FROM: Allan Ferguson
TO: Friends of Route 36 – Please share this to all who may be interested
Figuratively and literally, I’m nearing the end of the line with Route 36: Ohio to Colorado—America’s Heartland Highway.
After spending months working on the states from Ohio to Kansas, I’ve zeroed in on my home state of Colorado. The writing will be essentially done by the end of the year. Production and promotion lie ahead in 2019. During the first quarter of the year, we’ll have a website up and running—www.US36guidebook.com.
Here’s the end of the trail—or the beginning if traveling from west to east. The western end point of US36 is about three miles inside Rocky Mountain National Park at a junction with US34 (another great heartland highway). US34 continues over Trail Ridge Pass to Grand Lake and its termination at Granby.
Back to the Beginning
Before focusing on Colorado in my next newsletter, here’s another photo journey featuring some of my favorite stops along Route 36.
The Goldilocks Towns of Central Ohio. Coshocton-Mt. Vernon-Delaware-Marysville-Urbana-Piqua-Greenville—these towns and small cities on Route 36 are what I’ve dubbed “Goldilocks towns”—big enough to be interesting and dynamic, small enough to be accessible, relaxed, and welcoming. They are historic, attractive, self-aware, public-spirited, optimistic places. In other words—in so many ways— just right. Nice places to live. Students of small-town America might ascribe this condition—maybe even rank their relative success—by their proximity to the “metroplex” of Columbus, and they would probably be right. But there’s always an extra element or two—an educational institution, a major employer, a special attraction, a civic-minded benefactor, or a particularly aggressive Chamber of Commerce. Whatever the case, the traveler on Route 36 can look forward to rewarding small-town experiences in Central Ohio.
Guess Who. Can you identify this elegant lady? Yep, that’s “Little Miss Sure Shot,” Annie Oakley, at about age 60. Annie was the darling of her time—a minor celebrity by age 25 and an international superstar after joining Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show in 1885—mainly because she could shoot a gun better than any man or woman alive.
Everyone around Buffalo Bill suffered from caricature, but Annie suffered more than most. Probably no celebrity of that era was more romanticized than Annie Oakley, witness the transformation of Annie from farm girl to Betty Hutton’s scantily-clad character in the movie production of Irving Berlin’s “Annie Get Your Gun.” The only comparable turn-of-the-century transformation from real person to caricature was Margaret Brown’s journey from social reformer to “The Unsinkable Molly Brown” (another famous character to be discovered on Route 36 in Hannibal, Missouri, and Denver, Colorado). Readers will discover the real people behind the caricatures in Route 36—Ohio to Colorado: America’s Heartland Highway. Travelers on Route 36 can learn about Annie (born Phoebe Ann Moses or Mosey) at the Garst Museum in Greenville, Ohio. For more information: www.garstmuseum.org, ph 937-548-5250.
Bears Mill. Five miles east of Greenville, a delightful surprise awaits the traveler one-quarter mile off the highway on Country Road 34. Sited on Greenville Creek, Bear’s Mill is the oldest existing water-powered gristmill in Ohio. It’s still churning out healthy corn meal and wheat flour using “buhr stones” imported from France in 1849. Intricate construction of the building is a national treasure in itself (no nails!), but that’s not all there is to Bear’s Mill. It’s also a first-class gift store and art gallery featuring changing exhibits of sculpture, painting, glassware, and pottery. For more information, see www.bearsmill.org, ph 937-548-5112.
John Chapman. Still another Ohio surprise awaits at Urbana where John Chapman, aka Johnny Appleseed,” is remembered at Urbana University in the largest collection of memorabilia and written information about Chapman in the world. The collection is housed in Browne Hall on the north edge of campus and is a fascinating stop on Route 36.
Readers’ Corner. One of the serendipitous joys of travel is in the discovery of new literature to read. Traveling Route 36 in Indiana opens up a Pandora’s box of literary pleasure. This is the Indianapolis home of James Whitcomb Riley, poet of the Heartland. In brief, he’s the American counterpart of Scotland’s Robert Burns; he captured the dialect and atmosphere of small-town, rural Indiana. At one time, Riley was among the most popular writers in America and a celebrity on the lecture circuit. Other Indiana literati include Kurt Vonnegut, Jr., Booth Tarkington, and Theodore Dreiser. Vonnegut fans can visit a small museum dedicated to the writer in Indianapolis.
Cathedrals of the Plains. I’ve taken all but a few of the photos that will appear in Route 36—America’s Heartland Highway. This is one of my favorites. It speaks to the heart and soul of so many of the small towns and hamlets spread out along the highway from Ohio through Kansas and into Eastern Colorado.
Please share this newsletter to anyone you think might be interested in Route 36. They can join the mail list here.
Next newsletter: Colorado focus and a new website by spring www.US36guidebook.com.
‘til then, Happiest of Holidays to you all,
Route 36—America’s Heartland Highway
1743 S. Marion St.
Denver CO 80210