Saturday, November 10, 2012

Caterpillar in Peoria, Illnois

  Thur, Nov. 8th - Mon, Nov. 12th

                                                   We were  going to leave Wednesday, but we saw an ad on TV about the brand new Caterpillar Visitor Center and Museum that had just opened Oct. 20th.  We decided to stay another day and check it out.  This is in Peoria, looking across the Illinois River at the new Caterpillar center right along the west side of the river.  The Holt Manufacturing Company was established in Peoria in 1910 in a ten acre plant with 12 employees, and later merged with C.L. Best Tractor Company.  By 1925 the plant in East Peoria was named Caterpillar after a photographer's comment that it moved like one, and already had a global dealer network with 60 U.S. dealers and 17 export dealers around the world.  The company had grown to 40 acres with 1,600 employees.  The first CAT line consisted of the 2, 5 and 10 ton track-type tractors from Holt's former lines and the 30 and 60 from C.L. Best's former line.  Admission is $7.00, $6.00 for old fogies like us.

They've come a long way since this D-8 (first built in 1938) that John drove when he worked for the county, while we were still going to college in Valley City in 1973.  It weighed 33,000 pounds and went 3 to 4 mph.  It had no muffler or cab, only an equalizer spring to cushion bumps and a cable control attachment to lift the blade. 
This monster truck weighs 400 tons (equal to 16 semi-truck loads) and goes 40 mph.  The weight of one tire is equal to 500 pickup tires.  They build it, then totally dismantle it to ship it, and rebuild it on site.  The company is in 180 countries, has over 200 products and buys parts and tools from over 20,000 companies. 
Over the course of Caterpillar history more than 4,000 employees have earned at least one patent during their careers.  They have an Innovator's Award given to all employees who have been granted at least 12 patents.  They use 98% recycled metal for their engine blocks which are built in Mapleton, Illinois.  Notice the people waiting in line above to go into the box of the truck.  Their is a full-size theater inside with a film about the company's history.  There were only two others in there when we watched the film.  They were an elderly couple and he was one of the past presidents of the company, getting a look at their new facility.  There was also another theater underneath the truck, entrance just to the left of the tire where John is standing. 
Some of the projects they have provided machines for over the years:  Panama Canal, 51 miles (1904-14), Hoover Dam, largest dam of it's time (1931-36), St. Lawrence Seaway, 2,343 miles (1954-59), Operation Deep Freeze, research station in Anarctica with constant temps of 65 below (1955-56), Managil Irrigation Project, 160 mile canal from Blue Nile River into the Gezira region in Sudan, Africa conceived to turn 300,000 acres of desert into fertile fields and homes (1957-61), Trans-Alaska Pipeline, 800 miles across 3 mountain ranges and 120 rivers and streams (1972-77), Yacyreta Dam, spanning the Panama River to connect Paraguay and Argentina (1983-98), Chunnel, two rail tunnels 31.4 miles under the English Channel carrying passengers and freight to France connecting the UK with Europe (1986-93), Kansai International Airport, built a two square mile island for the airport in Osaka Bay, Japan and a connecting bridge (1987-94), Three Gorges Dam on the Yangtze River in China (1993-2008), Power Generation in Brazil, largest elctric power project ever undertaken by Caterpillar anywhere in the world at the time (2000), Karahnjukar Hydopower Plant in Iceland (2002-06), Transylvania Motorway in Romania (2004-ongoing) and Panama Canal Expansion to allow larger vessels (2007-14). 
They are "dirt smart" at Caterpillar.  Earth Mechanics is an area of expertise here because moving dirt is the main goal for many of their customers.  Engineers study soil and rock from all over the world to understand how CAT machines interact with the earth to accomplish their primary goal: move the most material in the shortest time at the least cost. 
These are some of the companies or brands owned by Caterpillar.  It turned out that they quit collecting camping fees for the season at our campground and the weather forecast for the weekend was in the 70s.  So, we decided to stay a few more days and enjoy the weather. 
We had already stopped at Lincoln's tomb twice, but the first time  it was after 4:00 PM and it was closed for the day.  The second time was election day and it was closed again.  So we decided to try again. 
This is inside the front foyer.  Then there is a circular walk around to the back where his tomb is.  
He is buried ten feet down in a concrete vault.  Mary and the two boys who died while he was living, plus the one that died after him, are all buried here just behind where we are standing. 
There are 10 or 12 statues of this type in the circular walkway to and from the tomb.  Notice how shiny gold the toe of his boot is.  All of the statues are like that, and the nose on the big one outside is also shiny.  People rub them as they walk by for luck. 
I walked down the hill behind the tomb to see the receiving vault where he was originally put from May to Dec. 1865. Then he and Eddie and Willie were moved to a more permanent spot up on the hill to the left, just behind the tree.  In 1871 they were moved to the partially completed tomb. 
The tomb was completed in 1909, the 100th anniversary of his birthday, and was rebuilt in the 1930s.  You can see the small stone marker just to the left of the tree, where they were originally buried. 
Since the weather was so nice, we did some hiking on the trails around Lincoln's New Salem.  We came across a couple of old foundations like this. 
And this family cemetery of Abraham and Mary Bale and their son Jacob (33 yrs.), who died in 1864, and three of his children who died as babies or toddlers.  No sign of his wife, who I presume moved on after her whole family had died.  What a hard life the pioneers had! 
This is the Sangamon River where Lincoln traveled on a flatboat down to New Orleans as a young man to help haul goods back to New Salem and decided to move there.  While he was in New Orleans he saw a slave auction.  As we were walking up here, there was a big buck standing on the beach across the river, but he took off before I could get my camera focused.  Photo Op missed. 
This is a reproduction of the saw and grist mill that was on the Sangamon River, before the river rerouted itself.  I think it was purchased from the original owners and run by the Bales that are buried in the cemetery.  The main trail here in the park is called the Mentor Graham Trail for a school teacher who lived here and claimed to have taught Abe Lincoln and Ann Rutledge (some say Abe's girlfriend) the finer points of grammar.  He also taught Abe the art of surveying and had much to do with his succinct and picturesque phraseology.  He always wore a fancy vest, shawl and high hat.  He attended Lincoln's inauguration in 1861 and when Lincoln spotted him, he was invited up on the speaking platform.  His wife died in 1869 and he later moved in with his daughter in a house that he built for her in nearby Petersburg.  In 1880 he was living with his son's family and moved with them to Blunt, South Dakota where he died in 1883.  His home there has been an historic site since the 1950s.  It is on Hwy. 14 across from the Oahe Electric Cooperative Headquarters.  The home that he lived in with his daughter in Petersburg has recently been purchased by a woman who is refurbishing it.  In researching the history of the Graham and Lincoln families, she has discovered that their lives have crossed dating back to the 1600s in England. 
Just a little about hedge balls.  We saw lots of these while we were out hiking.  They are also known as hedge apples, horse apples, osage oranges, monkey balls, mock oranges and green brains.  They kind of look like a brain.  They grow on the Osage Orange Tree, are not toxic and have a faint smell similar to orange peels.  They were first planted across the country for fence posts and wind breaks in the 1800s and early 1900s.  They are known best for repelling spiders, and other small pests like mice.  Just place them on a plastic plate along the inside basement wall or around the foundation outside.  They don't work for boxelder bugs, who are just looking for warmth, not food.  The best way to get rid of boxelders is to spray the sunny side of the house with dishwashing soapy water.  They will not crawl into cracks if soap is there. 
We will be heading further south to Kentucky on Monday. 
Over and Out,

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