NOTE: IN ORDER TO BETTER SEE PHOTOS IN THEIR FULL 1600 PX. RESOLUTION, VIEW THEM IN THE ALBUM FORMAT BY CLICKING ON THE LEAD PHOTO OR ANY PHOTO IN THE POST. This is especially true for landscape shots. Thanks to Mark for the idea of adding this alert so the photos can be seen at their best!

Monday, March 25, 2013

The Old Firehouse in Trevor

The nearby town of Trevor (that's "Tree-ver" to you out-of-towners) has converted their old firehouse into a pizza place.  I stopped inside and they have a few older fire related items on display.  I didn't have time to grab a pizza, perhaps I'll give them a try another time.

The Dalmatian, because of its poor hunting abilities, was relegated to the stable area of fine homes. It was in these stables that the Dalmatian became acquainted with the horses. Dalmatians were adopted by the fire service in the days of the horse-drawn fire wagons because they were agile and not afraid of the horses. The Dalmatian, with its superior agility and endurance could run out in front of the horses and clear the streets for the approaching fire wagon. When the horses were replaced by gasoline-driven fire engines, many fire departments kept their Dalmatians. In some areas you can still see the Dalmatian standing proudly on top of the fire engine as it races to another emergency. 

The Old Fire House No. 5 in Racine is one the stations that are now lost to time, but I found an image online along with a great story about the firehouse dogs. 

This post is linked to Mural Monday, check out their stories from around the country and the world!

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Racine's Historic Fire Houses

When we went to downtown Racine recently I got out to take some shots of what I now know is Fire House No. 1 at 1412 Racine Street.  It was built in 1882 and online research indicates that S.C. Johnson purchased the property in 2009 and plans to preserve it.  That's great news for historic architecture and fire fighting history fans, and a nice gesture by S.C. Johnson. Hope they clean her bricks up soon, it would look so beautiful once it was sandblasted.

I have to add that I am not a fan of S.C. Johnson in general as they sell products that are tested on animals....hope they change that policy!

I have had Racine's Fire House No. 3 on my to-do list because it's been turned into a museum.  The building has been preserved to reflect the early 1900's and tours are given by appointment only.

Centerpieces of the Museum include the 1882 Stephen Freemen Steamer which is a Silsby 600 gpm steamer and a 1930 Pirsch 1000 gpm motorized pumper. Other artifacts include a working Gamewell System, Helmets, Hydrants, Nozzles, Hand Drawn Hose Cart, Trophies and Awards which were won by Racine Fire Fighters in the mid to late 1800's, an extensive collection of breathing apparatus from the 1920's to present, and many other pieces of fire fighting history. I contacted the museum and was thrilled when they offered me a private tour. Steve was happy to answer all questions that Katrina and I threw at him.  If I got any of the details wrong it's due to my memory and not the quality of Steve's information!

One of the interesting things we learned about was the early ticker tape setup.  If there was a fire you pulled the alarm and each alarm box had a number that corresponded to the address where it was located.  The alarm triggered the bells to ring and after Steve pulled the alarm for box #126 on the right, the overhead bells in the stations rang first once, then twice, then six times.  In addition to the bells signaling "126", the ticker tape pictured below punched out one hole, then two holes, then six.

Also of interest was the history of fire extinguishers and early sprinkler systems. My favorite was the blue fire extinguishing "bomb" on the right that you threw at the base of a fire that was full of chemicals to put out the fire.

Early firefighters also used "Speaking Trumpets" similar to today's bullhorns to try to direct the action at a fire. I thought the silver plated engraved commemorative trumpets were so beautiful.

The highlight of the tour for most visitors is the engines of course.  So many details, where does a photographer even try to begin?  When a call came in, the horses were let out of their rear stables by automatic doors and took their places as the harnesses were automatically lowered. A little competition arose between the stations and one station claimed they could be harnessed up and out the door in 15 seconds!

The hand tooled leather of the old fire helmets is very intricate work. If you want to know more about how they were made and why they are designed the way they are I found a good link here.
White fire helmets were for the Chief, firefighters wore black.  And apparently the Racine Firebells were distinguished by their orange helmet. The Fire Bells run the No. 3 Museum and provide food, water, and temporary shelter from the environment for fire fighters and fire victims alike.

Racine is lucky to have so much fire fighting history still preserved. Four of the six pictured historic firehouses are still standing in Racine.  I was in love with the prints at the scenes of fires like the one shown below that were on display upstairs.  They were the originals: faded, curling, and with that delicate patina that can't be reproduced.

On Monday I'll delve a little bit into the history of dalmations and fire fighters because I found a great local mural to help tell that story!

Monday, March 11, 2013

Snake in the Curtains

While in downtown Racine with Cory last month I saw this interesting mural.

I love the snake holding up the curtain...though not quite sure what the imagery is supposed to represent. Any thoughts on what these images all mean would be welcomed!

The wall it is on is in pretty bad shape, the mortar and bricks looking a little scary.  Obvious why they didn't paint directly on the side of the building.  Hope it's secured really well!

Check out more murals here!

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Baaaad-Lands, 2009

Our first stop on our big 2009 western trip was for 2 nights in Wall, South Dakota. The Badlands is something that is so immense, you've got to view the pictures Supersized!

Broad regional uplift raised the land about 5 million years ago and initiated the erosion that created the Badlands. Water did the rest of the work, carving this breathtaking national park.

I was so excited to see the western wildlife on this trip and when we found the Badlands' prairie dog town I fell in love...but kept enough distance to not be in danger of hidden rattlesnakes.  Signs were posted warning that these cute critters also carry the plague.  Rattlesnakes and plague, great way to keep the tourists from getting too close for nature's comfort! 

As delightful as these rodents were, the next morning we saw Bighorn Sheep.  They were excited too, but not due to our presence.  

Baaaack off!  That was one ewe who was tired of the young ram's attention!  Ewes and rams both have the distinctive curved horns though the males grow larger in size, sometimes up to 40 pounds.  Rams live in bachelor groups and females lives in herds with other females and their young rams. One of the most important features of the bighorn sheep is the unique structure of its hooves. Rather than being hard like those of a horse or cow, the sheep have rubber-like hooves that allow excellent mobility on steep rock faces. Some of the sheep are radio collared so biologists can track the population as part of their re-introduction program.

Shortly afterward Wayne spotted these two while looking down at one of the Overlooks.  It took me a minute to pick them out, their coats blended well with their surroundings. These wild sheep are nothing like the sheep I raised on our hobby farm!

While at the Badlands we also hiked the Cliff Shelf Trail where we startled a deer, checked out the Fossil Exhibit boardwalk trail and also spent some time in the visitor center.  Fossil research from the area contributed signigicantly to the science of vertebrate paleontology in North America. They have camping in the park but no hookups, so we didn't stay there, but the campsites looked wonderful and someday when we have solar panels I'd love to give it a try. 

Monday, March 4, 2013

Poetry Wall

Fort Atkinson is home to poet Lorine Niedecker, and they've made a lovely tribute to her work in mural form. See more murals at Mural Monday's link here.

Here's an appropriate poem of hers about this time of year to accompany the mural:

February almost March bites the cold.
Take down a book, wind pours in. Frozen--
the Garden of Eden--its oil, if freed, could warm
the world for 20 years and nevermind the storm.

Winter's after me--she's out
with sheets so white it hurts the eyes. Nightgown,
pillow slip blow thru my bare catalpa trees,
no objects here.

In February almost March a snow-blanket
is good manure, a tight-bound wet
to move toward May: give me lupines and a care
for her growing air.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Olympic Park in Park City, Utah

Linda from Linda's Lens just came back from a ski trip to Salt Lake City where she visited one of the Olympic sites and got me thinking about our own visit to the area in 2009.  She visited the Cauldron Park, but we took in a tour of  Olympic Park in Park City.  During the 2002 Olympics it served as a venue for ski jumping, nordic combined, bobsled, skeleton and luge. Admission to the self-guided tour of the museum is free!

During the summer, ski jumpers work on technique by landing on plastic runways in landing zones. Freestyle aerialists practice their twists and jumps and land in the park's 750,000-gallon training pool.  When they hit the water the pool fills with air that pushes them back up.  The highest of the four primary kickers can launch the athletes nearly 70 feet in the air, allowing the aerialists to perform twists and flips.  We hung out and watched for awhile, it was incredibly cool!

The indoor museum brought back a lot of memories of the games.  I tried to convince Wayne to have a seat in the old bobsled that was on display, but he insisted it was my turn to humiliate myself.  It was surprisingly difficult to climb in and out of, but while seated I did get to enjoy the Olympic related comics framed on the wall. If you want to ride in a bobsled, come for a visit in the winter and they will accommodate you in something more modern!

We watched a lot of figure skating during the 2002 Olympics because Katrina was still skating at that time. Sarah Hughes was the gold medal winner and Katrina got to meet and skate with her at the ice arena in Crystal Lake, Illinois in 2005. Sarah gave tips to all the Marshall's Skatefest participants on improving their skills and then everyone received a hand autographed poster. 

My favorite item on display was the white bison.  It was decoupaged with newspaper articles from the Olympics and signed by the athletes.  I picked out Brian Boitano's name right away!  Next time we're in the Salt Lake City area we'll have to visit another of the venues, and it's on my travel list to hit other Olympic towns as well.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Mammoth Molars

I was watching "American Pickers" this morning on the DVR and they had a guy they were buying from who had collected fossils from the nearby river in New Orleans.  One was a fossilized mammoth tooth, and when he held it up I thought to myself, Yup! Recognize that one!  If you're interested in watching the episode, it was "5 Acres of Junk" from Season One.  When we were in South Dakota we visited Mammoth Site and the drive to Hot Springs from Custer to visit South Dakota is definitely worth the trip. 

The tour starts off with a video that explains how the Karst Sinkhole trapped animals who came down for a drink and ended up taking a deadly swim instead. Enticed by the warm water and pond vegetation, the mammoths entered the pond to eat, drink or bathe and then could not escape. The mammoths were unable to find a foothold to scale the steep shale banks. Trapped in the pit, the mammoths ultimately died of starvation, exhaustion, or drowning. To date 60 mammoths (57 Columbian and 3 woolly) have been discovered as well as 85 other species of animals, plants, and several unidentified insects. 

For centuries the bones lay buried, until discovered by chance in 1974 while excavating for a housing development, earth moving equipment exposed South Dakota's greatest fossil treasure.
Fortunately, through the work of local citizens, the Mammoth Site was preserved. Today it is the world's largest Columbian mammoth exhibit, and a world-renown research center for Pleistocene studies.  It is an active site, and it was so cool looking at all the fossils "in situ", as well as the tools workers left laying around.

I won't spoil it for everyone else by saying too much, but this is one museum I enjoyed IMMENSELY!  If you're passing through South Dakota make sure to stop for an hour.