Places to go and things to see by Gypsy Bev

Archive for April, 2015

Anderson Hancock Planetarium Explores the Expanding Universe

Anderson Hancock Planetarium at Marietta College

Anderson Hancock Planetarium at Marietta College

“Twinkle, twinkle little star, how I wonder what you are!”

Everyone gains a better understanding about those little stars in the sky after watching the night sky from the comfort of a cozy seat at Anderson Hancock Planetarium on the campus of Marietta College in Marietta, Ohio.  As the present night sky appears overhead, the movement and stories of the constellations provide a fascinating time of entertainment and increased knowledge of our expanding Universe.

Named after Emeritus Professors Dr. Les Anderson ’55 and Dr. Whit Hancock, the planetarium is equipped with a hybrid projection system that combines an optical mechanical star projector with a powerful full dome digital video projector.

Gog Chronos star projector

Goto Chronos hybrid star projector

Marietta College is currently one of a handful of planetariums in the country to feature the Goto Chronos hybrid system, which can replicate with great accuracy the night sky from thousands of years in the past to thousands of years in the future from countless vantage points in the Universe. This projects the night sky onto the dome, which is about 40′ in diameter.

Every month, the planetarium hosts a special sky program with two showings on a Thursday evening and Sunday afternoon. Recent topics have explored “Cosmic Castaways”, “Chasing Ghost Particles” and most recently the premiere of “Space Aliens: Looking for Life in the Universe”.

During a visit to see “Space Aliens”, experts Hopeful and Skeptical took those in attendance on a journey from the ocean floor to an adventure across the galaxy as they tried to convince each other whether life exists outside of earth. No definite conclusion was reached except that we keep discovering more and more about our vast Universe all the time.

Dr. Ann Bragg, director

Dr. Ann Bragg, planetarium director

The planetarium director, Dr. Ann Bragg, has been with the program since it opened in the spring of 2009. Since her goal is to educate the community as well as the students, she projects a contagious enthusiasm, which hooks the viewers.

Dr. Bragg, also associate professor of physics, enjoys teaching and opening students’ minds to new possibilities. She feels, “The process of discovery is often more interesting than what is actually discovered.”

Star talks about the current evening sky always precede the special program. Here they tell about and display the different constellations that are visible in the sky. This provides a tremendous opportunity for adults and children to learn more about our vast Universe. During the year, nearly 4000 students visit the planetarium with school, scout and camp groups.

The lobby also features quiet study areas and current science programming from NASA’s ViewSpace data/video feed. It’s a great place to catch up on some of the latest NASA developments.

Planetarium Auditorium

Planetarium Auditorium with 40′ dome ceiling

During the summer months at least two of their showings will be geared toward students. While all shows are free, the planetarium requires reservations as seating is limited in their 102 seat auditorium. Perhaps you would like to visit the Anderson Hancock Planetarium at Marietta College and witness several of their outstanding presentations in the future.

Sometimes your road trip needs to leave earth and explore what is beyond.

Be sure to check out their website at for future programs. To visit Anderson Hancock Planetarium, take Interstate 77 toward Marietta to Exit 1. At Exit 1, turn right onto ramp, which will be Ohio 7 (Pike Street). Remain on Pike Street until turning right onto Fourth Street. Take the first right onto Butler Street. Parking will be immediately on your right in the lot adjacent to Hermann Fine Arts Center.


History Speaks Through Fairfax Stone

A scenic gravel road through wild, wonderful West Virginia in the fall of the year

A scenic gravel road through wild, wonderful West Virginia in the fall of the year

Often a gravel country road leads to places that give us a better understanding of our country’s history. Sometimes the things we find along the way don’t look as important as they really are.

Such is the case with one of the most significant landmarks in West Virginia, the Fairfax Stone located at Fairfax Stone Historical Monument Park near Thomas, WV. This stone marks the North headwaters of the Potomac River, which flows all the way to Virginia. Today the original stone is gone, but a replacement stone marks the spot so future generations will not forget how the states’ boundaries were determined.

Fairfax Stone National Historical Park

Fairfax Stone Historical Monument Park

The reason for the search for the headwaters of the Potomac River came about because the King of England gave Thomas Fairfax all the land from the Potomac River to the Rappahannock River. Naturally, Lord Fairfax wanted to know where the boundaries of his land actually were.

This was part of the Northern Neck Land Grant. The surveying for this western boundary of Maryland was done by Colonel Peter Jefferson, Thomas Jefferson’s father, and Thomas Lewis. Many historians say that George Washington perhaps set the original stone himself as a young surveyor.

Two Fairfax Stones - 1910 and 1985

Two Fairfax Stones – 1910 and 1957

Way back in 1746, the original stone was placed there  to honor a boundary dispute between Thomas Fairfax, 6th Lord Fairfield of Cameron and the English Privy Council.. Later it became the spot to mark the state boundary of West Virginia and Maryland. The dispute over the boundary between Maryland and Virginia, later West Virginia, was so severe that it ended by being solved by the Supreme Court. Now it is easy to see its importance.

Fairfax Stone plaque describes its purpose.

Fairfax Stone plaque describes its history.

The original stone was a small pyramid of sandstone and had the letters “F.X.” scratched into the stone. Now an engraved six ton rock with a flat surface displaying an engraved metal plague sets over the site of the actual spring, the beginning of the North Branch of the Potomac River in West Virginia. An inscription on the plaque tells the historical significance of the stone. The marker from 1910 rests close by.

Nearby Mountaineer Wind Energy Center generates electricity.

Nearby Mountaineer Wind Energy Center generates electricity.

Even though this park contains only four acres, the Fairfax Stone Historical Monument Park attracts many historians, who want to walk where their forefathers trod. Then take a ride just south of here and view some modern history in the making – the Mountaineer Wind Energy Center, the largest wind farm east of the Mississippi that provides electricity to many of the mid-Atlantic states.

Next time you take a drive, perhaps you will want to explore some of those dirt roads along the way. You may be surprised at what you find.

Fairfax Stone Historical Monument Park can be found off U.S. Route 219 near Thomas, WV. Turn onto county Route 9 and travel .5 miles. Turn right at Fairfax Stone Monument sign and travel 1.5 miles to Fairfax Stone. Great signs help make this easier to find.

Discover Elegance at J.E. Reeves Victorian Home in Dover, Ohio

J.E. Reeves Victorian Home holds many treasures.

J.E. Reeves Victorian Home holds many treasures.

“Ahead of its time” would best describe the magnificent home of Jeremiah and Jane Reeves in Dover, Ohio during the early 1900s. Today, the J.E.Reeves Victorian Home and Carriage House Museum still remain a showpiece of beauty and craftsmanship.

Reeves smokestack still stands today in acreage behind the house.

Reeves smokestack still stands in Dover today on acreage behind the home.

But Jeremiah did not always live in such grandeur. Born in England in 1845, Jeremiah began working as a boilermaker in Wales at the age of ten. When he was eighteen, he and his brothers moved to the United States, where they worked in the mills in Cleveland and Pittsburgh. A few years later in Niles, Ohio, they organized Reeves Boiler Works.

When they heard that Dover Rolling Mill was having financial problems, they purchased and reorganized that industry in the growing canal city. Reeves Steel became the backbone of industry in the Tuscarawas County area. The family remained in the iron and steel business for the rest of their lives, but had many other interests as well.

The wealthy played Whisk around the game table.

The wealthy played a card game of Whist around the game table.

When Jeremiah needed money to expand his business, no area banks would loan him the needed funds. But that didn’t deter Mr. Reeves. He opened his own bank. Over the years, he also built workers’ homes in Tin Town, a hospital, a streetcar line, Reeves Hotel and much more. Jeremiah definitely held the key to successful business encounters.

Reeves kitchen displays a warmer oven, local made teapot, and old-fashioned toaster.

Reeves kitchen displays a warmer oven, locally made teapot, and old-fashioned toaster.

J.E. Reeves wanted to help others by letting them help themselves. During the depression, a man knocked on his door, asking for money to help his family. Mr. Reeves refused to give the man cash, but told him, “I’ll give you a broom and you can sweep the sidewalks. Then I’ll pay you.”

Guide, Shirley, describes the elegant dining room with silk screen wall covering.

Guide, Shirley, describes the elegant dining room with silk screen wall covering.

Back in 1901, Jeremiah Reeves moved his family to a refurbished farmhouse on the outskirts of the growing canal city of Dover. Their Dover farmhouse became the most fashionable home for miles around. Mr. Reeves made certain that his family enjoyed all the modern facilities. In the early 1900s, this home had running water, gas heat, and electric lights. Nearly all the furniture and antiques seen in the home were originally part of the family home 100 years ago. Walls contain family photographs and outstanding artwork, while stained glass and leaded windows appear over door frames inside and out.

Next to the home stands a Carriage House Museum with a fairytale like appearance. This fancy barn actually held Mr. Reeves’ horses and carriages, and had space for a workshop.  Today inside this fancy garage, visitors will find a vast collection of vehicles: the family’s hansom, sleigh, rare electric car, and a restored doctor’s buggy. Upstairs the Carriage House features a history of Dover, when it was Canal Dover before railroads were prominent there.

Reeves Carriage House has a fairy tale like appearance.

Reeves Carriage House has a fairytale like appearance.

The mansion is open for tours, conducted by outstanding guides, for many special events such as Gatsby Night, Living History Tours, and their elegant Victorian Christmas. On a recent visit during Gatsby Night, entertainment was provided by the Moravian Choir and Big Band. Mrs. Reeves was a devout Moravian all her life, and Reeves Library can be found today at the Moravian College in PA.

The museum has been opened since 1976, when it was sold to the Dover Historical Society by Jeremiah’s grandson, Samuel, for the amount of $1.00. The family hoped that it would be preserved for its historical value…and that has been done with grandeur.

J.E. Reeves Victorian Home and Carriage House Museum can be found off I-77 at exit 83. Take a right on Tuscarawas Avenue, left on W Front Street, right on Wooster Ave, and a left on Iron Avenue. The Home and Museum can be found at 325 E Iron Avenue. Parking is in the rear of the home.

Rural 1890 Village at Meadowcroft Rockshelter

Blacksmith at work in his shop

Blacksmith at work in his shop

Peace and charm of living in a small rural community, previously the Miller family homestead, came to life at the 1890s Rural Village at Meadowcroft Rockshelter and Historic Village. Set at the far end of the complex, a visit here provided a relaxing spot in the day.

The village blacksmith demonstrated making a hook for a Dutch oven. Heat for the red-hot forge was produced by coal or coke. “Fanning the flame” provided the hottest heat needed for the perfect hook.

Miller home with garden

Miller home with garden

Betty Lamp

Betty Lamp was originally called the Better Lamp because it burned all night long using animal fat with a wick of twisted cloth.

The Miller Log House, constructed in 1795 by their great-great-grandfather, has been moved to the village. A garden planted nearby gave easy access to fresh vegetables.

While the children’s bedroom was upstairs, parents slept downstairs to protect them and keep the fire going through the night. All the furniture in the large downstairs’ room sat against the walls. That made it possible to come in the front door and walk straight to the fireplace on those cold winter days.

The guide explained that a second frame for a bed usually existed under the other beds so unexpected company could easily be handled. Their beds were made of straw and tightened with ropes to give them shape. Sometimes insects would get in the straw during the night, thus the saying: Good night, Sleep tight, Don’t let the bedbugs bite.

Desks with slates in old schoolhouse

Desks with slates in old schoolhouse

Bancroft Schoolhouse served as a one-room school for 10-20 students from 1834-1921. At that time, there were seven schools in a given mile radius. During the visit, a schoolmarm presented lessons of long ago to those in attendance. Original signatures of Bancroft students covered the blackboard while pictures of George Washington and Abraham Lincoln decorated the walls. Atop the double desks, two slates provided a place for students to write their lessons.

Entering the Methodist Episcopal Church from 1870 provided a glimpse back to the bare essentials of the church. Floors were bare with little ornate decorations around the church. A buggy, which brought the minister to the church service, waited outside.

Methodist Church

Methodist Episcopal Church with minister’s buggy outside

The Rural Village is just one part of the Meadowcroft Historical Complex, which also contains the famous Rockshelter archaeological site and Indian Village. Bring a picnic lunch and spend the day exploring, when they reopen in May.

Meadowcroft Rockshelter is found near Avella, PA off the beaten path. Your easiest bet might be to have your GPS guide you to 401 Meadowcroft Road in Avella, PA.

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