Sunday, August 28, 2011

Hubbard Glacier, Alaska

Recently, we took our very first cruise to Alaska on Celebrity Cruise Lines. At the various stops along the Inside Passage route, we took advantage of the zipline, ATV tours, hiking trails and shopping expeditions. We're glad to say it was a wonderful trip, the staff and the food were excellent -- and we'll certainly take another cruise soon.

One of the many interesting places we visited was Hubbard Glacier. The ship's captain slowly gave us a 360 degree view, therefore providing the opportunity for excellent photographs. What surprised me was the sound of the massive glacier. It is constantly moving, moaning and groaning as if it were alive. Then suddenly, a loud crack can be heard as a huge section breaks off and falls into the water. It's a magnificent sight, almost surreal. Even at a height of approximately 75 feet (standing on the deck of the ship) the sections were so big that when seals climbed aboard, they looked tiny in comparison.

The origin of Hubbard is unclear. Some say it takes about 400 years for ice to traverse the length of the glacier, and that "calves" break off that can be the size of a ten-story building. In any event, it is truly a spectacular sight and one I will not forget any time soon.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Alfred Packer - Colorado's Cannibal

Photo courtesy: Lake City Museum.

As part of my latest book Hidden History of Denver, (due for release in November 2011), I included the story of Alfred Packer and his ill fated journey. On November 8, 1873, a twenty-one man party left Bingham Canyon, Utah for Denver, attracted by the lure of gold. Each looking to make his fortune, they hired Alfred Packer as their guide after he boasted, “The Colorados, I know ‘em like the back of my hand.” After a disastrous trip, the group arrived at Chief Ouray's camp in Montrose, Colorado. Ouray advised the men to wait until the spring before continuing their journey, but Packer and five companions decided to take a chance.

Two months later, on April 16, 1874, a dishevelled but otherwise well nourished Alfred Packer walked into the Los Pinos Indian Agency. Over the next few days, he told various accounts of the demise of his party...but never denied the fact that he used their remains to sustain himself. He said, "I could only eat a little at a time." The newspapers nicknamed him "the ghoul of the San Juan’s."

Monday, August 1, 2011

Origin of Cotton Candy

The following text was supplied by:
Originally called “Fairy Floss”, the process of making Cotton Candy was invented by four men: Thomas Patton, Josef Delarose Lascaux, John C. Wharton, and William Morrison.  In 1899, Morrison and Wharton were able to patent the first electric cotton candy machine, which used centrifugal force to spin and melt sugar through small holes.  In 1904, these two Nashville candy makers introduced their invention of how to make cotton candy to the St. Louis World’s Fair.  Due to fair goers’ curiosity, these inventors sold approximately 68,655 boxes of cotton candy for 25 cents a box for a total of $17,163.75.  Back then and today this is a great deal of money, just think of the profit that you could make today selling such a low cost and enjoyable product!
In 1900, Patton obtained a patent for his invention of making cotton candy.  Using a gas-fired rotating plate to spin caramelizing sugar, he was able to form threads of cotton candy with a fork.  In addition, he introduced his invention to the public at the Ringley Bros. Circus.  Boy was it a hit!  Even though he never received a patent, dentist Josef Lascaux introduced this popular candy to his Louisiana dental office.
About 50 years later, in 1949, Gold Medal Products launched a cotton candy machine that had a spring base.  Like any other invention, this cotton candy maker was more dependable than the past machines due to the help of new knowledge on how to create a better machine.  From here own, cotton candy has been a hit and still is today.  Whether you have tried this tasty treat at a local fair, circus, or from a school fund raising event, we hope that the next time you enjoy this delicious candy you will think about the interesting history of such an enjoyable food.