This was called the Great Western Gateway because it’s the most level route to the interior of the U.S. anywhere between Maine and Georgia. The “Great” part of the name fell out of use somewhere along the way.
Unlike the majority of my posts, which are of places I have never visited, I did make it to Ausable Chasm a few years ago. My wife and I went in December and had the place to ourselves. There were some icy spots here and there, but everything was open and it was a very pleasant hike. We did not see anything by boat or by moonlight, but both are options during the regular season.
When I picked this one out of the stack, I didn’t realize it was also sent by Bob Millspaugh, the Delaware-traveling bowler we met a few days ago. Sent August 1, 1950, it doesn’t say much other than that he was having a good time and en route to Montreal. But it was sent to someone at the DuPont Corporation on DuPont Avenue in Newburgh, NY. So now the annual trip to the corporate bowling tournament in Wilmington proves to have been a much bigger deal than it might have first appeared.
In 1946, a water wheel was rescued from an abandoned gold mine site and placed in this prominent location in front of a waterfall. Now known as the Charlie Tayler Water Wheel, it is visible from interstate 70.
(The slight slant in the text is not an artifact of my camera, that’s how it is in the original.)
Faithful followers of this blog may have noticed by now how typical it was to build a wooden footbridge across the top of a falls. Since the postcard views are always taken from the bottom, we can reasonably conclude that this is the preferred viewpoint for most. Indeed, I have stood at the tops of falls where all you can see is the lip of water before it makes the plunge. It would seem, then, to make more sense to build footbridges across the bottoms of the falls. Unless, of course, the bridge was an important part of the shot. I think this is consistent with the taming and conquering of nature that reveals itself in so many of these vintage postcards.
In the 1930s when this postcard was printed, this was part of someone’s backyard though open to the public. Known as Noonans’ Little Bit o’ Heaven, it was the creation of Phil Noonan, described as prominent in the local butter and egg trade. By the 1940s he had donated it to the city for preservation as a park, which it remains today. When the family had the postcards printed up they saw fit to add the statistic that the flow rate of the waterfall was 85 gallons per minute.
I sent it to the one person I know with the surname Noonan.
The most photographed site in Minnesota, as of this month the park surrounding these falls was the site of a large homeless encampment, with cold temperatures and proximity to snow plows becoming urgent concerns of the city.
I have not had much interaction with serious postcard collectors in the years I’ve been mailing away my collection, but I am pretty sure the consensus would be that this is an inferior postcard. The color palette is limited, the card stock thin, the writing surface glossy in a way that resists ink. And yet I find it interesting, the comic book version of a waterfall, anticipating pop art by a few decades. If I went into a drugstore in 1920 and confronted a whole rack full of cards like this, no doubt I would be bemoaning the loss of the beautiful German postcard printing tradition as a casualty of World War I. But since it is 2020 and most of these were deemed not worth saving, we have something that is novel, and novelty is an ingredient in beauty.
Immediately upstream of these falls, not visible here, the water is a rich brown from the tannins leached from the surrounding cedar forests, giving it the unofficial name Root Beer Falls.