Mansfield, OH – July 2018 – Elektro The Robot

Mansfield, Ohio is a mid sized city in north central Ohio. It is most famous for the historic Mansfield Reformatory, which was used for the filming of Shawshank Redemption.

Also in Mansfield is their local museum, housed in a 1800s Soldier’s and Sailors Home.

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Mansfield was once home to a division of Westinghouse that built home appliances. At one point in the 1950s over 8,000 people from Mansfield worked for Westinghouse.

Without a doubt the most interesting thing ever developed and built for Westinghouse in Mansfield is Elektro, the Robot.

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Elektro was designed by Joseph Barnett for the 1939 World’s Fair in New York City. He is credited with being the first true robot ever built.

With voice commands he could walk, talk and count on his fingers. Built out of gears, cams, motors, vacuum tubes and a photo electric cell, one of Elektro’s stranger talents was the ability to smoke a cigarette.

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When we arrived in Mansfield we were greeted by Scott Schaut the curator of the museum, and expert on Elektro. When I asked why he wasn’t in a museum in Pittsburgh, the home of Westinghouse, Scott replied ‘over his dead body’!

Scott has re-created Elektro with modern resin’s and other components. The original is on the left, with the recreation on the right. There was once a dog named Sparko but he was lost to time.

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Also within the museum are some exhibits on the Westinghouse products built in town.

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Including a roasting pan.

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The museum has other local interest items scattered throughout.

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While much of the museum has a military feel to it, they also have some local minerals on display, along with more eclectic items.

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As part of their military display they have a very large model airplane collection.

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While most are military, they have some of the early airplanes like the Wright Flyer.

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The models are very detailed in the presentation. Scott said it best when he said, we are the museum for Mansfield but 90% of the people that walk through the door are looking for Elektro – just like us.

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Bradford, PA – May 2018 – Zippo Lighters

The Zippo Manufacturing company produced the first Zippo lighter in 1933 in the small northern Pennsylvania town of Bradford. The company continues to this day producing their quality product, guaranteed for life.

They ceased doing factory tours a few years ago, opting instead for a small museum and store. As you arrive you are greeted by their ‘Zippo Car’, as well as some of the coolest street lights you will ever see.




An American flag adorns the entrance.





Made out of hundreds of Zippo lighters – many with artwork.





Other displays showcase their company history.





Zippo has always made lighters as tributes to various people, organizations and events. The ones below were made for the Apollo space missions.





A series of Rolling Stones lighters.





As noted there are no factory tours, but they do have the repair shop at this facility. It was unfortunately unused as it was the Friday before a holiday weekend.





If they can’t fix it they will replace it. A display case showed some of the un-repairable ones





If you find yourself in Bradford, Pennsylvania (which is tough – it is far from any cities) check out the Zippo Museum.


Hershey, PA – May 2018 – Antique Automobile Club of America

The Antique Automobile Club of America built a nice transportation museum near Hershey, Pennsylvania. More commonly known as the ACCA Museum, it houses a number of automobiles, trucks, buses and motorcycles.

Currently the very cool Hershey Kissmobile is displayed at the front entrance.


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The building has 3 levels, with a nice lobby featuring a beautiful ragtop.

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Many of the cars are located within themes.

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The museum has a nice mix of automobiles and trucks – all restored to original condition.

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A full Atlantic Gas Station is displayed, complete with the Service Truck.

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The lower level features the Bus Museum.

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Their current primary exhibit is on Tuckers.

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Three fully restored Tucker’s are shown.

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Baltimore – May 2018 – Historic Heights

Baltimore has two historic towers, made for vastly different purposes.

First up is the Phoenix Shot Tower. When completed in 1828 it was the tallest structure in America, rising to a height of 234′.

A shot tower was used to make bullets by carrying the molten lead to the top of the tower and dropping chunks of it down the height. The falling motion formed them into round balls, where at the bottom they landed in vats of water.


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The interior was a massive staircase with the open space for the projectiles to fall.

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The manual elevator had a unique emergency brake, essentially used to slow it enough for someone to get it stopped.

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While there are taller buildings in Baltimore, the Phoenix Shot Tower still stands out.

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Nearby is the Bromo Seltzer Clock Tower. Rising 289′ above the streets the clock tower was used as offices for the Bromo Seltzer Company, as well as offering all of Baltimore the Time of Day since 1911.

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There are 4 large clock hands.

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The original hands are on display inside the clock tower.

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Which is still letting the people of Baltimore know what time it is.

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Queens, NY – May 2018 – World’s Fairgrounds

The World’s Fair has been held in New York City twice, once in 1939 and a second time in 1964-65. Both times it occurred in the Queens at the Flushing Meadows Park.

There are only a few reminders of what once was, but they are very cool.

First up – The Unispehere. Viewable from the entire area it makes an impressive entrance sight.

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As you arrive from the subway station  you are greeting with some mosaics in the sidewalk. The one pictures shows the building that was the New York City Pavilion in 1939, now the Queens Museum.

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Nearby is the United States Tennis Association’s complex including the 30,000 seat Arthur Ashe Stadium.

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Within the Queens Museum is a 10,000 square foot model of New York City with over 900,000 individual buildings.

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Still remaining from the fair are the towers from the New York State Pavilion. Little used (except in the movie Men in Black), they are rusting away.

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As we walked back to the 7 Train to Manhattan we passed the Corona Rail Depot and a stunning number of subway cars.

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Glacier National Park, Montana – September 2017 – A Smoky Day in the Park

Montana, as with much of the northwest has had a busy forest fire season. The haze and light smoke was very noticeable in our visit to Glacier National Park. ¬†The free range cows didn’t seem to mind.

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Most of the scenes were somewhat obscured with haze, but still visually stunning.

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The hike to St Mary’s Waterfalls was worth the effort.

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The smoke provided some unusual patterns in the otherwise clear skies.

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Glacier is losing it’s namesakes at a rapid pace. We saw very little, mostly because they are so high up with the haze what is left was blocked from view.

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The ‘Going to the Sun’ Road is a spectacular drive.

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Lake McDonald offers tours – we skipped that option.

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