SCA Conference 2017

When I travel to a conference or festival, the journal often begins to lag once I’ve arrived and organized activities begin to take up most of my time. When there is no travel involved, when the event is in the city where I live, that lag kicks in immediately. With the 2017 Society for Commercial Archeology Conference being just twenty miles from my home, there was no “trip”, only non-stop conference activities. There was just no time for the journal until the conference was over. All four days have been posted at one time. 

The trip journal is here. This entry is to let blog only subscribers know of the trip and provide a place for comments and questions.

The Birthplace of Carl Festival

I didn’t make it to last month’s Birthplace of Route 66 Festival in Missouri but I did make it to Saturday’s somewhat smaller Birthplace of Carl Festival in Indiana. Well, it wasn’t a festival exactly. It was the dedication of a new monument and by somewhat smaller I mean approximately 100 versus 53000 attendees. The monument dedication took place in the town of Greensburg and the Carl being celebrated was Carl Graham Fisher who was born there in 1874. Fisher was one of the founders of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and an instigator in the founding of both the Lincoln and Dixie Highway Associations. He got his start as a automobile dealer and owner of a company making automobile headlights.

With all those automotive connections it is only natural that many showed up at the dedication. There were some beauties including several Packards which was a brand Fisher drove.

The 1915 Packard that Fisher once owned and used to pace the 1915 and 1916 Indianapolis 500 races sat in front of the Decatur County Museum. The tarp covered monument was close by.

At 12:30 the crowd’s attention turned toward the museum’s front porch and a number of speakers. Among them was the mayor of Greensburg who proclaimed it Carl Fisher Day. The photos I’ve posted are of Allen and Nancy Strong, current owners of Carl Fisher’s Packard and Jerry Fisher, Carl’s great-nephew and author of the biography The Pacesetter.

When the time came for the unveiling, Jerry and his wife Josie moved to the monument and pulled back the tarp. The monument’s text can be read here.

Following the ceremony, I walked to the nearby courthouse where a plaque honoring Fisher was erected in 2014. The sign’s text can be read here and here.

 

Aside from being the birthplace of Carl Fisher, Greensburg is known for the tree growing from its courthouse tower. Some extensive renovation is underway but the tree, not quite visible in the photo, is still there. The last two photos have even less to do with Carl Fisher than the tree topped tower. Greensburg is the only town I know of with an even number of Oddfellows buildings on the town square. Strange.

Positively Pike Street

Last Sunday, a website I follow (Cincinnati Refined) posted an article about a free walking tour in nearby Covington, KY. It sounded promising and my interest level climbed a little more when the information was shared to the Dixie Highway Facebook group. The connection came from the fact that the walking tour was on Covington’s Pike Street and Pike Street once carried the Dixie Highway. On Wednesday I took part in the weekly tour. The picture at right was taken at the end of the tour so I’ll cover it at the end of this post.

The tour start point was at the Kenton County Library on Scott Street just a short distance north of Pike’s eastern end. The Dixie Highway followed Scott and Pike through the intersection. A life sized Abe Lincoln stands at the entrance to the library’s parking lot. Beardless Lincoln’s aren’t as rare as they used to be or maybe they never were as rare as I thought they were. Few, however, show a Lincoln as young as the Matt Langford sculpture unveiled in 2004. That’s one good looking dude.

We met inside the library then walked past Abe to where Pike Street Ts into Scott. There our guide Krysta gave us an overview of the tour and some background on Pike Street. The street takes its name from the Covington and Lexington Turnpike that was chartered by the state in 1834. The street really was something of a commercial and transportation center with railroad freight and passenger terminals being built beside it.

Pike Street jogs south at Madison Avenue then slants off to the southwest. These buildings are in the obtuse angle on the north side of the street. I’ve driven through this intersection countless times and walked through it a few but never thought about how the buildings fit into it until another tour member mentioned it. They are, as the overhead from Google Maps shows, literally wedged in.

As we walked west on Pike we stopped frequently as Krysta told us about specific buildings and people associated with them. Two of the buildings in the preceding photo were included. The short white building in the center was most recently the home of Bronko’s Chili. It is currently being renovated for some unknown purpose. The fancy mosaic arch was added to the building next door in 1929. That’s the year that Casse’ Frocks, the name embedded in the arch, opened several stores in what was intended to be a nationwide chain. October’s stock market crash brought the effort to an abrupt end but no one has seen fit to replace the classy facade in all the years since. An identical storefront still stands on Main Street in Cincinnati.

Frank Duveneck was born in Covington and a statue of the famous artist stands in a small triangle park formed by Pike, 7th, and Washington Streets. We didn’t actually enter the park but we learned a lot about Duveneck’s life with the statue in view. We are standing on Washington Street with Pike then 7th crossing in front of us. Back in the day, Washington was something of a dividing line with stores, restaurants, and taverns to the east and grittier enterprises such as livery stables, distilleries, and mortuaries to the west.

We walked beyond Washington to the middle of the block. The brick building farthest away in the picture is the former passenger terminal. The fence next to us encloses an area where several buildings, including a former distillery where a friend operated a bar back in the 1970s, stood until earlier this summer. Bricks falling from one of the buildings last fall left one person with permanent injuries and sent three others to the hospital temporarily. Safety was a big factor in the decision to demolish the buildings.

It was here that the tour officially ended and most people headed back toward the library. I used some of the time on the walk back to raise the subject of the Dixie Highway. Neither the article where I’d learned of the tour nor the library’s online description gave me any reason to expect the Dixie to be mentioned but, as a fan of the old road, I sort of hoped it would be. Krysta’s answer to my query was simply that they had not spent any time learning about the Dixie Highway. That matched what I was seeing. The focus of the tour and of the guides’ ongoing research was the individual buildings along the street. The beginning comments about the turnpike era were pretty much taken from a marker in that park with Duveneck’s statue. The Dixie Highway thing is minor and somewhat esoteric. The tour’s purpose was to inform participants about the buildings and it did that quite nicely.

Now for that opening picture. I noticed the moon on the walk west but merely gave it a glance. With a fortune teller in the background and without my attention being directed elsewhere, it hooked me solidly on the way back. Swami! How I love you, how I love you!

Trip Peek #59
Trip #123
Alternate Dixie

This picture is from my 2015 Alternate Dixie day trip. Even though I spent a night away from home. I called this a day trip since I documented none of the drive home. Two different paths between Cincinnati, OH, and Lexington, KY, were recognized by the Dixie Highway Association during its lifetime. The purpose of this trip was to drive the later of the two. It also served as an end-of-winter break. The route passes through the real towns of Independence , Falmouth, and Cynthiana and next to the faux town of Punkyville. I continued beyond where the routes reconnect in Lexington and spent the night at the Boone Tavern in Berea. I did a little research while there that including taking the photograph of the DH cotton bale sign that would be incorporated in the cover of A Decade Driving the Dixie Highway.


Trip Peeks are short articles published when my world is too busy or too boring for a current events piece to be completed in time for the Sunday posting. In addition to a photo thumbnail from a completed road trip, each Peek includes a brief description of that photo plus links to the full sized photo and the associated trip journal.

Trip Peek #50
Trip #28
Wigwams and Dixie

This picture is from my 2007 Wiqwams and Dixie trip. The trip was the result of a discussion in the then quite active American Road Magazine e-group and included folks from Missouri, Tennessee, Illinois, Indiana, and Ohio. Using Cave City’s Wigwam Village #2 as home base, we traveled sections of both the Dixie Highway and the Jackson Highway in Kentucky. The picture shows the shiny nose of Pat Bremer’s Corvair coupe peeking from behind a not so shiny sign.


Trip Peeks are short articles published when my world is too busy or too boring for a current events piece to be completed in time for the Sunday posting. In addition to a photo thumbnail from a completed road trip, each Peek includes a brief description of that photo plus links to the full sized photo and the associated trip journal.

Trip Peek #41
Trip #5
T2Tampa

pv3This picture is from my 2001 T2Tampa trip. The trip was an attempt to retrace a trip that my great-grandparents made in a Ford Model T in 1920. The picture is of the remains of a Florida sugar mill, established in 1830, that my grand-parents visited in 1920 and which were still an attraction in 2001 and even on my most recent visit in 2012. It was a great trip and unquestionably one of my most memorable but it is almost embarrassing to look back and realize just how little I knew about old roads. The route, pieced together from my great-grandmother’s letters and my shallow knowledge of 1920s highways, ran from Ohio, to Tampa and Miami in Florida, then back home through Washington, DC. As enjoyable as it was, it tops the list of trips I’d like to do again because I think I could plot a more accurate route and I know I would look at things with a more appreciative eye.


Trip Peeks are short articles published when my world is too busy or too boring for a current events piece to be completed in time for the Sunday posting. In addition to a photo thumbnail from a completed road trip, each Peek includes a brief description of that photo plus links to the full sized photo and the associated trip journal.

Trip Peek #37
Trip #109
Christmas Escape Repeat

pv87This picture is from my 2012 Christmas Escape Repeat trip. The repeat in the title is due to my spending Christmas where I had in 2010 aboard the Delta Queen in Chattanooga, Tennessee. The picture is from the New Year’s Eve celebration in Raleigh, North Carolina. I’d thought of ending a year in Raleigh ever since I’d learned that a giant acorn was “dropped” from a crane to mark the occasion. The two holidays anchored the trip with the Chickamauga battlefield, the city of Atlanta, and a little Dixie Highway filling some of the spaces in between.


Trip Peeks are short articles published when my world is too busy or too boring for a current events piece to be completed in time for the Sunday posting. In addition to a photo thumbnail from a completed road trip, each Peek includes a brief description of that photo plus links to the full sized photo and the associated trip journal.

Book Review
History of the Dixie Highway in Allen County, Ohio
Michael G. Buettner

hdhac_cvrI could have called this a pamphlet review. That’s technically what it is. Or, since one definition of pamphlet is “a small book”, I could have called this a small book review. I decided to leave the title be but, in line with the publication’s size, I’ll try to be brief and do a small small book review.

Michael Buettner is a past president of the Ohio Lincoln Highway League. He has written several articles on the Lincoln Highway and other historic roads. This pamphlet, which he wrote for the Allen County Historical Society, draws from his 2006 article In Search of…The Dixie Highway in Ohio but only slightly. In contains details, plus maps and photos, that do not appear in the earlier article. An increased level of detail comes rather natural when the focus is on a county rather than a state.

The first several pages provide some early Dixie Highway history as it relates to the full ten state system, to the state of Ohio, and to the route in Allen County. Instructions for two driving tours follow. Both originate in the county seat of Lima. The first goes north to the county line and the other goes south. Descriptions and photos of points of interest accompany the turn-by-turn instructions.

When the U.S. Numbered Highways came into being in 1926, Allen County’s share of the Dixie Highway was essentially absorbed by US 25. I-75 subsequently absorbed much of US 25 and replaced all of it. A series of maps helps describe this sequence.

History of the Dixie Highway in Allen County, Ohio, Michael G Buettner, Allen County Historical Society, November 2015, 8.5×5.5 inches, 40 pages, available for $6 at the Allen County Museum

Book Review
A Decade Driving the Dixie Highway
Denny Gibson

addtdh_cvrI did it again. I wrote another book. It’s a lot like the other one. It’s an illustrated travelogue and, although there is no old car involved, there is an old man and an old road. That other book, By Mopar to the Golden Gate, told of a single excursion lasting a few weeks. A Decade Driving the Dixie Highway draws on roughly thirty road trips spread over eleven years. Multiple trips were pretty much required since the Dixie Highway was not a straight forward point to point road but a system that connected ten states with nearly 6,000 miles of roadway.

Road scholars Brian Butko and Russell S. Rein both contributed glowing modesty-challenging blurbs that appear on the back cover.

addtdh_int

A Decade Driving the Dixie Highway is available as a Kindle download (with color photos) as well as a paperback. Either may be purchased through Amazon and the purchase of a paperback there includes the ability to acquire the Kindle edition for a couple bucks. I’ve also set up an eBay listing in an attempt to make providing signed copies easier. I can’t offer access to the Kindle download or the potentially free shipping of Amazon but they can’t ship books with my scribbling in them.

The book was produced through Amazon’a CreateSpace and there is a CreateSpace eStore although I can’t think of any reason for someone to buy there. I do get a slightly bigger cut on sStore sales but there is no Kindle access, free shipping, or autograph. The book may eventually be available through some other channels but for now the two sources I’m suggesting are Amazon and my eBay listing.

A Decade Driving the Dixie Highway, Denny Gibson, Trip Mouse Publishing, 2015, paperback, 9 x 6 inches, 152 pages, ISBN 978-0692516966.

Signed copies available through eBay.

Reader reviews at Amazon are appreciated and helpful and can be submitted even if you didn’t purchase the book there.

Almost Dixie ‘Burgers

adb01I attended a Dixie Highway presentation on Thursday. It was in Cridersville, Ohio, about a hundred miles north of my home. Another fan of old roads, Russell S. Rein, lives about the same distance north of Cridersville as I live south of it and he would also be attending the event. In fact, it was Russell who had made me aware of it. Since Criderville is very near Lima, Ohio, Russell suggested we meet at the downtown Kewpee Restaurant there for dinner. I’d actually been thinking of that myself so needed no convincing. We had a plan.

adb02It was a fine looking day so, with ample time for the drive, I set off to follow the Dixie Highway, more or less, to Lima. In Troy, I slipped about a block off of the route to visit K’s Hamburger Shop. The Dixie Highway Association disbanded a few years before K’s 1935 birth and, although there are sources that describe its route as running right in front of K’s on what is now OH 41, it’s more likely that the highway turned south on Market Street just a little west of the shop. Unbeknownst to me, K’s celebrated their 80th anniversary on July 31. I’m sure sorry I missed that but I did have a hamburger and a piece of pie today for a belated one man party.

adb03Kewpee Hamburgers began in 1923. This location opened the same year that the Dixie Highway closed, 1928. The highway ran a few blocks west of the restaurant so, while it was closer in time to the Dixie than K’s, it was a tiny bit farther away in distance. The Kewpee also has wonderful pies but I opted for some soft-serve frozen yogurt to go with my ‘burger.

adb04adb05Russell arrived shortly after I did and we had plenty of time to eat and chat. Of course, we chatted just a little longer than we had time for and arrived at the presentation as the speaker was being introduced. Fortunately, the common aversion to front row seats meant we didn’t have to climb over anyone to reach the empties. The speaker being introduced was retired educator LaRee D. Little who we later learned is the father of Ohio Lincoln Highway League president Scott Little.

Little opened with a nice overview of what the Dixie Highway was and how it came to be. He fleshed things out with stories of his own journeys on the Dixie, which began as a youngster traveling with his parents, and and a series of slides that included some photos from those journeys. There is an announcement for the Auglaize County Historical Society event here and a video report on it here. I don’t believe either Russell or I learned anything new about the Dixie Highway but the presentation was quite entertaining and I’m betting that some of the others did learn a thing or two. Regardless, it sure was nice to see a whole room full of people showing interest in the Dixie Highway.