Places to go and things to see by Gypsy Bev

Posts tagged ‘WWII’

Hoover Historical Center Displays Sweeping Changes

Hoover Herb Garden

The Tannery and family home showcase an award-winning herb garden.

Spring usually brings thoughts of ‘Spring Cleaning’ to many, especially those of the older generation. It seemed like a great time to explore methods of cleaning through the years at the Hoover Historical Center in North Canton, home of the Hoover Company. Here you’ll find the most extensive antique vacuum cleaner collection in the world.

Hoover 2300 BC early broom

We’ve come a long way from this 2300 BC twig broom on display.

   Although the museum is located inside Walsh University’s Hoover Park, the building where it is located is actually the Victorian childhood home of William H. Hoover, founder of the Hoover Company. Tours begin in a modest building behind the house on their original family farm.

Hoover Tanning Tools

Tools used in the Tannery by the Hoovers are on display.

   Located here was a tannery, a business the Hoovers engaged in before the vacuum cleaner idea caught his attention. This building served as the first home of the Hoover family with much of the inside being original.

Hoover 1910 Kotten Suction Cleaner

Ann Haines, our guide, showed how moving her feet side-to-side on the platform created suction for the 1910 Kotten Vacuum Cleaner.

   In the tannery, there is an exhibit of their tanning equipment and the leather goods they produced. You’ll also see an exhibit of all early manually operated cleaning devices.

Hoover cartoon Husband rocks to run sweeper

In this early method, the husband rocked to provide energy to run the wife’s vacuum cleaner.

   The first upright vacuum cleaner was invented by a friend of the family, James Spangler, in 1908. James, a department store janitor and part-time inventor, had a problem with asthma and thought the carpet cleaner he was using at work was the cause of it. He created the Electric Suction Sweeper and produced it himself for a while with the help of his family. But they only completed two or three machines a week.

Hoover Gates

Gates leading to the Hoover Museum are made of original bricks from the Hoover Co. smokestack.

   Spangler sold one of these vacuums to a friend, Susan Hoover, who was so impressed with it that she told her husband ‘Boss’ and son Herbert about it. Quickly, Hoovers bought the patent and opened the Electric Suction Sweeper Company in New Berlin, now North Canton.

   That first vacuum weight 40 pounds so not the easiest thing to push around the house. The cost was $60 for the vacuum and an additional $15 for attachments. Only the rich had electricity at this time so they were proud to purchase a new idea such as the vacuum.

   Spangler became production supervisor receiving royalties in addition to his salary. The company name was changed in 1910 to Hoover Suction Sweeper Company with Spangler’s family still receiving royalties until 1925.

Hoover early ad 2

This ad was placed in the Saturday Evening Post for a ten-day free trial of the Hoover.

   In order to gain public interest, Hoover placed an ad in The Saturday Evening Post offering customers ten days free use of his vacuum cleaner to anyone who requested it. He thus developed a national network of retailers for his vacuums. Before long, Hoover had companies in Canada and England.

   The “Sweeping Changes” chronological display shows the evolution of Hoover appliances throughout their history. In 1932, the Hoover Company was the largest maker of vacuum cleaners in the world. By 1999, Hoover employed 2,800 workers in Stark County.

2000 Hoover Headquarters

A rebuilt smokestack still stands where the Hoover headquarters was in 2000.

   Sales conventions were a special summer event in North Canton. Salesmen from all over the United States and foreign countries met in Hoover Park. A circle of large tents was set up for their housing with a large tent for meals. Salesmen were taught how to sell and how not to sell through lively skits.

   Here they learned about the three kinds of dirt: litter, dust and grit. All three were spread on people’s floors when salesmen went to demonstrate their vacuum, which would pick up all three.

 

Hoover Ann with later models

Ann explains some of the later Hoover models.

  While touring the house, listen to an old recording of Hoover salesmen singing, “All the Dirt, All the Grit,” the Hoover theme song in the 1920s and ’30s. They’ll give you the words so you can sing along if you like.

Hoover WWII children

This picture shows the Hoover employees’ children brought from London during WWII. The bottom one shows them at Thanksgiving dinner.

   During WWII, 1500 children were moved out of England and shipped to Canada for safety purposes. Hoover families in London sent 83 of their children to stay with Hoover employees in Canton in 1940.

   Boss Hoover took great care of them and paid all their medical expenses as well as treated them like family. These children were delighted to taste watermelon, hot dogs and hamburgers for the first time. All 83 returned to London after the war.

Hoover war time products

Hoover switched to making products for military use during WWII.

   A special display shows items that were made during WWII. Since the men were all at war, 240 women worked in the factories in 1940 and no longer made vacuum cleaners. Instead, they made liners for helmets, parachutes, and fuses, which were said to be second in importance to the atomic bomb. By 1945, the number of women employed had risen to 3900. Hoover Company received many awards for their WII efforts.

Hoover products

Hoover branched out to making more than just vacuums.

   After the war, the Hoover Company expanded into household items making a stand-up iron, apartment size washers and driers, and refrigerators. Back in 1988, they explored using robots to make their vacuums. This was a very forward-thinking company.

Hoover William Boxx

The well-loved William H. “Boss” Hoover founded the Hoover Company.

   As you can tell, this small historic center is packed with interesting information about the history, not only of the vacuum but of our country and its people. Everyone loved ‘Boss’ Hoover, a name given him affectionately as he cared for his employees and their families. Perhaps that is how he became the first mayor of North Canton.

   Hoover Historical Center is open to the public on Thursday, Friday and Saturday afternoons with tours beginning hourly 1-4 pm, March through October. No admission is charged for the tour, although donations are appreciated. There’s something here for almost any interest.

   Every day is better with a Hoover. It Beats….as it Sweeps…as it Cleans!

Hoover Historical Center is located on the campus of Walsh University in North Canton. From I-77 take exit 109A  to Whipple Avenue and Maple Street. The center is located at 1875 E. Maple Street. 

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Desolate Dolly Sods Wilderness in Allegheny Mountains

Desolate Dolly Sods - a perfect escape from civilization!

Desolate Dolly Sods – a perfect escape from civilization!

Desolate! That seems the perfect description for the Dolly Sods Wilderness. This vast, rugged back country can be found in the Allegheny Mountains of West Virginia in the Monongahela National Forest.

Narrow dirt road to Dolly Sods

Narrow dirt road to Dolly Sods with twists and turns just ahead

Named for a German family, the Dahles, locals added “sods”, because that is their term for an open mountaintop meadow where cattle grazed.  Over the years, the entire name has been localized to Dolly Sods.

The road to the top contains narrow, twisting, dirt roads. You just hope you don’t meet anyone coming around the bend. Add a little fog to the adventure and the trip becomes even more exciting. As you enter the wilderness area, you might feel civilization is being left behind. No guardrails line the sides of this mountain road, but hopefully the trees would catch you if you had to get close to the edge.

Flexible weather can change several times in a day. Within an hour, sun, rain, snow, and fog might all make an appearance. Cool weather prevails  and frost can occur on any time of the year. But that doesn’t deter the campers, who camp out year round.

Windy Dolly Sods

Windy Dolly Sods

Winds blow fiercely here as witnessed by the red spruce trees, whose branches grow on one side, the side away from the wind. 

During the early 1900’s this mountain top was a great source of timber for the United States. At that time, some of the trees measured 13′ in diameter – quite the giants! Those early settlers cleared the field completely of all growth and brush. Sparks from the locomotives, saw mills, and logger’s warming fires set fire to the field to burn everything off; the peat burned for years as it was seven to nine feet deep.

One Surviving Daisy

One Surviving Daisy

Today, little growth remains on the top of the Dolly Sods, but a new crop of trees is growing at lower levels. Right now this high plateau can best be described as a vast “nothingness”, but low growing blueberry and huckleberry bushes, wild strawberry plants and even a daisy can be found struggling for existence.

Many trails exist to explore the wilderness and you don’t have to worry about reptiles as they don’t want to hang around in the cold. When you finally get to the top, rocks and low growth cover the open areas. Over 17,000 acres compose this arctic-like, wilderness area, which runs about 49 miles across the top.

View from Dolly Sods Plateau

View from Dolly Sods Plateau

Dolly Sods sets on the Eastern Continental Divide with waters flowing to the east continuing to the Potomac River, while those flowing to the west help form the Ohio River and eventually the Mississippi. In 1852, an article in Harper’s Monthly Magazine described the area as:

…so savage and inaccessible that it has rarely been penetrated even by the most adventurous. The settlers on its borders speak of it with a sort of dread, and regard it as an ill-omened region, filled with bears, panthers, impassable laurel-brakes, and dangerous precipices.

A challenging rocky trail back to the parking lot

A challenging rocky trail back to the parking lot

At one point in time, a glacier covered the top of Dolly Sods. Walking the trail to Bear Rock, water lays on top of the ground since it can’t be absorbed by the rocks just below the surface.  The trail required careful steps to avoid too much water, and it became very narrow between the low growth of wild blueberry bushes. But in just a little while, the trail turned into one made of rocks and it was a game of hopping from rock to rock to reach the edge.

An interesting sidenote was the fact that the US Army used this area as an artillery training ground before troops were sent to Europe in World War II. Hard to tell what might be found in the rocks and brush.

Many seem to enjoy escaping to the world of nature.

Many seem to enjoy escaping to the world of nature.

Starting back to the parking lot, it was surprising to see how many people were out walking the Dolly Sods on a weekday at a temperature of 49. Had to wonder how they found it!

From Canaan Valley follow WV 32 south to the Laneville Road (WV 45). Turn left and go approximately 6 miles to the Red Creek Bridge, where the road changes from pavement to gravel and is now Forest Road 19. 

 

Seneca Rocks Discovery Center in Wild, Wonderful West Virginia

Seneca Rocks

Seneca Rocks

The towering Seneca Rocks with razorback ridges appear to have been shot up out of the earth in the Monongahela National Forest in eastern West Virginia. Perhaps this was due to a volcanic vein explosion years ago, but whatever the cause they are spectacular. These massive rocks rise 900 feet above the North Fork of the South Branch of the Potomac River.

It can only be guessed about the early people who lived in this place. When the Discovery Center was built, two villages were found under that area. The most recent one was dated at 600 years ago.

The Cliffs of Seneca by David Strother for New Harpers Magazine in 1872.

The Cliffs of Seneca by David Strother for Harpers New Monthly Magazine in 1872.

One of the early explorers to reach this area in 1853 was a writer and magazine illustrator, David Strother. He sketched the massive Seneca Rocks and several years later in 1872 reworked it into a wood engraving. This special printing was highlighted in the 1872 Harpers New Monthly Magazine.

Viewing Seneca Rocks through binoculars enables you to see the observation tower at the top and even the people there. If you have time, you will want to climb to the top and view the  surrounding area from their observation deck. Many trails lead to the summit for climbers of various abilities, so find one perfect for you.

Climbing to the top served another purpose in 1943-44 as it was a training ground for West Virginia Militia during WWII. Here they practiced climbing the rock sides in preparation for the Apennines Mountains in Italy.

Seneca River

Scenic Seneca Creek

When you head over the walkway at Seneca Creek, watch carefully as you cross the bridge. Trout can be seen swimming along through the creekk, which bubbles over the rocky bottom.

This condensed version of the Legend of Seneca Creek tells an interesting Indian tale:

Snow Bird waited at the base of Seneca Rocks.

Snow Bird waited at the base of Seneca Rocks.

For as long as she could remember, Princess Snow Bird’s family lived at the base of Seneca Rock. All during her youth, she wanted to climb those rocks and as she became older, she did climb higher and higher until one day she reached the pinnacle. For a while she enjoyed her companions of warm sunshine, refreshing breeze, thoughts and dreams. But soon she became the most beautiful maiden in the land and warriors from all around came to claim her hand in marriage. 

There were too many for her to decide, so Snow Bird invited all to come on an appointed day for a challenge. After meeting them at the base of Seneca Rock, she told them that the one who could climb to the top would be her new chief. Out of the many present, only seven were brave enough to take the challenge. Snow Bird led the way and one by one six of them fell behind. Only one brave remained and as he neared the top he slipped.

Snow Bird quickly thought that if he was the one most able to make the climb perhaps she should accept him. She then reached down and grabbed his hand to pull him to safety. When they returned to the base, her father, Chief Bald Eagle, told his new son-in-law that he would become his successor and the new chief of the tribe.

Rock climbing models

Rock climbing models

Nearby is a beautiful Discovery Center with information about all the activities, explanations regarding Seneca Rocks through pictures and scenes, and of course a gift shop. Interactive displays explain the geology of the area on a level that even children can understand. Films provide another method of explaining the beautiful Seneca Rocks and the surrounding Monongahela National Forest. Figures of mountain climbers scan an inside wall to show the gear needed and explain the dangers.

Lighted topography map

Lighted topography map

Especially interesting was a topographical map of the area with buttons that lighted up different special places to visit. It gave you a much clearer idea of where you were, had been, and were going. It was interesting that they had instructions also written in Braille.

Visit Seneca Rocks where you can climb to the top or sit on a bench at the base and admire the view.

Seneca Rocks it located east of Elkins, WV near the junction of Routes 33 and 55. Enjoy the beautiful scenery on your way there.

 

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