JFK GeoTrail – A Day in Dallas
This geocache is part of a 14 cache GeoTrail series. To complete the GeoTrail, visit the website at http://www.jfk50geotrail.com and download the Passport. You will need to take the Passport with you to each cache and be ready to write, punch, or stamp the appropriate markings that are hidden in each cache. Once complete, follow the instructions to receive your commemorative token.
The Motorcade begins
The Presidential Motorcade leaves Love Field with the President and First Lady in the back seats of their limousine, following the lead vehicle, an unmarked white Ford driven by Dallas Police Chief Jesse Curry. The rain has subsided and the sunshine is out on this brisk autumn day, so President Kennedy has opted to enjoy the trip without the plastic bubble that can be fitted over the passenger compartment. The bubble is good for inclement weather, but it was not bulletproof or designed to repel an attack. Facing the Kennedys in the middle seats were Governor John Connelly and his wife, Nellie. Driving the Presidential limousine was Agent William Greer, with Advance Agent Roy Kellerman in the passenger seat.
Even at the start of the 9.5 mile route through downtown Dallas and then to the Trade Mart, the Kennedy’s are overwhelmed by their warm welcome.
Behind the Kennedy’s car was a convertible follow-up car with 10 agents either riding along or walking up by the side of the Presidential vehicle at places along the route where the crowds were heavy. They were accompanied by a motorcycle escort of 4 Dallas Police Officers. Following these 3 cars was the Vice Presidential limousine with LBJ, Lady Bird Johnson, and Senator Ralph Yarborough in the back, with a Dallas Police Officer driving and a Presidential Agent in the front passenger seat. They were followed by a hardtop Vice Presidential follow-up car. Finally in the procession were two press pool cars primarily for the photographers and a press bus carrying many of the local and national news people covering the event.
After leaving Love Field through the airport’s south entrance, the motorcade turned left onto Mockingbird, then right onto Lemmon Avenue, where the crowds were not as heavy as at Love Field. Still, spectators positioned themselves along the entire route, sometimes 8 to 10 rows deep, to catch a glimpse of the President and his wife. As Lemmon Avenue intersected with Lomo Alto, several boys playing in the park jumped up and down with their hand-lettered sign trying to catch the President’s attention. Their sign read, “Mr. President, please stop and shake our hands”. He saw their sign; brought the car to a halt; and did just that: he shook hands with each of the boys and wished them well. The site of this exchange was Craddock Park, right along Lemmon Avenue. After exchanging pleasantries, President Kennedy ordered the motorcade forward for several more blocks, where he saw a nun with Catholic schoolchildren. As the first Catholic President of The United States, Kennedy again ordered the motorcade to a halt and greeted them. After this final stop, the motorcade was on its way, headed downtown. This southward route took them along the beautiful and winding creekside park and large secluded homes of Turtle Creek Boulevard; the shopping district along Cedar Springs Road; and finally North Harwood Street which transitions from residential and commercial areas to taller municipal and business building complexes that form the recognizable skyline of downtown Dallas.
The Presidential Motorcade turns onto Main Street, greeted by red, white, and blue bunting and large crowds.
Deep into the heart of Texas, the outpouring of support exceeds expectations. While many Texas politicians didn’t want to get close to Kennedy, the general public couldn’t get close enough.
Upon reaching Main Street, the crowds became thick and the progress through downtown slow. Interestingly, as the motorcade turned right onto Main Street from North Harwood, the corner building where they turned was the building where Kennedy’s assassin soon would be shot and killed.
The motorcade headed westward down Main Street through a festive crowd who dressed up for the occasion and shot pictures and video all along the route on this special day. Leaving downtown Dallas and headed for the highway, the procession finally made a right turn onto North Houston Street, which is usually a one-way road heading in the other direction (south). After driving just a single block on Houston, they made the last turn of the entire parade, where finally, the crowds were thinning as the highway was close by. The Presidential limousine made a sharp left turn onto Elm Street at its same steady slow pace, as the Kennedys and Connellys passed right in front of the Texas School Book Depository. This final turn onto Elm Street marked the last few hundred feet of the motorcade route. The winding descent of Elm Street is less than 2 blocks long before running underneath a triple overpass then sweeping right up onto Highway I-35 where they had planned to drive towards the Trade Mart, which stands just of the access road several exits north along I-35.
I made this photo of the intersection of North Houston & Elm, with the Book Depository looming above on the left. The photo was taken in early November 2013, nearly 50 years after Kennedy’s motorcade made this last turn. The area still looks much as it did in 1963.
Looking down Elm Street, this short distance was all that stood between President Kennedy and his surviving this final gauntlet in Dallas. In the foreground on the far right, you can see an “X” in the road, which is the site where President Kennedy was first struck in the back (by the second of three bullets that were shot). Further down the road, you can see a common site almost every day in Dallas: someone standing in the middle of the road, getting their picture taken while standing on the “X” that marks the spot where President Kennedy was fatally wounded. In case you can’t see the bright green hill of grass on the right, the city has helpfully marked it with a giant yellow “Grassy Knoll” sign.
This cache memorializes one of President Kennedy’s last stops along the motorcade route to shake hands with several cheering young boys. It will require a short walk through Craddock Park. The cache is something that we have gimmicked. You should be able to see an interesting tree sculpture from GZ. Seek a treeline along the fence and you will be very warm. It's not in the ground or in any sprinkler-type low-to-the-ground structures - so don't work over any such structures! We hope you like the container as much as we do. Don’t forget to bring your Passport.