more random roadside good news

Are you ready for another installment of good news?  I thought of a few more things on the drive to work today so I threw this one together during lunch.


Here’s another thing that seemed doomed until very recently:  the World’s Largest Cuckoo Clock.  It was built from 1962-1974 for the Alpine-Alpa Cheese House in Wilmot, OH.  The clock is about 24 feet wide.   Here’s a vintage postcard of it:


And a close-up of the dancing figures on the left of the clock which I shot in 2005 when the place was known as Grandma’s Alpine Homestead & Swiss Village:


Grandma’s closed in 2008 and the clock quickly began to deteriorate.  It was finally sold and us fans-of-big-things assumed that we’d never see it again.  But, lo and behold, it was restored for about $20,000 and is now on prominent and permanent display in downtown Sugarcreek, OH (aka the Little Switzerland of Ohio).  Here’s a video of the mega-clock in all its glory — the animated figures are spell-binding:

If you want the longer story & photos of the move, there’s this link:



Not exactly news — but news to me.  I love igloos and fake ice themed buildings.  Therefore, I was captivated by this vintage (1950s/60s?) postcard of Adam’s Igloo & Wildlife Museum:


So, off to Google Street View I went.  Miraculously enough, after a long virtual drive on the Yellowhead Highway in British Columbia, I found it!  And there’s still a sign (though updated) for Adam’s Igloo & Wildlife Museum there.  Although online descriptions make the place sound like more of a taxidermy business.  In any case, here’s the Igloo present-day:


So, if you ever find yourself near Smithers, BC — you can find this place here.



By the way, speaking of Google Street View maps, some of you may have noticed little “[map]” hyperlinks beginning to appear at the ends of descriptions at my website.  It’s a painful task that might take me years.  And right when I might be finished, Google will probably change its name or its url format and all those links will be dead (ugh!).   But what the hell, gradually, I hope to add these links throughout my website.  I like it better than just adding a physical address since it’s the next best thing to being there.  I can see immediately if something has changed or been demolished.  You can move around to see different angles of something and then switch from Street View to Map View to get the true address.  For now, it’s just a random project, but if you want to check it out, here’s one page that’s done (since we’re on the subject of igloos):



A bit of happy sign news.  The Wigwam in Waldorf, MD was built in the late 1940s as a restaurant and gambling joint.  There was a full-scale fake teepee on one corner of the building which functioned as a BBQ pit inside the restaurant.  Much later, the building housed Walls Bakery.   When the bakery moved in 2005, the building sat empty until 2010 when it was destroyed.   (More about the place here if you’re interested.)

Fortunately, the Wigwam’s neon Indian sign from the 1950s was saved and has been repurposed.  Here’s my dreary weather photo of the sign from 2010 just before the dozers arrived:


And here’s the sign now — moved earlier this year about three miles south to White Plains, MD and now used to indicate the entrance to the hiking trail.  OK — it looks like the neon is still broken — but this will do for now:
[photo from this blog:  ]


Here’s an article about the sign’s salvation:



OK — that’s enough for now.  If you haven’t had enough of me and these sorts of subjects, I’ll be back to my normal format Saturday night.  Come on along as the kids & I go down to L.A. to play for the weekend.

13 thoughts on “more random roadside good news

  1. Debra Jane,

    Glad you are adding the mapping element to your image and data collection.

    There are ways to add geotag locations (what Google uses to pull the Google Map, Street View, etc.) into your website in a way that is more automated.

    All of the content management systems have plugins that will work off APIs, etc. that don’t expire — or at minimum can be translated to other interfaces.

    My online genealogy template does this — For someone like my great grandfather if I tag the towns correctly they show up on embedded google maps (see:

    Just wanted to mention it — we can talk about it back channel as well if you want.


    • Also, to add clarification:

      — The map example I gave was not customized at all. I know the view can be specified within the interface I have and I’m sure that can be done with other interfaces

      — You wouldn’t necessarily need a fancy Content Management System to do this, I don’t think….

      — Coming at this as always from a supportive perspective of all of the amazing content you generate and all of the hard work you have done and continue to do….



      • Thanks — yeah, you know I’m no geek or tech wizard. But I think this works for now and I hope all of these map links will last for a couple of years at least. I don’t think, at this point anyway, I’m interested in providing a big-ass map with all kinds of push pins in it. My interest remains on making my visitors “work” a little and explore things in a section by section, subject by subject basis. I realize my website is almost anti-traveler — but that’s how I like it.

        My goal is to draw folks in to learn more about these places or things since they are organized in context with other places or things. If I just wanted to provide purty photos, I would just be doing some Facebooky-y thing and not tediously laboring over a website.

      • You know I’m a big fan of what you do — and am a long-time admirer of the passion that you have for the work you do here and on your website especially.

        I always want to help you, because I think that what you are describing and what I am describing is not diametrically opposed in intention.

        Wish I was just a bit more tech-knowledgeable and could assist you more that way.



      • Yes, and I really appreciate your enthusiasm & suggestions. But what I’m doing right now works (and is a nice addition I think) and that’s enough for me.

    • Thanks, Erika. Yes, there are probably less painful, more efficient, and probably longer-lasting ways of adding the maps. But as usual, what I want is, of course, more personal. I try to select the absolute best view of the particular thing or building — and let the person viewing it do what they want from there (scroll around for more views or click to the street map itself).

      My interest in adding the map is to make it as live and interactive as possible. The idea is to provide the viewer a one-on-one experience with the subject — rather than just an address.

      If you click on the “[map]” links at that suggested page, you’ll see what I mean.

      • 100% understand what you are describing.

        I think that the additional curation you do and describe here regarding the view is GREAT. Even if its the painful Google link method (and I agree with your healthy trepidation of relying on the links to be long-lasting**see below**).

        The thing is that the map I sent you the link to is an embedded dynamic Google map. And could be customized to show what you have on this cool new Map link.

        If you click on mine (you would need password access because it is my family tree) you can zoom around just like you are on Google Map’s web page. It would provide exactly what you are describing. The geotag information — and your attendant customization of view and preferences — wouldn’t change. That would save you a bit of time and effort, I think.

        You could look at the Google Map API site here:

        On a quick look they have something similar but it is not dynamic:

        But it seems like something dynamic must exist…. It’s worth looking I think.


        A WordPress Google Maps plugin would require a non-free installation (a hosted installation), which is different than what you have here, unfortunately. But you might want to consider that. It’s not difficult to do and you already host your website.

        I suspect that Leaflet is something that might work for you here and on your website, but that is something pretty advanced in terms of coding and stuff. It is open source and very cool.

        **An FYI / Heads up:

        The Internet Archive has instituted a new program where they are saving all WordPress blog links and archiving them, so if you use their Wayback Machine your blog here (and links) is preserved.

        You can also now do an on-demand archive with them — It’s brand new, just announced. It preserves whatever website url you give them (embedded links, etc. et alia)….

        OK I’ll stop bugging you now.



      • I appreciate your input — but my head hurts. The maps aren’t all that important to me. It’s just one more link to add that may end up dying — still worth the risk. And not worth my time to get up to speed on all the other technical stuff. As it is, all the other links at my site to other sites die off like wilting flowers, daily. Websites come and go — news articles change their urls to archives, people move or rename their pages or websites — and consequently, I’m left with deadness.

        Nothing I can do about that — but constantly, randomly and gradually delete those links and replace them with new ones. Tis life. And nearly futile but something I spend a great amount of time doing. The option is no links to external sources — but I think linking to early views of something & additional info is important.

        So — if these map links die — it’ll be just one more thing to replace in the future. So be it.

      • But with The Internet Archive’s The Wayback Machine the dead links will be solved… It’s really going to reduce this problem a lot. Have you tried it? It’s so fabulous.

        I hear what you are saying. The link you are creating is actually all of the metadata you’d need to have the API work. It’s like you are already doing what I am describing — or are already 7/8th of the way there.

        Anyway, glad you are adding mapping. it’s awesome!



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