Tuesday, 30 November 2021

KCC Road Trips - Number 3 - The US Midwest

Yeehah! Line up the wagons; hitch up the horses and off we head into the west on the third KCC road trip. On our 1,194 mile journey, which will take us 17 hours and 35 minutes - plus comfort stops! - we're going to call in at another seven places named after KCC members. After which we will certainly have earned a cuppa followed by a long lie down.

We start our trip in Rogers, Ohio. You'd think one of our founder members deserved a more impressive town to be named after him than this village in Columbiana County, which has a population of just 237. Mind you, it is home to one of the biggest flea-markets in Ohio, so that at least shows a bit more respect.

In 3 hours 2 minutes we should have covered the 181 miles west, slicing between Akron and Cleveland and turning off the I-90 at Fremont and making our way to Lake Mottram, in the town of Fostoria. This is actually a bit of a cheat by me, as it's not much of a lake - more a large pool actually - but any town that has a purpose built viewing platform for train-spotters (I kid you not!) deserves a mention in my book.

But, mention over, its on for another 147 miles/2 hrs 19 mins to the small town of Eaton. I say small, but its positively gigantic compared to little Rogers, with a population of 8,407. Eaton is obviously a bit of a cultural oasis as its the birthplace of both Victor J Banis ("the godfather of modern popular gay fiction") and Jane LeCompte who, under the name of Jane Ashford, has written over 20 romantic novels. Good luck trying to borrow either author's works from Kenilworth Library!

After more than 5 hours of driving, we're still in Ohio, having travelled across virtually the whole state from east to west, but the next leg of our journey - a comparative sprint of 67 miles/ 1hr 18 mins - takes us over the border into Indiana, to the town of Eaton. What the ....?? Yes, we're in a second place named after one of our post-pandemic new members. We like to be welcoming, but don't you think its a bit pushy to get two mentions in one article, Patrick?! Anyway, this is a much smaller Eaton, mustering just 1,805 inhabitants. But still miles bigger than tiny, wee Rogers.

Regrettably, there's not even a flea market to detain us any longer, so we press on west for 133 miles/2 hrs 10 mins to Seymour, Indiana. Having already got a name check in Part 2 of this series, I might also think that Noah is being a bit pushy, too, but we'll give him the benefit of the doubt on that.  Anyway, we are now in a serious metropolis, as Seymour is a city of over 17,500 folks. Supposedly named after the then head of the Ohio and Mississippi Railroad, Seymour is home to the second largest high school gym in the USA. which I'm guessing makes it pretty big! It is also the site of the world's first ever (moving) train robbery in 1866, by the Reno gang. For whom it didn't end well - they were lynched at Hangman's Crossing, the name of which maybe should have given them a warning about local justice practices! All this, and the birthplace of John Cougar Mellencamp, too! And I haven't even mentioned the 2009 Miss America, Katie Stam. Eat your heart out, Rogers!

But even all these interesting facts can't make us stay, because our sixth destination is calling. Its a long drive too - 381 miles that will take us 5 hrs 47 minutes. And so we arrive in .... Seymour, Illinois?! Good grief! And I thought Patrick was being greedy! I'm not sure why we've come here, though, as the population is Rogers-like at just 303. Its not even a town or a village either, just a census-designated place. Which makes it all the more impressive that it should have been the birthplace of a seriously good baseball player, the marvellously named Jeff Pfeffer, who was a major league pitcher, mainly for the Brooklyn Dodgers, in the early 20th century.

The final leg of our journey is another major trek - 381 miles and 5 hrs 47 minutes - which takes us across the Mississippi at the new world capital of chess, St Louis. But we have no time to pop in at the Chess Club or the World Chess Hall of Fame, or stop for a blitz game or two with Fabi and Levon, as we only have eyes for our final destination at .......?!?! I don't believe it - Seymour, Missouri! You might think there were a lot of people around called Seymour in the 19th century when all these Midwest towns were being established, but rather derivatively this one was simply named after the city in Indiana that we've already visited. As the name was chosen by a Mr Crabbe, everyone is probably quite pleased he made that choice! With a population of 1,921, this Seymour is a modest size, but close by is an Amish community of over 3,000 people, making it one of the 12 largest Amish settlements in the world.

That's quite enough road tripping for one day, I think - and quite enough places called Eaton and - especially - Seymour. But just be patient, as I haven't finished yet. If you haven't had a name check so far, there's still every chance you will. Unless your name's Smiglarski. When your chances are zero. Sorry, Matt!

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