Audubon Inn - March 14, 2014

Audubon is the name of a small town located just down the street from both Oaks and Valley Forge.  It was first settled in the early 18th-century and started out as many towns back in the day did - as a tavern or inn located at a crossroads where travelers could find food and lodging. Today, we are going to talk about the refuge that was the Audubon Inn.  

The Inn was built in 1757 at the intersection of today's Park Avenue and Egypt Road.  It is only eight miles from the site of the primary winter encampment of General George Washington's Continental Army at Valley Forge, used between December 1777 and June of 1778, so it is very likely that the Audubon Inn was a rowdy place during those six months.  Time passed, different people bought and sold the Inn, then in 2004 the Township requested to purchase some of its land to create a turning lane.  The owners said no, and instead expressed their interest in selling the whole lot.  The Township declared the building a historical site to protect it from demolition, and offered incentives for its protection.  It is now safely preserved for posterity, and serves as the offices for the Furey & Baldassarri Law Firm, while a neighboring historic stone structure has been preserved as a CVS Pharmacy.  The American Treasure Tour has in our collection a modern, electric sign from the days when it still served as an Inn (likely not original to 1757, though, for obvious reasons).

Which of the following sites was never used by General Washington as a winter encampment for his troops during the Revolutionary War?

a)  Newburg, New York

b)  Morristown, New Jersey

c)  Valley Forge, Pennsylvania

d)  Frostbite Falls, Minnesota

e)  Middlebrook, New Jersey

Answer Below


You probably knew we would get to this one.  You were likely thinking, "When DID Eli Whitney patent his cotton gin?  Was it March 14th or March 15th?"  Well, it was the 14th.  In the year 1794. We are very glad you asked.  Prior to the development of the "gin" (short for engine), hand de-seeding of cotton was a laborious and unpractical process.  The gin made it easy, using a mesh to separate seed from cotton.  The patent could have made Whitney a fortune, but he got greedy.  Instead of selling his gins, he intended to maintain control of the patent and have plantation owners bring their cotton to him to separate.  It was far too easy for them to duplicate his invention and separate the cotton themselves, which they did illegally.  Whitney ultimately made almost no money on the cotton gin, and spent years filing lawsuits for his right to his claim.

Be careful what you wish for!  On this day in 1910, the Lakeview Oil Company was drilling for natural gas in Central California when their drills hit upon something much bigger than they could have anticipated.  Called the Lakeview Gusher, crude oil spewed out of the ground uncontrollably.  It lasted for 18 solid months, until storage containers were filled to overflowing and it just settled in pools on the ground.  Over 1.2 million gallons of oil flowed, making it the largest accidental oil spill in American history (over twice the amount spilled in the Gulf of Mexico just four years ago).


There are a few famous songs written about train engineers, but none more famous than that dedicated to Casey Jones.  Born Jonathon Luther Jones in Jackson, Tennessee on this day in 1863, he famously lost his life while on the job. It was just shy of four o'clock in the morning on April 30th, 1900 when his train, "Ole 382" was closing in on Vaughan, Mississippi.  Jones was on time for his arrival at the station in Goodman with his passengers in their cars behind his engine.  The problem was that there were stopped trains on the track in Vaughan, Mississippi that were not supposed to be there, and Jones was unaware of them. When they came into view, it was too late.  He told his 'fireman' Simeon Webb to jump off the train, he slammed on his engine's airbrakes, and blasted his horn until he ran into the train ahead of him. He saved the lives of every person on his train except his own.

ext birthday comes to us from the Upper East Side of Manhattan, and you might be surprised to know that Billy Crystal is his actual name!  Born William Crystal on March 14th, 1948, the son of a jazz promoter, he attended his first college on a baseball scholarship.  He got in trouble, lost the scholarship, and returned to New York to attend the Tisch School of the Arts alongside classmates Oliver Stone and Christopher Guest before he started getting work in television.  He was slated to be on the first episode of the first season of Saturday Night Live, but his sketch got cut and he moved on.  It worked out, though, because he was cast in the prime time comedy Soap as Jodie Dallas, one of the first publicly gay characters in a television show.  He has not stopped since, with roles on television (he finally got that SNL job in the 1980s), host of numerous award shows, and in movies.  He has starred in classics from When Harry Met Sally to the Pixar favorites Monsters, Inc. and its prequel Monsters University.  Happy birthday, Billy!


I can do at 60 the same things I could do at 30.  If only I could remember what those things were. - Billy Crystal

Answer:  d)  Frostbite Falls, Minnesota.  If you picked this, you truly are silly.  Everyone knows this is where Rocky and Bullwinkle lived in their self-titled animated series of the 1960s!