Places to go and things to see by Gypsy Bev

Archive for September, 2012

Majestic McKinley Monument Canton, Ohio

“I have never been in doubt since I was old enough to think intelligently, that I would someday be made president.”  These words were  spoken during his youth by President William McKinley, the first president to ride in an automobile while in office as well as the first to use a telephone as part of his campaign.

The resting place of William McKinley, 25th president of the United States, catches your eye driving down I-77 through Canton, Ohio.  The domed mausoleum is more than a mere resting place, but serves as a  a monument to Canton’s favorite son and former governor of Ohio. There are several reasons that McKinley is a favorite in this area: Canton is where he started his law career, found his true love, and ran for the highest office in the land.  But while attending the 1901 Pan-American Exposition in Buffalo, New York, President McKinley was assassinated just seconds after giving the red carnation from his label to a little girl waiting in line.

In 1905 construction was begun after selecting a memorial design drafted by Harold Van Buren Magonigle.  This architect began his career at the age of thirteen when he worked as a draftsman for the firm that designed Central Park in New York City.

The front steps seem to be a real attraction for area residents as a wonderful place for exercise, either walking or running.  Since there are 108 steps up to the McKinley Monument, it is a challenge to young and old alike. The front steps are fifty feet wide and are broken into four flights of twenty four steps with the final flight having only twelve. Nearing the top of the stairs, visitors are greeted by a 9 1/2′ bronze statue of William McKinley created by Charles Henry Nishaus.

The circular mausoleum recaptured the spirit of ancient cultures and formed the center of the cross design Magonigle intended to create. The longer arm of the cross was formed by front steps and what was called Long Water. Originally Long Water was a spectacular part of the monument with a 575-foot lagoon, consisting of five different water levels cascading downward into a reflecting pool.  Unfortunately, due to stagnant water caused by poor circulation, this lagoon was filled back in the 1950’s. Both side arms of the cross were formed by shorter entry steps, and the top portion was a driveway behind the monument.

Magonigle considered this shape to have a double meaning. The upper part of the cross resembled the handle of a sword, while the Long Water symbolized the blade.  This seemed appropriate due to McKinley’s military career during the Civil War as well as his being commander-in-chief during the Spanish-American War.

Above ground in the pink granite memorial, President McKinley and his First Lady are entombed in a double sarcophagus of elegant green granite on a dark maroon granite base.  Their two daughters have found their final resting place here also, entombed in the back wall of the memorial. Wreaths are constantly being placed by individuals and organizations at the foot of the granite clad coffins. Most of the wreaths are in traditional red, white and blue.

Seventy-five feet overhead is a beautiful red, white and blue skylight with a 45 star design, representing the number of states in the Union at the time of McKinley’s death. While it looks small from below, this beautiful window to the sky  measures twelve feet in diameter.

If you wish to visit the memorial without climbing all those stairs, there are two possibilities. A steep road leads up the hill behind the Memorial, or there is also an elevator, which operates only during museum business hours by use of a special code.

Hopefully, this monument and the life of William McKinley will be an inspiration to someone today.  President McKinley had hopes for this when he said, “That’s all a man can hope for during his lifetime, to set an example, and when he is dead, to be an inspiration to history.”

The McKinley Monument is located in downtown Canton, Ohio just off I-77. Take Exit 105 for OH 172, then turn right on 7th Street NW. Take the first left onto McKinley Monument Drive and enjoy a little piece of history.

An “Old Soul” Explores Beautiful Red Rock Sedona

Sedona!  Just the word brings to mind beautiful red rock formations surrounded by a high level of spiritual awareness. For those interested in the metaphysical, Sedona, Arizona is the perfect place to explore. This New Age capital of America is nestled in the mouth of beautiful Oak Creek Canyon.

Spectacular views draw people from all over the world to this “red rock country” where they experience the majesty and peace of the natural wonders appearing around every corner of the road. The sandstone formations glow red and even orange, especially at sunrise and sunset here in Sedona.

Bell Rock captures the eye and the heart as it emits an energy that can’t be explained. This is just one of several energy vortexes in and around Sedona. For those not familiar with vortexes, they are created from a spiraling motion around a rotating center, such as water going down the drain or a dust devil in the desert. But here in Sedona, the energy vortex is created by spiraling spiritual energy making it a great place for prayer, meditation and healing. There is no real explanation, it must be experienced…and that is just what I did.

While walking around Bell Rock, which is a two hour trip – at least for me- instead of getting tired, my feet moved faster at the end than they did at the beginning. Just had to keep a piece of the red rock with me -it fell at my feet- and still have it under my car seat today.  Maybe that is how I keep going and going on my Gypsy Road Trips… like the energizer bunny.

As you can imagine, Hollywood also noticed the beauty of this area and over sixty Hollywood productions, mostly Westerns,  have been filmed here. John Ford’s production of Stagecoach rolled into Sedona in 1938 beginning the bonanza of films and stars that would become familiar to the red rock area. Classic greats such as John Wayne, Elvis, Rock Hudson, and Art Carney have enjoyed hanging out in the red rocks while starring in scenes shot here.

Just a short drive south of Sedona,  the Chapel of the Holy Cross provides a spiritual uplift to the trip as well as another gorgeous view of the surrounding area. Built back in 1956,  the chapel rises 250′ out of the red rock and its design was inspired by the Empire State Building. The front of the chapel faces sunset thus illuminating the interior naturally with sunlight.

Cathedral Rock, the landmark of Sedona, provided another relaxing place to walk, but personally didn’t feel the energy surge experienced at Bell Rock. Trails lead to the “saddle points” or gaps in the beautiful red rock configuration. While the trail is exceptionally steep, a breeze is nearly always present due to the air movement through the saddle points.

Stayed on the edge of town in the red rocks at a rustic little place called quite naturally, Red Rock Lodge. Here the owner gave me a tour of her beautiful flower garden and explained a little about the flowers of the region. Arizona Poppy, Indian Paintbrush, and Desert Primrose add beauty and a pleasing aroma to the surrounding mountains. Rates were affordable at this small comfortable lodge while the views were extraordinary.

Couldn’t leave town without getting a psychic reading at a charming place with beads hanging from the doorway, a crystal ball on the table, and cards spread to tell me that I was indeed an “old soul” who had been around for a long, long time. This old-fashioned metaphysical community is the place to immerse yourself in Reiki, acupuncture, aromatherapy, UFOs,  and much more.

Sedona has grown since my last visit, but even today there are few streetlights, no buildings reach over two stories high, and every structure must match the primary colors of the rocks. No Golden Arches for McDonald’s here – arches in Sedona are turquoise! These awe-inspiring red rocks formed in beautiful buttes, spires and canyons capture your attention; however, there is a serenity here among the beauties of nature that draws one back again and again.

The Sedona area is located off I-17 at exit 298. Proceed on Highway 179 which after about 14 miles  will lead you to the Y in the road from which you will be guided to various area attractions.  Grand Canyon is a couple hours north of Sedona, while the intriguing Sonoran Desert lies south. Not many can resist the charm, so plan to spend a day or two in this breathtaking area.

A “Pleasant Point” Along the Ohio River

“A pleasant point” was the description given by surveyor, George Washington, when he arrived at the confluence of the Great Kanawha  and Ohio Rivers. Today the town that grew there is called Point Pleasant in West Virginia. The beautiful Riverfront Park is a pleasant surprise here and a wonderful place to take a leisurely stroll with the Ohio River on one side and large murals depicting the town’s history on the other.You can glimpse the Silver Memorial Bridge close to  the point where the Great Kanawha River joins the Ohio River near the end of the Riverwalk in the State Park, Tu-Endie-Wei, which adjoins.

The Ohio River peacefully flows carrying boats of various sizes for many purposes.  There are coal barges, speedboats, riverboats, and luckily this day the spectacular American Queen, the largest steamboat even built in the world. Built in 1995,  this beautiful riverboat is a  six-deck re-creation of a classic Mississippi Steamboat.  Its flat-bottomed style makes it possible to even continue if the waters become shallow.

Murals are painted on the floodwalls flanking the Ohio and Kanawha Rivers representing scenes from the Battle of Point Pleasant as well as other pieces of Point Pleasant history, including the Indian settlements of earlier days. Each large mural, measuring from 100-250 feet long, has one single monumental scene painted by artist Robert Dafford. His murals can be found in several cities along the Ohio River from here at Point Pleasant, West Virginia to Paducah, Kentucky.

One depicts the 19-year old George Washington surveying the wilderness where he met Benjamin Franklin and some land speculators, who were founders of the Great Ohio Company. This group intended to found a new colony called Vandalia that would have encompassed most of today’s West Virginia and Kentucky.  What a surprise to learn that on the eve of the American Revolution, there were thoughts of creating a fourteenth colony with Point Pleasant as its capital.

On the other side of the murals is the historic Lowe Hotel, the largest landmark in Point Pleasant. Built in 1901 of Cleveland Berea stone and red brick, this monument was originally called the Spencer Hotel in honor of J.S. Spencer, friend and financial backer of the Smith brothers who owned the hotel.  At that time, traffic on the Ohio River was heavy, so a place to spend the night became an important attraction at Point Pleasant.  Today that  hotel is said to be haunted by guests who decided not to check out, one of those being Captain Jim who is waiting for his steamboat.

Two unusual metal statues of Chief Cornstalk and Colonel Andrew Lewis caught my eye along the Riverwalk. These were the two combatants in what many say was the first battle of the Revolutionary War…the Battle of Point Pleasant. The Virginia Militia led by Andrew Lewis defeated Chief Cornstalk, the Shawnee leader, and his braves, thus preventing the Native Americans from forming an alliance with the British. This in turn had a major influence on the outcome of the War of Independence. Their statues are located in front of a mural depicting the Battle of Point Pleasant in 1774.

By late afternoon, the American Queen paddlewheels begin turning and the riverboat slowly, almost magically, floats away from the shore. Calliope music fills the air and seems to take one back in time to a happier, more peaceful way of life. This is a great spot to sit down in a swing and watch the river and your cares drift away.

The Riverwalk at Point Pleasant, West Virginia is located just a half block from Main Street and of course, along the Ohio River. Frequent festivals throughout the year are held here and it is often a stopping point for riverboats. 

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