Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Truman Presidential Library

Harry Truman was selected to be the vice presidential candidate when President Franklin Roosevelt ran for an unprecedented fourth term in 1944. It was widely thought that Roosevelt might not survive the term, and indeed he died in April 1945. Truman became president after serving as vice president for less than three months.

The Harry S. Truman Presidential Library and Museum in Independence, Missouri, documents his life and especially his years as president. The photo above shows the entrance. We visited today.

Inside the library is a re-creation of the Oval Office as it looked when Truman was president. Note the television in the photo below:

Below is the other side of the Oval Office. Truman liked to have guests pose for photographs in front of the globe and portrait of George Washington.

Truman won re-election in 1948, thus serving almost two full terms as president. There were many consequential decisions during his presidential years. Some of Truman's major foreign policy decisions and challenges which were presented and discussed at the library:
  • The decision to drop the atomic bomb on Japan in August 1945.
  • How to deal with post-war Germany and Japan, who surrendered in May and August 1945, respectively. In Europe, this led to the Marshall Plan which began in 1948.
  • Planning for the United Nations had begun under President Roosevelt, but the actual creation of the UN occurred in 1945 under President Truman.
  • How to deal with the spread of communism after World War II. With respect to the Soviet Union, the Truman Doctrine (announced in 1947) initiated a policy of containment and the Cold War. The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) was created in 1949. In China, the Communists and Nationalists fought a bitter civil war with the Communists winning in 1949. 
  • The decision to recognize Israel in 1948.
  • The decision to engage in the Korean War in 1950.
Interestingly, Truman did not know about the existence of the Manhattan Project to develop the atomic bomb until after he was sworn in as president.

There was a special exhibit at the library about Harry Truman's service in World War I. The library entrance (see photo at the beginning of this post) was flanked by a sign about this exhibit and a photo of Truman in his World War I uniform. Truman, who never earned a college degree, had been less than successful at both business and farming before the war. But he distinguished himself as an artillery officer in France in 1918, showing courage and leadership. Truman was discharged from the Army as a major in May 1919. He married Bess Wallace, whom he had long courted, the following month.

After leaving the presidency, Truman returned to Independence where he wrote his memoirs and established the library. Harry and Bess Truman, and their daughter and son-in-law, are buried in the courtyard of the library, shown below:

The flag was at half mast because of a tragic shooting at The Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, on October 27.

Sunday, October 28, 2018

Hiking in Colorado

Our destination on this road trip was Colorado, to see Brian in Boulder. We spent a couple of days in Boulder where we walked (can't really call it hiking) on the Boulder Canyon Trail shown in the photo above. The photo shows Boulder Creek in the shadows with the trail on the left in the sunshine.

From Boulder we drove to Steamboat Springs for a long weekend, stopping on the way in Winter Park for a hike and lunch (Friday 10/26). We hiked a loop consisting of the Yankee Doodle, Serendipity, and Meadow Trails. These trails are both hiking and mountain bike trails. Our hike was 2.9 miles with an elevation gain of 500'. Our route took us through and around the former Ski Idlewild ski area which operated from 1961 to 1986. The photo below, taken near the highest point on our hike (9277'), shows Winter Park Resort and the Vasquez Mountains in the distance:

Our first hike in Steamboat Springs (Saturday 10/27) was on the Emerald Mountain Trail Network, a combination of hiking and mountain bike trails. We hiked to the radio towers on the summit of Emerald Mountain (elevation 8252'), also called Quarry Mountain. The selfie below was taken at the former quarry and shows the Steamboat Ski Resort on Mount Werner in the background:

At the bottom of Emerald Mountain is the Howelsen Hill Ski Area, a popular training facility for ski jumpers. There are multiple ski jumps. The photo below is looking down from the top of one of the smaller ski jumps:

Our hike on Emerald Mountain was 6.5 miles with an elevation gain of 1300'.

On our last day in Steamboat Springs (Sunday 10/28), we visited Fish Creek Falls in the Routt National Forest. The photo below shows the lower falls, which are near the parking lot:

We hiked to the upper falls, shown below:

Our hike to the upper falls and back was 5.2 miles with an elevation gain of 1600'.

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Scotts Bluff National Monument

Scotts Bluff National Monument is in the panhandle of western Nebraska. This bluff near the North Platte River was an important landmark on the 19th century Oregon Trail. As settlers traveled west, this was where the Great Plains began to transition into the foothills of the Rocky Mountains.

The two photos below show replicas of wagon trains on the Oregon Trail. Of course, the trail was not paved!

We visited today, and drove to the top of Scotts Bluff. The photo below is looking southwest over the Visitor Center and the road up the bluff:

The following photo is looking northeast over the city of Scottsbluff:

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Mount Rushmore National Memorial

Mount Rushmore National Memorial in the Black Hills of southwestern South Dakota features four presidents: George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, and Abraham Lincoln.

Conceived as a way to promote tourism in the region, it took the terms of three presidents to complete the memorial. Work began in 1927 during the tenure of President Calvin Coolidge, continued through the presidency of Herbert Hoover, and was completed in 1941 in the third term of President Franklin Roosevelt.

We had visited Mount Rushmore once before, in 1980. The visitor facilities were substantially redeveloped in 1998. The photo below shows the Avenue of Flags which was new since our previous visit:

Of course, the four presidents haven't aged a bit since 1980, and neither have we!

We visited Mount Rushmore late this afternoon, having been at Wind Cave National Park and Custer State Park earlier in the day.

Lights illuminate the memorial after sunset:

Wind Cave National Park

Today we visited Wind Cave National Park. This park in the Black Hills of southwestern South Dakota is one of the oldest national parks. It was created in 1903 as the 8th national park, and it was the first national park to protect a cave.

There are nearly 150 miles of explored passageways in the cave, making it one of the longest caves in the world. The National Park Service offers several guided tours. We went on the Natural Entrance Tour which is about 2/3 of a mile:

Wind Cave is a dry cave, so there aren't the stalagmites and stalactites that one sees in many other caves. The cave is known, however, for a calcite formation known as "boxwork" shown in the photo below. Approximately 95% of the known boxwork in the world is in Wind Cave.

Wind Cave National Park is advertised as two parks in one, because there are also interesting things to see above ground. The park encompasses ponderosa pine forests and one of the last mixed-grass prairies in the United States. The photo below is looking east from the Rankin Ridge Trail:

There is abundant wildlife in the park, including several prairie dog towns. We saw thousands of prairie dogs. They are quite entertaining. They are noisy, like a flock of raucous birds, and they hop when squeaking an alarm.

And there are several hundred American bison in the park:

Monday, October 22, 2018

Badlands National Park

Today we visited the Badlands National Park in South Dakota, taking the Badlands Loop Road (SD-240) west through a portion of the park.

We entered the park late in the day. The Visitors Center was closed, but the park was beautiful in the late afternoon. Before leaving the park we enjoyed sunset and the rising of a nearly full moon.

The following photo was taken at the Big Badlands Overlook near where we entered the park:

The photo below is near the trailhead of the Saddle Pass Trail:

The photo below is from the Panorama Point Overlook:

The two photos below, showing sunset and the rising of a nearly full moon, were taken at Homestead Overlook:

We exited the park about 30 minutes after sunset:

Friday, October 19, 2018

The Henry Ford - Village

This post includes highlights of our visit today to Greenfield Village at The Henry Ford. Please see this post for an introduction to The Henry Ford, and this post for highlights of our visit to the Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation adjacent to Greenfield Village.

The photo above shows the Martha-Mary Chapel that Henry Ford constructed to honor his mother (Mary Litogot Ford) and his mother-in-law (Martha Bench Bryant). The photo below is from the front of the church, looking across the Garden of the Leavened Heart (created by Henry Ford's wife Clara Bryant Ford) and across the village green to the Town Hall:

Henry Ford attended a one-room schoolhouse known as the Scotch Settlement School from age 8 to 11. He had the original building moved piece by piece and reconstructed in Greenfield Village:

Ford moved many buildings to Greenfield Village. Every village needs a bicycle shop, and Henry Ford found one in Dayton, Ohio. The photo below shows the original Wright Brothers shop and the adjacent Wright family home:

Inside the bicycle shop were people in period dress who explained the building and the activities of the day, including (behind the retail shop) a machine shop and a wind tunnel for testing airfoils.

One of Henry Ford's heroes was Thomas Edison, and Ford had Edison's famous Menlo Park Laboratory Complex moved from New Jersey to Greenfield Village. This complex is where Edison and his researchers developed the phonograph, the incandescent light bulb, and many other innovative inventions. The photo below is inside Edison's main laboratory:

Greenfield Village is 250 acres and includes a working farm, the Firestone Farm. It is large. One can walk around the village or take a steam train:

We also rode through Greenfield Village in a 1926 Touring Edition Model T:

The only other time we have ridden in a Model T was on our wedding day in 1979:

This post includes only a small fraction of all that there is to see in Greenfield Village! You have to see it for yourself.

The Henry Ford - Museum

This post includes highlights of our visit today to the Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation. Please see this post for an introduction to The Henry Ford, and this post for highlights of our visit to Greenfield Village adjacent to the museum.

The theme of the museum is American innovation in agriculture and technology. The photo above shows one of several stationary steam engines on display. Note the beauty of the architecture and the massive size as shown by the staircase visible above and behind the large wheel, and through its spokes.

A major theme of American innovation that is highlighted in the museum is increasing mobility. Trains powered by steam engines changed America. There were several train engines and cars on display, such as the Bangor & Aroostook car below:

Automobiles are a significant part of American innovation. While more than just Ford automobiles were on display, below are two cars that made the Ford Motor Company famous – the Model T ("exploded") and serial number 1 of the Ford Mustang:

The Model T was introduced by Henry Ford in 1908 and built until 1927. The Ford Mustang was introduced in 1962, some 15 years after Henry Ford's death.

Like trains and automobiles, airplanes are also a significant part of the story of American innovation. The photo below shows an exact replica of the Wright Flyer, suspended from the ceiling in the main visitor entrance to the museum. This replica was built by Ken Kellett and successfully flown at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, on the 75th anniversary of the original flight.

The museum includes many exhibits about innovations in flight, from the Wright brothers to the space age. Below, also suspended from the ceiling, is a 1939 Douglas DC-3 airplane. The propeller-driven DC-3 was truly an innovative aircraft that initiated the modern era of commercial air travel.

The Wright brothers' first flight was in 1903. The airplane in the photo above was built only 36 years later. Only 30 years after that, the United States landed men on the moon. As shown throughout the museum, the pace of innovation in agriculture and industry was fast.

Perhaps the most significant example of American innovation is the United States of America itself. One of the permanent exhibits at the museum is "With Liberty & Justice For All":

American democracy has been called the Great Experiment. You'll understand why as you see and hear the trials, tribulations and triumphs of Americans' enduring struggles for freedom, from the Revolutionary War through the struggle for civil rights.

This exhibit explores four transformative eras in the American Experiment: the Revolution, the Civil War, the woman's suffrage movement, and the civil rights movement. Below is the bus that Rosa Parks rode on December 1, 1955 in Montgomery, Alabama, when she ignited the civil rights movement by refusing to give up her seat as required by the segregation laws of the day:

This post includes only a small fraction of all that there is to see at the Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation! You have to see it for yourself.

The Henry Ford - Intro

The front of the Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation in Dearborn, Michigan (photo above) is an exact replica of Independence Hall in Philadelphia. We visited "The Henry Ford" today. It was fantastic.

There are two main parts to The Henry Ford: the indoor 12-acre museum (above) and the outdoor 250-acre Greenfield Village adjacent to the museum.

Henry Ford originally called his museum and village the Edison Institute in honor of his friend, Thomas Edison. On October 21, 1929, Ford held a gala reception with Edison as the guest of honor. Attendees included President Herbert Hoover, John D. Rockefeller, George Eastman, Will Rogers, Orville Wright, Marie Curie, and many other prominent people of the day. Albert Einstein was scheduled to attend, but didn't make it. The date was the 50th anniversary of Edison's invention of a workable incandescent lamp.

The photo below is the main entrance hall to the museum, behind the doors of the entrance pictured above:

In the foreground is a shovel stuck into a block of concrete. What is that all about? Henry Ford began building the museum in 1928:

On September 27 of that year, Ford watched as his hero Thomas Edison thrust agriculturist Luther Burbank's spade into a wet concrete block, then inscribed his own signature into the concrete. To Ford, this act symbolized the union of agriculture and industry – cornerstones of America's economy and a key principle Ford wished to illustrate in his museum. [source, p. 15]

Follow these links for highlights of our visit today:
We spent a full day today, plus an hour or so yesterday, at The Henry Ford. It was not enough. We did not see everything in either the museum or the village, and there was another part of The Henry Ford that we did not have time to explore at all: the Ford Rouge Factory Tour. We recommend two full days to tour this extraordinary museum.

At the time we visited The Henry Ford, there was a special exhibit that we especially enjoyed. The photo below shows the entrance to this exhibit – Enduring Ideals: Rockwell, Roosevelt & the Four Freedoms.

I will write about that exhibit separately on my other blog, The Switchel Philosopher.

UPDATE 1/03/19: See the following posts on my other blog, The Switchel Philosopher, about the "Enduring Ideals" special exhibit: Roosevelt's Four Freedoms, Rockwell's Four Freedoms, Freedom of Speech Painting, Legacy of the Four Freedoms.