Monthly Archives: May 2009

I’m Your Huckleberry


Now, use your best Virginia twang, just like Doc Holliday in the film, Tombstone, and say … “I’m yore huckleberry”. A verbal expression is a different way to touch history. I became curious about this quaint expression, so of course, I Googled it. This is an old fashioned phrase that means, I am the person for the job, I’m your man, or in my case, I’m the woman for the job. Before I went around saying it in public, I thought I had better check on the meaning. After all, it could mean something entirely different, such as, I’m your fruit tart! On the contrary, this is a fairly useful term, in response to a friendly request, although it will require explanation to those not familiar with it, or not enamored with the dialogue of the film, Tombstone.

I was fortunate to go adventuring again last week with my research pal, Christie. We ended up, again, in the South Park district of the Colorado mountains, poking around some ghost town buildings and another old cemetery. Each cemetery has its own personality, and I found this one to be more melancholy than others we’ve visited. Many of the graves were for children, and the hardships and heartaches of life in the 1880s at almost 10,000 feet elevation was palpable. Touching history is not always joyous. Regardless, be assured that whenever I have a chance to learn and experience those far away times and stories from the past, “I’m your huckleberry”.

Joyce Lohse, 5/26/09


Posted by on May 26, 2009 in Western history


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Visit the Big Boy

One of the advantages of writing and research is the opportunity to learn about subjects which never before caught my interest and awareness. My research for “General William Palmer: Railroad Pioneer” led me into the wonderful world of trains. I never fully realized the importance of train travel to western development, and I was amazed by the complexity of this fascinating subject.

As weather improves with the approach of summer, I recommend a visit to Cheyenne and the Big Boy. The Union Pacific railroad line is the reason that Cheyenne exists. Its location was critical to north-south lines, which connected Colorado to east-west transcontinental routes for shipping and travel.

About the Big Boy. It is impressive! Only 25 of these 4000 series 4-8-8-4 class* steam locomotives were made between 1941 and 1944. Considered the biggest and most powerful, they were built to pull trains over the Wasatch Mountains of Utah without assistance. Top speed was 80 mph and their last run was in July 1959.

Big Boy #4004 is easily accessible where it rests outdoors in Holliday Park in Cheyenne. Only eight of these big beauties still exist. Feast your eyes on this one, then stop in the train depot in downtown Cheyenne to visit the train museum there, and learn more interesting railroad facts and history. Another Big Boy, #4005, is also on display at the Forney Transportation Museum in Denver.

Locations of 8 remaining Big Boy Railroad Steam Engines:
#4004 – Cheyenne, WY – Holliday Park, US 30
#4005 – Denver, CO – Forney Transportation Museum
#4006 – St. Louis, MO – Museum of Transportation
#4012 – Scranton, PA – Steamtown National Historic Site
#4014 – Pamona, CA – Los Angeles Co. Fairplex
#4017 – Green Bay, WI – National Railroad Museum
#4018 – Dallas, TX – Museum of the American Railroad
#4023 – Omaha, NE – Lauritzen Gardens

*4-8-8-4 class refers to the Whyte notation system of wheel arrangement.
The number describes the leading pilot wheels in front, power or drive wheels
in the middle, and support, or railing, wheels under the firebox and cab.
The 4-8-8-4 class Big Boy is a very large steam engine!

Joyce B. Lohse, 5/12/09

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Posted by on May 12, 2009 in Western history


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Titanic Revisited

This past week, we took advantage of a rare opportunity to visit “Titanic: Treasures from the Deep”, a traveling exhibit of artifacts presented by Country Financial. The weather was suitably chilly, which put us in the proper frame of mind to visit treasures from the shipwreck in the Atlantic where the steamship Titanic hit an iceberg and sank during her maiden voyage in 1912.

Part of the exhibit allowed us to be photographed in front of a backdrop of the Grand Stairway in the Titanic. Okay, the photo is a little cheesy. However, the gentleman who portrayed Captain Smith was outstanding and identical to the real captain of the Titanic, who had embarked on his last voyage before retirement. My hubby and I gladly stepped back in history, as long as we could safely step back into the present again.

Foremost on my mind was the story of Margaret Brown, later known to the world as Molly Brown, who survived the wreck in a lifeboat. As pivotal as this event was to her, there was so much more that made hers a full and interesting life. Mrs. Brown was the subject of my biography, “Unsinkable: The Molly Brown Story”. This exhibit was a modified version of one which I was able to visit at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science last year. As was done previously, we were handed boarding passes with the names of actual passengers on the Titanic as we entered the display. At the end, lists of survivors were displayed. Fortunately, our names were among the living. However, this was an excellent interactive tool to bring the gravity of the tragedy to the forefront. Talk about an unsinkable experience!

“We are ALL passengers on the Titanic.”
— Jack Foster, Irish Philosopher

Joyce Lohse, 5/3/09
Visit my web site for more information
about “Unsinkable: The Molly Brown Story”


Posted by on May 3, 2009 in Western history


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