Places to go and things to see by Gypsy Bev

Archive for October, 2011

Ghost Trek Stories in Hidden Marietta, Ohio

0oOOOoo! ooOOOoo! As the Ghost Lady leads a large group through downtown Marietta, Ohio, stories of ghosts are told on nearly every street. This is an old town with many restless spirits left over from the past.

Ghost Trek is a two hour walking tour of historic and haunted Marietta and begins along the Ohio River on aptly named Ohio Street.  Back in the early 1800s, this was the stopping off point for many riverboats.  So naturally a bar was one of the first establishments to serve the travelers.  The first bar to open ran out of whiskey in two hours and needless to say there were inebriated men walking the street 24/7, along with pick pockets and yes, ladies of the night.

The LaBelle Hotel was a popular House of Prostitution and the building is still in existence today, called the Levee House Cafe.  A story was told of a prominent businessman, who visited one of the young ladies frequently on the second floor. He attempted to keep this  a secret, but one evening his son followed him to the hotel with an axe.

The son watched as his father ascended the steps to the second floor and then waited until the light went out in one of the rooms.  Hastily, the son walked up to the second floor, opened the door, cut off his father’s head with the axe, and ran back down the steps to the street.  Guilty?  Not by the standards of those days! He was arrested but acquitted on the basis that he was defending his family honor.

Today the people who live in this building still hear the sounds of footsteps climbing up the stairs, a time of quiet, then footsteps running down the stairs again.  This is called residual haunting as the energy released in the environment during a traumatic event may  reappear as an echo of its original form.

On to the Lafayette Hotel where the third floor seems to have lots of unsettling paranormal activity. Built in 1918, every death that has occurred in this hotel has happened on the third floor.  Guests frequently complain of personal belongings being moved around.  One man commented, ” I am a science teacher. I don’t believe in any of this stuff”… until his belongings in his room got rearranged and some came up missing.

Fifty paintings of  artist James Weber (1888-1958) were brought to Sugden Book Store for an art show on the second floor. Melancholy Weber loved his art work, but was forced to run the family grocery store.  So he said that when he died he wanted all of his paintings burned.  But someone found fifty that were left behind!

After careful setup for the art show, the owners were very pleased with their findings. Next morning when they arrived to open the show, they found the table had been knocked over as well as the pictures.  On the desk was a real estate report – a deed from 1932 for James Weber’s art studio, right there on the second floor!

Restoration of the old Colony Cinema was seen firsthand as the group had special permission to enter the theater. Here, it is said, the ghost of the former owner, Mr. Shay,  travels via an underground passageway between the Colony Cinema and Mid Ohio Valley Players Theater across the street. Colony Cinema has been an important part of the Marietta community since 1919 when it was The Hippodrome Theater, the premiere showcase of Marietta and the surrounding area. Some of Hollywood’s biggest names, including Frank Sinatra, Judy Garland, and Boris Karloff, appeared on its stage.  Its gorgeous original asbestos fire curtain has been rediscovered and is being restored to be featured predominately in the restored Colony Cinema.

The last stop on the tour was at Tiber Way Grille, where people hear sobbing, crying, and have an edgy feeling.  They definitely feel it is haunted. Closer look at old lettering on the building perhaps gives a reason for this feeling.  It says: Chronic Diseases The Sanitorium. This twenty six room hospital was used for tuberculosis patients in the early 1900s as well as for those with extreme mental problems. Fittingly, next door was Doudna’s Funeral Services!

Nothing beats a haunted, moonlit night with ghosts of the past.

To arrive in Marietta, Ohio take Exit 1 off I 77 and head west on Route 7, Greene Street. Where the Muskingum River meets the Ohio River, you will find the old Lafayette Hotel, the starting point for the Ghost Trek. This walking tour is under the expert guidance of Lynne Sturtevant, founder of Hidden Marietta and author of several books of Marietta history.

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Slab City in the Chocolate Mountains

“We like it here and we ain’t goin’ back.”  Residents of Slab City in Southern California enjoy their life of freedom where the air is clean and rent is free.

Sandwiched between the Salton Sea and the Chocolate Mountains, Slab City is home to many campers.  Here they don’t care what you look like or where you came from. Everyone is welcome! Campers come on dirt bikes, in RVs and even greyhound buses to park on this hidden desert city.

At the entrance to Slab City, you will find Salvation Mountain where the sides are painted with religious pictures and verses to inspire the freedom that is advocated here. Leonard Knight has been painting and repainting this mountain since 1985.  If you like his work and want to donate to the cause, a bucket of paint is his favorite contribution…acrylic is preferred.

As you travel back into Slab City,  you find campers set up on the concrete slabs left behind from the WWII training grounds. The Chocolate Mountains and a few creosote bushes add some beauty to this RV oasis in the middle of the desert. This is indeed rough living, even though free, as there is no electricity, running water, or bathroom facilities.  And the temperature is hot!  Those who stay either use a generator or solar panels to produce enough power to cook, or run a fan for their swamp cooler. Some even use that power to watch TV for a little while each day and have their satellite dishes located on top of their campers. Definitely not a place for those who like all the modern conveniences.

Entertainment seems to come in an easy manner to these free thinking people. Flea markets or swap meets are held most weekends. One camper even set up a library, as there is definitely lots of time to read a good book. In the evenings, those who have an instrument with them provide music with songs like: We Like It Here, Slab City USA, and Free Bird.

Marine Corps Chocolate Mountain Gunnery Range is located close by. This Gunnery range has been a training ground for Marine Corps and Navy pilots since WWII.   If you happen to stay at Slab City, you will hear the sounds of artillery practice throughout the night quite often.  Where Patton once ran his tanks, today folks race their four wheelers and dune buggies.

Nearby Salton Sea is one of the world’s largest  inland seas with its surface being 226 feet below sea level. Originally formed from an overflow during a heavy flood of the Colorado River into the Salton basin, this re-created lake in the Imperial Valley of California is located on the San Andreas Fault. This type of flood should not occur again due to the construction of Hoover Dam on the Colorado River in the Black Canyon. Since this inland sea has no fresh water supply except for the inch or two of rain each year, today this polluted sea seems thick enough to walk on!

There is a possibility that this area may soon be developed into a solar and geothermal energy site for much needed power for the California area.  This could power many homes and businesses! But environmentalists are concerned about the dwindling population of the Mojave Desert tortoise, the flat-tailed horned lizard, and the burrowing owl in that area.

If you happen to stop in a local tavern, you might hear this discussion regarding the protected environment. One slightly disheveled man of the desert will laugh and say, “The most amazing creature in the desert is the stick lizard.  Carries a stick in his mouth whenever the temperature rises above a hundred ‘n fifteen degrees.  Still he searches for food at high noon.  How does he do it?”

“Wow, how can he be out there at high noon?” ask the environmentalists.

“Well,” the desert man thinks deeply, “when the sand starts to burn his feet, he puts the stick in the ground so he can climb it. He just hangs there a few minutes ’til his feet cool off.  Ain’t many stick lizards left.  Definitely endangered.”

If you are tired of the city or your troubles are so many that you can’t list them, flee to Slab City where you are sure to be welcome!

If you are driving or hitchhiking to Slab City, it is located in the desert of Southern California just four miles east of Nilan off Route 111.  There is fairly easy access as it lies just north of I 8 and south of I 10.

Powerful Beauty at Grand Canyon of Yellowstone

Think there is only one Grand Canyon?  Think again!  Ones that come to mind other than the Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona include: Grand Canyon of Pennsylvania at Pine Creek Gorge, Grand Canyon of the East at Letchworth State Park in New York, Grand Canyon of Pacific at Waimea Canyon in Hawaii, and one of my favorites Grand Canyon of Yellowstone in the northwest corner of Wyoming.

Twenty four miles long on the Yellowstone River,  Grand Canyon of Yellowstone is downstream from Yellowstone Falls, whose scenic beauty flows over rapids in its course through the beautiful canyon. During the Washburn expedition in 1870, Lt. Gustavus Doane described the canyon as follows:

“There are perhaps other canyons longer and deeper than this one, but surely none combining grandeur and immensity with peculiarity of formation and profusion of volcanic or chemical phenomena.”

Indeed this is a beautiful canyon and one many miss while taking a peek at the Grand Canyon itself. Upper Yellowstone Falls flows into a deep canyon below, then the stream takes a wild ride over rapids throughout its course. About 10,000 years old,  today the forces of erosion continue to sculpt the canyon through rain, wind and earthquakes. Lookout Point was one of the early popular spots for viewing the canyon, so back in 1880 the park superintendent decided to put the first railing around this area for safety measures.

Since this is an area of bubbling volcanic activity, it is not surprising that earthquakes happen here frequently. Tremors are felt here all the time. Actually the lookout for Inspiration Point has been shortened several hundred feet due to the quakes in this area. Today on this overhang, there is a nice platform with rails, which provides fantastic views of the canyon both directions.

A zigzag path, Uncle Tom’s Trail, down to near the bottom of the falls at Inspiration Point, created quite an afternoon diversion. The trail was named for Bozeman resident, H F Richardson (known as Uncle Tom), who operated a ferry in 1890 across the Yellowstone River in the canyon. Today that trail has been considerably improved; yet, with a drop of over 500 feet, at least 300 steps and lots of paved inclines, it still requires some perseverance. Slowly strolling down the steep blacktopped path, you could hear the roar of the falls and the peace of the canyon all at the same time. The climb back up was a bit more tiring and a lot slower.  Rested at the top and took a picture of the route taken as seen in the picture above.

At the Lower Yellowstone Falls, beautiful Artist Point has a picture post card view of the canyon and falls. This spot is off the beaten path, holding its beauty for the fortunate to discover. The combination of metallic lusters on the face of the canyon walls creates breathtaking color combinations that are one of a kind. This Lower Falls is 309 feet high, nearly twice the height of Niagara Falls but does not have nearly the same volume of water flowing over it as Niagara does. A member of the 1870 Washburn party, N. P. Langford, gave this brief but poetic description of the Lower Falls: “A grander scene than the lower cataract of the Yellowstone was never witnessed by mortal eyes.”

To end the day, made a relaxing stop at Green Dragon Spring where steam often fills the caverns of the hot spring.  Visitors must wait patiently for a glimpse of this sulfur lined cave with boiling green water. This is a land unlike any other in the United States and Theodore Roosevelt described it well when he stated:  “The beauty and charm of the wilderness are yours for the asking, for the edges of the wilderness lie close beside the beaten roads of the present travel.”

It is difficult to comprehend the beauty, majesty and power of the beautiful Yellowstone area without exploring it firsthand.

The Grand Canyon of Yellowstone is located very close to Canyon City, Wyoming in the northwest corner of the state. Yellowstone’s Grand Loop Road arrives there from all directions. This road is usually accessible from May through October. During the winter months, roads are often snow covered and access to the park is either by snowmobile or commercial snow coaches.

Adena Mansion Pictures Life in Early Ohio

“No ghosts – not even rumors of ghosts here,” explained the guide as she began an interesting tour of the Worthington Mansion at Adena State Memorial near Chillicothe, Ohio.  Built in 1806-07, this beautiful mansion home was designed by what many consider the first American architect, Benjamin Henry Latrobe. Usually Latrobe was busy with larger projects, such as designing the United States Capitol, but as a friend of Thomas Worthington he agreed to design a beautiful home on the 2000 acre estate.

The Worthington home, Adena, was the most magnificent mansion in the area at that time, and fascinated crowds of visitors. Large panes of window glass and papered walls were novelties which especially attracted attention. The sandstone blocks for the house were all dug from a quarry on the property.

This drawing by Henry Howe in 1846 shows the beautiful garden vista at Adena that inspired the Great Seal of Ohio. Looking across the front lawn, the Scioto River flowed between the cultivated fields and Mount Logan.  On the Great Seal of Ohio, the sun displays thirteen rays of light symbolizing the thirteen colonies. In the field is a shock of wheat representing the prominent field of agriculture in the state. Nearby, resembling a shock of wheat but showing Ohio’s Indian heritage, is a sheaf of seventeen arrows proclaiming Ohio as the seventeenth state.

Today the house has been restored to appear much like it did during the time the Worthingtons lived there.  Much of their original furniture can still be seen. Worthingtons’ actual skeleton key was used to unlock the door to begin the tour, and felt lucky to have it in my possession for a short while. Upon entering the mansion, a beautiful large clock made by George McCormick and costing $35 at that time stands beside a beautiful staircase, which appears to be marble but was actually painted with a feather to achieve that effect. Throughout the house a shade of pink paint was used. Paint was very expensive at that time and the pink tint was achieved by crushing a special insect into the paint.

Ten children were raised in the nursery, which strangely enough had no heat. Guess they had to be strong to survive, but none of those children died.  The parents’ room was next to them and had a nice fireplace so hopefully they kept the door open. Worthington’s wife, Eleanor, taught the children in the parlor while running the household from there at the same time. On the wall was a list of Family Maxims to live by, for example: “Keep everything in its proper place, do everything in its proper time, and delay not till tomorrow what should be done today.”

The rooms on the second floor were all bedrooms, except one which was perhaps a servant’s room, and a large dark closet where, it was told, they placed children when they misbehaved. Many famous guests stayed here including Henry Clay, General William Henry Harrison, and President James Monroe.  Of special interest was the screen on the left side, which hid from view their bathing area.

Among the  four bedrooms upstairs, there was one for the boys and another for the girls. Although there were ten children, there were seldom more than three in a room at one time. On the dresser in the girls’ room was a set of cards for learning the alphabet with a flexible Mr Hodge Podge to bend to the shape of the letters.  Guess the girls had homework even way back then. Education was very important to the Worthington family and they even thought it important to educate the girls, which was not a common occurrence in the 1800s. Imagine they took a break now and then and looked out the window at the beautiful gardens surrounding their home.

After reading a book on ancient history, on Sept. 18, 1811, Thomas Worthington wrote in his diary: “Adena” a name given to  “places remarkable for the delightfulness of their situations.”  It becomes apparent that visitors experience this same type of feeling by the smiles on their faces as they explore this beautiful mansion from years gone by.

The Adena Mansion is located Northwest of Chillicothe, Ohio just off State Route 35. Directions are well posted to the Adena State Memorial, which includes the Mansion and Gardens.  It is a short walk through the Gardens to arrive at the Mansion. Admission is reasonable but you need to check their schedule for hours opened.

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