Tennessee Valley Railroad

Day 1343

     Pardon me boy, is that the Chattanooga choo choo? I am sorry, but this song is racist, it will have to be removed.

     Chattanooga welcomed its first rail line with the arrival of the Western and Atlantic Railroad in 1850. A few years later, in 1858, the East Tennessee, Virginia and Georgia Railroad also arrived in Chattanooga. The city quickly became a railroad hub with industries springing up in the area to take advantage of the new transportation corridors.

     The Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum, was founded by a small group of local residents in 1961 who were intent on trying to save some American history by preserving, restoring, and operating authentic railway equipment from the “Golden Age of Railroading.”

     The museum operates 3 miles of tracks near the original East Tennessee, Virginia & Georgia Railroad right of way.

     We rode locomotive 4501 which ran for Southern Railway throughout East Tennessee during its career. It is a 2-8-2 Mikado-type steam locomotive built in 1911 by Baldwin Locomotive Works in Philadelphia.

     The name “Mikado,” a Japanese word meaning “emperor,” came about because the first engine of this type was sold to the Japanese state railways. “2-8-2” refers to the wheel arrangement: two small pilot wheels in front, eight large drive wheels, and two small trailing wheels in the back to help support a large firebox.

     We rode this train from Grand Junction

to East Chattanooga and back.

     Since there is only 1 track between the two stations, when we got to East Chattanooga the engine and coal car are disconnected from the passenger cars and placed on a turntable which rotate it around so it can go on a parallel tract to take it to the other end of the passenger cars for the return trip.





      The last car of the train, in which we were riding to East Chattanooga, now becomes the first car on our return trip. 

Uh-Oh, this fell off, do you think it will effect anything?

     Barbara still goes for those guys in uniform. 

Ocoee Winery, Tennessee

Day 1342

     A long time desire of Steve Hunt to have a winery was realized in March 2006 when he opened “The Ocoee Winery” in Cleveland, Tennessee.

     We spoke with Steve Hunt who told us he does not grow his own grapes, but  purchases locally-grown grapes to make his wine.The wine is made on the premises and sold only in the winery. 

     We went there with friends to taste the wine of this local winery.

     Steve gave us a tour of his bottling plant including a demonstration of this label maker.

     He explained to us how this machine corks his bottles while holding up a finger to show us a missing digit when he did not heed the warning not to put your hand in the corker.

     I bet the person who bought that bottle of wine was surprised. 

Cleveland, Not Ohio, Tennessee

Day 1338

     Cleveland is located in southeast Tennessee roughly 15 miles west of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Established in 1838, the first Europeans to reach the area now occupied by Cleveland were most likely an expedition led by Spanish explorer Hernando de Soto on the night of June 2, 1540 (it appears he was not here during the day).

     Andrew Taylor, born November 2, 1760 in Augusta County, Virginia, came to what is now Cleveland as one of the first settlers. His settlement, known as “Taylor’s Place”, became a favorite stopping place for travelers due largely to the site’s excellent water sources. By legislative act on January 20, 1838, Taylor’s Place was established as the County seat of Bradley County to be named “Cleveland” after Colonel Benjamin Cleveland, a commander at the Battle of Kings Mountain during the American Revolution. 

     Walking through Cleveland we saw some unique houses, such as Casper the Ghost’s house.  I’ll spare you their history, as I can see your eyes are glazing over.

     For over 100 years politicians have given speeches from a bandstand sitting on this spot in front of the Courthouse. Ok Barbara, I will do whatever you say.

     John H. Craigmiles was born in 1823, Cynthia County, Kentucky. He was a prominent businessman who made his fortune selling goods to the Confederate army during the war. On October 18, 1871 his 7 year old daughter, Nina, was riding with her grandfather, Dr. Gideon Thompson, when the buggy in which they were traveling was struck by a train. Dr. Thompson was thrown clear, but Nina died instantly. 

     St. Luke’s Episcopal Church was built by the Craigmiles Family in memory of their daughter, Nina. The Craigmiles were a very prominent family in Cleveland and therefore no expense was spared in the building of the church.

     Saint Luke’s was completed on October 18, 1874 the third anniversary of Nina’s death.

     Cleveland, Tennessee was a divided community at the start of the Civil War, with a majority favoring the North. The Confederates occupied the city to control the railroads from June 1861 until November 25, 1863 when Union forces took the city and held it to the end of the war.

     I took a picture of this Confederate Monument erected by the United Daughters of the Confederacy in 1911 before they tear it down, which seems to be the trend now-a-days.

     I also took this picture of Lee University before they change the name to Floyd University. Actually the university was not named for Robert E. but for Flavius J. Lee. Don’t you love parents who would name their child Flavius. “Oh Flavius, time for dinner.”

     Lee College, now Lee University, was founded by the Church of God as a Bible Training School on January 1, 1918. Named for Flavius J. Lee, second president of the college and church leader. 


     Is that Captain Morgan, no, it is Colonel Benjamin Cleveland.

    Colonel Benjamin Cleveland was born in Orange County, Virginia, on May 28, 1738. He was an American pioneer and officer in the North Carolina militia where he fought in the Battle of Kings Mountain (see Day 251). Cleveland Tennessee is named in his honor, but not Cleveland Ohio, which was named after another Cleveland.

     Got to go before the tornado touches down.

McDonald, Tennessee

Day 1337

     McDonald Tennessee is a small community outside Cleveland, Tennessee. Nobody seems to know anything about McDonald. It is thought it was established in 1850, but no one knows why, or for whom it is named. Isn’t that pathetic?

     Some of the places we visit suggest wearing a mask:








     They were not amused.


Technical Stuff:

Cave City, Kentucky to McDonald, Tennessee: 247.4 miles

5 hours 8 minutes

10.9 MPG

Diesel: $2.10

Mammoth Cave, Kentucky

Day 1335

     Mammoth Cave is the longest cave system in the world with 400 miles of surveyed passages.

     The cave’s name refers to the large width and length of the passages. These passages were formed by the flow of the Green River which also carved out huge rooms. 

     The park was established as a national park on July 1, 1941. The cave has a long and storied history spanning hundreds of years, which you would probably find boring.

     Normally Mammoth Cave has 8 guided tours. Because of the China Virus, they have all been cancelled. Now, most of the Cave is closed to the public because of its narrow passages which would cause people to bunch up. The only thing that is open is a self guided tour of about a mile and a half into the cave limited to the wide passages and rooms.

     Concluding from trash left behind, archeologists have determined the cave was first explored about 4,000 years ago.

     What? A room built inside the cave? Yep, For a while parts of the cave were used to treat tuberculosis patients. It was thought that the air of the cave rendered a cure. They were wrong.

     You do have to watch out, you never know what will come out of these million year old caves.

Cave City, Kentucky

Day 1334

     In October, 1853, 4 businessmen from Louisville, Kentucky, formed a land company and purchased the land Cave City now stands. They envisioned a resort town to accommodate the visitors to nearby Mammoth Cave. Cave City was incorporated in 1866 as their vision became a reality. Aside from tourism, the city’s economy is largely retail focusing on antiques and consignment stores. However that reality is now over as we toured the city to find, as a result of the china virus, every single business closed, with the city looking like a ghost town. 

     So, we looked for other things to do. 

    We went to Munfordville (named after Richard Jones Munford, who donated the land to establish the new county seat in 1816) to view Kentucky’s Stonehenge.

     It is the creation of Munfordville native Chester Fryer. After acquiring over 1,000 acres of land here, Fryer relocated nearly every large rock he could find in order to create his masterpiece. I sure would like to know how he moved and stacked those suckers. 

     We spent the rest of the day hiking the Green River.

     The Green River is a 384-mile-long tributary of the Ohio River. Over thousands of years this river formed Mammoth Cave, located along river miles 188 to 210. 

     In a theory that is too complicated for my pea brain to understand, part of the river flows underground, as the river flows through what is now the cave, it dissolved limestone deposits causing multiple layers in the cave, these started as sinkholes. 

     Looking from the top of part of the mountain I could not see the sinkholes. I hiked down the mountain and found one.

     I wanted to take a photo looking straight down the sinkhole, but as I took the next step after taking the above photo, I began to sink into the riverbed. So, that is the best I can give you. 

     I am not exactly sure how this underground river works, but this diagram is supposed to explain it.

     This is what we saw:

     Nevertheless it was a nice, strenuous hike, particularly climbing back up the mountain.

Technical Stuff:

Columbus, Indiana to Cave City, Kentucky: 151.6 miles

3 hours 2 minutes

11.5 MPG

Diesel: $2.16

Columbus, Indiana

Day 1333

     We are leaving Amish Country and heading for Mammoth Cave in Kentucky.

     As we are leaving the campground, we pass the pasture with the Amish Belgium Work horses. You can tell they are Belgium by their accent.

     We stopped here in Columbus for one night without unhooking the Sphinx from the Truck.

And, therefore, did not explore the town or the area. Sometimes you just want to stop for the night and lay around and do nothing. Since I am laying around doing nothing, I decided to do some calculations. We have now been on the road for 4 years. Including campsite fees, food, diesel, propane, restaurants, admission to museums and events, and hotspot coverage for communications and internet, our costs are $90.34 a day. At home our costs were about $120.00 a day. 


Technical Stuff:

Shipshewana, Indiana to Columbus, Indiana: 227.9 miles

4 hours 28 minutes

9.2 MPG

Diesel: $2.16

Fidler Pond, Goshen Indiana

Day 1328

     When Lewis Fidler returned to Goshen Indiana after serving in the Navy during World War II, he opened up a filling station. He made a decent living, but the nearby land proved to be more valuable. He purchased the land intending to sell it to developers, but used it to start a sand and gravel business.

     Then in 1955, Fidler bought a ready-mix concrete company, followed by a concrete block company. Taking the gravel from the ground create a huge pit, which filled with water and today is called Fidler Pond, after being purchased by the city of Goshen for $550,000.  The city turned the land into Fidler Pond Park, opening Labor Day, 2013.

     Today’s hike took us around the pond.

     The pond, at its deepest, is 69 feet.

     This is the same turtle we saw at Goshen Millrace. He must have followed us here.

Amish Dinner, Shipshewana, Indiana

Day 1327

     When we met with Orvan Fry to have the Sphinx inspected by him for repairs and possible updates, he suggest we have the vehicles weighed. We do this once a year or so. There are limits as to what the Sphinx can carry. It is rated for 16,000 pounds. From that we subtract the weight of all the contents, bed, sofa, chairs, etc. All those weights are given us when we purchased the RV. We are also informed of the cargo capacity after those weights are subtracted, which is 3,175 lbs. That would be all the stuff we put in the RV, clothes, food in the fridge, lawn chairs, etc. Don’t forget we also add water and poop (Barbara more than I). Water weighs 8 pounds per gallon. We have three 40 gallon waste tanks, and a 60 gallon fresh water tank.

     We took the truck and Sphinx to a granary where they had a scale for large vehicles. We weighed the truck first, then we weighed the truck hooked up to the Sphinx, but only the truck wheels on the scale. We subtract the stand alone truck weight from this weight which tells us the amount of weight the Sphinx hitch is placing in the bed of the truck. We then weigh the truck and Sphinx together. Subtracting the truck and hitch weight from the total weight of the 2 vehicles tells us the weight on the axles of the Sphinx. Listed on the truck (just like your car) and the Sphinx are the actual weights each vehicle can carry. As it turns out, we are 80 lbs below our maximum weight.

     Barbara now realizes she can buy 80 more pounds of stuff. So off we go to the little shops run by the Amish in Shipshewana.

     Unfortunately, we walk by a candy store where I stocked up on my favorites, now she can only buy 70 lbs. of stuff.

     While Barbara was shopping, I was talking to an Amish guy making fresh caramel popcorn. It turns out he and his wife offer a home cooked Amish dinner for us tourists. So I signed us up.

     John and Elaine have a small farm just outside Shipshewana. We arrived early and walked around. 

     They plant a garden and grow a lot of their own food. Being Amish, they are not hooked up to the electric grid. However, they do have solar panels to supplement their diesel and propane generators. 

     We were joined by 2 other couples for dinner.

     After dinner we sat around and talked. Thereafter Elaine played on a keyboard

and we sang non denominational songs, like Amazing Grace. Then more leisure conversation to wrap up the evening.

All this, an Amish tradition. 


Goshen Millrace Canal, Indiana

Day 1325

     The Goshen Hydraulic Canal (The Millrace) was put into service on April 18, 1868, the same day Goshen, Indiana was incorporated as a city.  It was designed to provide water power to the new industries in the area and was progressively used for steam generation, electrical generation, ice production, recreation and much more.

     A Millrace is a body of water used to turn a water wheel.

     We hiked the canal.

     Along the banks you can hear the croaking of frogs. Once in a while, they would greet us on the trail.

     You never knew what is going to pop up out of the canal, a snake,

 a turtle,

     Wildflowers were abundant.

     When you came to a widening of the canal, ducks and geese would gather.

     We came across this family

     At the beginning of the trail, you could take the path we took along the canal, or another path that took you through the woods. Both were about the same length, 5 miles round trip. This made this sign very amusing. At this point the trials crossed. To take this picture I am standing on the woods trial. The cross traffic that does not stop is us. (As you can see, Barbara did stop.)

     Various bridges crossed the canal

     One of the oldest and unique was this stone bridge. Originally built of wood in the 1880’s by the Hawks Furniture Company, it was rebuilt of stone in 1905 when the wooden bridge was destroyed. Its purpose was to carry people and goods between the company’s two building on either side of the canal.

     We had to pause as Barbara herded a gaggle of geese across the trail.

     Is this the source of the canal?

Hiking Through the Amish Countryside, Indiana

Day 1324

     While the Sphinx is being worked on, we toured the Amish towns in the area. We began with a hike on The Little Elkhart River.

     Just off the river were some very nice parks

     Continuing our walk along the river we came upon the Bonneyville Mill.

     Normally we would go through the mill, looking at the millstones and explore the grinding process. Because of the china virus, the mill was closed to visitors. However, the mill master did give us a verbal tour, him inside, and us out.

     We then drove the Heritage Trail which took us through 6 small towns: Elkhart, Goshen, Nappanee, Middlebury, Bristol (is this where the Bristol Stomp came from?), and Wakarusa. This time of year, the main draw of the trail are the six Quilt Gardens.

     Starting last week, and proceeding through September 14, 2020, Gardens are designed and planted in the shape of Quilts.

     We stopped at Enchanted Gardens, where they had a petting zoo

     However, some of the animals were practicing social distancing

     This ostrich wanted to pluck my eye out.

     We talked to Sara who is the chief planter of the Quilt Garden in Wakarusa, Indiana. This bed was planted two weeks ago. 15 volunteers planted 3,000 plants in 4 hours to make this design.

     Well, I see it is time to go:

Shipshewana, Indiana

Day 1319

     Because of the China Virus we spent an extend time in Louisiana, just above New Orleans, where we got caught in the Country Lockdown. Now that the lockdown has been lifted, we find that the reason we would go to our next destination is not available at this time, with all museums and public places still closed. So, we decided, now is a good time to have minor, non-essential maintenance done on the Sphinx.

     The best place to have work done on a Cedar Creek 5th wheel is a small shop in Topeka, Indiana. So off we went (one of the great things of having your house on wheels), through Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Kentucky, and Indiana, 1008 miles, 8 days, where we set up camp in Shipshewana, a few miles from the repair shop. 

    We have been to Shipshewana before (see Day 417). Indiana is where 70% of all RV’s are manufactured. Forest River, the manufacturer of the Cedar Creek 5th Wheel, is located in Elkhart, Indiana, because of the heavy Amish population whom they employ for their highly skilled craftsmanship. 

     The shop we took the Sphinx today, Amish Family RV, is owned by Orvan Fry, who was employed by Forest River, Cedar Creek Division, for 17 years. When he left there, he opened up his own shop and works strictly on Cedar Creek Recreational Vehicles. He is renowned throughout the Country for his workmanship. We had met him at a Forest River Rally in Goshen Indiana a number of years ago (see Day 420).

     While we were at his shop today to outline what we wanted done, he pointed out other items that, if attended to now, would help us avoid other problems in the future. We also decided to have some upgrades made to the Sphinx, since we are already here. 

Technical Stuff:

Elizabethtown, Kentucky to Shipshewana, Indiana: 332.6 miles

6 hours 48 minutes

11.3 MPG

Diesel: $1.94 gallon