Sights for Summer Travel

p>It's that time of the year again. Time to pack the family in the car and hit the road to see the sights (if you can still afford the cost of fuel). And if you're an engineer, you may want to tailor some of your summer travel around visiting a few of the landmarks that your fellow professionals, literally, put on the map of the United States. To help you plan for such a tour, the folks who bring us Engineers Week have developed a Web site, called A Sightseer's Guide to Engineering, that offers an array of attractions sure to make a lasting impression.

For example, there's the Fontana Dam in Robbinsville, N.C., built during the height of World War II. At the time, the U.S. desperately needed metal to build new aircraft. At a plant in Tennessee, manufacturers were ready to roll out sheets of aluminum, but they lacked the massive amounts of energy required to power the operation. The solution was an intense three-year marathon to construct the tallest concrete dam east of the Rockies. The area was so remote the government even built a town for the 5000 workers who labored in three shifts, 24 hours a day, to complete the project in record time.

That's just one recommendation from a catalog of some 300 offerings. Other attractions in the guide include:

  • The International Spy Museum in Washington, D.C., which features such engineering oddities as a solar-powered listening device disguised as a tree stump.
  • The World Museum of Mining, located at the abandoned Orphan Girl Mine in Butte, Mont., displaying tools and technology developed by mining engineers since the 1860s.
  • The Highland Park Dentzel Carousel, a massive 1896 merry-go-round in Meridian, Miss., that's the largest of its kind in the world.
  • Missouri's Museum of Transportation in St. Louis, where more than 70 historic locomotives, including the Union Pacific's "Big Boy," which could pull a 5-mile-long train, are on display.

One of our favorites (because we recently wrote about the subject) is the Johnson Victrola Museum in Dover, Del. Dedicated to the memory of Dover engineer Eldridge Reeves Johnson, who founded the Victor Talking Machine Company in 1901, the museum is a showplace related to all things Victrola—from Nipper, the listening dog, to prototypes of the first jukeboxes.

And if the Sightseer's Guide to Engineering doesn't have enough attractions for your summer itinerary, Spectrum Online can offer you a few more. Check out our Geek Guides in our Spectrum Extras section to cities such as Baltimore and New York for more tips on what to see and do.

Wherever you go, have fun—and drive safely. The most important part of any vacation is getting back to your own driveway.

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