Columbus – July 2020 – Sports Venues Past and Present

Today we take a look at the extensive history of sports venues in Columbus. While many are associated with Ohio State University, the city has a long history of professional sports.

 

Baseball

For more than 150 years they have played professional baseball in Columbus – all at the minor league level.

The first true stadium in the city was one of the first in the country to be constructed of concrete and steel. Previously many were built of wood, and often burnt down.

The stadium was called Neil Park.  It was located on Cleveland Avenue just north of downtown.

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This stadium was the home to professional baseball until the 1930s. Today there is no sign of any history of the venue, now being a facility for Abbott Labs

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The next stadium was built on the near west side of the city, along Mound Street. It was originally named Redbirds Stadium, as the team was a farm team for the St Louis Cardinals, and were called the Columbus Redbirds.

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The stadium served the city until 2008, although it changed names a few times, usually when the team changed names. From 1955 until 1970 they were the Columbus Jets

 

 

Finally it was named after a county commissioner who was able to secure a team in the 1970s after a 6 year absence, Harold Cooper.

2008 06 14 75 Columbus Clippers Baseball

 

 

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2008 06 14 92 Columbus Clippers Baseball

 

 

Today it sits vacant, partially torn down. It has been the subject of numerous schemes for redevelopment over the years, but nothing has come of it.

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The current stadium is called Huntington Park (the naming rights were sold to a local bank). It is located much closer to downtown, in the middle of a large area of gentrification.

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2009 09 06 47 Columbus Huntington Park

 

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2009 09 06 26 Columbus Huntington Park

 

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Professional Football

The National Football League generates the most revenue of any sports league in the world, with it’s 32 teams scattered across the United States. But the NFL did not start out that way – they started in an assortment of cities and towns scattered around the Great Lakes, including Columbus.

For 12 years their headquarters was in  the historic New Hayden Building.

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The Columbus team was comprised mostly of railroad workers who worked for the Pennsylvania Railroad’s Panhandle Division. So named because it traversed the Northern West Virginia panhandle, the railroad had a large yard on the south side of the city.

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While most of the teams in the league were made up of former college players, the Panhandles were tough railroad workers who quickly became known for their physical play. Their logo was reflective of the Pennsylvania Railroad Logo

 

Because they worked for the railroad, and had free travel on the trains, they played most of their games in other cities. Their home field in Columbus was at Indianola Park, an amusement park located just north of the city.

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Today the former Amusement Park and NFL home is a strip mall and church.

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College Football

What Columbus lacks in professional football it makes up in college football. Ohio State  football. The budget for athletics at Ohio State is over $200m a year, with the football program generating much of that revenue. But it wasn’t always that way.

The first team was fielded in 1890, with 22 players making the trip to the nearby town of Delaware, Ohio for a game again Ohio Wesleyan College.

2020 07 11 29 Delaware Ohio Historic Markers

 

Later that year they had their first home game. It occurred a few miles away from campus at a field in German Village – now home to a grocery store.

 

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Football quickly became popular and the university built their own stadium – Ohio Field. This field was located on North High Street – near 17th Avenue.

Most people sat around the field until 1907 when the first stands were built. As college football continued to be very popular and by the time the stadium was abandoned in 1921 it has seating for 14,000.

1915_ohio_field

 

Today a parking garage and campus buildings occupy the site.

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With much debate and fanfare the university opened Ohio Stadium in 1922, with an astounding 62,000 seats. Many thought they would never fill it, but by the last game of the year again Michigan they did.

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Today it seats over 105,000.

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2017 03 05 49 Ohio State University

 

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2015 04 12 124 Ohio State University Tour

 

2015 04 12 122 Ohio State University Tour.jpg

 

2015 01 24 1 Ohio State Championship Celebration

 

 

Ohio State football is such a big deal they have this airplane hangar sized indoor practice facility, complete with a statue of legendary coach Woody Hayes out front.

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Arenas

Columbus is home to a number of arenas that have served the city and university over the years.

The State Fairgrounds Coliseum (aka – Taft Coliseum) was built in 1918 with 5000 permanent seats. It has hosted everything from Ohio State basketball to minor league hockey games to horse shows, and one of the venues for ‘The Arnold’.

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St Johns Arena

The Fairgrounds Coliseum served as the home to Ohio State basketball until the 1950s when St Johns Arena was completed on campus.

It was opened in 1956, named for a former basketball coach and athletic director. The 13,276 seats are very cool old school wood.

Once Scottenstein Center was completed, the arena has been relegated to secondary sports like gymnastics and volleyball.

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2015 04 12 139 Ohio State University Tour

 

 

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Nationwide Arena

The only major league team in town, the Columbus Blue Jackets, play their home games at Nationwide Arena. Completed in 2000 for the expansion Blue Jackets it is typical of the arena’s built in the last 25 years – with a large number of luxury suites, and quirky designs including an ear piercing cannon that they shoot off when they score.

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2017 03 11 25 Columbus OHSAA Hockey Championships

 

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Schottenstein Center – Value City Arena

This 20,000 seat arena opened just a couple of years before Nationwide Arena, so the city has 2 very large indoor venues.

When they were planning both arenas the city wanted the site to be downtown, whereas the university wanted it on campus – 3 miles north. When the university didn’t get what they wanted they ‘took their ball and went home’.

2020 07 05 20 Columbus Sports Venues Past and Present

 

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Soccer

Mapfre Stadium

When the MLS started in the 1990s all of the teams played in stadiums built for American football. The Columbus Crew was no different, playing in the 105,000 seat Ohio Stadium.

In 1999 they became the first MLS team to build a soccer specific stadium. This 20,000 seat stadium sits on part of the Ohio State Fairgrounds. Ironically they sometimes played high school football here as well.

In 2015 they sold the naming rights to an insurance company, hence ‘Mapfre Stadium’.

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After shaking down the city and state with a threat to move to Austin, Texas the Crew has received 1/2 of the $200m required to build a new stadium downtown.

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The artist renderings show what a difference it will be.

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Jesse Owens Stadium

Our last venue is on the Ohio State campus, Jesse Owens Stadium. This facility is home to track and field, as well as soccer.

In front is a statue and Ohio Historical Marker detailing the amazing feats of Jesse in the 1936 Olympics.

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2015 04 12 24 Ohio State University Tour

 

 

 

 

 

Virtual Travel – Indiana

The Hoosier State – Indiana.

 

1946 – Dedicated to James Whitcomb Riley, Indiana’s Poet.

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His boyhood home in Indianapolis is now a museum.

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1953 – Intersection of Highway 52 and 136 in Indianapolis.

Government State Indiana 1953

 

 

 

 

1957 – Tri State Express. This is the same freeway featured on the Illinois 1959 map.

Government State Indiana 1957

 

Today that freeway is 10 lanes wide

Interstate 80/94 East - Frank Borman Expressway - AARoads - Indiana

 

The Indiana Welcome Center in Hammond has a statue from the movie Christmas Story. It was set in Hammond, but filmed in Cleveland.

A Christmas Story Comes Home' Exhibit Opens Soon In Hammond ...

 

 

 

1970 – Indiana State Capitol. Dating from 1888 it is the 4th building to be the Indiana Capitol.

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2015 View.

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1971 – The map as a map cover. Columbus, Indiana is shown on the right.

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Columbus has a fantastic collect of modern architecture. Irwin Miller was the Chairman of Cummins Engine Company, and a fan of this type of architecture. His leadership resulted in a town known around the world for the quantity and quality of architecture.

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1972 – Indiana Highway 37 near Bloomington.

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Bloomington, home to Indiana University, is a small city in south central Indiana. (Photo from Bloomington Tourist Office)

Your Guide to a Fall Weekend in Bloomington, Indiana

 

 

1973 – A collection of signs.

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1976 – Indianapolis – The Return Home on the Soldiers and Sailors Monument.

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The Soldiers and Sailors Monument is the center of Indianapolis. Rising to a height of 284′ (87m) this obelisk has numerous statues surrounding it and an observation deck near the top. (photo from Wikipedia)

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1978 – Unidentified country scene.

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1979- Whitewater Canal State Memorial. In the early 1800s canals were built all over the country, and Indiana was no different. The route of the Whitewater Canal was unique in that it had a drop of almost 500′ at a rate of 6.4′ per mile, compared to the the Erie Canal at 1.7 feet per mile.

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Located in the historic town of Metamora, the canal and the accompanying buildings give a sense of life in the early 1800s.

 

 

 

1986 – Indianapolis

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Indianapolis, as the state capitol and largest city in the state. Highlights of the city include:

 

The Ruins of Holiday Park are remnants from an old building in New York City sitting in the middle of a park in Indiana.

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Indianapolis Motor Speedway & Museum.

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Indiana War Memorial Building

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The former baseball stadium is now apartments.

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Indianapolis Museum of Art. The time we were there they were having an exhibit on prototype automobiles.

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The current baseball stadium

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Lucas Oil Stadium – Home of the NFL Colts

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Skyline view (Photo from Pintrest)

Downtown Indianapolis skyline... breathtaking | Indianapolis ...

 

 

 

1991 – 175th anniversary of Indiana.

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1994 – Indiana State Highways 75th Anniversary

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1995 – Indiana Countryside. The tourist bureaus in Indiana play up the country life quite a bit.

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Shipshewana is the largest tourist center for this ‘country life’. With some Amish residents it is common to see horse and buggies on the roads. In addition their flea market is one of the largest in the country. (Photo from Tourist Office)

 

Experience Shipshewana's Amish Country | Visit Indiana

 

 

15 Best Things to Do in Shipshewana, Indiana | Visit Shipshewana

 

 

 

1997 – Generic map

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2001 – Transportation in Indiana. The Indianapolis Airport is the 5th largest air freight center in the country.

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Indiana is the capital of RV production. Elkart has the RV Museum, as well as a number of manufacturing faciities.

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2018 07 16 258 Elkhart IN Heartland RV Manufacturing Tour.jpg

 

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2003 – As with the other states in the path, this year is a celebration of Lewis and Clark.

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On October 26, 1803 Merriweather Lewis meet William Clark across the river from Louisville, Kentucky and set sail down the Ohio River. That spot is now known as Clarksville, Indiana. That meeting is celebrated at the Falls of Ohio State Park.

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This park has a nice view of Louisville.

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2004 & 2016 – Indiana State Museum. The current building pictured here was completed in 2001.

The building is over 40,000 square feet, and covers the natural and civil history of the state. Also included is the ’92 walk’ – a collection of sculptures representing each of the 92 counties in the state.

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2005 – Wildflower.

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A few of the the Indiana State Symbols include: (Photos from Wikipedia)

State Flag – 19 stars, representing Indiana being the 19th state.

Indiana flag

 

State Motto – Crossroads of America.

Indiana state quarter

 

 

State Seal – Depicts a setting sun, sycamore tree, a woodsman and a bison.

 

 

 

State Bird – Cardinal

Cardinal

 

 

State Flower – Peony

Peony

 

 

 

2009 & 2012 – Unidentified Road Construction Projects

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Lincoln Highway construction in Indiana in the early 1900s.

 

 

 

2014 – Southern Indiana Hills

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The largest city in Southern Indiana is Evansville. We made a stop there on Road Trip 2019.

Vanderburgh County Courthouse

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Restored Art Deco Greyhound Station – now a hipster hamburger place.

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Bosse Field – One of the oldest baseball stadiums in the country.

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Primary filming location for the movie League of Their Own.

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2015 – Bristol, Indiana – Bonneyville Mill. This mill is the oldest in the state. It was built by Edward Bonney in 1833.

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2017 – Brown County State Park, Hesitation Point. This is the largest state park in Indiana, covering more than 15,000 acres. It is known for it’s scenic vistas.

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2018 – Williamsport Falls. This 90′ high falls is the 2nd highest in the state.

The flow of the falls is very seasonal.

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2019 – Berne, Indiana – Settled by Mennonite immigrants in 1852. The town has been built by Swiss and German immigrants, resulting now in a small town of 4,000 residents.

It is known for it’s picturesque town square.

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Virtual Travel – Florida

I have had the opportunity to travel many places outside of the United States. When I speak with people in foreign countries and ask if they have ever been in the United States, those that answer yes usually have been to two places – New York City and Florida.

Florida is another state I have been to only a few times, and then mostly for Spring Training baseball. This posting will once again depend on the internet for additional photos.

Since the late 1800s Florida has been the east coast place to go to escape winter. Our virtual tour starts with the 1948 map.

Florida has had population growth that rivals the western states. In 1948 there were about 2.5 million people living in the state; today there are about 22 million, making it the 3rd most populated state.

The cover of the 1948 map is showing the Overseas Highway – U.S. Route 1. This road travels 113 miles from the southern tip of the Florida peninsula to Key West.

Originally a railroad route, it was partially destroyed in a 1935 hurricane. When the Florida East Coast Railway was unable to afford to rebuild, they sold the bridges and roadbed to the state of Florida, where it was eventually rebuilt as a highway.

Government State Florida 1948

 

This photo from the South Florida Sentinel newspaper gives a good aerial view of one section of the road.

The Overseas Highway to Key West was ranked as one of the best scenic drives in the world. (Pisa Photography/Shutterstock)

 

 

The backside of the 1948 map has a cartoon map featuring many of the attractions of the state. While there has been tremendous growth, many of these features are still there.

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The 1954 edition shows a beach scene, most likely from the Miami Beach area. By the 1950s the Art Deco area was thought of as old, and new ‘modern’ development was taking over.

Government State Florida 1954

 

This photo shows the main street in Miami Beach, Collins Avenue, in 1954

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1963 – A creative approach, the beach has been formed in the shape of the state.

Government State Florida 1963

 

Our 1963 additional photo is from the Castaways Bar in Miami Beach – corutesy of Pintrest.

Castaways Bar ~ Miami Beach 1963

 

 

 

1965 – More beach scenes.

Government State Florida 1965

 

 

Most of the 1970s were generic, unidentified scenes.

Government State Florida 1970   Government State Florida 1973

 

1971 and 1972 used the same map, just adding 1972 to the later one.

Government State Florida 1971

 

 

For the American Bicentennial in 1976 Florida looks back at the nearly 400 years since the Spanish first landed in what became the state.

The Spanish arrived in 1513 when Ponce de Leon landed near St Augustine. He named the area la Florida in honor of Spain’s Easter time celebration Pascua florida (feast of the flowers).

St Augustine is proud of the fact they are the oldest continuously inhabited (European descent) city in the Western Hemisphere, having been established in 1565.

Government State Florida 1976

 

St Augustine’s most famous historic site is Castillo de San Marcos, a Spanish stone fortress built more than 300 years ago. Photo from Visitstaugustine.com

 

 

The nondescript maps continued through the rest of the 1970s.

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1983 – Cape Canaveral has always been the home of manned space flight launches, so when the Space Shuttle program started in 1981, it was natural that they launched from here as well.

Government State Florida 1983

 

 

1985 – Cape Florida Lighthouse at Key Biscayne in Miami. This lighthouse was originally built in 1825.

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1991 – The Sunshine Skyway. This bridge crosses lower Tampa Bay, spanning a distance of over 4 miles. The towers rise over 400 feet above the water level, with the road deck being 180′ high.

The original bridge was built in 1954 as a two lane bridge. In 1969 an additional span was added. In 1980 a freighter hit the bridge, causing a collapse that killed 35 people as their cars and a bus plunged into the bay. Afterward they decided to replace both spans with the new bridge. Note the large barriers in the water to prevent this from happening again.

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Once again in 1993 and 1994 Florida used the same cover.

Government State Florida 1993.jpg

 

 

In the early 2000s Florida sold out totally and included advertising on the cover of their maps as each one had a happy family at Universal Studios.

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Universal Studios in Florida  was designed from the start to be both a working studio and an amusement park. Today it is the 6th most visited park in the United States (the 5 ahead of it are all Disney parks).

Universal Studios Florida - Harry Potter

 

 

 

2006 – Finally some love for northern Florida. This view of Jacksonville shows the John Alsop Bridge and the Wells Fargo Center.

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2009 – Sea World is featured. This park opened in 1973, not long after Disneyworld.

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Since 2010 all Florida maps have the happy families at the beach. This has been their meal ticket for 150 years, and will continue to be forever.

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All these maps and not one mention of Spring Training baseball. While there are still a number of teams training in Florida, the ones below have been lost to Arizona.

 

Vero Beach – Los Angeles Dodgers

2007 03 10 13 Los Angeles Dodgers Spring Training Vero Beach Florida.jpg

 

 

Sarasota – Cincinnati Reds

2007 03 09 32 Cincinnati Reds Spring Training Sarasota Florida.jpg

 

 

 

Lake Wales – Cleveland Indians

2007 03 09 37 Cleveland Indians Spring Training Winter Haven Florida.jpg

 

 

 

Among those still there

Bradenton – Pittsburgh Pirates

2007 03 09 2 Pittsburgh Pirates Spring Training Bradenton Florida.jpg

 

 

Viero – Washington Nationals

2007 03 08 10 Washington Nationals Spring Training Viero Florida.jpg

 

 

Kissimmee – Houston Astros

2007 03 06 Houston Astros Spring Training Site Kissimmee Florida 10.jpg

 

 

Disneyworld – Atlanta Braves

2007 03 02 Atlanta Braves Spring Training Disney 50.jpg

 

 

And finally – Lakeland – Detroit Tigers

2007 03 04 1 Detroit Tigers Spring Training Lakeland.jpg

 

 

 

 

 

 

Virtual Travel – Arizona

Time to head to the sunshine of Arizona on our virtual tour of the country. Arizona has some of the most impressive geology and topography around, with the world’s greatest natural wonder – the Grand Canyon.

Our virtual tour also time travels back to 1952 for the oldest map in the collection. Ironically for a state that is mostly desert it features Canyon Lake. Located 50 miles east of Phoenix it is a result of the damming of the Salt River.

Government State Arizona 1952.jpg

 

 

 

The state was sparsely populated place in 1952 with less than 800,000 people in a state with almost 114,000 square miles. Phoenix, the capital, had barely 100,000 people.

Today the metro Phoenix area alone has almost 5 million people, with over 7 million living in the entire state.

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Our trip moves on to 1956, with the fairly boring subject of a rural intersection featured on the cover.

Government State Arizona 1956.jpg

 

 

The backside of the map features the state flag bird, flower, seal and tree. The calendar of events is interesting, again showing the changes in the last 65 years.

The February golf tournament in Phoenix had a purse of $15,000 (est $200,000 in 2020 dollars). Today that tournament has a purse of over $7 million.

Other events like the rodeo in Yuma are also still in existence.

Government State Arizona 1956 3.jpg

 

 

Throughout the 1960s and 1970s the Arizona State Map was shaped like more like a book than a map. This map features the state flower, the bloom from the Saguaro Cactus. These massive cacti grow to heights of 40′ or more.

Government State Arizona 1967

 

 

 

1968 again features water in the desert. This time we are at Glen Canyon National Recreation Area. While most of Glen Canyon is in Utah, it is dammed at Lake Powell, Arizona. The output from this dam heads down the Colorado River into the Grand Canyon.

Government State Arizona 1968.jpg

 

 

 

 

For 1970 we have the full view of the Saguaro. The backside of the map has a great collection of saguaros throughout the state.

Government State Arizona 1970.jpg

 

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As we move a few years ahead we again have cacti on the cover.

Government State Arizona 1977.jpg

 

 

The backside of the 1977 map however has some great photographs of the highlights of Arizona.

Government State Arizona 1977 3

 

 

 

For my collection 1980 is the last year of the ‘book sized’ maps. With a fantastic canyon view (amazingly not named on the map – guessing a view of the Grand Canyon I have not seen), the backside features many of the National Monuments located in the state.

Government State Arizona 1980.jpg

 

Government State Arizona 1980 2.jpg

 

 

We have been fortunate enough to visit a number of these locations including Wupataki Ruins. These ruins are nearly 1000 years old – home to a town of 2,000.

2005 06 26 Wupataki Ruins Arizona 1.jpg

 

 

 

By the 2000s Arizona had ceased producing traditional road maps, rather they produce a ‘Visitor Map’ on glossy paper, much like any other tourist map. It is filled with advertising. The 2002 edition has an unidentified road, while the 2004 map on the right is the area around Sedona.

Government State Arizona 2002.jpg        Government State Arizona 2004.jpg

 

In 2012 I passed through Sedona. An artist colony, it has amazing scenery as you make your way down Oak Creek Canyon.

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2012 03 15 42 Sedona.jpg

 

 

 

The 2005 edition has Bright Angel Trail in the Grand Canyon on the cover. This 8 mile trail descends over 4000 feet. The 2010 map on the right features Brittlebush with their spring wildflowers in bloom near Bartlett Lake.

Government State Arizona 2005            Government State Arizona 2010.jpg

 

It is hard to believe but it has been 15 years since we were last at the Grand Canyon. These photos are from the early days of digital – we need to go back.

We did spend 1 hour going down Bright Angel Trail, which equates to over 2 hours coming back up. Needless to say we did not reach the bottom. It was well worth the time, as soon as you get away from the crowds at the rim the views are so much better.

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The 2011 map on the left features ‘The Wave’ in Vermillion Cliffs Wilderness Area. This is one place that is high on my list to visit. The 2012 map on the right revisits Sedona.

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In 2012 they published two editions, the one below has Saguaro National Park featured. The 2014 map features Mogollon Rim near Payson.

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For 2015 the cover takes us to the countryside outside of Flagstaff. At over 7000 feet in elevation, the terrain around Flagstaff is very ‘un-Arizona’ like. It is near here that there are ski resorts.

Again in 2016 they visited Sedona.

Government State Arizona 2015.jpg          Government State Arizona 2016.jpg

 

 

 

The final map in my collection has to be in of course…Sedona!

Government State Arizona 2018.jpg

 

But there is much more to Arizona than the natural scenery, as fantastic as it is.

In Arizona you can see the London Bridge in Lake Havasu City

2012 03 14 Route 66 Road Trip 66 Lake Havasu City Arizona.jpg

 

 

Take a trip on Route 66 and see the wild burros in Oatman …

2012 03 14 Route 66 Road Trip 98 Oatman Highway Arizona.jpg

 

 

Continue on Route 66 to the very kitschy little town of Seligman for some lunch at the Roadkill Cafe ...

2012 03 14 Route 66 Road Trip 175 Seligman Arizona.jpg

 

and ice cream at the famous Snow Cap…

2012 03 14 Route 66 Road Trip 182 Seligman Arizona.jpg

 

 

Catch the Grand Canyon Train in Williams….

2012 03 14 Route 66 Road Trip 219 Williams Arizona.jpg

 

 

And watch Spring Training in Phoenix! Arizona is easily one of my favorite states.

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Cleveland – June 2019 – League Park Makes a Comeback

For someone or something to come back after 20 or 30 years is amazing. In Cleveland the former stadium for the Indians baseball team has made a comeback after being unused for nearly 70 years.

League Park is located in the Hough neighborhood on the east side of Cleveland. In the early days of baseball many stadiums were located in the neighborhoods like this.




As with many other cities Cleveland built a larger, more centrally located stadium downtown and League Park was essentially torn down in 1951, with the exception of a small brick ticket office.

All that has changed in the last few years as the city of Cleveland has invested significant money in bringing back League Park. They have restored the ticket office, and remaining wall, and added a new field.









The field is once again available for baseball.







The ticket office now serves as a small museum commemorating baseball, with an emphasis on Cleveland.

While League Park will never again host major league baseball, it has found a great new life.













Evansville, Indiana – May 2019 – Bosse Field

Bosse Field in Evansville, Indiana is known as the 3rd oldest baseball stadium still in use, although they are disregarding Rickwood Field in Birmingham in that statement.

The stadium is most famous for being used in a number of the scenes from the movie A League of Their Own.

While it is an interesting stadium, it does not have the character of Rickwood Field.







































Houston – May 2019 – Sights at the Baseball Game

Since the Houston Astros had a home game, and we were staying a couple of blocks away, we checked out the scene. As with most stadiums they have sold the naming rights, so they play at Minute Maid Park 🙂




The crowd was gathering outside before the gates opened.



Anytime I visit a new stadium I like to get there early and walk around to check out the sights.



The TV people were preparing for their broadcast.




As with all the stadiums built in the last 25 years, all have ‘quirky’ features. This stadium has a retractable dome (which was closed because it was 90 and humid), as well as a giant glass wall facing the downtown buildings.



The bullpens were empty.



Some basic instructions were occurring.



Marketing + Marketing = Excess.



The left field scoreboard and stands.



Finally it was time for the game and the obligatory national anthem. This group of young string instrument players were excellent.



The Phillips 66 Home Run Pump, brought to you by Phillips 66.



They have a large train along the glass wall. This train weights 60,000 pounds, and the driver actually drives (and stops) it. In researching this there is no apparent reason why there is a train there other than someone liked the idea.



The massive main scoreboard – everything you need to know about Jose Abreu.



If you can’t hit a real baseball virtual reality gives you the chance.



They have cheerleader at a baseball game…. The most excited the crowd got was for the free t shirts.




Almost forgot – there was a baseball game played.





Crowds going for, or dodging, foul balls always make good subjects.







Finally it got all too slow and we headed out.






Biloxi, Mississippi – May 2019 – No Blues In Biloxi

Welcome to Biloxi, Mississippi.



Biloxi has to be the only town in America that built their freeway exit ramp over the beach and slightly into the ocean.



Nearby is the rebuilt Biloxi pier, replacing the one destroyed by Hurricane Katrina



Being on the Gulf Coast, Biloxi has palm trees on the beach giving it that tropical feel.



In some perspectives it feels like a beach town.



One of the more impressive buildings in town is the Frank Gehry designed art museum.



Biloxi has had a long history of gambling, and from the 1990s on large casinos were built directly on the beach.



Biloxi is one of the larger gambling meccas in the country outside of Las Vegas.



The tall hotel/casinos dwarf their small motels across the main boulevard along the beach.



But there is more to Biloxi than the casinos. The town is only a couple of hours away from New Orelans, giving the town itself a similar look and feel.

The Half Shell Oyster House not only is a great looking building, but the food was fantastic.



Nearby is MGM Park, a minor league baseball stadium for the Biloxi Shuckers – a middle tier farm team for the Milwaukee Brewers.

The name celebrates Biloxi’s heritage in the seafood and oyster industries.



The crowd was sparse for this Thursday evening game.



Their mascot is a giant seagull named Schooner.






Birmingham, Alabama – May 2019 – Rickwood Field

Despite what Fenway Park, Wrigley Field, or even Bosse Field in Evansville, Indiana say, Rickwood Field in Birmingham is America’s oldest baseball stadium.

Opened in 1910 it is in amazingly similar look and condition to the day it was opened.

While it is no longer used regularly for the minor league Birmingham Barons, it still sees some use with a tribute game by the Barons, as well as other use.

Most frequently it is used as a movie set for retro baseball movies, as well as local colleges.


As you enter the stadium you are greeted with old entry gates, not metal detectors.


The lineups are written on a chalkboard.


Going into the box seats you have a fence surrounding the home plate area for protection from foul balls.


The seats are still all wood, not plastic.


For most a large roof protects you from the hot Alabama summer sun.


Looking down the stands towards the press box. The original press box was a tiny 4 person booth on the roof, but this one was added for a period piece movie and it was left as it is more functional.


We were permitted to go onto the perfectly manicured field to check it out. The center field fence seems far away from here.

Also note how much foul ground there is behind home plate – many would be foul balls likely turn into outs here.


Looking down first base toward right field show the unusual cantilevered light towers.


Left field is similar, with a ‘batting barn’ built further off to the left.


A view from home plate back towards the stands again show the foul territory.


Despite it’s minimal use, they keep the field in perfect condition.


The view of the right field stands are far longer than those along left field. When this stadium was built in 1910 Forbes Field in Pittsburgh had just been completed as the standard in stadium design, and the architects here used essentially the same design – albeit with much less seating than the major league stadium.


As we make our way into the outfield you can see the advertising along the outfield fence. This was a common practice in the early 1900s, and the advertising that is there is either period advertising, or new companies with the ads made to look period correct.


The scoreboard has been restored to the early 1900s look, with the scorekeeping done manually.

The teams listed would be those from the 1930s – Atlanta is still in the Southern League, and Brooklyn still has the Dodgers.


Birmingham is happy to see you.


Even the Vulcan is present.


The ads are very cool.


Another sign of the history of the south – there were all white teams, and all black teams. Rickwood Field hosted both Birmingham teams.

This practice ended in the 1950s.


The right field stands.


Rickwood Field is easily one of the best baseball ‘park’s I have ever seen. While it has been made retro for Hollywood , it really works nicely.





Columbus – April 2019 – Ohio Sports History

The Ohio History Center recently opened an exhibit on the history of sports in Ohio. It featured both professional and team sports, as well as sports geared toward participation, such as these classic old roller skates.





The Cincinnati Bengals came into existence as part of the American Football League (AFL), a couple of years before they merged with the NFL. The exhibit had a rare referee’s uniform from the AFL days.





A classic bowling shirt from the 1960s.





One of the most famous annual events in the state is the world soap box derby championships in Akron.





While the NBA was in existence in the early 1960s, college basketball was bigger. An offshoot of that was big time AAU basketball – Cleveland had a team that was the National Champions in 1961.





The 1970s Cincinnati Reds were a powerhouse team, lead by catcher Johnny Bench and the now disgraced Pete Rose.





High School football is big time in Ohio, and are none are bigger than the Massillon – Canton McKinley rivalry.





Probably the most famous athlete from Ohio today is LeBron James.

The exhibit was ok, but given how much sports history there is in Ohio it seemed lacking in depth and detail.