Sugarcreek, OH – June 2018 – Age of Steam Roundhouse

The Age of Steam Roundhouse located in the countryside outside of Sugarcreek, Ohio is the result of a single man’s passion for trains. Jerry Joe Jacobson had a lifelong interest in trains, and over the years collected numerous steam and diesel engines,, along with a number of cars.

In 2011 they completed the roundhouse to house the collection. I had read about this online and sent an email querying about visiting. The email I received back detailed how they only opened to large group tours, but that sometime in the summer they would offer up public tours – so I signed up and a few months later had my tour.

I received back a lengthy waiver detailing numerous don’ts for the visit. While giving me pause we headed out. Upon arriving we had yet another lengthy warning speech about safety (don’t step on a rail you might twist an ankle!) and numerous other things. Now I was concerned it was going to feel like a school field trip we headed out.

Thankfully I was very wrong once we went out on our tour. Our primary tour guide was the son of Jerry (who passed away a year or so ago). He was informative, engaging and lead us throughout the facility – although they did group us into 3 large piles of 30+ people.

 

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The roundhouse is 48,000 square feet with space for 18 locomotives. Built out of masonry and heavy timbers it is an impressive sight.

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Our first stop was the shop where they restore the locomotives.

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It was here we got our first close view of the impressive doors, each weighing over 2000 pounds (1000 kilograms). They are proud that they are so well balanced you can close them with 1 finger.

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Also outside is the large water tank and delivery system that steam locomotives require.

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Returning back inside we toured the numerous engines housed there.

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A couple of the middle bays were free of trains to give a nice overview of the building.

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The assistants to the tour were all dressed for the part – and helpful.

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Each bay has a chimney to capture the significant smoke that a steam locomotive puts out. Note the impressive ceiling.

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They had a variety of engines, although to be fair with the large crowd you could either a) be up front where you could hear the description but have 35 people in the way of the photos  or  b) hang back and get nice photos but no description. One of the numerous opening instructions were no talking to each other or the other guides so you don’t disrupt the tour – they have a schedule to keep.

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Outside are the doors to the turntable – a very impressive sight remembering each of the doors (36 in all) are over 2000 pounds.

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The tracks to the turntable with an engine on the table.

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One of the ‘pushers’ (to keep everyone in line) was Jerry – he and the others were really great and helpful (I whispered my questions!). After the tour I was able to speak to Jerry further finding him a very interesting man.

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Returning back inside – another great view.

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A close up of one of the engines and the ceiling.

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They did have a couple of small display of ancillary railroad items.

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A final look inside.

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A view from outside the fence surrounding the property. The Age of Steam Roundhouse is an amazing place well worth the visit, even with the extensive (silly) warnings and processes and slightly expensive cost to attend.

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Washington DC – June 2018 – Library of Congress

Since the beginning of the U.S. government there has been a Library of Congress. Starting in Philadelphia, then New York, it came to DC in 1800. The current main building was constructed in the 1890s.

When you enter the building you are greeted by a two story Great Hall.

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As with many grand buildings constructed during this period the ceiling is impressive as well.

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There are numerous sculptures throughout.

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The upper level is lined with stately columns.

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While from the upper level you get a clear view of the zodiac symbols in the main level’s floor.

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Additional stylish ceilings and artwork.

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The map room.

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The mosaic in the lower levels floor.

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The building is easily one of the most impressive in DC.

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The Reading Room viewed from above.

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We were so impressed with this room that we went through a process to apply for, and receive, a library card – only to find out that on the reading room floor itself photography is strictly prohibited!

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So we went down the hallways and continued on our way.

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Washington DC – June 2018 – Views of the City

A day and a half in DC gave the opportunity to visit numerous museums (later posts) as well as check out the town. This post are randoms views of the city.

Starting with an unusual view of the Washington Monument down the tracks.

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Stores near Eastern Market

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The Eastern Market interior. I was surprised how small it was.

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A lone runner going past the capital. The reason there are no people around is the visitor center is underneath, and the police keep everyone off the steps.

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The aforementioned police.

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For those who read this blog that are not from America – nearly every 8th grader (13-14 year olds) make a field trip to Washington DC. They always have matching shirts so their chaperones can keep track of them.

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Apparently DC ducks don’t fly, so they have a ramp to get into the reflecting pool.

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The view down the Mall

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A well protected fountain

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The famed Watergate Hotel/Apartment Complex.

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And finally a ride on the Metro.

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Cove Neck, NY – May 2018 – Sagamore Hill

As American presidents go, none were more interesting than Teddy Roosevelt. Born and raised in New York City Teddy did as many wealthy people of the time did, he bought an estate in the country. In his case he purchased 155 acres along the North Shore of Long Island, near Oyster Bay. By 1887 a home was completed and Teddy moved in.

 

 

 

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Today the estate is part of the National Park Service. As you arrive and park about 100 yards away at the visitor center, you approach the home from the rear therefore the first close up you get is of the ice house. Without refrigeration an ice house was an integral part of life.

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Making our way around the exterior (once again we arrived somewhere that was closed to tours for the day) we were greeting with a view of an eagle sculpture on the side of the home.

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When it was built in the late 1800s it was thought to be a very modern looking house.

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On this closer view of the front you will note that a portion of the railing is missing. Teddy has this removed so he could more easily address crowds that regularly gathered on the front lawn.

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The front porch is massive, and the awnings add to the comfort on a warm summer day even more.

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The traditional entrance featured a porte cochere (carriage porch).

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Our final view of the home provided an interesting perspective up the hill past the ice house to the main house. Note the numerous roof lines.

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Nearby Teddy Roosevelt Jr later built his home.

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The estate property goes all the way down the hill to Cold Spring Harbor. Sagamore Hill is a great place to spend a couple of hours – just try and time it when the house it open!

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Cambridge, MA – May 2018 – MIT Buildings

A couple of hours on a Sunday morning provided the perfect time to wander the MIT campus in Cambridge, Massachusetts and check out the buildings.

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The Stratton Student Center faces Mass Avenue – featuring the 2010 piece ‘Alchemist’.

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Nearby is the Kresge Auditorium. Designed by Eero Saarinen it was completed in 1955.

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Across Mass Ave is the Rogers Building. While much of MIT was built in around 1915-1916, this building was built in the 1930s to provide an interface to Mass Ave, but built in the same style – with an impressive dome.

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The Maclaurin Building’s dome is equally impressive – highlighting a reading room on an upper floor.

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The Green Building. Cambridge has laws restricting height, so to get around this MIT built the first floor 30′ high. Unfortunately because of this design the winds around this building hamper the ability to open and close the doors some days.

The artwork in front ‘The Big Sail’ was rumored to be an effort to deflect the wind – but MIT says this is an urban legend.

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Finally the Ray and Maria Stata Center. As anyone who has studied any architecture can immediately tell it is a Frank Gehry design.

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North Adams, MA – May 2018 – Mass MOCA

The Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art is located in the small far northwestern Massachusetts town of North Adams. With a name like that it has been abbreviated to Mass MOCA.

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Located in an old factory complex it is now home to 19 galleries and 100,000 square feet of space. As we arrived we stopped by the cafe for lunch and had the opportunity to listen to some musicians.

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The galleries are scattered throughout the buildings – mixing new construction with the existing buildings.

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As with many contemporary art pieces, they are sometimes subjective to interpretation.

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A fencing mask with feathers.

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Pallet art with a record player (that was stuck on the same part of the same song).

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You have to hand it to them – they are creative.

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At first this seemed like a re-used satellite dish.

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But upon closer inspection it had hundreds of small reflective panels at different angles. All the little red spots are actually reflections of a nearby exit sign.

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The building itself is interesting with it’s high ceilings.

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My favorite gallery was by an artist named Gunnar Schonbeck – who specializes in making giant music instruments.

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A guitar from a large wooden box.

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Xylophones – they encouraged you to ‘play’

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Which many did – to the amusement of their friends.

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Another gallery had commentary on the American involvement in foreign affairs – complete with walls of (somewhat redacted) U.S. intelligence memos displayed in giant form.

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Many of the pieces are huge.

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As well as the statements.

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Mass MOCA is not an easy place to get to – a 3 hour drive from Boston – but it is a very popular artist town and museum.

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Albany, NY – May 2018 – A Governmental Stop

We had been travelling for a couple of hours when we came to Albany, New York. As the state capital there are a number of interesting buildings in the government section – including the capital itself.

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Just across a green space from the state capital is an older, art deco looking office building, the Alfred Smith Government Building – completed in 1930.

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The Department of Education Building lines another side of the park.

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This however ends any of the classic looking buildings – the rest are in the brutalist style of the 1960s and 1970s.

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The Empire State Plaza is lined with them.

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The Egg – A performing arts venue.

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One of the fountains was drained for repairs – giving it an interesting look.

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The view from the museum steps gives an interesting mix of architectures.

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The State Museum of New York.

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Whose arches frame the capital at the other end of the plaza.

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Nearby is either a) a sculpture garden  b) a workout park – not sure.

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A final view of the plaza.

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