charter had been granted by the Kentucky Legislature in 1846, the Ohio Legislature delayed approval due to opposition from ferryboat and steamboat companies. And some people were concerned that the bridge would facilitate the escape of slaves. Construction finally began in 1856 but was held up by challenges from the force of the river, a shortage of funds for materials, flooding, and the Civil War.


In 1867 when the bridge finally opened to traffic, the driver of a horse and buggy was charged a toll of 15 cents to cross; the toll for three horses and a carriage was 25 cents. Pedestrians were charged one cent. Tolls changed over the years and were collected until 1963. Although there are numerous bridges along this waterfront today, the Roebling Bridge continues to carry many vehicles and pedestrians daily.


When we visited Cincinnati in April 2016, it was worth it to get up in the dark and drive down to Smale Riverfront Park to see this beautiful bridge lit up against the dawn’s blue sky.


Happy Historic Bridge Awareness Month and Happy Shunpiking!
Joann

Photos in this blog post can be purchased as wall art, paper prints, downloads, phone cases, and keepsakes by clicking on the photo. You will be taken to the gallery website where you will see a big blue "BUY" button. Or to see all photos available, click on the "Browse Galleries" button on the menu at the top of this page. Thank you for your interest!

Saturday, November 10, 2018

The End of the Great War – A Centennial Commemoration

By Joann M. Ringelstetter

On November 11, 2018 at 11:00 a.m. (the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month), the world will commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Armistice that ended the fighting in World War I.


Although the war began on July 28, 1914, the United States did not join the war effort until April 6, 1917. According to the U.S. World War I Centennial Commission, 4,700,000 U.S. men and women served in uniform. More than two million of them fought on battlefields in France under the command of General John J. Pershing.


Over 200,000 Americans were wounded and 116,516 gave their lives in this war. More than 122,000 Wisconsin men and women answered the call of duty, with Wisconsin declaring June 5, 1917 as “Duty Day.” Close to 4,000 Wisconsin citizens gave their lives for their country during World War I. One of these selfless individuals was Guy Loerpabel, who was killed in action in France on May 29, 1918, less than six months before the war ended. He was only 23 years old.


The American troops who were sent overseas to fight in World War I became known as “Doughboys.” The exact origin of this nickname is unknown. In 1920, Ernest Moore Viquesney, the son and grandson of French immigrant sculptors created a doughboy statue, naming it “Spirit of the American Doughboy.” It was reproduced and put on display across the country to honor World War I soldiers. Today, there are still over 100 of these sculptures standing at parks, cemeteries, courthouses, town squares, and other locations across the country.


In remembering those who served our country during World War I, it is my privilege to also give women the honor they deserve. Although women’s roles have been important in all wars, the first time women formally served in our armed forces was in World War I. The largest group served in the Army Nurse Corps, with 10,000 women going overseas and with many of them serving on the front lines. Over 400 women also served in the U.S. Army Signal Corps as telephone operators in France. Back at home, women filled jobs that were vacated by the men who had joined the war efforts.


I also want to honor the many immigrants who served our country during this war. Nearly forty percent of the soldiers who served during World War I were immigrants or the children of immigrants. Their families at home showed their support by buying war bonds and displaying blue star service flags signifying that they had a family member in the armed forces.


During the war, Canadian Pacific, a North American transcontinental railroad, transported troops, supplies, and equipment for the war effort. The company, which still provides freight transportation services today, will safely halt its trains on November 11 at 11:00 a.m., to observe two minutes of silent respect for our veterans. They will end this tribute with the sound of a long train whistle.


The United States World War I Centennial Commission has called upon all Americans across the nation to toll bells on Armistice Day, November 11, 2018 in remembrance of those who served in World War I.


Whether you ring a bell, observe a moment of silence, attend a parade, or say a prayer, please remember to honor those who selflessly served our country in the war that, idealistically, was supposed to be the war to end all wars.


Happy Shunpiking!
Joann

Photos in this blog post can be purchased as wall art, paper prints, downloads, phone cases, and keepsakes by clicking on the photo. You will be taken to the gallery website where you will see a big blue "BUY" button. Or to see all photos available, click on the "Browse Galleries" button on the menu at the top of this page. Thank you for your interest!