My Fourth of July Vacation: A
ride through the Midwest during that patriotic
time of year. (Jerome A. Holst © 2005)
Continued from Page 2
Leaving the museum, I tour other places in town and discover
that everywhere I look in Metropolis, there are artifacts of
Superman. As a matter of fact, if one could judge the
patriotism of a town by the amount of red, white and blue on
display, then surely Metropolis has to be tops on that list.
Even in the Chamber of Commerce building a few store fronts
down from the Museum, there are posters of Superman, pamphlets
and booklets highlighting the Superman character and the
history of the area. One seasonal Christmas photograph shows
the statue of Superman decorated with a red Santa's hat. There
is also a large cover of Time magazine featuring the face of
Christopher Reeve and a large, clear plastic box soliciting
donations to spinal research. A phone booth in the corner of
their lobby echoes the famous place where Clark Kent changed
into his Superman costume.
In the local library, the children's section is filled with
colorful pictures of the Superman character. One poster in the
library entitled "Superheroes Powered by Books" features super
hero characters like: The Mighty History Boy - Watch his Lift
and Read; The Amazing Bio Gal - She knows everything about
everybody - Her knowledge propels her to great heights; The
Fabulous Fictiono - He walks. He reads. He Stretches; and The
Sticky Sue Spence - Nothing frightens her...No book is too
Ironically, just a mile down from the museum along the river
front is the Harrah's Riverboat Gambling Casino which brings
in 2 million visitors a year. It seems odd that there would be
a gambling casino in the hometown of Superman, a squeaky-clean
hero (with no vices) who professes the principles of Truth,
Justice and the American Way. So to find out about the casino,
I visited the town's weekly newspaper "The Metropolis Planet"
(fondly called "The Daily Planet" by visitors and locals).
Entrance to the town newspaper "The Metropolis
As I spoke with the newspaper editor on duty,
he informed me that the city of Metropolis was
careful not to associate the gambling casino
with the Superman character. Further talks with
the local police department revealed that
apparently, the town has not been hit with the
increased crime that is often associated with
other town's who open their doors to the gaming
industry. Perhaps, the presence of the Man of
Steel in Metropolis, in some small way, acts as
a shield of virtue and deflects the seedier
elements from destroying the charming ambiance
of this quiet river town.
On January 21, 1972 National Periodicals
Publications (D.C. Comics) authorized the town
of Metropolis, Illinois to become the adopted
"Home of Superman." Metropolis was later
officially declared the Hometown of Superman by
Illinois House of Resolution Number 572, dated
June 9, 1972. The idea of associating the town
with the Superman character came from a newcomer
from Owensboro, Kentucky named Robert
Westerfield (now deceased).
In 1986, the town commissioned a seven-foot
fiberglass Superman statue for the cost of
$1000. It was replaced by a fifteen foot bronze
Superman statue that was unveiled in June of
1993. This statue is the one currently seen by
countless tourists as they visit the town square
Besides, the Superman attractions, the town of
Metropolis (founded in 1938) boasts bragging
rights to the burial sight of Robert Stroud,
a.k.a. the Birdman of Alcatraz, as well as the
site of Fort Massac (shortened from Fort
Massacre), Illinois' first State Park.
Metropolis Street in Metropolis, IL
Bidding adieux to the citizens of Metropolis, I continue "up,
up and away" northwest into Illinois. After riding a number of
hours, I learned that there is a lot of corn in this state,
interspersed with a few small towns along the way. Stopping at
the town of Olney, Illinois, I spent the night at a small
non-franchised motel whose refreshing, cool air conditioning
made my night's sleep comfortable (after driving in 90 degree
weather for the last 12 hours).
In the morning, I stopped off at the Olney Public Library to
print out a map off the Internet site called MapQuest. At this
point, I considered continuing north to Iowa to visit the town
of Riverside, the future home of Captain James T. Kirk from
the sci-fi series Star Trek. But, I had seen enough corn for
this year, and decided to do Iowa at another time.
Turning south, I headed down to the Route 50 and to Vincennes,
Indiana, the hometown of comedian Red Skelton.
This ends "Part One" of my Fourth of July weekend adventures.
Click here for Part 2.
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