I'm heading down a new road, so to speak. Instead of the long articles relating a roadtrip down a complete highway, I'll now be posting much shorter articles. And the scope will be wider, covering just about everything from the year 1962. This should allow me to post more often, and allow you to have more fun reading. I'm not sure just how often I will post something, but this page will always show the five most recent articles, with the newest at the top. Older articles will be archived at the Blog Archives page. I may even include articles from other people, so if you have something to say about 1962, please let me know. Topics will cover:
- 1962 News of the World
- 1962 News of the Nation
- 1962 Local News
- 1962 in Sports
- 1962 in Entertainment and the Arts (including movies, TV, music, art, fashion, architecture, design, books, comics, and more)
- 1962 in Science
- Cars of 1962
- Consumer Products and Retail in 1962 (including just about anything you could buy, plus the stores you could buy it in)
- On the Road in 1962 (road and roadtrip topics, including things I typically covered on my long journeys)
- More Fun From 1962! (everything else that sounds like fun, like special events and more pop culture)
The End of 1962
I hope you all had a Merry Christmas! It’s the end of another year and time for a “year in review” type post on Roadtrip-'62 ™. This was the first year that we traveled down multiple highways, instead of taking a long multi-year trip. Chances are good that we traveled to someplace near you, and chances are good that we traveled to someplace you’ve never been to. Though, after I looked through the list below, I realized that most of the trips have been out east. So, next year Roadtrip-'62 ™ will try to head west more often!
We began the year with the first journey Roadtrip-'62 ™ ever took on a three-digit highway, US-223. This was a natural side trip from our US-23 trip, and is our shortest trip at just 56 miles, from near Somerset, Michigan to Toledo, Ohio in 1962. It is scheduled to someday be replaced by I-73, but for now it has only been shortened by 6 miles near the Toledo end. Speaking of Toledo, it’s a great place to begin a roadtrip because in addition to US-223, highways US-20, US-23, US-24, and US-25 all pass through town!
Next up saw us on route US-10, which we did in two parts. Early in the year we looked at Ludington, Michigan, the east end of a ferry that carries the route across Lake Michigan. Later in the year we ran over to the Manitowoc, Wisconsin end of the ferry. If we had continued west to the end of US-10, we would have passed through Glendive, Montana. Today, it’s the site of the Glendive Dinosaur & Fossil Museum, and there was a museum display of dinosaur bones in town even in 1962. The Museum is unusual in that it displays dinosaur reconstructions in the context of the Bible, instead of in the context of geological science.
I then turned to the most northerly of the US-numbered routes, following US-2 through all the National Parks and other national recreational lands along the way. There were so many sites, it took two posts to mention them all! Highway US-2 also meets highway US-10…all roads lead to Spokane, Washington. There, we could have been served dinner in our car by the girls at the Top Hat Drive-In.
Between some of these other trips, we looked more 3-digit routes. On US-202 from Wilmington, Delaware north, we saw Revolutionary War sites and crossed the Appalachian National Scenic Trail. On US-176, we traveled from the South Carolina coast northwesterly through the state, where saw new freeway construction and learned some history of desegregation in 1962.
We also stopped in Boston, Massachusetts, which like Toledo, hosts several US-numbered routes. Highways US-1, US-3 and US-20 all pass through town. In fact, they have US-20 in common. Route US-20 is now the longest US-numbered route, since US-6 was shortened by California in the late 1960s. It ends at Newport, Oregon, in the midst of scenic Pacific Ocean beaches. A few weeks after the Boston trip, we took a longer look at US-1, starting near its northern end in Maine and making stops all along the way. We stopped in places as diverse as Roosevelt Campobello International Park at the Canadian border, a brand new Holiday in at Attleboro, Massachusetts, shopping centers in Baltimore, Maryland and Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, and rode the newly automated subway line to see one of the first home games of the New York Mets in New York City. All while avoiding the freeways that were just being opened along the route!
After that, we drove all over the New England area, seeing sights along US-3, US-4, US-5, US-7, and US-9. That took three separate posts to cover! We started at the border with Quebec, Canada, where we tried to catch a glimpse of their local Loch Ness type monster, Memphre. Then, we grabbed some maple syrup candies while visiting a marble quarry, and saw some historic homes along the Hudson River in New York state.
I took a trip on part of US-8 in Wisconsin also, where we found a good northwoods pasty for lunch, visited some waterfalls other scenic river sites. Route US-8 also continues west, crossing US-61 near its end in Minnesota. Highway US-61 is also known as The Great River Road, as it parallels the Mississippi River, which I’ll try to write about next year. And, to close out this year, last week’s post covered part of US-11 in Tennessee, with visits to both Revolutionary War and Civil War sites. Of course, many of these routes crossed our first two roadtrips of US-23 and US-6, so we could revisit sites along them.
Of course, besides driving around the United States, there were other posts discussing everything from world news of 1962 down to national news, local news, science news, sports, and even the weather. I took a look at the Boy Scouts, some more Ed-U-Card games, stamp collecting, TV shows, cars, toy guns, and even Holiday Inns. You can find the whole list of posts on the Blog Archives Page.
Just in case you were worried, though it’s the end of the year, it’s not the end of Roadtrip-'62 ™. It’s always 1962 here and we’re always on the road, so I’ll see you again next year with more fun places and more news from 1962! Meanwhile, enjoy the 1962 Christmas / New Year’s party below and thanks for reading!
The Rough & Silk Families Christmas / New Years Party in Romford, United Kingfom, 1962: the Twist, the Limbo, what more could you ask?
US-11 – Driving the Loop in Tennessee
Lately, Roadtrip-'62 ™ has focused on some of the shorter US-numbered routes, but today we’ll look at one of the longer routes: US-11. Route US-11 runs from the Canadian border at Rouses Point, New York to New Orleans, Louisiana. The southern terminus of the route is at US-90, in the Bayou Sauvage National Wildlife Refuge. The refuge was established in 1990 and encompasses 24,000 acres of fresh and brackish marsh within the city limits of New Orleans. Highway US-11 connects the two major east-west border routes in the US-numbered system, US-2 and US-90, while crossing all the transcontinental and other major east-west routes. When the route was first designated in 1927, a memo to the Bureau of Public Roads noted that, “The geography of United States Highway No. 11 is unique among the routes east of the Mississippi in that throughout practically its whole length it follows the Appalachian range, crossing the parallel ridges from valley to valley as topography dictates.”
Because of its favorable location in the valleys of the Appalachian Mountains, various interstate freeways have now paralleled nearly the entire 1,645 miles of US-11. Unlike most other long-distance US-routes, it has not been shortened by these freeways. Only the section from Rouses Point to Watertown, New York has no freeway beside it. In particular, I-81 parallels the route from Watertown to Dandridge, Tennessee. After that point, various segments of I-40 and I-75 continue to run alongside US-11 south to Chattanooga, Tennessee, where I-59 takes up the journey to Slidell, Louisiana. After that, I-10 finishes the short hop into New Orleans. At the New Orleans end, US-11 used to cross the Pearl River on its own bridge until about 1966, when it was rerouted to cross on the new I-59 bridge. The old bridge was dismantled in the mid-1970s, so you cannot drive that part of the 1962 routing. The final segment from Slidell across Lake Pontchartrain was added to the system in 1937, when the State of Louisiana purchased the privately-owned Pontchartrain Bridge.
Highway US-11 crosses both our US-6 and US-23 roadtrips. The route travels together with US-6 from Scranton, Pennsylvania to Factoryville, Pennsylvania. I’ll discuss the crossing of US-23 later in this article. One interesting feature of US-11 is the loop formed by a split into two routes. From Knoxville, Tennessee to Bristol, Tennessee, you have your choice of traveling either US-11E or US-11W. At one time, there were many of these paired routes in the US highway system, but most have been retired, replaced by other numbers, or at least shortened. They came about when state highway officials could not decide which of two routes was more primary and successfully lobbied for both routes to carry a US number. This pair of roads in Tennessee makes an interesting sight-seeing loop of 228 miles through the foothills of the Smoky Mountains. Let’s take a quick tour of this loop, starting in Knoxville.
Knoxville has a zoo that has been completely rebuilt since 1962, when it was experiencing a decline. A small zoo based on what was known as the Birthday Park was opened in 1935, with some funds from the City, the Works Progress Administration, and the Tennessee Valley Authority. It closed in 1946 after suffering from lack of operating funds. Just two years later, citizens decided to try again and the City put up funding in 1951, relaunching the renamed Municipal Zoo. The first attraction was an alligator named Al, the former pet of local family who had acquired the reptile on a Florida vacation. The zoo continued as a small attraction through the 1960s, acquiring an African elephant named Old Diamond in 1963 from the Ringling Brothers Barnum & Bailey Circus. Though Old Diamond was popular and raised interest in the zoo for a while, conditions deteriorated throughout the 1960s. The current Appalachian Zoological Society was founded in 1970, leading to the modern Knoxville Zoo in 1971. The zoo currently is home to about 800 animals.
Another site we could have seen in 1962 is the Blount Mansion, home of William Blount, the only signer of the US Constitution living outside of the 13 original states. It has been open to the public since 1930, when it was saved from demolition for hotel parking by a group that purchased the property. The Blount Mansion Association, Inc. then raised additional funds to restore it, allowing the Blount Mansion to become the oldest museum in Knox County. Blount’s mansion served as the territorial capitol of the Territory of the United States South of the River Ohio as well as his family home. Construction began in 1792, before there was even a city at Knoxville. The mansion is outfitted with period furniture and other artifacts to tell the story of its times as an important government building in the growing frontier of the young United States.
The McClung Museum of Natural History & Culture has a permanent exhibit on The Civil War in Knoxville: The Battle of Fort Sanders. The exhibit contains artifacts, photographs and much more on the city during the war, showing how the area suffered from divided loyalties. Many people of that time favored continued membership in the United States, while others favored succession and joining the new Confederate States. There was even a day in 1861 when simultaneous rallies supporting secession and the Union were held, just days after the surrender of Fort Sumter in Charleston. Tennessee Senator Andrew Johnson, who would later become President after Abraham Lincoln’s assassination, delivered a speech favoring the Union while a Confederate band marched nearby! As a result of the strength of the opposing views, Tennessee was the last state to leave the Union and join the Confederacy at the outbreak of the Civil War. The museum was formally dedicated in 1963, though most of the collection was formed during the 1930s by the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA). The TVA was created in 1933 to provide power and river management to the Tennessee Valley and because of concern for the many archaeological resources to be flooded by the new reservoirs, the TVA, the University of Tennessee, the University of Alabama, and the US National Museum conducted archaeological investigations. Most of the collection of artifacts ended up at the University of Tennessee. In 1955, a bequest from Judge John and Mrs. Ellen McClung Green of Knoxville provided funds to build a museum. The museum building was completed in 1961, just in time for our visit.
There are other historical sites focused on the Confederacy in Knoxville and on its earlier history, including the Museum of East Tennessee History, the Bleak House, also known as Confederate Memorial Hall, and Crescent Bend, an 18th century house and gardens. But in this short review, it’s time for us to head out of town on US-11E.
Morristown, Tennessee is the site of the Crockett Tavern Museum, which opened in 1958. It is a reconstruction of the type of building that would have housed the 1790s John Crockett Tavern, built on the site of the boyhood home of Davy Crockett. The project was an outgrowth of the 1955 Morristown City Centennial, which included an appearance at the local Princess Theater by Fess Parker, during the run of his movie "Davy Crockett, King of the Wild Frontier". The small museum displays artifacts typically found in homesteads and taverns of the period, including a replica of Davy Crockett's first gun. Growing up at the tavern, Davy's duties included hunting game for the supper table and taking care of the livestock of the cattle drovers and sheep herders who stayed there.
Greenville, Tennessee was the capital of the state of Franklin, a short-lived state organized in 1784 out of three North Carolina counties. Tennessee became the 16th state of the United States on June 1, 1796. The city is the home of the Andrew Johnson National Historic Site and National Cemetery because President Johnson lived here both before and after his presidency. The site is spread across the village and includes Johnson's early home, a visitor center that includes his tailor shop and a museum, and the Andrew Johnson National Cemetery. The Historic Site interprets the life and legacy of Andrew Johnson's presidency, including his attempts to reunify a nation torn by civil war. Johnson was the first president of the United States who had been neither a lawyer nor a war hero. During his political career he served in nearly every office available to him, from alderman of Greeneville to President of the United States of America. He never attended a formal school, but acquired much practical knowledge. As President, he served from 1865 to 1868, surviving impeachment. The cemetery where Johnson, his wife, and children are buried, remained owned by the family until 1906. It came under the jurisdiction of the War Department until 1942, when it was transferred to the National Park Service. During its years under the War Department, veterans were buried there, a practice which continues to this day. The Andrew Johnson National Cemetery is one of only two active national cemeteries within the National Park Service.
At Johnson City, Tennessee, we cross our US-23 roadtrip. Johnson City is home to the Tipton-Haynes State Historic Site, a complex of eleven historic buildings. Also on the site are the Tipton/Gifford/Simerly cemetery, a limestone cave, a natural spring, and a short nature trail. The visitor center contains a permanent exhibit, where part of the site’s collection of over 1,000 artifacts representing history from the late 1700s through the early 1900s are displayed. The site tells the story of the history of Northeast Tennessee and of the several families that lived there beginning in 1784. Though you may think of the Revolutionary Period as concerning only the original 13 colonies, this part of the country was being actively settled at that time also. This area was originally part of North Carolina but by 1785, several counties had organized into a State of Franklin. It existed for three years with no major conflicts with the North Carolina loyalists. However, tensions developed into open conflict in February of 1788. A sheriff seized some slaves and other property of the Governor of Franklin, under orders of Colonel John Tipton, and brought them to Tipton’s home here. This action led to the Battle of the State of Franklin. The site became a State Historic Site some time after 1945, when a member of the Haynes family sold the farm to the Tennessee Historical Commission.
Bristol is a very unusual city, having been originally founded to straddle the Tennessee-Virginia state line! The city is actually two separate cities, one in each state, but they are always combined for advertising and statistical purposes. In 1962, we could have visited a fairly new Bristol International Raceway, now known as Bristol Motor Speedway. It opened in 1961 and was almost built in Piney Flats, Tennessee, about seven miles south of the current location. That town didn’t want a racetrack, so the very first NASCAR race at Bristol was held on July 30, 1961. The track is short, only a half-mile oval, but it’s among the most popular tracks on the NASCAR schedule because of its distinct features. These premium features are the extraordinarily steep banking, an all concrete surface, two pit roads, and stadium-like seating. The steep banking was created during a 1969 redesign of the track. This is truly the place to watch great racers: of the 42 drivers in that first 1961 lineup, 11 were on the list when NASCAR named its 50 greatest drivers in 1998.
If you stay in Bristol into the evening, you could check out whatever is playing at the Paramount Center for the Arts. The Paramount is part of a chain of theaters built in the period of 1925-1935 by the Paramount-Publix Corporation, formed by the merger of several movie companies. The company had originally planned to build one "perfect movie house" in every state of the union, but only a few were completed before the Great Depression ended this plan. We saw the Paramounts in Peekskill, New York on our US-6 trip, and Ashland, Kentucky on our US-23 trip. Additionally, at the end of our US-6 trip in Hollywood, California, we saw the El Capitan, which was formerly one of the Paramount chain. The theater here in Bristol was constructed in 1930-31, in a style that has been described as a combination of art deco and Italian Renaissance. As is typical of these large, ornate movie houses, the last movie was shown in 1979 and the building sat essentially empty for the next ten years. The owner donated the theater to a community organization in 1982 and it was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1985. The community began planning how to renovate and re-open it. Over a million dollars was raised locally and the State of Tennessee matched the amount, allowing restoration and eventual re-opening in April of 1991.
The marquee is a replica of the original, as the original was deteriorated beyond repair. The chandeliers in the lobby are the original fixtures, with the exception of the bottom plate, and are of either Tiffany or Lalique glass. Ceiling patterns and murals were redone using hand drawn stencils traced over the original decorations. The concession stand dates from the 1930s, when only candy was sold. It was not until 1947 that popcorn and soft drinks were introduced! The original theater organ was dismantled in the 1950s, when the building was remodeled for stereo sound and Cinemascope projection, with the pipes going to an amusement park in Alabama. We would have seen it without an organ in 1962. But the current Wurlitzer organ was moved here from another Paramount Theatre in Charlottesville, Virginia! The original bathrooms were extravagant, with the men’s room decorated like a hunting lodge and the women’s interior covered in Carrara glass. These were not restored to their previous elegance. Today, the Center is operated by a local non-profit corporation. You can see showings of popular movies, such as "It's a Wonderful Life" during the Christmas season, or showings of PBS Masterpiece Theater television dramas on the big screen. They also offer live stand-up comedy by nationally-known acts, or musical acts ranging from country by Wynonna to rock by a Led Zeppelin tribute group. Local events are also held here.
Before you leave Bristol, another stop you could make either in 1962 or today is at Bristol Caverns, which has been open since at least the 1940s. Tours go to all three levels of the caverns, so they include some rather steep stairs. But it has a great Underground River, which is a feature I always enjoy in a cave. At Bristol, we turn around and head back southwest on US-11W, the other half of the US-11 split route. We soon arrive in Kingsport, Tennessee, which we discussed on Day 12 of our US-23 roadtrip. After that, it’s about a 92-mile drive back to Knoxville. I hope you had a nice trip driving the Tennessee loop of US-11 and I’ll see you soon back in 1962 at Roadtrip-'62 ™.
World News of December 1962
This week, Roadtrip-'62 ™ bounces all around the world, looking at news. Unfortunately, some of it looks the same as what we have 56 years later!
The conflict in modern-day Yemen has been ongoing since at least 1962, when the monarchy in Yemen was overthrown. The coup came just one week after the previous ruler, Imam Ahmad died in September and his son ascended to the throne. The army rebelled, declaring a republic and sending the new imam into exile. The conflict between royalist and republican forces continued beyond the end of the year, with Saudi Arabia supporting the deposed imam and Egypt supporting the army. Following Yemen’s coup in 1962, unrest in the adjacent British Crown Colony of Aden followed in 1963. This forced the British into a hasty exit and the country fell into conflict, as some of the local sultanates did not want to join a proposed federation.
The era of the early 1960s found the colonial powers of Great Britain, France, Spain, Portugal, Netherlands, and even Belgium granting independence to their colonies for both philosophical and economic reasons. Unfortunately, most of the new countries immediately devolved into internal wars as old conflicts had never been resolved, just hidden under colonial power. Aden, which was one of 16 states joining a federation to be named South Arabia, was no exception. An additional four states refused to join South Arabia. The entire area was united with the former Yemen in 1990, though that was also short-lived. In 2011, another coup occurred, another leader fled, and today, Yemen is again in another civil war that has impoverished the country. The current war is again being funded and supported by outside forces: Saudi Arabia and Iran are now on opposite sides.
The Caribbean region was very busy politically during 1962, with two colonies becoming independent from Great Britain. Jamaica became an independent nation on August 6th, adopting a flag in the now-familiar colors of green, gold, and black. The next month, the country was granted membership in the United Nations. Trinidad-Tobago achieved independence on August 31st. It also became a member of the United Nations in 1962, as did four countries in Africa: Algeria, Burundi, Rwanda, and Uganda. Originally, the British had encouraged a federation among ten of their Caribbean territories, known as the West Indies Federation. The colonies included, mostly of the Leeward and Windward Islands groups, were Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Dominica, Grenada, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Anguilla, Montserrat, Cayman Islands, and Turks and Caicos Islands. This federation was in effect from January 3, 1958, to May 31, 1962, but political conflicts over how the federation would be governed and how it would function doomed it, as Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago went their separate ways.
Elsewhere in the Caribbean, The Bahamas held their first election in which women were allowed to vote! Voters turned out in high numbers, with over 90% of eligible voters estimated to have cast ballots. They elected legislators from four different parties to serve in their national House of Assembly.
Hatian President Duvalier took full control of the island’s economy, stating that the country would continue their development program without United States help, after the United States instituted a three month suspension of all aid and arms shipments. The United States was concerned that arms had been passed to the wrong hands and demanded that the island government provide a weapon-by-weapon status report for all arms shipped since 1960. President Duvalier refused to comply. It appears that his “development” plans were not successful, as Haiti is still the poorest country in the Americas.
Puerto Rico is unique in the Caribbean area, as the island is a commonwealth of the United States. It had scheduled a vote during 1962 on whether it should remain a commonwealth, become independent, or become a state. The vote was postponed, however, because the US Congress had not yet worked out details of committing to any change, if a change were selected. The referendum was not held until 1967, becoming the first of five such votes. Continued commonwealth status received the most votes then. In the fifth plebiscite held on June 11, 2017, statehood received the most votes. The independence option only received 1.5% of the vote in the 2017 referendum. Congress has not yet dealt with the results of this vote, just as it never dealt with any of the others.
Three new international bridges between Canada and the United States opened in 1962. The Canadian half of a bridge over the St. Lawrence River at Cornwall, Ontario and Massena, New York was completed. A new bridge at Sault St. Marie, Michigan and Ontario was completed at the end of highway US-2. And the world’s longest steel arch bridge opened over the Niagara River between Lewiston, New York and Queenston, Ontario. The bridge at Sault Ste. Marie handled about 7,000 vehicles a day over its 2.8 mile roadbed in 2012. The bridge crosses the shipping channel with a clearance of 128 feet, so that ocean-going ships can pass under it. If you are looking for other bridge news from 1962, please check the Roadtrip-'62 ™ Bridges, Brides, and More Bridges page.
Canada also completed another transportation marvel, the Trans-Canada Highway. This twelve-year long project unites the east and west coasts of Canada with a paved, 4,860-mile road ready for roadtrips across the country. It includes ferry connections between the island provinces of Nova Scotia and Newfoundland. A future bridge link was also announced between the mainland and Prince Edward Island, to replace one ferry on the Trans-Canada route by 1970. Canada immediately turned from roads to railroads, beginning construction of a new 430-mile line to Great Slave Lake in the Northwest Territories.
Canada devalued their dollar in May, officially pegging it at 92.5 cents to a US Dollar. The purpose was to encourage exports by reducing their prices. The effort was not enough to significantly reduce the Canadian trade deficit, and the government set new higher tariffs on imported goods later in 1962. Meanwhile, tariff reductions with the United States on certain goods were negotiated under the newly-passed US Trade Expansion Act of 1962. This law has recently come back into focus, as President Trump used it in 2017 to begin investigations into dumping of steel and aluminum into the United States at below market prices, primarily by China.
The year saw little progress on ratification of the 1962 Columbia River power treaty, which was intended to allow construction of more dams across the Canadian portion of that bi-national river in exchange for permitting long-term sales of electric power back to the United States.
Newsreel of Steelton, Pennsylvania 1962 baseball excursion train wreck from British Pathé.
As more travel occurs by road and air, do train wrecks seem to become rarer? Unfortunately not, as recent years have continued to see many train crashes resulting in many deaths, just like in 1962. The worst wreck of that year was on May 3, 1962 in Tokyo, Japan, where 163 people were killed when two separate commuter trains were involved in a crash with a freight train. This wreck, referred to as the Mikawashima train crash, is considered the 25th worst train crash in history. Next worst was a crash in The Netherlands, where 91 people were killed in January 1962 in a commuter train accident. Fortunately, the numbers of deaths goes down from there, with the next most hazardous crashes killing 69 people in India and another in Italy killing 63 people. Other crashes occurred in Columbia, Poland, Romania and Yugoslavia, killing between 40 and 24 persons each. All but two of these also involved a crash between a freight train and a passenger train.
Of the nine worst train wrecks in 1962, only one was in the United States. It was a special baseball excursion train running to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, that was derailed near Steelton, Pennsylvania. The derailment caused five cars to run off the track, with three rolling down an embankment into the Susquehanna River. A total of 119 people were hurt and 19 died. Some bodies were so mangled they had to be identified from fingerprints.
President Kennedy made the least visits to foreign countries of any year of his short presidency, visiting only two countries. He visited Mexico in June, meeting with President Lopez Mateos. One point of contention with Mexico was the destruction of farmland in the Mexicali valley due to an irrigation project in Arizona. The taking of water by the United States for this project left the remaining river water too salty, ruining about 50,000 acres of rich Mexican farmland. During his visit, President Kennedy pledged to immediately improve the situation. Mexico celebrated paying off a debt owed to British and US oil companies that was incurred back in 1938, when Mexico nationalized all foreign oil development into their state-run Pemex company. President Kennedy’s other foreign trip was to The Bahamas, where he concluded the “Nassau Agreement” on nuclear defense systems with Prime Minister Macmillan of Great Britain in December. As part of this agreement, the United States agreed to supply Great Britain with its Polaris missiles. These gave Great Britain the capability to launch nuclear weapons from submarines. In return, The US was granted rights to store its nuclear weapons on British territories.
US-10 Cruise: the Manitowoc end in Wisconsin
A few weeks ago I discussed route US-10, noting that it is one of only two US-numbered highways with a ferry connection: the other is US-9, between Cape May, New Jersey and Lewes, Delaware. Highway US-10 used to officially be two separate parts, but in 2015, the ferry S.S. Badger was officially designated as part of the highway. The S.S. Badger now actually has an image of a US-10 route sign on the ship! The ship began service in 1953 and was only 10 years old by 1962, so we could have enjoyed it then in its glory years. The S.S. Badger is the largest car ferry ever to sail Lake Michigan and is also the only coal-fired steamship still in operation in the United States. While the ship was built by the C&O Railroad primarily to transport railroad freight cars, it also ferried passenger cars and had superior passenger accommodations. It was completely refurbished in 1991 with a buffet-style dining area, private staterooms, and even a movie lounge so you can once again enjoy the cruise in comfort. All railroad car facilities were removed at that time.
This week, as promised when I was in Ludington, Michigan, I will discuss the other end of the ferry journey in Manitowoc, Wisconsin. I was there this past summer, on a trip around Wisconsin. Highway US-10 currently runs from Fargo, North Dakota to Bay City, Michigan. In 1962, it continued south to Detroit, Michigan, overlapping with our US-23 trip for 30 miles. The route also used to run about 1700 miles farther west from North Dakota, ending at Seattle, Washington. Beginning in 1969, for about the next 20 years it was shortened west of Fargo as each segment of I-90 or I-94 freeway was completed. Manitowoc is also the end of another US-numbered highway, US-151, which runs 337 miles to Williamsburg, Iowa. In 1962, it ended in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, but was extended in 1985 to reach the interstate freeway south of that city. Back in 1962, highway US-141 also ran through Manitowoc, on its way from near Walton, Michigan south to Milwaukee, Wisconsin. That route was shortened in the 1980s and now has its southern end at Belleville, Wisconsin.
The history of Manitowoc includes Great Lakes shipbuilding and beer brewing, and both are represented in the attractions we could see in 1962 and today. Wooden ships were built here as far back as 1847, with expansion into steel-hulled ships later. Ships ranging from schooners, clippers, fishing boats, personal pleasure craft and even tankers, naval landing craft, and submarines have been built here. One of the few local attractions that is too new for our purposes is the Wisconsin Maritime Museum, which was founded in 1970. In addition to their museum, they host the World War II submarine USS Cobia, which was built here and is now docked in the water adjacent to the museum. The Burger Boat Company is the last boat builder in Manitowoc and is a builder of custom-designed, hand-built pleasure yachts and commercial vessels. The company was founded in 1863 and began producing welded steel yachts in 1938 and welded aluminum craft in 1952. Today, about 350 employees build an average of three yachts a year.
Another reminder of the city’s shipbuilding past is the Manitowoc Company, known world-wide for the industrial cranes they manufacture. Though they no longer build cranes here, in 1962 we would have seen plenty of activity at the company. The company was founded in 1902 as a shipbuilding and ship-repair company. They began building their most well-known products, lattice-boom cranes, in the 1920s. Because of this diversified product line, Manitowoc was the only Great Lakes shipyard to survive the financial strain of the Great Depression in the 1930s. Because of their shipbuilding background, they were chosen by the US Navy to build 28 submarines, including the USS Cobia, during World War II. The company built and repaired commercial and military ships at yards in nearby Marinette and Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin and Cleveland, Ohio until 2008, when the marine division was sold to an Italian company. But they completed the recent refurbishing of the S.S. Badger before then, as they had built similar ferries years earlier. Another place you may have seen the Manitowoc name while traveling is at motels. Manitowoc Foodservice is a sub-division of the company that produces ice machines!
The brewing industry is represented both by the giant complex of malting silos once belonging to William Rahr’s Manitowoc Malting Plant, and in his legacy at the Rahr-West Art Museum. Rahr’s malting plant is now owned by Briess Malt & Ingredients Company, who bought it in 2011 from Anheuser-Busch. They had purchased it from Rahr’s company in 1962 and shortly thereafter, they painted the massive Budweiser bottle and cans on three of the barley silos at the east end of Washington Street. The Rahrs began selling malt to Anheuser-Busch in 1891. William Rahr began the malting plant in 1847 and it currently includes 40 buildings on 23 acres. About 2,700 railcars of barley arrive annually at the plant where the grain is processed into malt. Rahr family members brewed beer until Prohibition in 1920, but then focused the business on turning malt into cereals. Beer production did not resume when Prohibition ended in 1933.
The Rahr family became very wealthy from the malt business, allowing Mrs. Clara Rahr to donate her 1891-1893 mansion to the City in 1941, to be operated as a museum and civic center. Today, it has become the Rahr-West Art Museum, which houses a varied permanent collection including works by Pablo Picasso, Joan Miro, William Bouguerea, Georgia O’Keeffe, Mark Rothko, Andrew Wyeth, and Andy Warhol. The majority of art and historical artifacts are from the United States, including many by Wisconsin-based artists. I enjoyed the mix of art and historical artifacts displayed in period-decorated rooms.
The museum is also where you can find a marker in the sidewalk of North 8th Street, commemorating the event of September 5, 1962, when a 20-pound chunk of the Soviet Union's Sputnik IV satellite crashed onto the middle of the street at the corner of Park street. A brass ring has been embedded in the pavement to mark the exact spot of the impact. A cast of the original piece was made and has sometimes been displayed at the Rahr-West Art Museum. The satellite was launched in 1960 and it appears an operator error caused it to move to an incorrect orbit, resulting in its breakup, destruction, and fall to earth. It is believed that the largest piece of the seven-ton satellite fell into nearby Lake Michigan. The recovered debris was analyzed by the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Brookhaven National Laboratory, Los Alamos National Laboratory, Carnegie Institute of Technology chemistry department, and the Air Force Cambridge Research Laboratories before being returned to the Soviet Union. In a goofy celebration of the event, the city hosts Sputnikfest each year since 2008. The festival includes lots of wacky and tacky displays and event.
If you’re tired of the city, I recommend heading north to the edge of town. There, on the shore of Lake Michigan, is the lovely and restful West of the Lake Gardens. These gardens belonged to Ruth and John Dunham West, who began construction on six acres of quack grass and thistle in 1934. Ruth Dunham and a hired gardener hand-spaded those first six acres, planting windbreaks consisting of 70 Colorado spruce trees, which are still standing today. They also built their home here in 1934, known by locals as the "Shoebox Estate" because it was a rather flat, rectangular house showing the modern styles of Walter Gropius and Frank Lloyd Wright. Additions to the house continued into the 1950s, by which time Mrs. West had over 30,000 tulips in the garden planted in the gracefully sweeping beds you can see today. Back in 1962, we could probably only have visited the gardens during the annual West of the Lake Tulip Tea event, when it was open to the public. In the early 1960s, perennials were planted until a mere 13,000 tulips remained and by 1967, all the remaining tulips were removed. Today, West of the Lake Gardens is a place of spectacular color from May to October. The Wests’ fortune was made via the Manitowoc Shipbuilding Company, where Mr. West succeeded his father as president in 1957. The Wests also supported the Rahr-West Art Museum with millions of dollars for the construction of the exhibition wing and purchase of works of art for the permanent collection of the museum. After their deaths in 1989 and 1990, the Ruth St. John and John Dunham West Foundation has operated the gardens and has them open to the public during blooming season.
One place I did not visit when I was recently in Manitowoc was Pinecrest Historical Village, operated by the Manitowoc County Historical Society. The society was established in 1906, largely as an effort to preserve local Civil War and pioneer history, but has grown into one of the most active county historical societies in Wisconsin. They began in the second floor of the local library, quickly overrunning the space. The society then moved into the Rahr-West Art Museum, then known as the Rahr Civic Center, in 1941. By 1949 they had overrun that space to such an extent that they filled nearly every room and restricted the use the building by other groups. Other groups then voted the society out of the building and they had to move artifacts into such as a vacant school building, which was vandalized, resulting in the loss or damage of many artifacts. The Manitowoc County Historical Society still held occasional exhibits in the Rahr Civic Center throughout the 1950s and 1960s, so we could have seen those. Today, they operate a 60-acre interpretive museum, Pinecrest Historical Village outside of town. The village is a collection of over 25 historic buildings with period furnishings from Manitowoc County's early settlers. The village property was acquired in 1969 and the first buildings moved in the next year.
Manitowoc also has a small zoo with just under 200 animals, including black bear, bald eagle, cougar, lynx, Prairie dogs, and lots of birds. I enjoyed the bison. There is also an exhibit you don’t see at many zoos: the Fish Rearing Pond, where salmon are raised. The zoo was a project of Manitowoc County Fish & Game, which began it in 1935. That organization eventually turned over the zoo and the land to the city. I strolled around for about an hour and believe I saw it all. There are other trails within the adjacent park where you might even see wild deer.
Some posibilities for a 1962-style lunch or dinner include the local A&W Drive-In or Beerntsen's Confectionary. Though A&W was founded way back in 1919, the current restaurant here was opened in 2009. As with many small towns, there was likely an older one here. They do set a nice atmosphere, with carhops still serving you on your car window and 1950s-1960s music on the jukebox. I’m a big fan of A&W’s chili cheese fries and root beer. Beerntsen’s Confectionary has been a local tradition since 1932, when Joseph A. Beerntsen founded Beerntsen's Candies. They still make hand-dipped chocolates and homemade candies. But what makes it a lunch or dinner stop is the old-fashioned ice cream parlor, with its original black walnut booths, candy cases, and arches, that serves sandwiches and soups. Beerntsen's sundaes are made with their own homemade ice cream and toppings. If you don’t need to stop and eat here, pick up some of their candies and chocolates that are still made using the same methods from over 50 years ago. They also still use copper kettles and wooden paddles with equipment that is irreplaceable due to advances in equipment technology and production.
Well, I’m staying about 7 miles northeast in Two Rivers, Wisconsin, so I should be heading back along the lakeshore. The city is not on any US-numbered route and is a bit too far for my self-imposed limit of 5 miles for Roadtrip-'62 ™ 1962 sight-seeing. But I did stay in an old building: a house designed by Frank Lloyd and built in 1939. The Schwartz House, also known as Still Bend, is now rented out so you can experience living in a design by an American architectural master. It still has the original design features, with colored concrete first floor, no screens on the windows and no air conditioning, some very narrow halls and bathrooms, custom-designed wood trim, and high-ceilinged great room accessed from low-ceilinged entryways. It has been a very interesting experience and I’m heading back tonight to sleep in one of the bedrooms with a private, second floor balcony.
All photos by the author and Copyright © 2017 - Milne Enterprises, Inc., except as noted.
All other content Copyright © 2017 - Milne Enterprises, Inc.