Thursday, September 27, 2012

Wright and Lieutenant Humphreys in Flight, Oct. 19, 1909

We all know about Wilbur Wright, but what of Lieutenant Humphreys?...Born Frederick Erastus Humphreys, October 1883 in Summit, New Jersey. He attended Pennsylvania Military College and then West Point from which he graduated in1906.

Humphreys volunteered for assignment to the Aeronautical Division, U.S. Signal Corps and was chosen by the Wright brothers to participate. On October 26, 1909, after three hours of instruction by Wilbur Wright, he became the first Army aviator to solo in a heavier-than-air craft, and thus the first pilot of what was to eventually become the United States Air Force.

Lieutenant Humphreys was inducted into the First Flight Society's shrine in 2009.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Rike's Department Store 1853-1953

A very 50's looking postcard for the 100 anniversary of Rike's in Dayton, Ohio. By the late 1980's sections of the store were rented to other businesses and some floors formerly used for retail sales were totally abandoned. The store was closed in 1992 and stood more or less empty until the entire half-city block complex was demolished by implosion in 1999. You can watch that implosion here ! 

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

"Tunnel Vision"

In spite of the Turnpike Commission dubbing the new road "The World's Greatest Highway", the Turnpike was popularly known as the "Tunnel Highway". Many souvenirs promoted the original stretch's seven tunnels through Pennsylvania's Appalachian Mountains. These tunnels, from east to west, bored through Blue Mountain, Kittatinny Mountain, Tuscarora Mountain, Sideling Hill, Ray's Hill, Allegheny Mountain, and Laurel Hill.

Above: The Bankhead Tunnel runs underneath the Mobile River in Alabama. The tunnel was built in sections and floated to the proper positions, then sunk. Each section was sunk next to the previous section and joined underwater. Only passenger cars and pickup trucks are still allowed to travel through the tunnel, as it is very narrow.

Construction of the Liberty Tunnels began in 1919. The boring of the 5889 foot tubes was completed in 1922. When the Liberty Tunnels were opened to traffic in 1924, they were considered an engineering marvel. The nearly two-mile span was the longest tunnel in the country at that time.

Friday, September 7, 2012

It's Wonderful at the Whitcomb!

This card makes me feel good! I don’t know if it’s the bright colors, the cartoonish figures or seeing all of the fun that one could have there, but it makes me smile!

The Whitcomb opened its doors to an elite and admiring crowd on May 3, 1928 when the "roaring twenties" were still roaring, and Americans, many of them rich, albeit only on paper, were enjoying unprecedented prosperity. 

 Not surprisingly, the Whitcomb became a gathering place for an A-list of celebrities, among them Joe DiMaggio, Eleanor Roosevelt among others.

 Unfortunately, a combination of factors, including the Depression, WWII and the end of steamship passenger service in the latter part of the 1940s, caused the hotel to hit a downward spiral from which it never fully recovered.

 Beset by hard times, the Whitcomb closed its doors as a hotel for good in November, 1966. The Whitcomb was reopened after extensive renovations as a retirement residence on March 15, 1973. 

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Monday, September 3, 2012

Fourche River Lumber Company, Arkansas, 1906

The saw mill was built in 1900 on the banks of the Fourche and in 1902 the Fourche River Lumber Company was in operation. Residents emboldened by the power of the mills petitioned to change the name from Esau to Bigelow (N.P. Bigelow was the president of Fourche Lumber) in 1914.

The mills heyday ended with the closure of the Fourche River Lumber Company in 1921.  Hundreds of families were suddenly left with no source of income and were forced to move to new lumber camps. Today, Bigelow has few commercial businesses and a much smaller population (pop.329) than that of the turn of the century.