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)
20 Best Things to Do on a Colorado Roadtrip in 1962
October 29, 2019
Here’s one of the rare guest posts on Roadtrip-'62 ™. Jill Rogers of the “Your RV Lifestyle” staff has put together a list of the 100 Best Things to Do in Colorado, so I’ve extracted the top 20 that were around in 1962. Some of these are along our US-6 roadtrip; check out the pages for Day 29 in Denver, and Day 30 west of Denver. Others are on roads I have not written about yet, and I will note the routes below. I hope you find some places to visit when you next visit Colorado! Jill’s full list is available at Your RV Lifestyle.
- Mesa Verde National Park (On US-160 near Cortez, established in 1906.):
- Denver Museum of Nature and Science (Off US-40 and US-287 in Denver, opened to the public in 1908.):
- Mount Evans and Scenic Byway (Off US-40 at Bergen Park, road to Mount Evans was begun in 1915 and completed in 1930.):
- Nevadaville Ghost Town (Off US-6 in Central City area, mostly abandoned by 1920.):
- Denver Art Museum (On US-40 in Denver, founded in 1893 and the present main building opened in 1949.):
- Rocky Mountain National Park (On US-34 at Estes Park, established in 1915.):
- Denver Zoo (Off US-40 and US-287 in Denver, founded in 1896.):
- Walk up the Mile-High steps and visit the Colorado State Capitol Building (On US-40 and US-287 and just off US-6 in Denver, opened in 1894.):
- Desert Reef Hot Springs (Off US-50 in Florence, the springs were created in the 1940s):
- Broadmoor Seven Falls (Off US-87 near Colorado Springs, tours opened in the early 1880s.):
- Cheyenne Mountain Zoo (Off US-87 in Colorado Springs, founded in 1926.):
- Kit Carson County Carousel (Off US-24 and US-385 in Burlington, constructed in 1905 for Elitch Gardens and moved in 1928.):
- Cranmer Park Sundial (Off US-40 and US-287 in Denver, installed in 1941.):
- Edwin Carter Discovery Centre (About 10 miles off US-6 in Breckenridge, collection dates from 1875.):
- Pikes Peak (Off US-24 west of Colorado Springs, the cog railway opened in 1891 and the auto road opened in 1915.):
- Elitch Gardens (Now off US-6, formerly off US-287 in Denver, originally established in 1890.):
- Great Sand Dunes National Park (About 15 miles off US-160 near Blanca, established in 1932.):
- Buckhorn Exchange (Off US-6 in Denver, founded in 1893.):
- Royal Gorge Bridge (On US-50 in Cañon City, completed in 1929.):
- Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railway (At US-160 in Durango or US-550 in Silverton, tracks completed in 1882.):
This park is in the southwest of Colorado and is well known for the Puebloan cave dwellings. You will know them by the name of Cliff Palace. If you are hiking, then follow the Petroglyph Point Trail. These are some of the best-preserved archaeological sites in the USA. This is a great place to take an RV and stay a few days while you hike in the park.
Here you will be able to learn about the natural history of the state. There are over 1 million objects in the collections. There are also archival and library resources if you need to look anything up. There are permanent exhibits, as well as temporary displays, which vary each month, so it is worth checking upcoming exhibits.
This is the highest peak in the front range of the Rocky Mountains. You will find it in the Mount Evans Wilderness which is about 13 miles southwest of the City of Idaho. If you are a hiker, then this should be on your agenda. Walking in the area is also very popular and there are several trails you can follow. Some are steep while others cater for younger walkers. You can take an RV and stay a few days in the area, although you should be sure to check the weather to make sure it is good to hike or walk. You can start up this byway in Evergreen. It is the highest paved road in North America. The road winds its way up Mount Evans to an altitude of 14,130 feet above sea level. The road was completed in 1931 and runs for 28 miles, with some of the most spectacular scenery in the state. Be aware that it can get cloudy and have snow falls so check the weather before you plan a trip. There are plenty of pull-off areas where you can stop and take pictures. Along the way you will find the Mount Goliath Natural Area, which is home to protected trees. At the top you can stop and see Summit Lake Park and the lake. You will notice that the waters of the lake are pristine, because they are fed from a glacier.
You will find this Masonic Lodge in the deserted town. Oddly enough, the lodge is still used for meetings. The town was established in 1859 as a gold mining town. It reached its peak of population with 1,000 inhabitants. When the gold was mined out, the town basically died, although there are still six official residents. You will be able to see the city hall, and a saloon building, along with mining shacks. It is not a good idea to explore the mine shafts as they are considered dangerous, so keep children under control.
This is situated in the Civic Centre of the city of Denver. It is one of the largest museums between Chicago and the west coast, and known for the amazing collection of American Indian Art. Also, of interest is the Berger Collection, which is a private collection of mostly British art over six centuries. The Hamilton Collection consists of 22 impressionist works from a private collection including Van Gogh’s “Edge of a Wheat Field with Poppies”. Make sure you check for upcoming events and exhibitions. Allow yourself a full day to see this museum.
This park spans the Continental Divide. You will find a differing landscape of forests, alpines, and mountains. If you are a hiker, then look for the Trail Ridge Road, and the Old Fall River Road. You can also drive your car along many of the routes past Aspen trees and rivers. For the more experience climbers, the Keyhole Route is a vertical rock face, which leads up Longs Peak, and is the parks tallest mountain. Be sure to take enough provisions for any hike as there are few supply stores here.
The zoo was founded in 1896 and is now the most popular tourist attraction in the city. The zoo began with the donation of one black bear, and the zoo became the first naturalistic zoo in the USA. You will notice that there are no bars, just enclosures. The zoo was named the ‘Greenest Zoo in the Country’. Allow yourself a full day here. There is a café where you can buy snacks and refreshments.
You will find the steps at the State Building in Denver. The top measures exactly 5,280 feet above sea level. Over the years there have been differences of opinions as to the exact height, so you will notice on the 15th step it is engraved with the acclamation. Later it was thought that the 18th step was the peak. Recently it was worked out that the top step is in fact the exact mile height. Wherever you think the exact spot is, the view from the top is stunning! Make sure you see the mile high marker on the steps as you climb. The building houses the offices of the Governor of Colorado as well as the Lieutenant Governor. The building was started in the 1890’s from Colorado white granite and completed in 1894. You may take a tour of the inside where you will see large amounts of Colorado Rose Onyx which is very rare and comes from a nearby quarry. Look out for the stained-glass windows telling about events related to the history of the state. Allow yourself a half day to see the building.
You will find this in Florence. It is a naturally-sourced hot spring. This is also a recognized nudist spot so if you visit, you are welcome to remove all your clothing to try the spring. The springs were first discovered during a subsurface oil investigation and this led to the stream of hot water forming in pools.
These seven waterfalls are found in South Cheyenne Creek. There are several trails which you can take to get to the top of the falls. Look for the trail leading to Midnight Falls and Inspiration Point. Be aware that in heavy rains there may be flooding so be sure to check the forecast. Also, make sure you take your own provisions.
This zoo is found in downtown Colorado Springs. It is at an elevation of 6,800 feet above sea level and is the highest zoo in the USA. You will find over 750 animals of 150 different species and divided into sections. For the little ones, look for ‘My Big Backyard’ where there are rabbits, chickens, and amphibians. The ‘Rocky Cliffs’ is home to the mountain goats, while the ‘Rocky Mountain Wild’ is home to bears, eagles, mountain lions, and lynx, to name a few. Be sure to check upcoming events at this amazing zoo. Allow a full day here. There is a café to buy lunch.
This is found in Burlington. It is one of the few remaining antique carousels in the USA. You will also notice that the animals do not move. The carousel is wooden, which is why the animals cannot move. The difference between modern day carousels is that this one moves along at 12 mph, while most modern carousels only reach the speed of 8 mph. All 46 animals are hand carved and hand painted. You will find chariots, giraffes, lions, tigers, horses, and even a hippopotamus! Look at the center of the carousel and you will find an interesting Wurlitzer 155 Military Band Organ. While the kids may enjoy the ride, the carousel is more than an amusement. Looking closely, you will appreciate it for the work of art it really is.
This is one of the smallest parks in Denver. It has the privilege of being the home of the Chinese style quartz sundial. The sundial was first installed there in 1941, although this was destroyed by vandals. A replica was installed. As it was designed in typical Chinese style, you will find a polar chart at the base with western features. The park itself is worth walking around. Even though it is small, it is well-maintained and very pleasant to walk through. Plan on spending the morning or afternoon in this delightful park.
If taxidermy fascinates you, then be sure to visit here. Edwin Carter was a gold miner who turned his hand to taxidermy. The collection consists of over 3,000 animals. Carter began as an amateur taxidermist and set out to preserve as many specimens as he could. Eventually his cabin could not house them any longer and they were donated to a museum. The original cabin is also still preserved where visitors can visit and learn about the art of taxidermy. The centre regularly has special exhibits of interesting subjects.
This peak is the highest summit of the southern edge of the Rocky Mountains. You can reach it by going 12 miles west of Colorado Springs. Pikes Peak is one of Colorado’s ‘Fourteeners’ which are mountains higher than 14,000 feet above sea level. There are many hiking trails around the base as well as up the mountain. You should be aware of weather conditions before you head out and be sure to take enough provisions with you. The area is perfect for taking an RV and spending a few days while you hike in the vicinity.
This amusement park is found in Denver. During Halloween they host the haunted house and the Trick or Treat trail for the smaller kids. Make sure you head for the new rides, these are the Tube Top, Tike Bikes, and the Kiddieland area. The Island Kingdom Family Water Park is great fun for the whole family with a huge family raft ride as well as the lazy river. Allow yourself a full day here, especially if you are visiting with kids. (As I mentioned on my page for Day 30 of the US-6 roadtrip, the Elitch Gardens we would have seen in 1962 no longer exists. Most of the site has been redeveloped for condominiums and apartments, though the old carousel building still stands and has even been restored, without the ride. A brand new Elitch Gardens amusement park was constructed in a new location in 1994.)
This preserve is found in southern Colorado. It is well-known for the towering dunes. Look for the high point named Star Dune. There is a seasonal creek, which may be filled with water at different times through the year. For hikers, head for the Medano Pass which winds through the canyon and on towards the Sangre de Christo mountain range. There are several trails leading through forests, wetlands, and lakes. This is a great place to take an RV and stay a few days while you enjoy hiking in the park.
This attraction was founded in 1893 and is found in Denver. It houses a wall-to-wall collection of taxidermy. It is also Denver’s oldest steakhouse. You will find collections of antique weapons along with the hundreds of stuffed animals. The steakhouse menu includes such items as rattlesnake and elk, with buffalo sausage and alligator tails also being available. This restaurant is definitely a ‘must’ for those who enjoy a meal with a difference. Be sure to reserve your table, as it is a very popular venue.
This attraction is near Cañon City, in the Royal Gorge Park. The bridge crosses the gorge at 955 feet above the Arkansas River, and until 2001 was the highest bridge in the world. It is still the highest bridge in the USA. The bridge is 1,260 feet long. Cars are allowed over the bridge but only at certain times, so you should check before you plan to cross. There is an amusement park at the entrance to the bridge, which is a great place to take the kids. There is also a zip-line across the gorge for the more adventurous.
The railway runs from Durango to Silverton and has been designated as an historical site. The railroad was opened in 1882 to transport gold and silver from the San Juan Mountains. The last train ran along the tracks south of Durango in 1968, after running continuously since 1881. You can take the train from Durango to Cascade Wye in the winter, and to Silverton in the Summer months. Be sure to book seats in advance.
Well, that should be a little bit of everything available in Colorado. I hope you enjoyed this Roadtrip-'62 ™ sampler and get out on the road to find your own favorites soon.
Halloween Fun in 1962
October 8, 2019
It’s October, 1962 and Halloween is coming up fast! When I was growing up, we got most of our candy at Halloween and Easter, with a smaller dose at Christmas. Halloween was the most fun, because we went door-to-door in costumes and collected the candy ourselves. The beauty of getting candy from a lot of different people was that they bought a lot of different things for you. I never cared too much for the taffy products like B-B-Bats, Mary Janes, Kits or peanut butter twists. I also didn’t like popcorn balls and Tootsie Rolls were just so-so. But I ate a lot of bubble gum, candy cigarettes, and anything tart like Smarties or Lik-M-Aid. I also loved candy corn, caramels, and candy bars. Those wax bottles with liquid candy were also great, if odd. The oddest treat was Pumpkin Seeds: real pumpkin seeds roasted and completely coated with salt! Butterfingers were one of my favorite candy bars, even though they stuck to your teeth after you were done. I suspect that was the cause of several of my rear tooth cavities. Learn more about your favorite Halloween candy at the Roadtrip-'62 ™ How Sweet it Was page.
We always carved pumpkins, usually the night before Halloween. And to this day, nothing says Halloween to me like the aroma of pumpkin innards. We always lighted them with candles inside, set them on the front porch, and let them burn until the candles went out. By then, the smell of burnt wax always ruined the fresh pumpkin aroma. Looking back, I’m surprised that kids under age 10 were trusted with sharp kitchen knives to cut pumpkins, but I’m sure none of my brothers or myself ever cut ourselves. Of course, we only operated under my mother’s watchful eyes: I guess mom knew what she was doing. I recall several years of cutting rather typical triangle eyes and square-toothed smiling Jack-O-Lanterns before realizing, maybe about age 12, that you could be more creative. I eventually tried my hand at Charlie Brown and Alfred E. Neuman.
The Sycamore Pumpkin Festival, Sycamore, Illinois, started as an idea by resident Wally Thurow in 1956 to do something special for the students of Sycamore. It quickly grew from display on his front yard into a full festival by 1962, and today is the city’s biggest event, running for 5 consecutive days. There will be over 1000 entries in the Decorated Pumpkin Display, 2 carnivals, 3 indoor craft shows, and a parade on Sunday. You’ll even find a Giant Cake Cutting Ceremony with the giant cake donated by Hy-Vee supermarkets. Meanwhile, in Circleville, Ohio, they will be holding their annual Pumpkin Show, which is always held the 3rd Wednesday through Saturday in October. The event began in 1903, again as a small personal display. Mayor George R. Haswell placed a small exhibit consisting mostly of Jack-O-Lanterns in front of his house. The next year, others joined in the idea and it eventually grew into today’s multi-day festival featuring music, crafts, food, and four different parades! This festival also includes the baking (and eating) of The World's Largest Pumpkin Pie. It’s 14 feet in diameter, uses almost 800 pounds of pumpkin, and takes 10 hours to bake!
Besides the candy, I’m sure stores made the most money from Halloween on the costumes that every kid wore for trick-or-treating. You could find costumes of favorite cartoon characters, standard witches, pirates, reptiles, monsters, spacemen, cowboys, etc. I’ve seen online auctions featuring 1962 costumes of Dick Tracy, Ollie of “Kukula, Fran & Ollie”, The Flintstones, Yogi Bear and friends, Mr. Ed, Popeye, and Disney characters. There were even characters from “Tales of the Wizard of OZ”, a largely forgotten cartoon from Rankin/Bass, who would produce the classic “Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer” TV special just two years later. Most of the commercial costumes were made by Ben Cooper, Halco, or Collegeville. They were the three largest Halloween costume manufacturers in the United States from the 1950s-1980s. Though Spider-Man was introduced in comics in 1962, he was not yet popular enough for a costume. That would change by 1963, when Ben Cooper sold the first Spider-Man costume. You could buy these costumes from any department store such as J. C. Penney or Sears, or Woolworth's, Kresge’s, and other five-and-dime stores. Of course, many people made their own costumes, including us. I remember being part of a troop of Zorros as my mother made my brothers and I identical costumes. We used those for several years.
Back then, there were no public displays of horror or zombies, no Halloween fright houses, or similar attractions. But the beginnings of these may have been foretold by one of the popular songs of the year, “Monster Mash”. Though firmly tongue-in-cheek, it showed there was an appetite among adults for some Halloween fun beyond taking their kids out for trick-or-treats. Bobby "Boris" Pickett wrote the song with Leonard Capizzi and they recorded it with studio musicians that included pianist Leon Russell, as "The Crypt-Kickers.” The lyrics refer to the few popular horror movie stars of the day, Dracula, Frankenstein, and the Wolfman. Besides 1962, the song has been in the Top 10 two other times, in 1970 and 1972. The “Mash” in the title refers to the "Mashed Potato" dance craze it is based on. They performed it live on Dick Clark’s “American Bandstand” TV show, which was in its final year as a live national broadcast. The next year the show moved Los Angeles as a taped weekly program. Even Boris Karloff, who Bobby Pickett modeled the voicing after, loved Monster Mash. He performed it on a special Halloween edition of the TV show “Shindig!” in 1965. Pickett recorded a number of other monster-themed songs over the years, but none has come close to Monster Mash in popularity.
Besides the “Monster Mash”, another pop culture legacy of Halloween 1962 is the legend of The Great Pumpkin from the Peanuts comic strip. Though strip creator Charles Schulz came up with the idea some years earlier, he fleshed it out in 1962 strips such as the one shown below. Several of the strips from that year were adapted into the TV special “It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown” in 1966. Well, I’m off to read the comic strips and eat candy; see you next time on Roadtrip-'62 ™!
Roadtrip Highlights Along US-24
September 24, 2019
I’m going to skip the next number in the US routes because it’s US-23, which I’ve traveled in detail on the Roadtrip-'62 ™ site! You can find the archives of that trip at the US-23 Archives. Instead, let’s look some highlights along US-24, which today runs 1540 miles from Clarkston, Michigan to Minturn, Colorado. It crosses US-23 at Toledo, Ohio. Highway US-24 also crosses our US-6 roadtrip, at Napoleon, Ohio and again at Minturn, Colorado, where it now ends. The section west of Minturn was decommissioned in 1975. Before that it ran together with US-6 all the way to Grand Junction, Colorado, adding almost 200 more miles to the route we would have seen in 1962. The Michigan end was in Pontiac back in 1962, but extended north to Clarkston in 1987. All of US-24 within Michigan runs north-south, instead of the east-west routing suggested by its even number. The remainder of the highway across the country does correctly run east-west.
Near the east (north) end of US-24, in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, is the Cranbrook Art Museum. It is among the first contemporary art museums in America. The museum’s early collection was a portion of the personal collection of the Cranbrook Academy’s founder, Mr. Henry Booth. The building was designed by Eliel Saarinen, who also designed the Cranbrook campus and other early buildings. It was completed in 1942 and included an outdoor sculpture garden. The museum’s original collection was an eclectic mix of art and artifacts. It spanned the centuries and included stained glass, architectural pieces, sculpture, paintings, ceramics, glass, furniture, textiles, and more. In 1955, the museum was given a new name, Cranbrook Academy of Art Galleries, and a new mission. It now continues to show art of the past, but focuses on contemporary decorative and practical art, sculpture and painting. The adjacent Cranbrook House and Gardens was the home of Mr. And Mrs. Booth and has been open to the public only since 1971.
About 2½ miles off US-24, a little farther south in Dearborn, Michigan, is the Henry Ford Museum with Greenfield Village. This museum is America’s premier historical collection outside of the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC. Industrialist Henry Ford began his collecting of historical artifacts in 1919, when he learned that his birthplace was due to be demolished for a highway improvement. He bought the farmhouse and restored it to fit his memory of when he was 13 and sent employees scouring the county for artifacts to outfit the house. He followed this up by buying and restoring the one-room schoolhouse from his boyhood, and then a pair of inns, thinking of establishing a complete histroical village. By the late 1920s, his quest to create a complete village led him to become the primary collector of Americana in the world. The result was Greenfield Village. Though there are many authentic buildings, some were created specifically for the site, including a re-creation of the Menlo Park, New Jersey, laboratory complex where his friend Thomas Edison had invented his electric lighting system.
The Henry Ford Museum is designed to resemble Independence Hall and related buildings of Philadelphia, with a large “Exhibition Hall” in back. Ford rejected the idea of storage rooms, so nearly everything was exhibited out in the open. And at twelve-acres, the museum contained a huge assemblage of stuff representing the evolution of technological progress. The museum opened to the public in 1933 and for nearly a decade afterwards, it remained a work in progress. The exhibits were not completed until the early 1940s, when the village contained over 70 buildings complete with artisans demonstrating traditional crafts. Today, the museum continues to collect and to tell stories of innovation. And if you can’t make it to the museum, you can see items from the collection in action on the Emmy-winning TV series “Innovation Nation” hosted by CBS-TV correspondent Mo Rocca.
In their collection is this marvel of outdoor living, the General Electric Partio barbeque cart. The Partio Cart originally came with a patio umbrella, a 12-foot cord, and a cover. The two wood shelves drop down when not in use or can be removed entirely. In some model years, the shelves were more like cafeteria metal racks instead of wood. They used 220-volt power, just like your electric range in the kitchen. Westinghouse may have produced a similar model. They were sold from at least 1956-1960 and even featured in the 1960 GE Annual Report. The one at the Henry Ford was originally President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s, which he kept at his Palm Springs, California home.
At Toledo, Ohio, we cross our US-23 roadtrip. Highway US-24 turns west there, traveling up the valley of the Maumee River through Ohio. Currently, US-24 is on a newer freeway alignment, but the old road of 1962 is less than a mile away, eventually taking the number of OH-424. The historic Miami & Erie Canal runs alongside old US-24 in many places and originally connected Toledo with Ft. Wayne, Indiana in the 1840s. You can get a closeup of the canal at Providence Metropark in Grand Rapids, Ohio. Besides hiking along it, you can take an authentic, mule-drawn canal boat ride on an original section of the Miami & Erie Canal. A restored flour mill is also open in the park. The canal is part of a grand system of canals through Ohio,, which connected the major commercial centers by water before the days of railroads or highways.
On the other side of the river is US-6, which we meet ahead in Napoleon, Ohio. We take OH-424 out of town to continue on the old route of US-24. Just before Ft. Wayne, the freeway ends but US-24 is then routed with I-469 to loop north around town. Of course, we will travel through downtown on old US-24. I’m sure you’ve noticed that we have been traveling through mostly farm country in Ohio. Well, Indiana, Illinois, Missouri, and Kansas are more of the same. I often stop for small attractions to break up the monotony of long-distance travel and there’s one in Huntington, Illinois. The Sunken Gardens began as a stone quarry, but was eventually abandoned. It became such an eyesore that the city purchased the property in 1924. The Huntington Chamber of Commerce acquired the quarry and created the beautiful gardens that now occupy the site, giving it back to the city in 1929. It’s a pleasant little stop if you are in the area, either today or back in 1962. The city’s Parks Department says it is one of only two such gardens in the country.
History of Dickson Mounds, Lewiston, Illinois
Midway across Illinois, US-24 runs along and crosses the Illinois River before it enters the Mississippi River. Just before leaving the river valley, near Lewiston, Illinois, we come to Dickson Mounds Museum. The museum is a branch of the Illinois State Museum and an archaeological treasure that sits on the site of the Dickson Mounds. These 11 mounds were a Native American settlement site and burial mound complex during the last 12,000 years since the last Ice Age. The burials appear to have taken place between about 800 and 1300 CE. Dr. Don Dickson was a chiropractor who discovered the burial mounds on his family farm. He spent many years excavating the bones in several of the mounds, but counter to the archaeological practices of the time, he did not remove the bones and artifacts. Instead, he only removed the dirt, leaving everything else in place so that it could show the relative position and other important information for cataloguing. This has since become accepted practice. He covered his excavation with a tent and later constructed a building over part of the site, again leaving 248 skeletons and associated artifacts in place. Dr. Dickson operated a private museum, charging the public throughout the late 1920s and until 1945, when he sold the site to the State of Illinois. His museum building lasted until 1972, when the state built the current Dickson Mounds Museum. In 1992, the state re-sealed the skeletal remains and they are no longer displayed to the public. Archaeological practices had changed again, and the concerns of living Native American tribes were addressed by reburying the remains as sacred. Today, visitors can stroll through more than 15,000 square feet of exhibits including displays of artifacts, arts, and archaeology, hands-on activities, and multi-media presentations. These allow you to explore the world of the ancient Mississippian peoples through both permanent and temporary exhibits of artifacts, murals, photographs, and hands-on activities. There are also three excavated buildings open to help chronicle prehistoric life in the region.
The Harry S. Truman Library and Museum is located in Independence, Missouri, part of the Kansas City area. The Truman Library is one of thirteen Presidential Libraries administered by the National Archives and Records Administration. It was dedicated in 1957 and was the first presidential library to be created under the provisions of the 1955 Presidential Libraries Act, so we could have stopped in 1962. The building was designed by architect Edward F. Neild, whom had worked with President Truman on other projects, notably the White House reconstruction in 1948-1952. Before his death in 1972, President Truman was active in the day-to-day operation of the Library, talking with visiting school students and even training museum docents. As with all the presidential libraries, this one contains papers, photos, audio-visual records, and more related to the President. There are changing exhibits and core permanent exhibits highlighting the major issues and events of Harry Truman's Presidency, and also his personal life. The museum is located in Independence because President Truman began his political career here in 1922, as a Jackson County judge.
Nicodemus National Historic Site lies in the western, drier part of Kansas. The site consists of five historic structures on the townsite of Nicodemus: The African Methodist Episcopal Church, District #1 Schoolhouse, First Baptist Church, Nicodemus Township Hall, and St. Francis Hotel. After the Civil War, formerly enslaved African Americans left Kentucky and set up a colony here. A company was formed in 1877 by several African American men from Kansas and promoted to become the "Largest Colored Colony in America." A 160-acre town site was platted and the first group of about 300 settlers arrived later that year. Of several similar towns, it is the oldest and only remaining African American settlement west of the Mississippi River. The town grew and population peaked around an estimated 700. By 1887 residents realized that they would need a railroad connection to continue to prosper and tried vigorously to convince one of several companies then expanding westward to extend to serve their town. Union Pacific Railroad surveyors ran a survey line through Nicodemus and elsewhere but eventually selected the route to the south. A new town, Bogue, grew up around the railroad and it flourished for awhile but ultimately declined as did most small towns in the Kansas prairie due to the Great Depression and the Dust Bowl crisis. Nicodemus’ population fell to as low as 40 people. The post office closed in 1953 and the school around 1960. We would have seen that very small town remnant in 1962. But starting in the 1970s, Nicodemus underwent some restoration. Donations from former residents helped repair some deteriorating buildings and the town developed a reputation as a retirement destination for former residents. In 1976, Nicodemus was named a National Historic Landmark. The five historic buildings were declared a unit of the National Park System in 1996. The only building open to the public is the former Nicodemus Township Hall, now used as the National Park Visitor Center. About twenty people still live in Nicodemus but hundreds of descendants come back every June for the Emancipation/Homecoming Celebration that began in 1878.
Highway US-24 manages to get far enough west to see some of the Rocky Mountains and canyon country. In the canyons of western Colorado, US-24 is subject to flash floods that can close the highway. For example, in 2012 rains caused part of the road to cave in near Leadville, forming a sinkhole about 45 feet deep. Just the next year, a four-mile stretch of US-24 was closed near Manitou Springs for a period, due to flash floods that caused a rockslide and covered vehicles in mud. Hopefully, you won’t experience one of these if you visit Manitou Springs, where I recommend you visit the Cliff Dwellings Museum. This is not your typical museum, but a set of actual ancient Anasazi Indian structures in cliffs. A self-guided tour allows you to explore individual rooms of these buildings constructed between 1100-1300 CE. The buildings were originally located in McElmo Canyon, in southwest Colorado near Mesa Verde. They were relocated between 1904 and 1907, when the preserve was opened to the public as a privately-operated attraction. This was before Congress passed the 1906 Antiquities Act, which prohibited such activities. They are preserved and can be accessed for public tours partly because concrete mortar was used to reconstruct them, instead of the original adobe mud.
Beyond Manitou Springs, US-24 heads into the Rocky Mountains and crosses the Continental Divide at Tennessee Pass, at about 25 miles from its current end at Minturn, Colorado. For a review of sights along the portion of old US-24 west of Minturn to Grand Junction, Colorado, please check that part of the Roadtrip-'62 ™ US-6 roadtrip!
Roadtrip Dream Ride: The 1962 Chevrolet Impala
September 10, 2019
When I decided to write Roadtrip-'62 ™, I had to decide on a car to drive on this virtual roadtrip. Since we’re traveling not only across the USA but also in time, we needed a time machine. I settled on this beauty of a car: a 1962 Chevrolet Impala. Why that car, I can hear you asking? Well, there's this great old TV commercial that began airing in the late 1950s with a great theme song, "See The USA In Your Chevrolet". The song was popularized by singer Dinah Shore on her TV show and on commercials through the mid-1960s. In fact, a few years ago it was named one of the five best advertising jingles of the 20th century. So I just had to use a Chevy. I thought about a Corvette, because I've always loved the way they look, but then decided on the Impala because I remember watching them as a kid and loving the multiple tail lights. And besides, my late father-in-law owned a 1965 Impala that he kept restored into the 1990s, so that was just plain inspirational. And so, I imagine myself driving across the country in a lovely 1962 Chevrolet Impala, lovingly restored to look and run like new, like this one.
The Impala name was first used for the full-sized 1956 General Motors Motorama show car. This concept car used Corvette-like exterior designs. A standard production car bearing the Impala name was introduced for the 1958 model year, but only as a high-end variation of the Bel Air model. It was so successful that this long, wide, and luxurious family sedan became a separate Chevy model for 1959. The new Impala had a distinctive "bat wing" trunk lid with "cat eye" sideways teardrop tail lights that flowed over the fenders. After just a year, the designers removed the cat eyes and went back to the symmetrical triple circle tail lights that became the hallmark of Impala design. The big change for 1961 was the introduction of the famous Super Sport 409 engine, which created the first true American muscle car. For our 1962 model year, Impala was given a more subdued, boxy look and changes were made to the suspension. This produced the “Jet-Smooth”, "velvet soft and whisper quiet" ride that was featured in advertising.
The Impala was produced by General Motors, with parts made in various factories. We had two Chevrolet parts plants and a General Motors foundry in my hometown, Saginaw, Michigan, so I’m sure some parts came from there. The great 409 engines were built at the Tonawanda Engine Plant in New York state. And at least some models were assembled in Flint, Michigan. One of my readers, Gerry Godin, sent in the following photo, which he states is an Impala station wagon being assembled at the old Buick City assembly plant in Flint. The Sloan Museum’s Buick Gallery in Flint has a 1962 4-door Impala that was also assembled there. Impalas continued to be built in Flint for many years, with General Motors’ 100 Millionth vehicle being a 1967 Chevy Caprice, also on display at the Buick Gallery. Our US-23 journey passed through both Saginaw and Flint, right past these plants. Sadly for the area’s economy, most of these have been demolished and production moved elsewhere.
In 1962, Chevrolet was America’s most popular car, with the Impala leading the group. Impala output for 1962 was a whopping 704,900 cars, followed by 365,000 Bel Air sedans and 160,000 Biscaynes. All were styled similarly, but you could easily tell the lower priced Bel Airs and Biscaynes on the road: Impalas had three rear tail lights, Bel Airs had two and the Biscaynes had a single rear light. The new 1962 models went on sale in showrooms on September 29, 1961. Chevrolet even introduced a new paint color, “Anniversary Gold”, to help celebrate their 50th year building cars. This was also the first year for the all-transistor push-button radio as an extra option. In another change, the Brookwood, Parkwood, and Nomad names used for station wagons in previous years were retired from Chevrolet models. The “It’s Fifty Years for Chevrolet!” promotional booklet touts 14 full-size car models, including Impala, Bel Air, and Biscayne, along with the smaller Chevy II, compact Corvair, and sporty Corvette cars, and even Corvair trucks (called wagons). Depending on trim, engine, and other options, a new Impala cost between $2,662-$3,870, with Bel Airs costing $2,456-$3,029, and Biscaynes coming in at a low $2,324-$2,832.
If we needed service during 1962, there were a lot more Chevy dealers around than there are today. Nearly every small town had one, which probably helped make it the most poplar car, as you could buy and service one wherever you lived. Since then, General Motors has closed many of the small dealerships and moved others to the outskirts of larger towns. For example, ABW Chevrolet in Jackson, Georgia closed and the nearest dealer is now 18 miles away in McDonough, Georgia. Hemlock, Michigan, 15 miles from Saginaw, had a dealer that moved 7 miles to the western fringe of the Saginaw area. Enjoy the commercial featuring "See The USA In Your Chevrolet" while we wait for service.
Like most models, the Chevy Impala was eventually discontinued. The 1985 model year was the end of the road, until it reappeared as a concept car at the 1992 L.A. Auto Show! Public reception was so good that it was brought back to showrooms in 1994, but that version only lasted 2 more years. After a four-year hiatus, GM brought the Impala back a second time in 2000 to take over the discontinued Lumina's position with complete makeover. The modern Impala is a front-wheel drive model and is no longer offered with any V8 engines. It’s also a lot smaller! My father-in-law had a 1965 Impala, while I drive a 2016 version and there is no comparison. Today’s car would have been called a compact back in the day, whereas it is now known as a full-size car. I can attest to the fact that the only full-size thing about it is the trunk: it has the largest trunk of any sedan on the road. That’s the main reason I bought one, as I need a big trunk for all these roadtrips! Recently, Ford and Chrysler have discontinued production of standard sedan cars altogether, as demand has faded due to the popularity of SUVs, trucks, and cross-over vehicles. General Motors has resisted for awhile, but recently announced the Impala will cease production after the 2020 model year, with the final vehicles coming off the assembly line in January 2020. Will it return for a fourth run someday?
Perhaps a better choice would have been to buy an original, restored 1962 car? While a frame-off, engine dismantled, fully restored car runs in the $70,000-$100,000 range, at the other end of the scale, a well-maintained, running example might sell for only $21,000. Both depend on what part of the country it’s located in. A typical price range I saw was around $40,000, which would not be bad for a car today. And if you want to put an Officially Licensed GM Restoration Part New Car Sticker on your Impala restoration, they are available, along with many other parts, from Classic Industries of Huntington Beach, California.
The 1962 Impala was made famous almost immediately by The Beach Boys, as the star of their song that year "409". The “4-speed, dual quad, Positraction 409” of the song does exist, and I recently saw one for sale for $85,000. By 1963, drag racing had inspired even more good music. I couldn't find many racing songs clearly from 1962, but by the next year Dick Dale, the Challengers, Jan & Dean, and others had created a whole new genre of music based on fast cars. Here’s a film of drag racing at Island Dragway, Great Meadows, New Jersey in 1962 which includes a blue 1962 Impala SS 409 and several other 1962 Impalas. I never got into drag racing, but two of my brothers did. I’m still content to continue Roadtrip-'62 ™ in my stock 1962 Chevy Impala…next week.
(Music: “Drag City” by Jan & Dean, “Shut Down” by The Beach Boys.)
Postcards from 1962 along US-22
August 13, 2019
Welcome to Roadtrip-'62 ™! This week we’re cruising along highway US-22. This route runs from Newark, New Jersey to Cincinnati, Ohio, crossing about 665 miles through New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Ohio. Through New Jersey, US-22 runs close and parallel to, or even with, I-78, but the number has not been removed as many other states did when their interstate freeways were constructed. Throughout most of Pennsylvania, US-22 also carries the name “William Penn Highway”, from before the days of the US numbering system. Some of the route in Ohio even dates back to before automobiles, roughly following the route of Zane's Trace, which was a pioneer road blazed by Colonel Ebenezer Zane as early as 1796. Very little of US-22 through New Jersey and eastern Pennsylvania is still a 2-lane highway, because it connects major cities.
To begin our trip in 1962, we could have flown in to Newark Airport and stayed at the Airport Motel before heading off from the beginning of US-22 the next morning. This motel was apparently new in 1962, as the postcard shows an artist’s rendering of the building instead of the more usual photograph of the time. It was located off Exit 14 of the New Jersey Turnpike, on US-1 and US-22. The motel boasted 80 rooms with air conditioning, tile showers, telephone, television, wall-to-wall carpeting, and free ice. It even offered twenty minute bus service to Times Square in New York City! I hunted around on aerial and street level photos and cannot find any trace of it today, but there are modern motels at the same interchange and beginning of US-22, so you could reproduce the trip. Let’s buckle up and see some sights on US-22!
At Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, US-22 finally breaks away from the interstate freeway, heading north along the Susquehanna River and later west across the state as a 2-lane road. Harrisburg is the capital of the state, and so we find ourselves at the State Capitol building. The current building is the third to be built in the city, and the government was moved twice before that, having originally been seated in Philadelphia. This building was completed in 1906 and incorporates a number of different Renaissance designs: Italian in the House Chamber, French in the Senate Chamber, and English in the Governor's Reception Room. The design by Philadelphia architect Joseph Huston also reflects Greek, Roman and Victorian influences in its art. The Capitol's centerpiece is a spectacular 272-foot, 52 million-pound dome inspired by Michelangelo's design for St. Peter's Basilica in Rome. The statue at the top of the dome is an allegory of Commonwealth, representative of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, the state’s official name. Though the building was completed in 1906, much of the artwork was not. The murals in the rotunda were not installed until 1908 and the sculptures outside the entrance were in finished 1911. The Capitol contains 475 rooms on four floors, a mezzanine, and a basement. Besides the Interactive Welcome Center, you can take a 30-minute guided tour on weekdays.
In Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, the Fort Pitt Tunnels opened in 1960, completing the Penn-Lincoln Parkway to the Airport, so we could have driven through them in 1962. That parkway is so named because it runs together with US-30, the Lincoln Highway. Eastbound, this tunnel and bridge system is renowned as the "best way to enter an American city" because of the awe inspiring view motorists get as they exit the tunnel and suddenly see downtown Pittsburgh rising in front of them, framed by the golden crossbracing of the bridge's steel arches.
Of course we need some snacks to munch on the road, so let’s go right to the source. Zanesville, Ohio is famous for its “Y Bridge”, a bridge with three ends. Highway US-22 crosses it on the southernmost leg of the Y. They also have a regional potato chip manufacturer, Conn’s Potato Chips. Conn’s has been in business since 1935 and has constructed larger plants at least twice. They continue to innovate with new flavors such as Cinnamon & Sugar Potato Chips. I’m not sure if they are regularly scheduled or not, but you can sometimes get a plant tour! Later in Ohio, we cross our US-23 roadtrip at Circleville, where we canoed the Scioto River on day nine of that trip.
I often pass the Cincinnati end of US-22 and my favorite places there are the Cincinnati Art Museum and the Krohn Conservatory. Both are within historic Eden Park, with the Art Museum occupying the top of a hill. The entire park is scenic, largely due to this hilltop location. Excellent views of Cincinnati, the Ohio River, and even Kentucky are available from many points, including Eden Park Drive. Mirror Lake is also beautiful, as the landscape seems to drop off the edge at one end. The Art Museum is always free to attend and includes over 60,000 works of art from around the world. I particularly enjoy the many works by Cincinnatians: in the late 19th century the city was a happening place with artists working in oil paints, furniture artisans, and many other mediums. The original building was built in the 1880s period as “The Art Palace of the West.” As the collection grew, the building has been added to many times over the years. The Bouguereau painting shown above is one of my favorites.
The nearby Krohn Conservatory was built in 1933 at the height of the Art Deco era and the interior shows it. The Krohn displays over 3,500 plant species from around the world in the Palm, Tropical, Desert and Orchid houses. My wife used to grow orchids and still enjoys seeing them here. The rainforest waterfall and stream are relaxing. If you’re lucky, you might see the turtles in the stream along with the fish. Changing displays for holidays are a highlight, as is the ever-popular "Butterfly Show" each year, where butterflies fly throughout the specially-themed garden showroom.
Other places of 1962 vintage to see in Cincinnati at the end of your own Roadtrip-'62 ™ include:
- The Cincinnati Museum Center – within the former Cincinnati Union Terminal, an Art Deco railroad station built in 1933, are three museums. These have only been here since 1990, so the terminal building itself is the only thing that relates to our favorite year.
- The Cincinnati Music Hall - This 1878 building has been completely renovated but features its original architecture with arched entranceways, a huge round window, and two square towers. The Cincinnati Symphony and Pops Orchestra, Cincinnati Ballet, and Cincinnati Opera all perform here.
- The Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Gardens lies less than 2 miles west of US-22 and has been here since 1875, which makes it the second oldest Zoo in the United States. Besides a typical zoo, it also has large and colorful floral plantings.
- The Taft Museum of Art – If you didn’t get enough art in Cincinnati, this museum in a majestic 1820 home will fill in the gaps for you. This Italian villa-inspired home went through several owners before ending up in the hands of President William Howard Taft, who donated it along with its private collection of 690 works of art to the people of Cincinnati in 1927. The Taft Museum opened in 1932.
After a couple of museums, it’s time for dinner, so let’s do something very Cincinnatti: chili. It’s not exactly your usual chili, but Skyline Chili is a Cincinnati original and has become the "official chili" of many local professional sports teams and venues, including the Cincinnati Reds, Cincinnati Cyclones, Columbus Blue Jackets and even the Kings Island theme park. It all began in 1949 with by Greek immigrant Nicholas Lambrinides’ restaurant that he named Skyline because it sat on a hill in town that had a view of the downtown skyline. By 1953, he had a second restaurant and the company has grown to about 110 in 4 states. Lambrinides died in 1962 at the age of 82, but his sons continued to operate and expand the company until 1998, when they sold it to an investment company. The original location on Price Hill was eventually demolished but there is a Skyline Chili now on Vine Street downtown, between the two one-way streets that make up US-22. I’ve tried Skyline Chili before and was not fond of their signature “4-Way”, which is served with spaghetti. But this time, I’m trying the Chili Cheese Fries, one of my favorite dishes. Seems like a perfect place to end our trip, so I’ll see you next time on Roadtrip-'62 ™!
All photos by the author and Copyright © 2019 - Milne Enterprises, Inc., except as noted.
All other content Copyright © 2019 - Milne Enterprises, Inc.