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General Interest

Brothers to re-create historic steam car ride to Grand Canyon

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Written by TERRY TANG, Associated Press   
Tuesday, 26 August 2014 13:39
This 1902 Toledo Steam Runabout, like the one making the Flagstaff to Grand Canyon trip, was part of the well-known Chicago Museum of Science and Industry Collection in the early 1950s. Image courtesy of LiveAuctioneers.com Archives and RM Auctions. PHOENIX (AP) – Two brothers from Britain are going back in time – using a unique automobile.

Nick and Chris Howell are poised to move full steam ahead Tuesday in re-creating a drive from Flagstaff to the Grand Canyon that was first undertaken at the turn of the 20th century. They will be riding in a Toledo Steam Car they spent more than eight years restoring.

“Flagstaff hasn't seen the car for more than a hundred years. We've got to do this. It's a bit of Flagstaff history,” said Chris Howell, whose vehicle converts water into steam, which pushes the pistons inside the engine.

The Toledo Steam Car is what Los Angeles photographer Oliver Lippincott used when he attempted the same 60-mile drive in 1902.

Lippincott, along with two friends and a local guide, set off on Jan. 3, 1902, in a steam car attached to a trailer hauling supplies. The journey they expected to take three hours ended up taking three days, according to the book Grand Canyon-Flagstaff Stage Coach Line.

The group was plagued with problems. The vehicle's boilers froze over, and its fuel got contaminated. They set out on foot to get help, and by the time they got within 18 miles of the Grandview Hotel at the Grand Canyon's South Rim, only one man was able to keep going. They were rescued and, ironically, horses pulled the steam car back to the hotel.

Tom Martin, secretary for the Grand Canyon Historical Society, said it was still a great feat at the time. The journey showed the potential for Flagstaff to have a technological edge by offering a way for cars to reach the Grand Canyon, which was already a tourist draw.

“Staying abreast of the latest technology was very important,” Martin said. “This was like the concept of today, asking what kind of app do you have on your smartphone. That's what automobiles at that time represented to them.”

Jim Merrick, an archivist at Kingfield, Maine's Stanley Museum, which chronicles the history of the Stanley steam car company, said steam cars began gaining popularity in the 1890s for their lightness. Using technology pioneered by the French, steam cars utilized coal or gasoline to heat a boiler or burner. The high pressure converted water into steam to power the engine.

“The steam car was called a rolling stove,” Merrick said.

But by 1910, sales of the vehicles started to plummet as gas cars improved and got more popular, Merrick said.

Nick Howell, a car buff whose trip will harken back to the steam car days, bought his Toledo Steam Car at a Michigan auction in 2004. He and his brother discovered the steam car had a larger water tank and a longer wheelbase than the typical Toledo, which was manufactured by American Bicycle Co. in Ohio.

They have only located 13 other Toledo owners, all with vehicles lacking the larger parts. As a result, the brothers believe their steam car may be the original used in 1902. Martin, of the historical society, agreed that it is a real possibility.

The car already has had quite the journey. The siblings shipped it from England to Los Angeles. Former Tonight Show host and car collector Jay Leno offered them the use of his garage and workshop before they brought the vehicle to the Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance car show on Aug. 17 in Pebble Beach, Calif.

It was while making plans to travel to Pebble Beach that the brothers learned about the car's place in Arizona history from an old newspaper article. They made contact with the Arizona Trail Association, which researched a possible route for the Howells' re-creation.

Chris Howell said they will spread the drive out over two days with multiple stops. The schedule calls for the car to travel at about 10 mph. The trek will end at Grandview Point, where the Grandview Hotel used to be. After that, they will bring the car to Scottsdale and Tucson.

Unlike the 1902 group, who didn't bring food and water, the Howell brothers are coming prepared. They will be traveling with two-way radios in case they run into car troubles.

“The car's an old lady, and it's a bit temperamental, and we've got to try to sort her out. It's running well, and then it's not running well,” Chris Howell said. “Hopefully we can all come up to expectations.”

There will be trucks hauling water for fuel stops along the way. The car holds 6 gallons of unleaded gas and 43 gallons of water. It takes about 45 minutes to start and they use a blowtorch to start a pilot light, Chris Howell said.

Meanwhile, Martin said volunteers will also be bringing lunch and “copious amounts of tea, because they're Brits after all.”

The Howell brothers also decided to go for as much authenticity as possible, down to an early 1900s wardrobe.

“It doesn't look right if you've got jeans and a T-shirt, does it?” Chris Howell said. “We might be a bit grubby at the end of it but you know, why not?”

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Follow Terry Tang on Twitter at https://www.twitter.com/ttangAP

Copyright 2014 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

AP-WF-08-24-14 2006GMT



ADDITIONAL IMAGE OF NOTE
This 1902 Toledo Steam Runabout, like the one making the Flagstaff to Grand Canyon trip, was part of the well-known Chicago Museum of Science and Industry Collection in the early 1950s. Image courtesy of LiveAuctioneers.com Archives and RM Auctions.
Last Updated on Tuesday, 26 August 2014 13:56
 

USS Saratoga aircraft carrier towed away to scrapyard

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Written by Associated Press   
Friday, 22 August 2014 09:54

The USS Saratoga (CV-60) underway with F-14 fighters on her bow during operations in the Mediterranean Sea in September 1985. Naval Historical Center image, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

NEWPORT, R.I. (AP) – The decommissioned aircraft carrier USS Saratoga has left its port in Rhode Island for its final journey to Texas, where it will be scrapped.

The ship departed Naval Station Newport on Thursday morning and was making its way down Narragansett Bay to the Atlantic Ocean. It is heading to the Esco Marine ship recycling plant in Brownsville, Texas. The Saratoga was supposed to leave Wednesday, but the voyage was postponed because of bad weather.

Esco Marine is being paid a penny by the Navy to dispose of the Saratoga. It plans to make money by selling what it recovers from the ship.

The Saratoga was launched in 1955 and decommissioned in 1994. The vessel fell into disrepair, and an effort to preserve the ship as a museum failed.

The carrier was named for the 1777 Revolutionary War battle.

Copyright 2014 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

AP-WF-08-21-14 1356GMT



ADDITIONAL IMAGE OF NOTE

 The USS Saratoga (CV-60) underway with F-14 fighters on her bow during operations in the Mediterranean Sea in September 1985. Naval Historical Center image, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Last Updated on Friday, 22 August 2014 10:03
 

Pa. counties weigh cost of maintaining covered bridges

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Written by RYAN BROWN, The (Altoona) Mirror   
Friday, 22 August 2014 08:55

Bowser Covered Bridge, built in 1890 over Bobs Creek in at East St. Clair Township, Bedford County, Pa. Image by Ruhrfisch (talk). This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.

BEDFORD, Pa. (AP) – Eighty-two-thousand dollars for a fresh coat of paint.

Few homeowners would tolerate such a bill, but in Bedford County, it's a typical expense for the century-old covered bridges that seem to cross every creek and stream.

With 19 covered bridges owned by the county and nine still used regularly by drivers, Bedford ranks among Pennsylvania's top counties for the historic spans. Hearkening to the time when farmers rode horse-drawn buggies to town, the bridges are a major draw for tourists – 12 are on the National Historic Register – but they need frequent, and often expensive, maintenance.

In the next few days, work is set to begin on one covered bridge at a $204,000 price tag, while another will likely call for about $325,000 in federal and state money, Commissioner Chairman Kirt Morris said. For one, the Jackson's Mill Bridge near Breezewood, the average bid for the paint job alone was $82,000.

“Bridges are an expensive asset ... and covered bridges are a very high-maintenance item,” Morris said at a meeting last week. “But you know how many streams, creeks, rivers we have in Bedford County. You can't travel far without crossing a bridge.”

Built mostly through the 19th century as a means to lengthen the lifespan of wooden river crossings, covered bridges stand among the most recognizable symbols of rural America. Whole communities of preservation activists have formed over the decades, particularly in Pennsylvania, which boasts far more covered bridges than any other state.

“Perhaps no other image comes to mind more when you mention Bedford County than covered bridges,” literature from the Bedford County Visitors Bureau reads. Of the self-guided tours the bureau offers, the bridge tour is the most popular, according to its website.

But their beauty and history come with a price: Built mostly or completely of wood, they rot away while other bridges don't, and without added support, they often can't carry anything much heavier than a family car.

When they need repairs, painstaking work is required to follow historical guidelines, with plans subject to approval from the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, said county bridge engineer Aaron Craig of P. Joseph Lehman Inc.

Even simple work like stripping old paint can be tough. Since many of the 19th-century bridges used toxic lead paint, workers have to ensure not even a single strip falls into the water below, Morris said.

That difficulty leads to hefty bills, with the Jackson's Mill Bridge's average $82,000 bid for paint in the standard range, Craig said. With nine of the county-owned bridges in need of regular inspection and work recommended once every 10 years, the cost quickly adds up.

“You could easily be seeing $50,000 to $100,000 just in painting every year,” Craig said.

At Jackson's Mill, locals have done their part to keep the site in order and have mown nearby grass, Morris said. But a rotting, exposed portion must be replaced, and it will take a hefty sum in the county's state-issued liquid fuels fund to pay for the repairs.

For those that see regular traffic – like Jackson's Mill, the only river crossing for miles for some residents – state highway money can cover the costs. Last year's hike in the state gas tax could provide bonus funding for work officials had long delayed.

“If it didn't make the bridge structurally deficient, we were putting it off,” Morris said.

In the 1990s, Bedford County reinforced many of its covered bridges with steel, preserving several for traffic while other counties, like Lancaster, posted restrictive weight limits and left them as they were.

For other bridges, including those maintained purely for historic significance, counties must scrape for other ways to pay.

At the well-known Bowser's Bridge near Osterburg, work totaling nearly $325,000 was covered only with a grant from the National Historic Covered Bridge Preservation Program, a federal transportation initiative. Others have received money from nonprofits like the Theodore Burr Covered Bridge Society of Pennsylvania.

Without federal aid, “we would have never been able to afford to do the work,” Morris said.

With the bridges recognized as a community treasure and subject to government restrictions, there's little chance the expense will decrease. Cost-saving measures are available – Clearfield County has used jail labor for timber work, and Bedford County could use inmates for painting, Craig said in a message to the commissioners – but seven covered bridges are on deck for new paint.

“It's out there,” Craig said of funding for the bridges. “It's just not as easy to get your hands on the money at this point.”

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Online:

http://bit.ly/1yZRnEh

___

Information from: Altoona Mirror, http://www.altoonamirror.com

Copyright 2014 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

AP-WF-08-20-14 1521GMT



ADDITIONAL IMAGE OF NOTE

 Bowser Covered Bridge, built in 1890 over Bobs Creek in at East St. Clair Township, Bedford County, Pa. Image by Ruhrfisch (talk). This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.

Last Updated on Friday, 22 August 2014 09:09
 

Lake Huron lighthouse near Mackinac Island up for auction

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Written by Associated Press   
Thursday, 21 August 2014 08:30

The Round Island Passage Light that is for sale should not be confused with the pictured Round Island Lighthouse on Round Island in the Mackinac Straits of Michigan. The 1895 Round Island Lighthouse was relit by a private foundation in 1996 and is now on the National Register of Historic Places. Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

MACKINAC ISLAND, Mich. (AP) – A lighthouse near Mackinac Island is available for purchase.

The latest bid for the Round Island Passage Lighthouse was $20,000, as of Tuesday. The sale began Monday with an opening bid of $10,000.

The Detroit Free Press reports the online auction is open to nonprofits only who must register to bid.

The building with a 71-foot tower is on state-owned Great Lakes Public Trust bottomlands, which isn't being sold.

The Round Island Passage Lighthouse opened in 1948 to mark a passage between Mackinac and Round islands in Lake Huron.

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Online:

Auction site: http://1.usa.gov/1rSOu5x

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Information from: Detroit Free Press, http://www.freep.com

Copyright 2014 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

AP-WF-08-19-14 1738GMT



ADDITIONAL IMAGE OF NOTE

The Round Island Passage Light that is for sale should not be confused with the pictured Round Island Lighthouse on Round Island in the Mackinac Straits of Michigan. The 1895 Round Island Lighthouse was relit by a private foundation in 1996 and is now on the National Register of Historic Places. Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons. 

Last Updated on Thursday, 21 August 2014 09:06
 

Houston Astrodome considers holding another yard sale

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Written by Associated Press   
Wednesday, 20 August 2014 08:17
Opened in 1965, the Astrodome was the world's first multipurpose, domed sports stadium. Image by Bill Wilson of Oklahoma City. This filed is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License. HOUSTON (AP) – A Texas-based sports corporation says it's considering selling more original stadium seats from the Houston Astrodome.

The Harris County Sports and Convention Corp. made $1.5 million from a yard sale and two online auctions, the Houston Chronicle reported. Almost 7,000 pairs of the red, orange, blue and yellow dome seats were purchased. Other sports memorabilia, such as autographed dugout benches, lockers, turnstiles, swatches of turf and employee uniforms, were also sold.

Mark Miller, general manager of NRG Park, said about 4,000 pairs of sellable seats remain. They're currently being stored in the stadium's basement.

Kevin Hoffman, deputy executive director of the Harris County Sports and Convention Corp., said the sports corporation is considering holding at least one more sale.

That means Megan Ross, 30, of Kemah may get the chance to purchase another set of seats from the world's first domed sports stadium. She said she initially thought one set would be enough when she attended the yard sale, but she wants one more because “they were only $200.”

Megan said her houseguests enjoy sitting in the pair of blue seats that are located in her breakfast nook.

“Everyone wants to sit in them,” Ross said. “They're awesomely comfortable still.”

She also picked up a piece of the old scoreboard and various-sized swatches of turf at the Astros yard sale.

“Everything that we got is hugely sentimental to me,” Ross said. “I know most people who aren't from Houston might think it's junk, but I don't care.”

Hoffman said most of the funds from last year's sales will be used to clean up a construction site and to maintain the dome.

The future of the 49-year-old Astrodome is still unclear, but it's being considered for protected landmark status or redevelopment. When it opened it 1965, was hailed as the Eighth Wonder of the World. The stadium has been closed since 2009, when city inspectors reported it was unfit for occupancy.

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Information from: Houston Chronicle, http://www.houstonchronicle.com

Copyright 2014 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

AP-WF-08-18-14 1737GMT



ADDITIONAL IMAGE OF NOTE
Opened in 1965, the Astrodome was the world's first multipurpose, domed sports stadium. Image by Bill Wilson of Oklahoma City. This filed is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 20 August 2014 08:32
 
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