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Legends Letter May 2013



Howdy folks! In typical fashion, Kathy and I have fallen behind on the newsletter, and there's plenty to write about. Especially since we did six weeks on the road touring Mississippi, Louisiana and small parts of Tennessee and Alabama.


You can read about the history of the places we visited in the Blog. Each of the Blog entries include links to new articles and slide shows of our Winter History Tour photo galleries. I've included all those links in this newsletter under "New Additions and Featured Stories".


There are some things you won't read about in the Blog though, stuff that we would share only with you, our newsletter readers, who know how dorky we can be. For instance, the real reason behind such a long trip is to get away from the biting cold and snow at home. Reasonable enough, but, since we didn't leave until the end of January our ultimate goal was thwarted. Then, in the first couple of weeks on the road, we noticed that in Missouri the weather was mild, which kind of ticked us off. So, there were a few grins and giggles when finally, around mid February we started seeing pictures of "piles of snow" from family back home. It was probably those same smiles and snickers that resulted in a dose of Karma, as we experienced rain, rain and more rain. In fact, in the beginning, at every RV park and campground we stopped at, the first day or two it rained. And I'm not talking a shower here and there, it was down right gully washers. So much so, that at Askew's Landing in Mississippi, we watched with trepidation as the pond we parked by came up 6 inches on the electric pole next to us. It wouldn't be until late February, toward the end of our trip, that Mother Nature would finally quit raining so much on our parade. I will never smirk and giggle at weather back home again.


Weather also changed our original plans of being able to work outside the travel trailer during off days. The grand scheme was that Kathy would do her usual geekin' inside the trailer while I worked outside, giving us the much needed space we are used to. We thought we might be in trouble when we were stuck in the trailer, with our two dogs, for three days straight, as the road in and out of the campground was under water. Both of us were quite proud when we all came out without a scratch, although I think Riley and Kaydee Dog may have permanent psychological damage.


We almost lost Riley Dog at Grand Gulf. We brought our best selling items from the General Store with us on the trip so we could ship on the road. I had carefully stacked several plastic bins of postcards in the back of the SUV and they appeared to be secure, but then we experienced a steep hill. We were almost to the bottom, slowly inching our way down, when the top two bins let loose. I stopped immediately as Kathy scrambled to unbury Kaydee Dog from the rubble. "Where's Riley!?", Kathy's voice expressing her sheer horror as we both fumbled around trying to find him. Suddenly we realized that the back window was open, and sure enough, there was Riley...off to the side of the road, covered in huge prickly sticker looking fruit from a sweetgum tree, mixed with a good portion of the pile of horse crap he had landed in. He was just sitting there, head cocked to the side, with a half quizative /half look of disdain. Neither dog ever yelped, or showed any kind of injury, yet both appeared genuinely grateful when I relocated the postcards to the trailer for the rest of the trip.


Gator at Jungle GardensThen, there was the "almost had to change my pants" moment in Jungle Gardens at Avery Island, Louisiana. We had just arrived to the park and saw a couple standing by a fence gawking so we stopped to investigate. "It's an alligator", the man said confidently. We hadn't seen one on our trip yet, so Kathy and I grabbed the cameras to get a shot. There on the grass by a pond, right next to the fence sat the 'gator, covered in some sort of pond vegetation that appeared to be growing on its back. As the couple left I couldn't help but notice that the gator seemed almost plastic. "I don't think this is a real alligator" I said. "I think this is staged for effect". About that time the gator slowly opened it's eyes, then closed them. It did that about 3 times in 10 second intervals. "See, it's even robotic... I bet they have a camera in there watching us right now and getting a good laugh". As if on queue, the 'gator opened its mouth, but, never turned his head. I was convinced it wasn't real now. Then, as soon as I stepped a little closer the damn thing shot like a rocket back into the water. Luckily, I hadn't had lunch yet, or there could have been a mess.


I've probably left out a few stories (on purpose), but, it was indeed a grand six weeks on the road, and we both still want to travel in the trailer, so that's gotta count for something right? Kathy has proclaimed; however, that we will do the desert southwest next year. In the meantime, since we've been home, Kathy has been directing her very capable OCD (obsessive–compulsive disorder) traits towards our thousands of photos. Yes, you are, no doubt, aware that we have thousands of photos; but, what you don't know, is that there are thousands more that have never appeared anywhere. So, she's going through our many photo files, loading new images and restored vintage photographs to our photo print shop, and building numerous slideshows that are appearing at the end of our article pages. Though this monster task will take months, check out just a few slideshows that are already up and running. Yellowstone and the Badlands, Central City, Black Hawk, & Nevadaville; Colorado Scenic Views, the Denver Area, Bannack and Nevada City, Montana Stay tuned, there will be lots more coming. In addition to the new uploads, we've done a bit of remodeling to our photo site, including newly re-structured galleries and a less intrusive watermark logo to make our photos more enjoyable. Browse away at Legends' Photo Print Shop.


Dave Alexander - Driving Miss Kathy since 2003


P.S. I wanted to thank everyone for the responses we had to January's newsletter. We had been hearing from a few readers who were concerned over a new Discovery Channel show called Ghost Town Gold. The argument presented was that the show was encouraging people to scavenge Ghost Towns for western memorabilia, and that it wasn't right to do so. We heard back from quite a few of you who support the show. In fact the majority did, as long as they were promoting ethical treatment of the property. Seems that most want to make sure historic items are preserved, even if they are in private collections. Better in someone's home on display than rusting to nothing in the American West.




In this Edition:


New Additions and Featured Stories


Featured Travel Destinations


Old West - Pioneer Recollections


Old West Wisdom


Featured Product


Feedback and Suggestions




More to See:


Legends General Store - Supporting our website since 2003


Legends Photo Prints - Our growing gallery of Vintage and Modern images available in various print sizes. Shop, or just enjoy browsing.


Legends Travel Blog - Follow us on our travels and catch special announcements.


Legends Facebook Page - Daily posts of all things American History.


Ghost Towns of the American West Facebook Page - Occasional posts of all things Ghost Towns.


Native American History Facebook Page - Occasional posts of all things Native American


Vintage Photos of America Facebook Page


Legends on Twitter


Legends of Kansas - Our website dedicated to the state Legends was born in.




Legends' mascots Riley and Kaydee on the beach at Bay St. Louis
Riley and Kaydee were sorely missing the 14 inches of snow back home in Missouri -- NOT. At Bay St. Louis, Mississippi.

New Additions and Featured Stories


As we mentioned, many of our new articles spawned from our Winter History Tour of Mississippi and Louisiana. We've linked those stories in Legends' Travel Blog. In addition to the Blog and new article links, you will also find our Photo Galleries posted as slide shows. Enjoy! I know we did.


Corinth, Shiloh and the Natchez Trace - Legends' Winter History Tour starts in Corinth, MS, Civil War history, and a little bit of the Natchez Trace in Alabama and Tennessee.


To French Camp on the Trace - Our tour continues as we travel south from Corinth along the Natchez Trace Parkway.


History Abounds Around Askew Landing - We found a great spot to do our day tripping from, with Civil War history, old General Stores and more all within driving distance from historic Askew's Landing.


Natchez to Home Via New Orleans - We wrap up our Winter History Tour, following the Natchez Trace Parkway to its starting point, then south to the Gulf of Mexico, New Orleans and more Louisiana.


We've added up plenty more since our last news letter unrelated to our trip, but along the same lines of the Civil War . Here are a few:


A slave familyAfrican-Americans - From Slavery to Equality - Shortly after the American Revolution, calls to abolish slavery and the slave trade generated increasingly widespread support. A major cause of the Civil War, the the 13th Amendment to the United States Constitution liberated more than 4 million African-Americans.


Slavery - Cause and Catalyst of the Civil War - There were a number of issues that ignited the Civil War, including States’ Rights, the role of government, preservation of the union and the economy. But, all were inextricably bound to the institution of slavery.


The 13th Amendment - This important amendment formally formally abolished slavery in the United States, passed the Senate on April 8, 1864, and the House on January 31, 1865. On February 1, 1865, President Abraham Lincoln approved the Joint Resolution of Congress submitting the proposed amendment to the state legislatures.


The Underground Railroad - Flight to Freedom - Though the origin of the term "Underground Railroad" has not been determined, it refers to the effort of enslaved African Americans to gain their freedom by escaping bondage.


Frederick Douglas Frederick Douglass - From Slavery to Renowned Activist - Frederick Douglass' journey from captive slave to internationally renowned activist, Douglass changed how Americans thought about race, slavery, and American democracy.


And more recently, guest author Mark Weaver gave us General "Jo" Shelby and His Great Raid through Missouri - Joseph Orville Shelby was one of the most remarkable cavalry commanders of the Civil War leading his Confederate 'Iron Brigade' on a great raid through Missouri. Author Mark Weaver explores the man and a few things you may not have known.


Speaking of guest authors, Jim Hinckley continues to expand our Automotive History with two new articles.


Milton Reeves Octo-Auto in 1911 (wikipedia)In Praise of Eccentricity - The line between visionary or eccentric, between progressive thinking, and outright insanity is often quite thin. Author Jim Hinckley explores the line in this piece on American automotive history.


Introducing America's Most Modern Automobile - In 1773 - Author Jim Hinckley chronicles the fact that automobiles were more than just a dream as early as 1773, as Oliver Evans patents a steam engine to propel carriages.


Buffalo Grazing

And finally, we've added up some general history of American Buffalo - More accurately called bison today, it is believed that buffalo crossed over a land bridge that once connected the Asian and North American continents. Through the centuries buffalo slowly moved southward, eventually reaching as far as Mexico and as far east as the Atlantic Coast, extending south to Florida.


For more What's New on Legends of America see HERE.


Old West Wisdom

Don't corner something meaner than you.

It don't take a very big person to carry a grudge.

When you climb into the saddle, you'd better be prepared to ride

Wearing gloves and button-fly jeans means you better think ahead.

Remember that silence is sometimes the best answer.

More Old West Wisdom HERE.

Vintage western magazines for sale.


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Featured Travel Destination(s)


Next month Legends Of America celebrates 10 years on the World Wide Web, so, this year we are looking back at some of the places we've visited along the way. One of our favorites was a couple of trips we took to St. Elmo, Colorado in 2003 and 2006.


St. Elmo was originally settled in 1878 and was made official in 1880 when gold and silver began to bring many people to the area. Though it was first called Forest City, the small town's name was changed when the post office objected because there were too many towns with the same name. The new name was derived by Griffith Evans, one of the founders, who was reading a romantic nineteenth-century novel by the same name.


The town was laid out in six feet of snow and provided for the miners working in the nearby mines. Beginning with a high moral character, the settlement went the way of other booming mining towns, reaching a population of more than 2000 and taking on all the trappings of a single male population with saloons, dance halls, and bawdy houses. When the Alpine Tunnel was under construction, St. Elmo became the scene of raunchy Saturday night sprees.


In 1881 it became a station on the Denver, South Park and Pacific Railroad line where the tracks continued through Romley, Hancock and through the historic Alpine Tunnel. The settlement was considered a main source of supplies arriving by train for the area settlers and eventually included several merchandise stores, three hotels, five restaurants, two sawmills and a weekly newspaper called the Mountaineer. The miners worked at several mines throughout the area that were rich in silver, gold, copper and iron. The principal mines were the Murphy, the Theresse C., the Molly and the Pioneer. The Murphy Mine, situated high upon the mountain, 2000 feet above the railroad, shipped as much as 50-75 tons of ore per day to the smelters at Alpine. Altogether, there were over 150 patented mine claims in the immediate area. More ...




We found a new favorite this year on our Winter trip. The once prominent town of Rodney, Mississippi is one of those destinations reserved for die hard Ghost Town lovers. Nothing to do here but look at history and move along without disturbing the few remaining residents. But, Kathy and I found it to be one very cool place to visit!


Rodney, Mississippi Presbyterian Church today.Located in Jefferson County, about 32 miles northeast of Natchez, Mississippi, Rodney was once such an important city that it very nearly became the capitol of Mississippi. Today, it is a ghost town with only a handful of area residents.


The Spanish took control of West Florida from the British in 1781. Spain would hold the site until 1791 when a Spanish land grant deeded the site to Thomas Calvit, a prominent territorial Mississippi landholder. As settlements along the Mississippi River grew, so did the importance of the port of Petit Gulf. In 1814, the name of the town was changed to honor Judge Thomas Rodney, the territorial magistrate who presided at the Aaron Burr hearing.


Dr. Rush Nutt's Laurel Hill Plantation House outside of Rodney, MississippiOne of the earliest and most influential settlers of the area was Dr. Rush Nutt, a physician, planter, scientist, and author of a multi-volume diary of travels on the Natchez Trace. A native of Virginia, Nutt grew up to earn a medical degree at the University of Pennsylvania. After graduating, he set out on horseback to tour the "Southwest" in 1905. Settling in Petit Gulf, he married, set up a medical practice and bought a large plantation. Calling his plantation Laurel Hill, he built a large mansion in about 1815.


When Mississippi was admitted as a state in 1817, Petit Gulf very nearly became the state's first capitol, missing out to old Washington, near Natchez, by only three votes. In 1818, the Mississippi Legislature granted a charter of incorporation to the Presbyterian Church. In the beginning the congregation would meet wherever they could, including at a local barroom. More ...


Featured Product:

Personalized Wall Art

Check out the great selection of personalized wall art at Legends General Store. From Man Cave signs to Memorial Canvas Prints! See our selection HERE.


What our readers are saying about Legends Of America.

This site gave me more information about what I was researching; African American pioneers, cowboys and Nicodemus Kansas. After realizing it was chocked full of other information about all sorts of things I refer to it often. Great Site! - Marlene in Pennsylvania.

"Legends of America", I can't express the appreciation and excitement I have that someone was blessed with the time, energy, and compassion to take on such a job that will preserve, at least a glimpse, of what Great Americans and Heroes before us saw and lived. The Great United States of America has been blessed with a countless breeds of individuals who sought the goodness of life and pushed to see that their children and their children's children would have good, and possibly, better life in this wonderful country. This may be just a glimpse, but without Legends of America, we wouldn't even have that. Thank you L of A for allowing me the opportunity to imagine the busy activity that once crowded these remarkable remains that you have captured....  James in Florida

The Old West

Pioneer Recollections - Over the years, many of you have expressed the desire to see the tales of "regular folks" -- not just those who made themselves famous through business success, politics, or dastardly deeds. This new category will give you a taste of that in "eye witness accounts" of their various experiences in the "Old West." We will continue to add new stories and tales, but, here's a look at a few you can see now:


Illinois to the California Goldfields in 1849 - At the age of 21, Lorenzo Dow Stephens heard the call of adventure and fortune and on March 28, 1849, joined an Illinois party bound for California goldfields. He would later write of his adventures in a book called Life Sketches of a Jayhawker of '49, published in 1916, where he described the trials and tribulations of the overland journey west, including Brigham Young's sermons at the Tabernacle in Salt Lake City , and the deaths of many along the trail.


Old Prospector And there's still more, including historic text, like A Pioneer Story and the Lost Blue Bucket Mine - On April 28, 1938, Captain W. H. Hembree, who was then working in a gold mine near Estacada, Oregon, was interviewed by the Andrew C. Sherbert of the Federal Writer's Project for his knowledge of pioneering days and what he might know about the legend of the Lost Blue Bucket Mine.


Crossing the Great Plains in Ox-Wagons - Harriet Scott Palmer recalls when she was but a girl of 11 years, "I distinctly remember many things connected with that far-off time when all of our western country was a wilderness. We were six months in crossing the plains in ox-wagons."


And More ...




Did you know? That you can see daily stories, from the Old West to Route 66, on our Legends Facebook Page?  it's a daily dose of Legends sure to please!


Learning Fun!

Feedback and Suggestions


We always appreciate feedback about the website and our newsletter. Do you have a suggestion about content that you would like to see, or perhaps, would like to contribute a photograph or a story? We would love to hear about it! We also want to hear about suggestions for improvement. See a link that doesn't work or a picture that doesn't appear -- please let us know. Just drop us a line at our Email address and tell us what you think.


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Legends of America


A Travel Guide for the

Nostalgic & Historic Minded


28926 Cedar Hill Loop

Warsaw, MO 65355



Kathy Weiser-Alexander


Dave Alexander
Owner/Operations Mgr.


Email - Kathy
Email - Dave

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