Thursday, April 20, 2017

If this is Thursday it must be postcards, 295

 Oriental Limited, Great Northern Railway, 1912

This week’s postcard is the American version of the Canadian railway postcard previously shared.  Part of the “See America First” promotion by Great Northern Railway, the line went between Chicago, Illinois and Seattle, Washington then could connect with trans-Pacific Great Northern steamships headed to the Far East.  It was called “Oriental Limited.”  Great Northern produced the card with the photograph dated as 1912.  The stamp is a green George Washington profile, one cent, postmarked April 4, 1914 with the handwritten message in Norwegian.  This card like last week’s two from the Canadian Pacific Railway were found at the Washington State [model] Train show.

Reverse, showing logo, stamp & date

The Oriental Limited began in 1905 going from St. Paul, Minnesota to Seattle with Chicago added in 1909 the year of the Alaska Yukon Pacific Exposition held in Seattle.  My grandmother and a few of her nieces traveled from the east, Boston and New York, to Seattle in 1909 by train to see the Fair. They all ended up staying in the Pacific Northwest and not returning east.  Now I am wondering if they may have traveled on this train at least from Chicago the rest of the way west but it is impossible to tell.  There were other trains going west that were not as luxurious as this one.   The “See America First” route was advertised as the National Park Route although it did not go through the parks but was next to them.  It was possible to get off the train at various points, such as stations at Glacier and Yellowstone, and take some form of transport to visit the parks.  By 1926 the train was advertised as being able to make the journey in 70 hours. 

In 1929 the Empire Builder was introduced and by 1931 the Oriental Limited disappeared a causality of the Great Depression when Great Northern operated only one train on this route.  The Oriental Limited name returned in 1946 when a second train was added but became the Western Star in 1951.  Among the amenities offered on the train were services such as, passenger telephone access, afternoon tea, maid service in the Lounge car, a parlor car, and showers for passengers, as well a dining car with table linens and full service meals. 

For additional information, see:

Thursday, April 13, 2017

If this is Thursday it must be postcards, 294

 Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) Station, Glacier, Canadian Rockies, ca 1912

 Imperial Limited, Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR), leaving Glacier, Canadian Rockies ca. 1912

A few weeks ago we went the Washington State [model] Train Show held at the Monroe fair grounds where I found these two postcards plus a couple of other cards.  The top card has a picture of the Canadian Pacific Railway Station at Glacier in the Canadian Rockies; the bottom card shows passengers on the rear car of the Imperial Limited.  Both cards are from Valentine Publishing Co., Ltd. of Montreal and Toronto printed in Great Britain.   The top card has the number 108999 (JV) the lower card has 109,871 (JV) both in the lower right front corner.  The double globe logo on the reverse says V&Sons Famous Throughout the World.

Although the cancellation date is difficult to read it is possible to see that the cards were mailed a day apart from Vancouver, British Columbia to the same address in Duluth, Minnesota.  When I picked them up I did not read the handwritten messages on the cards immediately only to be delighted when I got them home to see that one was sent to a sister and the other to a nephew. 

A quick check of the census records revealed the names—Mrs. H. Nesbitt was Victoria “Dora” Henrietta, Dodo on the note, and her sister was Amelia Kugler.  Amelia signs herself as Amineked on the card to her nephew Garven, addressed in the note as Gagon.  Since Garven was born in 1907 and his brother Trevanion was born 1911, these cards must have been sent between 1911 and probably no later than 1914 as the boys are referred to as “Babies” on the card to Victoria.   Also, the stamp is a King George V, one cent, dark green, was first issued in 1911 . 

In the note to her nephew, Amelia writes:  “My dear little Gagon, this is where I sat all the way through the loveliest mountains—some day you will come and see them too.   Are you “Good to your Brother” & Mother?  Yes, I know you are!  Amineked sends you a kiss.”

The Imperial Limited was the premier passenger trail of the Canadian Pacific Railway and went across Canada between Montreal, Quebec and Vancouver, British Columbia beginning in 1899 until 1933.  Rail travel across Canada had been offered since 1886 but in 1911 new cars replaced the older ones and year round service was introduced.  This was a luxury train with sleeping and dining cars catering to travelers wanting to see the scenic Rocky Mountains and stay in Canadian Pacific chalets like the Banff Springs Hotel and Chateau Lake Louise.  William Cornelius Van Horne, the renowned railway executive, was quoted as saying:  “Since we can’t export the scenery, we will have to import the tourists.”

For more information, see:

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Skagit Valley Tulips 2017

Windmill at RoozenGaarden, Skagit Valley

Each April the big tulip farms in Skagit Valley are filled with the most amazing full bloom displays of tulips, daffodils, hyacinths, and several other gorgeous bulb flowers.  After several days of rain we had the promise of sun and decided to drive north to visit the fields and take a few photos.  Spring is coming late this year; however, and although we saw fields of daffodils the tulips are really not at peak bloom yet.  

Daffodil fields

For those who want to see vast fields of tulips in rainbow colors another week should produce better flowers.  Even so it was a splendid day that included a simple, sitting on the grass, picnic.  We ordered some bulbs for the garden that will be delivered the first week of October.  By that time we hope our yard will be looking more like a garden and less like a construction zone.  

These farms are so huge it is not really possible to visit more than one in a day.  We have been alternating between visits to the two largest bulb farms, Tulip Town and RoozenGaarden.  This year it was RoozenGaarden.  The formal garden area had lots of flowers in bloom but also many more that had not opened yet.  

 We saw this artist using a small portable easel

 Grape Hyacinth

Tulips, tulips, tulips

 A river of blue Hyacinth running through a bed of tulips


Thursday, April 6, 2017

If this is Thursday it must be postcards, 293

Half Moon Cay, The Bahamas, 2002

I was rummaging around in a stack of postcards recently and found this one shared today.  Half Moon Cay, previously called Little San Salvador Island, is one of approximately 700 islands in The Bahamas, and was purchased by the cruise ship company Holland America Line (HAL) in 1996 for $6 million USD.  HAL has developed 50 acres or about 2% of the 2,400 acre island with the stated goal of keeping as much of the remaining island as possible as a natural habitat for wildlife.  For example, Half Moon Cay is home to a significant waterfowl nesting area.  Since this island does not have deep water docking for large cruise ships a tender is used to ferry cruise passengers to and from the island. 

A number of activities for cruise ship passengers are offered on the island including swimming, sunbathing, scuba diving, jet skiing, cycling and snorkeling.  Also available are deep-sea fishing, glass-bottom boat rides, nature walks, parasailing, and rental equipment such as Hobie catamarans, Sunfish sailboats, windsurfing sailboards, and kayaks.  The usual cruise entertainment such as volleyball, basketball, horseshoes, shuffleboard, plus a fitness trail with exercise stations, horseback riding, and nature trails for hiking can found as well. 

The card is an Astral Graphics product printed in Miami, Florida.  Since the 1970s The Bahamas has issued an assortment of colorful stamps printed in limited numbers and aimed at collectors. The stamp on this card has a Spiny Oyster – Spondylus americanus shell stamp, one of nine different shell stamps on the sheet. 

Spiny Oyster stamp

My daughter sent the card and penned this cute note especially for those of us who do live near the cold barnacle type beaches alluded to--

“How can this be a beach – it isn’t 40 degrees F and covered with barnacles!  Despite all that, this is a “pretty nice” place to spend the day.  Hope we don’t get too sunburnt.”

For additional information, see:

Thursday, March 30, 2017

If this is Thursday it must be postcards, 292

Long Key Viaduct, Key West, Florida, ca. early 1930s

This Linen-Type postcard has a color tinted picture of the Over-sea extension bridge between the Florida mainland and Kay West.  It has the number F245 on the front and on the reverse is 13622 N.  It is an unused card made in the U.S.A. by E. C. Kropp Co. of Milwaukee, Wisconsin.  The blurb on the reverse of the card states in part “this viaduct consists of 100 semi-circular arches, each 50 feet wide.  It was one of the first great bridges to be built of concrete.”  Linen-Type cards were produced and popular between 1931 and 1959.  I unexpectedly found this card and a few others at a model train show recently.

Henry Flagler (1830-1913) a wealthy businessman was seeking a warmer climate for his first wife who was ill.  He took an interest in Florida and began developing resort hotels and railroads along its eastern coast.  Prior to this time he had been part of Rockefeller, Andrews and Flagler and also a founder of Standard Oil.   The idea for the bridge was dubbed “Flagler’s Folly” in the beginning.  Construction for this viaduct was announced in 1905 and the bridge operated between 1912 and 1935.   At one point over 4,000 men were employed to work on the project with the total cost than $50 million. 

This project took 7 years to complete and was threatened in 1906, 1909, and 1910 by hurricanes then mostly destroyed by a hurricane in 1935.   The rail service was discontinued after the hurricane in 1935.  Later the bridge was redesigned for use by the as an auto traffic highway.  The current bridge opened in 1982 and was built from precast, pre-stressed concrete sections.  

For additional information, see:

Thursday, March 23, 2017

If this is Thursday it must be postcards, 291

 Golden-cattle-out of water, Hangzhou, China, 2005

When I found this card sent to Bob’s son by a friend in 2005 from Hangzhou, China it reminded me of another card I had shared not too long ago that had a picture of a white Merlion on the bay in Singapore.   This golden water buffalo is partially submerged and I cannot tell if it is a full sculpture or if the part above the water is the complete piece. 

The sculpture is found in West Lake in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province in eastern China.  There are numerous temples, pagodas, gardens and artificial islands in this lake that is divided in 5 sections with three causeways.  The natural beauty and historic relics have been the inspiration for Chinese poets and painters though the ages.  This area has also inspired Chinese garden design.  In 2011 UNESCO designated it as a World Heritage Site for its influence on gardens in Japan and Korea as well as China. 

The lake has had several different names and was first recorded as Wu Forest River; however, only two names have been widely accepted Qiantang Lake, Hangzhou was anciently called Qiantang; and West Lake since it is located west of the city of Hangzhou.   More than 2,000 years ago the lake was part of the Qiantang River but over time soil sedimentation from the surrounding mountains gradually built up and formed shoal heads that later grew and merged into a bank, formed a lagoon and eventually resulted in the lake.  The Big Stone Buddhist Temple located at the north end of West Lake can still be seen. 

Around 610 AD the final canal connecting the five major rivers, Hai, Yellow, Huai, Yangtze, and Qiantang, was constructed to facilitate transportation to and from Hangzhou thus boosting regional economy and inviting tourism.  Floods occurred during heavy rains and the lake would dry up during long dry spells.  Dikes and dams were constructed to help control the flow of water and prevent serious problems and also to help local farmers who needed water for irrigation.  Hangzhou has a rich heritage and has been a center of politics, economy and culture.  There are several parks in the West Lake area with abundant natural and cultural attractions. 

Buffalo, oxen, cattle and cows are motifs found in Chinese mythology.  Some of the myths relate to plowing and agriculture or ox-powered carriages or carts.

This postcard also had some very pretty stamps.  The first one seen below is of Formosan Blue Magpies, one stamp out of a set of nine different bird stamps issued in 2002 and used until 2006.  

The second stamp, with a botanical theme, was printed on the postcard.

The following links have information about both the area, the stamps and the oxen myths:

Thursday, March 16, 2017

If this is Thursday it must be postcards, 290

Taormina, Italy

The Ediz. Cartoleria NIGRT CARMEN postcard above has an aerial photo view of Taormina, Italy.  The card is unused and one that I must have picked up at an Antique Mart or small shop.  There are modern looking road systems and buildings in the picture so it must date to the mid to late 20th century.  Taormina is what we would probably describe today as a suburb of Messina on the island of Sicily, Italy.  The beaches, some seen as lagoons on the card, are famous and became accessible by an aerial tramway built in 1992.  Taormina has been a popular tourist destination since the 1800s.

This location was inhabited even before the Greeks arrived in 734 BC and founded a town called Naxos.  People from Naxos then settled in what became known as Tauromenium under the Romans and today is called Taormina.   The city or town is perched on a cliff overlooking the Ionian sea.  From Cicero’s writings we learn that Tauromenium was one of three allied cities in Sicily that enjoyed special privileges and had some independence.  During the Servile War in Sicily (134-132 BC), the city fell into the hands of insurgent salves who were able to hold out against Publius Rupilius until they were reduced to famine and the citadel was betrayed into the hands of Sarapion who put all the survivors to the sword.  Because Tauromenium was a strong fortress it was used during the wars of Sextus Pompeius in Sicily against Octavian.  It also featured in a sea-fight that almost resulted in total destruction.  Local inhabitants were expelled when Augustus imported colonists to form a new Roman colony there. 

By the middle ages Taormina continued to be one of the more important towns in Sicily under the Byzantine emperors but was captured by the Fatmids after a 30-week siege in 962 AD.  The town was renamed “Al-Mu’izziyya” and came under Muslim rule until 1078 when Roger I of Sicily, a Norman count, captured it.  The language of the town at that time was predominately Greek.  In the centuries that followed the city suffered several other sieges and changes in rulership.

Trivia:  Taormina has the second oldest railroad station in the region.  The spectacular views and beaches made it a tourist destination in the 19th century with famous people such as Oscar Wilde, Nicholas I of Russia, Goethe, Nietzsche and Richard Wagner among those who visited.  It has been of favorite place for artists, photographers, writers, and intellectuals and there was an expatriate colony.  It was also known as a gentlemen’s destination in part due to Wilhelm von Gloeden’s photographs of male nudes.  During the 20th century D.H. Lawrence, Truman Capote, Tennessee Williams, Jean Cocteau and Jean Marais visited.  It is about 45 minutes away from Mount Etna, a live volcano, by car. 

Main attractions include a Saracen castle on a very steep rock, portions of ancient walls around the summit of the hill, fragments of buildings from earlier centuries, a Greek theater that is used for theatrical performances and musical concerts today.   There is also a fountain dating from 1635, the Palazzo Corvaja from the 10th century, plus several other old churches and gardens. 

For additional information, see: