Scenic Route 14: The North Dakota Boy and the Top of the World

Screen Shot 2013-09-04 at 12.43.11 PMCarl Ben Eielson grew up in North Dakota, but his aviation career took him much further north than that. The latest edition of The Scenic Route takes a look at one of aviation’s great forgotten pioneers.

Beyond Bismarck: Five Fun Visits in North Dakota

Some may think North Dakota has few places to explore. I have found quite the opposite. While cities such as Fargo, Grand Forks and Bismarck hold plenty of interest, here are five places I love in the Dakota countryside. Remember, every place I discuss is a place I’ve visited, so I always provide my personal opinion.

Screen Shot 2013-09-04 at 8.55.34 AMThe Welk Homestead and Sitting Bull Burial Site
You could say these are “a one and a two” on the list. Sorry for the pun, but if you remember Lawrence Welk and his orchestra, it’s worth the time to visit the old homestead near Strasburg to see how it all began. Just a few miles away (but a long ways due to finding a crossing of the Missouri River) is the Sitting Bull Burial State Historic Site. Some say he’s actually buried in Mobridge, SD. Regardless, you can come here to learn more about the Native American leader.

320px-Enchanted_highway_fishEnchanted Highway (Regent to Gladstone)
This 32-mile stretch of highway will take you by the giant metal sculptures created by Gary Greff. Just look up some of the photos on the web. They are amazing, and a fun route on your way to/from your next location. (Check out the Real North Dakota site for a virtual tour of the highway.)
Theodore_Roosevelt_National_ParkTheodore Roosevelt National Park (Medora)
There are multiple units of this park, but most visit the site just off of the interstate. The area may remind you of the South Dakota badlands. Young Teddy spent 400 days of his life here. You can still see his cabin. Roosevelt once remarked, “If it were not for my time in North Dakota I would not have become president.” This is one of my favorite places in the nation, let alone the state. You can get more information about the park by following its Facebook page.
Captains'_Room_at_Fort_MandanFort Mandan and Fort Union
These locations are over 100 miles apart, but both are on the route taken by the explorers Lewis & Clark. The forts tell the story of their journey, but also the story of life before and after their visit. These are amazing locations to explore, especially for lovers of history.
Screen Shot 2013-09-04 at 8.54.07 AMHatton-Eielson Museum (Hatton)
I must confess, I’d never heard of Carl Ben Eielson before coming to Hatton, ND. We could all learn much from the story of small-town boy who furthered himself through education and a love of flying. He accomplished a flight over the North Pole in 1928 and helped open Alaska to air travel. Come here to see one of his planes and learn more about the region.

Scenic Route 13: Paula Neuman Gris

On this edition of The Scenic Route, Andrew talks to Paula Neuman Gris, who was just three years old when her family was broken up at the beginning of the Holocaust. She tells her story of survival in a half-hour interview. Thanks to the Breman Jewish Heritage and Holocaust Museum in Atlanta for arranging the interview.

More on Lake Bemidji

Wednesday’s show featured information on the statue of Paul Bunyan and Babe, his trusty blue ox sidekick, on the shores of Lake Bemidji. That’s a gorgeous part of the country, and we thought you might want some more information.

You can get lots more information about the area at the Visit Bemidji website. Or you can check out their Facebook page.

If you want a taste of the outdoors, check out Lake Bemidji State Park. There are also other outdoor recreation opportunities in the area.

As we head into fall, you might also be interested in checking out the fall leaves. Here’s information on a color tour you can take of the region.

Visiting St. Joseph, Mo.

We’ve spent a lot of time in historic St. Joseph, Missouri, over the past week. If any of our shows piqued your interested and have you planning a visit, we have some resources that can help out.

Your first stop should probably be the St. Joe Travel and Tourism Site. From there, you can find information on museums, hotels, restaurants, and anything else you need.

Of course, you’ll want to check out the Pony Express Museum, and the museum that sits in the home that was once occupied by notorious outlaw Jesse James.

And of course you can find more information on Andrew’s article, The St. Joe Seven: Great Experiences In One of the Midwest’s Most Historic Towns.

Civil War Deaths Off the Battlefield

Many soldiers died in the Civil War to things uncommon today. Simple adjustments in sanitation and cleanliness were a big part of that story. Today we take a look back at battlefield medicine 150 years ago. (And remember you can hear our full series for a free download on The Scenic Route podcast.)

Raising the Civil War Death Toll

In recent years, the casualty estimates from the Civil War have been raised. Joe Houts says there’s a good reason for it, and his great-great grandfather’s journal is just one of the many items that lends support to that theory. A unique look back at one surgeon in the War Between the States is today’s edition of The American Countryside.

Medicine in the Civil War

Most of us would do good just to know the name of our great, great grandfather. Joe Houts not only knows his name, but could write a few books about what the man accomplished. In fact, it’s the subject of an entire exhibit at a St. Joseph, Missouri, museum. We go there on today’s edition of The American Countryside.

History’s First House Flipper?

Imagine building a grand, castle-like home for your wife, only to have her grow tired of it just a few years after moving in. No worries–this husband turned a profit on its sale and then built her another dream home for less. The intriguing story of a merchant that struck it rich on those heading west is today’s edition of The American Countryside.

The St. Joe Seven: Great Experiences In One of the Midwest’s Most Historic Towns

All this week, The American Countryside is in St. Joseph, Missouri. I’ve been around St. Joe for most of my life and here are seven great things to experience there. I’m betting that even if you live in the area, there are items on this list you need to take time to experience for yourself!

The Pony Express and Jesse James are the two sites for which most people know St. Joe. It’s true, both the James Home and the Pony Express stables are not to be missed, but what many people unfortunately miss is the Patee House Museum. It was the headquarters for the Express and sits adjacent to the James Home. The Patee House is consistently ranked as one of the top museums in the Midwest for its collection of artifacts. It is a real gem.

454x326_sportsRec_3St. Joseph’s Parkway System is too often taken for granted by locals. They may not realize St. Joe was WAY ahead of its time when the 26 mile system was designed in 1918. It’s today on the National Register of Historic Places. You can enjoy a drive, bike or walk along its beautiful winding roads and trails.

Tranquilizer Chair 21000 Places to See Before You Die ranked St. Joe’s Glore Psychiatric Museum among it’s chosen stops. The Glore is very interesting and has plenty of exhibits to explore. HOWEVER, don’t miss out on other museums under the same roof! Part of the St. Joseph Musuem complex, you will find an extensive Native American Artifact collection (all for the same admission price with the Glore) and a current temporary exhibit on Civil War Medicine.

slide08Mt. Mora Cemetery is a fascinating stop. I used to never give any thought to “touring” a cemetery. This one is worth the time. The burial architecture here is not to be missed. The site dates to 1851 and there is an annual cemetery tour held every fall in which “residents” of the cemetery come to life to tell their story (in a respectful and “non-spooky way).

exterior_signBilled as St. Joe’s oldest restaurant, The Old Hoof and Horn has been around since 1896. It sits adjacent to the St. Joe stockyards. While most of the old stockyards are gone (but still operating) the mighty Stock Yards Exchange Building still stands as an icon overlooking the yards and the Hoof and Horn.

chiefs-12The Kansas City Chiefs now call St. Joe home for a few weeks every July and August for their training camp. If you have even a mild interest in sports, it’s worth the time to stop by and see some of the NFL greats and some NFL hopefuls put in their workouts at Missouri Western State University.

index1Along the river you’ll find some great stops as well. Ft. Smith Park is new to visitors, but long on history. The recently uncovered earthworks date to the Civil War. It offers great views of the river and city. Meanwhile, along the banks of the Missouri you’ll find the state-of-the-art Remington Nature Center which is great for young and old alike.

Video: St. Joe’s Early Entrepreneur

The latest American Countryside video features St. Joseph, Missouri, and one of its early entrepreneurs. William Wyeth helped outfit settlers as they headed west from Missouri — and even helped them stock up along the trail.

The video was produced with the help of Freedoms Frontier National Heritage Area. Freedoms Frontier is dedicated to preserving stories from along the Missouri-Kansas border, where the fight over slavery played a big part in the start of the Civil War.

St. Joseph’s Early Entrepreneur

Today we begin a series from St. Joseph, MO…the city many know as the place the Pony Express began and Jesse James ended. When the Pony Express began operations, another entrepreneur was just beginning his business as well and he fared far better financially. His story is today’s edition of The American Countryside.

The Poisoned President?

Zachary Taylor died in office in 1850, yet his body was exhumed over a century later to determine if his death was really due to natural causes. Today, we head to a cemetery in Louisville to find the truth about what caused his death, on this edition of The American Countryside.

The Wounded Eyewitness

James Tague holds an interesting distinction in the assassination of President John F Kenney. Other than the president and Governor Connelly, Tague was the only other person hit by the shots fired that day. Our full interview can be hard on the Scenic Route at American and today’s feature is next on this edition of The American Countryside.

A Skeptical Eyewitness

We continue our story with James Tague, a man who witnessed the assassination of president Kenney and was wounded by a piece of shrapnel. Remember, you can hear our full length interviews for free on the Scenic Route at You can also go there for more info about Tague and his research on what happened that day. Today’s American Countryside after this.

Scenic Route: Witness to an Assassination

You may think you know all there is to know about the JFK assassination. But there was one man wounded that day who you’ve probably never heard of. His name is James Tague, and he shares his story with Andrew McCrea on the latest edition of The Scenic Route.

Share The American Countryside

We’ve been pretty busy lately trying to bring you The American Countryside however you want it, whenever you want it, and wherever you want it. That means more frequent updates to our website, longer shows in the form of our Scenic Route podcast, and a ramped-up presence on social networks. Our interviews with JFK assassination witness James Tague on the home page all this week are just one example of the cool stuff we have going on.

If you want to keep up with what we have going on, there are lots of ways to do it.

Follow us on Facebook.

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You can also subscribe to our Scenic Route podcast in iTunes to hear longer versions of the interviews on the radio show.

And finally, it would help us out if you could tell your friends about our show. Just click the “Share” button at the bottom of the post to share The American Countryside with your own friends on Facebook. We’d appreciate it very much!

Moments After an Assassination…

The city of Dallas was abuzz with excitement on November 22, 1963 as President Kennedy made a visit to the city and rode in a motorcade through downtown. But James Tague had forgotten the president was in town. He was simply on his way to see his girlfriend for lunch. What happened next would change his life forever. It’s today’s edition of The American Countryside.

James Tague – Eyewitness and Researcher

James Tague was not only an unexpected eyewitness to the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, he also has become a dedicated historical researcher. Tague’s latest book is called LBJ and the Kennedy Killing by Eyewitness James T. Tague. It’s due in bookstores by August, but you can also pre-order a signed copy from James Tague by emailing him. The book is $29.95.

You can read more about Tague at Wikipedia, or read an article by William M. Goggins about Tague’s experience here. And here’s a link to Tague’s first book on the assassination, Truth Withheld: A Survivor’s Story.

Accidental Eyewitness to History

This week we resume our series on the coming 50th anniversary of the assassination of President Kennedy. We visit with James Tague, an accidental eyewitness and today researcher and author on the subject, on this edition of The American Countryside.