Exactly one year ago today, I set off from Long Island on Sunday morning with a bug in my ear to see a concrete railroad bridge in northeastern Pennsylvania. It’s called the Tunkhannock Viaduct or the Nicholson Bridge.
At the time it was built in the 19-teens it was the worlds largest concrete structure. Today, almost 100 years later it is still an impressive sight. I dare say it is arresting when you head north along US 11 and it comes in to view.
Why would I ride over 200 miles each way to stand in front of some concrete bridge? The answer is simple. I don’t know.
What is it that you get from being in the presence of something inanimate versus simply looking at pictures of it online or in a book? Again, I don’t know. But… there is something.
Sometimes it seems like my trips to things sprinkled around the country answer questions that I don’t realize that I’m asking. Standing in their shadow makes me feel something. I guess maybe that’s what I’m after – to feel something. To know something with the cells of my body before my mind has time to scramble it up.
It’s nice to see a place that is proud of the hallmarks of their community. Something about it gives me a lovesick envy.
After getting to know the Blue Whale of Catoosa for a bit, it was time to turn around and head back towards the east. Following Route 66 I passed through the town of Foyil, Oklahoma.
My GPS favorites screen showed an entry for a Totem Pole. It was just a few miles that-a-way. Since I didn’t know if I’d ever pass that way again, I decided it was a good idea to stop and have a look.
A good idea, it was. I found myself at Ed Galloway’s Totem Pole Park, where the man himself had begun working on his creations in 1937. Though he passed on in the early 60’s, his legacy is now cared for by the Rogers County Historical Society.
At 60 feet tall, this is the world’s largest concrete totem pole.
Sadly I arrived before the gift shop was open. I was hoping to buy a postcard or maybe a sticker or something.
A nice place for a roadside snack.
If you should find yourself in the neighborhood of Foyil, Oklahoma one day – don’t skip a visit to the Totem Pole park. It’s definitely worth the stop. Seeing such wonderful works of art which were crafted “just because” does the heart good.
Like a dumbbell, I brought my (3rd partially broken) point-n-shoot camera with its nifty 30x zoom with me… but failed to charge the battery. One day I’ll get this all right, but this? This was not that day. And so I was left to take pictures with my iPhone and my GoPro which on the whole isn’t really so bad. But, the zoom situation can be a little less than optimal. I hope you can manage to suffer through these photos.
“I come in peace.”
Tucked within the recesses of my GPS’ favorites was something called “BDS-32-54-04.” Though I wasn’t sure exactly what I would find when I pulled up, just by looking at the name I knew I’d saved a “Bull Durham Sign” from the Mail Pouch Barnstormers site. That’s their naming convention.
Wow, would you look at that? A tobacco ad that is loved, cared for and has been restored. Does that warm the ole ticker or what?
The kicker to my whole interest in tobacco advertising is that I find smoking and chew to be disgusting. I have memories of being trapped in the backseat of my parents car as a kid while they both puffed away in a blue-gray fog and it makes me want to gag. Apparently secondhand smoke wasn’t much of a concern back then.
This one wasn’t a GPS favorite or anything. I just happened to see it when I parked at the Bull Durham sign in Waverly, NY. I pulled around to the backside of the parking lot to get a better look. There is so much overlap, so much fade that I’m not able to discern what’s going on here. But the location came up on Barnstormers as having a Mail Pouch ad. I think I can see the word “pouch” on the upper left in yellow.
 After googling soap ghost ads, I think that one of the layers may be for Ivory Soap. I found a soap add on Pinterest that tipped me off.
Towns like Waverly, NY that reach back a few hundred years and have a railroad line running through them seem to have the best shot at seeing ghost ads. Thinking back to other places I’ve been, Waverly had that look much like Renovo, PA and East Liverpool, OH did.
I stopped to have a drink and a granola bar alongside a pink Elephant in Owego, NY. I mean, it really was as good a place to stop and take a breather as any, right? Maybe even better than most. It isn’t every day that you get to bask in the glory of such a fine beast.
The cockpit of my faithful companion. I don’t know if I took this picture on purpose or by accident, as I’m wont to do. Either way – the KTM is an excellent dance partner.
A lovely old sign in Owego provided me with some shade as I sipped and snacked.
Another Bull Durham sign perfectly perched above the olde tyme Harris Diner in Owego.
I didn’t really explore or dilly-dally around Owego as I was running out of time to get back to meet Kenny. So I snapped a quick photo of a You Are Here mural while sitting at a traffic light and made my way out of town. If I’m ever in the area again, something tells me I should have a closer look around. There are probably more roadsidey gems sprinkled through town.
It’s been a while since I posted any news from the front lines of the Giant Chicken Army. But that is about to change, my friend. On Route 6 in the town of Wyalusing, Pennsylvania I stumbled across a mass-gathering of the feathered fiends.
When I first passed this guy on the bench I thought, wow, what a beautiful view by that little fishin’ hole. But the deep recesses of my brain must’ve recognized that something wasn’t quite right with him as I zipped by.
Waaaaaaait… I thought and pulled a u-turn.
When I pulled the KTM up behind him, he didn’t bat an eyelash or crane his neck to see who was there. No, he just sat there like… a log.
A log! Get it? He IS a log! HAHAHAHAHAHAHA! HA…HAHA…HA…whoooo 😉
Whoever put that little vignette together must get a kick out of it. When you don’t examine too closely it really looks like a person sitting there. Locals must think that guy sure loves to fish as they pass by day in day out.
Some friends have said that I have a knack for finding silly roadside things. But I swear, they’re everywhere! Maybe I’ve just got my antenna up for them all the time.