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  • Gillette, Wyoming
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    Gillette,

    Wyoming

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    Gillette is a city in and the county seat of Campbell County, Wyoming, United States. The town was founded in 1891 as a major railway town on the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad. The population was estimated at 32,030 as of July 1, 2019. Gillette's population increased 48% in the ten years after the 2000 census, which counted 19,646 residents after a boom in its local fossil fuel industries.Gillette is centrally located in an area involved with the development of vast quantities of American coal, oil, and coalbed methane gas. The city calls itself the "Energy Capital of the Nation"; Wyoming provides nearly 35% of the nation's coal. However, a decline in coal use in the U.S. has led to a decline in the local economy, leading some local officials to look for other industries or employment opportunities. As a major economic hub for the county, the city is also a regional center for media, education, health, and arts.
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    12 Awe-Inspiring American Castles

    Who doesn't go a bit giddy at the sight of a castle? The good news is that you don't have to head to Europe for honest-to-goodness ones of the Cinderella variety—we have plenty right here in our own backyard. Railroad barons commissioned most of these estates, but at least one housed a legitimate king and queen (bet you didn't know this country had its own history of royalty!). Each is an engineering wonder in its own right, with some even constructed out of old-world castles that were shipped across the ocean. And each is open to tours should you decide to make a trip (a select few will even let you spend the night). Read this and you might just discover a side of America you never knew existed. SEE THE 12 AWE-INSPIRING CASTLES 1. GREY TOWERS CASTLE  Most colleges contend to be fortresses of learning, but Arcadia University in the suburbs north of Philadelphia can back it up with battlements acquired in 1929. Grey Towers was built by eclectic sugar refiner William Welsh Harrison between 1893 and 1898 and modeled after Northumberland's Alnwick Castle (a.k.a. the most archetypal expression of the medieval style). The 40 rooms wowed with gilded ceilings, tapestries, ornamental paintings, and hand-carved walnut and mahogany woodwork in styles from French Renaissance to Louis XV—and of course a Mirror Room—while secret passages behind fireplaces and underground tunnels. Self-guided tours of public areas are possible while classes are in session (the building now contains dorm rooms and administration offices). Free brochures outline the history. 450 South Easton Rd., Glenside, PA, 215/572-2900, arcadia.edu. 2.'IOLANI PALACE  Other properties on this list may be bigger and more lavish, but the 'Iolani Palace has one thing above them all: legitimacy. America's only true palace—as in, royalty resided here—was built from 1879 to 1882 by King Kalakua and Queen Kapi'olani. The goal was to enhance the prestige of modern Hawaii in a kind of Victorian-era keeping up with the Joneses. (The palace had electricity and a telephone even before the White House.) Stone-faced with plenty of koa wood inside, the two-floor American Florentine–style building includes a throne room, grand hall, and private suites, including the upstairs room where the queen was imprisoned for five months following the 1895 coup. Today, concerted efforts are underway to find artifacts and furniture (like the king's ebony and gilt bedroom set) that were auctioned off by the post-coup Provisional Government. 364 South King St., Honolulu, HI, 808/522-0832, iolanipalace.org. Admission $12, guided tour $20. 3. HAMMOND CASTLE  Like a modern-day Frankenstein's castle on Massachusetts's rocky Atlantic shore, Abbadia Mare (Abbey by the Sea) served as both home and laboratory for prolific inventor John Hayes Hammond Jr. after it was completed in 1929. Hammond is largely credited as the "Father of the Radio Control," as in tanks and planes and remote-controlled cars. He was also a lover of medieval art, and the castle was designed to showcase his collection. The building itself is a blend of 15th-, 16th-, and 18th-century styles, including a great hall with elaborate rose windows and pipe organ plus a courtyard featuring a two-story meat market/wine merchant's house brought over from southern France. And, yes, like any proper mad scientist, he made sure there were secret passageways. Self-guided tours are available along with annual Renaissance Faire fund-raisers, psychic gatherings, and spooky Halloween events. 80 Hesperus Ave., Gloucester, MA, 978/283-2080, hammondcastle.org. Admission $10. 4. FONTHILL CASTLE  Celebrating its centennial in 2012, the former home of industrialist-turned-archaeologist Henry Mercer is an ode to artisanship: All 44 rooms (10 bathrooms, five bedrooms, and 200 windows), 32 stairwells, 18 fireplaces, and 21 chimneys are hewn from hand-mixed reinforced concrete in a mishmash of medieval, Gothic, and Byzantine styles. Thousands of handcrafted ceramic tiles were inset throughout, including Mercer's own Moravian-style tiles plus Persian, Chinese, Spanish, and Dutch productions he collected. Today, the 60-acre Bucks County estate serves as a museum to pre-industrial life, with 900 American and European prints at Fonthill and even more artifacts (like a whale boat and Conestoga wagon) in its sister building, the Mercer Museum, a fun house–like six-story castle in its own right. East Court St. and Rt. 313, Doylestown, PA, 215/348-9461, mercermuseum.org. Admission $12. 5. CASTELLO DI AMOROSA  Word to the wise: Imbibe the cabernet sauvignon and pinot grigio at the Castello di Amorosa winery carefully, because somewhere in the 121,000-square-foot, 107-room, eight-level complex there's a dungeon with a functional Renaissance-era iron maiden. It took 14 years to construct the castle using historically accurate medieval building techniques. The end result is an "authentic" 12th- and 13th-century Tuscan castle with drawbridge and moat. The frescoes in the Great Hall and Knights' Chamber are hand-painted, some 8,000 tons of Napa Valley stone hand-chiseled, the Hapsburg-era bricks, hand-forged nails and chandeliers, and 500-year-old fireplace all tediously imported from Europe. That sense of awe? Very modern. 4045 N. St. Helena Highway, Calistoga, CA, 707/967-6272, castellodiamorosa.com. Admission $18, including wine tasting. 6. BOLDT CASTLE  What do you do when you come across a heart-shaped isle while vacationing with your wife in the Thousand Islands? If you're upstart industrialist George Boldt, you buy it and hire 300 stonemasons, carpenters, and artists to build a six-story, 120-room testament to your love. There were Italian gardens, a dove-cote, and a turreted powerhouse, plus all the imported Italian marble, French silks, and Oriental rugs money could buy. But when his wife Louise died in 1904, the heartbroken Boldt ceased construction on the Rhineland-style Taj Mahal and left it to the elements for 73 years. Today, tourists can visit from May to October for self-guided tours—or book a wedding in the stone gazebo. +44° 20' 40.29" N, -75° 55' 21.27" W, Heart Island, Alexandria Bay, NY, 315/482-9724, boldtcastle.com. Admission $8. 7. GILLETTE CASTLE  It's elementary: Get famous (and rich) by playing Sherlock Holmes on the stage; build your own Baskerville Hall. Pet project of campy eccentric William Hooker Gillette, the 24-room castle was completed in 1919 by a crew of 20 men over five years using the actor/playwright's own drafts and designs. It's also the focal point of his 184-acre Seventh Sister estate, a forested bluff overlooking the Connecticut River. Outside, the local fieldstone reads like crumbling medieval; inside, the built-in couches, curious detailing, and inventive hand-carved southern white oak woodwork is all arts and crafts. As for cat images? There are 60. (Gillette had 17 feline friends.) Gillette Castle State Park, 67 River Rd., East Haddam, CT, 860/526-2336, ct.gov. Grounds open year-round; interior tours available Memorial Day to Columbus Day. Admission $6. 8. OHEKA CASTLE  Second behind Asheville's Biltmore as the largest private estate in the nation, OHEKA—an acronym of Otto Herman Kahn, its millionaire financier original owner—ended up abandoned in the late 1970s and sustained extensive damage from fires, vandals, and neglect. After a 20-year renovation, it's back in form and is now a 32-room luxury hotel. Think Downton Abbey just an hour from Manhattan (themed packages available), or for that matter, Citizen Kane (photos of it were used in the film). Originally set on 443 acres, massive tons of earth were moved to make the hilltop location of the 127-room, 109,000-square-foot manse the highest point in Long Island. The Olmsted Brothers planned the formal gardens, the Grand Staircase was inspired by Fontainebleau's famous exterior one, and 126 servants tended to the six-person family when they came for weekends and summers. The 1919 price tag: $11 million. That's $110 million in today's money. Sounds about right for a man whose likeness inspired Mr. Monopoly. 135 West Gate Dr., Huntington, NY, 631/659-1400, oheka.com. Admission $25. Double rooms from $395 per night. Guided tours available. 9. BISHOP'S PALACE  Of all the Gilded Age Victorians built by Nicholas Clayton along Galveston's Gulf Coast, the Bishop's Palace (née Gresham Castle, 1893, after its original owner, Santa Fe railroad magnate Walther Gresham) remains the grandest—and not just because its steel and stone hulk survived the Great Storm of 1900. Its small lot and oversized proportions with château-esque detailing of steeply peaked rooflines and sculptural chimneys still dominate the street, while inside the 14-foot coffered ceilings, 40-foot octagonal mahogany stairwell, stained glass, plaster carvings, and Sienna marble columns exude richness. Keep a lookout for the bronze dragon sculptures. After serving as a Catholic bishop's residence for 50 years, the house is now open for tours. Book a private guide to see the usually off-limits third floor. 1402 Broadway, Galveston, TX, 409/762-2475, galveston.com. Admission $10, private tours from $50. 10. CASTLE IN THE CLOUDS  Location, location, location—as important in castles to fending off conquers as forgetting Gilded Age woes. And for millionaire shoe baron Thomas Plant, that meant setting his 1914 Lucknow Estate (named after the Indian city he loved) on the rim of an extinct caldera high in the Ossipee Mountains with unbroken views over 6,300 private acres of woods and lakes. The mansion by comparison is relatively subdued: A mere 16 rooms, it's practically minuscule compared to the other castles on this list. Throughout, the arts and crafts philosophy of artisanship and living in harmony with nature is expressed in the stone walls, inventive handiwork like the jigsaw floor in the kitchen, and functional decor that eschews ostentation—all planned at Plant's 5-foot-4 height—plus a few technological innovations like a needle shower, self-cleaning oven, brine fridge, and central-vacuuming system. Much remains wholly preserved today. Route 171, 455 Old Mountain Rd., Moultonborough, NH, 603/476-5900, castleintheclouds.org. Admission $16. 11. THORNEWOOD CASTLE  It's not every day Stephen King chooses your luxury B&B as setting for his haunted-house TV miniseries Rose Red. Then again it's not every day that a 400-year-old Elizabethan manor house is dismantled brick-by-brick and shipped round Cape Horn to be incorporated into an English Tudor Gothic castle in the Pacific Northwest, as Thornewood was from 1908 to 1911. The property was a gift from Chester Thorne, one of the founders of the Port of Tacoma, to his wife and apropos of its origin, the 54-room castle is now a prime wedding venue, with antiques and artwork galore plus an Olmsted Brothers–designed garden and three acres of fir-dotted grounds overlooking American Lake. Book a room to get an inside look at the building; there are also tours and events that are occasionally open to the public. 8601 N. Thorne Lane Southwest, Lakewood, WA, 253/584-4393, thornewoodcastle.com. Double rooms from $300 per night. 12. HEARST CASTLE  Understatement of the millennium: William Randolph Hearst's 1919 directive to architect Julia Morgan to "build a little something" on his ranch in San Simeon. Then again, a 115-room "Casa Grande" inspired by a Spanish cathedral is a relatively modest proposition compared to the 250,000 acres and the 13 miles of coastline it's set on. It's when you add in the three additional Mediterranean Revival guesthouses (46 more rooms total), 127 acres of gardens, the Neptune pool with authentic Roman temple pediment, the zoo with roaming reindeer and zebra, Egyptian Sekhmet statues on the terraces, and the private airstrip that things get a bit over-the-top. Magnificent doesn't begin to describe the museum-quality artwork, which drove the architecture as much as anything, from Renaissance statuary to Gothic tapestries and entire ceilings, nor the palatial scale of the publishing magnate's vision for "La Cuesta Encantada" (The Enchanted Hill)—still unfinished upon his death in 1951. 750 Hearst Castle Rd., San Simeon, CA, 800/444-4445, hearstcastle.org. Admission from $25.

    Budget Travel Lists

    7 Reasons To Visit Connecticut NOW

    An easy day-trip or weekend getaway from most major cities of the northeast, Connecticut offers the perfect mix of New England charm and scenery, Ivy League college town flavor, and enough action to satisfy every food lover and history buff. Here's why New Haven, Mystic, and Essex need to be on your fall getaway bucket list. See the fall colors Largely due to the state's temperate seaside weather, the colors of Connecticut's leaves tend to be colorful longer than most in other New England states, typically from early October through early November, so now is the time to go! Catch a glimpse of the fall foliage by taking a ride on the Essex Steam Train, where you can take an hour-long tour through the Connecticut wilderness from the comfort of your comfy swivel chair (first class section only). Part of the Valley Railroad Company's fleet since the late 1800s, the Essex Steam Train offers several touring options Thursday thru Monday: a regular coach seat ($19 for adults, $10 for children), a first class ticket ($31 for adults, $22 for children), and the option to make your trip a steam train and riverboat adventure (from $29 for adults, from $19 for children). Whichever way you choose to ride, you'll learn a little about the history of the area and have access to some of the best views of nature in the state—and a peek at nearby Gillette Castle in East Haddam. Adrenaline junkies can drive about an hour north and experience the fall colors by zip line Sunday thru Tuesday at The Adventure Park at Storrs (from $38 for adults ages 12 and up, $33 for children ages 10 and 11, $28 for children ages 7-9). Visit the Yale campus and world-class museums—for free! One of New Haven's biggest draws is that it's home to Yale, a beautiful Ivy League University that offers free guided campus tours Monday thru Friday at 10:30 a.m. and 2 p.m. and on weekends at 1:30 p.m. Tours are about an hour and 20 minutes and depart from the Yale Visitor Center located at 149 Elm Street. If you'd rather stroll the grounds at your own pace, you can purchase a copy of the Blue Trail map at the Visitor Center for less than $5 and have access to a brief history of the campus and suggested routes for exploring the historic campus. Also on campus are top notch museums like the Yale University Art Gallery, home to Van Gogh's Le Café de Nuit among other treasures, the Yale Center for British Art—where you can see pieces by Sir Peter Paul Rubens and William Blake among others (Note: Currently closed for Conservation and reopening in Spring of 2016)—and the Knights of Columbus Museum—all of which are free and open to the public. Unleash your inner foodie In New Haven, stop by a student favorite, Claire's Corner Copia, and try the Lithuanian cake. Warm up with a hot Russian fruit tea, kind of like a delicious cross between mulled wine and sangria but with no alcohol and twice as much fruit. Stop by Louis' Lunch to taste America's First Hamburger—a steal at $6; grab a $4 slice of homemade pie and a $2 Foxon Park Soda to wash it all down with. For the best pizza and happy hour in town, head to Kitchen Zinc for signature artisinal pies like Lobster Mac & Cheese or my favorite, Fig & Speck, and a chance to mingle with the Yale after-class crowd for al fresco cocktails, $5 draft beer and wine specials, and half-price pizzas Tuesday thru Thursday from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. and from 9 p.m. til 11 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. Movie buffs should visit Mystic Pizza, located about an hour away in Mystic, Conn., owned and operated by the Zelepos family since 1973, and the setting for the film starring Julia Roberts. In Essex, about a half hour away, stop by the Essex Coffee and Tea Company on Main Street for a swig of steamed apple cider and according to them, "the best macaroons in the known universe." (I concur). Experience living history at Mystic Seaport One of the biggest attractions in Connecticut is Mystic Seaport, a living history village by the sea where you can experience how things were in this late-18th-century maritime settlement. Don't miss the chance to tour the Charles W. Morgan, a historic whaleship, and the Joseph Conrad, a full-rigged ship, both of which are currently docked at Mystic Seaport. You'll also have the chance to walk around town, tour models of what homes were like during the time, visit the chemist, chapel, school house, and print shop among other town staples, and see the L.A. Dunton, a National Historic Landmark 19th-century fishing boat. Mystic Seaport is open daily from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and tickets start at $25 for adults ages 18-64, $23 for seniors over age 65, $23 for college students with a valid I.D., and $16 for children ages 6-17. Children ages five and under get in free. The best part? Your ticket automatically includes a second day's admission as long as you re-visit within the week and get it validated on the way out. Treat yourself to dinner and a show Connecticut is home to many theatres, but there's nothing quite like seeing a show at the Goodspeed Opera House in East Haddam. Walking from the parking lot over the bridge and hearing 20s music play as you enter harkens back to the golden age of theater and really makes it feel like you're entering another time. For a great night out, try the Friday Dinner Theatre Package, from $82 per person, for a three-course dinner at the Gelston House and a ticket to the 8 p.m. performance—just make sure you make reservations before 2 p.m. on the day you plan to visit. Stay in a historic B&B—or in the center of New Haven in style Use the Westbrook Inn as your base for exploring the Essex, East Haddam, and Mystic areas, all of which are within a 30-minute drive. Not only is this adorable B&B is super elegant—featuring nine Victorian style antique rooms and a two-bedroom cottage—but the owners are really friendly, and best of all, you're just a five-minute walk from the beach. You'll also have private bathrooms, complimentary access to WiFi, and hotel-like amenities like hair dryers, irons, and TV, as well as complimentary use of the B&B's extensive library and game collection. Family game night, anyone? Rooms from $139 a night including free parking and a delicious breakfast in the morning. Stay in the middle of all the action at the luxurious Omni New Haven Hotel at Yale, located on Temple Street, an easy 5 minute walk from campus. New Haven is such an easy city to walk around, with most attractions being within walking distance of the hotel, so I parked my car there and went for a stroll around town. For great views of the Yale campus from above, treat yourself to breakfast (or brunch, lunch, or dinner) at John Davenport's at the Top of the Park, located on the Omni's top floor. Rooms at the Omni New Haven Hotel at Yale start at $185 a night this time of year. Check their website for more info about seasonal sales and packages. It's easy to get around New Haven is about a 90-minute drive (or train ride!) from New York City but having a car is highly recommended for exploring the parts of Mystic, Essex, and East Haddam mentioned in this story—I was able to rent a car on Hotwire.com from $27 a day from where I live in Queens, NYC. These places also make a great getaway or day-trip from Boston, Providence, and other cities and areas of the northeast, so make a road trip out of it. Check out CTvisit.com for more vacation ideas.

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