Miles of America

11,000 mile 23 states, 16 site vitiations.

Loneliness, controversy, values contradiction, capitalism, history, environment banality, utility, belief systems, philosophy, positioning, conduct, responsibility, ownership privilege privacy and security, resource management, politics of design, infrastructure intrusion, exploitation policy, impact history, , experience personalities.

Grant County Ranch and Rodeo Museum
John Day, Oregon
July 11, 2019

From ropes and saddles to rodeo champions and queens, past and present, the museum features a vast collection of lifestyle artifacts and photographs donated by local ranch families We were provided a private tour and unique insight by Tobe, a local rancher, retired bull rider and blacksmith specializing in prosthetic shoes for injured horses.

John Day is a city located about 2 miles (3.2 km) north of Canyon City in Grant County, Oregon at the intersection of U.S. 395 and 26. John Day is surrounded by the Strawberry Mountains to the south and the Blue Mountains to the east. Grant County Oregon has been treasured in the heart of pioneers for over 150 years. Surviving the collapse of gold mining in the late 1800’s, John Day re-emerged as a proud community of ranch families invested in the heritage of horse culture and as caretakers of the land.

Hells Canyon Motorcycle Rally
Baker City, Oregon
July 13, 2019

Halfway between the North Pole and th equator near the 45th Parallel sits Baker City, Oregon, home to The Hells Canyon Motorcycle Rally. Established in 200 by Steve Folkestad and hisbrother, this premier rally attracts upwards of 8000 motorcycle enthusiasts annually. A 182-mile ‘Devils Tail’ loop ride on Hells Canyon Dam Road featuring a 25-mile twisty segment is the signature ride of the event The rally transforms Main Street into a spectacular showcase of custom Harleys and is the perfect people watching venue to take in all that is biker culture.

Along the Devils Tail Loop, motorcyclist experience some of the best riding imaginable and can take in unobstructed vistas where the ruts of wagon-wheels still visible from the Oregon Trail and empty into Baker City A half million pioneers traveled west using the Oregon trail. Most of the people that moved west traveled in covered wagons, large enough for all their belongings as well as the food they needed for a journey that would take months from its origin in Missouri 2000 miles away. It seems fitting to celebrate what are now considered some of the best roads in America with a premier motorcycle rally.

Hotel Metlen
Dillon, Montana
July 16, 2019

The Hotel Metlen is a cornerstone of history and culture in Dillon Montana. Built in 1897, the three-story Second Empire-style hotel continues to be a gathering point for both local and visiting guests. It is tempting to stereotype its ground floor as a cowboy bar or saloon, but is more accurate to appreciate its contribution to establishing a thriving business culture that defined Dillon as a railroad town developed by the Union Pacific Railway. Dillon (named for Sidney Dillon, president of the Union Pacific Railroad) was established as the company’s spur line, the Utah and Northern, that pushed north from the main line and connected to the mining towns. The symmetrical town plan of the early 1880’s shows the primary commercial blocks facing the tracks with the Hotel Metlen as the centerpiece.

Joseph C Metlen, originally from Pennsylvania, left his family to move west to try mining and other vocations in California. He later moved to Bannack along with his brother where there was a major gold discovery in 1862. Bannack was a ruthless town, where shootings at the combined bar/barber shop were so common, it is rumored the barber did not pause during a shave when a customer was killed in a bar fight next to his chair. Here, Joe Metlen was sheriff for a time.

Metlen moved to Dillon in 1893 and bought the Corinne hotel, which stood on the location of the Metlen. After a fire, the Hotel Metlen was built on the same location and became the place to see and be seen, catering to politicians and celebrities with deluxe accommodations. Today the “Met” is on the National Register of Historic Places and has remained a family owned business. Its historic significance is listed in the registry as “Architecture/Engineering, Event”.

Grain Elevator
Havre, Montana
July 19, 2019

Along US 2, the most northern, cross-country highway, runs “The Hi-Line”. In Montana, the highway generally follows the BNSF railway lines (originally the Great Northern Railway), the largest freight railroad in North America. In October of 1937, the train brought FDR, then president of the United States, who was drafting plans for the building of dams. During his visit to Havre, he was inspired by an editorial piece written in a Great Falls paper that spoke of “balancing the budget of our resources.” In his informal remarks to Havre he says “That is something well worth thinking about. It said [referring to the article] that because we have made money in wasting and eroding large human resources and piled up nominal wealth in securities and bank balances, we have lost sight of the fact that the natural resources of our land – our permanent capital – are being converted into those nominal evidences of wealth at a faster rate than our real wealth is being replaced.”

“That is well worth thinking about. That is the unbalanced budget that is most serious and it is to balance that budget that the great program of conservation and useful public works is being carried out. The success of that form of budget balancing is just as important to the future of America as that of the Treasury, important as that may be.”

From: National Archives and Records Administration (NARA record number 1301590) Author: Franklin D Roosevelt Title: Extemporaneous remarks at Harve, Montana Date: October 3, 1937

Fracking Well
Wiliston, North Dakota
July 23, 2019

The United States is now the largest producer of oil in the world. Williston, North Dakota is home to thousands of wells that have literally transformed the landscape and lifestyle of the predominately rural culture. The transformation is nothing short of extraordinary. A substantial increase in the population, traffic, and crime, are balanced by a dramatically improved economy with the lowest unemployment rate in the country.

The oil boom is largely due to the successful use of horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturingwhich have made oil deposits accessible. Area residents have benefited from those long-term leases from profitable wells of which there are many. In early 2015, three million gallons of fracking wastewater escaped a leaking pipeline representing the worst spill since the beginning of the state’s fracking boom. The released wastewater contaminated two creeks that eventually reached the Missouri River. Just east of Williston on the Missouri River there is an 1806 camp from the Lewis and Clark expedition. Nearby, Merewether Lewis was accidentally shot by Private Cruzatt while hunting elk. A lot has changed

Lift Bridge
Duluth, Minnesota
July 25, 2019

The Duluth Aerial Lift Bridge spans the Duluth Ship Canal, which connects the city of Duluth to Minnesota Point. Minnesota (or Park) Point is a seven-mile long sandbar that became an island when Duluth dug out the ship canal. Park Point reunited with the mainland with the 1905 opening of Duluth’s signature structure, the Aerial Bridge, first as a suspended ferry, later as a lift-span roadway. Thelift bridge is a rare design similar to only obe other of its kind in the world in Rouen, France.

In spring and summer, the bridge averages 26 lifts a day. The bridge operators decide when to begin the ascent of the bridge to let a ship pass into the harbor. For the biggest vessels, the bridge must start its ascent while they're 1.5 miles out to allow a 1000 ft. length vessel time to slow down so as to safely navigate the narrow passage through the canal. It is customary for both the ships and bridge operators to greet each other with a series of horn blasts, which also startle the observers lining the canal. According to Ryan, who spent 8 years operating the bridge, another problem is Bridge “hangers-on” - people who think it would be fun or challenging to hold onto the rising bridge. According to Ryan the Bridge moves one ft. per second, leaving you too high to drop by the time you realize you should or when a parent lifts a toddler up to hang on the support infrastture which is slightly above a standing adult.

Standing with the crowd of observers along the canal wall to experience the Lift Bridge rising and getting close up view of an enormous moving ship is a sight well worth the wait

R. W. Lindholm Gas Station
Cloquet, Minnesota
July 29th, 2019

Located at the intersection of Cloquet Avenue and Highway 33 is the R. W. Lindholm gas station designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. The station is a one of kind architectural marvel based on Wright’s 1934 utopian city plan, “Broadcare City”, a kind of city of the future that embraced the idea of a decentralized landscape based on the freedom represented by the future of the automobile. Wright whodesigned a house for R. W. Lindholm and who happened to be in the petroleum business, convinced Lindholm to commission the station. Though Broadcare City never happened, the realization of this gas station did. It opened in 1958 one year before Frank Lloyd Wright died at the age of 91.

Interestingly, small town Cloquet has a utopian orientation of its own. It is renowned as the home of the strongest consumers Cooperative in the United States. The Cooperative Society founded in 1910 was host to two expansive cooperative stores, a coal yard, mortuary, auto repair shop and, yes a gas station. By the mid 1950s the Cooperative had a membership of 4,262 out of a population of 8,500 - a national record

Davis-Beese Nuclear Power Station
Oak Harbor, Ohio
August 4, 2019

Licensed to operate in 1977, the Davis-Beese, an 894-megawatt nuclear power plant located on the shores of Lake Erie is a single pressurized water-reactor. Davis–Beese is operated by the FirstEnergy Nuclear Operating Company, a subsidiary of FirstEnergy, an electric utility headquartered in Akron, Ohio.

Davis-Beese has been the site of several safety incidents that affected the plant's continuous operation. According to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), Davis–Besse has been the source of two of the top five most dangerous nuclear incidents in the United States since 1979. In March 2002 corrosion produced a football-sized hole in the reactor vessel head. The NRC imposed over a $5 million fine against FirstEnergy for the actions that led to the corrosion.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission defines two emergency planning zones around nuclear power plants: a plume exposure pathway zone with a radius of 10 miles (16 km), concerned primarily with exposure to, and inhalation of, airborne radioactive contamination, and secondly an ingestion pathway zone of about 50 miles (80 km), concerned primarily with ingestion of food and liquid contaminated by radioactivity. Our campground was in the path of both zones.

US Salt
Watkins Glen, New York
August 14, 2019

Located on the shore of Seneca Lake in Watkins Glen, US Salt is renowned as a host city for Formula One and NASCAR auto racing and as an important wine-producing region. It is also the home of US Salt one of the largest solution mining operations. Sitting on the shore of 40-mile long Seneca Lake, th refinery operation sits atop ancient salt beds and is tapped using a brine-producing well 1,513-ft./461 m. below the earth's surface. The salt vein stretches from New York to Michigan averaging 500 ft in thickness in western New York State. One million gallons of fresh water per day from the lake is pumped into the deposit to produce the brine that is then brought to the surface and processed via evaporation. US Salt is an important supplier of evaporated salt used for consumer food and processing, water conditioning, agriculture, pharmaceuticals, and in the development of oil, plastics, and semi-conductors.

US Salt struck its first well in 1893 and has been in operation ever since. The company values its "reputation as a safe, environmentally-conscious businesses – as well as a good neighbor in the communities it serves". In 2012, US Salt was under a consent decree from the US government that identified 23 occasions in which it exceeded the current limitations of its permit, a charge the company did not choose todispute. Sometimes you pay to be a good neighbor.

Portsmouth Naval Shipyard
Kittery, New Hampshire
August 20th, 2019

Located in Kittery on the Pascataqua River in southern New Hampshire the Portsmouth Navel Shipyard is tasked with the overhaul, repair, and modernization of US Navy Submarines. Established in 1800,it is the Navy’s oldest continuously operating shipyard. Local forest provided substantial and qualitative timber for the early construction of wooden military vessels, first for the British and later for the 13 colonies including the Ranger, captained by John Paul Jones. The history of the shipyard is replete with achievements that have served to inform and shape the global dominance of the modern US Navy. At the conclusion of WWII, the Portsmouth Naval Yard became the Navy’s premier center for submarine design and development.

The US has a total of 18 Ohio-class submarines (14 ballistic missile submarines and 4 cruise missile submarines) contributing to the US nuclear triad deterrence or threat as the case may be. The Pascataqua River itself is a premier recreational boating paradise. A stones throw away from the shipyard, nearby Portsmouth offers fine waterside dining, while jet ski and pleasure craft ply the waters between.

Stanley Meyer Conspiracy
John Grove City Ohio
September 2, 2019

On March 20,1998 Cracker Barrel restaurant in Grove City, Ohio Stanley Meyer, along with his brother conducted a meeting with two Belgian investors interested in his “water-powered” car engine. After a sip of cranberry juice, Meyer bolts from the restaurant clutching his neck, vomits violently in the parking lot and just before dying tells his horrified brother “They poisoned me.” The coroners report indicated he died of natural causes (brain aneurysm).

Meyer had designed a “water fuel cell” and claimed it could use water as fuel to power an automobile. In his garage, he was able to split the hydrogen molecule from water using pulsed electricity to produce ionized hydrogen gas. He demonstrated the water fuel cell in a televised demonstration to power a dune buggy. The engine exhaust is water vapor. So, its not really “water” powered, rather his work was the basis for what became hydrogen fuel cells, which are used in the automotive industry today.

Some believe Meyer was murdered to prevent his technology from being fully realized. Did the Franklin County coroner’s office alter the death certificate? Where is the dune buggy that demonstrated his engine worked? Was there influence from the US government to protect fossil fuel interests? Foreign investors? Foreign governments?

No one from the Cracker Barrel knew of the story or was interested in hearing it. Cranberry juice is no longer on the menu.

Research contributions provided by Midwest consultants Jean and Joe Howard (J-2)

The Largest Brick Home Community in the World
Huber Heights, Ohio
September 3, 2019

Huber Heights tag line is “Come Grow With Us!” Established in 1956 and Located in Montgomery County Ohio just northeast of Dayton, Huber Heights has nearly 16,000 housing units within 22.37 square miles (only .10 square is water) at an average density of 712.8 per square mile. The top employer is the Huber Heights School District followed by Walmart.

In 1956 Charles H. Huber started the first privately owned utility company in Ohio and launched the construction of his first plat of brick, single-family homes. As Huber Homes continued building over the years, the population of the township grew significantly. By 1960, the township’s population had risen dramatically to 12,022 persons. By 1970, this figure had leaped to nearly 28,000. Today, the population is over 40,000.

Unlike the majority of US cities with an urban plan that includes a clearly defined downtown with a city center or square, Huber Heights is the result of suburban plat construction gone wild, one adjacent to another. To experience Huber Heights is to experience America’s banality at its best, an endless sea of look-a-like homes, some areas in decay and others brand new.

The Davenport Flood of 2019
Davenport, Iowa
September 5, 2019

Davenport Iowa's downtown sits on the banks of the Mississippi river with no permanent floodwall. Instead, the city has chosen to rely on temporary barriers called HESCO barriers consisting of large sand-filled containers to prevent floodwaters from entering the city. Davenport is the 3rd largest city in Iowa and the largest without permanent flood control. .

On April 30, 2019, heavy rains caused the Mississippi River to breach the temporary barriers and enter the city for the 7th time since 2008 causing an estimated 30 million in damage. The nearby cities of Moline, Rock Island (both IL) and Bettendorf IA, (the so-called “Quad cities”) have all taken the option to build a wall after major flooding in 1965. But Davenport chose to maintain its riverfront view that drives its economy.

South Dakota Wind
US highway 44 West
September 10, 2019

South Dakota farm and ranch lands have endless acres of corn and hay along with cattle ranches. Small towns offer a view of historical buildings, cafes with American food, bars, churches, and antique stores and quilting supply can all be found easily. Outside of town in cornfields unexpected wind generators can be seen on the horizon. The white blades complement the blue sky and green fields. Just as unexpected is a hand painted sign in bold red letters “Wind power = crony capitalism”. Another reads “Project Rural America NO wind power”.

Neighboring states have embraced the millions of dollars in tax revenues from the out of state wind companies, and the payments to rural property owners with wind resources. But wind power has divided South Dakota communities and families. Concern over property values, danger to birds, and their annoying hum prompt arguments over regulating the location, number, and spacing of the towers. Because the big players in the wind industry receive billions in subsidies, they are receiving favoritism for grants, tax breaks and loans. The rush to take advantage of these expiring subsidies is basically instigating too much too quick in South Dakota. As the need for the subsidies expires, so will the burden of choice for rural South Dakota.

The Rodeo
Cody, Wyoming
September 15 2019

At the end of the long trail rides cowboys would often hold informal competitions to identify the best riders, ropers, and all-around best drovers. It was from these informal competitions that the modern rodeo emerged. The history of the rodeo in Cody, Wyoming is over 100 years old. It was established by Clarence William Spear to celebrate and commemorate Buffalo Bill Cody and the “Old West” and opened the same day in 1919, as did the Eastern Gate of Yellowstone National Park. Indeed is was the spectacle and theater of the Wild West Show that served as a model for the Cody Rodeo Stampede which now runs nightly during the summer entertaining ½ million visitors a year.

Rodeos are not without controversy. According to the Animal Legal Defense Fund, the horses, bulls, steer, and calves suffer from a multitude of injuries from being forced to perform in rodeos. Never-the-less, rodeos represent a huge economic driver as is the case in Cody where a horse, gun, and a good steak embrace the ideal of the Old West which is so vitally important to our collective American Culture.

Middle of Nowhere
Middlegate Station, Nevada
September 28, 2019

Loneliness is often described as a complex and unusually unpleasant emotional response to isolation caused by external conditions – environmental, cultural or situational. Certainly, the vast emptiness of Nevada’s landscapes conjures the impression of remoteness, isolation and alienation commonly associated with loneliness. A more romantic perspective centers on how the landscape functions as poetic sentiment, full of subjectivity, imagination, and insight.

US-50, “The Loneliest Road In America” passes by Middlegate Station, an unincorporated community of 17 people and the self-proclaimed middle of nowhere. Established by the Overland Stage & Freight Company as a Pony Express Station in 1861, it is today a bar, motel, and restaurant with a gasoline pump.

The 3200 miles of US-50 that pass by Middlegate Station is gateway to Nevada’s 48 million acres of public land. It was created in 1926 as the first transcontinental paved road in the United States (Lincoln Highway) passing through hundreds of small towns from Maryland to California.

To the north, the free flowing traffic of the Interstate system along with its dreary interchanges featuring chain gas stations, fast food restaurants, and big-box stores causes travel based disorientation. Everywhere is like everywhere else; a brand of loneliness where it simply doesn’t matter where you are. It is in stark contrast to Middlegate Station, where the middle of nowhere is a place that inspires poetry of the heart.