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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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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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.

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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.

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

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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

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

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

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and ice cream at the famous Snow Cap…

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Catch the Grand Canyon Train in Williams….

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

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Virtual Travel – Alabama

I was born with ‘that travelling bone’, and since I was very small I wanted to see every place in the world. Since my family rarely went very far from home, I did most of my travel via maps and charts. Since that time I have always enjoyed maps and charts, eventually amassing a fairly large collection.

Now that we are all hanging around our respective homes it seems like a good time to check out the maps, and do some virtual travelling.

Each state in the U.S. has a Department of Transportation, who has traditionally published a new road map every year or two. While this is waning, the maps that they created often were works of art – promoting tourism and commerce in their state.

This posting series will features those maps, one posting for each state, along with some highlights of my photographs of travels to those states. Since there is no good way to prioritize them, we will go alphabetically starting with… Alabama.

 

 

The oldest map from Alabama in my collection is from 1946. The cover of this map features the State Capitol. Dating from 1850 this building has some infamous history – serving as the location for the swearing in of Jefferson Davis when the southern states seceded from the union in 1861.

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The rear cover is more innocuous – an unnamed waterfalls.

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The map itself is reflective of the times; a network of national and state highways. The interstates system was still 12 years from starting, so if you were making a trip through Alabama (or any state) it was a slow trip punctuated by numerous little towns.

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Contrasting that with the newest Alabama map in my collection from 2018. Between the interstates, and numerous 4 lane roads and bypasses, the trips are much faster.

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A look at the Alabama State Highway Maps over the years.

We jump ahead almost three decades to 1974. In an unusual move the cover is actually just part of the overall backside of the road map, so the state name is truncated. The family’s outfits however make this map classic – nothing like plaid to say ‘1974’.

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The late 1970s were fairly boring for the artwork. The state seal was on the 1977-1978 map, and just photo and text graced the 1979-1980 map. This map is the only one I have out of thousands that has just text for the cover. The rear is even more plain – HELP written across it in 40 point font.

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By the 1980s the State Capitol has made a return to the map.

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Alabama is unusual in that most of the maps issued covered two years. The one below for 1985-1986 features the State of Alabama Highway Department building in Montgomery. It is also unusual in that the maps orientation is horizontal, a theme they continue on the next map as well.

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The Mobile Bay I-10 Bridge is featured on the 1993-1994 map.

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The following year the map returns to the traditional vertical orientation. It also features a new governor (Fob James) and transportation director. The 1995-1996 map (left) features Lookout Mountain Parkway in DeSoto State Park near Fort Payne. The next map in the series from 1997-1998 (right) has the U.S. 431 Bridge over Guntersville Lake on the cover.

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Another governor, another style. Governor Don Siegelman was elected in 1999 and served one term. The first map we have from his administration is also from 1999 and features two happy couples hanging out on the beach of the Gulf of Mexico. The second, and last in my collection from this era features a golf course.

Alabama has for many years done heavy advertising for their ‘Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail’. Jones was famous for his golf course designs, having completed over 500 in his lifetime. The ‘Golf Trail’ in Alabama covers 468 holes at 11 locations, with the theory being you spent however much time you need golfing them all to come up with a cumulative score.

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The next administration of Bob Riley covers 4 maps in the collection. All features happy people in happy places starting with Cheaha State Park on the 2003 map. This park contains the highest point in Alabama, the 2413 foot high Cheaha Mountain.

In 2004 the Alabama Renaissance Festival was featured. This festival takes place each year in Florence, Alabama.

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In 2005 they went back to the biennial approach, with the map covering 2005-2006. This map continues the happy people approach with the family at Orange Beach in Gulf Shores. The 2007-2008 featured a non identified park full of wildflowers with a couple of bicycle riders.

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We jump ahead a few years to the 2011-2012 map. This map ironically is back at Orange Beach on the Gulf Coast. The following map for 2013-2014 features a place called Gorham’s Bluff. Located on top of Sand Mountain in far northeast Alabama, it is the southern tip of the Appalachian Mountains. Both maps feature the ‘dual Adirondack Chairs’ look that is most famous throughout Canada.

This map is also the first to use ‘Sweet Home Alabama’, from the famous Lynyrd Skynyrd song of the same name.

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The last two Alabama State Highway maps in my collection feature yet another Gulf Coast park for the 2015-2016 edition. The newest (for now) returns to the historic buildings, this time with the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Birmingham. This church was home to Dr Rev Martin Luther King from 1954-1960.

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I have only been in Alabama a few times, but the most recent one was easily the best. During the summer 2019 road trip we passed through Huntsville and Birmingham.

Highlights of this trip include Cathedral Caverns….

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The U.S. Space and Rocket Center and NASA Marshall Flight Center in Huntsville….2019 05 15 162 Huntsville AL US Space and Rocket Center.jpg

 

 

And my favorite, the Barber Motorsports Museum near Birmingham.

Alabama – our first virtual visit.

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Tigre, Argentina – November 2019 – A Brief Visit to the Delta Town

Bienvenidos to Tigre, Argentina.




Tigre is at the end of one of the lines of the commuter rail from Buenos Aires. They have a very stylish station.




Tigre is known as the gateway to the Parana Delta. This area covers the size of Connecticut, and is made up of hundreds of islands (and no roads). All of the transportation into the delta is via boat.

As a result Tigre is a tourist destination, with many attractions throughout the delta.




We had no particular plans for this day so we wandered around town. There are numerous boat clubs along the Tigre River. In this case, they are across the street, so they have a unique rail system to get their boats to the river.




Many of the clubs have very ornate buildings.




The parilla is on the grill for later!




Where could this guy be going with his load of bamboo boxes?




Why to Puerto De Furtos (the Fruit Port) of course.



The port takes up a number of piers along the river.




Tourist boats are constantly going by.




While across the river are some unique structures.




It is an interesting blend of old and new.




We went looking for fruit, but were disappointed as the entire area has been restored into a tourist market area. Still is was an interesting area, with great photo ops.













On the way back to the rail station we passed by this interestingly decorated building, with American baseball greats of the past.

Tigre is an interesting town, and we look forward to spending more time there and adventure into the delta further.






Columbus – July 2019 – The Last of Roadside America for This Town

Those who regularly follow this blog know that the website Roadside America is one of my favorite sources for the strange and unusual. A few years ago we visited most of the Roadside America attractions for Columbus and detailed them in this post

https://rdzphotographyblog.com/2017/01/10/columbus-march-2015-roadside-america-attractions/

Today we finished off the last few, starting with a giant boot outside the LL Bean store.



A pet cemetery from the 1930s – 1960s – you can Googles it (I know really bad pun). Supposedly there are a few military dogs there, but it is large and we were unable to locate them.









A very colorful Buddhist temple in an otherwise nondescript housing neighborhood.



Large cowboy #1



And his twin just down the street – large cowboy #2.



And for the grand finale – the Gates of Hell – otherwise known as a large drainage pipe under High Street, complete with urban legends of hauntings.

While we haven’t seen all of America, we have now seen all of Columbus!










New York City – June 2019 – The Vessel

Hudson Yards is a massive redevelopment of the west side of Manhattan, built over the West Side Rail Yard. With 15 buildings constructed or planned ranging as high as 1,280 feet, it is completely changing the west side.

In the middle of this is the Vessel, a 150′ high honeycomb like structure with 2,500 steps and 80 landings for viewing. Designed by Thomas Heatherwick, it has become a popular tourist spot. The crowds are controlled by timed, free tickets, so we were free to move about uncrowded.

While I was taking photos I got the feeling they would all look alike, but was pleasantly surprised when I went through them how different each level and position changed the look.





































































Boquillas, Mexico – May 2019 – Crossing the Rio Grande

The small Mexican town of Boquillas was for many years a mining town, until that ended in 1919. Fortunately for Boquillas it lies directly across the Rio Grande from Big Bend National Park.

This worked great for years, with tourists crossing the border to go up into town for lunch, then returning to the park. All that ended with 9-11, and the border closings.

For more than 10 years the small town dwindled down to almost nothing, until finally the US Government built a remote immigration center and the flow started again.



The border crossing is only open on Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday, but our good luck had us there on a Sunday so we headed across the river in a rowboat.



The ‘Park and Ride’ lot on the Mexican side was where we picked up our ‘ride’ into town – a burro.



The townsfolk have this worked out – the family own some burros, and they walk along with you as you ride up the 1/2 mile hill into town, where they take you to their family owned restaurant. (there are two restaurants in town).

The food and cold beer were excellent.



After lunch they showed us around town, stopping off at his wife’s souvenir stand where we picked up something.



Their little town is resourceful. With a church and a school, they have everything they need to survive 160 miles from the nearest town in Mexico.




They do make trips across to the Rio Grande Village in the park to pick up needed supplies.

We continued our tour around town. While there are a few abandoned buildings, most are in use.















We stopped at the Park and Ride lot in town for our trip back down the hill.



A quick ride across the Rio Grande, followed by a brief visit to US immigration and we were on our way – full from lunch and with great memories of a cool little Mexican town.






Weston, West Virginia – May 2019 – Trans Alleghenies Lunatic Asylum

The small town of Weston, West Virginia is the home to the Trans Alleghenies Lunatic Asylum. Completed in 1864, it is often considered the second largest hand cut stone building in the world, behind only the Kremlin in Moscow.





Designed by Richard Andrews, it is nearly 1/4 mile long with wings coming off the main building. It was designed to house 250 people, but by the 1950s nearly 2,400 patients were jammed in.





Weston has seen better days. From a peak population of 9,000 it now is home to about 1/ 3 of that.





Once the hospital closed in the 1990s a group purchased the historic building from the state and has done some partial restoration.





Some of the center sections, including the auditorium, have been restored.





There is also a small museum with a number of items – including original patient art.





Some of the displays show the sad approach to mental health in past days – including a display for a lobotomy.





But we are not here for the museum – we are here for the darker side of the history of the place.





We took the ‘Paranormal Tour’. The building has a reputation of being one of the most haunted places in America.





Perhaps it has something to do with this room – the lobotomy ‘recovery’ room. Not really sure exactly what a recovery from a lobotomy was like, but I doubt it was very pleasant.





Our tour Val entertained us with ghost stories – including one for this room where they did a video shoot and a ‘ghost’ appear in some of the promotional photos.





The stone structure and general decay of most of it definitely adds to the aura.





Some of the wings had inspirational paintings remaining on the walls from the 1990s when the building closed.





Abstract art? Nope – seriously peeling paint on a ceiling with the bars on the stairway.





Numerous TV ‘ghost hunter’ type shows have stayed here overnight and filmed.





When I asked why a few of the rooms had this orange tile – Val demonstrated that they were the ‘restraint rooms’ – note the small round patches on the tile on the right side of the photos – it is where the restraints were secured to the wall.





Why is this door only to be use by ghosts? We are 3 floors up with nothing on the other side but air – and a 30′ drop to the ground.





The wings last were painted to different the mens wings, from womens, from childrens (yes, children), and the criminally insane.




At a few places in the facility you find offerings to the ghosts, such as candy and cigarettes.





The children’s section has to be the saddest. Some children had the misfortune of being born there and end up being raised there since their mother was a patient and they had no other family.





The staff believes if you leave other ‘offerings’ such as the baby carriage that it will attract the children ghosts.





Having been in a few buildings like this (Mansfield, Moundsville, etc) this one was in much better shape un-restored than those.





In this room Val was summoning a ghost named Larry to turn the flashlight on and off. Some on the tour were hardcore believers and were really into it (which added to the overall amusement of the afternoon) while others hmm – looked up the story of ghosts and magnetic flashlights on the internet (not going to give a spoiler here).

Val did a great job sharing the stories of the Trans Alleghenies Lunatic Asylum. Unfortunately I did not see or feel any ghosts.







Hawaii – November 2018 – Day 19 Kauai and the Grand Canyon of Hawaii

We flew from Maui through Honolulu to Kauai on a Tuesday evening. Using google maps we made our way to our hotel, which took us past the shipping docks to who knows where.

The following morning we were up and on our way before sunrise. After about an hour and a half, and a quick breakfast in Waimea, we made our way up to Waimea Canyon.

We were greeted by the official bird of Hawaii – the rooster.

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We made our way through the park until we reached the famed Kalalau Overlook. If it looks familiar, it should, it was used in Jurassic Park.

We are about 4000′ above the ocean at this point.

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Look closely you will see the helicopter well below in the valley.

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The other highlight of the area is Waimea Canyon.

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Waipo’o Falls cascades into the canyon.

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From a distance you can see why it has the nickname Grand Canyon of Hawaii.

It is immense, especially given how small the island is overall. This area of Kauai is one of the most beautiful I have ever seen, and well worth the trip.

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We made our way back down to the coast, and found this dirt road that continued in the direction of the bluffs we had just been on.

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Eventually we reached the end of the road and found this amazing secluded beach with a view of Ni’Hau.

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The waves, while not as impressive as what was in Maui, still made a great ‘Hawaii Five O’ look.

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But it was the view of the cliffs that made the dusty ride worthwhile.

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On our return trip to Lihue we stopped by the site of a Russian Fort, which was near the town of Waimea. Just down the hill from this fort a river ran into the ocean making some great sand dunes.

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Further along the coast we found Salt Pond Park and Beach. Nearby pools produce the famed Hawaiian sea salt, but the beach was more picturesque.

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Our final stop of the day was at Kauai Coffee. Very touristy, but amusing.

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They claim to have 4 million coffee trees, and near the visitor center you can take a walk amongst them.

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They also had some displays on how the beans are dried. These are for show, as this is a large commercial processing facility (that does not offer real tours of the plant).

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Remember that drive in the dark – it was much better in the sun!

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An amazing view at the Menehune Fishpond, literally a mile from our little hotel. The moral of this view is don’t always trust first impressions, the hotel and the views were spectacular – you just have to go through the cargo shipping area when you come from the airport.

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Coudersport, PA – May 2018 – Ice Mine

In the small north central Pennsylvania mountain town of Coudersport is a cool (literally) little tourist attraction known as the Ice Mine.

Technically it is not a mine, it is a small cave that due to some unique geothermal reasons cold air gets trapped in the mountain during the winter. Once summer comes the cold air begins to expel the warm air, causing ice on the moisture that seeps into the mountain.

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It had been a tourist attraction up until the 1960s when it closed, but has recently been re-opened.

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We showed up because of a huge sign in town saying ‘Ice Mine is Open’, but as we arrived we found that it was supposed to open the next morning as we were met with a sign that said ‘closed’. Still I drove up.

We did however have the good fortune of meeting Gary, the owner, who was more than happy to show us around.

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Sure enough on this 85 degree day ice was pushing up out of the ‘mine’, and the air temperature near it was about 45 degrees.

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The ‘mine’ is at the bottom of a 17′ pit, and goes down another 17′ into the ground. As a result of the perpetually cold environment the moss and other growth in the pit is more similar to Northern Ontario than Northern Pennsylvania.

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While not the most impressive sight around, it is still a very ‘cool’ experience, and Gary is a great guy who is proud of his hometown, and would welcome a visit – they are indeed now open for the summer. If you find yourself driving across historic U.S. 6 across northern Pennsylvania – go see him. And if you want to know more detail on how ice can form in the summer check out the wiki page

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coudersport_Ice_Mine

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