Photography Roadside America

Fisher’s Bar

This sign for Fisher’s Bar, 719 Superior Street in Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin, has all the sports. In business since 1933.

Historic America Photography

Stories in Stone: CPL Lewis W. Carlisle

Monument to CPL Lewis W. Carlisle (1878-1898) in Brookside Cemetery, at Watertown Center Loop and Brookside Drive, Watertown, Jefferson County, New York. From July 1 to Jul 3, 1898, during the Spanish-American War, American troops stormed the fortified village of El Caney, Cuba and overran San Juan Ridge, while the U.S. Navy blockaded Santiago harbor. Although the 71st NY was held in reserve and many of its soldiers were sick with malaria and yellow fever, it came under enemy fire. CPL Carlisle, in Company M, was wounded on July 2 and died 26 days later of typhoid fever. His epitaph reads:

He died for the cause of humanity.

Historic America

Williamsburg Gunpowder Incident: The Spark that (Almost) Ignited the Revolution

In 1775, the ‘shot heard ’round the world’ almost occurred in Williamsburg, Virginia and not Lexington and Concord. Cooler heads prevailed.

Most people are familiar with the outbreak of the Revolutionary War on April 19, 1775, with the Battles of Lexington and Concord in Massachusetts. However, seemingly few people are familiar with the Gunpowder Affair: a near simultaneous outbreak on a second front in Virginia the very next day. Today, you can visit a reconstruction of the magazine where it all happened.

By April of 1775, tensions were high. The Intolerable Acts, a series of laws that closed the Boston port, transferred greater control to Royal governors, and allowed quartering of British troops among other things, had drawn ire throughout the colonies. Meanwhile, word had spread at the First Continental Congress of General Thomas Gage’s removal of gunpowder from an installation near Boston, further exacerbating tensions.

In Virginia, opposition to British rule was hitting a fervor. Patrick Henry’s famous “give me liberty or give me death” speech in March of 1775 led Virginia Royal Governor Lord Dunmore to grow weary of the presence of militias. He hatched a plan to remove gunpowder from a magazine in Williamsburg under the shadow of nightfall.

Mysterious America Photography

Culver House

Culver House, 412 W. Prairie Avenue in Decatur, Illinois, a beautiful redbrick Queen Ann style home, took 20 years to be built. John and Florence Culver began construction in 1881 and it wasn’t finished until 1901. John H. Culver was a prominent local businessman who owned an electric and telephone company. Shortly after his family moved in, it experienced an frightening event when a dark figure emerged from the fireplace. This unsettling apparition appeared during a spate of sightings of a “black ghost” in the area. Ever since, the house has a reputation for being haunted. The Historic Decatur Foundation has worked hard to restore it to its former glory.


Fortuna and the Free Market

“And thus does Fortune’s wheel turn treacherously
And out of happiness bring men to sorrow.”
~ Geoffrey Chaucer

Imagine you and another person are standing around a roulette wheel at a high-end casino. You place $50 on black and the other man places $50 on red. The ball has landed on a black or red number a dozen times, and you are confident it will land on either black or red once again. Both you and the gentleman are hoping to double your money.

Your odds are not 50/50, however. In an American roulette wheel, there is a single zero and a double zero, both green, nestled among the other 36 numbers. The odds of hitting these are slim, and so you both shrug off that probability.

The attendant calls for final bets, and at the last minute, an elderly lady places $5 on zero. The wheel spins. The ball lands on the single green zero, and the elderly lady walks away with $180.

Historic America Photography

Stories in Stone: Charles J. Hull

Wealthy real estate developer Charles Jerold Hull (1820-1889) was best known for donating his house at 800 S. Halsted Street in Chicago, Illinois to aid newly arrived immigrants. Social reformer Jane Addams leased his home and operated it as Hull House from 1889 to the 1960s. Hull died in 1889 of Bright’s Disease. His monument in Rosehill Cemetery, 5800 N. Ravenswood Avenue in Chicago, Illinois, was designed by Richard Henry Park in 1891.

Historic America

Second Winchester Battlefield in Frederick County, Virginia

In the first major infantry battle of the Gettysburg Campaign, Confederate forces dealt a crushing blow to Union designs in the Shenandoah. Today you can visit the remains of a fort where they fought.

The battles of Second Winchester and Stephenson’s Depot were fought from June 13 to 15, 1863 between Union forces commanded by Maj. Gen. Robert H. Milroy and Confederate forces commanded by Lt. Gen. Richard S. Ewell in Frederick County, Virginia during the American Civil War. These dramatic Confederate victories in the Gettysburg Campaign’s opening phase cleared a path through the Shenandoah Valley for Gen. Robert E. Lee’s army, allowing it to invade Maryland and Pennsylvania. Taken together, the battles were among the most lopsided of the war, with 4,747 total casualties, mostly Union prisoners.

On June 1, 1863, Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia slipped away from the Union Army of the Potomac, commanded by Maj. Gen. Joseph Hooker, and headed north to invade Pennsylvania. Gen. Robert E. Lee intended to use the Shenandoah Valley as a corridor to invade the north, with the Blue Ridge Mountains hiding his movements from the enemy. To do so, he first needed to clear the 8,324-man Federal garrison commanded by Maj. Gen. Robert H. Milroy at Winchester, Virginia. He entrusted his Second Corps commander Lt. Gen. Richard S. Ewell with the task.

Milroy had occupied the area around Winchester since late December 1862, digging fortifications to protect his supply depot as well as the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad farther north. On June 12, Ewell took his three divisions and one cavalry brigade, for a total of 19,000 men, through Chester’s Gap into the Shenandoah Valley. He sent one division under Maj. Gen. Robert E. Rodes northeast to cut off the Federal retreat and his other two divisions under Maj. Gen. Jubal A. Early and Maj. Gen. Edward “Allegheny” Johnson to directly attack Milroy at Winchester.