The National Postal Museum was established through a joint agreement between the U.S. Postal Service and the Smithsonian Institution in 1993.
Located in the former main post office for Washington, it has a great collection of philatelic items.
In the mid 1800s the United States Postal Service was just starting up, and they had competition from private postal services – in a way they have come full circle losing much of the market to Fedex and UPS.
The museum had a nice collection of the various improvements in delivery, as well as a couple of the more unusual. This mailbox was stuck inside a cruise missle and fired on June 8th, 1959. It did reach it’s target, but was done only once because of the immense cost.
The museum has an amazing collection of stamps and letters. The one below is one of the earliest known U.S. Postal stamps from 1847.
A couple of survivors. This letter survived the Hindenburg fire and crash.
This is one of the few letters sent from the Titanic. The writer, George Graham of Canada wrote this brief letter and mailed it before reaching Cherbourg, the last stop before going trans-atlantic. The letter reached it’s destination – unfortunately George did not, dying in the accident.
An actual Pony Express delivered letter. Despite all of the publicity over the last 150 years, the Pony Express operated for about a year and a half.
There are a number of other small items including letter carrier badges from around the country.
One section detailed what goes into the design of a stamp.
The Postal Service has always celebrated famous Americans, including musicians.
Throughout the museum were various mailbox displays.
A number of the displays highlighted foreign mailboxes.
The 6 story atrium featured a number of aircraft that were used in the early days of air mail.
Also on display is a full size mail rail car. Imagine sorting the mail bumping along at 60 MPH.
Benjamin Franklin was, among other things, the First Postmaster General. He was well qualified as he was appointed postmaster of Philadelphia by the British Crown Post in 1737, as newspaper publishers often were appointed postmasters.
The Postal Museum is a great place to spend a few hours – well worth the time. And as most Smithsonian Museums, it has free admission.
The National Geographic Museum is located on 17th Street Northwest in Washington. The National Geographic Society was founded in Washington in 1888 by explorers and scientists, and continue to this day their effort to educate the public.
The organization’s headquarters greets you with their famed seal embossed in the floor.
In the first floor of one of the buildings is a small exhibit featuring, among other things, many of their famed magazine covers.
As well as some artifacts such as Adminral Peary’s camera he used on his Arctic explorations.
The main exhibition hall is located in a second building across the courtyard. The current feature is ‘Queens of Egypt’.
This display features seven of the famed queens including Nefertari.
Numerous small artifacts are on display.
Many have beautiful details and vivid colors.
A section called ‘The Listicle of Major Goddesses’ had much larger statues and artifacts.
The final section dealt with Death and Mummies including this funerary stela for Amun in Thebes.
A display highlighted the 6 stages of mummification including embalming, washing and waxing, extracting of the brain through the nostrils, extraction of internal organs – which were then scented and placed in canopic jars, drying, and finally the placement of the mask of pure gold over the face.
The Washington National Cathedral is the second largest church in the country, and serves as the church for many state funerals, among other activities.
Because of Washington’s unique building height restrictions it is the 4th tallest building in the city, despite only being 300′ high.
The day we visited they were having the annual Flower Mart. As part of this event there were a number of group performing, including the choir from the nearby St Alban’s School.
The main section rises to the aforementioned 300′, with a length of nearly 500′ making it an impressive space.
State flags line the cathedral. Despite the name it receives no money from the government.
There is a significant amount of carvings throughout.
The organ was built by Ernest Skinner & Son Organ Company. It was completed and installed in 1938, with over 10,000 pipes.
A closeup of some of the carvings.
The church suffered significant damage in a 2011 earthquake, and they have been raising money ever since to complete repairs. By selling Lego bricks at $2 each, they hope to raise the final $19 million to finish the repairs. The bricks are to build an exact replica of the cathedral.
A statue of George Washington was sculpted in 1947 and placed in the church. It is said to represent Washington not as a soldier, or president, but ‘just a man’.
As noted previously the Flower Mart was occurring on this day. As part of this celebration the country of Ecuador flew in fresh roses and was giving each lady a rose, presented by a representative of the embassy.
Many countries had floral displays, none more unusual that Switzerland’s rose cow.
Many lined the nave, with the stained glass windows providing backdrops.
The arrangements were very well done.
The Washington Cathedral is a stunning building, and the Flower Mart display added to the experience.
Part 2 of the Southeastern Ohio tour shows some of the results of the struggles that an area that has been economically depressed for decades looks like.
A Ghost Sign in New Lexington.
Apparently not much fun in the sun anymore. It seems like it would’ve always been a bad business model because pools are expensive, and this area has never had much personal income, not to mention it is sparsely populated.
Some seem to have a unique beauty in their deterioration.
While others seem to be just barely standing.
Welcome to Historic Shawnee, Ohio!
This town once had over 3000 residents, now it is down to 600.
While at first glance it appears to be a ghost town, Shawnee is hanging on. While many of the buildings are vacant, some continue to be used.
Closer inspection of this ‘building’ shows the front is still there, but the rest of the building is gone, resulting in a courtyard of sorts.
This building, completed in 1907, was originally a hotel that hosted among others William McKinley. In addition there has always been a theater within.
This theater has recently been restored, and hosts concerns, plays and amazingly basketball games.
When buying a ‘fixer upper’, make sure it isn’t relying on the neighbor to stand up. (amazingly the small building behind the sign had a sign on the front indicating it was the real estate agents office, but it seems unlikely.
While sadly worn down, the buildings do have interesting architectural elements to them. If this were anywhere near somewhere with real estate in demand these cool little old buildings would be snapped up and restored.
With Shawnee being far from any population or jobs centers, they just look like a movie set.
Moving on, we passed this once a school, once a church, now (apparently) vacant building.
In nearby Glouster is a worn sign for The Wonder Bar (which apparently is long gone). No Wonder Dogs for lunch today.
Nearby is what looks like a scene from a Hitchcock movie – and old dilapidated building covered with birds.
Just out of town is an abandoned school, which nature is taking over.
As noted in Part 1 of this day, Nelsonville was a brick town. A park on the outskirts of town have the remains of a brick factory.
With the tower and a couple of large kilns, it is very cool place to check out.
This factory was started in 1880, and closed in 1940.
Amazingly the bricks are still sitting in the kiln.
Look closely you will see ‘Nelsonville Block’ embossed in many of the bricks. This company won awards for their bricks at the World’s Fair in St Louis in 1904.
Stacks of bricks are stored in the park (thankfully it appears nobody is stealing them).
Nearby is the Hocking Canal Lock 19 remains. Canals were essential to the initial development of the area in the mid 1800s.
This photo is representative of transportation in the area over the times. First there was the canal, then the railroad killed the canals.
The railroad itself was mostly displaced by the highway. Why can I stand in the middle of the highway and take this picture? Because it too has been displaced by a newer freeway that bypass all of the towns and this section of road, further killing any chance of survival these towns have.
Our final stop is in the interesting little town of Haydenville.
For his company town Hayden used the products he produced for sale to build the buildings.
The town was built in stages, and the materials reflect the era that they were producing them in the factory.
Some have interesting architectural features (and satellite dishes and trash).
Even the church was built out of the Haydenville Mining and Manufacturing company’s products.
In fact closer inspection shows a plethora of different tiles used for accent pieces and features.
Even some of the individual homes have these features. Note the pipes in the upper part of the left side of this house used for decoration.
Next door is a similar one, with slightly different features.
The final really unique house in the old company town of Haydenville.
Southesatern Ohio parallels much of Appalachia – there is natural beauty, but much has been destroyed by rampant disregard of nature for the benefit of industry for 100 years or so, now it is left on it’s own.
Yet some survive, either through tourism or other means. Regardless there is much to see in the area, and worth a trip (with an open mind to ‘beauty’)
A long spring Sunday was spent wandering throughout Southeastern Ohio. For those not familiar, this area of the state is the beginning of Appalachia – both the good point and bad points.
Part 1 of the posting is showing the interesting sights of the area. Part 2 (in a second post) shows some of the hardships endured.
The day started out passing through the small town of Somerset, home of the Civil War general Phillip Sheridan. His statue graces the middle of the traffic circle in the center of town.
Just south of Somerset we passed by a large collection of ‘Ghost Bikes’. These bikes are normally placed where a bicyclist was killed in accidents. I am not sure if this person is paying tribute, or makes the bikes.
Southeastern Ohio is made up of small towns that all have seen better days. They were mostly coal towns or clay/brick towns. Murray City has restored their small train depot and even has a small engine and caboose.
While inside they have the items used to run the depot. Apparently nobody has used the calculator in a long time as it was covered in cobwebs.
Nearby Glouster has restored their depot as well.
Glouster also has a number of public art installations including a large, nicely done mural showing the history of the town.
They also have a number of reproductions of famous pieces of art on the side of the building in the center of town.
Nearby Nelsonville is a center for tourism for the area, as they have a very popular scenic railroad. In addition the town square has been restored, including this great building – the Stuart Opera House.
Nelsonville has a music festival that brings ‘nationally known’ artists, as well as many regional artists. The Stuart also hosts many concerts.
This stylish house on the edge of the town square is made of some locally made bricks, with the interesting coloring.
Nelsonville was a brick town, as noted by this great building and the brick street.
One of the manufacturers was the Star Brick company, with their distinctive stars embossed in each brick.
With the natural beauty of the hills and valleys, it has become a tourist mecca with nearby Hocking Hills being the center.
As with many parts of the country they have converted old railways to trails. This trail goes through the King Hollow Tunnel. This tunnel is unique in that is was (and still is) wood frame, as opposed to stone or concrete. It was recently restored and stabilized but still done with wood.
Nearby Lake Hope State Park has a historic Iron Furnace.
The highlight of this area is the famed Moonville Tunnel. The guide at the visitor center told us to take a road until we reached the stream and walk across the bridge. Clearly this is not the bridge to cross.
We eventually found the correct one, and headed for the tunnel. The Moonville Tunnel is infamous for being haunted, with numerous different stories about ghosts.
All we found were graffiti from previous ghosts (or tacky people).
It has rained a lot recently and the side of the trail through the tunnel had a light layer of water which coupled with the stunning amount of graffiti gave it an interesting look.
Part 2 of this day is highlighted in a second post.
Our weekend in Detroit resulted in some venues that didn’t result in enough photos for a single posting so they are grouped together in ‘Random Sights’
Up first – Eastern Market.
Detroit has one of the finest farmers markets in the country. Contained in a number of indoor and outdoor ‘sheds’, they offerings vary throughout the year.
On this day there was little produce, but many people with various meats and even landscaping items.
A few street performers were on hand trying to generate some tips.
Surrounding the market are many food service companies. A number of the buildings had food related murals.
A little Detroit muscle in the Market.
In nearby Dearborn is the Henry Ford Estate.
When you invent the Model T you can have any house you want. Henry had this nice home on what was once a 1700 acre grounds. Most has been developed into a college, mall and corporate center for Ford.
This home’s styling has kept up better than most of it’s era.
And when you start a car company you need a really stylish 5 car garage.
A brief tour of downtown revealed a number of art pieces. This skyscraper at One Woodward Avenue was designed by Minoru Yamaski. If the design of the windows looks familiar it is because he later designed the original World Trade Center in New York.
The statue is The Passo di Danza (Step of the Dance).
The Spirit of Detroit is a large statue completed in 1958. Today this symbol adorns most of the city of Detroit’s department logos.
A recent addition is a 17′ high statue called ‘Waiting’ . While many like the addition some say the ‘X’ for eyes represent death.
Detroit is in Wayne County – and the County Building is in a classic Roman Baroque Revival style,, and was completed in 1902.
Cadillac Tower was the first building outside of New York and Chicago to be 40 floors tall when completed in 1927.
Across the street from the Guardian Building is the Buhl Building. Stylish in it’s own right, it pales to its world renown neighbor.
From the 32nd floor of the Guardian Building we had a great view of the surrounding area. This is a view southwest looking at the Ambassador Bridge leading to Canada (on the left), as well as the Rouge Factory in the distance.
The Renaissance Center was built in the 1970s in an effort to revitalize downtown, however it was built across an 8 lane street, along the river, and with huge walls that visually were imposing. Fail.
From our high vantage point we could see out to the vacant Packard factory that we toured the day before.
The Penobscot Building was Detroit’s tallest building from it’s completion in 1928 until the Ren Center was finished in the 1970s.
The building was named after the Penobscot Native American’s in Maine. The exterior motif pays tribute to them.