Tuesday, December 27, 2005

On the Road Again ........

Hope everyone had the merriest of holidays and I wish you all a very happy 2006!!

I'm all set up for a great travel year with a brand new digital compass on my windshield and a new Magellan GPS tool, so I don't get lost. Thanks Santa!

So, ya'll can plan on seeing lots of new information and travel destinations in 2006. And, with all my new interactive tools with my new webhost, you can join me with your adventures as well.

Join Legends of America's new bulletin board, upload your photographs and tell your tales.

Our new guestbook also allows comments from other visitors and the opportunity to upload photographs here as well. Visit the guestbook at: http://www.legendsofamerica.com/guestbook/index.php

Look for lots of new adventures for the new year and thanks for haning with me!!


Friday, December 02, 2005

Vintage Photographs of the Old West

Vintage Photographs of the Old West - I get bunches of emails and guestbook comments about the many vintage photographs on Legends of America. Now, our many guests can order prints of these old pictures at a very reasonable cost.

If you just can't get enough of the American West and are looking to decorate a room, a "saloon," or add that frontier touch to any place in your home or office, you can now get prints of historic photographs at very reasonable prices through Legends of America's online Old West Print Room. From notorious outlaws, to Indian Chiefs, buffalo roaming the range, and pioneers on the trail, this varied collection grows daily.

See all the categories:

Native Americans - Includes Chiefs and Heroes of the American West as well as scenes of Indian Life during the days of the Old West.

Outlaws, Gunfighters, and Lawmen - Heroes, Bandits and other colorful figures of the American West.

Scenes of the Old West - Cowboys, pioneers, traders, and trails

Towns and Cities of the Old West - City and street views of historic towns

Most Haunted American West - The Winners

Thanks to all of you who participated in our Most Haunted poll. Now, you'll find all kinds of tales on those places that you think are the most haunted in the American West.

For Most Haunted Cities in the American West, ya'll say that Tombstone is the most haunted with San Antonio, Texas coming in a close second. Here are the full results:
Tombstone, Arizona
San Antonio, Texas
Denver, Colorado
St. Louis, Missouri
Hollywood, California
Cheyenne, Wyoming
San Diego, California
Seattle, Washington
Albuquerque, New Mexico
Tucson, Arizona

The Alamo, San Antonio, Texas
The Queen Mary, Long Beach, California
Lemp Mansion in St. Louis, Missouri
St James Hotel, Cimarron, New Mexico
Alcatraz Island, San Francisco, California
Whaley House, San Diego, California
Pike Place Market, Seattle, Washington
Bullock Hotel, Deadwood, South Dakota
San Antonio Train Tracks, Texas
Hotel del Coronado, San Diego, California

Read about these haunted places plus a whole bunch more by visiting our Ghostly Legends pages.

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Most Haunted of the American West

Legends of America took nominations throughout the month for the most haunted city and place in the American West. From these nominations we've created the Haunted Places Poll to rank the top ten. Now, we're asking for votes to rank the top places. You gotta vote if you wanna see your favorite haunted place in the top ten.

Here's a few of the cities that made the list:

A couple of places that are said to be very haunted include:

These cities and places are just a few that were nominated. Give us your vote on the most haunted cities and places of the American West by clicking HERE!

Celebrity Ghosts Across America

Afer having lived in the limelight with attention from the press and fans, some of our nation's famous and infamous celebrities are seemingly just not ready to move on. So, if you never had the opportunity to meet them in real life, according to these tales you might still be able to catch a glimpse of them as they continue to haunt the places of their pasts.

Lots of these ghostly apparitions are of the Hollywood variety such as Marilyn Monroe who is said to haunt her former home, as well as the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel; Harry Houdini, the magician and escape artist who allegedly didn't even believe in ghosts; and Lon Chaney, the ever popular star of silent movie horror films.

Political ghosts also lurk around the country, the most prevalent of which is Abraham Lincoln, who not only continues to roam around the White House, but also his tomb and former home in Springfield, Illinois. Then there's Aaron Burr, the third Vice President under Thomas Jefferson, who's not known so much known for that is he is for killing Alexander Hamilton in a duel. Today, Burr is said to haunt the One If By Land, Two If By Sea Restaurant, in New York City. Speaking of Thomas Jefferson, he too is said to haunt the white house, playing the violin in the Oval Office.

Even our infamous Old West outlaws get into the picture as Jesse James is said to haunt his old farm in Kearney, Missouri and train robber Black Jack Ketchum continues to lurk within a cave in New Mexico.

If you want a good spook story for Halloween -- you'll find dozens of them on Legends of America's Ghostly Legends pages.

In the meantime, have a Happy Halloween!!

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Odd Place Names In America

For those with precious little to do, why not take a wee peek at a few of the curious and entertaining place names found in the United States of America (like Zap, North Dakota and Knockemstiff, Ohio). So says Victoria Elizabeth, author of What's In a Name? - Odd Places in America.

Elizabeth continues by begging to ask these questions:
  1. Just who might be eager to visit these out-of-the-way, off-the-beaten track, and some might even say, downright peculiar places like Nothing, Arizona or Floyds Knobs, Indiana?
  2. What do real estate agents say and do to attract new property owners to King of Prussia, Valentine or Santa Clause?
  3. Who lives in Nags Head or Lynchburg?
  4. Why would anyone name a place "Punxsutawney" unless of course, one had nothing better to do on "National Groundhog Appreciation Day"?
  5. Where is Frostproof, Funkstown, Pottawattamie, Romeoville and Willacoochee anyway?

Elizabeth's article continues with some very odd city names for every state in the country.

As we began to received emails asking why other interesting names aren't included, we created an online submission form where our reader's can add to Elizabeth's list. After we got this submission, I couldn't help but do just a little research.

Lake Chargoggagoggmanchauggagoggchaubunagungamaugg, Webster, Massachusetts

Wow, now that's a mouthful! The lake is most often referred to by locals as "Webster Lake," as the actual pronunciation is too difficult. Given the name by the Nipmuk Indians, the name loosely translates to "fishing place at the boundary." Long ago it was considered neutral territory and became a meeting place and powwow site among the Nipmuks and the Narraganssett, Pequot and Mohegan tribes. However, when the Webster Times ran a humorous article about the lake with a tongue-in-cheek translation of, "You Fish on Your Side, I Fish on My Side, Nobody Fish in the Middle," it became so popular that many don't know today what the actual translation is. "Chargoggagoggmanchauggagoggchaubunagungamaugg" is the longest place name in the United States and 6th longest in the world. See more about the lake and its history at History of the Lake.

Add your own odd place names by visiting HERE!

Haunted Alacatraz Island

What an absolutely fascinating story! Are you like me and thought that Alcatraz was merely an infamous prison that housed America's worst? After getting a lead that the island was haunted, I decided to research this place, and ohmagosh -- not only is this the a tale of a prison and its ghosts, but Alcatraz has a much longer history beyond its prison days. Serving as a military outpost for some 80 years before it housed the notorious prison, this is the stuff of cowboys and indians, the mounted cavalry, Civil War, and more!!

Here's just a couple of interesting tales:

  • Long before Alcatraz became home to some of the most notorious outlaws in the country, it was known as a place to be avoided by Native Americans who believed it to contain evil spirits. These Native Americans, called the Ohlone (a Miwok Indian word meaning "western people,") often utilized the island as a place of isolation or banishment for members violating tribal laws.
  • From 1850 to 1907, the island served as Fort Alcatraz as a U.S. Army post taking on the role of the most powerful coastal defense in the west. In addition to its strategic defensive position, the island also took on the additional role of serving as a stockade for enlisted men.
  • The first Confederate threat to California occurred in March, 1863 when the army learned that a group of southern sympathizers planned to overtake San Francisco Bay. Their strategy was to arm a schooner, use it to capture a steamship, blockade the harbor, and attack the fort. However, when the schooner’s captain bragged about the scheme while drinking in a tavern, the news was quickly relayed to Union officials. On the night the schooner was set to sail, the U.S. Navy seized the ship and arrested the crew. When the boat was towed to Alcatraz, the army found cannons, ammunition and 15 more men hidden in the ship.
  • During the Civil War, Alcatraz's role as a military prison increased. In addition to the numerous military personnel committing crimes in the army, local civilians who had been arrested for treason were incarcerated there. Soon the rooms in the guardhouse began to fill.
  • After the Civil War during the Indian Wars of the Old West, numerous Native Americans were incarcerated at the military prison. One such prisoner, Chief Kaetena, a compatriot of Geronimo, was sent to Alcatraz after battling against General George Crook's army. In January 1895, nineteen Hopi leaders, who had been involved in land disputes with the government and refused to comply with mandatory government education programs for their children, were severely punished by sending them to the “Rock.”
  • As the ships of the U.S. military became more and more powerful, the defensive purposes of Alcatraz became obsolete. In 1907, Alcatraz was re-designated as the "Pacific Branch, U.S. Military Prison” and prison guards replaced infantry soldiers. Continuing to serve as a military prison until 1934, many of the buildings were constructed by prison labor during this time, until some 600 cells occupied the prison. As a Military Prison, there were at least 80 men who attempted to escape in 29 separate attempts. Of those, 62 were captured and returned to the prison, one may have drowned and the fate of 17 others were unknown.
  • By 1933, the army decided that the island was too expensive to operate. In the meantime, the gangster era was in full swing, brought on by the desperate need of the great depression, combined with Prohibition. The nation’s cities were witnessing terrible violence as shoot-outs and public slayings became frequent when mobster’s took control. The ill-equipped law enforcement agencies were often bought off by the gangsters or cowered before the better-armed gangs of nattily dressed men. Simultaneously, the existing prisons were experiencing a number of escapes, rioting and gang-related murders. Alcatraz was the ideal solution to the problem and J. Edgar Hoover jumped on the opportunity to create a “super-prison” that would instill fear in the minds of would-be criminals, offered no means of escape, and a place where inmates could be safely controlled. Negotiations soon began and Alcatraz was transferred to the Bureau of Prisons in October 1933.
  • 1934 saw the arrivals of the "Rock's" first prisoners - infamous men like Al Capone and Machine Gun Kelly. Until 1963, the prison would house the "worst of the worst" criminals in the country, the part of Alcatraz history made famous by numerous movies, and for which we are more familiar. During these years the prison housed a total of 1,545 prisoners. 36 men attempted to escape in fourteen 14 separate attempts. Of those, 20 were captured, seven were shot and killed, two drowned, and five were never found, assumed by prison authorities to have drowned.
  • On November 9, 1969, Native Americans claimed the island demanding its use for a Native American Cultural Center and Indian University. The occupation continued for more than a year until June 10, 1971, when armed federal marshals, assisted by the Coast Guard, swarmed the island and forcibly removed the Indians.
  • Today, a number of otherwordly entities are said to lurk in the shadows of the often fog-enshrouded island and have been heard, seen and felt by both the staff and many visitors to Alcatraz. The sounds of men’s voices, screams, whistles, clanging metal doors and terrifying screams are said to be heard within these historic walls, especially near the dungeon.

If you too, hold a fascination with Alcatraz and decide to pay a visit, make sure you book your reservations well in advance for the tours as they often book up days in advance.

For the full article on Alcatraz, visit The History & Hauntings of Alcatraz on our website.

Contact Information:

Alcatraz Island National Park Service
Golden Gate National Recreation AreaFort Mason, Building 201
Alcatraz, San Francisco, California 94123
Visitor Information - 415-561-4900 Reservations - 415- 705-5555

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Returning from Springfield, Illinois

Sitting in a hotel room resting after having spent the day at the Springfield, Illinois Route 66 festival and car show. My first trip to this annual event, it appears the focus is more on the car show than Route 66. Although they had some great bands, beautiful cars, and lots of friendly people, I was disappointed that it wasn't very "Route 66" focused. The Illinois associations were there but no one else. Very few Route 66 vendors. I know I was comparing to the Tulsa festival last summer, which led to my disappointment. I also know that there was a huge festival in San Bernardino just a few weeks ago that kept alot of people from attending Springfield. I'm just wondering if this was a "fluke" year at Springfield, or it's generally always that way.

Don't get me wrong, I still had a great time and met alot of wonderful people! And, along the way, I got some great photographs of Illinois and visited one of Illinois' most haunted cities - Alton. Stay tuned for that story!

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Keeping Up With the Blog

Well, there are times that I wonder if I can keep up with both the website and a blog, and since I started it I haven't done a very good job. However, I'm going to do my very best to change that so that all of you can see what's going on at Legends of America, as well as interact, add your thoughts, and perhaps to get to know me a little bit better.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Enamoured With Ghost Towns!

No doubt it is that nostalgic part of me that keeps me on a constant hunt for ghost towns, sometimes going back to the same ones over and over again. Though I like them all, I truly
prefer those that are not commercial, favoring them preserved rather than restored.

For whatever reasons, I enjoy the silence of these lost and lonely places and the nostaligia that overwhelms me as I walk their dusty streets. I just can't help but think of the people that once lived here, this place that was once lively and now sits empty and abandoned. What brought them here or were they just passing through on there way to yet another place? Did they make the fortunes for which they sought or was this town too, just another in a string of failures? Did outlaws roam these old and dusty streets. No doubt my imagination is sometimes more vivid than this town's actual past.

Last month saw me in Las Vegas - Sin City of the World!! Did I spend my days there enjoying the sounds of lively crowds and the ting, ting, ting of the slot machines? Did I spend my nights straining my neck in every direction gawking at the neon lights and adult Disney Land type pleasures? No. Every morning I hit the road in search of Nevada ghost towns, returning
to Las Vegas in the evening so dusty and exhausted I barely had the energy for dinner before falling into bed. And what a great state Nevada is for its ghost towns!!

I visited a few that I had already written about such as Rhyolite and Delamar. Rhyolite was everything I hoped for and then some, but Delamar was quite a disappointment. Though rich in history, this old place is very remote and I would recommend getting there only in a four wheel drive. Though I was glad that I went, I wasn't sure it was worth the long trip. Most of its buildings are gone. I learned from a local that many of these old structures have been taken apart, piece by piece, by treasure hunters looking for gold or other valuables hidden in the walls. Though I think treasure hunting is a great way to spend the day, I would be ashamed to know anyone who actually destroys history in their conquest for hidden treasure.

On the other hand, I found some new ghost towns that I had not yet written about -- Gold Point, Goldfield and Nelson. While Goldfield is often written about as one of the best ghost towns in Nevada and was certainly worth the trip, I felt that nearby Goldfield was even better. Here in this old town, that now supports a population of just about six people, many of the buildings have been preserved. Walking down its quiet and dusty street was like stepping back in time. The owner of the town now provides numerous events throughout the year and wedded couples to be can even have their ceremony in this historic place. A must visit for ghost towners in Nevada.

Another great find along my journey was Nelson, Nevada and Eldorado Canyon. Just east of Nelson is the Techatticup Mine with many restored buildings at its base. Having a rich and rebald past, the site has served as the set of several movies. An interesting tidbit that we picked up while there is that Eldorado Canyon is supposedly haunted by canine spirits. The locals call them the Helldogs of Eldorado Canyon. Yup, we've got a lot of ghost stories on the website, but this is a first for ghostly dogs. Don't miss Eldorado Canyon when you're in the Las Vegas area. Do you have a favorite ghost town that you would like to share? Let's hear it!!

In the meantime, here are a couple of great links to Nevada Ghost Towns:

CmdrMark's Ghost Towns
Ghost Town Gallery
Ghost Towns.com
Ghost Town Seekers
Nevada Ghost Towns

What's the difference between a blog and the newsletter?

Well, a blog can be include almost anything from lots of informative details to the personal ramblings of the blogger. The term "blog" is short for Web log, and is a web page just like Legends of America. Normally, they tend to be personal journals for individuals which reflect the personality of the author.

The Legends Blog will provide both information as well as a glimpse into my personality. Unlike the website, where I try to remain neutral in my writings, not giving a lot of opinions or my personal thoughts, the blog may very well contain personal opinions. With the newsletter, you get a bit of my personality, but the problem there is that it is not interactive. My opinion - who cares? What about yours? Here on the Blog, you can tell me what you think!

Perhaps we could start with what you would like to see included in the Legends Blog as well as new information you would like to see featured on Legends of America?

Please tell me what you think!

Monday, June 27, 2005

Hitting The Road

Yup, I finally decided to do a blog! Why? So, you can keep up with where I am on the road, what's new at Legends of America, the chance for you to get to know me better, and most importantly, allow you the opportunity to make comments, add your own ideas and views, and tell us about your travel adventures.

So, look for me on the highway, as I keep you updated on my travels across the West.

On the weblog, I will post short snippets of news of travel destinations, ghosts that I bump into in my travels, treasure tales that I dig up in my journey, links to other great websites of interest, new products at the Rocky Mountain General Store, and anything else that is of interest you.

And, the weblog is interactive!! Here, you can post your thoughts on travel destinations, ghosts, treasures, "beefs," accolades, or any other little thing that comes to mind. Grab your pony and head on down the dusty trail with Legends of America!

Happy Travels!!