Tuesday, June 17, 2008

US 20 In New York: Renaming A Section in Buffalo

The Buffalo News reports that a move is underway to rename a section of US Route 20 in Buffalo for Tim Russert. Tim was the NBC Washington Bureau Chief and host of NBC’s Meet the Press. They state:

Buffalo's federal lawmakers said today that they want to rename a portion of U.S. Route 20 in Orchard Park after Russert, who died Friday. And Mayor Byron W. Brown proclaimed this Father's Day "Tim Russert Day" in Buffalo during a community vigil today in Tim Russert Park on the border between the city and West Seneca. Brown cited Russert's love of the city and its football team, but also "his love of family above all else."

Under the federal proposal, the section of the road that runs near Ralph Wilson Stadium -- home to Russert's beloved Buffalo Bills -- would bear the late television newsman's name.

Sen. Charles E. Schumer, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton and Rep. Brian Higgins said they would introduce a resolution regarding the highway's name on Monday.

"Tim Russert was in every way, Mr. Buffalo," said Schumer, D-N.Y. "With his trademark 'Go Bills' sign-off, Tim Russert showed his pride for the city that made him who he was. He always cared about Buffalo, and when I spoke with him just a few weeks ago he said he would do everything he could to keep the Bills in Buffalo."

The US Route 20 Blog homepage can be found here.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

US 20: “Twenty West” Cross Country Trip Book

Here’s an article from the Albany Times Union which covers one person’s book and documentation of their own cross country trip on US Route 20:

Chronicling 3,300 miles of history
Scholar's book tells the long and winding tale of U.S. Route 20

By MIKE PIEKARSKI, Special to the Times Union
First published: Friday, June 6, 2008

Malcolm "Mac" Nelson is a lot like the road he loves. The 74-year-old former professor might have a few miles on him, but he's still as vibrant, interesting and genuine as ever.

In his new book, "Twenty West," recently released by the State University of New York Press, Nelson waxes poetic about U.S. Route 20, the country's longest road, which tells "a very American story," he writes.

Unlike the more well-known Route 66, much of which is now interstate highways, Route 20 "is a real road; it's still there," Nelson said in a recent phone interview, adding that only 75 of its 3,300 miles have been subsumed into interstates.

Part of what Nelson calls the Great Road, which stretches coast to coast from Boston, Mass., to Newport, Oregon, runs through the Capital Region. In New York, Albany is the only major city through which it passes. That stretch, which includes Western and Madison avenues in Albany and Western Turnpike farther west, has played an interesting part in history.

In the middle of the 19th century, the Capital Region section of Route 20 "was a busy but slow dirt road, occupied largely by horses, stagecoaches and teams of oxen," said Nelson, professor emeritus of English at SUNY Fredonia. He recently retired after a 40-year teaching career.

By the early decades of the next century, he said, the road "was the greatest road from Chicago to Albany" until the state Thruway was built in the 1950s.

On his journey along what he calls "the Main Street of my life," Nelson takes readers past the Great Lakes, through Yellowstone National Park and beyond the Rocky Mountains to the Pacific Ocean. The southern Illinois native grew up near the road and has lived the last 30 years alongside it in Brocton, 50-odd miles southwest of Buffalo.

He is no stranger, though, to the Capital Region: He has visited Albany "hundreds of times" and personally lobbied Govs. Mario M. Cuomo and George Pataki at the state Capitol as an executive board member of United University Professions.

One period he discusses in his book is the latter half of the 19th century and the early part of the 20th -- a pivotal time in the United States and the Capital Region.

"That was the time when the people who ran America lived along Route 20," said Nelson, a trim, lanky man with a shock of white hair, a friendly manner and a stentorian voice.

One of those was Grover Cleveland, the 22nd and 24th president who, after serving as mayor of Buffalo in the early 1880s, won the governorship of New York and a stay at the then recently constructed Executive Mansion on Eagle Street, a stone's throw from Albany's Western Avenue.

Nelson also writes of other notable Americans who had connections to the Capital Region's stretch of Route 20, including "Moby Dick" author Herman Melville; William Seward, secretary of state under Abraham Lincoln; and Civil War hero Philip Sheridan.

According to Nelson, the road "was a way to transport people, and when you transport people, you're also transporting ideas."

Piekarski, a freelance writer from Latham, can be reached at piewrite@aol.com.

Book signing
Malcolm "Mac" Nelson will sign copies of "Twenty West" at 2 p.m. Saturday at the Book House in Stuyvesant Plaza.

The US Route 20 Blog homepage can be found here.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

US 20 in Ohio: Indian Museum of Lake County

Literally a stone’s throw away from the intersection of US Route 20 (Euclid Avenue), near the corner of Center and River Streets in quaint downtown Willoughby, Ohio, is the Indian Museum of Lake County. The museum was established in 1980, and includes exhibits of the earliest Native Americans from the Lake County area from 10,000 B.C. to 1650 A.D. Groups represented are Paleo, Archaic, Adena, Hopewell, Whittlesey and local Whittlesey.

The Cleveland Plain Dealer recently featured the museum; the article, and link, follows:

Discover Area's Primal Past at Indian Museum of Lake County

Tuesday, June 03, 2008
By Deanna R. Adams

Did you know that if you live in Lake County, there is a chance you can still find an ancient Indian artifact in your own backyard?

And if you lived in Eastlake in the 1970s, you most likely did.

Thousands of artifacts including pipes, stones, shells, bone hair pins and beads, turned up in the area in 1973 when property on Reeves Road was sold to make way for condominiums. Pipes, in particular, were easy finds.

"There were so many pipes in the area because there were a lot of tobacco patches there," says Ann Dewald, director of the Indian Museum of Lake County.

The Lake County Chapter of the Archaeological Society established the Museum in 1980. Today it is located in downtown Willoughby.

Exhibits include ancient artifacts dating back to 10,000 B.C.E., from areas including the Eastern Woodlands, the Great Plains, the Southwest, California, the Pacific Northwest and Alaska. Various groups known to roam the Lake County area include the Paleo Indians (the area's first inhabitants), the Archaic Indians, and the Hopewell people, among others.

Indian arts and crafts from North America, from 1800 to the present, are also displayed at the Willoughby museum. And there are hands-on activities, like corn-grinding with a mortar and pestle, which is the biggest attraction for school-aged visitors. The pre-historic Whittlesey Reeve Village Site of Lake County - dating from 900 to 1650 is one of the first exhibits visitors will discover upon walking into the museum.

"The kids enjoyed the entire museum, but they really loved the hands-on activities," says Kirtland Elementary teacher, Matt Ridgeway, whose fifth-grade class visited on a recent field trip.

Fascination is what lures many to become collectors. And Ohio has one of the largest number of amateur archaeologists and collectors in the Midwest. One of them is Allen D. Smith, who has donated many Native American items.

"My real focus is the baskets," Smith says. "Each one is so unique. You can appreciate the differences, the weaves, and various colors. It's amazing when you think about the process involved; from collecting the grass, to weaving it and making it all uniform."

Not everyone, however, is willing to give up their special finds. "Not long ago, I had a five-year-old show me an absolute perfect spear point he'd found in his yard," Dewald says. "He was so very proud of it, there was no way he was going to hand it over to us!"

The museum is a nonprofit and run by a small group of volunteers.

Tours are a specialty at the museum where groups from as small as 10 to as large as 100 can come to learn and explore our country's Indian heritage. Dewald sees visitors throughout the week, from schools to scouts to seniors. In addition to artifacts, the museum has a resource library of close to 1,000 books and periodicals-all of which were donated or acquired by Dewald.

If You Go:

Indian Museum of Lake County
The corner of Center St. and River St. (Rt. 174) in Downtown Willoughby.
Technical Center, Building B, Door #3.

Hours: May through Aug.: Mon. - Fri., 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Sat. and Sun. 1 p.m. to 4 p.m., closed holiday weekends.

The Indian Museum of Lake County’s web site can be found here.

The US Route 20 Blog homepage can be found here.