Tuesday, September 30, 2008

"The Rifleman" - 50th Anniversary

The Rifleman was a Western television program that ran from 1958–1963 on ABC, a production of Four Star Television. The program starred former athlete Chuck Connors as Lucas McCain, a widower, Union veteran of the Civil War and a homesteader. McCain and his son Mark (singer Johnny Crawford) lived on a ranch outside the fictitious town of North Fork in the New Mexico Territory.

The pilot episode was telecast on CBS on Dick Powell's Zane Grey Theater. Regulars on the program included Marshal Micah Torrance (Paul Fix) (R. G. Armstrong was the original marshall for two episodes, the 1st and the 4th), Sweeney the bartender (Bill Quinn), and a half-dozen other denizens of North Fork (Hope Summers, Joan Taylor, Patricia Blair, John Harmon, and Harlan Warde were regulars).

The show was created and initially developed by a young Sam Peckinpah, who would go on to become the last legendary director of classic Western movies (The Wild Bunch, Ride the High Country, etc.). Peckinpah, who wrote and directed many of the best episodes from the first season, based many of the characters and situations on real-life scenarios from his childhood growing up on a ranch.

Westerns were popular when The Rifleman premiered, as producers struggled to find gimmicks to distinguish one show from another. The Rifleman's gimmick was a modified Winchester rifle with a trigger mechanism allowing for rapid-fire shots. Connors demonstrated its rapid-fire action during the opening credits as McCain dispatched an unseen bad guy on North Fork's main street.

The various episodes of The Rifleman promote fair play toward one's opponents, neighborliness, equal rights, and the need to use violence in a highly controlled manner ("A man doesn't run from a fight, Mark," McCain tells his son, "But that doesn't mean you go looking to run to one!").

The Rifleman 50th Anniversary Tribute Video

The above text was excerpted from Wikipedia. Click here for much more info on "The Rifleman" on Wikipedia.

The Rifleman Episode Guide List.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Happy 101st Birthday Gene Autry!

Orvon Gene Autry was born September 29, 1907. He gained fame as The Singing Cowboy on the radio, in movies and on television. He worked in Chicago, Illinois, on the WLS (AM) radio show National Barn Dance for four years with his own show where he met singer and songwriter Smiley Burnette.

His first hit was in 1932 with That Silver-Haired Daddy of Mine. Autry also sang the classic Ray Whitley hit "Back in the Saddle Again", as well as many Christmas songs including "Santa Claus Is Coming to Town", his own composition "Here Comes Santa Claus", "Frosty the Snowman" and probably his biggest hit ever, "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer".

Discovered by film producer Nat Levine in 1934, he and Burnette made their film debut for Mascot Pictures Corporation. Shortly thereafter, Mascot was absorbed by the formation of Republic Pictures Corp. and Autry went along to make a further 44 films up to 1940, all B westerns in which he played under his own name. He became the top Western star at the box-office by 1937, reaching his national peak of popularity from 1940 to 1942.

Autry briefly returned to Republic after the war, to finish out his contract, which had been suspended for the duration of his military service. Thereafter, he formed his own production company to make westerns under his own control, which were distributed by Columbia Pictures, beginning in 1947. He also starred in and produced his own television show on CBS beginning in 1950. He retired from show business in 1964, having made almost a hundred films up to 1955 and over 600 records.

Autry created the Cowboy Code or Cowboy Commandments in response to his young radio listeners aspiring to be just like Gene.

1. The Cowboy must never shoot first, hit a smaller man, or take unfair advantage.
2. He must never go back on his word, or a trust confided in him.
3. He must always tell the truth.
4. He must be gentle with children, the elderly, and animals.
5. He must not advocate or possess racially or religiously intolerant ideas.
6. He must help people in distress.
7. He must be a good worker.
8. He must keep himself clean in thought, speech, action, and personal habits.
9. He must respect women, parents, and his nation's laws.
10. The Cowboy is a patriot.

The above text was excerpted from Wikipedia. Click here for much more info on "Gene Autry" on Wikipedia.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Wisconsin State Cow Chip Throw

Sauk Cow Chip Toss in Sauk City, WI., just a cow chip toss from the farmer in the Dell. This event is held every Labor Day weekend, contestants come from all over the country and take their turn at chucking the cowpies, its very poopular. Of course, the key is picking out a good one. GPS is used to measure the distance, the announcer introduces the contestants over a blaring, distorted PA system. A good time is had by all.

Photos and text by Ray Peacock. Please visit Ray's website HeartlandRails.com

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Postcards From The Ponderosa

The Ponderosa Ranch was a theme park based on the popular 1960s television western Bonanza. The amusement park operated in Incline Village, near Lake Tahoe, Nevada, from 1967 until 2004. Portions of the last five seasons of the TV series and three TV movies were also filmed at that location.

The Ponderosa was the fictional setting for Bonanza. According to the storyline, it was a 600,000 acre ranch on the shores of Lake Tahoe, nestled high in the Sierra Nevada, with a large ranch house in the center of it. Ben Cartwright was said to have built the original, smaller homestead after moving from New Orleans with his pregnant third wife Marie and his two sons, Adam and Hoss. The grown Adam, an architect and engineer, designed the later sprawling ranch house as depicted on TV.

The idea for the theme park came about in 1965. Bill and Debbie Anderson owned a small horse ranch, which happened to be located at about the same area as the Ponderosa on the fictional burning map. According to the Andersons, tourists would regularly show up at their gates, asking where the Ponderosa was. The Andersons contacted NBC and proposed turning their small ranch into a theme park. NBC saw the idea as a great promotional tool for the series.

The park opened to the public in 1967, complete with a scale replica of the Cartwright ranch house and barn, similar to the ones seen on TV each week. A replica of Virginia City was later added to the property. The original plan was to open the set to tourists, once filming had wrapped. However, shuttling cast and crew up to Incline Village on a weekly basis became cost prohibitive. Thus, very few episodes of Bonanza were actually shot there.

The ranch and park remained a popular seasonal attraction for decades after the network run of Bonanza ended, having outlived most of the series' original cast; business finally began to dwindle in the late 1990s. The land was purchased by billionaire software entrepreneur David Duffield in 2004. In September 2004, he closed the Ponderosa "indefinitely".

The above text was excerpted from Wikipedia. Click here for much more info on "Ponderosa Ranch" on Wikipedia.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

American Architecture - Missouri

Highway 24 Sinclair Station - Salisbury, Missouri.

Ray's Famous Hamburgers - Excelsior Springs, Missouri.

Mr Z's In & Out Market- Kansas City, Missouri.

Maid-Rite Drive-In - Lexington, Missouri.

The Twin Drive-In Theater - Independence, Missouri.

Highway 24 Sinclair Station - Near Brunswick, Missouri.

For more great photos from the Heartland visit fotoedge on FLICKR.

Monday, September 22, 2008

1970's Southern California Railroading

Southern Pacific Railroad EMD FP7 - Alhambra Station, Alhambra, California, April, 1970. Locomotive No. SP 6453. The westbound "Sunset Limited" is seen at Alhambra station.

Union Pacific Railroad EMD E8(A) - Cajon Pass, San Bernardino County, California, 1970. Locomotive No. UP 934. The westbound "City of Los Angeles" is seen in Cajon Pass just west of Summit.

Santa Fe Railway EMD F7(A) - Union Station, Los Angeles, California, July, 1971. Locomotive No. ATSF 303C. The eastbound Amtrak "Super Chief" is seen departing Union Station for it's run to Chicago.

Santa Fe Railway EMD F7(A) - Pasadena Station, Pasadena, California, July, 1971. Locomotive No. ATSF 305L. The eastbound Amtrak "Super Chief" is preparing to leave Pasadena.

Union Pacific Railroad EMD E8(A) - Santa Ana river bridge, Riverside, California, 1971. Union Pacific's the "City of Los Angeles" is seen east bound during the last months of operation before Amtrak takes over.

Southern Pacific Railroad EMD FP7 - SP Alhambra Station, Alhambra, California, April, 1972. Locomotive No. SP 6455. The Cochella Valley Special was run by the Pacific Railroad Society and is seen at Alhambra station picking up passengers. Train was a day trip out to Indio and back to LA.

To see more of Clark's railroad photos on Railpictures.Net click here.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

An Extraordinary Voyage

The cool thing about blogging is that you meet a lot of people that share the same interest as you. In this case it is all about National Parks, an area of interest that I truly enjoy to no end. I also know that this blog is always 100% "Americana". But every once in a while you have to bend the rules a little. After all, "Were All in North Americana"!

Having said that, I have invited a fellow blogger, Cory Gross from Canada to give us a look at a recent trip that he and his friend, Jolene Robertson took through Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park.

"The Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park is the name of the union of the Waterton Lakes National Park in Canada and the Glacier National Park in the United States. Both parks are declared Biosphere Reserves by UNESCO and their union as a World Heritage Site.

The union of the parks was achieved through the efforts of Rotary International members from Alberta and Montana in 1932. It was the world's first International Peace Park, symbolizing peace and friendship between the two countries."

So in his own words, highlighting both the Canadian and U.S. areas of this "Majestic Park", here is Cory:

On the Internet, most know me as the creator of the Voyages Extraordinaires: Scientific Romances in a Bygone Age weblog. Classmates, however, know me as a fellow recipient of a degree in Museum and Heritage Studies. A love of the antique romance of the past drives both of those projects, but a large part of my degree focus was on design, delivery and style.

How the environment, natural and artificial, can be used to convey information, express emotion and cultivate experience is fascinating. A recent trip through Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park served as a potent laboratory for examining the subtlety with which this can work it magic.

Upper Waterton Lake, looking across the border.

In appearances, there is very little that is different between the Canadian and the American national parks along the stretch of the Rocky Mountains. The foundational premise of Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park is that Waterton Lakes National Park in Alberta and Glacier National Park in Montana share the same geology, ecology and bodies of water straddling the 49th parallel.

Glacier National Park incorporates the southernmost tip of what are known as the Canadian Rocky Mountains, as distinct from the American Rocky Mountains. Unlike the southern chain, the Canadian Rockies are composed of older, sedimentary cherts, black slates and blue-grey limestone thrusted upwards and sculpted by the passage of Ice Age glaciers.

The Continental Divide at Logan's Pass, Glacier.

The southern part of the Canadian Rockies share cultural, as well as natural, history. The Blackfoot First Nation, or Blackfeet Native Americans in the United States, had a territory that bordered the Rocky Mountains between the Yellowstone and the South Saskatchewan rivers. The world of the Nitsitapii, their own name for themselves, was distinguished by a geographic unity and bordered by natural landmarks, rather than by abstract lines of latitude and longitude on cartographers' maps.

Chief Mountain, an important landmark to the Nitsitapii.

The arrival of Europeans, the establishment of the national parks and the construction of chains of "Grand Railway Hotels" appears superficially similar as well. Yellowstone, the world's first national park, was created in 1872. In Canada, Banff was created in 1885, Yoho in 1886, Jasper in 1907 and Kootenay in 1920. Waterton Lakes was set aside in 1895 and Montana's Glacier was set aside in 1910. The original timber Banff Springs Hotel was built in 1888 and replaced by the current stone building in 1928.

Banff park's Chateau Lake Louise was started in 1913, while the Jasper Park Lodge was opened in 1921. Glacier Park Lodge, Lake Macdonald Lodge and the Many Glaciers Hotel in Glacier were built in 1913-14. The Prince of Wales Hotel in Waterton was built later, in 1926-27. Banff, Yoho, Jasper and Glacier were all developed by railway interests, but the construction of the Going to the Sun Road in Glacier in 1932 aligns it with Kootenay, which was established with the automobile in mind.

St. Mary Lake, Glacier.

All the parks share a subtext of classic North American rustic architecture with their log cabin walls and trophy animal heads, but it's in the style of those most impressive and iconic buildings, the Grand Railway Hotels, that we can begin to see the differences between the two nations' parks come into focus. Nearly all the hotels looked to a European model, taking seriously the advertising slogan that the spectacular Rockies were the Alps of North America. From that inspiration, they diverge along subtle but still radically different lines.

Lake MacDonald Lodge, Glacier.

In Canada, the hotels became the type of what is sometimes called the country's main national architectural style: "Railway Gothic". This is a blend of Gothic Revivalism and the French Chateau style used in most of the Grand Railway Hotels (hence the term) and many public buildings. Hearkening back to the English Arts and Crafts movement spearheaded by William Morris, Railway Gothic expresses the Victorian obsession with mediaevalism and all that entails. The feeling one gets is overwhelmingly that of the Old Country, of ingrained traditions, of the Crown, the red serge of the Mounted Police and the red, white and blue of the Union Jack.

The Banff Springs Hotel is the prime example. Built in the Scottish Baronial style, it is a piece of the Highlands transplanted to the New World. One is as likely to hear the wail of the tartaned piper as the cry of elk, reposing in the shadows of solid stone towers or admiring the tapestries and armorial bearings therein. The same sense is felt in Waterton's Prince of Wales Hotel.

Though built by America's Great Northern Railway and currently owned by Glacier Park Inc., the American concessionaire that operates the lodges of Glacier National Park, it was named after royalty in order to entice the future King Edward VIII to stay. He opted for his own nearby ranch instead, but the hotel bearing his title retains a cultivated sense of aristocratic propriety. At 4 o'clock on the dot, in halls adorned with photos of the errant King, one can take in that most British of all traditions, afternoon tea.

The Prince of Wales dwarfed by Waterton Lakes' mountains.

If Canada retains its historic connection to the Victorian Era in its Rocky Mountain resorts, the United States enshrines its own exercise in wilderness expansion and Manifest Destiny. Though the hotels of Glacier National Park are built on the Swiss model, they developed into the American style dubbed "National Parks Rustic". It still hearkens to an Arts and Crafts movement, but not the British one. The underlying aesthetic of the American Craftsman style is the line and geometry that worked its way through American art and architecture in the 1920's and 30's.

Beneath the rough-hewn stone and logs, one still sees this "wilderness streamline" and it invokes all the same sensations as Streamline Moderne. The weight of Victorian tradition is absent, and in its place the motifs of the landscape and its indigenous people is fitted over an architecture communicating progress, the ideal future of a World's Fair and the red, white and blue of a revolutionary nation.

Many Glacier Hotel on the shores of Swiftcurrent Lake, Glacier.

The three main lodges of Glacier - Glacier Park Lodge, Many Glacier Hotel and the Lake McDonald Lodge - share this Swiss-come-American style with the common motifs of tall pillars of rough-hewn tree trunks imported from Washington and Oregon supporting high-roofed, airy lobbies. Throughout these are trophy heads and skins set beside Native artwork recalling the indigenous Blackfeet.

Beyond these is Glacier's most iconic institution, the red "Jammer Bus". Established in 1936, this fleet of touring cars are sleek, 1930's vehicles built by the White Motor Company specifically for the United States National Parks. Of the fleet, only the red buses of Glacier and the yellow buses of Yellowstone remain in use. Against the incomparable backdrop of the Continental Divide at Logan Pass, they cut an impressive profile.

The famous red bus.

In spite of the cultural differences between the two nations, one is still taken aback and rendered breathless by the natural landscape. We come again to what pulled the Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park together. From the west, the Rockies rise up suddenly, eschewing the rolling foothills by abruptly jutting from the prairies. In Waterton, a herd of bison are kept as a reminder of when this monarch ruled the grassy plains. Facing the view directed by the Prince of Wales and Many Glacier hotels, one sees glittering blue lakes surrounded by mountains. Looking back, one sees the grasslands stretching out, inexplicable.

Where the mountains meet the prairies, Waterton Lakes.

Moving deeper inside the parks, one rises up the grade of the Going-to-the-Sun Road, past its namesake mountain into the land dubbed the "Crown of the Continent". The broad valleys of the more northerly Rockies and east Glacier are traded for startling extremes.

Above the highway tower vertical cliffs to immeasurable heights. Beneath, these same cliffs drop into distant ravines. At the Divide is the astonishing manifestation of the sublime hewn in living rock and windswept trees. In the midst of this, national differences - neither better, only different - pale to the same insignificance of the human hearts which enshrine them. This is the very point of the International Peace Park.

The following is a 10-minute silent film travelogue of the park, with very cool vintage music and effects! Text and video by Cory Gross. Photos by Jolene Robertson.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Postcards - Fine Dining and Relaxation

The "Susie Q - Chick 'n Chips" Royal Oak, Michigan Drive-in Restaurant.

Garth's Drive-In Restaurant - One of the West's most beautiful Drive-in Restaurants. Located in Downtown Colorado Springs. Kentucky Fried Chicken and Pizzaburger, the two taste treats of the nation, are featured here. Breakfast also served. Curb service space for 97 cars. A delightful place to eat. 421 South Nevada ave., Colorado Springs, Colo.

Jamaica Inn Resort Hotel, Corona Del Mar, Calif. A luxurious Inn combining all hotel services and motel convieniences with resort pleasures. Situated in California's finest all-year resort at Newport Harbor with 75 spacious rooms overlooking the broad bay and sparkling ocean. Especially featured is the exotic Jamaica Inn Restaurant and Cocktail Lounge. Only minutes to Disneyland, Knotts Berry Farm, Laguna Beach and other California fun-spots.

Route 66 - Satellite Cafe & Phillips 66 Service Station in Lebanon, Missouri.

Route 66 - El Capitan Motel in Gallup, New Mexico. Located at 1300 East Highway 66.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Postcards - Vintage California

The wonderful PAINTED PINNACLES at Montebello Park. Permanent Exposition showing EVOLUTION of the AMERICAN HOME. (circa 1920's)

California Magic Carpet - California Band and Glee Club - Phonograph Record Offer card. (circa 1950's)

In 1968 on the Glamour Trams, any street in Europe is on the back lot at Universal Studios.

MONORAIL TOUR. A thrilling and dramatic ride through the Los Angeles Home of Anheuser-Busch Brewery. Visitors will enjoy the custom designed, electrically operated "Skyrail Tour" monorail trains. The 3,500 foot ride is a most unique method for guests to view the brewery operations that produce Budweiser, Michelob and Busch Bavarian.

Fantasy Motel "Across The Street From Disneyland" 1734 Harbor Blvd. - Anaheim, California - Phone: PRospect 4-8111 - Free Shuttle Service to and from Disneyland - Heated Swimming and Wading Pools - Free TV - Hi-Fi - Ice Cubes - Coffee. Diners Club - American Express - Carte Blanche.