Saturday, December 25, 2010

Early Christmas Morning Ride

The weather outside is [going to be] frightful [at least for South Carolina] later today:

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ ALERT
437 AM EST SAT DEC 25 2010
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ I sneak out early this morning, before anyone else is up, for a quick ride. 

It is 32 degrees, and I am out by 6:30, headed southeastward on SC-8 to Williamston, Pelzer, and Ware Place.  I watch the sun rise as I ride along.  The continually changing beauty I enjoy this morning can only be of God.

I turn back toward Greenville, and ride through the nearly deserted streets toward home.  On the way, I notice the clouds have formed in rippled patterns.  It looks like snow to me.  I have never seen clouds like this before.   Maybe it is another gift from above.

When I reach home, about 9:00, the temperature has only risen to 35 degrees, but I am not too chilled from my short 71-mile ride this morning.  I'm glad I went, as I may not be able to go out again for several days if the snow materializes. 

I find another surprise at home.

Someone has left presents under the Christmas tree, and some of them have my name on them! 

No coal this year for Bucky!

Merry Christmas to All 


It is at this special time of year, that we would do well to hear the Christmas story once more.

The prophet Isaiah.wrote about the coming of Jesus to earth about seven hundred years beforehand: 

9:7 For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given: and The Government shall be upon His Shoulder: and His Name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The Mighty GOD, The Everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. 9:7 Of the increase of His Government and peace there shall be no end, upon the Throne of David, and upon His Kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the LORD of Hosts will perform this. 

Luke wrote of the birth about thirty years after Jesus' death:
2:1 And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed. 2:2 (And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.) 2:3 And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city. 2:4 And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:) 2:5 To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with Child. 2:6 And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered.

2:5 And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling clothes, and laid Him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.

2:8 And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. 2:9 And, lo, the angel of the LORD came upon them, and the glory of the LORD shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. 2:10 And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. 2:11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the LORD. 2:12 And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the Babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. 2:13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, 2:14 Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men. 2:15 And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into Heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the LORD hath made known unto us. 2:16 And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the Babe lying in a manger. 2:17 And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this Child. 2:18 And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds. 2:19 But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart. 2:20 And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them. 2:21 And when eight days were accomplished for the circumcising of the Child, His Name was called JESUS, which was so named of the angel before He was conceived in the womb.

If you don't know Jesus Christ as your living savior, then find a church that preaches from the Bible, and where they believe that it is the inerrant word recorded by writers inspired by God.

They can explain the wonder of the birth of Jesus Christ and what it means to you and me. 

Friday, December 17, 2010

A Georgia High Point (but not the highest)

November 27, 2010.  It was a cold morning -- about 32 degrees F -- so I did not think it was a good idea to go up onto the Blue Ridge Escarpment, in case there might be ice or slippery leaves on the twisty roads.  I elected instead to go west to revisit a couple of places I enjoyed near Toccoa Georgia.

I have already installed my Hippo Hands for the winter, and my heated grips are at the ready to keep my tender little hands warm inside them.  I dress warmly, as is the usual case, and I am ready to go.

Toccoa is about fifty-five miles from home, and I take one of the quicker roads, US-123, to get there.  I detour a bit on SC-93 into downtown Clemson South Carolina, since I have not been there in a long time.  I find that the tailgaters have already started setting up at 9:00 AM, despite the fact that the football game is at 7:00 PM.  Devoted, those Tigers fans.  As I leave town, I note that there is a Norfolk Southern freight train heading in the same general direction as I am. Maybe I'll see it again along the way.

Oh. One good place to go to eat while in Clemson is Sardi's Den Restaurant.  They make some mouth-watering ribs there.  I had some that last time through.  They're located at 520 Old Greenville Hwy, Clemson, SC 29631, 864-654-7427. 

I continue south (actually more west than south) on US-123, through sweeping curves, and finally reach the town of Toccoa.  I cruise through town, spotting the railroad station I visited the last time, and run toward the Trestle Falls housing development.  From there I can view the North Broad [railroad] Trestle, also known as the Wells Viaduct.  As an engineer, I am intrigued by the structure, built in 1919, which spans 1500 feet and is 202 feet above the North Broad River.

It can be seen from the location at the end of the court that starts at Pushpin "B" on this map.

View Larger Map

I go a little beyond the place where I can view the trestle because I want to find the waterfall that is also here somewhere.  (That's why they call this Trestle Falls.)  I go to the very end of the road, but only find a pair of aggressively barking dogs there.  I don't stick around since one of the dogs -- a pit bull looking thing -- is nipping at my leg.   ATGATT helps many situations. I hurry out of there, so I never spot the falls. 

I go back to the place where I can see the trestle, set up my camera, and wait for a train.  The one that I have been pacing since home finally arrives, heralded by its horn before I can see it or hear the rumble of the locomotives.  I didn't think I had been riding that much faster than it has been traveling: Maybe the train stopped somewhere on the way here.

The track is upgrade to the west, so the locomotives are laboring a bit here.  I get a few shots, and after the train passes, I hear dirt bikes snarling somewhere in the hills on the far side of the trestle.  I heard them the last time I was here and had walked down to the base of the trestle, so there must be some good places to ride. In fact, the last time, I had hoped that they would give me a ride back to street level from the base of the trestle.  (They didn't show, so I had to hoof it up.) 

I later looked at a Google satellite view, and found several trails over there the dirt bikers might have been using.  

Here is a panorama of the trestle, made using PixMaker Pro.   
It is not such a good time of year to take a photo, as the trees are not very colorful.  I'll have to come back again in the spring or fall.

Here is an aerial photo taken by Joe Pusey and posted on the website. It shows an Amtrak passenger train pulled by a GE P42DC locomotive on February 26, 2006, viewed from a Cessna 152 about 1500 above grade level.
That's quite a view. My vantage point today is from about the eight o'clock direction. 

I pack up my camera, remount, and then head to my other destination today, one that I have not visited previously, but wrote about last time. 

That place is Currahee Mountain.  Technically a part of the Georgia Piedmont or "foothill" province, Currahee Mountain rises abruptly about 800 vertical feet (240 m) above the local topography and is the highest peak in Stephens County. Part of the mountain is in the Chattahoochee National Forest. On clear days, the peak's 1,735-foot (529 m) summit is visible for many miles and is a prominent landmark to the southeast of Georgia's Blue Ridge Mountain crest.

My view approaching the mountain.

The name Currahee (quu-wa-hi), given by the Cherokee Indians, is translated "Stands alone." During the Indian Wars the famous Indian fighter, Andrew Jackson, engaged the Indians at Fort Hill near Currahee Mountain in the "Battle of Currahee".

During World War II, the mountain again became a part of a war. The U.S. Army selected Currahee as the site for its first Parachute Infantry Training Center to be named Camp Toccoa.

You may recall that the mountain was still again made famous more recently by Tom Hanks' and Steven Spielberg's television miniseries Band of Brothers, in which it was featured as a training site of the Paratroopers at Camp Toccoa.  They ran up and down Currahee as part of their training. The name of the mountain became the motto for these paratroopers, including the famous quote, "Three miles up, three miles down".

The last time I visited Toccoa, back in March 2010, I rode right past the road to the top of the mountain, but this time I find it and check it out.  It is at Pushpin "D" on the map above.  I park at the bottom, and walk a few hundred feet up the packed dirt road (puff, puff) to see if it might be passable on my Kawasaki Ninja 650R with street tires.

I decide that it is [you've heard that before, right?], so I walk back down (much easier, so less puffing) to the bike, and start to ride up. 

The road is known as FS65, or the Colonel Robert Sink Memorial Trail.  It is marked by this sign at the bottom:
Colonel Sink was the first Commanding Officer of the 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment of Camp Toccoa, the “Five-O-Sinks”.  He was born April 3, 1905 and died December 13, 1965.

Just above the beginning of the road, I spot the only remnant of Camp Toccoa; a block building that was the mess hall.  It sits behind a fence on a corner of the Milliken and Company textile plant property, so it is not accessible. 

I continue onward and mostly upward.  There are a few roads branching off but I stay on the main road. Even though it rained a couple of days ago, the road is nicely packed dirt and gravel in most places.  There is occasionally some loose stone and many washboard sections.  At 0.5 mile there's an open gate. At 1.4 miles there's a sign saying, "closed 10 P.M. to 7 A.M.". At 2.8 miles, there's a good place to park near some large rocks with graffiti covering them.

It's possible to ride slightly further, to very near the summit.  There are several communication towers and buildings at the top, all with chain link fences around them, making the area somewhat unsightly.  Pushpin "C" is at the summit. 

The best view is from near the graffitid rocks, so I go back down there and stop again.  As I do, I note two men and two boys -- maybe a grandfather, his son, and grandsons -- standing and peering outward.  As I approach, the smaller boy -- about ten -- turns, his eyes become wide, and he nudges the other boy to look at what is coming.  I find a reasonably level place to park, turn off the engine, and dismount.  I don't bother taking off my helmet or gloves, since I am only going to take a few pictures.  I dig my camera out of the tank bag, then say hello to the group, and walk over to absorb the scenery.  As I do, I explain to the kids the importance of all the protective gear when riding a motorcycle.

After a few minutes, the group of gents piles into their car and go off toward the summit, the boys watching continuously out the rear window.  I notice this and give them a thumbs up.  They return it eagerly with wide smiles.  I hope I made their day -- as they did mine.

Here are a few pics from the graffiti rocks.

A view to the right.  

A view to the left.  That is a rock quarry on the far left.  The trestle is further to the left, though it is not visible from here. 

And a panorama.
That is my bike on the far right hiding behind some tree branches.  

After taking in the view from this point on the mountain, I start back down.  I feel a bit more sure of myself in the few places where there is loose gravel, so I travel at a higher speed on the way down.  The washboard sections nearly vibrate my fillings loose, so I stand on the pegs like a dirt biker to reduce the potential dental bill.  For the engineers amongst us, here is a website that shows how washboarding begins

The road at the base of the mountain, Dick's Hill Parkway, is smooth and a little curvy from the base of the mountain to the intersection of US-123 and GA-17.  It is fun to ride it.  In fact the Parkway toward the northwest from the base of the mountain is nice too, and it intersects again with US-125 a little further on, so you can easily get back to Toccoa that way if you wish. 

As I pass through Toccoa again, I spot a mural on the side of a building.  You know that I like public murals, as I have written about the ones in Piedmont, and in Donalds and Iva, South Carolina.  

This one is painted on the side of the Royal Crown Cola Bottling Company. They also bottle Nehi, the drink of Radar O'Reilly on M.A.S.H
(That is a pile of cast iron pipe in front of the mural.)

After I returned home, I made a few calls so I could report to you, loyal readers, about this mural.  I connected with the artist, one Pat Wise, and spoke with her on the phone.  She was happy to relate the story to me. 

She said it is a whimsical piece showing several local attractions and historical sites including Toccoa Falls (with some artistic license applied), Travelers Rest east of Toccoa along the old Unicoi Turnpike, Lake Hartwell complete with sailboats and a biplane in flight over it, some whimsical houses and a church, and a golfer who some say looks a little like Ms. Wise's mustachioed husband.  I wrote about some of these places in my blog entry, Two Trips to Toccoa

Here is a closeup of the golfer's form., unique.  (I am not a golfer, however, so who am I to say.) 

As an aside, her hubby broke his leg (ouch) just after she started painting this mural, causing a delay in work while she helped him convalesce.  Ms. Wise also spoke warmly about inscribing the name of her then newly born granddaughter on one of the sailboats on the lake. 

The final brush strokes were applied on July 4, 2003.  Another notable and nearby mural done by Ms. Wise is located in the Toccoa Airport terminal.  I'll have to visit there some time in future. By the way, I don't think she had anything to do with the "artwork" on the rocks at Currahee Mountain that I saw earlier today. 

Since 1999, Ms. Wise has run her very own Laurel Hollow Decorative Art Studio, not far from Travelers Rest, where she conducts classes.  (She says she has good intentions of updating her website soon.) 

I explore Toccoa a bit more, discover the forbidden motorcycle test course, then head back on US-123 to Westminster, take SC-183 to Walhalla, and eventually reach SC-11, the Cherokee Foothills Scenic Highway, then take US-178 home. 

I have come to like the section of US-178 between SC-11 and Pickens, as a mildly curvy, well-paved stretch, with curves not nearly as tight as on the same road north of SC-11.  The sportier bikers like the latter better, and so might I one day, but for now, I'll go south. 

My route of 167 miles today:

View Larger Map

It has warmed up to 57 degrees by the time I reach home, and it has been an enjoyable day out seeing some old and new sights on an easy route. 

Nose Bleed Info:

  • Elevation of a peak is the height of the peak's summit above sea level.
  • Prominence of a peak is the height of the peak’s summit above the lowest contour line encircling it and no higher summit. If the peak's prominence is P feet, to get from the summit to any higher terrain one must descend at least P feet.

Nearby Peaks of Interest:
  • Currahee Mountain is the 23rd highest peak in Georgia, at 1735 above sea level with a prominence of about 800 feet.  Here is a video of a car trip from bottom to top
  • The highest point in Georgia is Brasstown Bald at 4783 feet above sea level with a prominence of 2107 feet. 
  • The highest point in South Carolina is Sassafras Mountain at 3564 feet above sea level with a prominence of 754 feet.
  • The highest point in North Carolina (and the highest point in the eastern United States) is Mount Mitchell at 6684 feet above sea level with a prominence of 6089 feet.
You can ride to the top of all of these mountains.


Sunday, December 5, 2010

Harangue -- Georgia Department of Driver Services

harangue: An impassioned, disputatious public speech; A tirade or rant, whether spoken or written; To give a forceful and lengthy lecture or criticism to someone.

I had occasion to ride to Toccoa Georgia last weekend, and toured several sights that are of interest.  I will report on them soon, but this harangue needs to be brought up immediately because it is so representative of government bureaucracy.  Read on to find out why. 

I happened across the Georgia Department of Driver Services [DDS] driver test lot in town, where they test the parking skills of automobile drivers, and assess the maneuvering skills of motorcycle license seekers.  The lot is lined out for both type of tests, and there were traffic cones lining the "parking space" for use in auto driver parallel parking testing.  (Remember how difficult that was to learn?) 

The motorcycle course delineations were painted on the sealed surface of the lot, but some of the seal coat had worn off and remnants of a different course were visible in many places.  This was a bit confusing; I imagine more so for a relatively inexperienced rider.

It was also evident that the pavement surface had been subjected to considerable stress in the stopping distance portion of the test.  Not only is the surface worn, but there are deep scrapes.  Several people must have lost control in that part of the test.

Well, these things happen, and it is better to have them happen in a controlled environment like this than on the road with traffic and other hazards. 

...or so I thought.

After I looked over the course, and tried out a few of the exercises (you can never have enough low-speed practice), I noticed a sign near the lot entrance.

I had apparently been breaking the law.  Oops. 

So, here is a workable, if not perfect, motorcycle skills course layout, but use of it for practice is forbidden. 

I called the Driver Services office there, and after a ten-minute wait spoke with a bored and disinterested woman who told me that it was, indeed, true that the lot is off limits to those seeking to practice either in a car or on a motorcycle.

I probed a bit further, and she managed to tell me that the motorcycle course is also available for motorcycle classes given by the state, similar to Motorcycle Safety Foundation classes.  The test course is only for use during those classes and for license testing.  I persisted, and asked whether they also offer auto driver training.  No, they don't. 

So here is a government facility, funded by taxpayers, that cannot be used to develop the skills it is intended to assess, while in the relative safety of a deserted parking lot. 

What a stupid waste. This is one more reason to vote the bureaucrats out at every election, and to let them know of our outrage over their wasteful ways. 

I did, with the bored woman on the phone.  I am sure she didn't care, but you, kind readers in Georgia, could make her care. The general DDS phone number is 866-203-4110.  Select option 1, then option 3 to speak with a real person -- maybe even her.  Ask for her supervisor, too.  Then onward and upward to the higher offices of the land! 

...if you can bear the interminable wait for someone to come to the phone.   

Before I left, I took a few more laps around the course.  Naughty, naughty, Bucky. 



Thursday, November 25, 2010

Thanksgiving Day

This is an important day in the history of these United States.  Read why that is, in this excerpt from a book by Matthew Spalding called “We Still Hold These Truths: Rediscovering Our Principles, Reclaiming Our Future” (ISI).


"Of the many influences that shaped the American concept of liberty, the first and most formative was faith. More than anything else, religion formed the backbone of colonial culture and defined its moral horizon.

"This religious character was largely a product of the fact that many came to the New World in search of religious liberty—to freely practice and spread their faith.

"As a whole, America’s Founders were strongly religious. Thanksgiving proclamations, as official statements of the American president, underscore the Founders’ faith. Some were more traditional, such as John Jay and John Witherspoon. Some were more skeptical of religious institutions and doctrines, such as Thomas Paine and Thomas Jefferson.

"But the vast majority of the Founders were firmly in the mainstream of religious belief. They understood God as having created man with an immortal soul, as actively involved in human affairs and as “the Supreme Judge of the world”—in the words of the Declaration of Independence.

"The day after approving the First Amendment to the Constitution and its protections of religious liberty, Congress called upon the president to “recommend to the people of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer, to be observed by acknowledging, with grateful hearts, the many signal favors of Almighty God.”

"President George Washington responded by proclaiming Nov. 26, 1789 the first official Thanksgiving. He noted:

'It is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly implore his protection and favor.'
"Even the deists among the Founders—and it is by no means the case that they were mostly deists, as some have claimed—held that God created the world and determined the rules of human action.
Wrote Paine:
'It is a fool only, and not the philosopher, nor even the prudent man, that will live as if there were no God.'
"In 1620, more than 150 years before Washington’s first Thanksgiving proclamation, a small group of pilgrims granted land by King James arrived in what is now New England. They wrote out the Mayflower Compact creating their own political community “for the Glory of God and advancement of the Christian Faith and Honour of our King and Country.” This was, in essence, a social contract to form a body politic for the sake of survival.

"The Puritans came to America believing “their errand was not a mere scouting expedition: it was an essential maneuver in the drama of Christendom,” writes Perry Miller, pre-eminent historian of the subject. “These Puritans did not flee to America; they went in order to work out that complete reformation which was not yet accomplished in England and Europe.”

"The British colonists were overwhelmingly Christian and overwhelmingly Protestant. Congregationalists dominated New England. New York had more Presbyterian and Dutch Reformed churches, along with the Church of England in lower counties. The South was largely Anglican, with some Presbyterian, Quaker and Baptist populations. The Baptists took a much more visible role, particularly in the Carolinas, in the mid-1700s.

"During the early decades of the 18th century, the main churches grew at a rapid and astonishing rate, according to research by James Hutson of the Library of Congress. This growth was fueled in large part by the Great Awakening, the religious revival of the 1730s and 1740s, but it continued. Throughout the 1770s, some 70 percent to 80 percent of the population attended church on a regular basis.

"One can speculate about the details of each Founder’s faith. But we know the Founders as a whole took religious beliefs seriously and understood religion, Christianity in particular, was a necessary component of republican government.

"That there are laws of God that exist prior to, outside of and above the laws of the state necessarily means the laws of the state are limited and controlled by a higher or transpolitical authority. Take the injunction in the Bible to “render unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s, and unto God the things that are God’s” (Matthew 22:21). In other words, although man has responsibilities to legitimate government authority, the state must not negate or replace man’s responsibilities to God.

"The distinction demanded a space for other institutions—church and religious communities, families and tribes—to exist and flourish. The idea of human dignity, that we are created in the image of God, forms the theological underpinning of human nature and human equality—core principles of liberty.

"The belief that all men are sinners is the theological equivalent of the commonsense observation that human beings are drawn to their passions and prone to be selfish. It also informs the political idea that no one is to be trusted with absolute power. At the same time, the idea that all are redeemable—that there is a divine spark in each person, as a young George Washington wrote in his childhood copybook—grounds the belief that all can govern themselves and are capable of justice and benevolence.

"These concepts in turn became crucial to the beginnings of liberty in America and creation of conditions favoring a yearning not only for self-government but for limited constitutional government. And for all of this we can give thanks."

[photo from Heritage Foundation website]

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Finally, a View From the Top of South Carolina

A while back, I wrote about the highest point in South Carolina, Sassafras Mountain.  It is not far from home and the road is an easy, if bumpy, ride to the top.

The only problem has been that there was no place to look off this 3564-foot peak into the distance at the surrounding mountains and valleys.  The trees prevented it.  More than once, I have ridden up there, dismounted, and walked as far as my riding boots would let me, but found none of the breathtaking views I had hoped for.

Well, that has changed.  They have cleared a few trees and other vegetation, and now there is a small platform from which you can see for miles. 

You will note that they also put up a discrete little sign to let visitors know that there is now a place to look over.  Actually, on a clear day, I might be able to read the sign from home if it weren't for the trees! 

Here is the overall map with the twelve-mile route to the top (Pushpin "B") from the Holly Springs Country Store at the intersection of US-178 and SC-11 (Pushpin "A"): 

View Larger Map

Here are some pictures from the top, looking approximately south,

then southwest,  

then west.

That shiny place to the right center of the first picture is Lake Keowee.  The shiny place to the right-center of the third picture is Lake Jocassee.  I have mentioned Lake Keowee before, as well as Lake Jocassee, from an off-paved-road adventure of mine. 

Here is a panorama -- my first effort -- created from four individual photographs using PixMaker Pro

I think you will agree that the top of South Carolina is now a very much more enjoyable place to see God's creation. 

If you go:

  • The road to the top of Sassafras Mountain starts at Rocky Bottom on F. Van Clayton Highway, at the sign to the Rocky Bottom Retreat and Conference Center of the Blind.  The road is paved, but is narrow and bumpy in many places.  Most of the potholes have been repaired.  There is only one hairpin turn, and the road is readily accessible on almost any type of motorcycle.  The parking lot is gravel.  The highest point is actually a short walk beyond a locked gate. The North Carolina state line is a short walk on a trail at the opposite end of the parking lot from the overlook. 
  • A website about Sassafras Mountain is here

Edit: find an update on Sassafras Mountain here.   


Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Veterans Day

History of Veterans Day  
(from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs)

World War I – known at the time as “The Great War” - officially ended when the Treaty of Versailles was signed on June 28, 1919, in the Palace of Versailles outside the town of Versailles, France. However, fighting ceased seven months earlier when an armistice, or temporary cessation of hostilities, between the Allied nations and Germany went into effect on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month. For that reason, November 11, 1918, is generally regarded as the end of “the war to end all wars.”
Soldiers of the 353rd Infantry near a church at Stenay, Meuse in France.
Soldiers of the 353rd Infantry near a church at Stenay, Meuse in France, wait for the end of hostilities.  This photo was taken at 10:58 a.m., on November 11, 1918, two minutes before the armistice ending World War I went into effect

In November 1919, President Wilson proclaimed November 11 as the first commemoration of Armistice Day with the following words: "To us in America, the reflections of Armistice Day will be filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country’s service and with gratitude for the victory, both because of the thing from which it has freed us and because of the opportunity it has given America to show her sympathy with peace and justice in the councils of the nations…"

The original concept for the celebration was for a day observed with parades and public meetings and a brief suspension of business beginning at 11:00 a.m.

The United States Congress officially recognized the end of World War I when it passed a concurrent resolution on June 4, 1926, with these words:
Whereas the 11th of November 1918, marked the cessation of the most destructive, sanguinary, and far reaching war in human annals and the resumption by the people of the United States of peaceful relations with other nations, which we hope may never again be severed, and

Whereas it is fitting that the recurring anniversary of this date should be commemorated with thanksgiving and prayer and exercises designed to perpetuate peace through good will and mutual understanding between nations; and

Whereas the legislatures of twenty-seven of our States have already declared November 11 to be a legal holiday: Therefore be it Resolved by the Senate (the House of Representatives concurring), that the President of the United States is requested to issue a proclamation calling upon the officials to display the flag of the United States on all Government buildings on November 11 and inviting the people of the United States to observe the day in schools and churches, or other suitable places, with appropriate ceremonies of friendly relations with all other peoples.
An Act (52 Stat. 351; 5 U. S. Code, Sec. 87a) approved May 13, 1938, made the 11th of November in each year a legal holiday—a day to be dedicated to the cause of world peace and to be thereafter celebrated and known as "Armistice Day." Armistice Day was primarily a day set aside to honor veterans of World War I, but in 1954, after World War II had required the greatest mobilization of soldiers, sailors, Marines and airmen in the Nation’s history; after American forces had fought aggression in Korea, the 83rd Congress, at the urging of the veterans service organizations, amended the Act of 1938 by striking out the word "Armistice" and inserting in its place the word "Veterans." With the approval of this legislation (Public Law 380) on June 1, 1954, November 11th became a day to honor American veterans of all wars.

Later that same year, on October 8th, President Dwight D. Eisenhower issued the first "Veterans Day Proclamation" which stated: "In order to insure proper and widespread observance of this anniversary, all veterans, all veterans' organizations, and the entire citizenry will wish to join hands in the common purpose. Toward this end, I am designating the Administrator of Veterans' Affairs as Chairman of a Veterans Day National Committee, which shall include such other persons as the Chairman may select, and which will coordinate at the national level necessary planning for the observance. I am also requesting the heads of all departments and agencies of the Executive branch of the Government to assist the National Committee in every way possible."
President Eisenhower signing HR7786, changing Armistice Day to Veterans Day.
President Eisenhower signing HR7786, changing Armistice Day to Veterans Day. From left: Alvin J. King, Wayne Richards, Arthur J. Connell, John T. Nation, Edward Rees, Richard L. Trombla, Howard W. Watts 

On that same day, President Eisenhower sent a letter to the Honorable Harvey V. Higley, Administrator of Veterans' Affairs (VA), designating him as Chairman of the Veterans Day National Committee.
In 1958, the White House advised VA's General Counsel that the 1954 designation of the VA Administrator as Chairman of the Veterans Day National Committee applied to all subsequent VA Administrators. Since March 1989 when VA was elevated to a cabinet level department, the Secretary of Veterans Affairs has served as the committee's chairman.

The Uniform Holiday Bill (Public Law 90-363 (82 Stat. 250)) was signed on June 28, 1968, and was intended to ensure three-day weekends for Federal employees by celebrating four national holidays on Mondays: Washington's Birthday, Memorial Day, Veterans Day, and Columbus Day. It was thought that these extended weekends would encourage travel, recreational and cultural activities and stimulate greater industrial and commercial production. Many states did not agree with this decision and continued to celebrate the holidays on their original dates.

The first Veterans Day under the new law was observed with much confusion on October 25, 1971. It was quite apparent that the commemoration of this day was a matter of historic and patriotic significance to a great number of our citizens, and so on September 20th, 1975, President Gerald R. Ford signed Public Law 94-97 (89 Stat. 479), which returned the annual observance of Veterans Day to its original date of November 11, beginning in 1978. This action supported the desires of the overwhelming majority of state legislatures, all major veterans service organizations and the American people.

Veterans Day continues to be observed on November 11, regardless of what day of the week on which it falls. The restoration of the observance of Veterans Day to November 11 not only preserves the historical significance of the date, but helps focus attention on the important purpose of Veterans Day: A celebration to honor America's veterans for their patriotism, love of country, and willingness to serve and sacrifice for the common good.

If you see a veteran, take a minute to thank him for his service, and for his helping preserve our freedom.  

Monday, October 25, 2010

Road to Nowhere, and a Good Jumping Off Place

October 16, 2010, a little more than a week ago. 

I have plans today to nab the current tag in our local tag game.  The weather is supposed to be clear but cool, so it should be ideal.  I think I know where the tag is located, and I intend to go there before anyone else gets it.

The tag is shown in this photo, and the clue follows:
"Here's a real challenge.  Let's see who can find 'no where.'  Well, at least that's where the road is supposed to lead.  You can just make out the 'secret tunnel' a little way past the barricade.  I guess that is a tunnel to nowhere. The pavement ends just the other side of the tunnel. 
The 8 miles prior to this picture is a lot of fun.
A picture of your bike at the barricade wins this tag."

I key in on the "road to nowhere" phrase, and find it on the map, near Bryson City North Carolina. 
It is a little over a hundred miles one way, so I want to get an early start.  I have mapped out the intended route, and find that I have not been on many of the roads.  Some of them appear to be quite twisty.  We'll see how it goes. 

Here is the way I want to go:

View Larger Map

I dress warmly for the ride, as the temperature is about 41 degrees F when I leave.  By the way, since it is getting to be cool weather again, it is good to review the gear I wear when it is cold.  It is in a posting called Dressing for Cold Weather Riding.  Catchy title, eh? 

The first part of the route is through familiar territory.  I head from Easley to Pickens and up a curvy section of US-178.  The Holly Springs Country Store is at the corner where I turn left onto SC-11, the Cherokee Foothills Scenic Highway.  This is an easy two-lane road in very good condition through here.  Most bikers use it to get from one twisty road to another, or for a leisurely, scenic jaunt to a restaurant. 

I turn north again in SC-130.  This is the road to Whitewater Falls and Bad Creek, places I have visited many times.  Before I reach either, however, I turn onto the Wigington Byway, a very short road with an overlook of Lake Jocassee part way along.  This leads to SC-107, the road that will take me most of the rest of the way.  The road passes very shortly into North Carolina.  It is pretty easy, with a few twists and turns. 

I pass by Lake Glenville, and follow the Tuckasegee River until a bit north of Cullowhee, where Western Carolina University has a campus.  At the town of Silva, I turn west again on a stretch of US-74.  It comes close to the Tuckasegee River again, and in Bryson City, I cross over the river.  I am getting close, now. 

I cross a railroad and seek out Everett Street, then follow it north.  It turns into Lakeview Drive.  This is known as the Road to Nowhere.  It gets lots of attention simply for its nickname, since it ends just beyond a tunnel inside the bounds of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

The road received its name from a dispute during the 1930s and ‘40s when Swain County gave up the majority of its private land to the federal government for the creation of Fontana Lake and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Hundreds of people were forced to leave the small communities that had been their homes for generations. The government flooded that land by building Fontana Dam. The hydroelectric power provided by the dam proved vital in helping the government build the atomic bomb in nearby Oak Ridge, Tenn.  By the way, Fontana Dam is the highest dam east of the Rocky Mountains, at 480 feet. 

The road that led to the area was flooded beneath the waters of the lake, cutting off access to a number of family cemeteries. The federal government made an agreement with Swain County to replace the road with a new one along the lake’s north shore, to be called the North Shore Road -- another catchy name. 

Construction of the road began in the 1960s but was halted because of an environmental issue, leaving the road though the tunnel completed, but nothing else. The environmental problems included rotten, unstable rock that would have required much larger cuts through the hills than expected.  It was deemed to be too expensive and damaging to the appearance of the parklands, so the road was not completed. The rock is also acidic, and construction may have upset the aquatic life in local streams. 

The government runs a ferry service from the south side of Fontana Lake most of the year, so people can visit the isolated cemeteries.

Lakeview Drive is a nice twisty, eight-mile-long section of road.  Along the way is an overlook onto an arm of Fontana Lake. 

Pretty, isn't it? 

The road surface is patched and uneven in places, so I am jolted off my seat a few times, though there isn't much traffic since this is a dead end road.  Just outside Great Smoky Mountains National Park, there is a sign that reminds passers by of the broken promise of the 1940s.
 [from Western NC Attractions website]

This is my first visit to the National Park on the bike. I won't be seeing any more of it than the tag location, if I find it, since I don't have enough time to stay longer and see more things. 

The road ends at a post barrier with the tunnel in sight beyond. The road and tunnel were completed by the end of 1969, but the remaining 26 miles of road have never been finished. 

Snap!  Now, I have the tag photo, but I want to explore a little.

I note that the place where I park my bike has quite a lot of horse manure around it.  I might have known this would be the case, as there are several horse trailers parked here. The equestrians use the park trails extensively. 
Fragrant, I'm sure, and this is one of the smaller deposits.

I walk along the road a tenth of a mile or so to the entrance to the tunnel.  Here is a closer look at the tunnel entrance.  A nearby sign says there are several trails that start beyond the tunnel. 

The tunnel construction is similar to those on the Blue Ridge Parkway, having a stone facing and concrete lining. 
I venture into the graffiti-covered portal.  It seems that most such places are so covered these days, like the one under the Saluda Grade.  The pavement inside is rough surfaced, but level. I walk the 1,200-foot length and emerge on a short section of road, complete with wooden timber guardrails.  After maybe four hundred feet, the road stops and this trail begins. 
The trail winds sharply to the left.  It is not obvious where the road was to go. Any direction appears to require another tunnel or significant cutting a filling, i.e. high cost. 

Here is a view of the far tunnel portal, taken from the trail. It is a rather picturesque scene, reminiscent of a mid-twentieth-century road. 

A view from the entrance.  The leaves have started to turn color for Fall, though the peak is a couple of weeks away yet. 

The rest of the story about the Road to Nowhere is that the federal government made a cash settlement in February of 2010 in lieu of completing the road.  The settlement, paid to Swain County, was for $52,000,000.  Completion of the road would have cost at least $600,000,000.

Now, back to the ride.

I take the same route home as I took to get here.  My time is limited today, and this tag was further away than most of them that have been posted.  I really enjoy the warmth that has replaced the chill of the morning.

Maybe I can return to see some other scenery near here some time.  


[Well, what's this about a "good jumping off place" in the title up there, Bucky?]

Oh.  That means that there are a number of other places for motorcyclists and other travelers to visit that are near here. 

Great Smoky Mountains Railroad
P.O. Box 1490
226 Everett Street
Bryson City, NC  28713 
This is a tourist railroad with fifty-three miles of track, two tunnels and twenty-five bridges, running through fertile valleys and river gorges. The operating locomotives are Diesel-powered.
The Great Smoky Mountains Railroad is owned by American Heritage Railways, which is the parent company of the Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad and the Texas State Railroad.
The famous train wreck scene in the 1993 Warner Brothers blockbuster movie The Fugitive starring Harrison Ford and Tommy Lee Jones was filmed in Dillsboro North Carolina along the Great Smoky Mountains Railroad. The wreckage set can still be viewed on eastbound Tuckasegee River Excursions departing from Bryson City.
[photo by flickr contributor Jerry James]  
The Great Smoky Mountains Railroad was also used in the filming of 1996 Warner Brothers comedy My Fellow Americans starring Jack Lemmon and James Garner when they stumble on to a charter train full of UNC-Chapel Hill fans headed for the NCAA Final Four.
Train scenes in the 1998 DreamWorks SKG film Forces of Nature starring Ben Affleck and Sandra Bullock were also filmed here.

Smoky Mountain Trains Museum
P.O. Box 1490
100 Greenlee St.
Bryson City, NC
28713 U.S.A.
1-800-872-4681 x 7050 or 828-488-5200

Great Smoky Mountains National Park 
More information

Wheels Through Time Motorcycle Museum
Twenty-five miles from Bryson City using this route
62 Vintage Lane
Maggie Valley, NC 28751
For Internet directions, search for: 2914 Soco Road, Maggie Valley, NC 28751
I have posted about my trip to this place. 

Tail of the Dragon
Thirty-seven miles from Bryson City to nearest point, using this route.  
The famous Dragon begins on the North Carolina side at Fugitive Bridge with a view of the 225 foot high Cheoah Dam where Harrison Ford jumped in the movie The Fugitive. It ends 14 miles across the mountain at the Tabcat Creek Bridge in Tennessee. 
There is plenty of information on the website, including riding tips and safety.  There are also maps of other good motorcycle roads. 

Cherohala Skyway
Thirty-one miles from Bryson City to nearest point, using this route
This road connects Robbinsville, North Carolina with Tellico Plains, Tennessee. Winding up and over 5,400 foot mountains for fifteen miles in North Carolina and descending another twenty-one miles into the deeply forested backcountry of Tennessee, the road crosses through the Cherokee and Nantahala National Forests.  Thus the name "Chero...hala."  It has long, sweeping curves, scenic views, and cool summer breezes.

Two miles from Bryson City to nearest point, using this route
Stretching from the Tail of the Dragon, Moonshiner 28 winds its way southeastward through Franklin and Highlands North Carolina before turning southward into Georgia and South Carolina at Walhalla.
It was once one of the major runs for moonshiners with revenuers hot on their bumpers.  The road today boasts some great twisties, wide sweepers, and unsurpassed scenery.  Mountain vistas, waterfalls and secluded lakes appear frequently.

Blue Ridge Parkway
Thirteen miles from Bryson City to nearest point (southern end), using this route
The Parkway runs for 469 miles (755 km), mostly along the famous Blue Ridge, a major mountain chain that is part of the Appalachian Mountains. Its southern terminus is on the boundary between Great Smoky Mountains National Park and the Cherokee Indian Reservation in North Carolina, from which it travels north to Shenandoah National Park in Virginia and becomes Shenandoah's Skyline Drive.
Information about Bryson City. Things to do nearby. 
Photos taken in and near Bryson City by Galen R Frysinger.


Friday, October 15, 2010

Wheels Through Time

You remember that I went to the Deeley Motorcycle Exhibition up in Vancouver British Columbia a few weeks ago.  They show parts of their extensive collection of motorcycles in an extension of their Harley dealership.

Well, I ventured out to a closer-by motorcycle exhibit a couple of weeks ago, up in Maggie Valley North Carolina, called Wheels Through Time.  I figured I had better go now before the mountain roads get crowded with fall foliage gawkers and the road surfaces become covered with leaves.

I mapped out a route that would take me up some twisty roads and past some pretty scenery.  We are blessed with some very nice motorcycle roads not far from my house.  There is US-178, NC-215, and a great section of the Blue Ridge Parkway that is north of home by about 51 miles.

This is not the first time I have visited the museum.  The last time was with a couple of guys who are much faster riders than I am, and I couldn't keep up. They were very understanding, and never said a word about it, but my riding confidence evaporated and I didn't have a good day of it.  I'll try to do better today.  

I go out about 7:00 AM because I want to spend some time looking around the museum and I don't want to get home too late.  My ride starts out a little iffy as far as the weather is concerned, though.  It is foggy and damp.  I head up US-178 to the Holly Springs Country Store where a lot of bikers meet up.  It is apparently too early today to see other riders there, so I pass right by and begin the more twisty section of the road.  It is called the Moorefield Memorial Highway after the road engineer who designed it.  The fast riders go at warp speed on this road, and the residents don't like it much.  Law enforcement officers on bikes and in cars frequent this stretch, too.

I take my time and ride as fast as I feel comfortable with, well below warp, but above the advisory speeds. It gets very foggy near Rosman North Carolina, and I consider turning back.  After a short stop, I decide to press onward.  That turns out to be a good decision, as the fog dissipates nicely in a few miles. The temperature is a cool 65 degrees here at this higher elevation. 

NC-215 is a continuation of US-178, after a slight jog above Rosman.  This road has recently been paved, and there is gravel on many of the turns.  I keep the speed down here too, for fear of a slip on the stones.  At least the road surface is much better than it was the last time I came up here.  There were many potential edge traps and gravel then too.

I stop at a pulloff just south of the Parkway to take in the view.  I note that the gravel pulloff has not been graded up to the level of the new road surface as yet, so the dropoff is five inches or more.  It is a little unnerving to plunge off the edge onto the gravel, but I slow down and take it at as near a right angle as possible and it goes well.

See that black line just beyond the bike?  That is the step I have just come down. 
Hmmmm.  That step should be an interesting hurdle when I leave.  I put it out of my mind while I look over the scenery and rest for a few minutes. 

The road ahead beckons in this picture.  The Blue Ridge Parkway entrance is just a fraction of a mile further on.  I get ready to move on. 

As I survey the pavement edge situation, I manage to find a place where the bump up to the pavement is not as great, and take it at a near right angle, and, again I make it OK.  That was easier than I thought, though there is some risk here because the road curves and the entry point is blind, which is especially bad if a vehicle is traveling above the speed limit.

I reach the Parkway, and head south.  I have not ridden very far in this direction before, so I want to look at the scenery -- and that requires stopping frequently at overlooks. 

Here is one scene this morning.
It almost looks like a painting -- a bit otherworldly, in fact.

Not far along, I stop at the highest point on the Parkway, at 6053 feet above sea level.   

For comparison, Rosman is at 2200 feet, and Easley at home is at 1091, so I have climbed nearly a mile, not counting the downhill sections that have been regained. 

There is a visitor center at Waterrock Knob, near the place where I will be getting off the Parkway.  Here is a shot taken from part way up the knob. 

It is located at milepost 451.2, just 18 miles from the south end of the Parkway.  Note how the road curves around beyond the parking lot, so you can see it on both sides.  The hike up to this vantage point is steep and I have to stop a few times to catch my breath.  The top of the knob is a little more than a half mile walk.  The summit has an elevation of 6,292 feet, but I stop before that -- just a quarter mile along -- to take the picture.

By now, the temperature has climbed and the sun is bright.  A little sweat has netted me a wonderful view of the surrounding creation.

Some other views from here. 

The road I came in on. 

I like the views from here, but I am hot, and it will be good to get moving again. 

I ride on a few miles and exit the Parkway onto Soco Road, which leads to the museum.  As I near it, the roads are laden, mostly with Harley riders.  Although I didn't know it, this weekend is the Thunder in the Smokies Fall Motorcycle Rally.  I marvel at how few of the Harley guys and gals are wearing protective gear.  Helmets, yes -- but maybe because they are required in North Carolina.  Oh, and some of the bikes have loud exhausts.  What a surprise! 

Here is a picture of the front of the Wheels Through Time museum building.

There are many other bikes in the parking lot when I arrive.  I maneuver mine to a place under a tree and dismount.  I walk up to the entrance, and this old veteran greets me there. 
...and so does this one. 
Yes, there are both restored and unrestored bikes on display.

I go in, and walk to the desk.  The ladies there greet me warmly, with genuine friendship in their voices and on their countenances.   I pay the fare, and they point out the way to the displays and restrooms, and tell me that I am free to come and go all day if I want.

On my way in, I note that there are several of these around, also freely coming and going.  Friendly, and trusting, all. This one was sprawled out in the lobby area, and all of the visitors gently stepped around her. 

The museum is owned by Dale Walksler.  His son Matt is active here as well.  Established in 1993, it was closed for a while, but is now open again. It contains mostly American motorcycles. 
One interesting aspect of this museum is that it is not entirely hands-off.  In fact, there is little that keeps a visitor from touching many of the display items except good behavior, from bikes on down to literature relating to motorcycles.  Read this account from the Dixie Biker website.

Many of the bikes are in operating condition, and the staff sometimes starts up various of them so visitors can hear and occasionally ride them. There are considerable areas of the concrete floor where rubber has been laid down from quick starts and stops of the vintage iron. 

The last time I visited, Dale Walksler himself, with a sidecar rig, gave rides to the kids who were visiting.  Here he is taking Tater dog and a friend for a ride that day. 
[photo by Ryan]

This time, Mr. Walksler is away, on the Cannonball RunThis is a two week, coast-to-coast endurance run for motorcycles made before 1916.  Over 45 riders are competing in the run and thousands of fans and spectators gather to cheer them on every step of the way.  They passed through the Wheels Through Time museum just a week ago.  They started at Kitty Hawk, NC and will run to Santa Monica, CA.  Mr. Walksler, is one of the 45 riders on the run, competing aboard a specially-prepared 1915 Harley-Davidson. 

On to the displays.  

This bike has an acetylene headlamp and handlebar muffs to keep the rider's hands warm in cold weather.  Kind of like the Hippo Hands I have for winter. 
Here is an in-town delivery truck/trike.  These must have been practical, but also provide eye-catching advertising space for a business, similar to the little Japanese truck I saw in Vancouver. 

Here is a police trike, probably from the 1950s.  It is nicely restored.  I remember these from the big city during my youth up north, except they were white and black instead of blue.  Note the brass pump-type fire extinguisher to the left of the rear wheel.  It was sold by the Pyrene Manufacturing Company, and filled with carbon tetrachloride. 

This is the Fred Ham special.  This 1937 Harley-Davidson 61 cubic-inch EL Knucklehead is an exact recreation of the motorcycle Fred "Ironman" Ham rode to a new 24 hour endurance record of 1825 miles at Muroc Dry Lake on April 8, 1937.  Seventy years later, this machine would make a run at history at Talladega Superspeedway traveling nearly 1400 miles in 24 hours. 

This is very unusual. 

At first, it appears to be a sidecar rig, but look more closely.  See where the handlebars are?  And look inside the car. 

The handlebars extend to the person seated there, and there are controls on the floor.  Do you suppose it was meant for an adventuresome lady who preferred not to straddle a motorcycle? 

Mr. Walksler's father Bernie walks up about the time I am looking at this rig.  He begins to explain what I am looking at, and he shows me a few of the other displays nearby.  Later, I see him helping museum visitors to mount one of the old bikes on display so their families could take pictures.  This is really NOT a hands-off place!  

How about single-speed belt drive?

An old Indian. 

Silver and blue. 

This is part of a vintage hill climbing bike display. 

Over in this corner is a mockup of a motorcycle service shop. 
With real oil stains on the wooden floor. 

Not all of the displays are labeled, so I can't identify all of these relics.  The staff would help, I am sure, but they are busy with others so I don't bother them.  

This is a 1924 Harley-Davidson FHAC.  This specimen is particularly rare, containing a 61 cubic inch, indirect-action, two cam engine.  The drive also includes a unique slipper sprocket.  The "FH" was a truly dominant machine used for racing on wooden, steeply-banked boardtrack ovals.  This bike has mostly original paint. 

In 1924 Harley Twin Cam board track racers were capable of speeds in excess of 100 mph. note the photo of racers on such a track in the background.
[photo from Charlotte Observer]

1909 Reading Standard Board Track Racer.  Reading Standard entered the racing game in 1907.  It developed a series of successful racing engines and sponsored a field of professional riders including Ray Seymour and Frank Hart.  In July 1909, Seymour set a new one mile record in the Los Angeles Coliseum Motordome, lowering the record to 47 seconds at 76.6 MPH.  This bike remained undiscovered at Ford's Greenfield Village, sitting in the basement of the Orville and Wilbur Wright house there.  It was sold to Wheels Through Time in 1990 and restored in 1992 and 1993.  This 1909 Reading is probably the most elegant early board racer in existence. 

1929 Harley-Davidson DAR Board Track Racer.   It was built to compete as a Class A 45 cubic inch racer.  This creation of this class was influenced by the Excelsior Company's year earlier 45 cubic inch motorcycle, the Super X.  Soon after the development of the new class, Indian followed suit, building a factory-built special called the Altoona.  Harley sensed the need to develop a good 45 cubic inch machine, to compete with these others.  The first factory-built OHV 45 cubic inch Harley debuted at a hill climb in August 1929.  As hill climbing became the big American motorcycle sport, the DAH became a force to be reckoned with over several seasons, culminating with a National Championship in 1932.  Approximately ten OHV 45s are known to exist, and this is the only original DAR Board Track Racer. 

Some more racers.  

1924 Harley Davidson JDCA. 

A 1915 Dayton hack.  

Look where the engine is on this Dayton Motorwheel.  

A 1917(?) Traub.  Said to be the only one ever found. 

You can easily touch this exceedingly rare piece.  Here is a picture of it outdoors.  

An engine closeup.  

The story, from the Wheels Through Time website is as follows:  

"Wheels Through Time is home to what many consider to be the premier collection of Vintage American motorcycles on the planet, containing over 300 of the rarest and most significant two- and three-wheeled American vehicles ever produced.  Located in the mountains of Western North Carolina, the museum was founded by curator, Dale Walksler, as a way to preserve the history of motorized Americana.  A true shrine to our countries motorcycle heritage, the Museum contains a plethora of machines dating back over 100 years to 1903.  From prototypes and production models to boardtrack racers and hillclimbers, Wheels Through Time is a living, breathing museum, as each and every machine in the collection is kept in running condition, and are regularly started for visitors.

"Of the hundreds of machines housed at Wheels Through Time, perhaps none are more rare than the 1917 Traub motorcycle on display in the museum's "One-Of-A-Kind Motorcycles" exhibit. 

"The Traub has a unique story -- one that has baffled previous owners and vintage motorcycle enthusiasts alike for over 40 years.   Dated to 1917, the Traub is built entirely of its own design and to this date, no documentation on its origin has surfaced.  Found in 1967 behind a brick wall during the renovation of a Chicago apartment building, the Traub fell into the hands of Chicago bicycle shop owner, Torillo Tacchi.  After Tacchi had owned the machine for several years, actor and Hollywood stunt double, Bud Ekins, purchased the machine while on set for the Blues Brothers Movie in the late 1970s.  The Traub was later sold to collector and restorer, Richard Morris, who then sold it to Wheels Through Time Museum curator, Dale Walksler, in 1990.  It has been on permanent display in the museum collection ever since.

"When comparing other top motorcycle makes and models of the era, the Traub has no equal.  Comprised of a sand-cast, hand-built, 80 cubic-inch 'sidevalve' engine, the machine has the ability to reach speeds in excess of 85 mph with ease.  This is largely due to the builders development of a unique three-speed transmission -- a feat that was only achieved by only a few of the most notable motorcycle companies during that time.   Each and every part and component on the machine is hand-made and unique.  During the early part of the 20th century, there were as many as 200 different motorcycle manufacturers, many of which used common parts found on other makes and models.  What sets the Traub apart from other early 'one-of-a-kind' machines is that of all the hundreds of parts that make up the this wonderful motorcycle, none can be found anywhere else in the world.

"But perhaps the most interesting part of this cycle's history is the story, or lack there-of, of its creation.  Numerous public records searches by current owner, Dale Walksler, have yielded no results of a Traub Motorcycle Company ever existing.   In fact, Walksler has been combing through Wheels Through Time's historical archives for years, and has yet to find even a mention of a Traub motorcycle or company.

"For a machine to have such advanced features, unparalleled by other motorcycles of the same era, is truly outstanding," said Walksler.   'It's my opinion that The Traub was an attempt at a new breed of motorcycle.'  But how on earth could a machine have been produced in such great form, with capabilities that far exceed that of any comparable machine, without the knowledge of the rest of the motorcycle industry during that time?"

"While the Traub's story remains a mystery, the search for its origin continues.  'While we may never know why the machine was placed behind that wall, we do hope to one day find out more about its history and the genius that created it,' said Walksler.  Until then, the machine's past will remain unknown, and it will hold its place as perhaps the rarest motorcycle on earth.
More photos can be found here on the Speed TV website

This next is a few-of-a kind bike.  It started life as a Flanders motorcycle, and was purchased by a man in Elkhart Indiana, along with the remaining inventory of the Flanders Company when it went out of business.  Given a quick makeover, and an "ELK" emblem, they were sold out of a hardware store by their original purchaser.  Note that the control cables run inside the frame. 

1936 Harley Davidson UX2.  Based on the 61 cubic inch overhead valve chassis, this model was Harley's update of the conventional but outdated side valve VL.  The UX features an 80 cubic inch displacement with a recirculating oil system similar to the overhead valve version, while its predecessor, the VL, featured a total loss system.  This is number two of six VL prototypes produced.

1936 Harley Davidson EL.  The "knucklehead" was Harley's first production 61 cubic inch overhead valve engine and featuring an entirely new chassis and a recirculating oil system.  The revolutionary knucklehead was produced from 1936 to 1947, and is given credit for making the modern motorcycle what it is today.   This one also features a maroon and Nile green paint scheme.

1937 Harley-Davidson ULH.  A new model for 1937, the ULH was an update to their VLH produced the year before.  The VLH used many of the improvements to the 80 cubic inch knucklehead engine, including recirculating oil system, double-downtube frame and popular teardrop shaped tank. 

1948 Harley-Davidson WRTT.  With 1948 being the peak production season for the Harley-Davidson WR, the AMA class C racing circuit was back in full swing, with races popping up all across the country.  This WRTT, one of only 292 produced, was raced on the west coast into the 1950s, and is featured exactly as it would have been raced over fifty years ago.  It has a side-mounted WICO magneto, and its original number plates. 
1950 Harley-Davidson WR.  Labeled the "Hot-Dog Bike," this Daytona WR is featured in original as-raced condition.  The bike was raced in Daytona and on various other circuits across the Midwest by Jim Kruse, #22 from Kenosha Wisconsin.  It is one of sixty-nine produced, and as a hand clutch, foot shift setup.  Note the rare cast aluminum oil tank. 

1970 Harley-Davidson XR750 Evil Knievel jump bike. 

1953 Harley-Davidson KRM.  This restored KRM is one of the few still in existence.  Produced for cross-country and enduro racing, it was a sporting version of the 45 cubic inch K model.  The engine is all ball bearings.  This specimen was raced in west coast enduros into the 1960s. 

This little gem has an interesting transmission. 

Look more closely.  It is a continuously-variable type using a friction wheel against a disk driven by the engine.  The further from the center of the disk the wheel is moved, the faster the bike goes.  The clutch function was incorporated by simply lifting the wheel from the disk. 

World War I carrier pigeon trailer.  This bike was ridden by Steve McQueen in Spirit of St. Louis.  That is Matt Walksler demonstrating.  He started up the bike so we could hear it run. 
[photo by Ryan]

The museum also has an area devoted to other products that are related to motorcycle manufacturers or that use motorcycle engines for power. 

An Indian outboard engine.  

And a chainsaw.  

A snowmobile!

A personal watercraft, built in the 1920's, and powered by a 1926 Harley engine driving a propeller.

A mine cart.  
This was found in an abandoned gold mine in northern California in the late 1970s.  The Davis Motor Mine Cart is a home-built creation using most of a 1926 Harley-Davidson 21 cubic inch B model motorcycle.  The cart also features a Ford Model-A transmission and electric start.  The Ford transmission coupled with the motorcycle transmission gave nine forward and three reverse speeds.  It was used to pull wagons laden with ore out of an underground mine.  

And several other devices, including an ice saw, and garden tillers. 

Harley also produced general-purpose small engines.

Here is the neon sign for Professor's Harley-Davidson.  It survived 65 years of hurricanes, including Katrina, in Metairie Louisiana.

An overall view of a part of the museum, taken from the balcony. 

While here, I spot another, non-transportation, attraction -- a player piano.  Now I have been restoring and collecting these kinds of pianos since my college days, but today I am attracted to the large space, and I have a hankering to see what the piano sounds like if I play it by hand.  I try a few notes, and it seems to be fairly well in tune, so I ask Mr. Walksler if I might try it out.  He enthusiastically tells me to go ahead -- another example of the make-you-feel-welcome attitude everyone here seems to have.  

I sit down and start in.  First "Elmer's Tune" (also here), then "Put Another Nickel In," "Give Me a Little Kiss," "Unchained Melody," "The Entertainer," "Battle Hymn of the Republic," "'Tis So Sweet to Trust in Jesus," "America," "America the Beautiful," "God Bless America," and "Good Night Ladies." 

[How do you remember what all you played, Bucky?]   

Those songs are some I most frequently play, so I know them by memory.  Grandma would have said "by heart,"  a description that may be better, since once you know the music by memory, you can put more feeling -- your heart -- into it. 

A few people stand around listening, some sing along on the patriotic tunes and hymns, and several clap when I finish.  Aw, shucks. I have fun hamming it up a little.  Playing the piano is much easier than riding a motorcycle for me. Then again, I have been playing music almost fifty years longer than I have been riding a motorcycle. Practice helps most things, you think? 

I make a last round of the exhibits to see if I missed anything.  I decide that I haven't, so I make my way out and back to my bike. As I am getting ready to go, a fellow runs up, and grabs my hand, shaking it vigorously.  He is the gardener for the museum, Trapper, and he wants to thank me for the piano music.  Just another one of the staff making a visitor feel good about being there.  

By the way, Trapper was proud of the flowers planted in front of the museum.  I agree, they are nice.  Not in prissy little beds of perfect symmetry, though.  Some of them are large and bushy.   Masculine flowerbeds, maybe??

By the time I leave, the parking lot looks like this.  

I meet a fellow in the parking lot from Illinois, riding a Gold Wing and pulling a trailer.  He says he is on his way to see his son at camp on the east coast, and who has just returned from Afghanistan.  I ask him to give my thanks to him for his service.  He says he would be glad to. 

The temperature has climbed to the high 80s by now.  I mount up and head for the freeway.  It is boring, and the traffic is occasionally heavy, but it is fast.  Often times, when I plan a ride, I take a more difficult route to get there and an easier route back.  That way, if I am a bit tired, I am not as apt to have a mishap. 

I have ridden 212 miles today, and have seen a great collection of motorbikes. It has been a beautiful day to be out.

Come along next time. 

Wheels Through Time videos on YouTube. 
 If you go:

Wheels Through Time, 62 Vintage Lane, Maggie Valley, NC, thirty miles west of Asheville, 828-926-6266
For Internet directions, search for: 2914 Soco Road, Maggie Valley, NC 28751
Hours of operation:
Thursday through Monday, 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM.
Admission: Adults $12, Seniors (65 and up) $10, Children $6

A further-away alternative:
Deeley Motorcycle Exposition, 1875 Boundary Rd., Vancouver, BC V5M 3Y7.
Adjacent to Trev Deeley Motorcycles.

Hours of operation:
Monday through Friday: 10:00 AM – 5:00 PM
Saturday: 9:30 AM – 4:30 PM
Sunday: 11:00 AM – 4:30 PM
Admission: Donation
Some explanatory text in this posting is directly quoted from Wheels Through Time displays.