Category Archives: History

An Abject Reptile

A friend loaned this book to me. The title Timothy; or, Notes of an Abject Reptile got my attention so I started reading it right away. Only 180 pages, it was a quick read. Author Verlyn Klinkenborg used notes from Gilbert White in the 18th century. White constantly observed nature and recorded details in notebooks. He searched for keys to behavior and connections to the spiritual world of his profession as a pastor. The term physico-theology was used to describe him. Gilbert White’s notes described the people, their lives, nature, and their connections in the small town of Selborne England.

Timothy was a tortoise owned by White. He lived in the garden for a long time. Originally from the middle east, Timothy was not accustomed to the climate of England. But, Timothy was an astute observer of White and the other humans. Verlyn Klinenborg wrote this book from the viewpoint of Timothy using White’s notes about the town and its citizens.

I found it perceptive and captivating. If you are an observer of the natural world, I think you would enjoy this book.


Union Pacific Bigboy #4014 Roars Past

The 150th anniversary of completion of the Trans-continental Railroad is celebrated in 2019. During the 1940s, Union Pacific built 25 large steam locomotives. They normally operated between Cheyenne, Wyoming and Ogden, Utah. Their heavy weight and multiple traction wheels provided the force needed to transport trains of freight over the continental divide. More history of Union Pacific here.

Bigboy #4014 was restored to operation and has been on tour. It traveled the tracks not far from our home on 30 July. My friend and I scouted out a good location for pictures the week before. Our wives joined us, along with a hundred others, at this rural crossing to see it go by. We heard the whistle in the distance. The crowd got quiet and moved closer to the tracks. The crossing gates came down. It rounded the bend blowing the whistle – two longs, a short, one long. The ground shook. My body shook. It was power on wheels. Turn up the sound on the video for maximum effect.


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Iowa City Airport | 100 Years of History

by Jim and Melanie

The Tin Goose

We visited our local airport in Iowa City on 9 June 2018 as it celebrated 100 years of service to the community and the country. One of the highlights of the visit was the Ford Tri-Motor, which offered rides for $75. What a beautiful and graceful machine. We watched it fly over our neighborhood several times before we went to the airport. It deserved a closer look. The corrugated metal structure gives meaning to the nickname of “Tin Goose.”

It first flew on 1 December 1928. It was sold to Transcontinental Air Transport in January 1929 and was named City of Wichita. The TAT logo is on the fuselage. It and sister ship City of Columbus inaugurated transcontinental commercial air service in 1929.

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Smithsonian | Udvar-Hazy Center

by Jim and Melanie

When we get a chance, we enjoy visiting the National Mall in Washington, DC. Over time we’ve experienced many of the museums and monuments. The Smithsonian Air and Space Museum is one we have visited several times. It is full of thousands of artifacts documenting the history of aviation and space exploration. Did you know about their companion facility the Udvar-Hazy Center? It is located near Dulles airport west of the DC area in Chantilly, VA. It consists of two hangars with some iconic space and aviation exhibits. We finally got to visit and urge you to do the same if you have an interest in aviation and space.


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Make Hay While The Sun Shines

How I See It

The proverb was recorded by John Heywood in 1546: “Whan the sunne shinth make hay.” It appears to be of English Tudor origin. The phrase was used in a non-farming context in 1673 in Richard Head’s Canting Academy: “She … was resolv’d … to make Hay whilest the Sun shin’d.”

It takes several days to make hay once the crop has grown mature. Most important, there should be no rain during that time. First, it must be cut and allowed to dry in the warm sun. Next, it must be gathered in a way that makes it easy to store until it is fed to livestock. Stacking in the field was a common practice. Several people were needed to tend a large field. The stack shape was designed to shed water. Claude Monet painted many beautiful scenes with haystacks in them. This is one of my favorites.

Claude Monet | Haystacks (Midday)…

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