I’d like to wish everyone a Happy Valentine’s Day. Kevin and I don’t really celebrate, as we feel it is an artificial Hallmark holiday. However, we do celebrate our love for each other every day, and it doesn’t hurt to have a special day to remind us to tell our loved ones how much we love them. Just to make today a little special, we will be treating ourselves to a Dairy Queen blizzard.
Yesterday we visited one of those strange and quirky places that can sometimes be found along American’s highways. Dick and Wanda picked us up and we drove about 15 miles just across the California border to Felicity.
Felicity was founded on May 11, 1986; the community was named after a town mentioned in Jacques-André Istel's book Coe the Good Dragon and inspired by his wife, Felicia. Jacques is the mayor of Felicity. He won election by a vote of 3-0. The county board supervisor allowed a one time vote by an invisible dragon as the third vote.
There is a great description of this attraction at the Roadside America website. However, the basic story is that a rich man, Jacques-Andre Istel, had a vision of creating a town and museum in the middle of the desert in honor of his wife. He created a town named after her, and is building a History in Granite museum. Words that come to mind when thinking of this attraction include unique, educational, interesting, eclectic, determined, visionary and eccentric.
We started our adventure with a little $5 tour by the center’s elderly namesake, Felicia Lee. She told us a bit about the place and showed us a short video. Then she took us into the pyramid structure to show us the spot that has been certified as the Official Center of the World by Imperial County, California and the Institut Geographique National of France. Jacques wrote the children’s book about a dragon coming to Felicity and finding the center of the world to help him convince the county to make the decree. Of course, the center of the world could be anywhere, but we have official certificates stating we were there.
And here we are with Dick and Wanda standing on the center of the world spot inside the pyramid.
There is a very unique sundial on the property modeled after Michaelangelo's Dawn of Creation painting in the Sistine Chapel.
In the above picture you can see the pyramid where we stood at the center of the world. Behind the pyramid are the granite panels that make up the Museum of History in Granite.
Steel bars and concrete are poured as the base for the granite panels. Each panel weighs over 400 pounds. At the back you can see the church. Jacques felt that the town’s church had to be at the highest point, so he trucked in 150,000 tons of earth to build a hill for the church.
Here are Kevin and I on top of the hill at the base of the church. Its not really crooked, but Dick had a little trouble seeing the camera screen with the bright sun behind him :) We spent an hour or two reading many of the granite panels. You could easily spend days here reading all of them, but it gets mighty hot out in that desert sun.
Here’s the view of the panels from the top of the church hill. If you look closely, you can see the pyramid in the background, and some people reading some of the granite panels. The panels are about as tall as a person. Clicking on the picture will enlarge it to see better.
Many of the panels are not completed yet. The museum relies on donations and volunteers. Some of the finished panels teach you about the history of California, Arizona, the United States, Korean War, and the French Foreign Legion. The most ambitious project to date is the hundred panel depiction of the History of Humanity. So far, they have only completed the panels up to 800 AD. Lots more work to be done on those.
Here are a few panels that I thought were particularly beautiful.
Near the entrance is this portion of the original spiral staircase from when the Eiffel Tower was built in 1889. In 1983, 500 feet of the staircase was replaced and cut into 20 pieces. This is piece #12 purchased by Jacque in 1989 as a reminder of his native city.
This really was quite an amazing place. We haven’t seen too much advertisement for it, and that’s kind of a shame because I definitely think it’s a place worth spending a few hours at. The mayor and his wife are quite elderly. Who knows if the project will be completed and what will happen to it in the future.
Don’t wish upon a star – Reach for one!