Epilogue for our second “journey.”

For all intents and purposes, Springfield was the last stop on our 2013 Journey.  We had gotten off to a rough start, having lost our dear Gracie and experienced so many problems with the Big Horn.  But it settled down to a relatively carefree trip after that.  We took plenty of time to bring Melody into the fold, and she responded and acclimated well.  We got to spend time with some very good friends that we don’t see very often.  We re-visited our favorite city.  And we found a treasure trove of new stops to share with you.

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Winter Home!

We were running a bit longer than expected and were anxious to find our way to winter quarters.  Our final destination was Sandy Oaks RV Resort  for our second annual stay — this time a full six months.  So three whistle stops later, in Paducah, KY, Chattanooga, TN and Tifton, GA, we pulled in to a warm welcome and found the same site waiting for us.


The heating system continued its funky ways, but we now had adequate warmth to postpone getting it fixed before the Florida winter settled in.  

The Railsplitter’s Home Town — Oct. 10-17, 2013

We were heading for Davenport, IA next.  But our central propane heating system quit working.  We figured that the subsequent destination – Springfield, IL – would offer more opportunity for mobile repair.  So we made it to Illinois State Fairgrounds seven hours later and met a wonderful couple who were the caretakers every year.  They not only fixed us up with a nice spot but called the local guy who could “fix anything.”  We settled in. Suddenly the heating system was working fine!

There was certainly plenty to see.  And it wasn’t all Lincoln stuff.  That weekend at the fairground featured a Junior Horse Show, which we planned to take in.  Even better, the following weekend included an all-breed dog show.  We contacted our dear friend, Michele Kasten, who lives about 90 miles south, to see if she’d be there.  Not only was she coming to show her Schips, but she was setting up the fund raising booth for her non-profit, Midwest Schipperke Rescue (MSR).  Michele is the Schipperke’s best friend; in addition to being both a champion breeder and rescuer, she is president of MSR, an officeer of the Greater St. Louis Schip Club, and actively on the board of more than a half dozen other clubs, including the Schipperke Club of America.  She’s responsible for two members of our current rescue family, and all of our personal fund raising efforts earn money for MSR.

Our first stop downtown was the Visitors Center.  We learned, to our relief, that most of the exhibits were state or privately funded and open. Only Lincoln’s home was closed by the Federal shutdown.  Another nice thing we discovered was that our handicap sticker entitled us to free parking at all meters.

Just around the corner, we started out at the Lincoln Presidential Museum and the Presidential Library across the street.  Upon entering the Museum, you’re confronted by a circular atrium the Lincoln family standing proudly in the center.  Unfortunately, this is the point at which you had to put your camera away.  Five entrances around the atrium led to a variety of exhibits.  The two main galleries are designated with a replica of Abe’s boyhood home (we’ve been there!) and the façade of the White House.  The third gallery is an outstanding multi-media presentation led by a live host and featuring holographic overlays on backgrounds of many experiences, beginning in the archives and morphing to a Civil War battlefield.  Next is a replication of the Union Theater with another state-of-the-art presentation called Lincoln’s Eyes.  Through them, we visualize key personal and political dramas confronting Lincoln throughout his life – especially slavery.  The Treasures Gallery quickly rounds out one’s visit.

The Old State Capitol building was built between 1837 and 1840.  It was the fifth capitol building in the state, but by the end of the Civil War, it was inadequate.  The current Capitol, inaugurated in 1868, is the last – to date, at least.


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Our favorite interpreter

In its brief tenure, the Old State Capitol building saw Lincoln’s final service in the state legislature.  He tried hundreds of cases in its Supreme Court, made his “House Divided” speech, and laid in state after his death before 75,000 mourners.  We had a tour conducted by a woman who was a professional history interpreter; she rotated among state venues.  She guided us through the governor’s suite, law library, legislative facilities and Supreme Court chambers.  She’s pictured at right describing a grandfather’s clock in the Governor’s office.

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Stephen A. Douglas

In the second floor rotunda, outside the House chamber, stands a statue of Stephen A. Douglas, Lincoln’s opposition both for Senate (Abe lost) and the Presidency (Abe won).  The statue, by Leonard Volk, stands eight foot tall, almost three feet taller than its subject!  Dubbed The Little Giant, Douglas, at 5’ 4”, he made up for lack of stature with brilliance and determination.  It is fun to visualize his series of debates with Lincoln, a foot taller than he.  Their debates in 1858 drew them to every one of the state’s seven Congressional districts, but only one of the locations has been preserved.


old SH (22)Another exhibit of note is a flag that’s identified as the Minnesota Constitutional State Flag. It was captured in 1861 in northern Missouri by by the 16th Illinois Infantry.  It was the first of many such trophies, all of which were displayed in this building.  In 1891, a Missourian clarified the flag’s origin and identified that it featured the palmetto tree and landscape of South Carolina, the first state to secede after Lincoln was elected president.  This flag remains on exhibit in the Old State Capitol, while the others have been relocated to the state Military Museum.  (Sound familiar?  That’s where Iowa holds its own Civil War battle flags!)

I can’t leave the Old Capitol without presenting the rotunda to you.  The staircases are a treasure to behold.

Directly across the street, where one finds the Lincoln-Herndon Law Offices, there’s a brick esplanade that features a wonderful statue of the Lincoln family and a young passer-by tipping his hat to them.

law office (5)When Lincoln opened his office in this building in 1843, his partner was Stephen Logan, a cousin of Mary Todd.  A year later, they dissolved their partnership and Lincoln took on William Herndon as his junior partner.  The firm of Lincoln-Herndon moved to another location in 1852 and survived until the President’s death in 1865.  The lawyers occupied the third floor, while the state occupied the first and second with a post office and courtroom respectively.  Today, the ground floor is its visitors center,  It’s as far as we got.

Our next stops were two non-Lincoln (and non-governmental) exhibits.  In my college days, I did extensive research and essaying on the era of the Pullman Strike and Illinois Governor John Philip Altgeld.  Altgeld was the Progressive (some say anarchist) governor from 1893-1897.  During his tenure, he pardoned three of the eight alleged leaders of the Haymarket Square Riot of 1888 — of the others, one had committed suicide and four had already been executed.  He later refused to call in federal military support against the Pullman Strikes led by Eugene Debs in 1894.  Debs is remembered for his efforts to revise labor laws, especially those involving child labor.

Lindsay was memorialized with a poem called The Eagle That is Forgotten, written by Vachel Lindsay.  I was taken by the poem and could quote it for a long time.  And I thought I knew a lot about its author . . . until Dot and I visited his home in Springfield, where our favorite interpreter — the young woman from the Old State House — led us through the history of Lindsay, his home and the considerably larger body of his work.

Nicholas Vachel Lindsay was well known for his artwork as well as his prodigious poetry.  Born in 1879, he did well in high school and moved on to Hillman College to follow in his father’s medical footsteps.  For three years, he excelled in literature and philosophy and failed pre-med and foreign languages.  He moved on — first to the Chicago Art Institute and then to the New York School of Art, where his mentor advised him to concentrate more on his poetry than his art.  The die was cast.

Lindsay’s dominant calling for his entire life was as a traveling poet.  From New York, he hopped a tramp steamer to Florida and then worked his way back to Illinois by bartering his poetry for meals.  He set off on other sojourns and returned to Springfield on the eve of the Race Riots of 1908.  Aghast that such a thing would happen not only in Lincoln’s home town but on the 100th anniversary of his birth, Lindsay gave a series of lectures on race, encouraging his fellow citizens to make the city a model of civility and decorum.

By 1913, having received recognition on both sides of the Atlantic and having several published volumes, his tramping days were over.  He was the first American poet to be invited to speak at Oxford University.  He courted Sara Teasdale, but she rejected him for a shoe manufacturer. Ten years later, he married a much younger Elizabeth Conner, and she bore two children.  While he accepted numerous assignments, he always adopted the performance mode; he became known for actually singing, rather than reciting, some of his works.

Sickly from his youth, his health began a downward spiral in the late 1920s.   While he still traveled to performances, he yearned for his beloved family and city.  In desperation, he committed suicide in 1931.  Today, the state is supplemented by the Vachel Lindsay Association, dedicated to preserving his heritage and furthering it by holding readings and exhibits in his home.

Again, no photos were allowed.  I believe there are two dominant reasons:  the fact that there is a great deal of copyrighted materials at these exhibits, and photos could be used by unsavory sorts to “case the joint.”  For the pictures above of Lindsay and his home, I am indebted to Job Conger, creator of The Vachel Pages, who allows copying from his site.

Wow.  Maybe I can be briefer from here on.  We moved next to the Dana Thomas House, one of the premier examples of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Prairie period.  Designed in 1902, the 12,000 square foot dwelling was Wright’s first spare-no-expense commission.  It was built for Susan Lawrence Dana (1862-1942), heiress to her father’s estate in 1901.  Susan hired Wright to “remodel” the family’s Italianate homestead, but by the time it was finished, only one room of the original remained.  The remodeled house was built on three levels, with an additional 13 interim levels.  The architect worked diligently to keep eyes traveling outside, as was his wont.  To help accomplish this, he developed the largest collection of furniture, art glass and accessories in any FLW property including the chandelier below.

Susan was a tragic figure who compensated by sharing her wealth with others.  Her first husband died less than two decades after their marriage, and she suffered two miscarriages.  Her second husband died within a year after their marriage, and her third union ended in divorce.  She took on responsibility for her mother and her cousin Flora.  Mother died suddenly while they were on an adventurous trip in 1905, and when Flora, who shared the house with her, died in 1928, Flora, Susan was left entirely alone.

Nonetheless, she continued in a whirlwind of social and political activities.  But her finances suffered.  Overextended, her wealth was tied up in nonconvertible assets, and she was forced to move from the house. By 1942, she became incompetent, and as soon as she was institutionalized, the gavel fell on her properties.  Fortunately, the house was purchased by Charles C. Thomas, founder of the Thomas Register, who personally assured Wright that the house, while becoming the firm’s office, would be preserved.  In 1981, the company sold the house to the state, and a second stroke of luck occurred.  Jim Thompson, governor at the time and a strong advocate for Wright, filed a preservation bill that brought the house back to its original 1910 grandeur.

Not very brief, I know.  But pictures were again verboten, as they have been in all the FLW properties we’ve toured.  Trust us – it was exquisite, as were the anecdotes about its occupants.

Our visit to the current State Capitol was right on the heels of our visit to the Iowa version in Des Moines, Here, I’ll spare you a lot of words.  But there are a couple of things of unique interest.

capitol (32)You may note that the newels at the foot of the Grand Stairway are a pair of female statues that might look familiar.  Here’s the story.  Iowa first commissioned them.  They were considered too racy, so they were sold to Illinois.  Later, uncomfortable with that decision, Des Moines commissioned replicas.   The art is beautiful and an appropriate reproduction in bronze of a statue that was featured at the 1893 Columbian Exposition.  It is titled Illinois Welcomes The World.





A giant painting, measuring 40 x 20 feet, depicts George Rogers Clark, leader of the Kentucky Long Knives, negotiating with Native Americans at Fort Kaskaskia.  Therein lies another story (of course!).  The Illinois Territory was inaugurated at Kaskaskia.  On July 4, 1778, Clark and his band captured Kaskaskia from the British.  Illinois became a western county of . . . Virginia!  Clark was instrumental in securing the entire Northwest Territories during the American Revolution.

At the other end of the Capitol grounds was the State Museum.  It held many fine exhibits.  The feature of the week was geology, and I was met by an educator who would have spent an hour teaching me about fossils until I begged to move on.  There were very comprehensive exhibits portraying Illinois through the ages — and prior to being Illinois. Other large exhibits explored industry and Native Americans.  Another highlighted “contemporary” living.  Snippets of several are displayed below.

A temporary exhibit was a six-month presentation entitled Figurism.  It’s not only an exhibit featuring 2D and 3D artwork but a series of lectures about the subject of figure art.  I think the thing that most drew me to it is the fact that one of the artists is Mike Ferris, and Eleanor Speiss-Ferris is one of the lecturers!  Wonder where they are on the family tree!

Our last city visit was to the Oak Ridge Cemetery, final resting place of The Lincoln Family.  There was a holding facility in the cemetery for deceased whose graves were not ready.  A Monument Association grew out of the Memorial Committee that planned his return to Springfield.  Recognizing how long it would take to construct the President’s mausoleum, a separate building was erected to contain both Lincoln and the two sons who predeceased him. The family selected the site, and the Monument Committee raised the funds to erect the shrine.  Ground was broken in 1869, and dedication ceremonies were held in 1874.  At that time, three Lincoln sons and the president were interred.  The Monument was subsequently rebuilt twice, in 1899-01 and the 1930s.  The first added 15 feet to the spire and lowered the remains to an underground crypt. The second rebuilt the interior out of granite and marble, added the red marble memorial stone, and installed the interior statuary that depicts the multiple roles played by the Great Emancipator during his lifetime.  Outside, there is a bust of Lincoln by Gutzon Borglum, sculptor of Mt. Rushmore, its nose polished to a bright gold from the hands of visitors seeking good luck.  Around the base are statues of the four key military forces: Infantry, Cavalry, Artillery and Navy.  The statues below are two of a dozen, about two-thirds life size, that rim the crypt.

 Oak Ridge contains the remains of many other important citizens, from early settlers to politicians to war heroes.

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Horse Fair at the Fairgrounds

Our on-campus adventures were fun.  The 30th Annual Youth Charity Horse Show offered a hundred or so events, all ranged by age from the littlest (who rode hobby horses!) to the seniors, who were mid-teens.  It was polished and professional and brings in mid-five figure reward for its efforts.

Dot went over on Wednesday evening to the Exhibitor Building to help Michele unload the mountain of stuff she had for sale at the Prairieland Classic, a cluster of eight separate all-breed specialty dog shows over a four day period.  We both arrived early on Thursday to help the setup and cover for her when she was scheduled to be in the show rings.

We headed out on Friday morning, even though the heating system quit again.  We were now heading south and hoped it didn’t matter!

Des Moines, Iowa’s Capitol — Oct. 7-9, 2013

We spend a couple of weeks in Iowa during The Journey, but we never made it to the Capitol.  Our friends, Martha and Jim Rowland, live in Alden, about sixty miles north of the city.  Alden was founded in 1855 by a Massachusetts cousin of mine, Henry Alden.  We’ve been there, and we sat in the graveyard next to old Henry’s stone while the Town Historian told us the “rest of the story.”

We had a really cheap site reserved at a National Park between Des Moines and Alden  – only to have the Federal shutdown cancel it.  Si instead, settled for a nice site in the Des Moines Fairgrounds and made a date to meet Martha and Jim at a locally famous eatery, The Hickory Park Restaurant in Ames — which is also the home of the University of Iowa.

We set out to see as much of the City’s sights as we could in the remaining time. The list was a dozen items long, and we did less than half of it.  So there’s good reason to come back.

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The neoclassical Capitol Building

Our first stop was The Capitol.  You’ll not be surprised to learn that it has a dome, a rotunda, a grand staircase, governor’s suite, law library, old Supreme Court quarters, and both Senate and House chambers!  The dome is covered with gold leaf and was re-gilded in 1998-99.  The leaf is so thin that 250,000 sheets would measure only one inch thick.  Construction was started in 1871, but it wasn’t completed until 1886.  Unlike most Capitols we’ve visited, no additions have been required, and except for the ceiling of the House Chamber, redone after a fire in 1904, everything is original.

We had an excellent tour guide and a large contingent, most of which was a high-school class from Russia.  Nice kids.  After visiting the Governor’s Reception Room, we were introduced to a doll collection that consists of all the State’s first ladies in their inauguration gowns.  Above it is a reproduction photograph showing a division returning home from W.W. I.  At 26 feet x 6 feet, it’s one of the largest in the world.  Additional artifacts on this level are an 18 foot long, scale model of the U.S.S. Iowa and the original of Iowa’s Constitution, restored and preserved in 1988.  Not present was a collection of 140 Civil War battle flags, currently offsite and being stabilized by the State Historical Museum.

Climbing the Grand Stairway, art abounds.  A wall sized painting, Westward, depicts the arrival of pioneers in Iowa.  Above it, on the balcony, are a set of six mosaics, designed by Frederick Dielman of New York and made in Venice of small colored stones.  They depict the functions of government:  Defense, Charities, Executive, Legislative, Judiciary and Education.  Opposite the stairway is the Law Library, with unique iron spiral stairways to access its multiple levels with matching balconies.  The south wing belongs to the 50 state senators.  Both they and the 100 representatives are citizen legislators, spending just over three months in session and pursuing other occupations for the rest of the year.  Both chambers are elegantly fitted but less decorative than some we’ve seen.

Below the dome, a series of 8 half-moon paintings and 12 statues represent the values and tools of civilization:  herding, agriculture, the forge, commerce, education, science, art, history, law, literature, fame, industry, peace, victory, truth and progress.  At the top of the dome is the Grand Army of the Republic symbol, heralding the efforts of Iowa to preserve the Union during the Civil War.  We were invited to hike the additional dozens of narrow steps up into the dome; while the kids were eager to do so, we passed.

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The Women of Achievement Bridge

With the Des Moines River bisecting the city, there are dozens of bridges that cross it.  Of special significance is the Principal Riverwalk, a 1.2 mile section in the heart of the city sponsored by the Principal Finance Group on its 125 anniversary of its tenure in the city.  The Riverwalk consists of six riverside attractions and two pedestrian/bicycle bridges.  There are two promenades with trails, a skating rink, a garden and a sculpture park.  The Hub Spot, still underway, will be a place to meet, stroll and eat.  The bridge at the south end is a renovation of the old Union Railroad Bridge — now known as the “Red Bridge” because of its caboose-toned paint job — with separate lanes for walkers and bike riders.  The bridge at the north end honors The Women of Achievement in Iowa and, likewise, splits into separate lanes for walkers and riders..  Four women are currently named, and several will be added each year via citizen recommendations.

The State Historical Museum was worth a full day.  Exhibits include Native Americans, Prehistoric heritage, wildlife, industry, military, natural resources,  and  the environment  Specific exhibits include quilts (a study of restoration methods by type of material), the art of model making, and the custom silver service aboard the original U.S.S. Iowa.  Iowa takes great pride in its contribution to Sherman’s March through Vicksburg and across the south, as well as the regiment of African Americans from the state who served the Union.

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The Governor’s Mansion

The Governor’s Mansion is open for three tours a day, 5 days a week except in December.  The third floor, part of the second and the basement are used by the incumbent governor and his family.  Our tour began with a talk in – what else – the former Carriage House!  Pictures weren’t allowed anywhere inside, but our guide was passionate about the place and held our interest with his thorough knowledge of its structure, its contents and its residents.

The home was originally built by Iowa’s first millionaire, Benjamin Franklin Allen, in 1869.  It was purchased from the bankrupt Allen in 1884 by Frederick Marion Hubbell, who named it Terrace Hill.  Hubbell came to Des Moines with his father in 1855.  His father went back to Connecticut several years later, but Frederick decided to stay.  In the ensuing years, he became the richest man in Iowa, and others in his family prospered as well.

From 1846 until 1947, only one governor spent his four years in supplied housing.  In 1947, Iowa bought a colonial-style home for its governors.  The Hubbells donated Terrace Hill to the state in 1970. and in 1977, the first “First Family” took up residence there.

The most exceptional exhibit in town was the John and Mary Pappajohn Sculpture Park.  No, there’s no connection to the pizza giant!  John traveled from Greece to America at the age of 6 months, lost his father at age 16, and, along with his brothers, had to alternate school with working to support the family.  After graduating from U-Iowa, he opened an insurance agency and climbed the entrepreneurial ladder up to Pappajohn Capital Resources.  He and his wife Mary have donated over $100 million, mostly to education and artistic endeavors.  One of those endowments is the delightful park that occupies 4.4 acres from 13th to 15th Street on the west side.  The Pappajohns donated 27 sculptures, valued at over $40 million, and the city built the environment and maintains the exhibit.  A comprehensive brochure is available on site, detailing each work and even providing activities for children.  Many of the artists are American or British, but there’s also an international representation.  Some artists are as famous as Willem de Kooning.  I will let the statuary speak for itself.

Our reunion with Martha and Jim was wonderful.  The Hickory Park Restaurant is a kitschy place that specializes in barbecue and ice cream, serving giant sized portions of everything.  We made an afternoon of it, knowing it might be a long time before we saw each other again.

Sioux Falls, South Dakota’s Capitol — Sept. 30-Oct. 6, 2013

We made a pit stop half way across SD and arrived in Sioux Falls on Tuesday.  This was one of two metropolises (metropoli ?) in South Dakota that we’d missed on The Journey — the other being Pierre, the Capitol.  So a third trip is in the offing in the future.

The campground was strange but decent.  It was off a city street, but a barrier of buildings kept it quiet and it was nicely wooded.  The clientele was overwhelmingly a caravan of transient workers — more than 30 families, from Alabama and Mississippi, traveling in a group with identical “park model” trailers that looked more like mobile homes.  One morning, about half way through our week’s stay, they all disappeared in a convoy, leaving behind toys and bikes and outdoor furniture and piles of trash that imposed a massive cleanup project on management.

It took several trips downtown to see everything we wanted to.  The first took us to Falls Park, a giant oasis on the North side that’s dressed up for the tourist crowd.  The Visitors Center has a fifty foot high observation tower that provides a birds-eye view of the Falls — Lower, Middle and Upper.  From the Center,’s tower, we strolled down for a closer look and to take in some of the neighboring sites.  Monarch of the Plains was carved from a 12 ton piece of mahogany granite that came from Milbank, SD, 125 miles due north.  It was carved in 1999 by Darold Bailey.  The Sioux Falls Light and Power Company, in service from 1908-1974 is now the Overlook Café, with indoor and outdoor dining.  Below the power plant were the ruins of the Queen Bee Mill, a brainchild of Richard Pettigrew, one of SD’s first US Senators.  It was built so local farmers could process their wheat locally, rather than sending it east to Minnesota or Wisconsin.  It went bankrupt after just two years of operation (1881-83), but it then changed hands and continued to process until the mid 1910’s.  A Millrace and Dam supplied water power to both the mill and the power plant.  Looming over all from across the Lower Falls is St Joseph’s Cathedral.

The Cathedral lends its name to the Historic District, a collection of about forty buildings in a 20 square block area.  As is our usual habit, we drove through it, reading a syllabus as we passed each home.  The tour was interesting but not particularly memorable!  We did visit one building – the Richard Pettigrew Home and Museum.   Senator Pettigrew built a home for his new bride in 1880 just two doors away.  He sold it in 1912 to buy this 1889 Queen Anne from attorney Thomas McMartin and expanded it extensively prior to his death in 1926.  When it accrued to the city, they expanded it even further to house more artifacts.

Another downtown trip was a self-guided tour of Sculpture Walk.  We first saw such an attraction in Salina, Kansas, but this one was far more expansive.  Fifty five sculptures are placed on the sidewalks throughout uptown and downtown.  Each is labeled with its title and artist name, as well as the sponsor’s name.  The brochure/ballot also notes the location and the selling price.  This is the tenth year, and the city buys the winner of the People’s Choice voting.  All past winners, along with two dozen other works either owned or leased by the city, are displayed as well.  We didn’t get to visit all of this treasure trove, but relative samples are below to show you the diversity of the collection.  The photos are worth enlarging!

And I went for a little extra culture.  The Sioux Falls Symphony Orchestra performed Mahler’s Ninth Symphony on the Saturday before we left, and their performance was excellent.  Only one downside:  the maestro came out and spent about ten minutes talking about the work.  I could do without this.  This also happened at a symphonic performance I went to in Moab.  Just music, please.  I can read the program notes!

We were now in the home stretch, with Iowa our next stop.