How We Got There: US 30 in Fort Wayne

70px-US_30.svgA couple of weeks ago, I promised a little post about the history of transportation in Fort Wayne, Indiana. I haven’t forgotten.

The Fort was founded in 1797, to guard against Indian attacks, remember that this was disputed territory after the revolution, and would remain so until after the War of 1812. The fort, and the town, were named after General (Mad Anthony) Wayne, the victor at the Battle of Fallen Timbers, which took place not all that far away. I note that the fort has been reconstructed, and it looks like a good job.

But the Indian agency moved on (to the Logansport area) and because the subsidies paid by the government to the Indians had made them dependent on the government, and the town on them, the town languished.

Like most cities in America, Fort Wayne was built on transportation. In 1843, the Wabash and Erie Canal opened, making agriculture somewhat viable for the first time in Indiana. Before this, it cost more to get a crop to market than the crop was worth. although canals were not really good enough, they were a start. US 24 is roughly on this route today.

Incidentally, The News-Sentinel has a pretty good early history of the city posted, here

In any case, in the 1850s the railroad came to town, and as The Pittsburgh, Fort Wayne, and Chicago railway, completed to Chicago in 1859, Fort Wayne became fully connected with the rest of the country. This was the western continuation of the Pennsylvania (always and to this day called “The Fort Wayne”) formed one end of one of the great trunk lines that built America, and finally and for the foreseeable future made American agriculture the marvel of the world.

I didn’t really see anything about it, but we can probably assume, that like South Bend, a lot of money was made in Fort Wayne during the Civil War. In South Bend, the contract to make ambulances for the army, was the basis of the Studebaker Brothers’ fortune, and I’d guess that this is the era when the Fort Wayne started the engine works and car shops just out of Fort Wayne.

But for most of us, the railroads are interesting but not how we get around, that’s what cars are for. :) The earliest trace I could find on Google earth was something out around Columbia City called Old Trail Road. At a guess, this is fairly close to the Fort Wayne-Fort Dearborn Trail, which was the original road to Chicago.

Old 30

US 30 in Fort Wayne Click to embiggen

The next famous one was the Lincoln Highway, which usually is close to US 30’s original routing, as it is here. It started setting up just prior to World War I. Note that the backers included the Pennsylvania Railroad, which foresaw an integrated system using motor vehicles for short distances and trains for long distance. It didn’t quite work out that way. Almost anytime you find a street named Lincolnway, or something similar, you found its route.

A local note, the original Lincoln Highway went from Fort Wayne to Elkhart (roughly US 33) over through South Bend and then back down to Valparaiso (SR 2). Not very long after it was realigned along the Fort Wayne, roughly on the US 30 Alignment. The shaky green line on the map is my best guess as to the original alignment through town, note that as in many towns it split into westbound and eastbound streets. In the 50s, it was rerouted onto what I learned as Bypass 30 when I was a kid, which is basically Coliseum Boulevard (SR 930) with I think an extension on California St. to connect up. When the interstates were finally built, it was again rerouted onto the ring route, as usual.

Just for general interest on the map, I looked up the location of the various train stations as well. Pennsylvania (Baker St) station is still there, as is the New York Central Depot (now a yarn shop), and the elevated platform of the Nickle Plate is still there as well, although the station is long gone.

I should probably note that as long as I’ve been around, US 30 has been a major artery in Indiana, and is fully dual laned (and occasionally more) Wkipedia’s article is pretty good, as well.

Welcome to a New Subscriber

uk-us-shooping-0211We don’t often recognize new subscribers here, but occasionally we do. And one joined us the other day that is about as rare around here as hen’s teeth, but still has ticked some boxes that I like (a lot).

Our new subscriber is a blogger, a new one, I think, although quite good, and works in-depth as well, a young Brit female (three of my favorite categories right there), from Basildon, in Essex, and rarest of all a Labourite. I suspect she’ll disagree with much of what is written here, but perhaps we can learn from her, and her from us. Many of us know that while we have become curmudgeonly conservative types, we started out much more liberal, until life taught us some lessons. Winston Churchill famously said, “If you’re not a liberal when you’re 25, you have no heart.  If you’re not a conservative by the time you’re 35, you have no brain.” Actually he didn’t, according to the Churchill Centre:

There is no record of anyone hearing Churchill say this. Paul Addison of Edinburgh University makes this comment: “Surely Churchill can’t have used the words attributed to him. He’d been a Conservative at 15 and a Liberal at 35!  And would he have talked so disrespectfully of Clemmie, who is generally thought to have been a lifelong Liberal?”

But still there is a ground truth there.

In any case, she is Melissa D’lima, who blogs at Historyxpolitics. She also says she likes modern British history a lot, and so I can’t help but give a plug to a friend of mine, Professor John Charmley at the University of East Anglia because he has done an extraordinary amount to increase my understanding of that subject, especially with his Chamberlain and the Lost Peace and his History of the Conservative Party both of which are available at Amazon. He’s a bit of a maverick in British history, and we’re much the better for his insight, I think. I should also likely say that following him on Twitter at @ProfJCharmley has opened an entire world of British historians to me and I’m much better for it. If I were younger (well, much younger) I would be looking for a way to study under him.

Interestingly, he also epitomizes one of the paradoxes of British political life. like so many of the great Tories, he is a self-made man, who came up from the working class, all the way through an Oxford doctorate.

One of the people whose work he (and Jess) introduced me to is Dr. Suzannah Lipscomb. From her website, “In October 2011, she took up her post as Head of the Faculty of History and Senior Lecturer in Early Modern History at New College of the Humanities (NCH), where she lectures and tutors on British History 1450-1649 and European history 1500-1800. As Head of the Faculty of History, she is a member of the Academic Board, responsible for the academic governance of NCH.” As that indicates, she is far more than a pretty face on TV, and part of why I value her is that I’m convinced one can not understand modern British History (or American, for that matter) without understanding the Tudors, who started modern history for us, and later the world.

If anybody cares, what I’m reading at the moment is Adam Smith: both Wealth of Nations and The Theory of Moral Sentiments, David Hume: The Understanding, and John Locke’s First and Second Treatises of Government, as well as some lighter stuff.

Something else Suzi did that I really like, and something the American left often has trouble with, is realizing that we must not look at the past through our twenty-first-century eyes. It truly is a foreign land.

So welcome, Melissa. I hope you enjoy it here, and I’m quite sure I’ll enjoy your blog as well, and watching as you, dare I say, continue to grow up. I’m impressed now, who knows what the future holds, so ‘Good Luck and a fair breeze”.

Why on Earth do You Want to Farm 2.0 | Gardens, Combines, and Memories

IMG_4790aThis gentleman, who I have just found thanks to Lafayetteangel, who earned her screen name this time, is like me a refugee from Indiana, who has found a home out here on the Nebraska prairie. He’s had many of the same experiences, and in fact, I suspect he lives less than twenty miles from me, judging by his pictures. Don’t worry I won’t tell ’em where to find you :)

In this, he captures something that I suspect a lot us feel, about whether we really make a difference. He grew up farming, and I grew up in a rural electric system (REMC for Hoosiers), And for both of us, the wonders of agriculture speak very loudly to us. Many of you know that my editor, Jessica, grew up on a farm in South Wales, and her longing for it is much like Doug’s (and mine). So here is as good an explanation as I’ve ever read of why we miss it so, and part of the reason we blog, as well.

Although I grew up in a rural Indiana community, farming was far from the first choice as an occupation for most of my classmates. It was the only life I had known up until then and I loved it, it was all I wanted to do with my life. As graduation neared and futures were discussed, many couldn’t understand my plans and asked, “Why on earth do you want to farm?” I was a bit quiet back then so I never really knew how to properly express what I felt. I had my stock answers, but they never really conveyed what it meant to me deep down inside.

It is only now, when I haven’t sat on a tractor seat in fifteen years, I feel I might have found a way to properly express those feelings and really answer their question. You see, I have come to realize I suffer a spring and fall depression when I see farmers in their fields, and I now realize it’s not I wanted to farm, but I needed to farm! As I am sure most farmers can attest to, I have a deep down need to grow something, to nurture it, be it plant or animal, and watch it thrive!

Like a photographer needs a subject, I need to see the first corn spikes poke through the ground, become definable rows, grow tall throughout the long hot summer and produce a beautiful golden ear in the fall.

I need to see the alfalfa green up in the spring, to see those first purple flowers pop open saying it is time to make hay. I need to have the smell of fresh cut hay greet me first thing in the morning as I step from my house. I need to see the barn fill with those green rectangles stacked neatly on top of each other in the barn, as the evenly spaced windrows disappear from the field. I need to stand in the doorway of the barn at the end of a long day and feel the satisfaction and aches from a long, hard, honest days work!

I need to see a field of wheat turn yellow as spring becomes summer. I want to stand in the middle of that field and listen to the plants rustle in a hot summer breeze. I need to scrape a few knuckles as I prepare the combine for the coming harvest. I want to feel the excitement of lowering the combines hungry grain head into an untouched field of those bright yellow plants as they sway back and forth under a noon day sun. I crave the smell of a wheat field being harvested, the sweat trickling from my brow on a day so hot you don’t even have to move to break out in a sweat, but the work must be done, so you do it.

Continue reading Why on Earth do You Want to Farm 2.0 | Gardens, Combines, and Memories.

Trinity

70 tears ago yesterday, the world changed. When the world’s first atomic device was triggered in New Mexico. I note that this, the American atomic program is still the fastest to ever yield a result, even though it had to do all the theoretical work, as well. I have deep qualms about the fact that the Iranians will apparently be joining this exclusive club, so far we have kept this genie bottled up. But there is still plenty of time for J. Robert Oppenheimer’s prediction, and quote, to come true.

I am become Death,

The Destroyer of Worlds

from the Bhagavad Gita.


In a sadly related event, yesterday is also the anniversary of the launch of Apollo 11, the first landing of human beings on the moon, and their safe return.

Also, in 1960,  USS George Washington a modified Skipjack-class submarine successfully test fires the first ballistic missile while submerged.


97 years ago today, Czar Nicholas II and hs family were executed by the Bolsheviks.


And today, in 1054, three Roman legates break relations between Western and Eastern Christian Churches through the act of placing an invalidly-issued Papal bull of Excommunication on the altar of Hagia Sophia during Saturday afternoon divine liturgy.

Overall, probably not our best day, as human beings.

 

 

OF MG, and Lotus, and Jaguar, and Chevy and Dodge

1953_mg_td-pic-7992610729001336577I don’t know how many of you became fans of Top Gear, the UK version, I never really got into the US version. The UK version could perhaps be best described as ‘quirky’. In truth, it was a good bit like a bunch of drunken teenagers playing with their dad’s quarter of a million dollar cars on TV.

Yes, there was some real information conveyed but mostly it was about how fast you can wear out a set of tires. That’s fine, I remember those days fondly, myself, and in many ways that’s what it was about.

The lead presenter, Jeremy Clarkson, whom I gather had much to do with reinventing the show as a ‘bloke show’ as I described above, actually is a fairly intelligent guys, and a British patriot as well. He has a show out about what happened to the British car industry and it’s pretty good.

Like most guys my age, I grew up loving cars, especially those ones with names like Charger, GTO, Cutlass, Camaro, or pretty much anything with a bowtie combined with the letters SS. It was a good world, cars were reasonably priced, and gasoline was about a quarter a gallon. Then the EPA and Arabs showed up and the party ended, and much else besides. When the exhaust recommendation made almost all cars pretty much into boxes as exciting as mom’s washing machine, most of us went to trucks, and that is about the only reason that the US makers survived. Nobody else in the world seems to be able to make a proper pick-up, only Toyota even came close.

But Britain was different. My first encounter with a British car was an MG TC (or maybe TD) when I was in college. It was slow, rough riding, ridiculously small, colder than a witch’s body part encased in brass, completely unreliable, and leaked like a sieve. You know, something else, I loved that fool thing, if dad would have let me, I’d have bought one myself. The thing is, the one I drove, it belonged to a friend, was about a 1960 model, of a pre-war car, and very few changes had been made. It got its start here when some of them came home with our soldiers, next best thing to a British bride, I think. :)

Then somebody showed up with a Lotus, it was all of the above, except slow. My biggest trouble with it was, in fact, that at 20 years old or so, I could just about, almost, get into the fool thing. The one that was around was bright yellow. We called it ‘arrest me yellow’, in fact, and the car was nicknamed the Screaming Yellow Zonker, and it was very apt.

Then like us all, I went to work and mostly drove Chevys and Dodges, and maybe an occasional Buick. They weren’t bad, really, for appliances, but nobody ever called a LeSabre a screaming yellow zonker.

Our nanny state pretty much made it too expensive for almost any interesting car to be sold here, and if it was, it was so compromised by regulation, that it wasn’t worth it anyway, that’s why we got aberrations like Mustang IIs, there wasn’t anything even close to reasonable.

Apparently Britain was a bit smarter, which wouldn’t have been hard, because all those interesting cars kept getting built and sold. Not all were British; Renault, Fiat, Ferrari and such kept on, you just hardly ever saw them in the US. We got what GM wanted, and we the customers were increasingly irrelevant.

In any case, the Brits had/have trouble with the auto industry as well, and Clarkson does, I think a fair job at describing what its problems were that pretty much killed it. It’s still unfolding here, but our auto industry (and many others as well) are following the same path, so this is kind of a prophecy of what the future will bring here as well, if we don’t change our ways.

Enjoy the video, in any case.

The ‘Good’ Old Days, or Were They?

plow1930sWe often talk here about ‘The Good Old Days’ but you know, for those of us who have been around a few years, we often look back through our rose tinted rear view mirrors. In many ways, things are much better than they ever have been.

I’m an electrician, mostly. I can hold my own in a few other trades, mostly those that serve farmers, what we usually call millwrights. These are the guys that put together the grain (and occasionally livestock) handling equipment used in agriculture today. It’s come a long way in my lifetime, from storing ear corn in a crib to dumping wet corn in a pit and automatically storing (and maintaining) corn at about 14% moisture until the market is right.

It’s always good to talk about farming because for almost all of us, our ancestor’s were farmers, some here and some like mine in other countries (Norway, in my case). But my family came here in the late nineteenth century and got in on a small scale bit of the Bonanza farms up in northwest Minnesota and eastern North Dakota. That land, the old bed of lake Agassiz) was so flat that you could see a water tower about forty miles away.

This came up because I ran across a post (actually a series) from Tales of a Kansas Farm Mom, where she talks about the changes in farming. The link above takes you to the series from her label #TBT for Throwback Thursday, I think. The articles are all excellent, and will explain a lot about how our farmers feed the world, and how it has changed.

The article I want to highlight today is called The Changing Face of Farming, and like reading Adam Smith’s Wealth of Nations, it will give you good insight on why and how specialization occurs.

So learn and enjoy, I think you should subscribe yourself but don’t be surprised if I feature her here every once in a while as well!

200 years ago my family was farming, but the farm looked much different from our family farm today.

Chickens scoured the yards and fields for something to eat and when a chicken was needed for dinner one was butchered.

A milk cow grazed the pasture during the day and was milked both morning and night to provide milk and butter for the family.

Pigs wallowed in mud outside the barn and provided pork, bacon and lard to cook with.

My great-great grandfather worked in the fields of Illinois raising crops to feed and sell to make a living for his family.

My ancestors did their own banking…in a mason jar in the back yard.

They did their own milling of their wheat and oats for flour on the table.

They did their own taxes, made their own clothes, probably built their own house,

Over the years our family farm has evolved.  In the early 1900’s my family moved to Kansas.  Somewhere along the line someone decided they were tired of milking a cow two times every day and that one of my farm mom’s before me could buy the milk and probably it was delivered to their doorstep. 

Chickens are not found on our farm today.  The coyotes and raccoons really like the taste of them.  I am guessing my ancestors also found it hard to keep a small flock of chickens.  Neighbors could raise bigger groups in open barns even back in the 1950’s.  The butchering process is often messy (I have heard and not witnessed).  It was easier to have the neighbor with all the right equipment take care of that job, so time could be freed up to go to the lake.

My family from my great grandfather to my father all raised pigs outside on dirt and in the weather.  Pigs were never my favorite.  I remember watching my dad’s fingernail grow back oh so slowly after a pig bit it off.  It is much easier to go to the store to buy the cuts of pork I do wish to eat when I want pork.

My farmer ancestors before me probably did their own taxes.  Today, things are so complicated that I am thankful for an accountant to take care of those matters for me.

My grandmothers made most of the clothes my mom and aunts wore growing up.  I have a quilt that used the scraps of those dresses and I used to love it when they would sit around and point at the patches telling me whose dress that was and how old they remember they were when they wore it.  I am guessing that your family history is much the same.  You may have to go back a few more generations than I did, but at one point in your family’s history it is highly likely that your family had a farmer.

Farms today did not become bigger overnight.  It has been an evolution since the beginning of farming.  Michael is better at growing pigs than Raymond.  Raymond doesn’t like growing pigs so sells the family farm and moves to town.  Michael raises a few more pigs to make up for the ones that Raymond no longer grows.  Raymond follows his dream of being an accountant.

Keep reading The Changing Face of Farming, and do follow the other link and subscribe. It’s good stuff.

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