WHERE: The Johnstown Incline Plane, Johnstown, Pennsylvania

WHAT: The incline was built after the flood – back in the 1890s. During two more recent floods in 1936 and 1970 the incline was used to take Johnstown residents to safety. Originally built as a way to take “commuters” up on top of the mountain, the incline is now solely a tourist attraction. It is the steepest vehicular incline in the world.

AND … Good view from the top and a good view of the path where the water came tumbling down the mountain during the big flood.

Reviewers say the view is particularly good at night …

KID FACTOR: Kids would probably like this ok. The ride is steep … and fairly short. If they’ve already been to one of the flood museums, you can show them where the water cascaded down from the dam.


Gettysburg Battlefield

Posted: May 25, 2015 in Uncategorized

So after Washington, we took the Amtrak back to Harpers Ferry – the very Amtrak that just had the accident in Philadelphia – don’t know if we had the same conductor or not.

The next morning we headed for the Gettysburg Battlefield. We spent a lot of time at Pickett’s Charge where we hiked across the field – me, not as far as the others, but still quite a distance. Later, we headed up to Little Round Top.  We also wandered around Gettysburg College which was used both by the Union and Confederates during the battle.

The Peterson House

Posted: May 24, 2015 in Uncategorized

Across the street from Ford’s Theater is the Peterson House where Abe was taken the night he was shot … and died the next morning. The house was very crowded (field trip kids again) so I didn’t take many pictures (because I did last time), but the museum part of the house was new and I found the Lincoln tower of books fascinating.

Ford’s Theater

Posted: May 23, 2015 in Uncategorized

WHERE: Ford’s Theater, 10th Street NW, Washington D.C.

WHAT: The theater where Lincoln was assassinated while watching the play: My American Cousin.

Ford’s Theater was originally a Baptist Church which John Ford bought to use as a theater. John Wilkes Booth was an actor who had performed at the theater (one reason why guards/cast etc. weren’t that suspicious when they saw him walking around back stage. The performance that Lincoln watched on that fateful night was the last performance at the theater for 103 years. Not only is the theater now a museum, but you can also attend plays there once again.

I remember the first time I saw it, being surprised at how small it was.

Tickets are free (as are many tickets in Washington), but you need to reserve them ahead of time.

KID FACTOR: If the hundreds of kids milling around on school field trips is any indication, it’s very kid appealing. Seriously, it is interesting to kids. Exhibits such as the death mask add to the appeal.

Once I got home and looked at my pictures, I was sorry I did not get one that showed more of the perspective of size and Lincoln’s box distance from the stage.

So I dug up a previous post I wrote about the theater …

Here it is – some repeat information, but …

Ford’s Theatre is probably the most well-known theater in America – the place where John Wilkes Booth shot President Lincoln.

The theater is located in Washington D.c. and opened in 1860 … well, actually it opened as the First Baptist Church of Washington in 1833. When the church moved on, a John T. Ford (sounds like a car) bought the church and opened it as Ford’s Athenaeum. That building burned down in 1862, but it was rebuilt and opened again as Ford’s Theater “a magnificent new thespian temple.”

Five days after General Lee surrendered, Abe and Mary went to the theater to see a performance of Our American Cousin. John Wilkes Booth entered the Lincoln box and shot the president. The President was immediately carried outside to 10th Street. Already there was massive chaos. (The theater seated 2,400.) A man stood on the steps of Peterson’s Boarding House, crying “Bring him in here. Bring him in here.” And that’s what they did, taking him to a back bedroom and putting him on a too-short bed. Meanwhile, Mary Lincoln was brought across the street by Clara Harris who had been at the theater with her finance Henry Rathbone. Henry himself was stabbed by Booth and once he reached the boarding house, he collapsed.

All night they worked on Lincoln, removing blood clots and fluid from his wound. But the next morning at 7:22, Lincoln died at the age of 56.

We went to Ford’s Theater on my parents’ fiftieth anniversary trip. The picture of the theater isn’t that great – but the box where the Lincolns sat is marked by the American flag. The theater also includes a museum which includes the coat Lincoln was wearing and a replica of the chair. (The real chair is in Greenfield Village in Dearborn, Michigan – which I’ve also been to – but I won’t do a post about it because the chair looks like this chair since this chair is a replica of that chair.)

We also went across the street to the boarding house which is now part of the National Park Center and has been set up as it was the night Lincoln died.


Posted: May 22, 2015 in Uncategorized

Our morning walking around Arlington in the drizzly rain was over, so we got back on the Metro and headed downtown …

Cindy did a great job orchestrating this trip – everything was down to a minute-by-minute schedule and we were able to see a lot in a short amount of time!

Back to Arlington

Posted: May 21, 2015 in Uncategorized

The next morning we headed to the Metro station and another trip to Arlington National Cemetery – the beautiful weather from the night before which made our 12 mile walk pleasant had turned back to drizzly and cold.

Here are some facts you might not have known.

1. The Arlington Cemetery is actually built on the grounds of  Robert E. Lee’s estate. The home was built by Lee’s father-in-law – the stepson of George Washington and the Lees had lived in it for 30 years. When Mary (who was confined to a wheelchair) sent a representative to pay her $92.00 taxes instead of paying them herself, the government took the property. To make sure that the Lees never again lived there, the Union built a cemetery around the house – as close to the mansion as possible. (You can visit the mansion, which we didn’t do this time, but Ken and I did when we were there.) Kind of mean, really. More than 2,000 unknown Civil War soldiers were buried on the Lee’s property.

2. In 1882, the Supreme Court said that the government had seized the land unlawfully and demanded that the government give it back to the Lees in the same state that they had taken it … which meant 17,000 graves would’ve needed to be dug up. Instead, Lee’s son sold it to the government for $150,000.

3. Soldiers from every American War are buried at Arlington.

4. Memorial Day was first celebrated at Arlington.

5. Future “unknown” soldiers are probably not going to happen since DNA testing has advanced to the extent that soldiers can be identified.

6. About 28 funerals happen there a day and flags are flown at half staff – from a half hour before the first funeral until a half hour after the last. Unique to Arlington – horses are used in the burials – including a riderless horse – a symbol of a fallen soldier.

7. 3,800 former slaves are buried in Arlington.

8. To be eligible for burial at Arlington, one must meet a long list of criteria – mostly, of course, having to do with the military. President Taft and President Kennedy are buried there as are Glenn Miller (band leader) and Abner Doubleday (the man behind baseball) – both Miller and Doubleday had military credentials. Partial remains of the Challenger astronauts are also buried in the cemetery.

The cemetery was packed with school field trips, so we couldn’t get as close as we would’ve liked to some of the graves/memorials.

We had one busy day and now headed back to our hotel – in the dark. Everyone was tired and everyone was hungry and here is a BIG tip about visiting Washington D.C. Don’t expect to eat anywhere around the capitol/White House area at night. Not going to happen … well, we did find food, but it was a challenge and primarily ended up to be McDonalds.

Anyhow on the way back, we did make a slight turn to the right to see the White House. If you haven’t been to the White House in the last two decades or so, you will find the street very different from what it used to be. Interestingly, TODAY is the 20th anniversary of the street being closed. At first it was temporary, but after 9/11 the street closure became permanent. I’ve seen the White House before, but the family hadn’t and they all thought it looked small and unimpressive. Last time I was there, we went inside and I was unimpressed with the scuffed-up walls. I know with people always walking through, it would be easy for walls to get dirty, but how much does a can of paint cost?

I also have a picture (from last time) of a guard chasing me off the porch. I wasn’t trying to do anything illegal. I knew we couldn’t take photos in the house, but I thought since I was outside, it would be ok. Not.

Across the street from the White House is the Blair House – at times used as the Vice President’s quarters, but is actually the White House guest house. When we think of the Blair House, we think of a white townhouse-looking building – which it is. However, the total house is actually four townhouses and has 70,000 square feet of space – enough for security and several visiting dignitaries. If you haven’t been to Washington D.C. – there are several websites that give you virtual tours inside both houses. Kind of interesting.

The house of white ... At night.

The house of white …
At night.

The familiar portion of the Blair House

The familiar portion of the Blair House