I’d love to be traveling home by train this Thanksgiving, but the Vermont to New York trains only run south in the morning. While I love to drive, the train is a great way to travel, too. How are you traveling home, if you are?
I’m deep into the trenches of a report about rail passenger stations and freight depots, so it’s about the only subject on my mind, besides the preservation conference. In almost every place I’ve lived, I can hear the train, even if it’s only at night when the air is still and the world is quiet. In some of my houses, I’ve felt the entire house shake when the freight trains barreled through town. In other places, the train is a distant rumble and whistle. There’s something comforting about that sound, and something mysterious and so adventurous about the train.
Transport by train for passengers and freight isn’t what it used to be; cars and trucks have misplaced trains for the most part. Still, railroads were the interstates of their time – taking land wherever they wanted it, blasting through mountains, diving farmland, and creating new settlements along the way. And still, railroads replaced canals. Transportation continues to evolve and change our landscape with it (fortunately in a much more conscientious way today than 50, 100, or 150 years ago).
If you grew up around the railroad, you are probably familiar with railroad depots – for passengers and freight. Most historic depots are easily recognizable, just as schoolhouses of the 1920s/1930s are easily identified by their bank of windows. While some might be high style (see Waterbury above) or more vernacular (see Roxbury below) and are constructed throughout the mid to late 19th century, these rail depots all have a few key features in common: (1) Large overhanging eaves; (2) Eaves supported by large, brackets – often decorative; (3) A rectangular shape with the length along the tracks; (4) A ticket agent bay window. Not every building will have all of these features, but next time you see a building that looks like it might be a depot, you’re probably right.
Remember the Vergennes Depot? (Seen in October 2012 and December 2012.) A lot has happened since then! Rehabilitation is well under way with new siding, restored windows, original detail exposed, historically accurate colors and much more to come. Who wants to move in?
There is still work to be done on the exterior and interior, and tenants to find for the building. But what a transformation! If you’re on Route 7 or nearby Vergennes/Ferrisburgh, head over to the Park & Ride to see this beauty!
Yes, there is actually a bridge under all of that falsework. Remember what it looked like un-covered? Take note of the new roof. You can see the arch on the right, in between the blue scaffolding.
Nice Ride Minnesota offered the perfect way to tour the beautiful Minneapolis. Here are some of the sites along my travels: bike paths, bridges, museums, and buildings, all on a gorgeous day!
My one concern: where was I supposed to find ice cream? Otherwise, thanks for the hospitality, Minneapolis!
Photos of Minnesota’s SIA 2013 adventures will continue to appear; I can’t get enough!
Many cities have a bike share program; Minneapolis and St. Paul have Nice Ride Minnesota. What’s the purpose?
Nice Ride bikes are designed for one job, short trips in the city by people wearing regular clothes and carrying ordinary stuff. All Nice Ride bikes are the same size, the only thing you may have to adjust is the seat, and it’s easy!
Commuting to work? A quick trip to the store? In need of a ride across the city? Grab a bicycle at one of the many, many stations throughout the Twin Cities. You can rent a bike for $6 for 24 hours or $65 for a year. What a bargain! The bikes are available November – April, 24/7.
And, Nice Ride also works well for tourists. Touring Minneapolis by bike was the perfect way to see great parts of the city. The catch? You have 30 minutes to get between stations, otherwise you pay fees on top of your 24 hour or year subscription. With all of the stations, it’s easy. And then you can immediately take out another bicycle to continue on your journey.
All you have to do is (1) find a station, (2) insert a credit card, (3) select your subscription, (4) get a code, (5) punch in the code in the bike stand, (6) remove the bike, (7) ride and repeat within 30 minutes. You do have to enter your card at each station, but if you haven’t gone over 30 minutes, you will not be charged extra. And you can rent more than one bike at once and get more than one code.
These bikes have adjustable seats for all heights and were very easy to ride around the city. The green makes them easy to spot, and they’re fun looking bikes for cruising!
Now, there were a couple of times when I didn’t think I’d made it to a bike rack. The $1.50 wouldn’t have ruined my day, but, hello, the challenge! That’s when the iphone app called Spotcycle (it’s free!) was incredibly helpful. Spotcycle identifies your location and shows you closest bicycle docks, how many bikes are at that station, gives you routes, timers, and more. It has cities all over the world. Check it out on your phone or on the website. Using the Spotcycle app as a tourist and doing my best to reach each station before the 30 minute limit made exploring quite the fun urban bicycle adventure.
Biking around a city was a great alternative to walking because you could cover more ground, and was definitely better than driving because it removes the need for parking and is slow enough to feel like you’re exploring. And with a bicycle I rode along the river. If you’re in a city with a bike share program, I’d highly recommend it, even just for cruising along a bike path.
What are the disadvantages of a bike share program? Safety, considering not everyone knows how to cycle in a city or knows the rules of the road; bike maintenance and security on the municipality; and usage. All of these are obstacles that can be overcome, by education and outreach. For cold weather climates, it’s a great way to get people to see their city in a new way. And for warm weather climates, it’s good all year long. And for everyone, it’s environmentally friendly and takes up less space than parking lots, garages or spaces.
Have you tried a bike share? What do you think?
Photos of Minneapolis by bike coming soon!
It’s summer! That means it’s time for winding road trips and exploring roadside America. Where do you stay when you travel? If you transported yourself to another era, where would you stay? Perhaps a tourist cabin along a state highway, a convenient rest stop. Tourist cabins are part of the evolution of roadside lodging (mentioned here). This summer I’ll be keeping my eyes open for tourist cabins on the Vermont highways, and wherever else my travels take me. If you find any, send them my way.
Here’s one to start off our summer travels. This is located on Route 17 near Chimney Point, VT. Each gable front cabin has novelty siding, a metal roof, exposed rafters, a small front porch, and cinder block foundations.
Would you stay in a tourist cabin?