Blood vessels

These fiber-optic cables (I guess that’s what they are) represent blood vessels and are part of a huge, walk through, interactive exhibit on the cardio-vascular system of the human body. It’s in the kid’s museum-play-place in Lynchburg called “Amazement Square” that I grumbled about in a post a few days ago.

Here’s the link if you want to take a squint: www.amazementsquare.com

To be fair—Amazement Square is a well-done attraction that kids do love—they walk in, take one look around and go bonkers. Then it’s all you can do (unless you’re a lot younger than me) to keep track of them. Those of you who have kids ages—say—4 through 14 who live within an hour or so of Lynchburg, VA—or will be in the vicinity—might want to consider taking your kid(s) there and turning them loose.

I have a few other shots of a (hopefully) arty or at least curious nature I may post on line or just use as part of a slide show from that trip.

Just outside the Museum is an old stone bridge with a cobble-stone road surface. Its a few hundred yards from the James River which flows nearby. In Lynchburg the river is a lot smaller than where I live. Where I live it’s a quarter mile wide as it flows toward Richmond and out into the Chesapeake Bay.

If you stand in the middle of the bridge facing the James and look to your right you’ll see a long, obviously artificial depression in the earth that runs under the bridge. That depression is a bit of what remains of the old James River and Kanawha Canal bed. The bridge you’re standing on passed over the canal so people in Lynchburg could get to the banks of and docks on, the James River.

Begun in 1781 and opened in 1785, The JR&KC was the first commercial canal in the U.S. Most people think the much more famous Erie Canal in central N.Y. State was the first—it was not. Construction on the Erie began in 1817 and it opened in 1825.

Here’s a link if you want to read about the Erie: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Erie_Canal

Some might argue the Erie Canal was the smartest commercial investment New York State ever undertook—it made a fortune for the state.

Not so for the poor JR&KC.

The JR&KC canal never was much of a money-maker. It changed hands a number of times. It took many years to construct what was built—it never was completely finished. Endless financial problems, poor management, damaging floods and the Civil War all contributed to the waterway’s wretched history. Despite all its troubles though, for some years—off and on—the canal did function as one of the major commercial blood vessels of central Virginia.

That’s the connection (blood vessels) to today’s image and the exhibit in the museum—pretty clever ay?

Finally in 1878 with competition from the much more efficient railroads dooming any hope of commercial viability, the canal and right-of-way were sold to the Richmond and Alleghany Railroad. Tracks were laid along the old tow-paths and the canal era in central Virginia died, not with any sort of bang but the proverbial whimper.

The R&A Railroad was eventually sold to the Chesapeake and Ohio which in turn was sold to CSX whose trains run along much of the old canal route today. About 20 minutes from my house is a beautiful old stone aqueduct that the JR&KC once flowed through—CSX trains run over it today. Cars drive over the old bridge in Lynchburg.

Here’s a link to an article on the JR&KC if you want to read more:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_River_and_Kanawha_Canal

Should you decide to take your kid(s) to the museum, after you park your car—either next to the museum over at the lot next to the river—you will cross over the bridge as you walk up to the museum. Take a minute to look at the old bridge and imagine a long-gone era in Virginia and American history.

There’s a bit of subtle irony here you might appreciate. You could say it makes a nice juxtaposition—something from the long-ago past that older people can appreciate—right next to something dedicated to youth and the citizens of tomorrow. It’s the kind of thing if you really ponder it–it has some calming and balancing  Zen properties.

And that’s good for your blood vessels!

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