Sunday, May 29, 2005

Lake Lure: Dirty Dancing the Night Away!

While the movie Dirty Dancing was set in New York, it was actually filmed in North Carolina at Lake Lure, about 25 miles southeast of Asheville, North Carolina. Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey, the stars of the movie, stayed at Lake Lure Inn & Spa, where some scenes were filmed.

Address: The 1927 Lake Lure Inn & Spa, P O Box 10, Lake Lure, North Carolina 28746; 828-625-2525; 888-434-4970; Fax: 828-625-9655. Email: Web:

Saturday, May 28, 2005

Cradle of Forestry

The Cradle of Forestry is located on the site of the first forestry school in America — the Biltmore Forest School, founded in 1898 by Dr. Carl Schenck, chief forester for George Vanderbilt’s Biltmore Estate. It is known as the birthplace of forest conservation.

Address: Cradle of Forestry Historic Site, 1001 Pisgah Highway, Pisgah Forest, North Carolina 28768; 828-877-3130. Email: Web:

Friday, May 27, 2005

Mile High Swinging Bridge

The Mile High Swinging Bridge, the only swinging bridge at a mile high, was built to give visitors easy access to the breath-taking view from Grandfather Mountain's Linville Peak. The 228-foot suspension bridge spans an 80-foot chasm at more than one mile in elevation. The nearby Grandfather Mountain Nature Museum features a billion-year-old rock that you can touch!

Grandfather Mountain is the highest peak in the Blue Ridge Mountain range, with an elevation of 5,964 foot. Grandfather Mountain is located on US Highway 221, two miles north of Linville, North Carolina, and one mile south of the Blue Ridge Parkway.

Address: Mile High Swinging Bridge, Grandfather Mountain, P O Box 129, 2050 Blowing Rock Highway, Linville, North Carolina 28646; 828-733-2013; 800-468-7325; Fax: 828-733-2608. Email: Web:

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Great Smoky Mountains National Park

The Great Smoky Mountains National Park, covering parts of North Carolina and Tennessee, is the most popular park in the country. It contains more than 500,000 acres of protected forest.

"World renowned for the diversity of its plant and animal life, the beauty of its ancient mountains, the quality of its remnants of Southern Appalachian mountain culture, and the depth and integrity of its wilderness sanctuary, the park attracts over nine million visitors each year. Once a part of the Cherokee homeland, the Smokies today are a hiker's paradise with over 800 miles of trails."

The park was created on June 15, 1934. It became an International Biosphere Reserve in 1976 and a World Heritage Site on December 6, 1983.

Address: Great Smoky Mountains National Park, 107 Park Headquarters Road, Gatlinburg, Tennessee 37738; 865-436-1200; Fax: 865-436-1220. Web:

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

The Birthplace of Talking Films

In 1923, Theodore Case of Auburn, New York, invented the first commercially successful system of recording sound on film. He invented the system in his backyard greenhouse, which he called the Case Research Lab. His Movietone sound system revolutionized the movie business. His lab was restored and reopened to the public in 1994 as the Case Research Lab Museum.

Address: Case Research Lab Museum, 203 Genesee Street, Auburn, New York 13021; 315-253-8051; Fax: 315-253-9829. Email: Web:

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

America's Largest Private Home

The Biltmore House in the moutains outside of Asheville, North Carolina is the largest private home in America. The 250-room chateau opened in 1895. It had all the modern conveniences then: electric lights, mechanical refrigeration, central heat, and indoor plumbing. Frederick Law Olmstead, the designer of Central Park, planned the landscaping for the 250 acres surrounding the chateau. The surrounding property at the time included another 125,000 acres. Most of that acreage is now part of the Pisgah National Forest.

The family dining room:

Here are a few of the movies that have been filmed at the Biltmore Estate:
1948 -- Tap Roots, starring Van Heflin and Susan Hayward.
1956 -- The Swan, starring Grace Kelly, Louis Jordan, Alec Guinness, and Agnes Moorehead.
1979 -- Being There, starring Peter Sellers.
1980 -- The Private Eyes, starring TIm Conway and Don Knotts.
1990 -- Mr. Destiny, starring Jim Belushi and Michael Caine (footage only).
1992 -- The Last of the Mohicans, starring Daniel Day-Lewis and Madeleine Stowe.
1994 -- Forrest Gump, starring Tom Hanks and Sally Fields (features corn field and lagoon in Hank's cross-country run).
1994 -- Richie Rich, starring Macaulay Culkin and John Larroquette.
1996 -- My Fellow Americans, starring Jack Lemmon and James Garner (location for the farmhouse, campground, and most White House scenes).
1998 -- Patch Adams, starring Robin Williams (cabin footage and a few other scenes).
2000 -- Hannibal, starring Anthony Hopkins and Julianne Moore (home of Mason Verger as well as the Sardinian barn scenes).
2002 -- The Clearing, starring Robert Redford, Helen Mirren, and Willem Dafoe (forest scenes).

Address: Biltmore Estate, One Lodge Street, Asheville, North Carolina 28801; 828-255-1333; 800-624-1575. Email: Web:

Monday, May 23, 2005

Fern Capital of the World

Because so much fernerie dots the landscape in the area, Pierson, Florida calls itself the Fern Capital of the World. The town is best known for the ferns grown and exported worldwide for use in floral arrangements and other decorations.

Leatherleaf fern is a $70-million-a-year wholesale industry and the most valuable ornamental crop produced in Florida. 97% of U.S. leatherleaf fern production is housed between Palatka, Clermont, and Daytona Beach, Florida. This area of northeast Florida is known as the Leatherleaf Fern Capital of the World.

Address: Central Florida Fern Co-op, P O Box 588, 567 S. Volusia Avenue, Pierson, Florida 32180; 386-749-4911; Fax: 386-749-0929. Web:

In 1912 ferns became the industry for Apopka, Florida, and soon the town developed the name of Fern City. More tropical plants were introduced to the growers in the area. This influx of foliage took over the fern industry and the city became known as The Indoor Foliage Capital of the World.

Address: Apopka City Hall, 120 E. Main Street, Apopka, Florida 32703. Email: Web:

Sunday, May 22, 2005

Little Dutch Church

The Little Dutch Church, built in 1756, was the first Lutheran Church in Canada. It is now an Anglican church open only during the summer for services.

Address: Little Dutch Church, Brunswick Street at Gerrish, Halifax, Nova Scotia.

Saturday, May 21, 2005

Forest of the Wabash

The Forest of the Wabash, which lies along the Wabash River, is the largest single tract of untouched decidious forest remaining in the United States. It covers 329 acres.

Address: Forest of the Wabash, Beall Woods State Park, 9285 Beall Woods Avenue, Mount Carmel, Illinois 62863; 618-298-2442. Email: Web:

Thursday, May 19, 2005

World Peace Pavilion

It was here during the G7 Summit of June 1995 that the World Peace Pavilion was officially opened by the seven visiting Foreign Ministers. So far seventy countries have participated in the exhibit. Large signature pieces, such as a chunk of the Great Wall of China and some remains of the Berlin Wall, are featured in the exhibit. Alos included are amethysts from Uruguay, a plate from Ecuador, and a brass plaque made from ammunition fragments after World War II from Slovakia. Countries sent donations from their most cherished historical sites, their proudest achievements, and poignant reminders of the price of peace and fragility of human life.

Address: World Peace Pavilion, Dartmouth Waterfront, Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, Canada. Web:

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Oldest Protestant Church in Canada

Open in September 1740, St. Paul's is the oldest Protestant church in Canada and the first overseas cathedral for Great Britain.

Address: St. Paul's Anglican Church, 1749 Argyle Street, Halifax, Nova Scotia B3J 3K4 Canada; 902-429-2240; Fax: 902-429-8230. Email: Web:

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Pier 21 National Historic Site

Canada's last remaining immigration shed is now a national historic site. From 1928 to 1971, more than a million immigrants, troops, war brides, evacuee children, and displaced persons passed through the pier's doors. It is now a museum.

Address: Pier 21 National Historic Site, 1055 Marginal Road, Halifax, Nova Scotia B3H 4P6 Canada; 902-425-7770; Fax: 902-423-4045. Web:

Saturday, May 07, 2005

International Space Hall of Fame

The International Space Hall of Fame honors all those who have helped to design, build, administer, and carry out space exploration.

Inductees include astronauts Edwin Aldrin, Neil Armstrong, Guion Blueford Jr., Frank Borman, Malcolm Carpenter, Eugene Cernan, Roger Chaffee, Eileen Marie Collins, Michael Collins, Yuri Gagarin, Marc Garneau, John Glenn Jr., Virgil Grissom, Susan Helms, James Irwin, Mae Carol Jemison, Pete Knight, Alexei Leonov, James Lovell Jr., Shannon Lucid, Bruce McCandless II, Edgar Mitchell, Franklin Story Musgrave, Claude Nicollier, Valeri Vladimirovich Polyakov, Sally Ride, Svetlana Savitskaya, Walter Schirra Jr., Harrison Schmitt, Alan Shepard Jr., Donald Slayton, Kathyrn Sullivan, Valentina Tereshkova, Norman Thagard, Rudolfo Neri Vela, Joseph Walker, Edward White II, Charles Yeager, and John Young as well as scientists Karol Bossart, Dirk Brouwer, Arthur C. CLarke, William Congreve, Nicolaus Copernicus, Louis Damblanc, Charles Draper, Hugh Dryden, Robert Esnault-Pelterie, Galileo Galilei, Robert Goddard, William Hale, James Henry, Hipparchus, Edwin Hubble, Johannes Kepler, Joseph Kittinger, Willy Ley, Acrhibald Low, Isaac Newton, Hermann Oberth, Jeannette Piccard, Jean Felix Piccard, Klaus Riedel, Carol Sagan, Ernst Steinhoff, Hubertus Strughold, Clyde Tombaugh, Wilhelm Unge, James Van Allen, Wernher von Braun, James Webb, Fred Whipple, Johannes Winkler, James Wyld, and Fritz Zwicky. The hall of fame also features legislator Clinton Anderson, space artist Chesley Bonestell, newscaster Walter Cronkite, animal trainer Edward Dittmer Sr. (trained Ham and Enos, the first chimpanzees in space), Dr. William Douglas (personal physician to the first seven Mercury astronauts), and writer Konstantin Tsiolkovsky.

Address: New Mexico Museum of Space History, P O Box 5430, Alamogordo, New Mexico 88311-5430; 505-437-2840; Toll-Free: 877-333-6589; Fax: 505-434-2245. Email: Web:

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

St. Donatus Historical Society

The small town of St. Donatus, Iowa features the largest collection of 19th century Luxembourg architecture outside of Europe, all nestled in a wooded valley. The small town also features the oldest outdoor Way of the Cross in America.

Address: St. Donatus Historical Society, P O Box 113, St. Donatus, Iowa 52071; 563-773-8200. Email: Web: