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Friday, August 26, 2005

US Route 20 


I previously posted pictures that illustrated the coincidence of my encountering US Route 20 twice during my vacation - once in Marengo, Illinois, and once in Lusk, Wyoming. I didn't even realize this until I returned home from vacation and was looking at my pictures (and yes, I'll post some more at some point - stuff happens).

Incidentally, the distance between these two cities is 1000 miles, provided you take either the southern or northern route on the freeway.. If you take the shortest route (which pretty much happens to be route 20), it's less than 900 miles.

Speaking of US Route 20, there's an entire web site devoted to the highway. From the goals page:


Welcome to our new site, which is dedicated to Historic US Route 20. This historic road begins in Boston, Massachusetts and ends in Newport, Oregon. US Route 20 is over 3200 miles long and travels through twelve states.

It is our goal to promote this great road, so that travelers can once again experience the charm and wonder of roadside America, a phenomenon that is vanishing in our fast-paced society. Route 66 may be "The Mother Road", but US Route 20 is the "Grand Daddy Road".



Nationmaster.com has additional information on the road, including this anomaly:


Though it is not signed in Yellowstone National Park, an implied route from the "eastern" US 20 to the "western" US 20 through the park may be assumed.


There are a few mentions of Route 20 on The Hawk's Guide to Marengo, Illinois, and on roadtripusa.com's page on US-20 in Wyoming, which also includes a description of Lusk (we couldn't visit the museum, but we did stay in the Covered Wagon Motel).

The latter page also mentions the jackalope. Although we didn't make it to Douglas, this town appears to be prime jackalope territory:


Traveling around the Great Plains, you’re bound to come across all sorts of oversized wildlife—giant fish, giant cows, giant bison—plus some more that defy anatomical description. Most of the latter—fur-bearing trout, in particular—are seen primarily on postcards, but at least one species can usually be found mounted on the wall of any self-respecting saloon or taxidermist’s shop: the jackalope. So rare that one has never been seen in the wild, the jackalope has the body of a jackrabbit and the horns of an antelope; dozens of examples are displayed around the Wyoming town of Douglas, with the “world’s largest” standing over eight feet head-to-tail in Jackalope Square at 3rd and Center Streets downtown. The enigmatic creature is also celebrated during Jackalope Days in the middle of June.


Tom McKee claims to have named the jackalope:


Name: Tom Mc Kee
From: Trumbull, Connecticut

* The Origin of the Name *
Well it was approx 1962-64 [can't remember]. I was at the now defunct burger chain White Tower in the sitting room/buttery. They were running a contest to name their stuffed frankenstein like animal. Why I came up with the name jackalope I don't remember, other than the fact it looked like a jack rabbit and an antelope [the horns] so jackalope! After registering my name of choice, a month [or 2 or 3] later I recieved notification and a US savings bond for $50 dollars. They said I had won the national contest and the stuffed animal that was hanging in the dining area in the rear of the building [the buttery] was now officially named "The Jackalope". I was a little kid - what did I know?

I took the savings bond and subsequently spent it a year or 2 later having a queen trigger fish stuffed that I caught while drift fishing off the Grand Bahama Island while on a family vacation. What irony to win money on a stuffed mutant and blow the dough on a stuffed fish. Years later I have neither the original savings bond nor the fish! Funny thing is, after all these years I have never owned a stuffed jackalope, although shortly after the contest my father aquired one [stuffed of course] and several of my family and friends have stumbled upon them. And now that I think of it - What ever happened to the one on display? Those cheap so-and-so's didn't even offer it to me!



Chuck Holliday and Dan Japuntich have published references to real historical jackalope-like creatures.

I seem to have digressed from my original topic. Oh well...

From the Ontario Empoblog

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