Here’s the Newport Tower in Touro Park, Newport, Rhode Island. The remains of a windmill built of stone in the 1600s, it’s sometimes claimed to have been built by Vikings (it wasn’t) or other alleged early visitors to North America. It was originally part of the property of Rhode Island Governor Benedict Arnold (great-grandfather of the other, more infamous, Benedict Arnold), who arrived in Newport in 1651 and died in 1678. The tower is described in Arnold’s will as “my stone built Wind Mill” and by 1741, it was already referred to as the “old stone mill.”
Now That’s A Rallye
Tales from a short-lived road Rallye of the 1950s: A Classic New England Rally is Revived, Minus the Mud (New York Times article). Here’s the link to the resurrected rally: Great American Mountain Rally Revival.
“We were boggled they felt they could handle it without chains and backwards at a fairly high speed”Peter Bullard
Washington Crosses Jacob’s Creek
Following the crossing of the Delaware River by boat late on Christmas night, 1776, the Continental Army still had to march several miles through snow, sleet, hail and rain to attack Hessian troops at Trenton. Around 6:00 AM on December 26, they reached Jacob’s Creek. This stream they had to ford on foot, winching their cannons down one side of the steep ravine and back up the other side. Once they had crossed the stream, they still had two more hours of marching before reaching Trenton, where they would achieve a stunning victory over the Hessians.
In a footnote, historian David Hackett Fischer writes “The line of the road across Jacob’s Creek and its tributary stream must be walked to be understood. Even today after many improvements it presents exceptionally steep grades and sloping surfaces. The topography of the march has been missed in every major historical account of this event” (Fischer, Washington’s Crossing, 2004, p. 516)
Featured image: Detail of interpretive sign near the modern bridge.
1970s Ford Maverick
Before it was a compact pickup truck, the Ford Maverick was an import-fighting’ vinyl-clad compact car. Introduced in the late 60s, original colors included Anti Establish Mint, Hulla Blue, and Thanks Vermillion.
Christmas at Sea: Free Talk
How else are you going to get to Christmas Island?
A free online talk from the The Royal Museums Greenwich will educate you about 400 years of celebrating Christmas afloat. The Zoom lecture is Tuesday 7 December, 5.15pm – 6.45pm (I presume that’s Greenwich Mean Time, so check your time zone).
Christmas at Sea: 400 Years of the Festive Season Afloat
Focusing largely on British ships, our panel of experts will discuss the experience of spending Christmas at sea from 1600 onwards.
What did sailors and passengers do to mark Christmas? How did eating, drinking, socialising and worshiping differ when done at sea? How did events such as the Interregnum and the Second World War, as well as changing understandings of Christmas, influence the festive season afloat? Was spending Christmas at sea better or worse than spending it on land?
Our panelists include:
- Richard Blakemore (University of Reading) – 1600s
- Ellen Gill (Independent Scholar) – 1700s
- Maya Wassell-Smith (Royal Museums Greenwich & Cardiff University) – 1800s
- Brian Lavery (Royal Museums Greenwich) – 1900s
Each panelist will give a short presentation on the experience of spending Christmas at sea in a specific era, before taking questions from attendees. Covering Stuart sailing vessels to warships of the 1940s, this seminar will put the tide back in yuletide.
Featured image (which has no relation to the museum talk): Santa Claus and two assistants in Sarasota, Florida. Photo by Joseph Janney Steinmetz, 1965. www.floridamemory.com Florida State Library and Archives.
Art and Design of the New York Central Railroad
The other fab Jazz Age exhibit at the Albany Institute of History and Art is Romancing the Rails: Train Travel in the 1920s and 1930s, which focuses on the New York Central Railroad.
It’s cool to see the original paintings for some of their now classic advertising posters. There’s also a lot of items from industrial designer Henry Dreyfuss’s work on the 20th Century Limited, “The Most Famous Train in the World.” Dreyfuss designed everything from the streamlined locomotives to the dinner plates.
Romancing the Rails is on display through February 2022.
Featured image: Observation Car design for the 20th Century Limited by Henry Dreyfuss, gouache on paper, 1938.
Vanished Springs and Wells of New York City
Around the turn of the last century, James Reuel Smith documented and photographed the natural springs and wells of New York City. Why? Well, he was born into a wealthy family and was clearly interested in fresh water.
Most were in the northern part of the city where there was less development and drinking water piped in through the Croton Aqueduct was not as readily available. Smith rode his bike to these locations, and that’s presumably his ride in the photo below, taken in 1897. His kit includes a couple of leather bags attached to the bike frame as well as a rear rack, perhaps used to hold his camera. You can see a communal tin cup hanging on a branch of the tree growing next to the spring, as well as the flat rocks laid around the spring opening.
Smith’s interest in water sources was not limited to New York. In 1922 he published Springs and Wells in Greek and Roman Literature, their Legends and Locations. Springs and Wells of Manhattan and the Bronx: New York City at the End of the Nineteenth Century was published posthumously in 1938.
Flashback 1981: One of the 99%
Whisky is not the vice John DeLorean is usually associated with. Cutty Sark ad from 1981, the first year the DeLorean sports car was sold. In 1982, John DeLorean was arrested for (and later acquitted of) drug trafficking. The DeLorean Motor Company declared bankruptcy the same year. Cutty Sark Scotch whisky was created in 1923 and is still in business.
Time Flashback: November 1976
Following Jimmy Carter’s victory in the 1976 presidential election, Time magazine looked towards what a Carter presidency would be, and advertisers began looking towards the Christmas season.
All images from Time Magazine, November 22, 1976
New York Bricks Go Boutique
Here’s a brief history of the New York brickmaking industry from the New York Times. New York did not have a monopoly on bricks; excellent clay deposits run through New Jersey and into Pennsylvania as well. The Sayre & Fisher Brick Company, in the town now known as Sayreville, New Jersey, was for a time the largest brickmaker in the world and in 1903, Pennsylvania was the largest brick producer in the nation.
But the Hudson Valley was also lined with dozens of brickyards, and since it’s the Hudson Valley, it should be no surprise that now one of them, the Hutton Brickyards, has been turned into a boutique hotel that preserves some of its history. Their “Genuine Experiences” do sound genuinely fun:
Our sprawling campus features whimsical invitations to fun: an archery range, croquet lawn, firepits and bicycles. Experience hikes, guided kayak experiences, paddle-boarding, running, outdoor yoga, snow shoeing, cross country skiing, bee-keeping and more!huttonbrickyards.com
Featured image: Hutton Brickworks in 2016, by Corey Seamer via Flickr, CC BY-NC 2.0.