Travel Trails By Martin B. Deutsch



November 1, 1964 -- We usually wait until December to wrap up the bits and pieces which accumulate during a year's "Travel Trails" experience. This year, we're a month early because of the great reader demand for ski information, which we plan to bring your way in the December issue. We hope you'll join us on the ski trails.

Our path this month will be somewhat scattered. We will make quick visits to pinpoint special items of interest in the Ozarks, along the Hiawatha Pioneer Trail in the Midwest, the Natchez Trace way down South, an unusual town in Illinois and Hampton, Virginia. We'll also tell you about a new map that will help you devise that auto-vacation itinerary, a new banking service to alleviate tipping headaches for travelers going abroad, and a few statistics on the mushrooming flow of Americans on the tourist scene overseas.

In any event, welcome aboard the "grab-bag" special.

I spent two years of my life in and around the Ozarks, while in Uncle Sam's service, and you might think I'd be prejudiced against the vacation potential of them thar mountains. Quite the contrary is true. I acquired lasting affection for the area's great natural beauty, the twisting but well-paved mountain roadways, the taciturn but friendly people and, in most places, the absence of commercialism.

Against this background, the American Automobile Association recently sent us a suggested itinerary of 850 miles, designed to occupy at least five days of your time, depending on stopovers. You've got your choice of modern motels and hotels, or campgrounds and trailer parks. You start out and end up in St. Louis, or tailor the tour to suit your convenience.

From St. Louis, drive south to the Washington State Park, your gateway to the Missouri Ozarks. Next, a look at the "Elephant Rocks" at Graniteville and Taum Sauk Mountain past Arcadia, then on to Johnson's Shut-In State Park near Lesterville, renowned for its rugged beauty and nature trails. Once you get into the Van Buren area, the AAA recommends you stop at Big Spring, Round Spring and Alley Spring State Parks, known for excellent swimming, fishing, boating and picnicking. The south past Mountain View and West Plains across the Arkansas.

First call is Lake Norfolk, with a 500-mile shoreline fine for fishing and camping, then Bull Shoals, for boating and fishing the year-round (trout is tops in the forty miles of cold water below the dam). Now we'll turn west back into Missouri to Branson and the Table Rock-Lake Taneycomo region for fishing, boating, riding, water skiing, golf, bowling, etc. South into Arkansas again, you'll find Eureka Springs, the "Little Switzerland" of the Ozarks.

Once more into Missouri and Roaring River State Park, offering a fish hatchery and a river thick with trout. Northeast of Springfield, we encounter a Bennett Spring State Park, a haven for rainbow-trout fishermen, as well as for swimming, boating and float trips. Cabins and trailer facilities are also provided. Past Lebanon lies the Lake of the Ozarks region, a body of water formed by Begnell Dam, which ranks as one of the largest man-made lakes in North America. The 1,372-mile shoreline features boating, fishing, tent and trailer camps, riding and nature trails. On the way back to St. Louis stop at Jefferson City for the State Capitol for the State Capitol, the State Museum and the Cole County Historical of the corncob pipe, and Defiance, site of the Daniel Boone Home.

Four states in the Midwest with Indian names–Illinois, Minnesota, Iowa and Wisconsin–have pooled their creative talents to map out a new vacation route–the Hiawatha Pioneer Trail. The 2,400-mile drive avoids, wherever possible, the superhighways and follows the scenic trails once traveled by the Indians. They've made is especially easy for you to pick up the route: it's marked throughout with signs of an Indian and a pioneer.

While Chicago is the recommended starting point, you can join up anywhere along the way. The Hiawatha Pioneer Trail runs north from Chicago, through Lake Geneva and Milwaukee to the north shore of Lake Winnebago, then southwest to the famous Wisconsin Dells resort area and Baraboo, a community devoted to keeping the traditions and legends of circus life in the limelight. The trail then follows the Mississippi upstream to Minneapolis, turns west through Faribault, Nulm and Granite Falls to Pipestone, Minnesota, the most westerly point.

Curving southeast, the trail moves through Spirit Lake, Iowa, to Fort Dodge, then into Mason City, McGregor, Dubuque, Cedar Rapids and Iowa City to the Mississippi before winding up in Chicago via Kewanee, Ottawa and Joliet, Illinois. The trail is rich in Indian lore. The Effigy Mounds National Monument, where prehistoric Indians built their graves in the shapes of birds and animals, lies north of McGregor, Iowa.

Minnehaha Falls, in Minneapolis, immortalized in Longfellow's "Song of Hiawatha," will interest many motorists. Pipestone National Monument, also in Minnesota, holds the redstone quarries deemed sacred by the Indians for making peace pipes. One alternate route in Minnesota leads north of the Twin Cities to the Mile Lacs Lake area, where the Sioux and Chippewas fought a long and bloody war. The Hiawatha Pioneer Trail will delight the youngsters, and captivate their parents, with history, scenery, resorts, and a wide range of accommodations, from fancy models to campsites.

The Natchez Trace is a historic post road which developed as a vital link in the early nineteenth century. Once a series of connected Indian foot trails in pre-colonial days, the Natchez Trace has been rediscovered by today's Americans–traveling by car. According to the AAA, the Natchez Trace Parkways, which follows as closely as possible the original route from Nashville, Tennessee, to Natchez, Mississippi, is more than half finished and open to motorists. The target date for completion of the 450-mile route is 1968.

The word "trace" stems from a French word meaning "trail of footprints." The Natchez Trace has had its share, from the war and hunting parties of the Natchez, Chickasaw and Choctaw Indians, then the Spanish explorer De Soto, followed by Andrew Jackson and his troops to and from the Battle of New Orleans.

In 1800, the "trace" officially became a post road, connecting the new Mississippi Territory with the states back east. The following year, Thomas Jefferson ordered improvements, and troops cleared the path. It was used by everyone from pioneers to highwaymen. Growth of the railroads diminished its importance lake in the nineteenth century. In 1934, Congress asked the National park Service to study the development of a modern road along the historic route. Work on the Parkways began in 1937.

Completed sections now include twelve miles near Natchez, 164 miles in northeastern Mississippi, and fifty-one miles between Alabama and Tennessee.

There's this town in Illinois called Bishop Hill, and in the spring of 1850, it was a scene of unusual excitement. The spiritual leader of the Swedish immigrants who made up the community was a man named Eric Janson, a prophet to his followers, but a fanatic to others. On the fateful day in question, May 14, 1850, Cambridge to defend several lawsuits brought against his Swedish colony.

On the scene was one John Root, an educated adventurer and a veteran of the Mexican War. He hated Janson for trying to separate him from his bride, Charlotte Louise, a member of the religious colony. During a lull in the trial, Root walked up to the courtroom window, pulled his pistol and fired two shots at Janson, killing him.

Things have calmed down since that day 114 years ago, but the traveler with a historical bent will enjoy a visit to Bishop Hill. The village is north of Galesburg near Galva in the west-central section of the state. There's a park with picnic tables in a nice setting, and an old church, now a museum containing implements used by early Swedish settlers.

Handy map discs, which spell out distances and main routes between major United State cities, may well simplify your travel planning. Called Dist-O-Maps, they employ a dialing technique which will give you instant answers to mileage questions and signify the best highways to use for the itinerary in question.

Priced at fifty cents, each map contains at least 1,650 routes. A complete set of six Dist-O-Maps, covering the entire continental U.S., lists a total of 9,900. Less than eight inches in diameter, these maps fir into glove compartments, a handbag, or onto the sun visitor. The regional breakdown includes the Southwest, West Coast, Southeast, West central, East and the Midwest.

The Dist-O-Maps are produced by the Plumly Manufacturing Corporation of Fort Worth, Texas, and are distributed nationally at newsstands, drugstores and supermarkets by the Independent News Company.

Described as simple, quick and accurate, Dist-O-Maps will eliminate such complicated chores as figuring mileage and charting itineraries. It might be worthwhile to investigate and invest.

Tipping has always been a traumatic experience. Are you giving too much? Too little? Should you tip the elevator operator? The doorman? The problem is quadrupled when you go abroad and have to deal in foreign currency. Six guide books and a slide rule are often required to come up with the right answers.

While the basic decisions and uncertainties involving tipping remain unsolved, at least one of the headaches of dispensing gratuities in foreign currency has been eased. Manufacturers Hanover Trust has placed on the market a series of "Tip Packs" which are small kits of foreign country. You can get these handy little packets for Austria, Belgium, Denmark, the Netherlands, England, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Mexico, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland.

Along with the cash, each "Tip Pack" provides descriptions of the currency, a conversion table, and those "vital statistics" of what's considered adequate in that country for porters, waiters, bellhops, taxi drivers and other with an open palm. Cost of a "Tip Pack" is ten dollars. The currency inside is worth somewhat less. These kits will soon be available at banks in the fifty states, or you can get them at most travel agencies.

Banks today are active in virtually every field, if not directly, then indirectly. Travel is no exception. Chase Manhattan, where you've got a friend, recently came out with a report that 2,000,000 Americans went abroad last year, as compared to jut 1,000,000 as recently as 1955. These figures do not include the mounting millions which cross the borders into Mexico and Canada every year.

Despite the impressive gains for travel beyond our borders, Chase confirmed something we've known for some time. The growth of "wanderlust" within our own boundaries is even more pronounced. This year alone, Chase found, 105,000,000 Americans will embark on pleasure jaunts of 100 miles or more away from home. Along the way, they'll spend roughly $22,000,000,000–for the plane tickets and gasoline, hotels, restaurants, etc.

Travel's growth rate at home, six per cent per year, is "considerably more than the annual increase rate attained by either take-home pay or the gross national product," Chase concluded.

Travel is not only pleasure; it's pretty big business, as well.

Coming back to the good old U.S.A., we'd like to tell you about a tour which includes an attractive sampling of Americana, old and new. A visit to Virginia's Hampton will bring you in contact with a huge stone fort, Booker T. Washington's alma mater, a museum depicting man's conquest of the sea, a 1728 church, the first military air base in America, and the birthplace of Project Mercury.

This is primarily a drive-it-yourself program, except for scheduled bus tours of Langley Air Force base and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's Langley Research Center. Otherwise, the Hampton Tour route is marked with easy-to-follow red and white street signs.

There's still an active Army post inside the moat and walls which encircle old Fort Monroe. Robert E. Lee, who helped build the pace, was still around when Jefferson Davis, President of the Confederacy, was imprisoned there. President Lincoln met on its grounds to map out Union strategy with McClellan. When the Merrimac moved into Hampton Roads, she hoped to destroy Fort Monroe's fleet and thus starve the garrison into surrender.

The dramatic encounter between the Merrimac and the Monitor may be seen at the Mariners Museum, another stop on the Hampton Tour. Also on view are hundreds of nautical items, from ships' figure-heads to scale models of ships through the ages. Many seafarers down through the years have stopped to pray at St. John's Church, built in 1728, four years before George Washington's birth. During the War of 1812, it quartered British troops; on the Civil War, it was gutted with fire; yet regular services are still held there.

Daily, during the summer months, bus tours of Langley Air Force Base and NASA's Langley Research center leave from the Hampton Information Center. Langley Air Force Base, currently the home of the Tactical Air Command, houses Delta Dart fighters and Hercules, transports. At NASA's Research Center, where project Mercury was born, research is under way on a wide range of developments, from supersonic airlines to landing men on the moon.

This column originally appeared in Argosy magazine.

Copyright © 1962-2008 by Martin B. Deutsch. All rights reserved.