Cape Canaveral, Florida
Posted by graywacke on April 21, 2010
First timer? In this formerly once-a-day blog (now pretty much an every-other-day blog), I have my computer select a random latitude and longitude that puts me somewhere in the continental United States (the lower 48). I call this “landing.” I keep track of the watersheds I land in, as well as the town I land near. I do some internet research to hopefully find something of interest about my landing location. To find out more about A Landing A Day (like who “Dan” is and what the various numbers and abbreviations mean), please see “About Landing,” (and “Abbreviations” and “Cryptic Numbers”) above.
Dan – I’m having trouble getting back into the swing of every-other-day landings; it seems like the older I get, the more complicated life is. Enough about me!! How about the landing? Well, today, I can celebrate a solid USer landing . . . FL; 27/40; 6/10; 8; 151.0. FL is the number two USer (behind TX, of course), but it is number one in terms of percentages. What I mean is this: 27 (number of FL hits)/40 (number of hits I should have based on area) = 0.675. TX is 133/164 = 0.811. So even though it would take more TX landings to get to PS-land, FL is further out of whack . . .
Here’s my landing map, showing my proximity to Titusville, Cape Canaveral and the Kennedy Space Center:
Here’s a broader view:
I’ve long casually noted the serious bulge on the east coast of FL, but never realized that the bulge is Cape Canaveral!
Here’s my GE shot, showing that I landed in a marshy area. The major road to the west is none other than good ol’ US 1 (the NJ version of which lies about 7 or 8 miles east of me as I type):
Here’s a Street View photo taken from Route 1, looking east towards my landing (which is about one quarter mile away):
Here’s an expanded GE shot, so you get a good view of the Cape:
FYI, the straight white line SSE of my landing (the one that points right towards my landing) is the shuttle runway.
So, I landed in the watershed of the Turnbull Creek (which is very obvious on my close-in GE shot). Here’s a picture of the Turnbull where it crosses under Route 1:
The Turnbull flows into a new river, the Indian “River.” I put river in quotes because the Indian is the waterway along the mainland coast that you see south of my landing (note Indian River City, which is right along the Indian River). From Wiki:
The Indian River is a waterway in Florida, a part of the Indian River Lagoon system which forms the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway. It extends from the border between Brevard and Volusia Counties southward along the western shore of Merritt Island, then continuing southward to St. Lucie Inlet.
It was originally named Rio de Ais after the Ais Indian tribe, who lived along the east coast of Florida. It is broad, shallow, 153 miles (246 km) long. It is an estuarine system where freshwater meets salt water within the same body of water.
Speaking of the Indian River, it gives its name to a citrus-growing district. Note that the Wiki piece below references Captain Dummitt who founded Dummit Grove (see small town along Rt 3 SSE of my landing on my landing map). From Wiki:
The colorful history of the Indian River Citrus District goes back to 1807, when Captain Douglas Dummitt, sailing south along the Florida East Coast smelled the fragrance of orange trees and was determined to find these trees and to secure some for his, not yet established, homestead. On the East Bank of the Indian River, north of Titusville, Captain Dummitt and his family settled on what is known today as the north end of Merritt Island, Florida.
Immediately after the cabin was built, and his family safely secured, Captain Dummitt left to find the trees with the fragrance he enjoyed so much. The orange trees that he found and planted at his homestead were to be the first-known citrus grove in what is today the “Indian River Citrus District.” Even now some of these original trees may be found at the original site of the Dummitt house.
From that modest beginning, the Indian River Citrus District began to grow and by the turn of the century, many more groves had been established up and down the Indian River area.
I stumbled upon a 1926 article written by a C.A. Bass about Captain Dummit’s orange grove:
The gist of the article is that this grove is the oldest surviving orange grove in Florida. The article begins with a letter, not from the author, but from one Ralph Robinson, who is lobbying some State historical committee about making the grove a historical landmark. The letter is actually very interesting:
The article itself is less interesting, although I found something in the article that made my jaw drop. I’ve copied the passage so you can read it. Keep in mind that the author, Mr. Bass, is a government employee:
Moving right along, here’s some Cape Canaveral history (from Wiki):
In the early 16th century Cape Canaveral was noted on maps, although without being named. It was named by Spanish explorers in the first half of the 16th century as Cabo Cañaveral or Cabo Cañareal, which literally means “Cape Canebrake” (a canebrake is a dense thicket of cane vegetation).
The name “Canaveral” is one of the three oldest surviving European place names in the U.S.
[The other two old names are Florida and Tortugas, as in the Dry Tortugas, at the western end of the Florida Keys.]
The first rocket launch from the Cape was Bumper 8 from Launch Pad 3 on 24 July 1950. On February 6, 1959 the first successful test firing of a Titan intercontinental ballistic missile was accomplished here. NASA‘s Project Mercury and Gemini were launched from Cape Canaveral, although the Apollo program and Space Shuttle missions have launched from Kennedy Space Center on adjacent Merritt Island.
Cape Canaveral was chosen for rocket launches to take advantage of the Earth’s rotation. The linear velocity of the Earth’s surface is greatest towards the equator; the relatively southerly location of the Cape allows rockets to take advantage of this by launching eastward, in the same direction as the Earth’s rotation. It is also highly desirable to have the downrange area sparsely populated, in case of accidents; an ocean is ideal for this. Although the United States has sites closer to the equator with expanses of ocean to the east of them (e.g. Hawaii, Puerto Rico), the east coast of Florida has substantial logistical advantages over these island locations.
From 1963 to 1973 it was called Cape Kennedy. President John F. Kennedy set the goal of landing on the moon. After his assassination in 1963, his widow Jacqueline Kennedy suggested to President Lyndon Johnson that renaming the Cape Canaveral facility would be an appropriate memorial. However, Johnson recommended the renaming not just of the facility, but of the entire cape. Accordingly, Cape Canaveral was renamed Cape Kennedy.
Although the name change was approved by the United States Board on Geographic Names of the Interior Department in 1964, it was not popular in Florida, especially in the city of Cape Canaveral. In 1973 the state passed a law restoring the former 400-year-old name, and the board went along. The Kennedy family issued a letter stating they “understood the decision”; Jacqueline Kennedy also stated if she had known that the Canaveral name had existed for 400 years, she never would have supported changing the name. The NASA center, Kennedy Space Center, retains the “Kennedy” name.
Here’s a shot of a deserted stretch of beach at the Cape Canaveral National Seashore:
I’ll close with this gotta-have-it shot of a Shuttle launch, probably looking across the Indian River:
That’ll do it. . .
© 2010 A Landing A Day