Monday, May 28, 2012

Road Trip: Wisconsin Auto Museum

Yesterday, I spent our area's first 90 degree day for the year 30 minutes north of Milwaukee in Hartford, where I visited the Wisconsin Automobile Museum.  They had an impressive 2-story collection of cars, trucks and other motorized vehicles, mostly from two of Wisconsin's best known manufacturers, Nash and Kissel.  Both manufacturers are out of business now, but in their heydays, they were great contributors to our state's job market.

The museum didn't present their automobiles chronologically, which was kind of nice, since you could find a car from 1948 located next to one from the 1920's, so it was kind of an adventure.  They did house most of their early-20th century vehicles together, which you can see above and from my photos below:

Ford Model T
The rest of the lower level contained automobiles spanning from the 1920's to the 1950's as seen below:

 They even had a Tucker automobile, for anyone that remembers the Jeff Bridges movie, Tucker: A Man and His Dream:

The upper level had automobiles from the 1950's to 1990, where they had a Mazda Miata on display.  They had Chevys and Studebakers:

A Rambler, just like the one on "3rd Rock From The Sun":


A Delorean, Back To The Future-style:

And an Excalibur, which I'd never heard of before, but found very interesting:

Also, on the upper level, they had a locomotive, which I believe they were in the process of restoring.  I wasn't sure if I was allowed in that area, but I went in anyway and took these two shots:

 I had a very enjoyable day at the Wisconsin Automobile Museum.  The only downside was I hoped to see an Edsel, but there wasn't one to be found.  I did get to see a lot of unique, classic automobiles, and you can too.  For more information, go to

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Waukesha Celebrates Armed Forces Day

This weekend, Waukesha, Wisconsin, which is 15 miles west of Milwaukee, celebrated Armed Forces Day by having  historic tours, talks and other events spread out around town.  It was sponsored by the Waukesha Landmarks Commission and the Waukesha County Parks & Recreation, and highlighted famous residents who contributed to shaping how the city looks today. 

Saturday started out with historic talks about prominent historical persons who were either born in Waukesha or became important citizens later in life.  As you can see from the photo I took above, these citizens were from many different eras from the founding of Waukesha (which used to be called Prairieville) through both the Civil War and the Spanish-American War, up to the sufferage movement.  The speeches were very interesting, and I learned some things I didn't even know about Waukesha.  I did not know that Mary Todd Lincoln came to the city after her husband's assassination to take advantage of the city's many springs.  Ulysses S. Grant also came to the city for the same reason.

These talks were given at Prairie Home Cemetary on the west side of town, and maps were available afterwards to find the tombstones of those spoken of.

From there, I went over to the Waukesha Housing Authority building on Arcadian Avenue where they had an old-fashioned fire truck (pictured below) on display in their parking lot.  I went in and was treated to an art exhibition and, down in the basement, I got to see what is left of one of the original springs that brought people to Waukesha in the mid-to-late part of the 19th century (Waukesha's town motto was even "Spring City").

In the afternoon, at the Les Paul Bandstand in Cutler Park, there was a brief ceremony to hand out three awards to members of the Landmarks Commission who contributed to the preservation of some of Waukesha's most historic buildings.  One of the recipients restored the Moor Downs Clubhouse to keep it from being destroyed, and another recipient restored a building on the corner of Madison Street and St. Paul that I remember being in such disarray a few years ago.  This led to the other side of St. Paul experiencing a revitalization of its own including the new downtown fire station and bus station.

After the awards ceremony, there was a really nice fashion show of many historic gowns.  You can see a display of them below.

They also had actors dressed as Waukesha citizens from different eras speaking about life during their time, just like the talks given at Prairie Home Cemetary in the morning.

My friend, Beth, was even involved, wearing an authentic 1940's outfit (pictured below).

It was a weekend packed full of events.  So many that the battery in my camera ran out at the end of the fashion show.  There were also a few cars on display from the Waukesha Old Car Club in Cutler Park, a dedication of a historic marker in Frame Park, and Sunday they had tours of some of the homes of Waukeha's most prominent citizens, as well as a tour of Carroll University.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Photo Friday: Detailed

This week's challenge on the website Photo Friday is "Detailed."  I took this picture last weekend while participating in the free Milwaukee Museum Mile tour (see the article on the main page).  This bridge is situated behind the North Point Lighthouse and I just love the detailed ironwork.

To see more great Photo Friday entries, go to and look for the Links box on the left side.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Great Photo Race: Fences

This week's challenge on was Fences.  I didn't do as bad as I thought - I got 9 votes.  But there were a lot of great, original photos that were entered this past week.  My favorite was a fence where lost cowboy boots were placed on its posts.  The winning photo was of an old fence in Salt Lake, submersed in water so you only saw the withered tops of the posts.  Oh, it was also taken right before a thunderstorm at dusk.  A well deserved winner, in my opinion.

This week's theme is "Mystery - Texture" and already there are many great photos that I wouldn't be able to replicate.  I probably will skip this week, unless something comes to me later.  But I'm excited to see what the others come up with!

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Milwaukee Museum Mile

Another dreary weekend in Milwaukee.  A great weekend to spend some time checking out some of the city's wonderful museums.  We have a great collection of museums besides the Milwaukee Art Museum and the Public Museum, and this weekend residents from around the area were able to tour 5 of them for free.  Known collectively as the Milwaukee Museum Mile, the tour consisted of the Charles Allis Art Museum, Jewish Museum Milwaukee, Museum of Wisconsin Art at St. John's On the Lake, North Point Lighthouse, and Villa Terrace Decorative Arts Museum.

After having breakfast down on Brady Street and taking some shots for future challenges down by the lake, I started my tour at the Charles Allis Art Museum.  Charles Allis was an heir to Allis-Chalmers, a manufacturing company in Milwaukee known mostly for producing tractors.  Charles Allis was only in charge of Allis Chalmers for about 6 years, but he built up enough of a fortune to purchase an amazing collection of art from around the world in the early part of the 20th century.  The collection is on display in the house he shared with his wife Sarah designed by architecht Alexander Eschwiler.  Unfortunately, due to many security cameras placed around the museum, I was nervous about taking any photos.

The next place I toured was the Jewish Museum Milwaukee (shown above).  This place is truly a hidden gem, and I will now tell anyone who visits Milwaukee they have to check it out, whether they are of Jewish descent or not.  Starting from the early 1800's when the first exodus of Jewish immigrants came to the city, to the zionism movement, it was truly fascinating.  I had no idea so many local (and national) businesses were started by the Jewish immigrants who came here.  Although some immigrants used carts to sell their wares, as shown in this photo:

Appropriately, an extensive part of the permanent exhibit was dedicated to Jewish descrimination, including the Holocaust.  Another thing I learned today was that in the mid-1920's, there was a quota on how many Jewish persons could be brought into America.  Whether or not this led to the massive amounts of Jews exterminated during WWII, I can't be sure. 

In front of the museum, there is a very respectful memorial to the Jews lost during the Holocaust, shown below:

From there, I took the (free) shuttle to Villa Terrace Decorative Arts Museum.  This is a really cool museum that looks like it's right out of Florence, Italy.  Below, I took a picture of the museum (right) and two of its neighbors.  This diversity of styles, in this case Victorian, Greek and Italian, is indictative of many streets in Milwaukee.  We are a land of immigrants after all, and I think it's great that architechts and designers have the guts to mix styles in such a bold way.

Villa Terrace was onced owned by Lloyd Smith, owner of A.O. Smith, a company that produced hot water heaters. 

Next, I visited the North Point Lighthouse.  The highlight of this museum is you can go up to the top of the lighthouse and look out over Lake Michigan.  I, instead, chose to take a look at the bridge in back, which makes up one of Milwaukee's many parks.  That's where I took a picture of the lion, one of many that ornament a lovely bridge and pathway throughout the park.  Back inside, there is a very interesting set of exhibits detaling the lighthouse's history, including one woman who saved lives by keeping the light going for 30 years.

Although this was a special event to attract more visitors to these spectacular museums, I hope this will inspire tourists and locals alike to check them out.  For more information on the Milwaukee Museum Mile, visit

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Great Photo Race: Springtime

This week's theme for the Great Photo Race was Springtime.  I didn't do too well, only getting 6 votes for the photo above, but I was happy I wasn't at the bottom.  There were a lot of photos of flowers, both in groups and singular.  The photos that got the most votes were different - a couple of cactuses (or is it cacti?) with flowers, animals (including fuzzy ducklings), and one of a nest of eggs.  My favorite was of a lone robin with great depth of focus.  The robin was crystal clear and the background was completely blurred.  That one came in somewhere in the middle of the pack.

This week's theme is Fences.  To see all of last week's entries and the new ones for the week, go to  Happy Snapping!