Photography Roadside America

McDonald’s Franchise Museum (demolished)

I grew up in Des Plaines, Illinois, so when a movie about Ray Kroc called The Founder (2016) came out, I’ll admit I watched eagerly for any mention of my former hometown. Ray Kroc was born in Oak Park, Illinois and he opened his first McDonald’s franchise on Lee Street in Des Plaines in 1955.

I passed by the McDonald’s museum hundreds of times, but never visited (it was actually a replica built in 1985). Unfortunately, by the time the movie came out, the museum had closed and was slated for demolition. When I visited a few years ago, the old sign and part of the arches had already been removed. Demolition was completed in August 2018.

Historic America Photography


Boeing B-29 Superfortress “Bockscar” at the National Museum of the United States Air Force in Dayton, Ohio. This was the B-29 that dropped the atomic bomb, nicknamed “Fat Man”, on Nagasaki on August 9, 1945. Bockscar was commanded by Maj. Charles W. Sweeney. Its single atom bomb destroyed approximately 44% of Nagasaki, killing 35,000 people and injuring 60,000.

Mysterious America Photography

Valentown Hall

Levi Valentine built this hall at the junction of High Street and Valentine Road in Victor, New York in 1879 in the hopes of creating a commercial center for a new town along a railroad. However, the railroad never came and the building was never used. It would have been one of the first indoor shopping malls in the country. Since being purchased by J. Sheldon Fisher in 1940, it has operated as a museum and was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1997.

Rumors abound that the old building is haunted–vehemently denied by its current owners. However, in 2006 it appeared on an episode of Ghost Hunters and in 2010 on an episode of Fact or Faked: Paranormal Files. One unverified story is that a jealous husband committed a murder in the fourth-floor ballroom, and that human remains were found in the basement. The ghosts are said to be either attracted to or attached to the hundreds of antiques housed at Valentown.

Historic America Photography

Strawberry Bitch

Consolidated B-24D Liberator “Strawberry Bitch” at the National Museum of the United States Air Force in Dayton, Ohio. The B-24 was a long range bomber that served in every theater during World War 2. This bomber, SN 42-72843, flew with the 512th Bomb Squadron out of North Africa in 1943 and 1944. It flew over 50 combat missions. Read its combat history here.

Mysterious America

The Falling Ghosts of Carlyle House Historic Park

From colonial aristocratic manor to dilapidated squatter’s nest to historic landmark, Carlyle House has survived centuries, but eyewitnesses claim something otherworldly has survived with it.

A Colonial Era ruin uncovered after decades hidden behind an antebellum hotel should be enough to ignite storytellers’ imaginations, but it’s reports of numerous apparitions that make Carlyle House in Alexandria, Virginia a mandatory stop on any local ghost tour. Built by Scottish merchant John Carlyle on premier lots along the Potomac River from 1751 to 1753, this mid-Georgian stone manor is older than our country. History was made in its parlor.

John Carlyle (1720-1780) began his career as an apprentice to an English merchant, but soon made his own fortune in the British colonies. He married Sarah Fairfax, daughter of William Fairfax, who was a cousin to the largest land owner in Virginia. Carlyle himself became quite wealthy, with three plantations, dozens of slaves, and several business interests.

In the French and Indian War, British General Edward Braddock used Carlyle House as his headquarters before he embarked on his ill-fated campaign into western Pennsylvania. During a conference with colonial governors at the house, Braddock and the governors clashed over British demands for the colonies to fund his campaign, an early source of tension that later led to the Revolutionary War.

Mysterious America

Eavesdrop on Voices from the Past at the Burgwin-Wright House

Remnants of a Colonial-Era jail where prisoners were held in appalling conditions make this centuries-old home ripe for ghostly tales.

Click to expand photos.

In its early days as a British colony, North Carolina was perceived as a backwoods territory full of crime, indentured servants, pirates, and other rough characters. Many ended up locked behind iron bars in the old Wilmington jail, over which John Burgwin built this home. Today, you can tour the house and see its history firsthand, but don’t be surprised if you hear something unusual.

Wilmington’s original wood, brick, and stone jail, known as a gaol, stood at the corner of Market and Third Streets from 1744 to 1768, when it burned in a fire. Nearby was Wilmington’s historic public courtyard, where debtors and lawbreakers were hanged or pilloried. Sensing an opportunity, a British merchant named John Burgwin purchased the property, along with its stone foundations. He built a handsome Georgian-Style home where he could conduct business while in town.

Ingenious construction methods allowed the home to remain cool over the hot summer months, but the Burgwin family spent most of their time on their plantation outside of town. Joshua Grainger Wright and his wife Susan purchased the house from Burgwin in 1799. The Wright family lived there until 1869. Its rooms are well-furnished with eighteenth and nineteenth century antiques, reflecting how these families lived.

Mysterious America

A Ghostly Prisoner Strolls the Parapets at Fort Henry National Historic Site

Built for a war with the U.S. that never came, this nineteenth century Canadian fortress held prisoners hanged for rebellion. Do their restless ghosts still walk these grounds?

Built between 1832 and 1836, Fort Henry’s stone walls were completed just in time for the Rebellions of 1837–1838, which sought to overthrow the Canadian colonial government in favor of a republic. Nils von Schoultz, who led rebel forces at the Battle of the Windmill, was executed there. Today, his ghost is among many that visitors claim to encounter in the twilight hours. Paranormal-themed tours and an annual haunted house have capitalized on these strange tales and helped make this Canada’s most famous haunt.

The War of 1812 left relations between the United States and Great Britain at an all-time low. Raids along the Saint Lawrence River were common during the war, and Kingston, Ontario in what was then Upper Canada was seen as potentially vulnerable. The British eyed Point Henry as an ideal place for what became known as the “Citadel of Upper Canada”.

Early in the war, British Canadians erected a blockhouse and artillery battery on Point Henry to help defend Kingston and its naval dockyards. They continued fortifying it throughout the war, calling it Fort Henry after Henry Hamilton, one-time Lieutenant-Governor of the Province of Quebec and Governor of Bermuda.