Friday, December 16, 2016

Fun facts about the Bear Mountain Bridge (N.Y.)

In November 2014 the Bear Mountain Bridge, located in New York's lower Hudson River Valley, turned 90 years old. The bridge, which connects the eastern side of the Hudson River to the west side, is a familiar landmark to those who live and/or travel through the area. 


The region is a very picturesque one and the bridge resides in a central location that is linked to well-known landmarks such as Bear Mountain Park and West Point Military Academy, to name two. It is also an alternative to the larger Tappan Zee Bridge located to the south (which is currently being rebuilt). Many travelers prefer taking less-congested Bear Mountain Bridge as their route, myself included.

Fun facts about the Bear Mountain Bridge

 

1. Plans for the bridge date back to 1868 (which I find very interesting and never knew despite growing up in the region).
2. The bridge opened to traffic on November 27, 1924.
3. It was a $4.5 million project to build.
4. Construction of the bridge began on March 22, 1923, according to accounts I've read, however, a sign located in Bear Mountain State park points to 1910, I'm unclear as to why the discrepancy. (I wonder if it intended to say the Bear Mountain Park was built in 1910, which sounds as if it would be more accurate).



5. No lives were lost during the building of the Bear Mountain Bridge.
6. The bridge was originally operated by the Bear Mountain Bridge Company. The New York State Bridge Authority (NYSBA) bought the bridge $2.3 million in 1940.
7. The bridge connects U.S. Highways 202 and 6.
8. Technically it links Westchester and Rockland Counties, but Putnam and Orange Counties are also on or near the connecting points, making it almost a four-county meeting point.


9. Bear Mountain Bridge was considered an "engineering marvel" at the time it was built. It held the title of the longest suspension bridge for 2 years.
10. The Bear Mountain Bridge's main span is 1,632 feet between its towers.
11. There is a toll for those heading east, which has increased over the years but is $1.50 today.
12. The Harriman family (a name well-known in the region) helped fund the building of the Bear Mountain Bridge.
13. You can hike underneath the bridge from an entry found in the Bear Mountain Zoo.

14. The bridge was built on top of Fort Clinton, a Revolutionary War site. A portion of that fort is housed within the Bear Mountain Park borders and is available to visitors to see.

15. There is a former tollhouse (closed as long as I can remember), located on the Westchester County side mountain road that now serves as a historic landmark and is open to visitors.

I hope you've enjoyed reading these fun facts! Thanks for stopping by.

Sources aside from personal knowledge included:

http://www.nycroads.com/crossings/bear-mountain/
http://www.nysba.state.ny.us/bridgepages/BMB/BMBpage/NYSWeb_bmb_page_NoLogo.htm
http://www.lohud.com/story/opinion/contributors/2014/11/27/bear-mountain-bridge-secret-history/19394987/
http://www.orangetourism.org/fascinating-facts

Monday, December 12, 2016

Fun facts about Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer - The story



Rudolph is the much beloved story of the reindeer with the shiny red nose. Many kids today probably perceive the story as an old Christmas tale as it is passed down the generations. 

Image credit: Leigh Goessl

But is it really? Did you know that Rudolph is a relatively modern story? The story of the lovable reindeer was penned in 1939. Here are some other fun facts you may or may not know about Rudolph:

Fun facts about Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer


1. Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer was originally written as a marketing initiative. At the time, a man named Robert L. May was working for Montgomery Ward. The department store asked May to write a Christmas tale it could hand out in coloring books to customers during the holiday shopping season.

2. Robert May was 34 years old at the time he penned the famous story. 

3. Inspiration for writing the now famous story was drawn from a combination of personal experience and The Ugly Duckling story. 

4. Rudolph was not a native to the North Pole as modern storytelling says. The little reindeer was spotted by Santa Claus while delivering presents on a foggy Christmas Eve. 

5. During its first year, 2.4 million copies of the Rudolph were distributed.

6. Rudolph’s name was almost Reginald (the frontrunner name) , Roddy, Rodney, Romeo, Roland or Reggy. 

7. During World War II, there were paper shortages. Montgomery Ward did not print the booklet again until 1946 when 3.5 million more copies were distributed. 

8. Since the story was written as an employer assignment, May did not own the copyright, Montgomery Ward did. In 1947, Montgomery Ward gave the author the copyright. 

9. In 1948, May’s brother-in-law Johnny Marks set Rudolph to music, bringing it to remarkable levels of fame. 

10. Arthur Rankin, Jr. and Saul Bass famous Christmas television special based on May’s story debuted on Dec. 6, 1964.  

Over the years many more Rudolph stories, songs, television specials, toys and other products have been created. Today, in 2016, Rudolph remains as popular as ever. 

Image credit: Pixabay

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Fun facts about Monticello (Charlottesville, Va.)



Along with his life in politics, the 3rd U.S. President Thomas Jefferson was an avid reader and an architect. His architectural print or influence is on many buildings. One of his best works is his own home – his beloved Monticello, located in Albermarle County, Virginia.

Monticello, Charlottesville, Virginia
Rear view of Monticello

Today the Charlottesville home is opened to the public and maintained as a historical landmark. Charlottesville is a booming area and with its hub being the University of Virginia (UVA), the college Jefferson founded. Run by the Thomas Jefferson Foundation (founded in 1923), Monticello is preserved as it would have looked like in Jefferson’s day.

10 Fun Facts About Monticello


1.  Thomas Jefferson began work on Monticello in 1769, but took many years to finish. The home was a work in progress for more than 40 years. He referred to Monticello as “his essay in architecture” Monticello would evolve during the decades of its build and take on many different styles. The home became habitable in 1772, but wouldn’t be completed to his satisfaction until 1808.

Thomas Jefferson's Monticello
Front entrance of Monticello

2. Originally, Jefferson designed Monticello to have 14 rooms, but in the end had more than 40. 

3. Throughout his life, Jefferson was highly interested in westward expansion, Native American life, exploration and technology. As a result, these interests were reflected this in how he chose to decorate his home. Many original pieces are still on display.

4. Monticello means “little mountain”.

5.  Jefferson was meticulous in his record keeping. Due to this, over the years efforts to get the house back to the way it Jefferson had it is pretty accurate. Touring the home, you can see many original pieces.

6. Monticello has a wine dumbwaiter that is still visible today. 

7. Jefferson was also a farmer and loved to use the latest research and technology to try out new approaches to farming. Over the years he planted more than 1,000 fruit trees (170 fruit varieties) and his garden contained 330 vegetable varieties. He also had a vineyard and plant nursery.
Thomas Jefferson's gardens
Views of the orchard and gardens can be seen from the upper grounds of Monticello

8. “Mulberry Row” was the center of the plantation. Over time, 17 structures came together to form the 1,000-foot-long Mulberry Row. It included about 20 dwellings for free whites, free blacks, indentured servants and enslaved people. Work areas included ironworking, tinning, spinning and weaving, wine cellars, a stable and more.

9. The pond, which is located a short distance from the main house, looks to be ornamental, but like everything else, it actually served a function. Fresh fish that was caught for meals were stored in the pond. 
Fish pond located at Thomas Jefferson property Charlottesville, Virginia

10. The personal library adjacent to Jefferson’s bedroom no longer houses his original books. Most are reproductions of what he did actually own. After the U.S. Capitol was burned during the War of 1812 (which then housed the Library of Congress), Jefferson sold his vast collection, totaling 6,487, to the U.S. government. Most of those books survived (unfortunately, a second Capitol fire in 1851 destroyed some of those), but what survived can still be viewed today in Washington, D.C.


Jefferson lived out his private life at Monticello and died on July 4, 1826, 50 years to the day America celebrates the signing of the Declaration of Independence, the document he had penned. He is buried in Monticello's family cemetery located on the property.

Monday, December 5, 2016

Welcome to Fun Facts About!

Hello!

Welcome to my new blog "Fun Facts About". I've been writing and blogging on the web since 2007 and I've always enjoyed writing about "fun facts" relating to various topics. Due to the popularity of some of these articles, I decided to create a blog specifically dedicated to facts. In this blog you'll find fun and interesting details about history, nature, geography, holiday, animals, and much, much more. Pretty much anything goes!

Thank you for stopping by!

Leigh