The Mysterious Toynbee Tile – Raise Dead Planet Jupiter

 

Toynbee Tile, Atlantic City
Toynbee Tile, Atlantic City

One of the many mysterious Toynbee Tiles. This one was seen stuck to the street  in Atlantic City, New Jersey, near the Forever 21 outlet store.

The tiles are cut from linoleum and stuck to the road surface. The words consistently refer to the movie 2001: A Space Odyssey, resurrection, and Jupiter.

They are found in and around Philadelphia, in New Jersey, and in many other cities primarily along the Boston-Washington D.C. axis, but also as far away as Santiago, Chile. The original ones, first sighted in the 1980s,  were likely the work of one individual, but new ones (probably including the one above) that have appeared in the last few years probably have been placed by copycats.

While many Toynbee tiles have been destroyed or covered over by road repaving, one government group, the Philadelphia Streets Department, at least made an effort to preserve some of them . Are they worthy of preservation? If you peel up ephemeral street art and put in a museum, is it still ephemeral street art? As the original Toynbee Tiles are threatened with extinction in the wild, they may live forever, if not on Jupiter, at least in cyberspace.

Buy a Jetta, Get a Bike: The 1990s VW x Trek Collab

VW Trek BikeBack in 1996, Volkswagen partnered with Trek bicycles, offering a special VW Jetta Trek edition that came with a Trek mountain bike and a roof rack to put it on. The following year, they also offered a VW Trek Golf. One of those bikes turned at a charity bike store, and, although I’ve never owned a VW, I picked it up because, as it says on the frame, it’s a Limited Edition.

VW Trek Stem

 

The 1996 Jetta Trek Limited Edition Sedan started under $16,000 and came with either a five speed manual or four speed automatic. The VW Trek bike came with 21 speeds and custom seat, handgrips, and special graphics: a dude on a multi-colored rocket, orbiting the VW logo, and holding…something?

VW Trek Head Tube

Details on the bikes are a bit harder to find. The 1996 ones had a steel frame, but this one has an aluminum frame, which may be the 1997 version. The OCLV on the rocket stands for Trek’s patented carbon fiber, but it’s unlikely that there’s any of it on this bike. A few parts had been replaced in the past twenty years, including the saddle (which also would have had that rocket boy logo), but it still has the original VW hand grips.

VW Trek Hand Grip

It’s definitely in better shape than some of the Trek Edition automobiles out there: Junkyard Gem.

Still on the lookout for a Jetta Shepherd edition, though:

 

Fox Squirrel (Sciurus niger) from a Nineteenth Century Archaeological Site in New Jersey

There are no confirmed historic records of fox squirrel from New Jersey, although it is present in surrounding states. One subspecies, the Delmarva fox squirrel, was recently removed from the endangered species list after a concerted effort was made in Delaware and neighboring states to help it.

While fox squirrel bones are found in zooarchaeological assemblages in other states, there is, only prehistoric archaeological site in New Jersey where fox squirrel has been identified. In this article (with a 2012 date, but only recently published), the first  archaeological  record of fox squirrel bones from a nineteenth century archaeological  site in New Jersey is reported.

Sciurus niger maxilla

Archaeology on the Pastoral Islands of Lake Champlain

Suzanne Carmick writes in the New York Times Travel Section about visiting the Pastoral Islands of Lake Champlain.  The Vermont islands of South Hero, North Hero, and Isle La Motte, are on the border of New York and just south of Canada.

Carmick mentions the long history of Isle La Motte, which was occupied by Native Americans long before Samuel Champlain first recorded it in 1609.  In A.D. 1666, the French built Fort St. Anne on Isle La Motte. The fort was occupied for as little as two years before being abandoned. In the late 1800s, the Catholic Church purchased the land, which became St. Anne’s Shrine.  A Vermont priest, Father Joseph Kerlidou excavated the remains of the French fort.

In 1917, archaeologist Warren Moorehead conducted excavations near the shrine, finding Woodland period ceramics. At another location, Reynolds Point, he found artifacts from the earlier Archaic period. In the early 1960s, a cremation burial site attributed to the Archaic Glacial Kame culture was accidentally uncovered by workers on the island. New York State Archaeologist William Ritchie examined the artifacts found with the ochre-stained human bones. The grave goods included Native copper adzes, copper beads, shell gorgets and beads, and over 100 pieces of galena.

For more on Fort St. Anne, see Enshrining the Past: The Early Archaeology of Fort St. Anne, Isle La Motte, Vermont 

The Lamoka Power Corporation

Local historian Vinnie Nykiel gave a talk on hydroelectric power in the Lamoka Valley on June 17. 

In the early twentieth century, there was an ambitious plan to dam the entire valley (which would have flooded a vast area, including the Lamoka Lake archaeological site). 

A preview of his talk to the Town of Wayne History Group is at the Corning Leader

The Rocket Car “Moon Girl” of 1929: A History

Hungerford Rocket Car

The New York State Library’s Instagram feed just reminded of this book from 2013 (freely available from the New York State Museum): Daniel and Floyd Hungerford: Rocket Power, Interstellar Travel, and Eternal Life, by Geoffrey N. Stein.

Yes, it’s a rocket car. Yes, you could legally drive it on New York roads. Yes, the name of the rocket car is Shirley Lois “The Moon Girl.”  Yes, Buck Rogers himself told Daniel and Floyd that they “were doing humanity a real service.”

OK, so pictures of the Hungerford Rocket are all over the internet –like on the Hemmings blog, and there’s more on io9-but Geoffrey Stein has produced what will likely be the definitive (and probably the only) history of it and its creators.

The Hungerfords were automobile mechanics and airplane builders and repairers in Elmira, New York,  in the early days of aviation.  Floyd had “the personality of a dumpling” and Dan claimed to have psychic powers.  They built the Moon Girl in 1929, using an eight year old Chevy chassis, wood, cardboard (for easy egress in case of emergency), and an iron rocket.

After building and driving their rocket car, they set their sights higher:  “we considered trying to build a rocket ship which might reach the Moon, but we never got any further on this than having a picture painted by a sign painter we knew.” (p. 21)

Download the pdf at the New York State Museum

Edited from and originally posted on Adequacy.