Thursday, August 19, 2010

Colorado Chronicles : Miners Solve Church Bell "Problem"

Breck at Night*
Breckenridge is one of the coolest towns in Colorado. Breck, as it is called, came into existence in 1859 with the discovery of gold in the Blue River and the rush was on. Soon to be home to thousands of miners and their strike-it-rich dreams, the timing seemed right to open a saloon in town. That saloon, The Gold Pan Saloon, is still in operation today as the oldest continuously operated bar west of the Mississippi. Along with the saloon, came gambling and prostitution and a rough and ready clientele of miners. How rough and ready you ask? A local preacher started ringing the church bell on Sunday mornings to summon the flock to service and being miners and hungover, many men weren't exactly pleased with this call to worship. Somebody in this industrious group solved the Sunday morning church bell ringing in a rather efficient way - with blasting caps. BOOM! No more church bell. Naturally the mines around Breck were eventually closed, but not before yielding a 151 oz. gold nugget to a gentleman named Tom Graves. 21st Century Breckenridge is a very popular destination for tourists and snow skiers from all over the world. Still, Breck retains 350 historic buildings of an era gone by, making it the largest Historic District in Colorado.

*Photo courtesy of

Maine Minutiae : Going Coastal

Like so many coastal towns in Maine, Searsport has roots that grow deep in the maritime industry. Searsport is the state's second largest deep-water port and at one time was home to fully ten percent of all American deep-water shipmasters. During the 19th Century, Searsport boasted of seventeen shipyards and over 200 ships were built in the town. Searsport's location was also perfect for rail access and wood products to ship via rail or sea to places all over the world. The area around the town was settled in 1620, but not incorporated until 1845. After a fire in 1747 destroyed the Province House in Boston, Samuel Waldo (for whom Waldo County is named) was an advocate to name Searsport as the new capital of Massachusetts (remember, at this time Maine was still part of Mass.). Needless to say his efforts were not successful and the capital of the Bay State remained there. Searsport is is surrounded by or near to all sorts of recreational activities, namely water sports and fishing, some fantastic hiking and biking trails and several parks and State Parks, as well as Sears Island, the largest uninhabited island on the East Coast. Searsport - another jewel in the treasure that is the Coast of Maine.

*Photo from Readers Digest

Texas Tidbits : What's In a Name?

Are You  Sure?*
One thing is certain about Texas. It's BIG. But when it comes to location, where on Earth am I? I don't know. I'm Uncertain, but I know I'm Happy it's a small town where nobody tried to Cut and Shoot  me. Another sure thing about Texas is that is dotted with small towns with some interesting names, as evidenced by the four towns previously mentioned. I thought that today we'd take a look at some real places with real odd handles. Like Muleshoe. Or Telephone. There are dozens of other locations in the Lone Star State with unique, if not downright funny names. American Profile has an article with several good ones. Texas Escapes tells us of Looneyville (it's near Crazy Creek! I am not making this up!) , Diddy Waw Diddy and Old Granny's Neck. I have personally been to the Home of Bob Wills, Turkey, Texas., not to mention Spurger, Fred and Dime Box. The only important thing to me, no matter if it's Bug Tussle or Bettie, when I'm in Texas, I'm always in Paradise.

*Photo from

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All Original Material © Toby Shoemaker