Arcane America: 101 of the Best Places You Never Heard of [NOOK Book]


America's first great civil war battle took place on a hill in South Carolina...more than a quarter-century before Robert E. Lee was born.

A pair of Presidents and their First Ladies repose side by side for all eternity in the undercroft of a Massachusetts church.

America's most dramatic case of treason played out along the banks of New York's Hudson River where barges and ...

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Arcane America: 101 of the Best Places You Never Heard of

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America's first great civil war battle took place on a hill in South Carolina...more than a quarter-century before Robert E. Lee was born.

A pair of Presidents and their First Ladies repose side by side for all eternity in the undercroft of a Massachusetts church.

America's most dramatic case of treason played out along the banks of New York's Hudson River where barges and yachts now pass.

One of Florida's fabled keys hosts an annual festival that draws throngs...yet no one lives on the island any other day of the year.

These are but four examples of classic Americana tucked away in hidden nooks, secret pockets of historical, cultural, and human interest unknown to most Americans.

If you know where to look, you can enter a colorful, extravagant, gaudily lighted Christmas village in Pennsylvania such as you've never seen before. And if you're in the right place in Washington, you can visit a cemetery containing the grave of one of America's most famous Native Americans and choke up at the affecting personal tributes to ordinary everyday Indians that surround it. In the middle of Minnesota you can tour an iron ore mine so real you almost forget it's fake. On the banks of the Ohio River in Illinois you can enter a huge cave whose dark, eerie recesses once enticed travelers, naturalists, and America's first serial killers. In Hawaii you can descend a hidden, unimproved trail to one of the Pacific's most enchanting bays and walk along the shore where the world's greatest explorer was killed. In Alaska you can walk up to a glacier whose enormity will overwhelm you and then hike across it and taste its icy wetness.

These are not famous places. They are, rather, obscure, unheralded, little-visited corners of America waiting to tempt you.

Welcome to "Arcane America: 101 of the Best Places You Never Heard Of," a compilation of some of the least-known, most-interesting sites in the United States: a Connecticut prison where inmates served their time chained to the bowels of a deserted copper mine; a rural Iowa county that spawned America's greatest western actor and a sextet of covered bridges; a New Jersey miniature kingdom whose beauty and artistry killed its creator; a New York county where you can ride the largest number of free carousels anywhere in the world; a temple of gold to one of the world's most misunderstood religions in the rolling hills of West Virginia; a medical museum in the nation's capital where you'll see pickled fetuses, radical human deformities, and bits of Abraham Lincoln's skull.

There are no Statues of Liberty, Disneyworlds, or Grand Canyons in this collection of some of America's most unusual and anonymous delights. Many have never before been written of, except in regional publications of limited scope and circulation. Almost all are virtually unknown outside their immediate vicinities or states. You may find yourself recognizing a particular name, cultural relationship, or historical fact here or there, but you'll probably not know the whole story.

Included in the 101 destinations covering all 50 states and the District of Columbia are battlefields, graves, miniature worlds, scenic drives and hikes, natural formations and curiosities, national and state parks, mansions, historic sites, nature and wildlife preserves, deserted islands, Indian reservations, gardens, inexplicable mysteries, religious shrines, museums honoring traditional accomplishments and one-of-a-kind eccentricities, reconstructed villages, manufacturing sites, underground worlds, hidden sites in the middle of nowhere, and corners of forgotten importance within America's largest city. Some are breathtakingly beautiful; others are frighteningly bizarre. All are memorably unique.

Legendary figures stand shoulder to shoulder with those whom time has forgotten: Buffalo Bill Cody and his mountaintop resting place; William Gillette and his quirky castle; Franklin D. Roosevelt and the hideaway cottage where he died in the presence of his mistress; Bud Overholzer and his rustic carving handiwork; Harland Sanders and the mementoes of a career in chicken; Roger Maris and his museum in a mall; George Armstrong Custer and the last house in which he lived before riding to his date with destiny; Walter Russell, the most brilliant man you never heard of, and his unmarked grave and complex legacy.

The book results from more than a decade of touring the country under a variety of circumstances. As we made our way across America, often bound for big-ticket destinations (Mount Rushmore, San Francisco, Cape Cod), we encountered, sometimes purely by chance, equally intriguing places tucked away in isolated parts of the countryside. Eventually, we decided to ferret out as many of them as practical. Of the hundreds of such sites visited, 101 were culled for thematic variety, general interest, geographical balance, and emotional poignancy. The criteria for inclusion was twofold: first, the places needed to be little-visited or relatively unknown outside their immediate locales; second, they must deliver a fair return, whether emotional, intellectual, or physical, to those interested enough to seek them out.

For the most part, the sites are easily reachable. We specifically tried to include places within proximity to major tourist destinations so they might easily be tacked onto pre-arranged trips. Most sites can be toured within an hour or two.

The book is fashioned as a unique travelogue but provides far more background information on each site's intrinsic historical, cultural, or popular identity than is customarily found in most traditional travel books. No previously published travelogue has attempted the style and scope that this one has - to first pinpoint in time the event that made the site possible and then to capture the essence of the event and place it in sensitive textual imagery for modern readers/travelers.

The book was also created with a nod to armchair travelers, people who might never be able to venture beyond the horizons of their imaginations. Considerable narrative background has been provided to bestow the proper significance to each site and paint a more vivid picture for those who must rely on our words for their impressions.

Most travel books become rapidly outdated. Sites open and close unpredictably. Hours of operation and admission fees change, often annually. What costs $3 one year might cost $4 the next. To try to avoid this trap, we used generic terms. For example, admission fees may be "modest" or "nominal" (usually $1-3 by late-1990s benchmarks), "moderate" ($4-6), "average" ($7-10), and so forth. A "modest" $3 admission in 1998 may balloon to $7 by 2005, but, even allowing for inflation, it will most likely still be considered "modest" by price standards of its day. Likewise, "normal" or "customary" daytime hours, a recurrent phrase throughout the book, refers to a place that opens around 9 or 10 a.m. and closes around 4 or 5 p.m. On rare occasions, when we felt it essential, we provided current specifics.

We tried to capture each site's essence or special poignancy. Some places nearly made us cry, so viscerally did they affect our sensibilities. Yet we did not view them as ultimately depressing, but rather as confirmations of the human ability to feel, remember, and commemorate. Many of the sites, even if seemingly and superficially negative, are life-affirming. For example, "Where the Sun Still Rises Over Blown-Out Brains" commemorates Ketchum/Sun Valley, Idaho, where Ernest Hemingway committed suicide. Though the memorials to him exist because he died, their general atmosphere radiates homage and remembrance. Likewise, "The Day the Sun Went Out on the Sunshine" commemorates one of America's worst mining disasters with one of the most touching tributes anywhere in America - a heroic statue of a triumphant miner, drill upraised to the heavens, surmounti

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781465325990
  • Publisher: Xlibris Corporation
  • Publication date: 9/8/1998
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • File size: 2 MB

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