Saturday, November 28, 2015

If this is Thursday it must be postcards, 222

Château d’Amboise, Loire River Valley, France

Another beautiful castle in the Loire River Valley of France is Château d’Amboise shown above on this current postcard sent by my French friend last summer.  The card is a Editions Valoire – Estel – Bois, imprimé en C.E.E., Production LECONTE.  At the upper right corner is the Amboise coat of arms.  

Placed on the eastern frontier of Angevins holdings Château d’Amboise is strategically placed on a spur above the Loire River and first built in the 9th century.  Improvements and expansions occurred over time as the ownership of the castle descended through the family of Fulk the Red for several generations. 

A failed plot against Louis XI of France by Louis d’Ambroise resulted in the castle being seized by Charles VII of France in 1434.  Amboise’s life was spared but the château became royal property as a result.  Charles VII did extensive rebuilding of the palace using the French late Gothic Flamboyant style.  An interesting trivia note, Charles died at Château d’Amboise in 1498 after he hit his head on a door lintel. 

The château was a favorite of French kings from Louis XI to Francis I who was raised at Amboise by his mother, Louise of Savoy.  During the first few years of his reign the château reached the peak of its glory.  Leonardo da Vinci visited in 1515 and used an underground passage that connected the castle with the nearby Clos Lucé.  Mary Stuart, the child queen of Scotland, who was promised in marriage to the future French Francis II was raised here by Henry II and his wife Catherine de’ Medici along with their children.

A gruesome chapter in the history of the castle came in 1560 during the French Wars of Religion when a conspiracy by Huguenot House of Bourbon against the House of Guise was uncovered and stifled resulting in the hanging of 1200 Protestants who were hung from the town walls on iron hooks that were used to hold pennants and tapestries on festive occasions.  The smell of the corpses led to the abandonment of the town.   It never returned to royal favor as a residence but was turned into a prison for a period of time.  During the French Revolution it was all but demolished.  During World War II it was further damaged.  Today a descendant of Louis-Philippe, the comte de Paris, repairs and maintains the castle through the Fondation Saint-Louis.  The French Ministry of Culture has recognized it as a monument historique since 1840. 

With my thanks to my friend, as always, for sharing the postcard and the photos below of the château grounds.


For more information, please see:'Amboise

[Note:  This Thursday postcard is a couple of days late due to the Thanksgiving holiday.]

Thursday, November 19, 2015

If this is Thursday it must be postcards, 221

EGYPT -- The Pyramids of Gizeh Showing Overflow of River Nile -- LL, 1914

As mentioned in several previous postcard Thursdays, I.C. & Petra Lee had many friends who traveled widely and sent postcards to them.   The above card is a scene from along the Nile River with the famous Gizeh (Giza) pyramids in the background.  The French printer and photograph editing company Léon & Lévy (LL) founded in 1864 issued it.  This company was located in Paris and specialized in stereoscopic views of European, Asian, African and American scenes.  Stereoscopic cards had two images and required a reading device to produce a 3-D effect unlike this card that has only one image.  LL was one of the most important editors of postcards in France.  The trademark LL can be seen following the title of the card at the upper left.   Like many other postcard publishers of that time LL numbered their editions, this one is 17.  The original photograph was a black & white that was colored or tinted before mass-producing as a postcard.  

Message on the reverse

It may a little difficult to read the note but since the message shows how many different places they had been and mentions the appointment of a Seattle Police Chief, here is the text:

 “Cairo, Egypt 4-28-14   Dearest friends excuse me for not sending you a letter.  Received cards & letter from you.  Austin is a friend of mine and [I] am sure he will make a good chief.  Am very glad to see him appointed.  Have been to Jerusalem, Jericho, Dead Sea, Mt. Temptation, River Jordan, Galilee sea, Damascus, Baalbek [in Lebanon], Beyrout [Beirut], located the place on the Nile where Moses was found.  Leave here tomorrow for Naples, Rome, Venice, Florence, Lucerne in Switzerland & back to Norway.  Your, H.P. R. & wife.  Excuse my writing, mailed 100 cards from here.”

The Austin mentioned in the note was Austin E. Griffiths (1863-1952) who was Seattle Chief of Police from 1914 to 1915 and later went on to become a Superior Court Judge.  I.C. Lee was a Sergeant in the Seattle Police Force from 1905 until his death in 1930. 

Tourism in Egypt increased following the discovery of King Tut’s tomb in 1922 but even before then when this card was mailed in 1914 the pyramids were a fascination for travelers.  The postcard picture shows the three largest pyramids at Giza and two of the smaller ones found there.  The pyramids shown are counted among the largest structures ever built and the Great Pyramid of Khufu is the only one of the Seven Wonders of the World still in existence today.  It is generally agreed that they were burial monuments but there is some disagreement concerning the theological principals involved.  The shape is thought to represent the descending rays of the sun and the outside was faced with white limestone that gave the pyramids a brilliant appearance from a distance.  Most of the limestone facing has eroded away and only a small amount remains at the pinnacle of the Great Pyramid.  All the pyramids were built on the west bank of the Nile and received the setting sunlight associated with the realm of the dead in Egypt.  Some pyramids were buried or covered with sand and “lost” so the number first discovered in 1842 (67) had grown to 118 by 2008.  Work is still being conducted and perhaps more discoveries will come to light in the future. 

Not all of the pyramids are open to the public and those that are open are not all open at the same time.  When the King Tut exhibit was here in Seattle at the Pacific Science Center a few years ago a series of rooms were recreated to show what Howard Carter found when Tut’s tomb was opened in 1922.  It was rather amazing to find this postcard and realize these visitors were there when Egypt was a British Sultanate (1914-1922) and saw the pyramids before the discovery of King Tut.

World War I began in Europe in July 1914 and this card was posted in April of that year.  With the list of places still to visit this couple must have just barely returned home before the war began.  Although this is not a photo of a historically significant event or person it does fall into the category of a historical postcard simply by virtue of where it came from and the proximity to the beginning of the war.

A 1914 Egypt 4 milliemes stamp

For additional information, see:

Thursday, November 12, 2015

If this is Thursday it must be postcards, 220

Yosemite National Park, the Fire Fall, Glacier Point, 1947

Western Publishing and Novelty Company of Los Angeles, California issued this 1947 Linen Type postcard of the fire fall at Glacier Point in Yosemite National Park.  One of the most prominent publishers on the West Coast, photographer and publisher, Stanley A. Piltz used the C.T. Art-Colortone printing method to produce this card.  Linen Type postcards, popular from the 1930s to the 1950s, used paper with a high rag content giving the cards a fabric look and feel and with the advanced printing technique allowing the use of brighter colors.  This card titled “Yosemite National Park , Fire Fall, Glacier Point” has an informational paragraph on the reverse and is numbered on the front as 328 at the lower left and 36-HI-48 at the lower right.  

The card was sent by Axel Schroder to his daughter, Betty, as a birthday wish in 1947

Camp Curry today known as Curry Village is located within Yosemite Valley, Yosemite National Park, in Mariposa County, California.  It opened in 1899 as a tented camp owned and operated by David Curry and Jenny Etta Foster (also known as Mother Curry).  For $2.00 a day a visitor could get “a good bed and a clean napkin with every meal.”  That would equal approximately $57.00 today.  In 1970 the name was changed from Camp Curry to Curry Village and it still offers tourist accommodations near Glacier Point.  There is a post office (opened 1909), cabins, a store, dining facilities and a lodge.  The site is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.  Some of the older structures still standing include the 1904 Old Registration Office, the 1914 entrance sign, the 1913 dance hall, the 1916 Foster Curry cabin, and the 1917 Mother Curry’s bungalow. 

In 1871 before Yosemite became a National Park a small hotel called Glacier Point Mountain House was built at Glacier Point directly above Camp Curry.  The Yosemite Fire Fall as shown on the card was an event that began the summer of 1872 and continued every night during the summer for almost 100 years ending in 1968.  Burning hot embers were spilled from the top of Glacier Point to the valley 3,000 feet below.  Those watching from below saw what appeared to be a glowing waterfall. 

There was often a large bonfire at the small hotel on summer evenings.  At the conclusion of the evening events the embers and coals from the fire would be kicked over the edge of the cliff causing what came to be called the Fire fall.  The people below were so fascinated by the fiery waterfall they paid to have it continued, a practice that was kept until new owners discontinued it in 1897. 

After the Curry’s started the tent camp in 1899 they heard tales of the fire falls and decided to reestablish them in the early 1900s.  The “Indian Love Call” was sung at Camp Curry as the fire fell.  It was described as a sight long to be remembered.  The fire fall stopped again during World War II.  But by public demand the fire fall was back again after the war ended and continued for another 20 or so years before being discontinued permanently in 1968.  It must have been something else to witness; however, the dangerous possibilities of such a fire fall plus more public awareness of environmental issues would make this spectacle unthinkable today.

The stamp is a red, 2-cent Presidential stamp featuring the profile of John Adams

For additional information, see:,_California

Thursday, November 5, 2015

If this is Thursday it must be postcards, 219

Château de Villandry

Here is another of the beautiful castles of the Loire River Valley in France where my French friend visited with a bicycle tour group this past summer.    This is a World Heritage Site and was designated a historical monument in 1934.  Originally there was a ancient fortress located at Villandry but after it was acquired in the early 16th century by Jean Le Breton, the Controller-General for War under King Francis I, a new château was built around the 14th century keep where King Philip II of France once met Richard I of England for a peace conference. 

The château remained in the hands of the Le Breton family for 200 years and then was bought by the Marquis de Castellane.  During the French Revolution the property was confiscated.  Then in the early 19th century the Emperor Napoleon acquired it and gave it to his brother, Jérôme Bonaparte.  

Here below are some photographs my friend sent of the magnificent gardens at Villandry.

And a few more pictures from the interior of the castle.

 Beautiful patterned wood flooring

 View of the Gardens from inside the palace

 More patterned wood flooring

The kitchen and eating

The gardens and palace we see in the postcard and the pictures of Villandry as it is today from my French friend are the result of enormous sums of money, time and devotion spent by Joachim Carvallo who bought the property in 1906 and worked to repair the château and create the gardens.  The Carvallo family still owns Château de Villandry.  It is open to the public and one of the most visited castles in France with over 300,000 visitors a year.  It is renown for its gardens seen on the postcard from the air.  These Renaissance gardens include a water garden, ornamental flower gardens, and vegetable gardens.  Each garden is arranged in a formal pattern that has been created by box hedges. 

The stamp is a 70-year Mine Clearing Service commemorative 1945-2015

As always, many thanks to my friend for sharing the postcard and the photographs.

For more information, see:

Monday, November 2, 2015

Iron Horse East & Iron Horse West Trails

Hyak rest station

In the past two weeks we have taken hikes along the John Wayne Trail in the Iron Horse State Park.  The park extends from North Bend to the Columbia River with a trail that follows the former Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul & Pacific Railroad line sometimes referred to as the Milwaukee Line.  It is flat like the Burke-Gilman trail, also an old rail line, in the city and all of it can be used for cross-country skiing in the winter if there is enough snow.  As the names suggest one part of the trail was on the east side of Snoqualmie Pass the other on the west side of the pass.  

An annual Discover Pass is required for hiking and cycling.  The east side trail starts at the Hyak snow park trail head.  The snow park is used for cross-country skiing, snow shoeing and sledding in the winter, hiking, cycling, and horse back riding in summer.  There is also a boat launch ramp at Lake Kechelus; however, at the present time due to the lack of snow pack last year and little rain the lake is only 9% full so the ramp currently doesn’t reach the water.  At this time of year only half of the restrooms are open but they are super deluxe with heat, flush toilets, sinks, soap and TP.   As we walked along the trail we found two other outhouses and picnic tables accessible from the trail at pretty creek side locations. 

Lake Kechelus

Low water marks on the bank

Many of the creeks and streams pass under the trail on the way down the mountain passing through old railroad culverts before emptying into the lake.   There are occasional mountain views, forest, and clearings where we had good views of Lake Kechelus and the highway construction across the way.  We did not go the entire distance to the dam which would have been about a 12 to 13 mile round trip but turned around after about 3 miles for half that distance.  It stayed at 46 degrees F all the time we were out and with the wind chill factor from a more or less constant southeast wind it was about 37 degrees F, good weather for hats and gloves.  The clouds never cleared from the mountaintops but we did have patches of sun along the trail.  It was a very pleasant hike that also included two small waterfalls, as an unexpected bonus.  

 New snow on the mountain top

This brilliant red-orange Hawkweed was one of the few flowers in bloom

Others on this trail that day included one woman with a dog and three people on bikes.  We had skied here two years ago and hope that there will be sufficient snow this coming winter to do it again.  It is a very pleasant trail.  An old railroad tunnel the opposite direction is open for hikers and bikes during the summer months but closes November 1 until May 1.  There are a couple of informational displays with historical notes about the railroad and the park that were fun to find and read too.

To reach the Iron Horse West trail take exit 42 from I-90 and park at the McClellan Butte Trail head.  The Northwest Forest Pass or a Golden Age Pass is required here since it is on federal forestland.  Most hikers probably continue on up to McClellan Butte but we opted to take the John Wayne Trail where the two intersect.   Like the Iron Horse East trail the west trail is through woods and does have some streams.  This year most of the creek beds were dry but we did come upon one that had enough water and no safe way to cross requiring a turn around and going back the other way.  In the end the way we had to choose turned out to be a great walk.  At one place there was a very nice waterfall where a stream fed into an old railroad culvert.  Part of the trail is in the power line swathe that had telephone cable markers making a handy way to calculate how far we had gone.  One lone bike rider and a soil-engineering consultant were the only people we encountered that day.  

Amanita muscaria, pretty but poisonous

The surprise waterfall

Both of these hikes are quiet, peaceful, easy, with a mostly wide walking surface and have things to look at.  No flush toilet at the west trail head but there is an outhouse.  Since it is possible to hike as far or as little as desired these would be good ones to do with young children.