Alton, just above the Mississippi and the Missouri

Alton, just above the Mississippi and the Missouri

Alton (488 alt., 34,511 pop.), just above the confluence of the Mississippi and the Missouri, and just below that of the Illinois and Mississippi, rises on the bluffs where they retreat from the river to mark the head of a vast river plain known as the American Bottom. From this point south to East St. Louis, in a great thirty-mile arc that follows the river, is an almost continuous manufacturing area. Although it benefited, along with East Alton, Wood River, and Granite City, from the great industrial expansion of the first part of the twentieth century, Alton differs sharply from its sister cities in that its growth was spread over more than a century.

Alton works in the valley and lives on the hill. The main business district fronts on the river at the west part of the city; at the eastern limits, where the valley flares wide, lies a cluster of sprawling plants that manufacture glass, lead, steel, chemicals, box-board, and scores of other products.

Residential Alton lies chiefly back from the river on the bluffs. Here the expression “going downtown” has literal meaning, for the streets that run to the river drop abruptly on a steep grade from immediately above the business district. The central section, with its unusually wide streets (many still surfaced with brick) and Victorian houses that give each other elbow room, retains the spaciousness and faintly lavender scented dignity of the nineteenth century. Many of the older houses, built during steamboat days, are surmounted with lookout platforms that vary from a mere fenced-in rectangle to elaborate circular and octagonal cupolas.

In the middle of the last century crack steamboats, such as the Golden Eagle, the Gossamer, and the Kate Kearney, vied with each other on the stretch between St. Louis and Alton, where a rich load of freight usually awaited the first steamer to dock. The lookout stations were an architectural outgrowth of this racing mania. Merchants awaiting shipments and persons who gambled on the races built observation towers on their stores and houses from which, even at a distance, to view the outcome. At length the observation platforms became ornamental rather than functional, and many of them today cap houses completely out of sight of the river.

Although the site of Alton had been passed by Marquette and Jolliet on their voyage down the Mississippi in 1673, the first known settler, Jean Baptiste Cardinal, did not come to the vicinity until 110 years later. By the beginning of the nineteenth century an Indian trading post had been established. The site was obviously suitable for a permanent settlement, for above it the bluffs closed in on the river and for miles there was no sufficient setback for a boat landing.

The confluences of the two great rivers nearby marked the spot as an eventual focal point for river traffic. Between 1816 and 1818 three towns, hoping to capitalize these advantages, were founded in the area now included in the Alton city limits. One of these, now the downtown business district, was planned by Col. Rufus Easton and named Alton for one of his sons. Proving to be the most satisfactory for river trade, his town eventually absorbed the other two, and Alton was incorporated as a city in 1837.

The first major period in its development coincided with the ascendancy of steamboat transportation, and for a time its wharfs teemed with white steamboats and Alton rivaled St. Louis as a river port.

Lying just north of a section where slavery was favored, Alton felt many of the repercussions from the slavery dispute; here, in 1837, Elijah Lovejoy, noted Abolitionist editor, was murdered while protecting his press from the onslaught of a pro-slavery mob.

Alton was again the focus of the slavery question in 1858, when the last of the Lincoln-Douglas debates was held here. Altonians were already familiar with Lincoln because of the seriocomic Lincoln-Shields duel of 1842. Mary Todd, whom Lincoln later married, had lampooned State Auditor of Accounts James Shields in a Springfield paper; and Lincoln assumed responsibility for the article and was challenged by Shields.

Lincoln chose broadswords, and Alton as the duelling ground. With a crowd of the curious they rowed to a sandbar in the river. The lanky Abe practiced swings and told stories while the seconds conferred at great length, but the duel did not take place. Shields finally accepted a formal statement that although Lincoln “did not think… that said article could produce such an effect,” he had not intended “injuring the personal or private character or standing of Mr. Shields.”

Alton has seen a steady increase in population each decade for more than 100 years. The decline of steamboating at the end of the nineteenth century was offset by the rise of industrial plants, notably that of the Owens-Illinois Company, which grew from a one-building concern tucked way in the bluffs to its present position as the dominant corporation among the nation’s glass-producers. And as other plants began to smoke on the river plain, Alton listened to the gradual diminishing of the steamboat’s hoot with only the regret occasioned by the passing of a colorful era.

Sheridan, largest town in northern Wyoming

Sheridan, largest town in northern Wyoming

Sheridan (3,737 alt., 15,804 pop.), largest town in northern Wyoming, is a shaded community of cottonwoods and hedges at the confluence of Goose and Little Goose Creeks, in saucerlike Sheridan Valley. Fifteen miles west are the black, wooded humps of the Big Horn Mountains; to the east, the valley ends in the rolling Powder River pampas and waste lands.

Low altitudes and plenty of water give the area an exuberant flora. Gardens and parks are masses of bloom in summer; citizens compete for honors at the Sheridan Flower Show, sponsored each September by the Sheridan Garden Club, and seasonal blooms are shown informally.

Meandering Goose Creek traces an irregular dark-green line across the town, breaking the streets into short oblique avenues. Jutting smokestacks mark industrial plants among the trees; cows low in the distance at milking time. There is rarely any wind; the average velocity is the second lowest in the United States.

A division point on the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Railroad, and connected by regular plane service to a transcontinental airline, Sheridan serves a wide trade area. Vast veins of sub-bituminous coal within a few miles of the city have been important in developing its manufacturing establishments: flour, livestock-feed, and cereal mills; a sugarbeet refinery, a brewery, an artificial-ice plant, an iron foundry, a brick and tile kiln, and several creameries. Two newspapers are published: the Sheridan Press (daily except Saturday) and the Sheridan News (bi-weekly).

The business houses, in good cow-town fashion, are clustered along Main Street. Saloons still function as employment bureaus for the surrounding range. The rancher or farmer who needs a rider or hay hand writes a notice in chalk on the blackboard behind the bar; transients and others wishing work first consult these ‘call boards.’

Conventional summer styles here vary from wide, studded leather belts and high-heeled boots to soft-tanned leather outfits. On Big Hat Day, which opens the rodeo season in July, residents appear in highcrowned felt hats. These are worn the rest of the season.

Crow and Cheyenne Indians, who come to Sheridan from near-by reservations to trade, add to the ‘Old West’ atmosphere. Like the cowboy, the Indians have been brought up to date; instead of skins and hand-tanned robes, they wear bright blankets of modern design and bits of calico and rayon milled in New England. The headgear of the men is the somber Indian hat–always black–with wide brim and tapering crown. White canvas tents, successors to the skin tepees, are pitched on Goose Creek near the city limits during these trips, and children watch the innumerable dogs and horses while adults visit in town.

Many Polish families, who immigrated to the Sheridan Valley in the 1890’s and early 1900’s to develop the coal mines, have moved to Sheridan in recent years. They have entered enthusiastically into the life of the community and are leaders in civic musical organizations. Their native folk customs are preserved in periodic dances privately sponsored, patterned after Old-World festivals.

Many of the dances originally had religious or nationalistic significance, but in Sheridan their main purpose is to provide diversion and recreation. The costumes worn on these occasions are modeled after native Polish dress. Men wear leather moccasins, leggings, bright-colored knee breeches, and shirts with long full sleeves. Women are charming in their white veils, numerous petticoats, blouses, flare skirts, and checkered aprons. The beer is free. The music is joyous and brassy.

Sheridan Valley was part of the last unreserved Indian land in the United States, set aside for the Sioux, Cheyenne, and Arapaho in 1868. Here Dull Knife, Old David, Man-Afraid-of-His-Horses, Red Cloud, and his son-in-law, Crazy Horse, fought it out with the bluecoat volunteers and regulars before accepting confinement on reservations.

Laramie, seat of the University of Wyoming

Laramie, seat of the University of Wyoming

Laramie (7,145 alt., 27,204 pop.), seat of the University of Wyoming, is on the east bank of the Laramie River at the southeastern edge of the Laramie Plains. Rows of cottonwoods and poplars bordering the streets are conspicuous against the barren prairie background. Spacious lawns and yards, low-built houses, and wide streets continue within the city the impression of the prairie’s wideness. East of the city the Laramie Mountains reach an elevation of approximately 9,000 feet, and day and night temperatures vary from an average high of 77° in summer to an average low of 48°.

A cement factory, an ice-storing plant, a brick and tile kiln, a gypsum refinery, and a timber creosoting plant operate in suburban Laramie, but perennial winds break up the thin wisps of smoke that rise from great jutting smokestacks. There is no hint of industrial activity in downtown Laramie.

One of Wyoming’s oldest cities, Laramie is no older than some of its residents. Among modern pressed-brick houses and business buildings stand many huge square Southern Colonial structures. Two rambling frame barracks, which housed United States Army officers at Fort Sanders during the Indian wars of the 1860’s and 1870’s, now serve as a college sorority chapter house and as a clubhouse for a young people’s religious organization.

Jack McCall’s arrest in Laramie on August 30, 1876, for shooting Wild Bill Hickok in the back of the head in a Deadwood ( South Dakota) saloon is still remembered by Laramie citizens. One year after McCall’s arrest, Jesse James, with several companions, was lodged in the Laramie jail as a suspect in a near-by stagecoach holdup, but was freed before his identity was known. The University of Wyoming, three years older than the State of Wyoming, celebrated its fiftieth anniversary in the spring of 1937, and two members of its original faculty were present.

In a region not far removed from the mood and severity of the frontier, interests are limited and directed toward immediate problems; but Bill Nye’s contribution to American local-color literature of the 1880’s made Laramie self-conscious and somewhat aware of literary currents, while Wyoming was yet a territory. The establishment of Wyoming’s only college there in 1887 stimulated interest in the humanist tradition, and the college provided inspiration and opportunity for disinterested thought that could not be paralleled in another Wyoming community.

Here, while citizens elsewhere in Wyoming disputed range and water rights or mined valuable minerals, Grace Raymond Hebard and June Etta Downey were writing volumes on Wyoming history and experimental psychology, and Agnes M. Wergeland was composing music or eulogizing the Wyoming scene in delicate Norwegian verse. Here, too, Ted Olson experimented with verse forms and journalism in school newspapers; G. Edward Pendray observed chemical reactions in test tubes to get authentic data for his novels and articles on mechanized science; and Olga Moore (Arnold) wrote her first sketches and short stories for campus publications.

Laramie has several art and humanist societies that developed from campus organizations, and townspeople enjoy college-sponsored dramatic and operatic productions and lecture lyceums. The university’s extension and lecture services are spreading over the State.

The town was named for the legendary French-Canadian trapper, Jacques La Ramie, whose name was also given to a military post, a mountain range, a peak, a river, a county, and a section of the Wyoming Plains. About 1820 La Ramie, a free trapper, worked the tributaries of the North Platte in what became southeastern Wyoming. According to Coutant, he was killed by Indians somewhere along the river that bears his name.

Cheyenne, capital and metropolis of Wyoming

Cheyenne, capital and metropolis of Wyoming

Cheyenne (6,062 alt., 53,011 pop.), pronounced shi-an, capital and metropolis of Wyoming, is on a broad plain where the gradual slope of the prairie meets the steepening grades of the Laramie Mountains.

Older Cheyenne was laid out parallel with the Union Pacific Railroad tracks, and its streets are diagonal to the main compass directions; and where these additions join the original townsite, streets are a maze of pointed intersections, short courts, and blind avenues. Residents and visitors alike are uncertain of compass directions.

Cheyenne is old enough to have crabbed, corroded tenement districts downtown, but the prevalence of green lawns, paved streets, and new pressed-brick and steel houses in all parts of the city give it an atmosphere of ‘wet paint’ freshness. Old brick and stone mansions in the 1890 style, many with extensive stables converted into garages, are canopied by tall cottonwoods and poplars and surrounded by clusters of modern homes and solid commercial houses. Newer homes in the residential additions are prim and correct on their treeless, terraced lawns. Trees grow slowly on the high plains, and only the earlier-settled parts of the town are old enough to have trees of any size.

Cheyenne’s location as a focal point for transcontinental travel has made it a commercial city, with railroad division shops and United Air Lines’ repair depot. The cow-town where Tom Horn was hanged in 1903 for the murder of a sheepman’s son has changed its ways and its appearance, but stockmen in Stetson hats and high-heeled boots still come to town for supplies, and several thousand market steers are shipped from the Cheyenne ranching area each year. Polo horses raised in the vicinity are sold in far-distant parts of the country.

Persons afflicted with asthma and tuberculosis find relief in Cheyenne’s altitude and in the 290 days of sunshine weather experts record each year. Wyoming’s 60-day divorce law brings other temporary residents to the State capital.

Once each year during its Frontier Days Celebration, Cheyenne revives its cattleman tradition with hobbles, hackamores, and professional ‘bucking strings.’ This rodeo, held annually since 1897, was first held on the prairies north of town. Spectators came equipped with umbrellas in case of rain. A bucking horse or steer could be shooed away by suddenly opening the parasol.

The show has grown to a fiveday celebration that attracts amateur and professional rodeo performers from many parts of the West, and 30,000 spectators from a wider orbit. For several weeks preceding the celebration, Cheyenne citizens dress up in big hats, high-heeled boots, and bright shirts; and the Sioux come in from their Dakota reservation to dance. The bucking strings arrive on special railroad cars.

Casper, seat of Natrona County and second largest city in Wyoming

Casper, seat of Natrona County and second largest city in Wyoming

Casper (5,123 alt., 49,644 pop.), seat of Natrona County and second largest city in Wyoming, lies in a great bend on the south side of the North Platte River; south of the town the pine-studded slopes of Casper Mountain rise to an altitude of more than 8,000 feet.

An industrialized cow-town, Casper retains many characteristics of its youth. Ranch hands of the old C Y outfit, whose pastures once included present Casper, still work cattle and make hay almost within the shadows of oil refineries and storage tanks. Sage chickens scuttle between clumps of sage and rabbit brush on the outskirts of the city, and residents drive out to the flats to watch the cocks parade during the mating season in the spring.

Log cabins and derelict frame buildings still shoulder against newer brick structures. Residential additions extend Old Casper on the south, east, and north, and unimproved plots within the additions suggest the tempestuous nature of Casper’s growth. Its streets are wide, and many are bordered with sentinel rows of cottonwoods and poplars. Newer residences in the southern sector are of Georgian colonial style, with brick walls, circular porticoes, and wrought-iron balconies. The Standard Addition, southwest of the original townsite, has several hundred houses of modified Spanish mission design.

Casper’s central location in Wyoming has contributed much to its development as an industrial and commercial center. Its basic industry is oil, but its geographic location at the juncture of four national highways and two mainline railroads has made it the distribution point for a wide trade area. Trucks loaded with casing and cables lumber through the city to near-by oil fields. Freight is piled high at the depot yards for transportation to rural areas or reclamation projects in the Casper trade zone. The silver Mainliners of Inland Air Lines fly north and south from their Casper headquarters; the drone of their motors rises above the hum of city activity as they gain altitude or circle into the landing headwind.

Casper’s outstanding annual event is Wyoming-on-Parade, during the third week in August. The feature is a parade that reproduces scenes from the city’s and State’s frontier days, and the subsequent progress and development. Of unusual interest is the jerkline freight team of 16 horses harnessed to three old freight wagons and driven by bona-fide ‘mule skinners.’ Legendary frontier characters are revived and uniformed bands, National Guard cavalry units, and gaudily clad cowboys and cowgirls complete the procession.

The Platte River Valley provided the most satisfactory wagon route westward during the 1840’s and 1850’s, and an estimated 300,000 persons followed the Oregon Trail across what is now the townsite of Casper before wagon traffic was rerouted over the southern Overland Trail in the 1860’s. The first white men known to pass through the region were Robert Stuart’s Astorians, who trekked through central Wyoming in 1812, en route to St. Louis from Astor’s Pacific Coast trading post. The exploring parties of Bonneville and Frémont followed, and in 1842 Elijah White’s prairie schooners were rolling along the Platte.

Archaeologists unearth world’s first church

Archaeologists unearth world’s first church

Archaeologists in Jordan have unearthed what they claim is the world’s first church, dating back almost 2,000 years, The Jordan Times reported on Tuesday.

“We have uncovered what we believe to be the first church in the world, dating from 33 AD to 70 AD,” the head of Jordan’s Rihab Centre for Archaeological Studies, Abdul Qader al-Husan, said.

He said it was uncovered under Saint Georgeous Church, which itself dates back to 230 AD, in Rihab in northern Jordan near the Syrian border.

“We have evidence to believe this church sheltered the early Christians — the 70 disciples of Jesus Christ,” Husan said.

These Christians, who are described in a mosaic as “the 70 beloved by God and Divine,” are said to have fled persecution in Jerusalem and founded churches in northern Jordan, Husan added.

He cited historical sources which suggest they both lived and practised religious rituals in the underground church and only left it after Christianity was embraced by Roman rulers.

The bishop deputy of the Greek Orthodox archdiocese, Archimandrite Nektarious, described the discovery as an “important milestone for Christians all around the world.”

Researchers recovered pottery dating back to between the 3rd and 7th centuries, which they say suggests these first Christians and their followers lived in the area until late Roman rule.

Inside the cave there are several stone seats which are believed to have been for the clergy and a circular shaped area, thought to be the apse.

There is also a deep tunnel which is believed to have led to a water source, the archaeologist added.

Rihab is home to a total of 30 churches and Jesus and the Virgin Mary are believed to have passed through the area, Husan said.

New York Career Guidance

New York Career Guidance

Career guidance can be a critical intervention for residents of large cities like New York where the network of educational, training, and employing institutions is too complex and differentiated to be readily understood. Without informed help during the decision-making process, many city dwellers find it difficult to plan courses of action that will enable them to make the most of their career options.

As New Yorkers attempt to negotiate the interlocking educational, training, and employment structures, the mediation of guidance counselors may ease their progress into and through the labor market and help them to surmount institutional barriers that restrict their range of choice. Since career decisions are made by both youths and adults, an effective guidance system must aim to serve people of all ages.

A person’s career options are affected not only by his personal attributes, but also, to a significant degree, by the availability of family and community resources which can be devoted to the development of his potential and to the pursuit of his goals.

“Guidance specialists share with most Americans, the belief that a man is largely in control of his own fate. However, guidance has paid relatively little attention to the ways in which the economic and social status of some families restricts the opportunities for education and work available to their children.”

Islands of New York

Islands of New York

If New York has little repute as a city of culture, it has perhaps still less as a city of brotherly love. Its head may be thought shrewd enough in business matters, but whoever accused the city of having a heart or a soul?

Who, for instance, thinks of it as wasting any effort or energy on the unfortunate, the unsuccessful, the incompetent? The prevalent belief is that those who cannot swim go down in the big maelstrom, and no one in the city puts out a hand to save them. But, once more, the prevalent belief is wrong.

The islands where these institutions are located are in summer the coolest and the greenest spots in the city, and at any season they are beautiful in their settings. All of which puts the notion into one’s head that the city has given up to its crippled and aged, its thugs and thieves, its paupers and prisoners, the most livable and lovable portions of the town, keeping for itself only some flat and rather hot districts on the upper avenues.

This looks like a great deal of self-denial in favor of the outcast; but, unfortunately, the motive will not bear critical analysis. It is to be feared that the New Yorkers put the prisoners andthe paupers on the islands because no one else wanted those spots. They were waste places that could be spared very readily; and besides, over there “the slovenly unhandsome corse” could not come betwixt the wind and the nobility. People do not want their public institutions too close to them.