Categories
Historic America

Trevilian Station Battlefield in Louisa County, Virginia

Drive the battlefield where Union and Confederate forces clashed in one of the largest all-cavalry engagements of the war, and what some have called Gen. Custer’s “first last stand.”

The Battle of Trevilian Station was fought from June 11 to June 12, 1864 between Union cavalry commanded by Maj. Gen. Philip Sheridan and Confederate cavalry commanded by Maj. Gens. Wade Hampton and Fitzhugh Lee in Louisa County, Virginia during the American Civil War. This Confederate victory, part of Union Lt. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant’s Overland Campaign, was one of the largest cavalry fights of the war. Union forces failed to sever Robert E. Lee’s critical supply line, prolonging the war by months. It resulted in approximately 2,315 total casualties.

By the opening days of June 1864, the Union and Confederate armies had been locked in near-continuous deadly combat for a month. The two armies clashed in bloody battle after bloody battle, inching closer and closer to the Confederate capital of Richmond. After the Battle of Cold Harbor, Grant planned to slip away from Lee and cross the James River. He sent Maj. Gen. Philip Sheridan’s cavalry corps to destroy the Virginia Central Railroad, one of Lee’s main supply lines, as a diversion.

Categories
Mysterious America

Prince George Hotel

The former Prince George Hotel anchoring Kingston’s historic Market Square at 200 Ontario Street in Kingston, Ontario, Canada, is home to Haunted Walks Kingston, Canada’s original haunted tour. The former hotel has plenty of ghost stories of its own, but so does the Tir Nan Og Pub occupying a space on the ground floor, where furniture and doors are said to move on their own, silverware and glasses fall to the floor, and patrons are touched by unseen hands. No one seems to mind very much, as it continues to be a very popular watering hole.

Categories
Commentary

Where’s the Beef?

We should be celebrating the fact that innovation and entrepreneurship has brought a wide variety of food options to the table for people of all economic backgrounds, and not attacking a company for providing cheap food at a cheap price.

By all accounts, Taco Bell is a story of success. Since Glen Bell opened the first Taco Bell restaurant in Downey, California in 1962, the franchise has expanded to 7,072 restaurants with over 200,000 employees worldwide. In 2015, the company (which is currently owned by Yum! Brands) brought in $1.98 billion in revenue. It is no secret why this restaurant has experienced such growth.

Like its rivals in the fast food industry, Taco Bell specializes in offering meals to its customers at the cheapest possible price. In 2011, the company came under attack by a publicity-seeking law firm and a news media that was all-too-eager to exploit any potential controversy, no matter how frivolous. What should have been a story about how a private business feeds millions of people for what amounts to pocket change was instead a pseudo-investigation into what qualified as ground beef.

No one has ever gone into a Taco Bell under the illusion they were purchasing quality food, because we are all aware that you cannot stuff 460 calories into a burrito and charge 99 cents without sacrificing something. Its cheapness is the foundation of its appeal, and even the company acknowledges this fact with its advertising slogans “Big Variety, Small Price,” and “Why Pay More?”

Categories
Photography Roadside America

Philco

Sign for Trading Post Complete Home Furnishings at 314 N Sycamore Street in Petersburg, VA. Philco, founded in 1919, was an electronics brand specializing in radios, televisions, and household appliances.

Categories
Historic America Photography

Stories in Stone: Daniel D. Bidwell

Brig. Gen. Daniel Davidson Bidwell (1819-1864) was born in Buffalo, New York and served in the state militia prior to the Civil War. He became colonel of the 49th New York Volunteer Infantry in August 1861. He fought at the head of his regiment in the Battle of Chancellorsville and was present at Gettysburg, although his unit wasn’t involved in the fighting. He took command of a brigade for U.S. Grant’s Overland Campaign, but he was not promoted to brigadier general until August 1864.

On October 19, 1864, a Confederate surprise attack initially routed Union forces at the Battle of Cedar Creek. Bidwell’s brigade was instrumental in slowing their attack and buying time for reinforcements. Bidwell himself was mortally wounded by an artillery shell and died on the field, asking the surgeon to “Tell them I died at my post doing my duty.” He is buried in Forest Lawn Cemetery, at 1411 Delaware Avenue in Buffalo, New York.

Categories
Historic America Photography

Mohawk Warrior

This bronze statue of a Mohawk brave reaching to take a drink of water from a spring sits in Lake George Battlefield Park in Warren County, New York. Sculptor Alexander Phimister Proctor completed the statue (which is also a working fountain) for Commissioner of Conservation for New York State George Pratt in 1921. It has sat beside this quiet woodland pond ever since. Lake George was the scene of several battles between the French, British, and their native allies. Mohawk Indians fought on both sides.

Categories
Commentary

When “Fairness” is No Longer Fair

When a girl was denied admittance to her school’s gifted program because her family’s income was too high, it exposed the inherent unfairness of certain policies designed to redress economic inequality in public school.

In February 2010, Hannah Workman, a fifth grader and straight-A student in Florida’s Clay County School District, was denied entrance to her elementary school’s gifted program because she did not score high enough on the entrance exam. Remarkably, her mother later learned that Hannah would have scored high enough to enter the program if her family earned less. 

The standards on the entrance exam, she discovered, were based on income level and English proficiency. Students who qualified for free or reduced lunch or who spoke limited English only had to score in the 90s to qualify, while other children needed to score at least 130.

Though seemingly a minor footnote in the story of America’s public schools, the testing policy of this Florida school district cuts to the core of the philosophical debate over the role of education raging among educators and policy makers. It reveals much about the changing definition of “fairness” and the problem with using publicly-funded education to redress social inequality.