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Visit to Louisville, KY

I visited Louisville, KY on 10 August 2005. Left home on 9 August at 0340, but 30 minutes later on I-295 South I realized I had forgotten my digital camera - had to turn around and head back home, and left home again at 0434. After all, without the digital camera I wouldn't have been able to take all these following pictures!

The Trip to Louisville

Reached the KY border at roughly 1300. I actually stayed at a Hampton Inn in New Albany, IN, just 4 miles from Louisville; arrived just after 1700.

Main Street, Louisville, KY

Because I didn't know what Louisville morning rush hour was like, I got up early on Wednesday, 10 August and parked in the visitor parking lot behind the Frazier Historical Arms Museum at 0700. (Just $2 all day, what a deal!) Had to wait until 0900 for the museum to open, so to kill some time I walked a couple of blocks up and down Main Street.

Main Street has other museums and interesting shops and offices. The sidewalks include statues and works of art.

The Kentucky Center is home to many of the performing arts of Louisville and Kentucky, such as the ballet, orchestra and other performers. The "Heads" in front of the Kentucky Center are sponsored by "Heads Up Kentucky".

Frazier Historical Arms Museum

The Frazier Historical Arms Museum opened at 0900.

The collection on the third floor is on loan from the Royal Armouries of the UK. It consists of armor and weapons from medieval times to the early 20th century.

In the fantasy novel I'm writing, the main character will be surprised that his riding companion uses a "combat" saddle for what should be a simple ride - the idea being that a combat saddle would be uncomfortable and wouldn't be used if not needed. Here's an example of a saddle that doesn't look comfortable.

The hexagonal tube is an example of the very earliest "gun" used in medieval Europe. It's more like a tiny cannon than anything I'd call a gun. The last image is of a gauntlet.

Examples of jousting armor. The armor is asymetrical: eye and breathing holes are only on the right side; there's a second layer of armor on the left side.

Armor and arms that made it to the New World. The ornate cage around the sword's pommel is meant to protect the wielder's hand.

The older matchlock had a lit fuse; pulling the trigger brought the fuse to the gunpowder to ignite the gunpowder and shoot the gun. The newer flintlock held a piece of flint; pulling the trigger released the hammer causing the flint to spark to ignite the gunpowder.

The museum has a performance every half hour or so of an actor bring life to a certain period of history. These two demonstrated Elizabeathan swordsmanship, as would have been understood by the original audiences of Romeo and Juliet in Shakespeare's time. For each set they explained each blow and parry, discussing the different schools of swordsmanship at the time, from a scene in Romeo and Juliet - then replayed the scene at full speed!

As pistols became more reliable and widespread, swords became less important as weapons. Swords became lighter and more ornate, but still dangerous.

An older flintlock pistol, and the more reliable percussion cap pistol. Not only were percussion caps more reliable, but flintlocks could be converted to use caps relatively easily. Once the pistol is discharged, it could still be used as a club. Note the brass reinforcement on the pistol's butt.

More firearms using percussion caps.

The Webley revolver used cartridge rounds, i.e. bullet, powder, case and primer - same as today's firearms.

I could have easily spent an entire day in the British collection on the third floor, but I wanted to visit the Lousville Slugger Museum across the street that day, so I went to the second floor with the American collection: from the 17th to turn of the 20th Century. After viewing a 15-minute film on the history of arms manufacturing in the United States, I pretty much blew through the American collection. Since I've read about many of the historical firearms in American Rifleman and other gun magazines, I was already familiar with much of what was displayed.

After snacking in the museum's eating area I left around 1400 to my next stop.

Louisville Slugger Museum

The Louisville Slugger Museum was just across the street. The huge "bat" leaning on the building is a very visible landmark!

There's a tour of the factory floor every half hour. Unfortunately they do not allow any photography on the factory floor. We got to see bats manufactured, from automated (and in the case of professional players' bats, computer controlled) lathes to staining and finishing. At the end of the factory tour each person gets an 18-inch souvenier wooden bat. The rest of the museum is on the first floor only.

Seats from the Chicago Cubs' Wrigley Field.

A room-sized display of what the original factory equipment for making bats looked like. Wooden blanks were put on belt-driven lathes; patterns preferred by individual players were in record books.

Examples of bats from individual players from the 2004 World Series between the St. Louis Cardinals and the Boston Red Sox.

The first Louisville Slugger.

There's a wall of all the professional baseball players who have custom bats, including international players. There's space on the wall for more.

End of the Day

On the way back to the hotel, there was a pickup truck in a parking lot blowing bubbles. Visit for artist Sonny Fenwick's works.

The Trip Home

Around 1530, 11 August 2005 on I-68E in WV it started raining, badly enough that I was considering getting off the road, finding a hotel and waiting out the storm overnight. The rain let up in only a couple of minutes. But approaching Exit 7 (Morgantown, WV) the traffic had slowed, then stopped. I slowed and stopped OK - but looking in my rearview mirror, the Jeep behind me looked like it couldn't stop! I got rear-ended; however when I drove onto the shoulder nothing seemed amiss with my car, and I got back into the main lanes. I passed multiple cars stopped on the shoulders and even in the divider ditches - seems the rain had caused multiple accidents and pile-ups in both directions.

I pulled off on Exit 7. The rain had stopped by this time (1545). The person who hit me had followed. The damage to my car consisted of a 4-inch gash on the right side of my rear bumper, with consequent damage to the absorber underneath. We exchanged information, and eventually I was on my way again. Made it home around 2100.