This map gives an interesting perspective in that you can see how different of a world we live in compared to that of 1861. Railroads were a relatively new form of transportation, covering just over 30,000 miles of track in 1860. The Hannibal and St. Joseph Railroad marked the western limit of railways prior to the Transcontinental Railroad, which wouldn’t be completed until after the Civil War. In those days, people moved products on waterways, and proximity to rivers or coastlines determined the size of a city. For example, at the time this map was drawn, St. Joseph, Mo. (along the Missouri River) and Hannibal, Mo. (on the Mississippi River) were the second- and third-largest cities in the state, respectively. While St. Joseph has slipped to ninth, Hannibal is now 41st in size as America expanded, new modes of transportation changed our economy, and our way of life adapted.
I recently came across this fascinating cross-section of a Fletcher-class destroyer. The Navy commissioned 175 of these highly effective and cost-efficient ships during World War II, and we turned around after the war and sold several of the ships to the Japanese, Germans, and Italians.
These destroyers get their name from Adm. Frank F. Fletcher, skipper of the battleship USS Vermont during the Great White Fleet’s around-the-world cruise, who then earned a Medal of Honor commanding the landing at Vera Cruz, Mexico.
His nephew Lt. Frank J. Fletcher also earned the Medal of Honor at Vera Cruz for rescuing hundreds of refugees under fire. He then earned the Navy Cross while in command of a destroyer during the first world war. Although not an aviator, “Black Jack” Fletcher’s task forces defeat the Japanese in the first three carrier battles in history: Coral Sea, Midway, and the Eastern Solomons.