Frogmore Plantation, Louisiana

Day 278

     Frogmore Plantation, in what is now called Feriday, Louisiana, was built on an enviable plot of real estate. A farmer named Daniel Morris built the farm along an early wagon trail that stretched from Natchez, Mississippi to Natchitoches—a city that, at 300 years old is Louisiana’s oldest. The trade route eventually led to the Camino Real in Texas, and all of this interstate travel meant that Frogmore’s cotton was easy to ship across the South and beyond. By the time the Civil War came to Louisiana, the once-tiny plantation had grown to a massive 2,640 acres.The plantation is named after Frogmore, England. 

     Today it is still a working cotton plantation, with a section kept as it looked in 1815. Barbara was tasked with picking cotton, but she didn’t meet her quota, and I had to leave her. 

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Tupelo, Mississippi

Day 269

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     Tupelo, Mississippi, is best known as the birthplace of Elvis Presley. Of course we visited his home. He was born here January 8, 1935 at 4:35 AM. 

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     We also visited the Tupelo Automobile Museum.  This museum had cars that I had not seen before, such as:

     Toyopet Crown Deluxe (1958). First Toyota offered for sale in the US:

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     Benz (not yet Mercedes-Benz) (1886)

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     Olds (1902)

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     Carter Car (1912) a friction drive automobile – no clutch, no transmission, no driveshaft, no gears.

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Quiz:       (what, you didn’t study?):

     Can you name these hood ornaments?

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1. Plymouth (1959) 2. Lincoln Mark IV (1976) 3. Packard (1929) 4. Pierce Arrow (1929)    5. Cadillac (1939) 6. Triumph (1949)  7. Stutz (1927)  8. Lincoln (1931)

Of course, you remember this grill: day-269-tupelo-ms-9838_fotor

Engines were so much simpler in the 50’s

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Technical Stuff:

Huntsville, AL to Tupelo, MS 179.5 miles

3 hours 57 minutes

9.8 MPG

Diesel: $2.26

Tobacco is King, North Carolina

Day 250

    Washington Duke was born on December 18, 1820 in eastern Orange County, North Carolina. In 1852, Duke built a homestead on land in Durham, NC his father gave him when he married. He was drafted into the Civil War in 1864, and when he returned in 1865 he became interested in growing tobacco. By 1890 he had the largest tobacco company in the world, The American Tobacco Company. In 1911 the company was broken up by the Sherman Anti-Trust Act.

     We toured the Duke Homestead, but because of the rain, we did not go to any of the out buildings, only the Tobacco Museum.

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     The museum had a section on the history of spittoons and cuspidors. Barbara does not think I should go into great detail on that subject.

     They did have this replica of the Liberty Bell built of Tobacco Leaves.

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     Tidbit of information: In 1924, Trinity College becomes Duke University.

     Of course, you remember the logo of Lucky Strike Cigarettes, LS/MFT? 

Cotton Exchange, Memphis, Tennessee

Day 215

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     When I think of cotton fields, I think of “Gone With The Wind” and darkies in the field.

     Eli Whitney invented the cotton gin in 1793. (“gin” stands for engine and not a still.) That made separating the seeds from the cotton easier, the cotton still had to be picked by hand.

     Although Samuel S. Rembert and Jedediah Prescott received the first patent for a cotton harvester in 1850, it was not until 1936 that the first commercial harvester was produced by John and Mack Rust. 

     Delta Airlines, named for the Delta of the Mississippi where it was founded, began as the world’s first crop dusting organization in 1924. 

     After the Civil War, Cotton was traded as a commodity. Because of its location on the Mississippi River, Memphis became a center point of cotton sales in the South. The Memphis Cotton Exchange was incorporated on April 20, 1874 to regulate cotton marketing in the city. The exchange had exclusive membership, limited to men only. 

     Cotton is graded into qualities based on the content of seeds and other stuff in the cotton. This is called classing. For example, a higher quality cotton would be used for bed sheets, with a lower quality for denim jeans. This is where the phrase “fair to middling” comes from. It had to be done in natural sunlight, therefore it was done on the top floor of the Exchange under north facing skylights. It could not be done on cloudy days.  

     The centerpiece of the exchange was a large blackboard placed high above the trading floor. Only members were allowed on the trading floor, and you had to be invited to be a member. 

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    Everything changed with the advent of the computer, which made it possible to get prices and trade electronically. The exchange closed in 1974. 

     Tidbit of information: The Confederate currency was backed by cotton rather than gold. You can see the image of cotton on every note issued by the Southern States. 

     Do you recognize this symbol? day-215-cotton-exchange-tn-8461_fotor

     In the 1950’s and 60’s synthetic fibers were becoming more popular because of their ease of use and being wrinkle free. As a result, textile mills were buying less cotton. Cotton Inc. was formed in 1970 to promote the use of cotton and therefore their share of the market. In 1973 they introduced the “seal of cotton” so the consumer could easily identify cotton products. Evidently it worked. (Sort of “look for the union label”). You sang that in your head, didn’t you?

 

 

 

Hot Springs, Arkansas

Day 209

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     The hot springs in Hot Springs, Arkansas is created by thermal fusion. Other springs, like in Yellowstone National Park, are heated by volcanic action. 

     First, the statistical information that I present in these blogs is provide me by the National Park Rangers, Docents, or Placards at the places we visit. Second, I have a hard time wrapping my head around the information I received at Hot Springs National Park in Arkansas in reference to the age of the water. 

    The spring water comes from rainfall that seeps down into the earth where it is heated by the heat generated from the earth’s core. To become a hot spring, the water must find a fault in the core to rapidly make it’s way to the surface, otherwise it would cool as it returns to the surface. The temperature of the water here at Hot Springs is 143 degrees. 

     According to the Park Ranger, the water in the springs fell as rain over 4,000 years ago. This is determined by carbon dating. 4,000 years ago? I find that hard to believe. Further, according to the Ranger, 

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750,000 gallons of water comes up through the springs each day. Therefore, if it doesn’t rain here ever again, they have water for the next 4,000 years?

     Further, if I drink this water, and there are numerous fountains throughout the city, then fall into a cave and die, and my body is found 1 year later, at which time they decide to do carbon dating on me, will they think I am 4000 years old? Just saying. 

     This area was part of the Louisiana Purchase of 1803. President Jefferson sent explorers William Dunbar and George Hunter to investigate the Springs, which had been known to French fur traders and indians for some time. The report to Jefferson became widely known, drawing many people to this area for what they thought was a therapeutic value to the hot water. 

     There are 47 springs here. Crude bathhouses were built over the springs. However, as the area grew the water became contaminated because the residents and visitors dumped their waste into the streams. This caused the Federal Government to take the unprecedented step in 1832 of creating part of this area as a Reservation. Nevertheless they did nothing to control the land until 1877 when the Government took steps to preserve the creek and springs. 

     By 1916 the Government had walled in or covered and locked most of the springs to prevent contamination.

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   They did leave a number of places you can access the springs. 

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     At this spring I tried putting my hand in the far end, but the temperature, 137 degrees, was too hot for me keep it in the water for more that a few seconds. 

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     The configuration of the Hot Springs National Park is unique in that a city had been developed before the Feds took over. Therefore part of the city is actually in the National Park. The only brewery in a National Park is located here. We stopped in so I could have a beer (root). We had a table overlooking one of the springs.

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     Today, there are only 2 bathhouses in operationOf course we could not pass up the opportunity to bathe in the hot spring water at one of the bath houses. There were 4 pools, each 2 degrees warmer than the previous, culminating at 104 degrees.

Technical Stuff:

Branson, MO to Hot Springs, AR 232.1 miles

5 hours 22 minutes

10.6 MPG

Diesel: $2.24

St. Joseph, Missouri

Day 185

     Saint Joseph was first settled as a trading post for the American Fur Co. by Joseph Robidoux in 1826. Later he acquired the site and laid out a town named for his patron saint.

     In looking at a map, you would think that Saint Joseph would have been part of the Louisiana Purchase in 1803. And it would have been but for a clause that gave the Indians in the area this land in perpetuity. That only lasted until 1836 when the Indians sold out (or forced out, depending on who is telling the story) by the Platee Purchase. 

    Coming down the river, or overland from the East, from this point the pioneers took off for the West. By 1859 St. Joseph was the western terminus for the railroad. 

     St. Joseph is also famous for an event that took place here on April 3, 1882: 

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     This is the house where that dirty little coward shot Mr. Howard, and laid poor Jesse in his grave.

     We took a detour to go to Missouri Western State University. Before reading any more, do you know why?

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     It was to visit the memorial honoring the most trusted man in America.

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              Walter let me take his picture.

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                                      AND THAT’S THE WAY IT IS.

Technical Stuff:

Nebraska City, NE to St. Joseph, MO 86.6 Miles

1 hour 48 minutes

10.1 MPG

Diesel: $2.32

Florence, Nebraska

Day 184

     Like others, the Mormons left to go West. But their vision was different. They were in no rush to get to their destination. More than likely Brigham Young did not know his ultimate destination at this time. But he did know that others would be following their path (literally) that he would be taking.

     Between 1839 and 1846 the Latter-day Saints gathered on the banks of the Mississippi to built a city they called Nauvoo, Ill. They were immigrating here from all over the world. The rapid growth of the city and the distinctive religious beliefs of its inhabitants disturbed other settlers. These differences eventually erupted in conflict, inciting the murder of the Mormon’s founder, Joseph Smith and his brother Hyrum and forcing the Saints to leave the city.

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     During their trek west, they stopped here in what is now Florence, Nebraska to weather out the winter. They ended up staying 2 years. During that time they built homes and planted croups not only for themselves but also for those that would be following.

     After the Mormons arrived in Utah in 1847, they continued to improve the trail leading into the Great Basin. They built bridges, set up ferries across rivers, and wrote a detailed emigrant’s guide so that those who followed would have an easier time along the trail. 

     To encourage other Mormon emigrants, they set up the Perpetual Emigration Fund that provided money to buy wagons and oxen for those wishing to make the trip West. After 20 years 80,000 Latter-day Saint pioneers had settled in Utah.     

     Today a museum sits where they wintered camped to tell their story. When we entered the free museum we were greeted by a church member who gave us a personal tour of the museum. Although he did not try to convert us, the opportunity was there.

Bet You Didn’t Know:

     Brigham Young wanted to leave a detailed trail for others to follow. The Mormons at first tied a rag to a wagon wheel. 360 turns of the wheel equaled a mile. 

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     They then developed this cog system. Each turn of the wheel moved a peg in a cog, which moved a numbered gear. With precision they could now say go 5 miles, and it was five miles. 

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