Thursday, October 21, 2010

Branchville, New Jersey

A 37 ft gas powered Winnebago "Vista" needed to be delivered to Branchville, NJ. Heading east watching the sun rise in a clear sky. The fall fields are harvested or being harvested. Some color is showing on the leaves of the trees and the last of the wild flowers are still blooming in the ditches as we head towards Chicago.

An easy drive thru the “windy city” and our stop at an Ohio travel plaza on the toll road. “Thumbs up” to Ohio for their clean, spacious, safe and well placed plazas. This one even had a separate place for RV’s with electrical hook-ups!

A long day of driving through clouds and rain. Even without sun the leaves are colorful as we roll through the rolling “hills” of eastern Ohio and into the mountains of northern Pennsylvania.

Too late to get the unit checked in at the dealership so checked the back of our atlas for a Super Walmart in East Stroudsburg near the Ohio border. Oops—Jim had to thread this 37 ft elephant through the narrow streets, asked a pedestrian about directions and were headed the right direction. A security guard gave us permission to park for the night and assured us that it was an easy short drive to get back on the Interstate right down the road. (In the mountains you often get on and off the Interstate at different exits.) A good walk around the area and supper at Friendly’s. They serve good food and good ice cream at a reasonable price plus open early in the morning with a delicious breakfast menu.

“D” day for us! Thanks to “Gertrude” our Garmin we turned around the right curves to get back on I-80. Partly cloudy to keep the rising sun from our eyes. Thank-you, Lord!

Off the interstate onto Hwy 94 winding through the New Jersey countryside and small towns with the porches on the houses about a car length from the highway. Through tree-lined areas alternating with scenic vistas of the mountains and valleys. Numerous Roadside markets for fruits and vegetables showing an abundance of pumpkins and beautiful mums.

A pleasant surprise at the dealer! They had a Gulf Stream pull type camper named “Prairie Schooner” on the lot. The first we had seen and of course, the salesman was sure we needed to purchase this namesake!!

Scenic Route #519

Back in the Saturn and headed north on a scenic route #519 winding through the tree lined countryside with small neat farms with brilliant colored mums blooming in their yards and more small towns. The houses are mostly small colorfully painted cottages or large rectangle shaped with a chimney on each end and windows placed perpendicular in a straight line.

Past the historical Lusscroft farm. Between 1914 and 1930 a Montclair stockbroker invested a fortune to make a farm with 1000 acres into a model dairy farm. In 1931 he donated it to the state of New Jersey for Ag Research.

Past the Space Farm Zoo and Museum near Sussex. Looks like a fun place to spend the day. You can check their website for more information if you are in the area.

Sterling Hill Mine

Following the signs we found the Sterling Hill Mine and Museum in Ogdensburg. We were greeted with a large collection of old mining equipment arranged in front of the face of a huge rock mountain with a covered conveyor extending from the top to several large bins built over a railroad track. (We later found out that the crushed ore was lifted from the bottom of the mine conveyed to the holding bins and loaded into rail cars. It was shipped to Palmerton, PA where the supply of coal was available to smelt the ore. It takes 5 Ton of coal to smelt 1 Ton of zinc ore.)

Also on site is the Ellis Astronomy Center with an observatory. Also an area called the Fossil Discovery Center. We explored the Geo Tech Center as part of the mine tour.

The parking lot was filled with school buses. They do tours for school children in the morning--up to 200 a day--and do one 2 hour tour at 1:00 PM for adults & families.

Yes, we really walked through the mine wearing our jackets because it is 56 degrees year around. It closed in 1986 ending all underground mining in New Jersey. It is now both a National Historic Site and a Mines, Metal and Men site, a trail of historic sites telling the story of mining and industrial activity that started in this New Jersey area hundreds of years ago. Our guide was a geologist.

The ore mined in this district was primarily for zinc but there are over 360 other minerals found in this district, a world record. Zincite, a zinc oxide, and franklinite, a zinc iron oxide are not mined anywhere else outside this district. Willemite, a zinc silicate, also mined here is found only in limited quantities scattered around the globe. Besides the richness of the ore, 85 of the local minerals fluoresce, more than any other single place on Earth. It was beautiful to have the UV lights turned on and see the bright colors in what looked before like ordinary stones! These minerals also fluoresce, or glow, when heated.

A display of all the uses for fluorescent minerals showed that it is used in our paper money and in our postage stamps. Machines using UV light can easily identify and sort both items. It is also used in some states drivers licenses and on credit cards as an anti-counterfeiting measure.

What is zinc used for? Die casting of parts for automobiles and appliances, household tools, internal parts on telephones & office machines, for galvanizing steel to prevent rust, as a white paint pigment, as a heat dispenser in rubber, as a fire retardant & preservation of wood, in infra red lasers, dyes, model rocket propellant, vitamin & mineral supplements, cosmetics, sun block, diaper rash protection, toothpaste, shampoo, and zinc alloys like brass, nickel and solder.

Want a new idea for your mudroom? Each miner had a basket connected to a chain and pully. At nite after work they would put their boots in the basket & hang their coats on hangers under the basket. Pull them up to the ceiling so they could hang up in the warm air and dry during the night.

What a difference in mining tools and equipment from the early days to now. From a candle in a holder on their head to battery operated focused lights on a helmet and water cooled drills that prevent dust causing lung problems were just a few.

Interesting points from our tour:
Zinc ore is very heavy like granite which is different from coal. Coal is mined and brought to the top at each level, but zinc ore is dropped, using gravity, to the last level in the mine and crushed before bringing it up and out.

There were 27 levels in this mine when it was working. We only walked the main level, the bottom levels are filled with water, which had to be pumped out continually when it was being worked.

Only electric motors were used inside the mine for safety.

The big closed wooden box containing the first aid equipment had 2 regular light bulbs on continually inside. They gave off enough heat to keep the supplies dry and warm and ready for use.

They used a bell system with each level having a code to let the man running the lift know where you wanted to go. The code was printed by each lift.

The mine had a "grizzly" at each level. Since zinc was so heavy the large rocks needed to be chipped down to size to prevent problems at the crusher below. A large iron grate was fitted across the top of the hole. The holes in the grate were large enough for a man to fall through so the miner on the grate had straps and chains that would prevent him from falling into the crusher as he walked back & forth with an iron rod breaking the rocks to a size that would fall through.

They have "rock bolts" that act just like our plaster board bolts. They are 3 ft long and are drilled into rock with an end that flays out. That will hold a portion of rock together. You will see them along the highways where cuts have been made in mountains.

This mine produced over eleven million ton of zinc ore. In a 1974 article in the museum it stated that every month they shipped out 19,000 tons of ore and employed 200 people.

Thinking about the fact that God created even the minerals in the rocks and gave men the ability to get them out and use them.

Interesting facts learned about New Jersey

The Mars Candy factory in Hacketstown does not give public tours, but just standing in the parking lot you can smell the fragrance of chocolate!

No left turns is the law in the cities. They have a place at each corner to do a U-turn off the right side of the highway. This way no one is holding up traffic trying to turn.

Gas stations were full-service. Someone was there to pump the gas for you.

Signs stating that someone was running for the office of Surrogate. What is the office?

In New Jersey, the person who passes on the validity of a will, gives the executor proof of his authority to administer the estate and sees to it that the executor handles the estate properly, is called the Surrogate. Each county has a Surrogate's Court and the Surrogate is the Judge of that Court. He or she is elected for a term of five years, pursuant to the Constitution of New Jersey, by the people of the county in which he or she has jurisdiction. The word "Surrogate" means "one who speaks for another."

Hesitate at a traffic light and the driver behind you will "honk!"

Towns have very narrow streets. Many are one-way.

They have their state divided into boroughs.

Pennsylvania Wilds

Heading west we took a side road through Hickory Run State park in the Ponoco Mountains. A tree lined winding road with several 12% grades. Brilliant reds and golds of the leaves literally shone in the sunlight. Mountain Pecan coffee at a local convenience store was delicious. Many campgrounds and hiking trails. Back on the interstate and seeing in the sunlight what we drove through in rain on the way out. Beautiful! Thanking the Lord for His creation and the opportunity to enjoy it!

Rutherford Hayes Presidential Center

We left Interstate 80 driving south on Hwy 6 to Fremont, Ohio to visit the home of President Rutherford B. Hayes. A tall black iron fence surrounds the 25 acres of park-like grounds. Each side has a gate from the White House with a presidential seal. People come from the community to walk every day.

The museum is free, but a fee is charged to tour their home. There is a lot of restoration being done on the inside to bring it back the same as when the President and family lived there. It was built during the Civil War with 4 fireplaces for heat. Today there are 15 fire places for heat with 10 chimneys! It has been added to several times since and been home to several generations of the family who have made decorating changes. 5 layers of white paint was removed in one room to uncover the butternut trim!

A gas well was discovered on their farm and piped in to the house for use in lighting and cooking.

Rutherford and Lucy had 8 children, 7 sons and l daughter. 3 of their sons died very young.

The museum has collections of guns, swords and memorabilia from the sons who served in the Philippines and the Boxer Rebellion in China as well as gifts given to the President.

New information learned about President Hayes:

He was the first President to take the oath of office inside the White House. First to have a telephone and typewriter in the White House. Started the tradition of the "Easter Egg Roll" for children at the White House.

He was the first President to travel to the West Coast of the US during his term in office. He and his wife, Lucy and 7 others traveled by train, stagecoach, buggy, army ambulance, steamer, ferry boat, tug, yacht, and ocean vessel from September through October. The cost of this trip was $575.40!

President Hayes walked 6 miles a day. He built the veranda of his home the length needed for walking during inclement weather. 33 times around made 1 mile and visitors were invited to walk with him!

He had a collection of 10,000 books often getting up at 3 AM to read.

He built his home with 4 floors. In the center you can look up and see the 4 stairs to the top. The last floor is a walk-way that allowed him to open windows in the summer for heat to escape and in winter Lucy kept her plants on the sills.

He collected canes. The 51 canes will be on display when the restoration is finished.

His father died when he was 2 months old. An uncle, a successful businessman, helped his mother raise him and his sister.

He served in the Civil War, was elected to Congress, served as governor of Ohio for 2 terms, then retired to his 125 acre farm. Was elected for a third term as governor then chosen as the Republican Party's candidate for President in 1876.

Because there were 20 disputed electoral votes a special congressional commission decided the outcome of the election. Because of this controversy he took the oath of office without ceremony on Saturday, March 3, 1877 in the Red Room of the White House.

He showed honesty and fairness during his term as President, giving a renewed respect for the office, but did not accept a second term.

His best known quotation is "He serves his party best who serves his country best."

Highway #6 and home

Time to head west and home. We chose to stay on Hwy 6 which runs parallel to the Interstate. Flat farmland, combines busy harvesting, tractors doing tillage and small towns with a backdrop of magnificent color in the leaves under a sun and blue sky!

A stay at a little motel in Kendalville, OH. Supper at a local restaurant, Ranch House. Good food, served well in a pleasant atmosphere. Next morning we stopped at the Charger House, a local restaurant in Ligionier, IN for breakfast. Trucker sized servings of good food.

It is always interesting to walk into a small town restaurant as we travel. People look us over and try to figure out who we are!

Enjoyed a beautiful sunrise as we drove past Amish Acres in Nappanee, IN. A large motel, a Round Barn theater, guided tours and shops all make for a fun stop sometime. Check out their website for more information.

Into Illinois and found a radio station with Worship Hymns to supplement our tapes of Gospel Music as we drive on a Sunday morning.

Through Chicago, across the Mississippi River into Iowa and back on the Prairie! Thanking the Lord for a fun, safe adventure and for our "home" on the Prairie!

Thank-you for traveling with us via the words in this blog!

Prairie Schooners

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