Theodore Roosevelt Great American Hero – WABAC in History

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"Where is the WABAC Machine going to take us this time, Mr. Peabody?

“Where is the WABAC Machine going to take us this time, Mr. Peabody?

“Bully, Sherman My Boy!”

Theodore Roosevelt

Great American Hero

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On December 10, 1906, President Theodore “Teddy” Rooseveltbecame the first American to earn a Nobel Prize when he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his mediation of the Russo-Japanese War.  (Woodrow Wilson, Jimmy Carter, and Barack Obama have also won Nobel Prizes since Roosevelt.)

The story of a genuine legend…

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Roosevelt was no stranger to accomplishing things and is immortalized on Mount Rushmore along with Washington, Lincoln and Jefferson.  By no means a namby pamby wimpy pencil pushing politician, Roosevelt, though born into the moneyed class, was a man of the American West and rushed to serve our country when we went to war with Spain.

Although an asthmatic as a child, Teddy went west to lead a life of outdoors ruggedness, a quality that stood him well when he led his men up the slopes of San Juan Hill (actually Kettle Hill) in Cuba against the Spanish.  His time out west also stoked his wonder of the natural world, and his desire to protect our natural resources.  While out west Roosevelt wrote outdoor themed articles and served as a deputy sheriff.  He even met and befriended the legendary Seth Bullock, lawman of Deadwood, South Dakota (played by Timothy Olyphant in the HBO series, Deadwood).

Serving the public as a US Civil Service commissioner and later as the New York City Police Commissioner, Teddy became the Assistant Secretary of the Navy under President McKinley in 1897.  Already a veteran of the New York National Guard, Roosevelt left his post in Washington to head up his famous “Rough Riders,”  leading them to fame and glory in the Spanish-American War.

Riding his fame from the war to the governorship of New York, Roosevelt was nominated Vice President following the death in 1899 of McKinley’s VP, Garret Hobart who died of a heart attack.  Roosevelt then became our youngest president ever in 1901 when President McKinley was assassinated, and served as President until 1909.

Sometimes called “Teddy the Trustbuster,” Roosevelt was concerned about the American consumer and was anti-monopoly for big businesses.  He also created our first National Parks, including the massive Yellowstone Park, as well as The National Forest Service and other environmental initiatives.  Teddy also sided with the miners during a major coal strike, though he stopped short of endorsing unions.  Also an advocate of pure food and drugs, Roosevelt supported legislation to provide clean products for the consumer.  Although personally pro-racial equality, the politics of the day prevented a more vigorous agenda in that regard.  Roosevelt’s “Speak softly and carry a big stick” foreign policy let the world know the US was one of the big boys on the block.

Although Roosevelt lost the Presidential election of 1912, he proved his mettle while giving a campaign speech when he was shot in the chest, but insisted on continuing the speech until complete.  He recovered from this wound, and it became part of his legend.

Teddy continued building his legend with a 2 year trip to Africa and an expedition to South America, where he continued his rugged out door ways, pressing on despite serious illness and injury while contributing to the scientific knowledge of the natural world.

TR as he was sometimes called, died of a blood clot in 1919, only 60 years old.  His incredibly energetic lifestyle and numerous injuries and illnesses had finally caught up to him.  He left behind a grand legacy of his own accomplishments, and also a son, Quentin, that died in aerial combat serving our country in World War I. Other sons, Kermit and Archie served during both World Wars.   Teddy’s son Theodore Jr. was a US Army brigadier general that earned a Medal of Honor by tirelessly leading the D-Day landings at Normandy where he was the only US general to land with the troops by sea.  A daughter, Ethel, served as a nurse in France during World War I and was active in the Red Cross and the affairs of her county afterwards.  She also served on the board of Trustees of The American Museum of Natural History and was devoted to the Civil Rights Movement.

Teddy Roosevelt is by any estimation a Great American, and in the author’s eyes, the Greatest American President.

Theodore Roosevelt

Great American Hero

WIF History-001

– WABAC in History

Great Construction Projects in America

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"Where is the WABAC Machine going to take us this time, Mr. Peabody?

“Where is the WABAC Machine going to take us this time, Mr. Peabody?

“Set the WABAC for 1914 and the building of the Panama Canal, Sherman My Boy.”

 10 Great American

Construction Projects

10-Great-American-Construction-Projects

Looking back…

On March 27, 1975, work began on the construction of the Trans-Alaska Pipeline System.  More than just an 800 mile 48 inch diameter pipe, the vast system includes 11 pumping stations and hundreds of miles of smaller pipes that feed the big pipe.  The US has undertaken many great construction projects, and here we list 10 of them.  We would like to know what projects you think should have been on this list and which should not have.


Digging, building, blasting…..

10. Trans-Alaska Pipeline System.

Overcoming objections by environmentalists and working in the frozen north presented quite a task.  Cracked fact: Native Americans had mined crude oil from peat soaked in oil for hundreds of years on Alaska’s North Slope.  Running from Prudhoe Bay to Valdez, the pipeline pumps up to 2.1 million barrels of oil per day.  Objections by Native Alaskans were apparently relegated to second class status after the frightening economic results of the 1973 Arab Oil Embargo. Completed in 1977, projections are that less than 500,000 barrels of oil per day will be flowing through the pipeline by 2015.

9. Mount Rushmore.

Sculptures cut into the rock of a mountain face depicting 4 of our presidents with 60 foot tall heads makes this masterpiece the largest sculpture of heads in the world. Construction ran from 1927 until completion in 1941, with the original sculptor, Gutzon Borglum dying in March 1941 only months before the project was done. Borglum’s son, Lincoln, supervised the completion of the memorial. Located in South Dakota, Mount Rushmore is the state’s number one tourist attraction (in a state where tourism is the second biggest industry) with 2 to 3 million visitors per year.  The presidents depicted on the sculpture are George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, and Theodore Roosevelt. Cracked fact: The sculptures were planned to show the presidents from the waist up, but time and money ran short, leaving just the heads.  This magnificent sculpture features prominently in the Alfred Hitchcock movie, North by Northwest (1959).

8. Tennessee Valley Authority System.

Chartered by congress in 1933 in the midst of the Great Depression, the TVA was created to build a series of hydro-electric dams across the Appalachian South, from Virginia to Mississippi.  Although people displaced by the reservoirs resulting from the dams were not thrilled with the project, most people in the region were happy to get the jobs, cheap electricity (often where there had been none) and the recreational opportunities provided by the lakes.  A total of 46 dams have been built along with an additional couple dozen electric power plants, and even 5 nuclear power plants. Of course, everything comes with a price and environmentalists have long complained of the negative environmental impact of dams upon the natural wildlife.

7. Empire State Building.

The tallest building in the world from 1931 to 1970, this mighty skyscraper remains the very symbol of New York City, arguably the greatest city in the world.  In July of 1945, a B-25 Mitchell medium bomber crashed into the 80th floor, killing 14 people.  Cracked fact: The airplane crash caused an elevator to fall 75 stories, which the elevator operator survived, still the longest elevator fall ever to be survived.  Over the years, something over 30 people have chosen to leap from various floors of the building (to their deaths, of course), and that is not even counting King Kong!  Cracked fact:Although not an emergency hurry up project, it took only 2 years to build the Empire State Building.  An incredible amount of cultural references have been made to this grand tower, including the previously mentioned film, King Kong (1933).  Cracked fact: Dirigibles (Zeppelins) were originally expected to dock at the very top of the building!

6. Hoover Dam.

Originally called Boulder Dam, Hoover Dam was built during the Great Depression, completed in 1936.  More than 100 men lost their lives on this massive project, but that was when jobs were so scarce workers flocked to the huge project.  Over 1200 feet long and over 700 feet high, Hoover Dam is 45 feet wide at the top and over 600 feet wide at the bottom. The largest concrete structure in history to that point, work was actually completed 2 years ahead of schedule.  That might be the most impressive fact.  Cracked fact: A million people a year visit the dam as a tourist site.  Controversy over the dam’s name caused both Hoover Dam and Boulder Dam to be used until 1947 when congress officially name it Hoover Dam.  The river dammed by Hoover Dam is the Colorado River, and the lake created by the dam, Lake Mead, is the largest (by volume) reservoir in the US.

5. The Alcan Highway.

Actually called The Alaska Highway (among other names) this giant project was another one of those “hurry up and get it done right now” propositions due to the emergency of World War II.  Stretching 1700 miles from British Columbia to Delta Junction in Alaska, the Alcan was built to allow overland travel back and forth from the continental United States to Alaska.  The route was planned and reconnoitered by dog sled and the Canadian government offered no financial assistance (as they saw no need for the highway for Canadian purposes).  Started in March of 1942, the highway was completed by November of 1942, an incredible accomplishment.  Dealing with mushy ground was a major problem not solvable by conventional means.  Bulldozers got stuck and stayed stuck. Laying logs across the roadway in the old pioneer fashion (“corduroy” road) was the answer.  Working at a feverish pace to complete the job before winter, much of the work was performed by African-Americans.  The highway was opened to the public in 1948, and today is a few hundred miles shorter than it was at first due to making a more direct route.

4. The Wilderness Road.

Cut through the wilderness from Virginia to Louisville, Kentucky across the Cumberland Gap, the road was built entirely by men with axes and saws and shovels.  No machines! Daniel Boone himself blazed the trail and the road was the most important east-west road for pioneers for 50 years.  First built starting in 1775, the road was for the first several years only traversable by horseback or on foot, but after 1796 wagons could make their way on it.  Not only was the work strenuous, but the builders had to feed themselves and fight off the occasional Indian (Native-American) raid.  Not as impressive as the other projects built with power equipment, the back-breaking labor and hardships endured by the builders is as impressive as any other project.  The Wilderness Road was made more or less obsolete by the National Road in 1818.

3. Trans-Continental Railroad.

Built from 1863 to 1869, this railway ran from Iowa where it intersected with the rail system of the eastern half of the US to San Francisco on California’s Pacific Coast.  The first such railway that spanned a continent, the driving of the “Golden Spike” on May 10, 1869 symbolically completing the railroad is a proud day in American history.  Built by the Union Pacific and the Central Pacific Railroads, thousands of freed slaves (African-Americans) and Chinese immigrants contributed to the long days of hard labor without rest while construction crossed rivers, mountains, valleys and deserts.  No longer would settlers have to brave the dangers of a wagon train or a ship ride all the way around South America to get from one coast to the other.

2. Interstate Highway System.

Called The Dwight D. Eisenhower Interstate Highway System as Ike was president in 1956 when the project was authorized and construction started, over 47,000 miles of limited access highway criss-cross the US.  Still under construction, this ongoing project will probably be worked on until the end of civilization.  Cracked fact: The Interstate Highway System took its inspiration from the German Autobahn built 20 years earlier.  Extra Cracked fact: This highway system is not the biggest in the world.  The Chinese have that distinction!  About one fourth of all miles driven by Americans are on the Interstates.

1. Panama Canal.

Opened in 1914, the US built the Panama Canal with an eye toward shifting its Atlantic and Pacific fleets back and forth as needed in time of war.  Of course, the tremendous savings for cargo ships to transit the 48 mile long canal instead of having to go all the way around South America was also a consideration.  Others had tried and failed, because although it looks easy when looking at a World Map, in reality the mountains and rocks and especially disease carried by mosquitoes and poor drinking water made the project extremely difficult. Plus, the US had to create the country of Panama in order to get the rights to build the canal!  In 1977, President Carter signed a treaty with Panama returning the Canal Zone and the canal to Panama on December 31, 1999.  Although after World War II, giant warships and oil tanker ships were too big for the canal, bigger locks are currently under construction to accommodate larger ships.

 

Great Construction Projects in America

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Top 10 Most Breathtaking

Colossal Statues in the World

Colossal statues are statues at least three times as big as the original object which served as its inspiration. At their best, these statues are absolute masterpieces of craftsmanship and construction. Our most spectacular modern colossal statues are usually carved into mountains and rock cliffs, making it one of the most durable art forms around. Also known as “living rocks,” these magnificent sculptures are an enduring tribute to mankind’s capacity to create beauty from nature’s humble surfaces.

10. Dying Lion of Lucerne: Lucerne, Switzerland

Dying-Lion-of-Lucerne

The Dying Lion of Lucerne was created in honor of the Swiss Guards massacred during the French revolution in 1792. Described by Mark Twain as “The saddest and most moving piece of rock in the world,” the impressive lion statue measures over 33 ft. (10 m) long and 20 ft. (6 m) high. Carved into the wall of an abandoned sandstone quarry, the sculpture was initiated by Karl Pfyffer von Altishofen, a Swiss Guard who survived the massacre due to being on leave at the time the attack took place. Fundraising began in 1818, and the artwork was completed by 1821.

9. Colossal Statue of Shapur I: Iran

Shapur-Statue

The second Sassanian king, Shapur I, ruled from 240 to 272 AD. As the Sassanid Kings’ crowns all differed and depended on strict governance, the statue was easily identified. The impressive 21 ft. (6.7 m) statue was masterfully sculpted from a stalagmite inside the Shapur Cave not far from the ancient city of Bishapur. No longer in situ (on location,) the artwork broke free from its original position during an earthquake some time after the 14th century. However, it has since been placed on pillars near its original feet. Missing parts of its arms and legs, the statue is nonetheless beautifully preserved, and is remarkably elaborate.

8. The Appennine Colossus: Florence, Italy

Appennine-Colossus

The Appennine Colossus was sculpted by Giambologna around 1579 in the gardens of Villa Medici at Pratolino (now part of Villa Demidoff.) Envisioned by the Grand Duke Francesco I de’ Medici to appease the whims of his mistress, the sprawling gardens included mazes, fountains, water pipes, grottoes, and caves. The 35 ft. (10.6 m) statue – featuring a stalactite beard – represents the Appennine Mountains found along the Italian peninsula.

To add to its marvel, the statue also served as a building. Inside, a network of passages leads to fountains and even a small chamber that used to host an orchestra. To date, these passages are covered with shells, corals, pearls and crystals.

7. Avukana Buddha Statue: Kekirawa, Sri Lanka

avukana-buddah

Carved from a massive granite rock in the 5th century, the 40 ft. (12 m) high Avukana Buddha statue is considered the epitome of Sri Lanka’s ancient standing sculptures. It was carved in situ as a whole, but the lotus-flower pedestal on which it stands was placed underneath it after its creation. Connected to the granite via a strip left at its back for support, the Avukana statue might have been the culmination of a competition between a guru (sculpting master) and his gola (pupil.) Legend has it that the guru and his gola both created Buddha statues. Racing to finish, the guru completed his first and rang a bell to notify his pupil that he had won. The pupil never completed his statue – the nearby Sasseruwa statue – and as such, it is unfinished to this day.

6. Tirthankara Jain Sculptures: Gwalior, India

Jain-Tirthankar-Statue

Jainism is one of India’s religious minorities, yet it has left a very important mark on Indian architecture and art. Ancient Jain temples and cave temples throughout India contain beautiful Tirthankara sculptures, oftentimes covered or hidden behind rock walls, with only their heads visible through the rock openings. The slopes and hillsides of the historical city of Gwalior contain a series of almost 100 sculptures in various sizes, with the most spectacular (and tallest) being that of a 57 ft. (17 m) standing sculpture of Adinath or Rsabha, created between the 7th and the 15th centuries.

5. The Giant Maitreya Buddha of Binglíng Sì, China

Bingling-Buddah

The 100 ft. (27 m) Maitreya Buddha sculpture is one of over 600 remaining sculptures, carvings bas reliefs and frescoes that can be found in the Bingling Temple – a series of caverns and caves inside a canyon found along China’s Yellow River. The Templ series was created over a 1000-year period, and the traits and characteristics of each cave and its artwork can easily be connected to its correlative dynasty or empire. Accessible for only two seasons per year — summer and fall — the thousands of visitors reach the remote location by boats, and use precarious wooden walkways to reach the hidden historical treasures.

4. Mount Rushmore: South Dakota, United States

Mount-rushmore

Mount Rushmore may not be as ancient as most other colossal statues, but this list simply would not be complete without it. The magnificent monument’s sculpting was started in 1927, and took 14 years to complete. In the first phase, dynamite was used to remove tons of rock. Thereafter, the 400 daring workers completed the sculptures by drilling, carving and chiseling faces into the stone while sitting on swing seats that were hoisted up to the appropriate levels. Featuring the images of Presidents George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, and Abraham Lincoln, it is undeniably the world’s most spectacular elevated mountain sculpture.

3. Statue of Decebalus: Orsova, Romania

Decebalus-King-Statue

Said to be inspired by Mount Rushmore, the 131 ft. (40 m) Statue of Decebalus, on the banks of the Danube River, is Europe’s tallest rock carving. That may not sound very high until you realize that it is 26 ft. taller than Rio de Janeiro’s Christ the Redeemer.

Romania’s King Decebalus unified the ancient Dacian tribes after coming to power in 85 AD. He defeated Rome’s armies no less than three times during his lifetime, but ultimately committed suicide after suffering a final obliterating defeat in 105 AD., after which time his beloved Dacia became a Roman Province.

2. Leshan Giant Buddha: Leshan, China

giant-buddah

At 233 ft. (71 m) high, the Leshan Giant Buddha is the largest stone Buddha in the world. Carved into the hillside of Xijuo Peak in the 8th century, the statue looks down at the convergence of three rivers while also facing Mount Emei, one of Buddhism’s holiest sites. Its well-preserved state can be directly attributed to its drainage system, which to this day carries away water and runoff via drainage pipes.

At the time it was carved, a massive 13-story, gold-plated wooden structure also sheltered it from the elements, but it was ultimately destroyed and plundered by the Mongol hordes at the end of the Yuan Dynasty.

1. Great Sphinx of Giza: Egypt

giza-sphinx

The Great Sphinx is not only one of the world’s largest and oldest statues, it is also one of antiquity’s greatest mysteries, and one of archaeology’s most debated subjects. It was named the Sphinx, referring to the ancient mythological Greek beast, during the Classical Era, around 2000 years after its commonly-held established creation.

Though most scholars believe the Sphinx was created during the reign of the Pharaoh Khafra, a large body of archaeologists and academics believe that it may actually predate the 4th Dynasty. A few researchers also believe that it might in fact have been built (along with the Great Pyramid) by an ancient lost civilization. Intriguing as it may be, the debate will probably never be settled, and its mystery will continue to fascinate and captivate academics and laymen alike.

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