Thursday, July 28, 2011

Happy 150th, Mt. Washington Auto Road!

This year, on August 6th, the Mt. Washington Auto Road is celebrating its 150th birthday! Mt. Washington is the tallest elevation in the Northeast United States, rising to the summit of 6,288 feet in the Presidential Range of the White Mountains of New Hampshire. Known as the site of the "world's worst weather" (the wind at the summit has reached 234 mph), the mountain and surrounding area is part of a beautiful national forest, blazing foliage in the Autumn and providing outdoor recreation year-round.

The Auto Road opened in 1861 as America's first manmade tourist attraction. Originally traversed by horse-drawn carriages, the road has allowed private vehicles access to the summit of the mountain since the invention of the automobile, like the one in the postcard above, and you may well have seen bumper stickers on cars around the northeast boasting "This Car Climbed Mt. Washington." At an average grade of 11.6%, the road rises a total of 4,618 ft. Click here for a blog entry about the trek from someone I don't know.

I've also included the bottom postcard, which is a view of the Mt. Washington Hotel at Bretton Woods, a grand dame hotel in operation since 1902. The hotel is set at the base of Mt. Washington and is a glorious throwback to another time. This coming week is not only the anniversary of the Auto Road, it's the anniversary of my wife and I (29 years), and we spent our honeymoon at the Mt. Washington! Happy Anniversary, Honey!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Peak's Island, Maine

Peak's Island is part of Portland, Maine, about a 15-minute ferry ride from the mainland. Ranging in population today from about 800 in the winter to 6,000 in the summer, it became popular as the "Coney Island of Maine" in the late 19th century. These postcards show the steamboat "Pilgrim" landing at the ferry dock, the view from offshore, and the Gem Theater which existed until 1934 when it was destroyed by fire.

The island also played an important role in World War II, when an isolated facility called Battery Steele was built to house a large military defense installation. It included two 16 inch guns, which were only fired when first tested, blowing out windows on the other side of the island. Today, Battery Steele is a hidden ruin consisting of a large underground tunnel with side rooms where ammunition was stored, decorated by graffitti and home to partying teenagers. An arts exhibit, called the "Sacred and Profane" festival, transforms the space into a performance and visual art exhibition annually. See the TimParsons Project Website for great photographs of this site.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Noah's Ark Restaurant

St. Charles, Missouri was the home of this restaurant, built to resemble Noah's Ark. It operated for more than 30 years, through the year 2000. The decor featured fiberglass animals and a statue of Noah by the door.

Get the full scoop here:
and here:

Thursday, July 7, 2011

It's Roller Coaster Season!

Now that the 4th Of July has come and gone, Summer is in full swing. Here are a few amusement park cards with great roller coasters, documenting bygone days of leisure.

The top card is from Venice Beach, an outpost of Los Angeles, California, with a postmark on the back of 1911 -- exactly 100 years ago. The amusement pier where this scenic railway was built burned down nine years later.

The bottom card is from the other coast, Nantasket Beach, Massachusetts, from about the same time period. This park survived until 1984. After it closed, the roller coaster, built in 1917, was dismantled and moved to Six Flags America Baltimore Washington.

Happy Summer Everyone!

Friday, July 1, 2011

In-Zane Asylum

When in Zanesville, stay in the Zane Hotel! This beautiful linen card comes from this Ohio town, currently about 25,000 people.

The other big deal in town is the "Y" bridge, the only bridge of its kind in the United States. It spans the confluence of the Licking and Muskingum rivers and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Visitors to the city are often surprised when they receive directions including the statement, "Drive to the middle of the bridge and turn right."