Friday, July 29, 2011

Week 4 of 5 weeks

Imagination plus incentive creates ambition Ambition plus action creates courage and strength -- Harold Warp

On my last blog post from Spencer, Iowa, I left you – and us – in suspense as to our next destination. Somehow we miscalculated and had two extra days to look forward to! We had a couple of ideas, but had to do some checking. Plan A was to drive north for a short visit with “Mom” Rayburn in eastern South Dakota (mother to my RV friend Carol Rayburn). This would have been super except for the fact that Mom was in Custer State Park in western South Dakota. Plan B was to continue west at a more leisurely pace.

So it was Plan B which would take us about 100 miles south and then across southern Nebraska on Hwy 6/34. Sunday’s destination was the Double Nickel RV Park just outside of Waco, Nebraska. On our way we stopped at the small downtown of Oakland, “The Swedish Capital of Nebraska”. Being Sunday, the stores were not open but the walk was super and a nice break in the drive. The streets were red brick and the light poles were adorned with colorful wooden cut-out horses. One building had a Swedish-theme mural.

As usual when traveling in tornado country, I check for a storm shelter – and the Double Nickel RV park had one. Linda said she would check it out while I got Jeremiah settled. She came back and said she didn’t think she would go into it – dark and lots of spider webs and who knew what would be toward the end of the large semi-submerged “tube”. Below you see the door and the tube.

With extra days available and no serious storms predicted, we spent two nights at the Double Nickel. Linda enjoyed the swimming pool and lived up to her ‘eagle-eye’ reputation by finding half of a Robin egg and a whole/dead/dried butterfly. I spotted a tiny toad – about the size of a penny. Even though the days were in the mid to high 90s with humidity, we got rainy and cool nights.

Minden, Nebraska

Our last Nebraska stop was Minden, location of Harold Warp’s Pioneer Village which included a lovely, shaded RV park.

I wish I could remember who told me about this amazing piece of history. And “amazing” doesn’t adequately describe it – it is a one-of-a-kind labor of love. Below are signs on the main building - look closely at the second sign and note the "man starting up the car".

As the entrance sign says;


The story of America and how it grew

Showing Man’s Progress since 1830.

For thousands of years man lived quite simply. Then, like a sleeping giant, our world was awakened. In a mere hundred and twenty years of eternal time man progressed from open hearths, grease lamps and ox carts to television, super-sonic speed and atomic power.

We have endeavored to show you the actual development of this astounding progress as it was unfolded by our forefathers and by ourselves.

The Pioneer Village covers three city blocks with 100,000 square feet of floor space housing thousands of irreplaceable items of historical value, all restored to operating order, arranged in groups and also in the chronological order of their development… in 26 buildings…

Pioneer Village was founded by Harold Warp in1953. He was born 1903 on a Nebraska homestead. The construction of the village was triggered by the sale of the 1948 of the country school Harold had attended as a child. The Village is now run by his son.

We spent two nights here – needed that to see everything. Our camping fee gave us one village entry; the second fee was just $11. And that admitted us as many consecutive days as we wanted. Such a deal! The Village also includes a motel and restaurant.

Here is a rundown of the buildings. In all, I took more than 100 photos!

Main Building – shows development of transportation, lighting, guns, etc., horse-pulled carts up to vehicles of the 1960s, all in chronological order. It includes the oldest jet airplane (1942-P59). And a “folding” boat.

Above is a milkman's cart.

Early cart – The Irish Jaunting Cart, 1890, was used for picnics and outings. Fields and streams could be crossed with ease in this ruggedly built, high two-wheeled cart. See photo below:

Elm Creek Fort – the first log cabin in Webster County (Neb) was moved to the Village.

The People’s Store – replica of a general merchandise store in pioneer days, completely stocked with by-gone items.

Bloomington Land Office – moved from its original location in Franklin County (Neb)

Fire House – shows the development of fire-fighting equipment from hand cart to modern fire trucks are here.

Lowell Train Depot – complete with two early-day locomotives and a narrow gauge caboose.

Country School – an authentic rural school building of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, furnished with original desks, books, etc. Linda says this was her favorite.

Sod House – Authentic replica of the “little old soddy on the plains.”

China House – collections of china, pottery, cut glass and precious keepsakes that had been carried west in covered wagons.

Church – Built in 1884, the first church in Minden has original pews, pulpit, organ, etc. Services are held here in the summer. The sign below the church photo was inside the church.

Merry-Go-Round – the oldest one in the U.S., steam powered – and it works! Rides 5 cents. Sadly, there was no one there so we could have a ride.

Horse Barn – typical pioneer barn, moved from Warp’s homestead. Harold Warp’s parents were good Christians, so the hayloft boards were laid rough-side up, so young folks couldn’t have barn dances.

Homes and Shops Building – My favorite. Within the large building, on the first floor, were 20 interior rooms of the past, showing kitchens, living rooms and bedrooms of each generation since 1830. It also had a doctor’s office, music shop, print shop, drug store, butcher shop, beauty shop and many others. The second floor showed the surprisingly low mail order prices on furniture at the turn of the century. Below is the 1950s beauty shop - 'lady' is getting a perm. and the 1950s kitchen - which looked familiar to us.

Antique Farm Machinery Building – includes the complete history of plowing, cultivating, seeding, harvesting and threshing equipment.

Antique Tractor and Truck Building – has 100 early farm tractors.

Livery Stable – originally built in Minden during the horse-and-buggy days. The two-story building houses saddles, harnesses and horse-drawn rigs.

Antique Cars – 22,400 sq. ft, two-stories, has 100 antique cars in their order of development.

Chevrolets and Other Cars – A separate two-story building, with more than 50 Chevys.

Fords, Studebakers, Motorcycles, Snowmobiles and Bicycles – yet another two-story building. We saw an early Wendell motorhome. It weighed 16,000 lbs., had fuel capacity of 80 gal, of water capacity 30 gal, 50 gal ‘septic’ tank. Propane capacity 95 lbs operated refrigerator, fireplace heater, gas burners that were located on the top of the fireplace, hot water.

Agricultural Building and Steam Tractors – again, a two-story that has more than 500 agricultural implements.

Blacksmith Shop – this working blacksmith shop forges items for sale during the summer months.

Pony Express Barn – authentically reconstructed with model horses and historic saddles.

Pony Express Station – authentic log building moved to Pioneer Village.

Home Appliance Building – has the evolution of washing machines, stoves, refrigerators, bathtubs, etc. It included a 1925 electric Hotpoint stove and several photogenic washing machines.

Above: The Thor Dish and Clothes washer, 1935. The tub for washing clothes could be lifted out and replaced with the tub for washing dishes.

Hobby House – houses assorted collections of dolls, pitchers, buttons, etc.

Snack Bar – housed in an old diner that was moved to the village.

Above is one of the clever places to sit and ponder history.

Trivia from Pioneer Village

The mousetrap is far and away the most invented machine in all of American History. Since it opened for business in 1938, the U.S. Patent Office has granted more than 4,400 mousetrap patents. There are 39 official categories that patents are classified under, including Impaling, Smiting, Swinging Striker, choking or squeezing, electrocuting and explosive.

The first telephone operators were boys as young as 12 years of age. Being an operator could be boring at times. Boys soon got up to all sorts of high jinks to relieve the monotony, which resulted in poor customer service. Telephone managers soon decided to hire women to be operators. By 1920, more than 14 percent of all working women in the U.S. worked as telephone operators.

The very first bath tub in the U.S was built at Cincinnati in December 1842. It was a huge, 1,750 pound, 7-foot mahogany box, lied with sheet metal. It looked like a water-tight coffin. Cincinnati doctors were quick to condemn this outrageous contraption and local politicians slapped a $30 tax on the luxury. The enameled, cast iron tub was introduced in 1870. Below.

Sign in one of the kitchens from the past: “When the OUTLOOK is not good…try the UPLOOK.”

Downtown Minden

When we felt an over-load of pioneer stuff, Linda and I walked to downtown Minden. This basically was the courthouse square bordered by some historic buildings that now serve other purposes, small shops and the restored historic Minden Opera House. The 2,000 sq. ft. theater ceiling mural depicts the history, seasons and sky of Kearney County. We were given a personal tour of the building and appreciated its beauty.

We also stopped into a thrift store. The sign said “prices are suggestions; cash only and no change given.” It also featured an “Exchange Board.”

Hitch’n Post RV, Wray, Colorado

With two days before our friends in Colorado Springs were expecting us, and with my preferred ‘no more than 200 miles a day’, we split the distance with a stop at the Hitch'n Post RV Park in Wray. A nice and extremely clean park.

Stop #2 before Colorado Springs

The RV park directory had a good review for Shady Grove RV Park in Seibert, Colorado. In reality, it was pretty much a dump – wonder who praised it so highly! After a quick conference we decided it was another time to be flexible and to go further to Limon, Colorado. As I write this, we are settled in the local KOA and will leave tomorrow for Judy and Claud Mary’s home just north of Colorado Springs.