The Historic, the Fun & the Popular (Part 2)

Sorry for the delay in getting this second part posted — I still get my pictures developed the old-fashioned way!

No road trip of mine would be complete without stopping at the world’s largest something-or-other. Thus, those sites, along with some other quirky attractions, make up the second installment of “The Historic, the Fun, & the Popular.”

Stop 1: The World’s Largest Light Bulb is atop the Thomas Edison Memorial Tower in Menlo Park, N.J. (I suppose this could qualify for being historic, but anything with “world’s largest” in its name needs to be categorized as “fun.”) Menlo Park, of course, is the birthplace of the light bulb. The tower marks the spot where Edison’s workshop once stood; the workshop is now part of Henry Ford’s Greenfield Village in Dearborn, Mich. The light bulb itself is 13-feet tall and is illuminated at night.

Stop 2: In nearby Linden, there is a cemetary that houses a very unique tombstone. mercedesYes, I know that cemetaries and tombstones probably shouldn’t fall under a “fun” category and I don’t mean any disrespect; you have to agree, however, that this is unique. The full-size 1982 Mercedes Benz limousine sadly marks the grave of 15-year-old who never got the car of his dreams in life. The 36-ton piece of granite is mind-boggling in its detail, down to the tire treads, grill work, and the boy’s name on the license plates.

Stop 3: The World’s Largest Tooth is actually a 15-tall sculpture that sits along a main thoroughfare in Hutchinson Mill, N.J. See my Nov. 26 post for a photo.

champagne1

Stop 4: Tuckerton, N.J., is home to one of several 20-foot high champagne bottles in the area built by the Renault Winery in the 1920s. This one is white stone. Another one is located further north in Bayville, N.J., but I couldn’t find that one (although how one can miss a tall champagne bottle I’m not sure).

Stop 5: I didn’t really stop in Atlantic City, N.J., just drove through it, but it’s worth a mention because I felt like I was on a giant Monopoly board. It was nostalgic as well because, long before the casinos came into town, my family spent our summers there when I was growing up.

lucy-the-elephant

Stop 6: Just south of Atlantic City was my final stop — a place I had wanted to see for many years and, in fact, was the whole reason I was on the New Jersey shore — Lucy the Elephant. Lucy is the trademark of Margate City; she even appears on the town’s water tower. Open up ANY roadside attraction book and you will see Lucy gracing a page. Now 127 years old, Lucy is in great shape, thanks to local renovation efforts and is designated as a National Historic Landmark. Lucy is six stories high, weighs 90 tons, and is covered in 12,000 square feet of tin.

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The Historic, the Fun and the Popular (Part 1)

As you know, I just returned from 10 days on the road and a visit to way too many sites to talk about in a single post, so I’ve decided to split the travel tales up into three categories: the historic, the fun and the popular. Today, a look at history:lindbergh-estate1

Stop 1: Nearly 77 years ago, the “crime of the century” took place in Hopewell, N.J., when the 20-month-old son of famous aviator Charles Lindbergh was kidnapped from his nursery and found murdered two months later. The wooded land surrounding the Lindbergh home has shrunk from 600 acres to 350, but the original home still stands. Lindbergh gave the estate to the State of New Jersey to be used to help boys; it now houses the Albert Elias Residential Group Center.

Stop 2: The New Jersey State Police oversaw the investigation into the kidnapping and has the largest collection of archives of the crime. It’s museum in West Trenton houses a wonderful exhibit that includes the wooden lindbergh-baby3ladder used to reach the outside nursery window, ransom notes, ransom money, the baby’s clothes, other trial evidence, and trial footage.

Stop 3: If the kidnapping was the crime of the century, the trial of Bruno Hauptmann, the man accused of the kidnapping, was the trial of the century. It was held at the Hunterdon County Courthouse in Flemington, N.J. Hauptman was found guilty and died in the electric chair (which is usually at the state police museum, but is currently on loan to the Newseum in Washington, D.C.). The trial is reenacted at the courthouse every October. The conviction of Hauptmann remains controversial to this day. My aunt was 10 at the time and recalls the family huddled around the radio the day he was executed. She said she remembers no one in the room saying anything until after it was over. Then my grandfather uttered, “Some day they’ll find out that man didn’t do it.”

Stop 4: More than a century before the Lindbergh kidnapping, two American political rivals met in Weehawken, N.J., along the Hudson River to engage in a famous duel. Alexander Hamilton would die in the duel with Aaron Burr. A bust of Hamilton and the rock where he supposedly collapsed is near the original dueling site.