Black & White Reflections

Smooth As Glass

Dock at boat ramp, Big Mantrap Lake, MinnesotaCFFC

 

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Backroads America: Submerged

Returned to the Wild

Section of the C&O Canal in the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historical Park, along Berm Road, near Hancock, Maryland

Trees growing in the historic Chesapeake and Ohio (C&O) Canal in the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historical Park, along Berm Road, near Hancock, Maryland. By design, the 19th-century canal ran parallel to the Potomac River in the states of Maryland, West Virginia, and Virginia. The 185 mile canal moved coal, lumber, and agricultural products down from Cumberland, Maryland to markets in Georgetown, Virginia. Built between 1828 and 1850, plans originally called for the canal to connect to the Ohio River; exorbitant costs and construction issue resulted in the canal terminating in Cumberland. Goods began moving down the lower section of the canal in 1831. But even as canal construction continued, the newly expanding railroad system brought competition to the waterway. The canal’s best years in the early 1870s were followed by an economic depression and several devastating floods. After another flood in 1924, canal operations ceased and no further repairs undertaken. By then, the railroad had captured most of the regions trade.

In a way, though, the railroads  are responsible for the preservation of  the historic and natural features of the canal. In 1889, a flood forced the canal company into receivership, and the B&O Railroad bought the majority of the canal’s bonds. In 1938 the railroad sold the entire canal to the U.S. Government for $2 million, and it was placed under the supervision of the National Park Service. In 1961 President Eisenhower designated it a national monument, and  in 1971 Congress authorized the C & O Canal a National Historical Park. Check out the Park’s website for information  walking and biking trails, information centers, and other activities in the park.  The Western Maryland Rail Trail runs along the canal in this area.

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Aquatic Patterns

Reflective Ripples

Ripples, Dusk on Big Mantrap Lake, Minnesota

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Backroads America: Grotto of the Redemption

Holy Row

Stations of the Cross, Grotto of the Redemption, West Bend, Iowa

Stations of the Cross, Grotto of the Redemption, West Bend, Iowa

If you are ever near West Bend, Iowa, you must try to visit the Grotto of the Redemption. It is a worthwhile detour, regardless of your religious affiliation or lack thereof.  Father Paul Dobberstein, a German immigrant, began construction of the grotto in 1912 and continued building for 42 years.  He collected materials for years before beginning construction. According to iowabeautiful.com, the Grotto is “a complex of nine different grottos in West Bend, Iowa, each one portraying a different scene from the life of Christ. The fourteen Stations of the Cross are also depicted. The grottos were built using stones and gems from all over the world. It was started in 1912 and now covers nearly a whole city block. The materials used in its construction are considered to be the world’s most complete man-made collection of minerals, fossils, shells, and petrifications in one place.”

I will have a longer post about the Grotto soon.

Backroads America: Roadside Attraction Graveyard

Where do all the molds for roadside attractions and other fiberglass art go? If it was manufactured by FAST (Fiberglass Animals, Shapes & Trademarks) look no further than their mold yard in Sparta, Wisconsin.

In business for over 30 years, FAST began producing roadside attractions. It now makes water slides, fountains, sculptures, and many of the fiberglass animals on parade in cities.

FAST allows guests to wander through the mold yard at their own risk. It is well worth a visit if you are in the area. The weather and nature have not been kind to the molds but that adds to their appeal.

Overstock item are displayed along the road. Priced are listed on FAST’s website. Santa goes for $11,193.

Products can be seen in Sparta.

Backroads America: Nevis, Minnesota

65 Foot Tiger Muskie Statue

The king of fish in some Minnesota lakes. Legally, only muskies over 54 inches or longer can be kept. Anything smaller has to be released. The muskellunge, its proper name, is the top predator in Minnesota lakes. It is illusive and a fighter when caught. It is native to many Minnesota lakes though it is also stocked in other lakes because of its popularity with anglers.

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