Casey Jones Village: Right on Track

Entrepeneur Magazine - Casey Jones

I wanted to post this piece from my personal archives on the Casey Jones Village in Jackson, Tennessee. It originally ran years ago in Entrepreneur Magazine‘s “Business Beat” column:

In 1965, Brooks Shaw of Jackson, Tennessee started collecting country folk antiques as a way to combat stress from the high pressure job as president of a canned meat company. Little did he know that along the way he would fall in love with the story of American railroad engineer and folk hero Casey Jones and start something that 26 years later would become a top notch business.   Continue reading

Cuba’s Orchid Garden

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Here’s my piece on the Orchid Gardens of Soroa in Cuba, as it appeared in the Chester County Independent :

On a summer afternoon with temperatures in the high 90s and extreme humidity our group of 13 educators climbed approximately 206 meters (1 meter equals 3.28 feet) to Cuba’s Orchid Park in Soroa. Orchids and other tropical plants thrive in this micro-climate that includes abundant rains and an average annual temperature of 74 degrees.

The Orchid Gardens of Soroa were developed due to a great sadness of the owner. In 1942 Tomás Felipe Camacho, a successful lawyer and native of the Canary Islands, purchased a tract of land in an area of Soroa. Filled with lush native vegetation, he wanted to share this beautiful site with others. At first, he thought of building a resort on the land, but a turn of events changed his plans. His beloved daughter died while giving birth. Shortly after, his grieving wife passed away. From that day forward, Don Tomás devoted himself totally to honoring his deceased loved ones. Thus, he developed a captivating interest in growing orchids.  Continue reading

Horse Motel is Keeping the Barn Door Open

Bud Sikes checks on one of his Arabian stallions at the Southern Star Horse Hotel in Jackson, Tennessee.

Bud Sikes checks on one of his Arabian stallions at the Southern Star Horse Hotel in Jackson, Tennessee.

I’m extremely excited to have the cover story for the Winter 2015-2016 edition of Tennessee Home & Farm. Here’s an excerpt from the piece, which focuses on a “horse motel” in Madison County:

A well-known motel has the slogan: “We’ll keep the lights on for you.” For Bud and Lelia Sikes, owners of Southern Star Farms in Madison County, it’s more along the lines of: “We’ll keep the barn door open for you.”

Like a layover station for the Pony Express, the Volunteer State is becoming an area where owners and drivers look for overnight lodging before leaving home. Fortunately, they won’t be disappointed. One website lists 48 overnight stables sites and another 65. However, some of those listed are places to ride or train. With the Interstate 40 corridor connecting the eastern and western U.S., equestrians choose this route when transporting horses.  Continue reading

Riding the Rails: St. Louis Iron Mountain & Southern Railway

A conductor greets visitors at the St. Louis Iron Mountain & Southern Railway (Carolyn Tomlin)

A conductor greets visitors at the St. Louis Iron Mountain & Southern Railway (Carolyn Tomlin)

An excerpt from my Missouri Life article “Riding the Rails:”

Some say the days when railroads were king are only a distant memory. However, for the ten thousand people who annually ride the St. Louis Iron Mountain & Southern Railway, those days are very much a recent memory.

Hailing from Cape Girardeau County in the small town of Jackson, the historic diesel locomotive Number 5898 ambles through a short stretch of southeastern Missouri countryside. Along the route, neighbors gather and bring their children to wave at the train. And if they’re lucky, the engineer will blow his whistle as a friendly greeting.

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10 Reasons to Visit Lancaster, Pa.

Lancaster, Pensylvania

Here’s my article on the Lancaster, Pennsylvania, which was taken from the Chester County Independent:

It is that time of year when the days grow shorter and nights longer. The air grows cooler and the leaves more colorful. Fall is also the time when we plan a long weekend or a road trip of several days. Although there are numerous places across America where tourists travel, none is more colorful than the Pennsylvania Dutch Country near Lancaster, Pa.

The following 10 activities are sure to tempt your family. Learn about our nation’s history, participate in local festivals and fairs, and hitch a buggy ride with an Amish farm family. You will return with a sense of what make our country great!

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Explore Peterhof: Home of Russia’s Peter the Great

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Here’s my article on Peterhof, the home of Russian Emperor Peter the Great, which was taken from the Chester County Independent:

Peterhof, the magnificent winter home of Peter I, also known as Peter the Great, (1672-1725) is often called the “Versailles by the Sea.” Known as the favorite residence of czars, the palace is an example of 18th – 19th century architectural style. Approximately 30 buildings and pavilions cover over a 1,000 hectares in this park ensemble. Over 100 sculptures claim a spot in the gardens.

St. Petersburg is where you’ll feel Russia’s European influences and aspirations. Founded in 1703 by Peter the Great, the city was called his “window to the west.” Canals were dug to drain the marshy south bank. In 1712 Peter made this place his capital, forcing administrators, nobles and merchants to move to this northern outback and build new homes. Architects and artisans came from all over Europe and the result is a city that remains one of Europe’s most beautiful.

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