Wednesday, December 04, 2002

Restroom Art for the Birds

While visiting La Crosse, Wisconsin, last month to attend the annual meeting of the Waterbird Society, a group of us dined at the Freight House Restaurant one evening. Located in a restored freight house of the Burlington Northern Railroad, the restaurant is now a National Historic Site.

While relieving myself at the urinal in the men's restroom, I gazed upon a framed travel poster advertising the Izaak Walton Inn in Essex, Montana, a travel destination along the Great Northern Railroad.. Among the recreational opportunities promoted by the poster was Eagle Watching. I judged the poster to be vintage, perhaps dating from the 1920's or early 1930's. I found pretty interesting that, way back in the 1930's–long before birding was even recognized as a serious hobby–entrepreneurs already recognized the drawing power of birds and other wildlife.

Just recently, I was surprised to discover that the Inn–which actually wasn't built until 1939–is still a popular tourist destination. View their official Web page here and an article from Sunset magazine here. These days, the Inn seems to be catering principally to rail fans, river rafters, and skiers. And, unfortunately, eagles don't appear to be mentioned anywhere on their Web page.

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