Life in The Upper South... History and Old Stuff...
We were in Paducah, Kentucky, today and we drove the short distance across the river and up to Metropolis, Illinois, so Isaac could go to the Superman Store. He has been grieving for about a year now that he lost his Superman winter hat that he bought there last time.
Metropolis, Illinois, just north of the Ohio River on Interstate 24, was officially granted the title of "Superman's Hometown" by DC Comics in 1972. They could hardly deny the honor to Metropolis because it is the only city in the US with that name and in the Superman comic books, Clark Kent lived in the city of Metropolis.
When you walk into the Superman Store, you notice immediately that it's very blue inside -- Superman blue, that is. The store is full of Superman memorabilia of all sorts: comic books, posters, costumes, t-shirts, hats, key chains, lunch boxes, dolls, and much, much more. Isaac bought a visor that has a Superman emblem on it.
A Superman Museum adjoins the Superman Store, but it was closed. I have never been in it, but Isaac has, and he says it is chock full of all sorts of Superman memorabilia. The clerk told us that the owner has the largest Superman Collection in the USA and that only a portion of it is on display in the Superman Museum.
Across the street, a huge Superman stands on the town square, guarding the Masac County Courthouse. The motto on the statue's base, "Truth - Justice - The American Way," is appropriate for a center of local law and justice. Isaac agreed to pose with the big guy. He also posed with Clark Kent but he refused to stand behind the headless cutout of Superman or beside Betty Boop. He was finished with photographic nonsense.
On the opposite side of the courthouse, two of the largest maple trees I've ever seen grow on the lawn. I tried to stretch my arms around the smaller one to estimate its girth, and I am sure it is more than 12 feet around. A small white haired lady who was smoking on the courthouse steps observed my tree-hug without emotion. I'm sure the folks in Metropolis are used to the strange things tourists do.
Harrah's Riverboat Casino is probably a bigger attraction in Metropolis than Superman, sad to say. It has a large facility and extensive parking lots along the Ohio River's banks, a half dozen blocks from the courthouse.
It would be interesting to know how much clear profit from the casino has actually been realized by the city of Metropolis. I suppose it has brought some jobs to the town, but there has surely been a considerable expense in infrastructure and law enforcement as well as a loss of peace and quiet.
Harrahs even has buses that go to various towns (including Hopkinsville) to transport people to the casino. I suspect there's a two-fold motive. It does provide safe transportation to people who have drunk too much, and it also provides a way for people to get to the boat and gamble even if they don't have a vehicle they can drive there.
Metropolis seems to have an awakening interest in preservation and restoration. As in many towns in this area, some of the biggest old buildings in Metropolis were built between 1885 and 1900. I saw signs in some of their windows that said something about a downtown preservation group. An attractive old home near the river has been made into the Isle-of-View bed-and-breakfast.
Just a short distance up the river on the outskirts of Metropolis, Fort Massac State Park offers nice picnic and camping facilities. (Bring squirrel proof containers -- the park is full of those little critters.) The reconstructed fort is the jewel of the park and it represents far more history than I can go into here.
If you ever pass through southern Illinois on I-24, I recommend Metropolis as an interesting place to spend a few hours of tourist time. And of course, Paducah, Kentucky is right across the river and it's also an interesting place to visit, so you might want to get a room and spend the night.