Monday, June 24, 2013

A Few Design Improvements

Old Roads Once Traveled, as you may have noticed if you are more technically inclined than I am, has been my first foray into any kind of website. One of the reasons I chose Blogger as a platform was because, from what I had read in my research, it was supposed to be easy.

And posting is. Once the blog was set up, writing posts was not much different from using a word processor or email. I continue to find new little minor tricks occasionally, but after the first few posts most everything has been easy.

Set up was a little more complicated. While most of it is still click-this-button-to-get-this-design, there are way too many times where right-brain geeks like me have to consult directions written by left-brain techies who use a hundred words to explain what needs to be detailed in a thousands. With step-by-step directions in bullets and highlights in cute colors.

I've tweaked a few things, but there are still a lot of cosmetic issues I'd like to change. The stock background image was okay to start, but Blogger is disinclined to cooperate with any that I've tried to change to. There are a few other options for down the road that I'm trying to figure out. But 80 posts in, I'm a little too chicken to do anything drastic for fear of messing things up. So ... baby steps.

I did manage to finally add two things I have been wanting: a search box and a list of labels. So now you have more productive ways to search the blog than browsing titles by date.

If you look at the top of the right sidebar, you will see the new search box. Actually, I added it last week, tried it out with words I was looking right at on the screen, and it kept replying with "No results." I had already spent all day reading Google help pages written by techies (100 words for a 10,000 word need, no cute highlighting, no bullets-for-dummies), interspersed by the occasional terms of service, etc., written by lawyers (10,000 words for a 100 word need, still no cute highlighting or bullet points), and I was not inclined to spend a year figuring out what I did wrong, so I deleted it. I tried a search box on another blogger based blog and it returned "No results" for words three inches from the box, so I was actually relieved to find out it was apparently not me who was the idiot on that one.

I tried the search box on the other blog again today, and it worked, so I gave it one more try, and so far it's working. So now you can type in what you're interested in and you should get results if it's in the blog.

Below the search box is the archive, which lists everything in reverse-order of publishing date. You can browse by month, or if you want to read straight through, start at the earliest date. At the bottom of each page you will see a link to Newer Posts, Home, and Older Posts. Just click on Newer Posts to read in chronological order.

Below the archive, you can now see a list of labels that I finally figured out how to add. Clicking on a label will bring up a list of all posts tagged with that label.

One other option for navigating the blog is by internal links. When a topic spans several posts, especially if they were not published one right after the other, I will add links to the related posts at the bottom of the page. Also, if I refer to something in one post that is mentioned in another or if I want to refer you to another website for more information, I will insert a link into the text. The text should appear a different color. When you hover over it, it should appear underlined. Clicking on that text should take you to the new page in a different window so that you don't have to worry about navigating back.

There are a lot of upcoming things that I am excited about. To keep abreast of new posts and related pictures and websites, check out Old Roads Once Traveled's Facebook page. Old Roads Once Traveled also has a new Google+ page.

Thanks for reading. And just so you don't have to put up with a whole page of housekeeping text, here's Obligatory Cute Cat Photo #3, which is actually related to some of those upcoming developments, but for now ...

the cat's still in the bag.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Western & Atlantic Railroad

After being tasked by the state of Georgia with seeking a route for a railroad from the Chattahoochee River to the Tennessee River, on September 10, 1837 Abbott Hall Brisbane drove a stake into the dirt in the middle of nowhere on the east side of the Chattahoochee twenty miles from the new town of Marietta, Georgia.

With that action, both a railroad and a town, ingloriously named Terminus (as in "the end of the line"), were born.

Terminus gave way to the cute-but-quaint Marthasville before the railroad that gave birth to the town finally gave the village it's grown-up name when the name Atlanta was coined as the feminine of Atlantic.

A few previous posts have referred to the Western & Atlanta Railroad, and the W&A will be central to many future posts, so a general overview is in order.

The state of Georgia began building the Western & Atlantic, commonly referred to as the "State Road", in 1838. Regular service between Atlanta and Marietta began in 1845. By 1848, the 138-mile long line was completed to Chattanooga with the exception of Chetoogeta Mountain, now Tunnel Hill, north of Dalton. Until the tunnel through the mountain was completed in 1850, passengers would have to disembark with their luggage on one side, climb the mountain, then board a new train to continue their journey.

The W&A served as a vital link between Virginia and the port cities of the Deep South during the Civil War, making it first the target of James Andrews' failed 1862 raid known as the Great Locomotive Chase. In 1864, the W&A served as the corridor for Sherman's invasion of Georgia during the Atlanta Campaign.

Cram Map of Georgia, 1883
From Cram Map of Georgia 1883 showing railroads in Northwest Georgia.
The Western & Atlantic began in Atlanta, ran northwest through Marietta and Cartersville to Kingston,
north to Dalton, then northwest to Chattanooga.

Except for minor route improvements, the only significant changes in the route of the Western & Atlantic from its beginning through the present were the relocation of track when Lake Allatoona and the new Etowah River bridge were built.

The W&A is still owned by the state of Georgia and is leased to CSX.

More on the history of the Western & Atlantic Railroad will be coming soon.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Digital Copy of the Book of Kells

If you will recall, my brother Bob did a guest post on the Book of Kells, the beautifully illustrated Latin copy of the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John dating to around 800 AD. The rare manuscript is on display at Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland.

If you would like to see the manuscript, Trinity College has a digital copy on their website:

Etowah River

Here are more Etowah River photos taken just below Allatoona Dam at the Cooper's Furnace and Riverside Day Use Parks on Old River Road and Allatoona Dam Road off US 41 south of Cartersville, Georgia.

Water can rise suddenly and dangerously when water is released from Allatoona Dam immediately upstream.

The new railroad bridge over the Etowah River.
It was a great day to picnic and sightsee with my parents.

The original railroad bridge pilings stand in the Etowah River just upstream from the US 41 bridge.
Andrews Raiders failed to burn this Western & Atlantic Railroad bridge during the Great Locomotive Chase April 12, 1862, however Confederate and Union troops took turns burning, rebuilding, and re-burning the bridge in 1864.
The bridge was rebuilt (again) after the Civil War until replaced by the new bridge in 1944.
Union Army photographer George N. Barnard took this Civil War photograph of the defenses of Etowah bridge.

Taken from the high ground above the bridge, Barnard captured this view of Allatoona Pass.

Old railroad bridge pilings.