Thursday, October 30, 2014

Beavers Bend State Park


December of last year, I wrote in my blog about a big celebration planned in Louisville, Kentucky, in the fall of 2014, to honor the 100 year birthday of the steamboat Belle of Louisville.  By the grace of God, I was able to be on board the famous boat on October 18, 2014, to be a part of that birthday party!

cruise I took was the first one of the morning, and some of the participants chose to participate in a breakfast buffet that was offered in the spacious dining room. 

I knew I would be more interested in being out on the deck taking photos, so I chose the "sightseeing only" option for the cruise I took.  One of the sights we saw was this huge civil engineering project to construct a new bridge for Interstate 65 across the Ohio River, connecting the states of Indiana and Kentucky.  I am eager to return, to drive across that structure when it is completed!

One of the first homes we sailed past, had put out a huge banner with birthday greetings to the "Old Lady" of the river!

three area cities--New Albany, Jeffersonville, and Louisville--of The Belle's home port were all joining in the celebration to welcome the visiting boats from up and down the USA waterways.  One of those visiting was the Spirit of Peoria, with its ornate deck rails, banners, window shutters, and paddle wheel.

sightseeing cruise took us by river marinas where locals kept their houseboats and "wannabe" paddle wheelers!

We also cruised by the location where the gigantic American Queen was moored.  This is the largest steamboat ever built and the only authentic paddle wheeler offering overnight trips on the Mississippi River.  Though it features the style of classical steamboats, the vessel is also outfitted with modern cabins and dining rooms.   Notice how much bigger it is than the Spirit of Peoria which is sailing past her. 

We were able to get views of the Louisville skyline after the boat pushed away from Riverfront Park.  The tall hotel in the photo---The Galt House---is where I stayed, which was the headquarters hotel for the Centennial Festival of Riverboats.  My room had a great view of the Ohio River, as well as the wharf where the Belle of Louisville, and its accompanying ticket office, is moored.

All the boats providing cruises for the Centennial Festival of Riverboats, had re-enactors aboard, dressed in the colorful wardrobes of 100 years ago. 

One of the interesting sites we sailed by was the Louisville Water Tower ( ).  The tall white tower on the left of the photo is the oldest ornamental water tower in the world, built BEFORE the more famous Chicago Water Tower.  Both the white tower and its pumping station are on the National Register of Historic Places.  The industrial nature of the water pumping station was disguised in the form of a Greek temple complex.  The tower began operation in 1860.  The location of the pumping station on the Ohio River made it easy to deliver the coal needed to operate its pumping station.  The tower ceased operations in 1909.  The building is still used for special functions, and there is a waterworks museum in the west wing of the original pumping station. 

This photo shows the Belle of Louisville in front of the city skyline who owns her.  Since this famous boat is sort of "the firstborn" of the remaining operational riverboats, I am using the image as a visual aid for my First Place 4 Health ( ) memory verse that says, "Those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers."  Romans 8:29.    I hope YOU are predestined to get to make a fun trip to the Louisville waterfront sometime in the future!  Even if you missed the 100 year birthday party, you can still enjoy an upcoming river festival called "The Great Steamboat Race", held annually in conjunction with the week of the world-famous Kentucky Derby.  Just as the Kentucky Derby is always the first Saturday in May, "The Great Steamboat Race", is always held the Wednesday before the Kentucky Derby.  The event is free of charge, and you can find out more details from the Kentucky Derby Festival website at  .  I am giving thanks that I was able to participate in this great riverboat celebration, and hope such a trip is also in your destiny---it will give you MILES OF SMILES!  Tricia

Sunday, September 28, 2014


This photo shows the historic railroad depot of Vicksburg, Mississippi, located on the Yazoo River, a tributary to the Mississippi River. 

Although the building is no longer used for railroad connections, it continues to serve as a "connections point" for those who want to learn more about the history of railroading, especially how that history is significant to Vicksburg. 

Not surprisingly, there is a gift shop you can visit to buy souvenirs, even if you are not able to tour the museum.

The red railroad car in this photo is about all that remains from the once-thriving railroad era.  It takes one back to the time when railroad tycoons amassed great fortunes from using the hand-laid tracks that criss-crossed out country in days of old. Unfortunately, some of those railroad tycoons who had put all their hope in rail transportation, lost everything when the automobile began to replace rail travel as the preferred method of transportation.  Therefore, I am using this photo as my visual aid for one of my First Place 4 Health ( ) memory verses that says: " [Do not] put [your] hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but ... put [your] hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment."  I Timothy 6:17

Just above the Old Depot Museum, on Washington Street, is the Biedenharn Coca-Cola Museum. 

It is located in a restored 1890 building where Coca-Cola was first bottled  in 1894. 

In addition to the museum, there are over 100 Coca-Cola items for sale in the gift shop, as well as ice-cold Cokes and ice cream floats.

Since the location is listed in the National Register of Historic Places, it seems like the perfect spot to sit down and enjoy a sip of this famous beverage!

Another scenic spot to visit downtown is Levee Street with the famous Vicksburg Riverfront Murals.  These consist of 32 life-like pictorial murals by artist Robert Dafford.

The Historic Washington Street is also home to the Saturday Farmer's Market, and one of  the Highway 61 MS Blues Trail Markers. 

The best way to get the maximum enjoyment from your time in Vicksburg is to stop by one of the locations of the Vicksburg Visitors Information Centers.  There is one located downtown on Levee Street, and another located across from Vicksburg Military Park.  Of course, visiting their website ( ) can get you prepared even before you get into town!

There you can pick up maps of the area that will guide you to all the attractions of either the Red Scenic Drive or Blue Scenic Drive.  In addition to the map, the Scenic Drives are marked with signs like the one shown in this photo. 

The Old Court House sits high atop a hill, and can be seen from throughout the downtown area.  It is considered Vicksburg's crown jewel both architecturally and historically.  The National Landmark towers above the city on a hill hallowed by history.  It was on these grounds that Jefferson Davis launched his political career; it was here on July 4, 1863 that the Stars and Stripes replaced the Stars and Bars, signifying the end of the 47-day siege.  It has been a museum since 1948, and filled with items reflecting the Southern Heritage.  It is said to have the largest collection of Civil War memorabilia in the South.  Plus, when I visited, I noticed their gift shop even had certain relics available for sale. 

Since I was in Vicksburg to pay my respects to my great grandfather that fought in the Siege of Vicksburg, I took the drive to the Cedar Hill Cemetery, which is also the location of the Soldier's Rest Confederate burial ground.  As the late afternoon sun cast long shadows in front of all the Confederate tombstones, I pondered that somewhere, there was a family represented by each of those markers.  And every family represented, has a unique story to tell of their loved one who was swept away by the very bloody Civil War.  Although one of great grandfathers never made it home from Vicksburg, another of my great grandfathers DID return to his home in Carroll County, Arkansas.  He married a much younger woman, who became a Confederate Civil War widow, and was still alive and receiving a Civil War Widow Pension Check when I was born.  It is interesting that the U.S. Government honored the military service of her late husband, by continuing to send the Civil War Widow Pension check to my Great Grandma Rudd, even though her husband had been on the "losing" side, illustrates that active steps the government was taking to heal our nation.  That gives me "Miles of Smiles"!  Tricia


The Lower Mississippi River Museum and Riverfront Interpretive Site ( ) is located on historic Washington Street in downtown Vicksburg, Mississippi.  I first became interested in visiting the museum after seeing a television special about the research being done on the Mississippi River, by the U.S. Corps of Engineers staff in Vicksburg.  Before I arrived, I had been concerned about where I would park, but on the weekday I visited, I was able to park just a few steps from the front door!  There is also additional free parking on the back side of the building. 

Adjacent to the LMRM is an actual Corp of Engineers boat, the Mississippi IV, that visitors can tour to get a feel for life on board the boat. 

The numerous exhibits and interactive exhibits within the museum will give you a new appreciation for the "Mighty Mississippi", and I would recommend sitting down in the Theater to watch the short video that tells about the history of this magnificent watershed.

The beautifully designed facility has glass walls, clean restrooms, free WiFi, eye-pleasing displays, and its FREE!

Depending on the particular era in time that interests you, you can pick up a "phone" to talk to someone who lived along the Mississippi at that designated time period.

I tried my hand at this pilothouse simulator, and found out that even though I am a graduate of the Annapolis Sailing School, my river navigation skills are very questionable!

A metal walkway connects the museum to the main deck of the Mississippi IV boat.

The galley of the boat was well equipped to feed a non-stop line of hungry sailors!

Since the boat is so long, and had so many levels, one could get their exercise just by walking up and down the numerous decks!

One reason the Corp of Engineers needs a reliable working boat is to keep abreast of the ever-changing course of the river.  The three colors on this photograph show the different twists and turns the river channel has followed for the years 1775, 1893, and 2010. 

Outside behind the museum is a scale model of the lower Mississippi River, that folks can wade in, if they so desire.  This photo of the PATH the river makes through the Delta, is the visual aid I am using for my First Place 4 Health ( ) memory verse that says, "Show me your ways, O LORD, teach me your paths; guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long." Psalm 25:4-5.  Likewise, school groups can use this model to show the kids the ways of the river, teach kids about its path, guide kids in the truth of water resources management, and teach kids what they need to know so that they can continue to hope in the benefits provided by the river,  all day long!

When you look at the river model from inside the museum, you can also see an "ox bow" lake (lower right of photograph)  that has been formed when the river changed courses.

This display of the USA shows all the rivers that empty into the Mississippi River watershed.  That is a HUGE proportion of our country, and illustrates why the Corp of Engineers is being proactive in protecting this valuable resource of our country.  I am very thankful they have open this excellent educational facility so visitors can explore the river's past, examine the science behind water movement, and learn about the future plans for the Mississippi Valley.   The morning I spent at LMRM gave me "Miles of Mississippi Smiles"!  Tricia