Heroes, Goshen, Indiana

Day 422

     Where will you find the only comic book superhero museum in the country? If you said The Smithsonian in Washington, D.C., you are wrong.

     It is in Goshen, Indiana. Run by Allen Stewart, whom we met today. Stewart is a 46 year old realtor who began collecting comic books as a youth. His collection became so large, he build a building behind his house to house these treasures.  The museum is designed to look like the Hall of Justice building featured in the 1970s cartoon, “Super Friends.”

     More than 65,000 superhero comic books and thousands of superhero action figures can be found, including the original Batman suit worn by Adam West in the TV series, above, and this original costume from the Greatest American Hero, worn by William Katt.

     Stewart, who graduated from Indiana University at South Bend with degrees in history and teaching, is one of the nation’s foremost historians of comic books.


Elkhart 4H Fairgrounds, Indiana

Day 421

Day 421 Elkhart Fairgrounds IN 4324_Fotor

     Our RV, The Sphinx, is a Cedar Creek 5th Wheel, which is a division of Forest River, one of the largest makers of Recreational Vehicles in the United States. 

Day 421 Elkhart Fairgrounds IN 4335_Fotor

     We are attending the fifth annual rally of the Forest River Owner’s Group, of which we are members, commonly called FROG.

     The Rally is being held in Elkhart, Indiana, at the Elkhart 4H Fairgrounds.

     The city of Elkhart sprung up at the conflux of the St. Joseph and Elkhart Rivers. It was originally part of the Northwest Territory, which, after the Revolutionary War, was territory northwest of the Ohio River. The Elkhart 4H Fairgrounds was formed in 1908 to host the annual 4H fair, which started in Elkhart in 1851. 

Day 421 Elkhart Fairgrounds IN 4315_Fotor

     The fairgrounds hosted 800 RVs this year. We were placed in the infield of the harness racing track, along with 120 other Cedar Creek 5th wheels. There were over 20 different brands of Forest River products at the rally. 

Day 421 Elkhart Fairgrounds IN 4326_Fotor

     This was the view from The Sphinx:

Day 421 Elkhart Fairgrounds IN 4402_Fotor



Shipshewana, Indiana

Day 417

     Shipshewana was named after a local Potawatomi Indian. The Shipshewana post office was established in 1889. Shipshewana has a total area of only 1.18 square miles of land.

     The area became popular because of the Amish flea market.

     Flea market comes from the French marché aux puces, a name originally given to a market in Paris which specialized in shabby second-hand goods of the kind that might contain fleas.

      The Shipshewana Flea Market is in Indiana’s Amish Country with nearly 900 vendor spaces in an open-air market. 

Technical Stuff:

Wauseone, Ohio to Shipshewana, Indiana: 100.5 miles

2 hours 33 minutes

10.2 MPG

Diesel: $2.17


Toledo, Ohio

Day 416

     What is now Toledo, Ohio, has been inhabited by Indians for a thousand years, and then by Europeans after the American Revolution, from about 1795. It is located on rivers that access the great lakes. We came here to visit the Maritime Museum, which was OK, and the cargo ship Col. James M. Shoonmaker, which Barbara got to steer:

     But the most interesting thing we learned was about the Toledo War which took place 1835 to 1836, also known as the Michigan–Ohio War. It was a boundary dispute between the state of Ohio and the adjoining territory of Michigan. Toledo stood a chance of becoming a terminal for two railroads and the Wabash and Erie Canal. This is where part of the new Erie Canal would pass, and become an important point of access to Lake Michigan.

     When Michigan petitioned for statehood in 1835, it sought to include the disputed strip within its boundaries. Ohio’s congressional delegation was able to stall Michigan’s admission to the Union to prevent that from happening. This obviously upset Michigan, who claimed this disputed territory, and sent it’s militia to defend it. Ohio, countered by sending it’s militia.

     The militias were mobilized and sent to positions on opposite sides of the Maumee River near Toledo, but besides mutual taunting there was little interaction between the two forces.

     On April 26, 1835, the first skirmish of the Ohio-Michigan War took place when the Michigan militia collided with an Ohio surveying party. The militia opened fire. The Ohioans took to their heels. Nobody was hurt.

     Benjamin Franklin Stickney was  born  April  1, 1773. Stickney, one of Toledo’s founding fathers, had two sons, which he named One and Two (isn’t that cool?). They strongly advocated the contested land for Ohio. Two Stickney, born  April 16, 1810 is famous for his role in the Toledo War. On July 16, 1835, Joseph Wood, a deputy sheriff from Monroe County, Michigan, saw Benjamin Franklin Stickney and son Two in the swamps of the strip. A warrant had been issued for their arrest. Heeding the arrest orders, Wood tried to arrest them. As Wood placed the heavy hand of the law on Two Stickney`s shoulder, the youth drew his fearsome penknife and thrust it into Wood’s tender thigh, “non-fatally stabbing” the brave lawman,  it was the only blood shed during the 1835-36 territory battle between Ohio and Michigan.

     In December 1836, at the request of President Jackson, Congress finally stepped in to resolve the conflict–in Ohio’s favor. Congress offered Michigan a compromise—give up the Toledo Strip, but gain statehood and a large portion of the Upper Peninsula instead. And so ended the Michigan – Ohio War.

Archbold, Ohio

Day 414

     Erie J. Sauder, born August 6, 1904 here in Archbold, Ohio, was an American inventor and furniture-maker. Archbold was another of those towns formed around a railroad stop.

     In 1934, Erie Sauder began his woodworking business out of the barn at his home. He invented the ready-to-assemble table in 1951 that could be assembled by the average person with minimal skills. This turned into a multi-million dollar industry. More than likely you have one of his Sauder products in your home, a bookcase or desk. 

     We toured Sauder Village where his original workshop was located, and a local artisan was there explaining the process Sauder used with tools he made himself.

Day 414 Archbold OH 4122_Fotor

     We also saw the first RV. Actually, it is a Hungarian migrant worker’s wagon, built in 1923, it was used by sugar beat workers, and their families, as a shelter while they harvested the beats.

Day 414 Archbold OH 4128_Fotor

      Corduroy roads were the solution to crossing the miles of swampy land encountered  by the first settlers in Northwest Ohio. These roads were constructed by laying logs side-by-side across the swampy ground in a pattern that reminded people of the corduroy fabric. 

Day 414 Archbold OH 4131_Fotor


Goshen, Indiana

Day 420

Day 420 Goshen, IN4171_Fotor

     Goshen, Indiana, is home to many Amish families.

     Goshen was platted in 1831. It got it’s name from “The Land of Goshen” (Hebrew: אֶרֶץ גֹּשֶׁן) which is named in the Bible as the place in Egypt where the Jewish people lived, and from which they later exited Egypt.

     The Mennonites, Amish and Hutterites come from the Anabaptist movement that began during the Reformation in 16th century Europe. The word “Anabaptist” means “to rebaptize”. This name was attached to a group of believers who called for voluntary, adult baptisms at a time when the state allowed only infant baptism.

     The Anabaptist movement began in Zurich, Switzerland, on January 21, 1525, when a group of believers baptized adults who made a voluntary confession of faith.

     The Hutterites are the oldest of the Anabaptist groups. Named after Jacob Huttler, they organized in Moravia, (Czechoslovakia), in 1528

     The Mennonites got their name from Menno Simons, a Dutch priest who joined the movement in 1536 and became its most influential leader.

     The Amish, led by Jacob Ammann, began in 1693 with a group that split from the Mennonites, believing that the Mennonites were becoming too modern.

     On October 6, 1683 a group of Mennonites and Quakers from Krefeld, Germany, escaping from religious persecution, arrived in Penn Sylvania (Penn’s Woods) at the invitation of William Penn who offered them land and religious freedom. Their settlement was called Germantown. 

     On June 29, 1841, four Amish Families (24 people) arrive in Goshen, Indiana from Pennsylvania, seeking more fertile land, more separation from the world, and a home for their Church. Now, they’re everywhere. 

Day 420 Goshen, IN4169_Fotor

Technical Stuff:

Shipshewana, Indiana to Goshen, Indiana: 17 miles

33 minutes

10.1 MPG

Diesel: $2.17


Wauseon, Ohio

Day 413

     It was Hortensia Hayes, daughter of one of the town’s first businessmen, that suggested the name of Wauseon, Chief of the Ottowas, as the name of the town to the early town leaders in 1854, when the town was established. He was the Chief that was forced to convey all their lands in the Northwest territory to the United States government 16 years earlier in 1838. The only reason this town is here is because the railroad needed a place for water and fuel. There ain’t much here now. 

Technical Stuff: 

Geneva, Ohio to Wauseon Ohio: 202.7 miles

3 hours 52 minutes

12.4 MPG

Diesel: $2.40


Ashtabula County, Ohio

Day 412

Day 412 Ashtabula, OH 4118_Fotor

     Spent the day looking for covered bridges. Ashtabula County, Ohio, is reported to have seventeen covered bridges within the county limits, including both the longest and the shortest covered bridges in the United States. 

     Now, we have traveled in the past throughout New England seeking covered bridges. It was our understanding that the longest wooden covered bridge in the US was the one connecting Vermont to New Hampshire, which we visited on that trip. The Cornish–Windsor Covered Bridge is a covered bridge that spans the Connecticut River between Cornish, New Hampshire and Windsor, Vermont. It was the longest covered bridge still standing in the United States until the Smolen–Gulf Bridge opened in Ohio in 2008. The Cornish–Windsor Bridge is still the longest wooden covered bridge and has the longest single covered span to carry automobile traffic. The Smolen-Gulf Bridge, we saw today, had a concert floor, covered by a wooded structure. The cover is obviously not needed today. 

Day 412 Ashtabula, OH 4093_Fotor

     Covered bridges were built 150 to 200 years ago to protect the wooden floor of the bridge from the elements. The roads leading up to those bridges, which usually crossed water, were dirt roads. 

Day 412 Ashtabula, OH 4094_Fotor

     There was a smaller, pedestrian only bridge below the Smolen-Golf Bridge, recently built. 

     When we approached the Root Road Bridge, it appeared the width was only 8’2″. The width of my truck is 8’3″. The bridge looked wider, so we attempted to drive the truck through.

 Day 412 Ashtabula, OH 4117_Fotor

     We went back and actually measured the bridge (yes, I carry a 25′ tape measure with me). The bridge was in fact 11’8″wide.

     After viewing 9 of the 17 bridges in the County, we realized they were all build within the last 25 years, and was a tourist come-on. 

 Day 412 Ashtabula, OH 4116_Fotor

     We did see one original bridge, the Graham Road Bridge, built sometime in the 1800, it was washed away in a 1913 storm. The remnants were rebuilt here, where it is on display where it use to cross the west branch of the Ashtabula River.

Day 412 Ashtabula, OH 4110_Fotor

     After searching for wooden covered bridges all day, where else to eat but the Covered Bridge Pizza Parlor. 

 Day 412 Ashtabula, OH 4120_Fotor

     This bridge was built in 1862. In 1972, Ashtabula County decided to replace the bridge and sold it for $5.00. The new owners took down the bridge, piece by piece, and re-assembled it here for their pizza parlor. 


 Day 412 Ashtabula, OH 4099_Fotor




Geneva, Ohio

Day 410

     Geneva is a city in Ashtabula County, Ohio. This area, located on Lake Erie, in the Northeast corner of the State, was originally settled in 1805. The city wasn’t incorporated until 1958. Eventually, the people here had no imagination, as they named the city after the city of the same name in New York.

Technical Stuff:

Niagara Falls, NY to Geneva, OH  175.6 miles

3 hours 45 minutes

10.5 MPG

Diesel: $2.31



Niagara Falls (the falls), New York

Day 404

     I really wasn’t that impressed with Niagara Falls

Day 404 Niagra the falls NY 3855_Fotor

We were told not to upset the Gods

 Day 404 Niagra the falls NY 3955_Fotor

     Tidbit of Information:  The falls was actually shut off in 1969. No water ran over it. From June to November 1969 the entire American rapids channel and falls was shut off by redirecting the flow of water for purposes of evaluating erosion of the falls, and determine if remedial action was required. A section of the overhang, which was deemed unsafe if nature allowed it to fall, was removed. It was decided to do no further alteration of the falls and let nature take it’s course, which means in 10,000 years the falls will have eroded entirley away. I  am glad we saw it today. 

Day 404 Niagra the falls NY 3934_Fotor

     This is  a picture of me inside the barrel just before I went over the falls:

Walked To Canada

Day 407

     Walked from New York to Canada, about a quarter of a mile. 

Day 4047 Canada NY 3965_Fotor

     Barbara is on the American side, and I on the Canadian     Day 4047 Canada NY 3968_Fotor       The view of Niagara Falls was much better.Day 4047 Canada NY 4016_Fotor          Where are we?Day 4047 Canada NY 4006_Fotor

     Stopped by the tribute to Nikola Tesla. Nikola Tesla was born July 10, 1856 in what was then the Austrian Empire. He emigrated to the United States in June 1884 and on July 30, 1891,  became a naturalized citizen. He invented the alternating current (AC) induction motor. The power plants at Niagara Falls is based on his invention.Day 4047 Canada NY 4021_Fotor

     Throughout the 20 States we have traveled, I have been searching for Day 4047 Canada NY 4028_Fotor

a frog on a lily pad, and, in Canada, I found him.

     Met some weird  people on the Canadian side

     At night, Canada lites up the falls,Day 4047 Canada NY 4036_Fotor

     and had fireworks over the falls Day 4047 Canada NY 4078_Fotor

     They did not tell us ahead of time, but walking back from Canada to the US there was a turnstile which required 50 cents, quarters only. We did not have quarters. We were two people without a Country.Day 4047 Canada NY 4085_Fotor

     Can you believe on the American side, they had barbed wire? What an unfriendly Country. 




Erie Canal, New York

Day 403 

     The Erie Canal opened on October 26, 1825 and is 363 miles long, 40 feet wide and 4 feet deep. It runs from the Hudson River to Lake Erie. Construction began in 1817 and has 83 locks. The last obstacle of the construction was crossing the Niagara Escarpment, an 80-foot wall carved by the Niagara River, to rise to the level of Lake Erie. This was done by constructing two sets of five locks in a series, soon giving rise to the community of Lockport, where we are today. 

     At the time, in 1823, this was an engineering marvel. Creating 5 locks in series, each raising the river (or lowering it) 12 feet. It was called “The Flight of Five”.

     Today, they no longer exist. With modern technology, and the fact that there are now railroads and the St. Lawrence Seaway, this section of the Erie canal is used only by pleasure boats and tourists. In 1910, the Canal was modernized, which signaled the end of the boomtown of Lockport. Today, it is merely a tourist attraction (which attracted us).

     In walking this area, we came across this upside down railroad bridge. 

     An interesting side attraction we visited was Raceway Tunnel, invented by Birdsill Holly. Basically, he built a tunnel in which he diverted part of the water from the Niagara River through a tunnel to power a turbine that he used to run his manufacturing company, which produced a water system to combat fires. 

     This system did not catch on as communities thought it not practical and too expensive. That is until October 8, 1871 the day Chicago burned to the ground. 

     We hiked through the now unused and dry tunnel, and then took a short boat ride on part of the underground river. 

Tonawanda, New York

Day 402

     We went to Tonawanda, New York, to visit Allan Herschell’s Carrousel Manufacturing Company, the maker of Merry-Go-Rounds. The Company operated from 1872 to 1915. 

     Over 3,000 hand-carved wooden carousels were made in this factory.

     Artisans were there demonstrating the making of the horses. 

     Of course, you can’t go to a carousel manufacturing company without riding a carousel.

     Tidbit of Information: What famous man, you never heard of, was born in Tonawanda, New York?  Hint:  He drafted the terms of surrender that Lee and Grant signed at Appomattox Court house that signaled the end of the Civil War. He was Ely Samuel Parker, a Seneca Indian, and a lieutenant Colonel in the Union Army.