SAA Memphis 2012

Friday, April 20, 2012, about 1300 CDT, Memphis Tennessee

It's that time of year again, another SAA (Society of American Archaeology) conference, this time in Memphis Tennessee. Sandy is presenting a paper at this conference on Saturday.

Wednesday, we flew an an early afternoon AirTran flight to Atlanta and then back to Memphis. We'll return Sunday evening the same way. We booked a room near the airport in a Homestead residence inn for about $50/night as opposed to the downtown hotels at about $200. We got a rental car, a Jeep, for another $200. It is about a 15 minute drive from here to the convention center, but it is an easy freeway trip.

We had a little difficulty finding the hotel even with GPS. The iPad Maps program put a pin in the wrong place. We had to drive around a bit to find the hotel.

Thursday morning, we slept in to take a little of the edge of the jet lag off and then got a big breakfast at a nearby place. I drove Sandy to the convention center and dropped her off for the afternoon. She called later and I picked her up. Instead of going straight back to the hotel, we drove a few blocks south to Beale street and get a baby back rib dinner, THEN we drove to the hotel.

120420_saa_memphis_amtrak_city_of_new_orleans_schedue_dsc00042.jpgFriday morning, I dropped her off at the convention center at about 0930 and I drove south just past Beale street to the Central Terminal. This is where the Amtrak station is.

The only train that comes through here anymore is the City of New Orleans, of Arlo Guthrie fame. It stops here once a day each way.

120420_saa_memphis_railroad_and_trolly_museum_ics_hudson_13__gauge_dsc00017.jpgHowever, I didn't come here to see the Amtrak station. On the ground floor of the Amtrak terminal there is the Memphis Railroad and Trolly Museum. I wasn't expecting much and there wasn't a lot there but what was there was nicely done. This is a 13" gauge live steam ICS Hudson that was donated to the museum by the estate of a supporter. The engine is supposed to be in near working order but it hasn't run in years.

120420_saa_memphis_railroad_and_trolly_museum_on30_layout_dsc00021.jpgThere are several historical displays and a few model railroads. This one is a On30 layout that was running. There is also a trolly layout, an N scale layout and an O scale diorama.

trolleymap.jpgRight at the Central Terminal is the south end of theMemphis MATA Trolly line. There are three lines. One is the Riverfront loop. This runs up Main Street to just past the Convention Center and then loops south again along the Mississippi riverfront. The red line is a bidirectional line that runs up and down Main Street. At about the middle of the Main Street section is a line that goes 2.5 miles east along Madison street. The rides are normally $1 but today, they were $0.25.

120420_saa_memphis_mata_trolly_line_melborne_car_417_0032.jpgThe Riverfront and Madison lines use these cars obtained from Melbourne Australia. I rode this one around the loop. On the riverfront side of the loop, the driver opened the car all the way up, hitting 22 mph.

120420_saa_memphis_mata_trolly_line_lisbon_car_dsc00038.jpgA little ways up Main Street, we passed another 2 axle car. These were obtained from Lisbon Portugal. Main Street in this stretch is for trollys and pedestrians only. The trollys on Main Street travel at about 7 to 8 mph according to the GPS program I had running on Sandy's iPad.

120420_saa_memphis_mata_trolly_line_occupy_memphis_dsc00039.jpgA little further up the way was the "Occupy Memphis" encampment. I thought that these had died out.

120420_saa_memphis_mata_trolly_line_lisbon_car_dsc00033.jpgI rode on two cars like this one, north on Main and on another car going back south. The Melbourne cars are noisy enough, these little cars are even more noisy and ride more poorly. I can see why streecar lines died out. The cars are not very comfortable.

Sunday, April 22, 2012, about 0900 CDT, Memphis Tennessee

After writing up what had happened Friday morning, I went out looking for food. I found a Piggly Wiggly market a couple of miles south of the hotel, right near Graceland. I got some munchies and sandwich stuff and retured to the hotel. I hung around the hotel until it was time to pick Sandy up from the Convention. We came back to the hotel and had dinner in our room. Sandy started practicing her talk for Saturday afternoon and revising it again and again until she had it down. I went to bed fairly early, but she stayed up and worked on it still more.

Saturday morning we got up early and I took Sandy to the Convention Center and dropped her off at about 0800. I then went back to the hotel to do some computer related work. My plan was to see the Mud Island Riverwalk and Museum in the afternoon.

120421_saa_memphis_mud_island_monorail_bridge_dsc00054.jpgMud Island is a long and narrow island in the Mississippi River right next to the north end of downtown Memphis. At the south end of island is a park and museum. The north end is residential. Access to the park is via a bridge structure that starts only a block or so from the Convention Center. There is a walkway across the top of the structure and a two car suspended monorail cable car under the structure. This is the view from the cable car.

I didn't even notice it when I took the picture, but one of the Riverfront Line trollys is in the picture. Just out of the frame to the left was a large gathering of people. I found out later that it was a Southern version of a chili cookoff. You pay $10 to get in and after that it was an all-you-can-eat BBQ Chicken Wing contest. Beer was extra and from the number of people staggering out of the place, it was clear that beer sales subsidized the chicken wings.

120421_saa_memphis_mud_island_riverboat_interior_dsc00061.jpgThe museum itself was quite well done. It is a one pass through Ikea like deal. The subject was the history of the Mississippi River and the surrounding area starting from the Indian tribes and leading through modern river commerce. The lighting was dim and my camera doesn't have a flash so I didn't get many good pictures inside.

This picture is of a reproduction of the interior of a paddle wheel river boat. The cabins were around the outside and opened into a central salon. The boilers were on the deck below the pilot house. The steam cylinders were along side. Flat bottom riverboats were necessary on the river because much of it is quite shallow.

Special riverboats, called snagboats, were built to clear the river of snags. A snag is a tree that has been knocked down and is in the river. The roots and branches could rip the bottom out of a riverboat. The snag boats had a deep notch at the bow, they look like a double hull from the front, so that a snag could be dragged in, cut up and tossed back into the river in harmless sized pieces. Some of it was burned on the boat as fuel.

120421_saa_memphis_mud_island_ironclad_riverboat_dsc00068.jpgDuring the War of Northern Agression, both the Union and Confederate forces built iron clan riverboats to patrol the river. This is a model of a Union version.

120421_saa_memphis_mud_island_riverwalk_dsc00070.jpgThe RiverWalk itself is a highly compressed model of the Mississippi River built in concrete. The water flowing in the model is tinted green with a non-toxic and non-staining dye. Wading in the river is allowed.

120421_saa_memphis_main_street_dsc00074.jpgAfter I was done with the museum and RiverWalk, I returned to Main Street to wait for Sandy to emerge from the Northern Ecuadorian session where she had given her talk. I got reports from folks that had been in there that it was well received.

The session coordinator had arranged for a session dinner at a restaurant in the downtown area. After the conference for the day was over I picked up Sandy and drove to Evelyn and Olive's for our dinner. It is a Caribbean/Southern place and the food was quite good. Sandy and I then returned to the hotel to spend the evening.

The original plan was for Sandy to return to the convention early Sunday morning to do some wrap up work, but she got an assignment to write an NSF like proposal, due on Monday, so she skipped the wrap up and started work on the proposal.

Our check out time is 1100 today and our flight leaves at 1920. The intervening time will probably include a tour of the Graceland mansion, Elvis Presley's home.

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© 2012 George Schreyer
Created 20 Apr 2012
Last Updated April 20, 2012