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Adin, Likely, Madeline and Termo, California

Posted by graywacke on April 4, 2020

 First timer?  In this formerly once-a-day blog (and now pretty much a once-a-week blog), I use an app that provides 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 or towns 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) please see “About Landing” above.  To check out some relatively recent changes in how I do things, check out “About Landing (Revisited).”

Landing number 2477; A Landing A Day blog post number 917

Dan:  Today’s lat/long (N40o 58.606’, W120o 33.791’) puts me in northeast California:

My local landing map shows four widely-spaced teeny towns:

I said “teeny,” and I mean it.  Here are the population figures:

Likely:  63
Termo:  less than 5  (occupants of one house)
Madeline:  less than 50 (occupants of 7-9 houses)
Adin:  272!

I won’t even bother with a StreetAtlas streams-only map, because nothing relevant is on the map.  But then I somehow figured out that the flat areas around my landing are known as the “Madeline Plains.” I then found this in a California Department of Water Resources a State of California reference:

Note that it says that the Plains are a “closed basin bounded by mountainous terrain.”  So, we’ll jump over to Google Earth:

In conclusion: rain that falls on my landing doesn’t really go anywhere.  OK, enough about my “watershed.”

Being as we’re way out in the boonies, I couldn’t get the Orange Dude very close to my landing (but there should be wide open spaces so he should be able to get a decent look):

I noticed a drainage ditch that practically leads right to my landing.  Here’s an oblique look:

Well, here’s what the OD sees:

See “Moon Lake” on my local landing map?  It’s a reservoir, and here’s a pic (from Realtor.com):


Before I get into the meat of the post, true confessions:  I had just completed the write-ups for Adin, Likely and Madeline, and was beginning to work on Termo.  I went to Google images for Termo, and found this:

OMG!  That’s me!  I generally manage to maintain at least a glimmer of memory about each of my posts, so that with a new landing, I can remember that I’ve been here before.  But not this time.  It’s the double whammy of more-and-more posts along with the fact that I’m not getting any younger.  Anyway, it turns out, I had an April 2015 post titled thusly: 

Likely, Madeline, Termo and Ravendale, California (but I landed in Nevada). 

Here’s my landing map from that post:


I’ve decided that I’m going to supplement my current post musings with the best of that post.

This will be a low-key post, as there’s not a lot to say about these four teeny towns.  Let’s hit ‘em alphabetically, beginning with Adin (not part of the previous post).  From Wiki:

Adin was founded in 1869 by Adin McDowell as the supply point for the mining town of Hayden in northern Lassen County, and was named for him in 1870.

Each summer, the town hosts the annual Golden State Star Party (GSSP), a gathering of 400 amateur and professional astronomers.  Most are from California, Nevada and Oregon, but some come from all across the U.S.

They gather in Adin because they have a facility that can handle everyone, but (much more importantly), there are dark skies in Adin.

Of course, there are telescopes galore, but you don’t have to have one to attend.

The GSSP website has a light pollution map, showing the dark skies near Adin.


Here’s a promo about the GSSP, put out by the San Jose Astronomical Association:

And their picture of last year’s attendees:

A bunch of happy astronomers!

Alphabetically speaking, it’s likely that the next town on the list will be Likely.  I really liked my previous Likely write-up, so here ‘tis:

As you could likely guess, this is likely to be a light weight post.  Moving from north to south, it’s likely that I will first feature Likely.  In fact, it’s definite that I will first feature Likely.  First, this, from Wiki:

Likely was initially known as South Fork, named after the South Fork of the Pit River, and was renamed when the US Post Office insisted at that time that towns could only have one-word names.

Residents were unable to agree what to name their town until a local rancher observed that they would most likely never agree upon a name, at which point someone nominated the name, “Likely”, and the name was voted in. The Likely post office opened in 1886.

Likely story.

Here are a couple of Likely photos from California-Blog.com:

It seems likely that the same sign painter got both jobs.

Right after “L” comes “M” for Madeline.  From the Exploring Lassen County’s Past website:

According to Gudde’s California Place Names, Gudde attributed the name to an emigrant girl named Madeline, who was murdered by the Indians in the 1850s.

However, there’s another (more likely) story:

In 1854, Lt. E.G. Beckwith traversed the plains while exploring for a transcontinental railroad route. Beckwith entered the Madeline Plains via a pass on the eastern side of the plains. He named this the Madeline Pass. In all probability, Beckwith named the place for his daughter, Madeline.

From Ghosttowns.com, a little more info (article by David A. Wright from Great Basin Research):

In 1902, the N-C-O Railroad reached Madeline town site. It quickly grew into an important livestock shipping center. Madeline Meadows Land and Irrigation Company was one of the largest of the companies to base themselves here, and spent considerable resources trying to colonize the valley. Postcards were circulated showing orange trees growing alongside an irrigation ditch, while a box of “locally grown” oranges were always on display at the Madeline Hotel (this author seriously doubts that oranges could be commercially or successfully grown in this high plateau region with extreme cold temperatures in winter well below zero).

Here’s a picture from my earlier post (photo by Bradford Smith):

Last (and likely least), Termo.

Here are excerpts from a Ghosttowns.com write-up by the same David Wright:

In 1899, the Nevada-California-Oregon Railroad began pushing their line north of Susansville, California. Fifty miles from the middle of nowhere, railroad construction crews began to assemble an enormous (178’ x 48’) freight house, along with other outbuildings and cottages for railroad workers at a site they chose to call Termo [so named because this was the terminus of the line, I suspect].

There was some friction within the railroad over the choosing of this site, as Madeline further north looked to be more promising. Soon, the huge freight house was known as the “$50,000 folly.” The N-C-O Railroad between Susansville and Termo was put into operation June 1, 1900. In July, 1901, Termo lost its title as the northern terminus of the N-C-O when the line was pushed on an additional 14 miles north to Madeline.

Today, Termo is still in the middle of nowhere. Only an occupied home with railroad oil and water tanks mark the spot, as well as the marked junction of the Termo-Grasshopper Road.

Here’s the pic from the earlier post:

And here’s a shot posted on GE by Brad Smith:

Termo, Lassen County, California – June 2013

It looks likely that the General Store is no more . . .

I found a bunch of nice pictures of the Madeline Plains posted on GE.  I’ll start with this, by David Goulart (also in the previous post):

madeline plains marr rd east of ravendale ca


And this, by Deadly Blue Fire:

This old shed by Scott Thompson:

And a lovely springtime shot of daffodils in the foothills at the edge of the basin by William Johnson:

And this classic Madeline Plains shot, also by Mr. Johnson:

That’ll do it . . .




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Albion, Belgrade, Genoa and Ternov, Nebraska (Part 2)

Posted by graywacke on March 30, 2020

 First timer?  In this formerly once-a-day blog (and now pretty much a once-a-week blog), I use an app that provides 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 or towns 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) please see “About Landing” above.  To check out some relatively recent changes in how I do things, check out “About Landing (Revisited).”

Landing number 2476; A Landing A Day blog post number 916

Dan:  As you know, this is my first venture into a two-part post.  So for Part 2, we’re going to look at Genoa and Tarnov.  Here (once again) is my local landing map:

If you’re looking for my watershed analysis and Google Earth shots, scroll down to see Part 1.

Anyway, moving to Genoa – I found this from Wiki:

The city was founded by Mormons in 1857.  In the fall of 1859, the Mormon Colony was forced to abandon Genoa when the town and surrounding area were incorporated into the newly created Pawnee Reservation. The Pawnee Indian Agency utilized the structures vacated by the Mormons.

Ouch.  Sounds ugly.  I decided to roll up my sleeves and learn a little more.  It turns out that a gentleman named Henry Hudson (not that Henry Hudson) was the leader of the Mormon band that founded Genoa.  And it also turns out that he kept quite the journal, which is available online!

But first, a little background, from a local Genoa city website:

In 1846, the Mormons left Nauvoo IL because of conflict and mistrust [Joseph Smith was murdered there].  Under the leadership of the new president, Brigham Young, they headed west and established winter quarters north of Omaha, Neb. The following spring, 143 men, three women and two children began their journey toward Salt Lake City, Utah, traveling in 75 wagons. This thousand-mile march is now known as the “Mormon Trail.”

The group made their way to the Platte River, and began traveling upstream (west) along the northern bank of the river.

They then followed the Loup (which goes right by Genoa, see above map), as explained by Deseret.com:

Historian Ronald Barney explains: “Rather than following the Platte as its course bent southwesterly near present-day Columbus, Nebraska [where the Loup joins the Platte, coming in from the north], the vanguard continued westward by following the Loup on its north bank for approximately 50 miles before breaking due south for nearly twenty miles to reconnect with the Platte River.”

Genoa is about 25 miles from the Loup’s confluence with the Platte, so the first party of Mormons (led by Brigham Young in 1847) passed right by what would become Genoa.

Numerous other Mormon parties would follow the Mormon Trail along the north bank of the Loup in the years that follow.  Including one in 1857 headed up by the aforementioned Henry Hudson, who intended on founding a colony (or a “mission”) in Nebraska, specifically Genoa.

Now onto Henry’s journal.  What I present below is significantly edited in terms of length – the full journal entries are typically 2 – 4 times longer than what I present.  I left out:

  • discussions of comings and goings of people & freight
  • religious stuff I found uninteresting
  • strangely worded passages I couldn’t really follow

So, here ‘tis.  In spite of my editing, this is really, really long, but obviously worth the read. Note that it seems that most, if not all of the Mormons on this trek were from England:

April 14th, 1857

Left St. Louis at ¼10 [15 minutes before 10]  on the S.B. Hannibal [a sidewheel steamer on the Missouri River] destination Florence, Nebraska [part of Omaha today, well more than 700 river miles from St. Louis] and all intermediate places.

Just as the first Bell rang about 20 minutes before 10 P.M. Bro Sanders stepped overboard but fortunately caught the sidewheel and was enabled to maintain his hold until assistance was obtained. We may indeed, regard this escape as a providential one, as the signal to move the sidewheels and the screams of the passengers were simultaneous, thereby arresting the attention of the engineer and thus saving the life of Bro. Alfred Sanders.

April 15

After a slow and easy passage of 15 hours, we reached St. Charles, 45 miles from St. Louis an average travel of 3 miles per hour, the day remained cold & piercing winds prevailed rendering it extremely uncomfortable. Brother Turner and I deemed it advisable to appoint watchers for the night as we evidently had a hard crowd on board. And in this we were not deceived for as night advanced we saw the propensities of some of the women & men more fully developed with an unblushing effontry that seemed to be shameless.

April 16

The wind has lulled and is somewhat pleasanter of which no better evidence is needed than to see the large number of men and women out upon the guards [decks?] which up to this present time have been deserted for the stoves around which they have been huddled like ‘Hogs in a Railway car.’

April 18

About 10 o clock p.m. we struck on a sand bar and there we appeared likely to remain for every effort was unsuccessful to get her afloat till about 1 a.m. when the Sultan [a work boat ?] was signaled by our Captain to come to his assistance, so that at 4 o clock we got off the Bar for which service the Hannibal had to pay the snug little sum of $400, another evidence of the disposition of the world to gloat over the mishaps and troubles of its neighbors.

April 19

This morning the sun rose in splendor giving that peculiar tint that the western waters alone are capable of at sunrise inspiring the soul with that majestic awe that the saint of God [referring to the Latter Day Saints] loves to feel. The atmosphere is bright and clear but still very cold rendering writing difficult.

At 7 oclock we passed Grand River, 301 miles from St. L.

April 20

This morning at 6 am left Camden only making 18 miles during the night. The air is cool and pleasant feeling spring like, making the spirits buoyant and the heart gladsome. Good nature and friendship beaming on every face.

April 21

At 10 o’clock this morning we landed at Kansas City where we lay till 4 o’clock and discharged some freight and 8 horses, the saints found only 1 store open and no bread to be had. Crackers 20 cents per pound, 45 cents per sack for salt, eggs 15 cents per doz.

After we had gone about 5 miles we got upon a sand bar with only 2 feet water and dead headwind. We have now been trying for eight hours to get her afloat but I fear there is no chance for us unless a boat should pass along and give us a pull. At our evening meeting a spirit of supplication was among the saints to ask our Father to liberate us from our position.

While the meeting was assembled the rope which had been fastened to the shore to assist in pulling us off the bar broke and thus was the matter abandoned. till morning, when about 3 o’clock a strong wind sprung up from the east and broke our anchor cable and drifted us into the channel.

April 22

At daylight we commenced to search for our lost anchor and thus we kept drifting to and fro till about 9 oclock a.m. when we had no sooner recovered our anchor then we found ourselves faster than ever upon the sand bar about a quarter mile lower down the stream.

The entire day was spent stuck on the sandbar.

April 23

At 5 a.m. a beautiful morning with frosty decks, all looking anxious for a change in our position. At 8 a.m. we got afloat and went ashore immediately for wood [to fire the ship’s burners].

Interestingly, there’s no detail about how they got off the sandbar.  After discussion about procuring cattle, and negotiating prices, this:

For the heavy prices cattle are fetching, it seems more than likely to make it a difficult matter to obtain all that are needed for our actual purposes. Of course men [the sellers of cattle] ought to do as they please but they should not growl if they miss their way when their course is so plain but some men grasp at what they have like the man who clenched the sand, the tighter he clenched the less he had, for he found it had slid through.

We are at Parkville 472 miles from St. Louis 2½ p.m., tied up for the night on the Kansas side of the river.

April 24

Morning bright· and clear at about 8 a.m. landed at Leavenworth City, discharged some freight & passengers and took some on board and after the saints had procured a small supply of ‘provisions which in some instances was at lower cost than towns below of older growth. Salt 25 cents per sack.  Bread fair sized loaves 10 cents, eggs 15 cents, sugar 6 lbs $1.

Arrived at Columbus Landing 8 p.m. and tied up for the night and discharged 6 cabin passengers being now 550 miles on our journey.

April 25

We left the landing at 4 a.m. the morning being beautiful and promising but had not traveled one mile before – chrunch –  we went on another sandbar. At 9 the E.A. Ogden passed us and half an hour after we got afloat. We put into Doniphan & left several tons of our freight to lighten our load, for it was evident that we could not reach St. Joe with the freight we had on the boat, for the river was falling fast. A number of the Bros. [i.e., male Mormons] got employ at 25 cents an hour for 4 hours of unloading, which was indeed a godsend & thus made them a dollar.

I felt glad to see some of them so willing, mingled with annoyance at others who were dependent upon some Bros. who were working for their sakes but would not work but rather run over the woods wasting their shot and powder that they still owed for and was in fact the little they had to depend upon in more urgent time ahead of them. They will know it and we shall have to remind them and reward their folly.

April 26

At 5½ a.m. we again resumed our journey – weather rough wind cold and piercing and steamed away at a good rate till within 14 miles of St. Joe when we hugged another bar and broke one of our spars and overboard they went and thus we were delayed for some time, but after a little we again got to rights and all went gaily again, the sun shining brightly.

While the boat was delayed for repairs, some of the Bros. left the boat, and traveled on foot to meet up with the boat later.

They said these Yankie 7 miles was tarnation long, it gave a change to some of their ideas when they had to jump creeks and go around a mile or two or wade. They thought travelling through the woods of America was not like walking on turn pike roads in England.

David Jones infant son, Sam’l died at 11½ oclock,  aged 4 mo. and 11 days from cold. We steamed along finely until about 10 o clock when we tied up for the night. All the saints well and myself recovering finely.  Praise the Lord our evening prayer meeting is well attended and much of the spirit of God in our midst.

It seems that Henry & company took Sam’l’s death rather lightly, but back in the day, death (especially infant death) was so much more common.

April 27

The family that have had the measels in their midst have nearly all recovered except one that died last night a boy about 7 years old. It has been resolved to carry the body to Councle Bluffs the destination of the parents. A case of measles and the stench not very pleasant, now what is it likely to be in 3 or 4 days.

[After discussing high prices for eggs at one of their stops:]  This is the way they filch the few dimes from the poor emigrant that has travelled 1000s of miles to come and spend their days with them and help enrich the neighborhood. I cannot yet say that I have seen any of the whole souled hospitality of Americans that I have heard so much about.


It is certain it is a country calculated to happify man with a few years industry but how few can stand and endure the unflinching energy and rigid economy – an economy almost amounting to penury [extreme poverty] in order to get a start for the necessarys of life to sustain a family.

For by the time a man has got his land broke and fences up, house built, barns raised and sheds necessary to protect his young stock he often falls down with the fatigue and changes of the climate and terminates an earthly life in a strange land leaving his orphans to the means of others. Oh my God give me strength to endure, for when I contemplate my weak body so easily exhausted and remember my dear wife and young family so far behind me.

Quite a number of new towns are laying out along the upper part of Mo some in very pretty locations, others look not so inviting.  Forest City the one we are now discharging freight looks well in some respects but to my mind it is a dangerous experiment to build in holes along the Missouri River. He [the river] is a capricious old fellow and in some mad mood he’ll swamp you, so look out Forest City and get up a little higher.

April 28

Today brought us through a good deal of Indian Country large numbers of the Red men are lying upon the banks of the River. We landed at Morgan Island 678 miles from St. L. to get wood and found a couple of huts newly built from which I got some ideas of log hut building. They are warm and can be made neat. The woman in one of the huts told us that a large number of emigrants that got into the territory last fall have been frozen to death in their wagons.  The past winter has been so severe.

Pay attention to the next paragraphs!

She· tells me that on the opposite side of the river is an Indian settlement for ten miles back and that they come in large numbers to her hut 30 to 50 at a time. They are generally civil but sometimes are troublesome and she takes a club and knocks them down. She says that you can do more with them by using a club than pistol or knife.

They are used to pistols or knives and will fight till they die. She has seen her men cut them nearly to pieces with knives but from a club they will run.

What a strange story!

April 29

This morning we left our moorings at 4½ a.m. A beautiful sun rise scene. The alternating bluffs and groves, the calm bosom of the river, the sweetness of the air, was well calculated to inspire the soul with hallowed feelings and promptings to join the warblers in the groves in the morning song of praise.

Some passengers went ashore, and one was gravely insulted by an intoxicated local . . .

Very insulting language followed when the passenger made his way on to the boat and was proceeding upstairs when he was immediately followed by the border ruffian.  The passenger drew his revolver and would have shot his insulter but was prevented by the friends and officers of the boat and the ruffians party came and took their man ashore.

The captain saw the difficulty that was still likely to arise and urged his men to get the flour onboard and thus avoid another collision, for the passenger had gained more anger by reflection upon the insult offered and was prevailed upon only by the most strenuous efforts not to go ashore and shoot his insulter. I have no doubt his southern dignity was troubled but mens morals are at a low ebb when nothing but blood will satisfy them for an insulting expression.

The more time he took to reflect the more thirsty did he become for his blood and reflected with bitterness that he had left him standing upon the Earth. Oh God how I long to live far away from such creatures whose feet are swift to shed blood.

I am sorry to say this evening seven of the children of the saints have symptoms of the measles: I administered to Bro. Rawlins 3 children and then spent a few minutes in prayer with Bro. Geo. Jarvis. I know not whether to attribute it willful neglect or utter recklessness with regard to the health of the saints, for the boy that died with the measles last Sunday is still uncovered and a very unpleasant odour is emitted from the corpse. It still remains a reproach to the captain, a disgrace to humanity and a nucleus of disease and pestilence.

April 30

The morning is hazy and dull and looks very much like rain. It has turned out a very uncomfortable day cold and rainy rendering it disagreeable causing a considerable aching among the carcases that have recently afflicted with chills and ague. Bro. Brecker has had a very heavy chill and is weary and restless with all the symptoms of chill. I feel in my own body that I felt as though I cared not if I went into the river or not for I never suffered from anything so depressing as the chills and ague.

We staid at Rock Bluffs Landing about 3 o’clock p.m. and a number of passengers debarked and truly did my soul grieve to behold men, women and children compelled to land in a cold and pitiless rain amidst strangers, seeking a home where there is nothing but the canopy of heaven for a covering. The privations and hardships of a new country can only be appreciated by those who realize them.

The rain continued to pour down and the night became so dark that we tied up and a comfortless night it was drawing through the boat a cold and piercing wind everything wet and damp and so I lay down dispirited and aching bones with an earnest prayer that the morning might be more cheering that the saints and sickly children might get the necessary exercise for the keeping them healthful.  Ecce Homo sic dulcet gloria.  [Behold the man thus sweet glory??]

May 1

This morning we slipped from our moorings by day break and a fine clear morning it was giving indications of a fine day the sun rose in splendor and shone in his strength as if to conciliate for his absence yesterday thus giving to natures face a smile that only sunlight only can inspire.

We landed at St. Marys about 8 o clock am 777 miles from St. Louis. We landed several of our passengers. We found a large number of Buffalo robes for sale by some hunters who appear ready for a trade with with our debarking passengers – prices from $6 to $10.

The boat reached Council Bluffs at three o clock and discharged an immense pile of freight taking us just 2½ hours employing 20 of our men at 25 cents per hour.

We got into a strong eddy that kept us in to the shore spite of all the pilot could do and thus we lost another hour not advancing 200 yards in the time. The shades of night came fast upon us and the captain tied up for the night.

May 2

Before daybreak we were underweigh the captain manifesting an intense desire to reach Florence [where the party will begin their overland journey] today. The sun rose in splendor the air cool and bracing as we neared Omaha.

We found a large number of persons collected to receive the Hannibal. She appeared as a curiosity to some when they heard we had been 19 days making the trip. We have a large quantity of freight to leave at this place.

The Indians appear to be in full force there is a large number of them around the boat begging. They look to be a forlorn and wretched tribe some of them having nothing more than a buffalo robe to cover their nakedness. They are of the Pawnee and Omaha tribes friendly to the whites.

Quite a number of squaws there with them and tried to obtain bread and money. One of them had an infant about two weeks old it was a male child and as white as if it had been born of white parents. She offered to sell the child for 75 cents.  I was thinking that the folks could not have understood her, but then I found the bargain was being made by a woman, but her husband would not consent to her buying it.

I took a stroll up onto the hill near the state house but I see not the evidences of prosperity such as I think should mark a section of country so fertile but where agriculture is not encouraged.  Poverty and high prices must rule.

We left this place at 2½ p.m. and set off for Florence whither our hearts are set and there will be no rest for us till we are tied up to the landing.  For if ever a company was heartsick of a journey our people are of this. I thank my God for so beautiful a day as we are favored with to land. May no accident occur and we all land in safety. We reached our destination at ¼4 o’clock.

A steady stream of Baggage and freight continued to pour from off the boat till 11 o’clock p.m., all being landed safely and nothing lost but one Barrel of Flour belonging to David Jones which he very unwisely put on board without any other mark upon it than the mill brand. ·

We were successful in providing the sick children and most of the women with a house to stay in until some satisfactory arrangement can be made by the men. The rest disposed of themselves in their wagons and under the few tents that are on the ground.

May 3

A fine morning with considerable frost some of the saints complaining a good deal of the cold night being unable to keep themselves warm.  [And then, much detail about getting supplies ready for the journey.]

May 4

We rose by day break the morning was hazy giving signs of rain.  [And then, more detail about supplies.]

The clouds began to gather thick in the evening and finally at sunset set into a rain and vivid lightning and thunder. It however did not continue long and the boys went to their tents in peace.

May 5

The air was cool this morning. The sun arose with plenty of sun dogs [more about sun dogs in a bit] about the horizon.  [And then, more supply details.]

We had a meeting in the evening to arrange with the Bros and to urge upon them to get everything ready for a start when the oxen arrive.

Before continuing, here’s a shot of Mr. Hudson himself, in his later years:


And here’s a sketch of a steamer at Florence, presumably similar to the S.S. Hannibal:

Almost 2 months later:  July 1

Letter to the Editor of The Mormon

Dear Sir:

According to the instructions of J. Taylor and E. Snow, I take up my pen (as Historian of the Nebraska Mission) to inform you of our progress and prospects.

As already published in The Mormon, we left Florence for this place on the 11th day of May and reached our destination after a tedious travel of 5 days. In consequence of the lateness of the season, the feed was poor and nevertheless, all arrived in safety and commenced putting in the plow. We have very little wheat; but intend to sow liberally in the fall. Our farm contains about 750 acres bounded on the south by the Beaver, southeast by the Loup Fork, north and west by a sod fence.

Our crops are of the most flattering character; corn, potatoes, buckwheat and garden stuffs are looking finely, and if our corn escapes the early frosts that are peculiar to this latitude, it is the opinion of some of our best judges that the yield of corn will be from 60 to 70 bushels to the acre. We have our saw mill in operation and expect enough lumber will be got out this season to help us put up houses sufficient for our present population.

We have a brick yard in full blast, and expect soon to be able, from such auxilliaries as saw mills, brick yards and willing hands, to build a city not a whit behind any other in Nebraska.

The City of Genoa is about 102 miles from Florence, contains about 400 acres [excluding farmland], 40 blocks at 10 acres to a block, 8 lots in a block. It is laid off a beautiful eminence near the bluffs on the north, gradually descending to the east, south and west.

As the ground is a little the highest in the centre, standing on the public square, you have a fine view to the east, some 20 miles. Looking to the south, the Loup Fork presents itself with its ever shifting sandbars, and zig-zag course, spotted with islands of cottonwood, box elder, willow and some cedar; still farther in the distance, you see the bluffs rising, the dividing ridge between the Loup Fork and Great Platte Rivers.

Strain your vision a little more, a dark blue line presents itself, that is the Bluffs. Beyond Platte.  Some 30 miles off, southwest, are groves of timber, the Loup, Bluffs, and a sea of grass meets your eye. At every turn west, bluffs in majestic grandeur, covered with ancient ruins, telling us plainly, without any translation, that their occupants understood the arts and sciences; for we have found specimens of both copper and earthenware, being another link in the great chain of testimony of the authenticity of the Book of Mormon.

The Book of Mormon tells of the Nephites, a tribe of Israel that came to America 600 years before Christ.  Mormons believe that there is archeological evidence of the Nephites’ ancient presence in America (such as the artifacts noted above by Mr. Hudson).  Unsurprisingly, this is vigorously disputed by the academic archeological community.

We number 97 men, 25 women, 40 children, 42 yoke of oxen, 20 cows, 6 horses, and some two dozen chickens, 20 hogs and 2 cats, and dogs plenty. ·

Yours truly, ·

Henry Hudson

And I thought that the Mormons were polygamists.  Based on the above numbers, it looks like it’s the other way around . . .

As promised, this about sun dogs (from Wiki):

A sun dog or mock sun, formally called a parhelion in meteorology, is an atmospheric optical phenomenon that consists of a bright spot to one or both sides of the Sun. Two sun dogs often flank the Sun within a 22° halo.

Here’s a Wiki pic:

Back to Henry Hudson – in 1859, after two years of successful planting and building:

While our best energies were being put forth to give to our improvements character and permanency, and while discussing the question of extending our fences, we were astounded by the information that the Pawnee Indians had selected our settlement as their Reservation.

Oh oh.  Here it comes . . .

A committee was appointed to confer with Judge Greenwood, the Secretary of the Interior under James Buchanan’s administration, to learn the facts.

An inexcusable misunderstanding of the language of the Treaty made with the Pawnee, had jeopardized all our labors and improvements. After we had laid our condition before the Secretary of the Interior, and had our case presented by Fenner Furguson, the delegate in Congress from the Territory, we received every assurance that we should remain undisturbed in our possessions.

Alas, by that peculiar class of injustice and treachery, that many others have been subjected to, six months after the most solemn promises to the contrary, we were notified that, like the heathen Chinese, we would have to go, and on short order.

On the afternoon of the 5th of September, 1859, the settlers finished up all their stacking, and the last hayrick was topped. The next day being the Sabbath, the day was set apart for a general praise and thanksgiving service. In fact, the people were assembling for the forenoon service which was held under a large Bowery, when two Half Breeds and four or five “Red men of the Forest,” as novelists call them, appeared. But to us, they were dirty, scowling, vicious looking Indians.

They sat around during a part of the service as they had occasionally done before. There was a peculiar restlessness about the movements of the Half Breeds. Some of the men looked toward the east. This was easy enough in a Bowery unobstructed by either walls or windows.

Then an immense concourse of moving objects was seen near the river in the broad bottom lands. The excitement became general throughout the congregation, so that the meeting had to be dismissed, as a group of Indians approached.

Baptist Bahylle, one of the Half Breeds stepped forward and asked for the Head Chief of the White man’s house. Being introduced to him [Henry Hudson], he made the announcement that the Pawnees were coming to take possession of their Reservation. A Council had been held in the morning with the Chiefs and their agent, a Major Gillis, to the effect that the Indians desired to move on to the old village they had been driven from by the Sioux about 10 or 12 years previously.

The Agent insisted that they should locate on the eastern limit of their boundary line for the selection of their reservation, and thus enclose all our improvements therein.

Frank Ditya, the other Half Breed before referred to, accompanying the five Indians, had a higher sense of right that did the Agent. He protested against the Indians being permitted to take from us all our improvements, since they were willing to move 10 miles further west and have us for neighbors. They stated in the Council (so we were informed by Bahylle and Ditya) that our people had used them well, and fed them, and they wanted to move beyond us.

So the Agent ordered a halt, and held two or three more councils, endeavoring· to induce the Indians to accede to his wishes [i.e., to take over the town]. Four days we were kept in suspense, the surveyors awaiting the Indians’ decision before commencing to lay out the Reservation, which was to be 15 miles in width by 30 miles in length.

Messengers were sent into our settlement from the Agent, telling of the difficulty he had in restraining the Indians from coming and taking possession of our houses, our grain, our everything.

The Agent saw he was fast gaining his point by getting them to disregard our advice.  He talked to them of how much of their timber we had used; that our houses were theirs; it was their wood that built our barns and our corrals; that the corn was theirs, it was raised on their land.

Finally, at the last Council, he refused to permit Ditya to be present, because he had pled our cause. When our true friend was excluded from the Council, an easy conquest was made over the minds of the Indian Chiefs.

A grand feast was prepared. Twelve large steers were turned over to the four Bands of Pawnees, and the grand Pow-Wow commenced. It was kept up with supplies of flour and provisions which had been brought along with the Agent. This ended in an agreement to let the Reservation be made as the Agent desired.

Thus was culminated a great wrong to a poor, industrious· people, who had endured untold privations to lay the foundations for homes for themselves and their families.

And now to be driven out so shamefully and unfeelingly with the winter just upon them! It looked more like a page of fiction drawn to show the lower elements of a vicious and vindictive character than the vaunted magnanimity of a titled American Major [the Agent]. But it is true, and I blush to pen it, because avarice, the most hateful trait of mankind, prompted· the cupidity of the perpetrator.

I wish I could drop my pen here, but the full sum of the villainous plot must be told or the truth of Genoa’s history will not be complete.

About the 20th of November 1859, the settlers· who refused to sell their produce and improvements to the Agent at his prices, had rebuilt themselves dugouts and shelter for their teams, and had all their grain stacks removed from the Reservation on to the land adjoining, adjacent to the Loup Fork.

I was sent for by the Agent to meet him in the village to hold a council with the Indians. This was to permit us to gather our corn, and not turn their ponies by the hundreds into our fields. The Agent did not come himself, but sent one of the employees of the Reservation in his stead.

We had hardly gotten into a discussion of the matter when I beheld a commotion among the Chiefs, and soon learned that a fire was sweeping over the prairie, driven by a fierce northwest wind that we sometimes experience in Nebraska.

Without ceremony, I left the Council, and saw myself cut off from my friends in our new location that we had designated Zig-Zag because of its tortuous streets winding with the banks of the Loup Fork.

My alarm and terror at discovering the grain stacks, hay ricks and houses on fire, was so great for the safety of the families and of my own, that I forgot my horse, and started on foot about two miles.

Reaching the settlement, I found smoldering and burning ruins with the exception of my own home, the Ferry house, and four or five others. These had escaped because of the frantic efforts of the women and children carrying water from the river.

Such a scene of desolation! Men and women dispirited and heart broken, with nothing before them now but to pull out for the Missouri river towns, and seek employment in Utah, Iowa, Kansas or Missouri, according to the means or pluck that each possessed. None returned to remain with us.

Rumors of various kinds reached us as to the starting of the fire that had come so inopportunely, and starting, as it did, between the Agent’s house and our recently vacated fields.

There’s a confusing part here, where Henry talks about a “Licensed Trader” who paid much money to “making the fleecing process a success.”  He was in cahoots with the “Agent,” and they ended “fleecing” not just the whites, but the Indians as well.

Here is ample room for much moralizing, but I must hurry on and recite facts, and let my hearers moralize on man’s avarice and inhumanity to his fellows, be they white, black or red. It was afterwards satisfying to really learn that the fire was started willfully, and not by the Indians, either.

Quite the story.  Like Henry, I’ll do no moralizing, but let the story stand on its own. 

Before leaving Genoa, I would be remiss if I didn’t say why the town was named Genoa.  Similar to Albion (Part 1 of this post), where I couldn’t find a single word about the name origin, I was similarly stymied here.  I really didn’t believe that some Mormons from England would name their town after the Italian city, so I kept digging.  I finally found out that Brigham Young briefly lived in Genoa NY as a child. Good enough for ALAD; and Genoa NY is named after Genoa Italy, speaking of which, here’s a Genoa Italy pic (from Forbes.com):

So here comes a very quick trip to Tarnov (pop 46).  From Wiki:

Tarnov was laid out in 1889.  A large share of the early settlers being natives of Tarnów, Poland, caused the name to be selected.

On Aug. 19, 1943, the U.S. Army dropped seven practice bombs on Tarnov, mistaking it for the Stanton Bombing Range (25 miles to the southeast).  he B-17s, from the Sioux City, Iowa Army Air Field, did little damage and no one was injured or killed.

I found a story about the bombs on NebraskaAirCrash.com, by Jerry Penry:

Here are some excerpts from the article:

Between 4:00 – 4:30 a.m on August 19, 1943, at least two bombers mistakenly thought that the small Nebraska town of Tarnov was their intended target. Although the military kept quiet about the incident, it is probable that the planes were B-17’s from the Sioux City Army Air Field who had assumed that the town was the Stanton Bombing Range which was located approximately twenty-five miles to the northeast.

Eyewitnesses claimed that two planes circled the town at least fifteen times while dropping the bombs as if they never realized their mistake once it had begun. The bombs were of the practice type, otherwise the town would have been obliterated. Three bombs hit the business district, and one came through the porch roof of a local house. Upon entering the house, the bomb angled into the pantry and went through the floor lodging itself in the dirt below. Six people were in the house including two small children age 5 and 9 who were sleeping in their bedroom just one wall away from the strike, but were unharmed.

Besides the one that had struck the house, another bomb narrowly missed another house, one struck a sidewalk, one struck a street, and two fell east of the school. One near the school also struck the ground just outside a dance hall that had just hours previously had many people gathered both inside and outside. Two days later a young boy discovered a seventh bomb in a potato patch.

The practice bombs were sand-filled with a small explosive charge, but apparently none detonated. After removing the charge and emptying the sand, the sheriff placed them on display at his office in Columbus. Two days later the military promptly came and removed them from his office and took them to the base at Sioux City.

So what about Tarnov, Poland?  Don’t worry, it doesn’t have the long and tortured history like Belgrade (and even if it did, I probably wouldn’t bother).  It was founded in the 1300s, and, in fact, this part of southern Poland did change hands numerous times. 

Tarnov had a substantial Jewish population before WWII (25,000, about half of the town’s population).  And yes, there’s a gut-wrenching story of the annihilation of essentially all of them by the Nazis.  I could present some details, but just imagine the ugliest it could be, and that’s how it was.

But luckily, historic downtown Tarnov has remained basically unscathed.  There’s a wonderful town square, known as Market Square.  From shutterstock:

A nearby street scene from 123RF:

Tarnow, Poland, August 19, 2018: Renaissance town hall on market square in Tarnow.

I dragged the Orange Dude all the way to Tarnov, and plopped him down on one of the streets near the Square:

Here are some pictures posted on GE, in and around the square.  First this, by Malgorzata Kuruc:

And this artsy shot, by Monika Szczepanska:

And this, by Tomasz Grebner:

To close this down, here’s a shot posted on GE by Chuck Leypoldt (who also closed down Part 1).  It shows the Loup River at Genoa, with a little bit of overflow in the flood plain:

That’ll do it . . .




© 2020 A Landing A Day


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Albion, Belgrade, Genoa and Ternov, Nebraska (Part 1)

Posted by graywacke on March 24, 2020

 First timer?  In this formerly once-a-day blog (and now pretty much a once-a-week blog), I use an app that provides 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 or towns 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) please see “About Landing” above.  To check out some relatively recent changes in how I do things, check out “About Landing (Revisited).”

Landing number 2476; A Landing A Day blog post number 914

Dan:  I believe that this is a first for ALAD.  I found so much material that I wanted to share with the ALAD Nation:  this landing will be divided into two posts.  This, Part 1, will contain my usual preliminaries, followed by material associated with titular town 1 (Albion), and 2 (Belgrade).  You’ll never guess what will be featured in Part 2 . . .

So here goes!

Today’s lat/long (N41o 34.787’, W97o 45.156’) puts me in east central Nebraska:

My local landing map shows the typical Midwestern VP* of small towns:

*veritable plethora

Before continuing:  while I was landing, I thought, “Wait a minute!  My readers have never seen exactly how it is that I select my random lat/longs.” So here goes.   I use the following website:

It allows me to generate the following:

So, I click “Rectangular region,” and add the various limits as follows in order to include the entire lower 48:

North 49o:  the northern-most latitude (northern boundary of WA, ID, MT & part of MN).  And no, ME isn’t further north.

South 24.5o:  The southern-most latitude (that runs along the southern edge of Key West).

West -124.5o:  The western-most longitude (in WA).

East -67o:  The eastern-most longitude (in ME).

I then hit “Get random point(s)”, and up pops the very specific lat/long for my landing!  (See above).   I then do some copy & pastes to insert the numbers into my spreadsheet, where it looks like this:

Left-most column:  my landing # (2476).  FYI, landing #1 was on 4/1/1999

Column A:  I’ve had 260 landings since I changed how I get my random lat/longs.

Column B:  Date

Columns C-O:  Hidden columns that have to do with all of my OSer and USer stuff

Columns P&Q:  The lat/longs

Column R:  The elevation of my landing (rarely referenced in ALAD)

Column S:  Describes my landing location

Column T:  My watershed analysis.  The numbers in row 2477 are the number of hits in each of the rivers (my cheat sheet).

Moving right along to my watershed analysis (even though I just gave you a sneak preview above).  Here’s my streams-only map:

I assumed that runoff from my landing would either head west to Beaver Creek, or east to Shell Creek.  So, I pulled up Google Earth, ready to use the elevation tool to figure out my watershed.  Following the slopes down hill, I ended up in the Loup (without touching either Beaver or Shell Creeks.  I then enabled GE Hydrographic Features and saw this:

So, Looking Glass Creek it is, flowing more-or-less along the yellow line, directly to the Loup River (13th hit).  In short order, the Loup discharges to the Platte (75th hit), and then on to the Missouri (414th hit); to the MM (957th hit).

Staying with GE, I was able to convince the Orange Dude that it was in his own best interests to find that spot where one of his roads crosses Looking Glass Creek:

And here’s what he sees:

I nudged him back a few yards, and looky here!

As always, thanks to the Nebraska DOT for their excellent signage!

Oh, all right.  I guess I need to explain why it’s in the Orange Dude’s best interests to go where I want him to go.  Well, it’s simple:  without me, he doesn’t exist!  Without me, he’s just an icon, with no one appreciating him for who he is and what he does.

But I couldn’t get him anywhere near my landing, so we don’t get to see the farm in the foreground with the big yellow arrow.  However, we do get this aerial GE view:

I wonder what the farmer thinks of the big yellow pushpin in his south field? 

So.  I think I’ll start with Albion.  This, from Wiki:

After several weeks of discussion, the name “Albion” was chosen in a game of euchre. Two men played for the name “Albion” and two played for the name “Manchester.”  The town was platted as “Albion” in 1872; the name is a transfer from Albion, Michigan.

First, about euchre (a card game).  As a kid in Zanesville, Ohio, I remember that euchre scores (from various euchre leagues in town) were published daily in the Zanesville Times Recorder.  Jody & I figured out how to play, and took on some across-the-street neighbors.  This was about 20 years ago, and now, I have no clue now how to play euchre . . .

So, Albion NE was named for Albion MI and now we have no choice but to check out Albion Michigan.  From Wiki:

The first white settler, Tenney Peabody, arrived in 1833. Peabody’s family followed soon after. In 1835, the Albion Company, a land development company formed by Jesse Crowell, platted a village. Peabody’s wife was asked to name the settlement. She considered the name “Peabodyville”, but “Albion” was selected instead, after the former residence of Jesse Crowell.

Whoa!  Peabodyville??  What a great name.  But now, we need to check out Jesse Crowell (who was Wiki-clickable):

His parents died when he was young. He eventually moved to Albion, Oswego County, New York.

That’s all I need to know.  So, moving over to Albion NY.  Per usual, I would be quoting some relevant verbiage from Wiki.  Not this time.  I’ll just present a screen shot of a portion of the “History” Wiki section, which (trust me) doesn’t mention where the name “Albion” comes from:

And then, excitedly, I found this Rootsweb page about Albion:

Ah, I thought, here will be some pertinent info.  Each of the references had robust verbiage about Albion’s history.  But not one mentioned where the name came from!  “Well,” I thought, “I guess I should simply Google Albion.”  Here’s what I see:

Albion is an alternative name for the island of Great Britain. It is sometimes used poetically to refer to the island, but has fallen out of common use in English.

Although it’s not clear (etymologically speaking) where the word “albion” comes from, Wiki presents the one possibility I like the best:

It may derive from an Indo-European root, meaning “white” [think albino]. This is perhaps in reference to the white southern shores of the island:

Good enough for ALAD.  Albion NY, Albion MI and Albion NE were all named after the above.

So next up, Belgrade (pop 126).  The only information presented about the town is that it was (unsurprisingly) named after Belgrade, the capital of Serbia.  So, off to Belgrade, Serbia I went.  I was immediately intrigued with a Wiki historical timeline of Belgrade that went on and on and on. 

I made the decision to present the highlights of the time line.  For brevity, I edited out probably two-thirds of the entries.  This is eminently skimmable, but spend as much time with this as you like:

6 CE: The city of Singidunum (ancient Belgrade) is the capital of the kingdom of Moesia.

441: The Huns destroy the city. Attila resides in the city.

460: Sarmatians (Persians) expel the Huns, take over Singidunum

470: The Ostrogoths expel the Sarmatians.

488: The Gepids conquer Singidunum.

504: The Goths capture it again.

510: A peace treaty handed over the city to the Byzantine Empire.

584: The Avars conquer and sack it.

592: Byzantine Empire regains the city.

Early 600s: The Avars destroy it again.

630: The Slavs conquer Singidunum; it becomes part of the Bulgarian Empire.

896: Army of Hungarians attack Belgrade (as the city is now known).

1018: The Byzantine emperor Basil II seizes Belgrade from the Bulgarian Empire.

1072: Belgrade was retaken by Byzantine Empire.

1096: The city was destroyed by Hungarians, but the Byzantine Empire remained in control of it.

1096–1189: The Crusaders are passing through Belgrade.

1127: Hungarian king Stefan II destroys Belgrade and used the obtained stones to build a fortress in Zemun (just north of Belgrade).

1154: Byzantine emperor Manuel I Comnenus destroys Zemun and takes the stones back to rebuild Belgrade.

1182: Hungary attack and sacked the city.

1185: Byzantine Empire regained it by diplomacy

1202: The Hungarians seize Belgrade.

1203: The Bulgarians retake the city.

1213: The city is given to Hungary by emperor Boril.

1221: Belgrade is returned to Bulgaria.

1246: The city becomes part of Hungary.

1284: The Hungarians gift the city to the Serbian king Stefan Dragutin

1319: The Hungarians retake the city.

1382: The city is taken over by the Holy Roman Empire

1386: Hungary regains it.

1403: Holy Roman Emperor regains the city; gives it to Despot Stefan Lazarević [some dude?] for his lifetime. Despot Stefan builds Belgrade Fortress anew and establishes Belgrade as the capital of his Serbian Despotate.

1427: Despot Stefan dies. Hungary reclaims Belgrade

1440: The Ottoman Empire attacks Belgrade. The city endures the siege following heavy destruction.

1456: Siege of Belgrade: Sultan Mehmed II besieges Belgrade but fails to capture it.

1521: Siege of Belgrade: Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent conquers Belgrade.

1688: Siege of Belgrade: Duke Maximilian of Bavaria captures the city.

1690: Siege of Belgrade: the Ottomans capture Belgrade anew.

1717: Siege of Belgrade: Prince Eugene of Savoy captures the city.

1718: Belgrade becomes the capital of the Kingdom of Serbia.

1739: Siege of Belgrade by the Ottomans.  They recapture Belgrade.

1789: Siege of Belgrade: Marshal Ernst Gideon von Laudon captures the city.

1791: The Treaty of Sistova returns Belgrade to the Ottomans.

1806: Karađorđe Petrović captures Belgrade and makes it the capital of Serbia.

1813: The Ottomans reconquer the city.

1815: Miloš Obrenović started the Second Serbian Uprising and conquered Belgrade; the Ottomans subsequently recognized Serbian autonomy.

July 1914: Austria-Hungary declares war on Serbia, following the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria. World War I begins.

2 December 1914: Austrians bombard and capture Belgrade.

15 December 1914: The Serbs recapture it.

6–9 October 1915: German and Austrian troops capture Belgrade.  Entire Serbian Legion is sacrificed for the city.

November 1918: The Serbs, with help of allies, recapture it.

December 1918: Belgrade becomes the capital of the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes.

January 1929: King Aleksandar Karađorđević dissolved the National Assembly and started his dictatorship. Belgrade becomes the capital of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia.

April 1941: Nazi Germany bombs Belgrade. 2,300 – 4,000 casualties; many public and private buildings completely destroyed, including the building of the National Library of Serbia, along with an invaluable collection of books, manuscripts, charters, old maps, journals and many other documents. The Royal Yugoslav Army, while retreating, destroys all the bridges crossing Sava and Danube.

1941 – 1944: Nazi occupation

April–September 1944: The Allies bomb Belgrade eleven times. 1,000 – 5,000 civilian casualties.

October 1944:  Liberation of Belgrade by combined Soviet & Yogoslav armies.

November 1945:  Josip Broz Tito established as leader of Communist Yugoslavia; all industries nationalized.

1990 – 1991:  Communism falls.  Slobodan Milošević, Communist leader, is elected as new president of the Republic of Yugoslavia.  Huge protests greet his election.

1991 – 2000:  Yugoslav wars.  Immensely complex and bloody conflicts involving the former Yugoslav republics Serbia, Croatia, Kosovo, Slovenia, Bosnia, Herzegovina, Masedonia, with various Muslim & Christian factions located throughout.  Milošević convicted of war crimes.

5 October 2000: Slobodan Milošević removed from power after huge protests in Belgrade. The House of the National Assembly was set on fire.

12 March 2003: Serbian Prime Minister Zoran Đinđić is assassinated

2004 – 2018:  Relatively calm period highlighted with positive public works achievements.

30 November 2018: The beginning of mass protests against the president Aleksandar Vučić authoritarian government.

I’m sure unimaginable suffering went along with many of the above entries.  Imagine studying Belgrade / Serbia history in school! 

I need at least one nice picture of Belgrade today.  OK, how about two.  First this, from Forbes magazine:


And this (from nearly the same place), from Getty Images / Lonely Planet:

I’ll head back to my landing – Albion Nebraska specifically – for this shot posted on GE by Chuck Leypoldt, of the view from Albion looking southeast:


That’ll do it . . .




© 2020 A Landing A Day


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Keene and Mount Monadnock, New Hampshire

Posted by graywacke on March 18, 2020

First timer?  In this formerly once-a-day blog (and now pretty much a once-a-week blog), I use an app that provides 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 or towns 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) please see “About Landing” above.  To check out some relatively recent changes in how I do things, check out “About Landing (Revisited).”

Landing number 2475; A Landing A Day blog post number 912

Dan:  Today’s lat/long (N42o 51.386’, W72o 12.523’) puts me in southwest New Hampshire:

My local landing map shows my proximity to Keene & Mount Monadnock:

My local streams-only map shows that I landed in the watershed of the South Branch of the Ashuelot River (1st hit); on to the Ashuelot (1st hit):

Zooming back:

The Ashuelot discharges into the Connecticut (14th hit).  Zooming back once again, we can see that the Connecticut (after serving as the NH-VT state boundary, proceeds to bisect both Massachusetts & Connecticut on its way to Long Island Sound:

As you can see, I could position the Orange Dude pretty close to my landing:

Because I landed in the woods, I sent the OD up the road a piece to find a little opening so I could see something besides just trees:

And how about that!  There’s Mount Monadnock!

Not far away, we can get a look at the South Branch of the Ashuelot:

Looks like a creek to me, but I’ll defer to Street Atlas which calls it a river:

In spite of the fact that Keene is veritably hookless, I made it titular for two reasons:  it’s the biggest town around (pop 24,000) and I visited Keene a couple of times back in the late ‘60s (visiting my girlfriend who went to Keene State College).  Anyway, I had to feature something about Keene, so I found a couple good back-in-the day shots of Keene in the early 1900s:

So, my primary feature in this post is Mount Monadnock.  Although I remember seeing Mount Monadnock in the distance, my girlfriend and I never actually visited (let alone climbed) the mountain. 

From NHStateParks:

A large region of New Hampshire is named after a hill that would not even count as a mountain in many states.  Mount Monadnock stands only 3,165 feet tall, but it is an iconic New Hampshire landmark.

Moving on to Wiki:

At 3,165 feet, Mount Monadnock is nearly 1,000 feet higher than any other mountain peak within 30 miles and rises 2,000 feet above the surrounding landscape. It is known for being featured in the writings of Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau.

Mt. Monadnock has long been cited as one of the most frequently climbed mountains in the world (with 125,000 hikers/year, it ranks 3rd  behind Tai Shan in China with 2,000,000 and Mt. Fuji, with 250,000).  Monadnock’s bare, isolated, and rocky summit provides expansive views.

The word “monadnock” is derived from an Abenaki word that loosely translated means “mountain that stands alone.” The term was adopted by early settlers of southern New Hampshire and later by American geologists as an alternative term for an inselberg or isolated mountain.

Here’s a picture of the mountain from Outdoorsy.com:

If I hadn’t known better, I’d guess that this was a much higher mountain, and that the top of the mountain was above the tree line (which typically occurs at about 4,500’ in the northeast).  But there’s another reason that the summit is barren. 

Back to Wiki:

The summit is barren largely because of fires set by early settlers. The first major fire, set in 1800 to clear the lower slopes for pasture, swept through the stands of virgin red spruce on the summit and flanks of the mountain. Between 1810 and 1820, local farmers, who believed that wolves were denning at the higher elevations amongst damaged trees blown down by wind, set fire to the mountain again. The conflagration raged for weeks, destroying all vegetative cover above 2,000 feet.

Denuded of erosion-preventing roots, the top of the mountain lost all of its topsoil to erosion, exposing the bedrock.

OK.  It’s time to roll up our collective sleeves and learn a little geology.  As my regulars know, I take great pains to make my geologic discussions as jargon-free and as interesting as possible.  You be the judge . . .

I’ve borrowed some material from the NH State Parks website in an article entitled “MonadRocks: Mount Monadnock’s Fascinating Geologic History” by Neil Davis, a Ranger at Monadnock state park.  I won’t be quoting him word for word, so I’ll keep this in my blue font.

415 million years ago

I encourage my readers not to gloss over “415 million years ago.”  Take a deep breath and think about 100 years, 1,000 years, 2,000 years, 10,000 years.  Now multiply 10,000 by 10 to get 100,000.  Humans didn’t even exist.  Now multiply by 10 again to get to 1,000,000 – a period of time so long we have trouble imagining it.  And then – multiply that by 415.  Ouch.  (And that’s only about one-tenth of the age of the earth!)

So.  415 million years ago, North America didn’t exist, Europe didn’t exist, the Atlantic Ocean didn’t exist.  A precursor to North America (named Laurentia) did exist, although what is now New Hampshire was off the eastern coast.  There was an ocean (the Iapetus), and across the ocean to the east was a small continental landmass called Avalonia. 

So there were rivers in Laurentia and rivers in Avalonia that discharged to the Iapetus ocean.  These rivers carried the typical load of sand, silt and clay that was dumped into the ocean, and settled to the seafloor.  This sand, silt and clay are the stuff of what would become Mount Monadnock.

390 million years ago

Plate tectonics was doing its thing, and the gap between Avalonia and Laurentia was closing.  Something had to give, and Avalonia was subducting beneath Laurentia. 

375 million years ago

Although Avalonia was diving beneath Laurentia, the two landmasses actually came together, pushing up mountains.  This is similar to what’s going on today with the formation of the Himilayans, where the Indian plate is smashing into the Asian plate.  All of that sand, silt & clay was subject to intense pressure & heat, getting all smooshed up.  The small piece that ended up being Mount Monadnock was buried deep within these intensely-deformed sediments that became metamorphic rocks like quartzite (metamorphosed sand/sandstone) and schist (metamorphosed clay/shale).  Note that quartzite is particularly tough, and resistant to erosion.

375 – 175 million years ago

In our little corner of the world, things quieted down (tectonically speaking) for a long time.  A real long time, like 200 million years.  The mountains were no longer being uplifted, and in fact, erosion became the dominant land-forming factor.  Given enough time, even a mountain range like the Himilayas gets worn down. 

However, during this same time period, plate tectonics were (of course) active in other areas of the world, and in fact, all of the world’s landmass joined together to form a super continent, Pangea. 

FYI, Pangea was centered on the equator and surrounded by a super ocean, Panthalassa.

175 million years ago

Our little piece of Pangea was just sitting there, minding its own business, when the super continent started to break apart thanks to a tectonic spreading center (that would eventually become the mid-Atlantic Ridge).  The proto-Atlantic ocean began to form, and New Hampshire was more or less where it is today.  What would become Mount Monadnock was still buried (although at an elevation above sea level).  Thanks to erosion, it was gradually but inexorably coming closer to the earth’s surface.

5 million years ago to now

Phew.  Give good ol’ erosion enough time, and all things will end up at sea level.  But we’re not there yet, and rocks exposed to erosion at the earth’s surface can be readily differentiated based on their resistance to erosion.  This is particularly true in a tectonically-stable entity like the Appalachians Mountains where erosion is the only game in town  The most resistant rocks underlie the highest elevations, and the least-resistant rocks underlie the lowest elevations (on a spectrum including all of the in-betweens).

It just so happens that the metamorphic rocks that form Mount Monadnock are the most resistant to erosion in the entire region.  Et voila!  We have an isolated mountain that dominates the landscape, and has dominated the landscape for the prior 5 or so million years.

Here’s a geologic map:

The blue blob labeled “Dl” represents the Littleton Formation, which, of course, makes up the mountain.  While there’s a lot of variability in the rocks of the Littleton, the Littleton rocks under Monadnock contain many beds of resistant quartzite.  Obviously, all of the green & pink formations that surround the mountain (I’ll spare you the details) wear away much more readily . . .

Time to wrap this up by presenting (what else?) – pictures of Mount Monadnock posted on GE.  We’ll start with this by Kurt Langheld:

Casandra G took this one:

I usually shy away from pictures that feature people, but this one by Connor Haller is pretty cool

I’ll close with this vista by Robert Fitzpatrick:

That’ll do it . . .




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Shemya Island (Revisited)

Posted by graywacke on March 11, 2020

Dan:  A comment was posted on A Landing A Day that I thought was worth featuring as the centerpiece of a “revisited” post.  First, I’ll summarize my December 2018 Shemya post, using some excerpts:

Rules are made to be broken, right?  The exception makes the rule, right?  As you know, I have had a hard-and-fast rule since I began my blog:  I always, always allow my random lat/long generator to select a location for each and every landing and each and every landing post.

It’s Christmas day as I sit at my computer writing this.  Christmas Eve night was (and how can I put this delicately) a bit of a hassle.  I was agitated, made all the more so because our indoor cat Lorenzo was outside and in no mood to come back in.

At 1:00 (Christmas Day!) I was lying in bed unable to get to sleep.  As is my wont, I reached over to my bedside table and picked up my iPhone.  I started to idly look at the news (as if that will put me to sleep), when I saw that a Christmas Eve Delta flight from Beijing to Seattle made an emergency landing at an isolated island at the western end of the Aleutian chain – about 1400 miles west of Anchorage.

The island wasn’t named in the article I read, but I have an app on my iPhone – FlightRadar24.  It is map-based, and you can scroll around and see all of the commercial flights in the air at any given time around the world.  You can also click on an airport, and get a list of all recent departures and arrivals.

I knew the flight was supposed to arrive in Seattle, so I clicked on the SEA airport, and hit “arrivals.”  After much scrolling, I saw this:

Hmmm. A Delta flight from Beijing to Seattle was supposed to land in Seattle at 7:36 am, but was diverted to “SYA.”  A quick Google search shows that SYA is Shemya Island, Alaska; more specifically Eareckson Air Station on Shemya Island.

I went on to discuss more about the ill-fated flight, the island (and military operations), and, Shemya and Aleutian Island geology.  Here’s a Google Earth map showing the island:

And a GE shot of the island:

So, anyway, here’s the comment (by Floyd Rasmussen):

I was stationed there in 1964-65. I’m glad I saw your article. It brought back many memories.

I was USAF and worked in a Top Secret group responsible for monitoring the nuclear test ban treaties. My specialty was monitoring the Atmospheric Nuclear Test Ban Treaty of 1963.

I was there when the great Alaskan Earthquake hit on Good Friday [March 27, 1964].  I had just come on shift at 4PM.  We checked all equipment at 15 minute intervals. On my 4:45 check I found that all three pens of our seismic monitoring system had gone off the chart [the earthquake struck at 4:36 Shemya time]. We thought at first that we had detected an underground nuclear test on Komandorskie Island to our west. At closer inspection we realized the incident occurred somewhere to the NE, up the Aleutian Chain toward Alaska.

We discovered that Shemya no longer had contact with the mainland. Later it was learned that two of the White Alice troposheric scatter microwave communication antennas had been knocked out of alignment by the quake. It was by standard broadcast radio from Anchorage that the chief engineer on duty came on the air to announce that a huge earthquake had just occurred, and that he wasn’t sure he was getting out on just one-third of an antenna!  He was asking anyone who could to phone into the station and give reports from around Alaska.

One of my colleagues was a HAM radio operator so he went to our MARS station and established radio communication with the US mainland. Collins Radio Company in Iowa volunteered to provide continuous contact with us as long as needed. For three weeks we provided all high priority messaging for all units on the island, as well as our own!

RCA was finally able to realign the tropo system to provide normal communication with Shemya.

That’s one of my most memorable experiences on Shemya . There were many others, of course, but i’ll not go into them!

By the way, the unit i was in is called AFTAC, for Air Force Technical Applications Center. It was mostly declassified in 1997. You can check their website. You might find it interesting to learn about the Constant Phoenix aircraft that sniffs the air for radioisotopes that indicate a nuclear event. They are monitoring North Korea closely now, since AFTAC detected their nuclear tests.

AFTAC now supports the ICTBTO, the International Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty Organization in Vienna.

When I was in, any mention of what i just said would have probably landed me in Leavenworth Federal Penitentiary!

In today’s world, many nations are now helping to keep track of nuclear weapons. I like to think I had a part in this!

Of course, as a geologist, what immediately got my attention was the Good Friday earthquake.  But before discussing the earthquake, here’s some information about Floyd’s “top secret group,” the Air Force Technical Applications Center (AFTAC*).  From Wiki:

The AFTAC mission is to monitor nuclear treaties of all applicable signatory countries. This is accomplished by detecting nuclear detonations (both atmospheric & below ground) via seismic, hydroacoustic, air monitoring and satellite detection systems.

*As I was typing “AFTAC,” I saw and heard the duck yelling “AAAAFTAC!!”

Back too Wiki:

Soon after the end of World War II, General Dwight D. Eisenhower recognized the need to monitor nuclear testing programs. In 1947 he directed the Army Air Forces to develop technologies capable of detecting “atomic explosions anywhere in the world”.  AFTAC’s first detection was In 1949, when a particulate sampler aboard a modified B-29 flying between Alaska and Japan detected debris from the first Russian atomic test – an event experts predicted could not happen until the mid-1950s.

AFTAC has been very successful in detecting nuclear explosions, including:

  • China’s first nuclear test (1964).
  • India’s first test (1974).
  • Pakistan’s first test (1998).
  • North Korea’s nuclear tests (2006 – 2017).
  • Chernobyl (1986)

One of the satellite systems deployed to detect atmospheric nuclear tests is known as Vela.  In 1979, one of the Vela satellites detected a double flash of light, consistent with a nuclear explosion, centered over the Prince Edwards islands in the Southern Indian Ocean. The “Vela Incident” was Wiki-clickable:

The Vela Incident, also known as the South Atlantic Flash, was an unidentified double flash of light detected by an American Vela Hotel satellite on 22 September 1979 near the Prince Edward Islands in the Indian Ocean:


[Note that every atmospheric nuclear explosion creates a “double flash:” the initial brief, intense flash, followed by a second, longer flash.]

The cause of the double flash remains officially unknown, and some information about the event remains classified.  While it has been suggested that the signal could have been caused by a meteoroid hitting the satellite, the previous 41 double flashes detected by the Vela satellites were caused by nuclear weapons tests.  Today, most independent researchers believe that the 1979 flash was caused by a nuclear explosion — most likely an undeclared nuclear test carried out jointly by Israel and South Africa (or perhaps solely Israel).

So, Floyd.  Thanks much for your comment (and your service).

Moving right along to the Good Friday earthquake, some quick facts:

  • It measured 9.2 on the Richter scale. Remember that the Richter scale is exponential.  An 8.2 earthquake would be considered a massive earthquake, but a 9.2 is about 10x stronger!
  • It is the most powerful earthquake ever measured in North America.
  • It is the second-most powerful earthquake ever measured in the world. (FYI, the most powerful earthquake was near Valdivia, Chile in 1960; it measured 9.5. More about this quake in a bit.)
  • Six hundred miles of fault line ruptured, with movement of up to 60 feet.
  • Some land permanently rose as much as 30 feet.

Here’s a short USGS video about the earthquake:

And here’s a short video about the damage from both earthquake and tsunami in the Port of Valdez:

The 1960 Valdivia Chile earthquake caused a huge tsunami.  Here’s a map showing travel time of the tsunami in hours:

Note that the wave hit Hawaii (specifically Hilo on the Big Island) at about the 15-hour mark.  Here’s what happened there (from History.com):

The earthquake, involving a severe vertical plate shift, caused a large displacement of water off the coast of southern Chile at 3:11 p.m.  Traveling at speeds in excess of 400 miles per hour, the tsunami moved west and north.

The Pacific Tsunami Warning System, established in 1948 in response to another deadly tsunami, worked properly and warnings were issued to Hawaiians six hours before the wave’s expected arrival. Some people ignored the warnings, however, and others actually headed to the coast in order to view the wave.

Arriving only a minute after predicted, the tsunami destroyed Hilo Bay on the island of Hawaii. Thirty-five-foot waves bent parking meters to the ground and wiped away most buildings.  Reports indicate that the 20-ton boulders making up the sea wall were moved 500 feet. Sixty-one people died in Hilo, the worst-hit area of the island chain.

The tsunami continued to race further west across the Pacific. Ten thousand miles away from the earthquake’s epicenter, Japan, despite ample warning time, was not able to warn the people in harm’s way. At about 6 p.m., more than a day after the earthquake, the tsunami struck the Japanese islands of Honshu and Hokkaido. The crushing wave killed 180 people and left 50,000 more homeless.

I’ll close with a couple of Shemya photos from my original Shemya post.  First this Wiki shot:

And then, a shot from an article about Shemya by John Reisenauer that appeared on the website “US Islands Awards Program”:


Shemya or Hawaii?  Looks the same to me . . .

That’ll do it . . .




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Terlingua, Texas (Revisited)

Posted by graywacke on March 5, 2020

Dan:  Right after I posted my January 31 Terlingua, Texas landing, my friend Bill from Delaware posted a comment.  Here ‘tis:

Wow, I cannot believe that you did not make the connection with the classic Jerry Jeff Walker album titled “Viva Terlingua”. AllMusic.com web site says this of the album:

Viva Terlingua, recorded live in Luckenbach, TX, on a hot August night in 1973, is among the most legendary of “live” singer/songwriter albums ever released. It’s the Live at the Fillmore East of redneck Texas folk-rock.

Essentially, it’s Jerry Jeff fronting the Lost Gonzo Band at the beginning of their long run together playing, living it up, having a ball, giving everybody the impression that life was a party, and to be sure, it was for a while. Given the loose, inspired performance on this set, Walker was every bit the equal of Willie, Waylon, and Billy Joe Shaver at the time.

The material is terrific. It doesn’t sound anything like it was recorded in front of an audience, but it does sound live as hell. These folks were partyin’ it up and layin’ down the tracks at white heat. This record was made in a night and it feels like it was made in your living room. It’s guaranteed to lift any dark mood within 15 minutes. This record asks no questions and there are no hidden meanings in Walker’s or anybody else’s lyrics; it’s all there for the taking. And that’s what makes it the enduring classic it is.”

I responded thusly:

Bill –  OK.  OK.  I’ll do a “revisited” post sooner than later.

I then immediately downloaded the album and listened to it 5 or 6 or 10 times (that’s my M.O. when I like an album).  Before I post some songs and lyrics, I needed to figure out the connection between Luckenbach (where the album was recorded) and Terlingua.    Here’s what Google Maps has to say:

So, it’s something over 6 hours and 400 miles of driving to get from Luckenbach to Terlingua.  So why was an album recorded in Luckenbach called Viva Terlingua? 

Well, it turns out that there’s quite the chili cook-off held annually in Terlingua, drawing more than 10,000 folks.  Even back in 1973, it was quite an event.  A poster advertising the chili cook-off with the words “¡Viva Terlingua!” was on the wall at the music hall in Luckenbach.  Jerry Jeff saw the poster (or bumper sticker or whatever) and decided on the album title then and there.  Here’s the album cover:

A little background:  Jerry Jeff Walker was born Ronald Clyde Crosby in 1942; He picked Jerry Jeff Walker as a stage name in 1966.  Born in Oneonta NY, he was part of the early 1960s NY City folk music scene.  He wrote “Mr. Bojangles” in 1968. 

To this day, I consider Mr. Bojangles an absolute classic, and maybe one of my top 100 favorite songs of all times. 

In 1970, Nitty Gritty Dirt Band recorded the song and got themselves a hit record.  Jerry Jeff appreciated the royalties (also beginning to come in from what would eventually be dozens of covers), and decided to head west to California.  He got as far as Austin TX, decided to stay awhile, and never left.

Before moving on to the Texas part of his career, here’s the Mr. Bojangles backstory, from Wiki:

Walker has said he was inspired to write the song after an encounter with a street performer in a New Orleans jail. While in jail for public intoxication in 1965, he met a homeless man who called himself “Mr. Bojangles” to conceal his true identity from the police.

He had been arrested as part of a police sweep of indigent people that was carried out following a high-profile murder. The two men and others in the cell chatted about all manner of things, but when Mr. Bojangles told a story about his dog, the mood in the room turned heavy. Someone else in the cell asked for something to lighten the mood, and Mr. Bojangles obliged with a tap dance.

People often assumed that Mr. Bojangles was black. Not true. Jerry Jeff (who is white) set the record straight, noting that back then, the New Orleans jails were segregated . . .

Of course, I have to include a Mr. Bojangles YouTube (the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band version I grew up with):

Here’s a 1969 album cover, with JJ’s look probably influenced by Bob Dylan (or is it Paul Simon?):

Back to Jerry Jeff in Texas.  An amazing transformation seemed to occur when he became ensconced in the Texas music scene.  He went from a laid-back beatnik folk singer to the dean of Texas Outlaw Country music and the vibrant Austin music scene.  Once in Texas, he became as hard-drinkin’ and hard-partyin’ as his music sounds like.  He has sobered up and slowed down, recently recovering from a bout with throat cancer.  Luckily, he still sings and performs.

ALAD disclaimer:  The music on Viva Terlingua is not great music; it is not sophisticated, no nuance in the words or music.  So, here goes:

Let’s find out what happens to hippies in Oklahoma.  Here’s “Up Against the Wall, Redneck Mother:”


This song is by Ray Wylie Hubbard

He was born in Oklahoma
And his wife’s name – Betty Lou Thelma Liz
And he’s not responsible for what he’s doing
‘Cause his mother made him what he is

And it’s up against the wall, Redneck Mother
Mother, who has raised her son so well
He’s thirty-four and drinking in a honky tonk
Just kicking hippies’ asses and raising hell

Sure does like his Falstaff beer
He likes to chase it down with that Wild Turkey liquor
He drives a ’57 G-M-C pickup truck
He’s got a gun rack, “Goat ropers need love, too” sticker

[Chorus, instrumental fill]

M is for the mudflaps you give me for my pickup truck
O is for the oil I put on my hair
T is for T-bird
H is for Haggard
E is for eggs
And R is for red neck

[Chorus x 2]

What’s that smell?
Muskogee, Oklahoma, USA

Here’s Jerry Jeff in 1975 (on the right, not looking very sober), singing with none other than the afore-mentioned Ray Wylie Hubbarb:

“Sangria Wine” (the next song) sounds very much like it was written by Jimmy Buffet – but it wasn’t.  In fact, Jerry Jeff wrote this song well before Jimmy broke out with “Margaritaville,” et al.  However, the two musicians have a connection that goes way back.  From Wiki:

In 1970-71, Buffett could be frequently found busking [playing music on the street for voluntary donations] for tourists in New Orleans. Fellow country singer Jerry Jeff Walker took him to Key West on a busking expedition in November 1971.  Buffett then moved to Key West and began establishing the easy-going beach-bum persona for which he is known.

Sangria Wine:


My friends come for Saturday night
Man it’s nice to make up some sangria wine
It’s organic and it comes from the vine
It’s also legal and it gets you so high

Yeah and I love that sangria wine
Love to drink it with old friends of mine
Yeah I love to get drunk with friends of mine
When we’re drinkin’ that old sangria wine
Whoa I love sangria wine
Whoa I love sangria wine

Start with some wine
Add some apples and brandy and some sugar, just fine
Old friends always show up on time
That’s why you add ????? burgundy wine


In Texas on a Saturday night
Everclear is added to the wine sometimes
The nachos, burritos, and tacos who knows
How it usually goes, it goes

[Instrumental; Truncated Chorus]

Yeah I love that sangria wine
Just like I love ole friends of mine
They tell the truth when they’re mixed with the wine
That’s why I love the lemons and lime

[Chorus, etc.]

I’ll close with this next song “Getting’ By,” which sort of says it all:


Hi, buckaroos
Scamp Walker time again
Yeah I’m trying to slide one by you once more
Don’t matter how you do it
Just that you do it like you know it
I’ve been down this road once or twice before

Yeah gettin’ by on gettin’ by is my stock-in-trade
Living it day-to-day
Picking up the pieces wherever they fall
Just lettin’ it roll
Lettin’ the high times carry low
Just living my life easy come, easy go

Last week I was thinking
It’s record time again
And I could see Mike Maitland* pacing the floor
Ah Mike, don’t you worry
Something’s bound to come out
Besides, I’ve been down this road once before

*The president of MCA records

[Chorus x 2]  (It’s probably not a monster track, Mike, I mean, uh . . .)

Income tax is overdue
And I think she is too
Been busted and I’ll probably get busted some more
But I’ll catch it all later
Can’t let ‘em stop me now
I’ve been down this road once or twice before

[Chorus x2]

That’ll do it . . .




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Halfway, Oregon (Revisited)

Posted by graywacke on February 27, 2020

First timer?  In this formerly once-a-day blog (and now pretty much a once-a-week blog), I use an app that provides 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 or towns 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) please see “About Landing” above.  To check out some relatively recent changes in how I do things, check out “About Landing (Revisited).”

Landing number 2474; A Landing A Day blog post number 911

Dan:  Today’s lat/long (N44o 56.162’, W117o 1.120’) puts me in northeast Oregon:

My local landing map shows two landings:  today’s and one from March 2017:

My streams only map shows that I landed in the watershed of Long Branch, on to Pine Creek (2nd hit); to the Snake River (87th hit):

Quoting from the March 2017 post (and changing the “hit” number from 168 to 182):

As 93 out of 100 of my readers know, the Snake makes its way to the Columbia (182nd  hit).  The 7 remaining readers just learned something.

Pine Creek discharges into the Snake near the town of Oxbow.  Here’s an oblique GE shot that shows the Pine Creek Valley, and includes my landing:

Once again borrowing from my previous post:

Speaking of Oxbow, I found Street View coverage of Pine Creek near Oxbow, just before it loses itself in the belly of the Snake:

Obviously, I have re-visited my previous Halfway post, and I have decided to go all in (not just halfway) with my visitation.  I read my almost-three-year-old discussion of how Halfway got its name, and thoroughly enjoyed it.  While I remembered the gist, I had forgotten most of the details. 

I was so delighted with my re-reading, I have decided to present it again, in full.  I know, I know, I could have just referenced the previous Halfway post, saying it’s great, and just enter “Halfway” into the search box to enjoy it. 

But if you are like me, you almost certainly wouldn’t do that.  However, if a portion of that post were incorporated herein, it is much more likely that my readership (all 17 of you), will read – and enjoy this. 

My only request is that you don’t skim.  It’s worth the few extra minutes to actually pay attention! 

Here we go (and I’m going to forgo my usual italics when I’m borrowing from a previous post):

From the Halfway town website:

The town is located “halfway” between the communities of Pine and Cornucopia.

Good thing the word “halfway” is in quotes!  I mean, really!   Look at the map:

AYKM??  In what universe does “halfway” mean really close to Pine (less than 2 miles) and really far from Cornucopia (almost 10 miles)?  There must be a story behind the story.  Wiki gives us a clue:

This town took its name from the location of its post office, on the Alexander Stalker ranch, halfway between Pine and Cornucopia.  While a post office was established in 1887, in 1907 the town was platted in another location [way further south, evidently]; the post office moved there in 1908.

OK, I guess.  I did a search for the Alexander Stalker ranch, but only found circular references to the town of Halfway.  But look at this GE shot:

Hmmm.  Carson pops up on GE, but is nowhere to be found on StreetAtlas.  Interesting that Carson is just a little north of halfway between Cornucopia & Pine.  So, it seems like the mysterious Alexander Stalker ranch might have been a little south of Carson.

Wiki on Carson:

In 1870 Tom Corson settled in the area on a tributary of Pine Creek.  His neighbors pronounced his name “Carson” and named the tributary and a sawmill on the creek after him.  When a post office was established here in 1893, it was named “Carson” as well.  The town was platted in 1900, the first in Pine Valley.

Let’s sort this out.  Here’s the timeline:

1887:  a post office was established somewhere between Pine & Cornucopia – rumored to be halfway between Pine & Cornucopia, perhaps at the Alexander Stalker ranch.

1893:  a post office was established in Carson, which just happens to be about halfway between Pine & Cornucopia.

Now wait a second.  It’s hard to imagine that there was a Post Office within a few miles of Carson, and then a separate post office was established in Carson!  In fact, this goes beyond “hard to image,” bumping into “ain’t no way!”

ALAD will make it official:  This whole thing about “halfway between Pine & Cornucopia” is bunk.  We all need another, more plausible story.  Let me roll up my sleeves . . .

I’ll start with Pine:  The “town” of Pine is nothing.  Nada.  Isn’t now, never has been.  Of course, I Googled Pine Oregon, and the only – I repeat the only – Pine Oregon reference I could find anywhere is Wiki.  Here is the entire entry:

Pine is an unincorporated community in Baker County, Oregon, United States.  It lies along Oregon Route 86 about 2.3 miles southeast of the city of Halfway, and beside Pine Creek, a tributary of the Snake River.

That’s it!  And let me say again – there’s nothing else on the internet about this so-called town.

Let’s take a closer GE look (and don’t be distracted that GE strangely misplaced the “Pine” label).

It is likely that Pine was never platted, never had a post office and was never anything much more substantial than what you see in the above GE shot.  So why would Pine be used as the southern anchor of the expression, “halfway between Pine and Cornucopia?”

I get Cornucopia.  It was a thriving mining boomtown back in the 1890s (platted in 1886).  But Pine?  Fuhgettaboutit.

So, let’s look at a StreetAtlas map:

Well, well, well.  What about Richland?  Halfway is about halfway between Richland and Cornucopia.  From Wiki:

Richland was platted in 1897 and replaced New Bridge as the primary rural service center in the area.

Hmmm.  1897 doesn’t quite work, since the Halfway story starts in 1887.  But what about New Bridge?

New Bridge doesn’t show up on StreetAtlas, but once again, it does show up on GE:

So.  What does Wiki have to say about New Bridge?

New Bridge was founded on the banks of Eagle Creek near an important bridge built across the stream in pioneer times (the “new bridge”).  Joseph Gale was the first postmaster of New Bridge post office, which ran from 1878 until 1967.  [So New Bridge was founded 9 years before Halfway.  Makes sense . . . ]

New Bridge had a fruit and vegetable cannery, a box factory, and a packing shed for apples.  New Bridge was platted in 1908, only after irreversible decline had set in, due in part to nearby Richland being platted in 1897.

Good enough for ALAD (and way better than that Pine nonsense).  New Bridge was a substantial town back when they opened the Halfway post office.   

Here’s my version of the story (and I’m stickin’ to it):

The original Halfway post office (founded in 1887) wasn’t in the current town location but was located a little to the north (certainly not at all close to Carson).  The Post Office was named Halfway, because of its location approximately halfway between Cornucopia and that bustling little town to the south, New Bridge.

When in 1907 the post office moved to the newly platted town a little to the south, the town, of course, became Halfway.

Just substitute New Bridge for Pine and it all makes sense; it all hangs together. 

Just for the record:  I could find no “deep” source that discusses the Halfway name origin.  The oldest source I could find (footnoted in Wiki) is a 1958 book by Winifred and Armond Moyer entitled “The Origins of Unusual Placenames.”  Here’s the entirety of the text about Halfway:  “The town was midway between Pine and the Cornucopia gold mine in pioneer days.” 

That’s not enough to change my mind.  I’m guessing some local person (way back in the day), actually wrote a little something about the history of Halfway.  He or she may well have realized that Halfway was actually halfway between Richland and Cornucopia, but then realized that the Halfway post office pre-dated Richland, so Richland couldn’t be the southern anchor.  New Bridge was long gone, and this hypothetical person wasn’t even aware of its prior existence.  Shrugging his or her shoulders, he or she simply decided that the southern anchor of Halfway had to be Pine. 

The mistake has lived on for decades.  I fear that A Landing A Day doesn’t have the oomph to rewrite the history books . . .

My earlier Halfway post actually goes on to cover three more topics:  The nearby 45th Parallel (marking the halfway point between the North Pole and the equator); the fact that Halfway was briefly known as Half.com as part of an internet marketing scheme; and surfing in Half Moon Bay, California (because Half Moon Bay was also in the running to be renamed Half.com).  It’s all good (including a great video of big wave surfing).  But don’t worry, I’m not repeating it here.

In fact, I’m going to shut this post down.  But what the heck, I’ll once again head back to my earlier post. 

It’s time for some local GE Pano shots (most taken in the Pine Creek valley).  I’ll start with this by DonWadkins:

Here are three by long-time ALAD contributor Ralph Maughan:

I’ll close with this, by Tony Immoos:

That’ll do it . . .




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Rea, New Hampton, Bethany, Conception (etc.), Missouri

Posted by graywacke on February 20, 2020

First timer?  In this formerly once-a-day blog (and now pretty much a once-a-week blog), I use an app that provides 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 or towns 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) please see “About Landing” above.  To check out some relatively recent changes in how I do things, check out “About Landing (Revisited).”

Landing number 2473; A Landing A Day blog post number 910

Dan:  Today’s lat/long (N40o 11.516’, W94o 20.549’) puts me in northwest Missouri:

Before moving on to my local landing map, I’ll linger for a moment on the above map.  Missouri ranks first in the nation in one important aspect:  more states touch Missouri (8) than touch any other state..  (OK, so Missouri is tied with Tennessee.)

My local landing shows a VP* of towns, ranging in size from teeny to small:

*Veritable Plethora

Full Disclosure:  I was going to feature Ford City (it’s circled on the above map).  I changed my mind . . . 

My streams-only map shows that I landed in the watershed of Jones Branch, on to the Grand River (7th hit):

Zooming back, this map tells the rest of the story:

The Grand flows to (what else?) the Missouri (440th hit); on to the MM (956th hit).

Moving over to Google Earth (GE), I managed to convince the Orange Dude to wander up a country road to a point about a mile from my landing:

And here’s what he sees:

I then nudged him north about a half-mile, where that same road crosses Jones Branch.  Here’s his view from the bridge looking north:

As is my wont, I rolled up my sleeves and did the Google/Wiki thing with all these little towns.  I didn’t come up empty, but I’ll tell you there ain’t much out there.

I’ll hit my titular towns in the order that I investigated them.  First up, Bethany (pop 3,300, my largest town by far).  From Wiki:

The original name of the community was Dallas.  [Why Dallas I don’t know.]

The name Dallas apparently did not meet with the general approval of the residents of the community and the issue was brought before the county court. It was decided that a new name would be selected by ballot. The names of Bethany and Carthage were proposed. The vote favored “Bethany”; accordingly the town’s name was changed.

Even though Carthage lost, here’s a little info, starting with a map (when Carthage was part of the Roman Empire):

From Wiki:

Carthage (founded around 800 BC) was the center and capital city of the ancient Carthaginian civilization, in what is now Tunisia.  Carthage was widely considered the most important trading hub of the Ancient Mediterranean and was arguably one of the most affluent and beautiful cities of the Ancient World.

It was its own entity (Ancient Carthage) until the Romans conquered it, and it became known as Roman Carthage.  It had numerous ups and downs through the Middle Ages, and ended up as part of the Ottoman (Muslim) Empire, into the 1800s.

Here’s a re-creation of what Ancient Carthage more-or-less looked like:

And here’s a shot of some of what’s there today:

So, Bethany won.  From Wiki:

Al-Eizariya “place of Lazarus”, also referred to by its classical name of Bethany is a town in the West Bank. The name al-Eizariya refers to the New Testament figure Lazarus of Bethany, who according to the Gospel of John, was raised from the dead by Jesus.  The purported site of the miracle, the Tomb of Lazarus, is a traditional pilgrimage site. The town is located on the southeastern slope of the Mount of Olives, less than two miles from Jerusalem.

Besides the Lazarus story, Bethany figures widely at the end of Jesus’ life.  Based on various accounts in the various gospels, Jesus began his entry into Jerusalem from Bethany on Palm Sunday; he stayed in Bethany the following week (at Lazarus’ house?); and then after Jesus’ resurrection, he traveled to Bethany, and from there was his “Ascension” into heaven.

Here’s a Wiki shot of early 20th century Bethany:

There you have it.  And in 19th century Middle America, it’s easy to see why Bethany beat out Carthage . . .

While we’re on the religious side of the aisle, how about Conception / Conception Junction / Clyde?  I’ll start with a GE shot showing the proximity of the three towns:

Well, as for the “conception” part, the Conception Abbey, home to the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception is – where else – in Conception:

Sixty-five monks live there and the Abbey is also home to a college and a seminary.  Here’s the Abbey (from their website):

And, as posted on GE by Marie Hanson, here’s the inside of the main chapel:

So, right next to Conception is Conception Junction:

Conception Junction!  AYKM?  It sounds like just the place to go if you want to make a baby!  I mean, really.  Here’s the definition of junction:  “A point where two or more things are joined.”  I rest my case.

And right next to Conception Junction is Clyde:

And, as you can see, there’s a convent in Clyde, the Benedictine Convent of Perpetual Adoration.  But first, we need to learn that Clyde got its name from Clydesdale horses purchased by an early citizen.

From Wiki, about the Convent:

The sisters (61 as of 2016) follow a simple, contemplative way of life.  They support themselves by producing Altar Breads, soap, liturgical vestments and gourmet popcorn. They are sold under the name “Monastery Creations”; the soaps and lotions are produced onsite in a building that was once in 1927 as a slaughterhouse when the monastery had a large dairy and livestock operation. “Monastery Scents” offers several different kinds of soap, lotions, salves, lip balm and candles sold in the monastery’s gift shop and online.

The Sisters produce gluten-free hosts safe for celiacs, which has been approved by the Catholic Church for use at Mass. [For those like me who don’t know such things, “hosts” are the wafers used for communion.]  In a 2004 article from the Catholic Review, gastroenterologist Alessio Fasano was quoted as declaring these hosts “perfectly safe for celiac sufferers.”

Here are a few products offered from their website:

Looking for Black Raspberry Vanilla soap with activated charcoal?

Now you know where to look!

We’ll have a very quick visit to Rea, home to an octagonal barn, built around 1900 and listed on the National Register of Historic Places:

It’s time for our last stop, New Hampton, which is the hometown of one Jesse Funk, winner of the Medal of Honor for his actions in WW I.  From Wiki:

Born in New Hampton, Missouri, Funk later moved to Calhan, Colorado, where he worked as a rancher. He married and had one son before entering the Army in 1915.

After training at Camp Funston in Kansas in 1915, Funk was sent to Europe.  On October 18, 1918, near Bois-de-Bantheville, France, Funk’s division sent several patrols into no man’s land to reconnoiter German positions in preparation for an advance as part of the Meuse-Argonne Offensive. Private First Class Funk served as a stretcher-bearer.

Unusually, the patrols had been sent out during daylight, rather than waiting for the cover of darkness. Two patrols from Funk’s regiment became pinned down by heavy rifle and machine-gun fire. Second Lieutenant John M. Millis was seriously wounded in the legs and ordered his men to leave without him. One man managed to crawl to the safety of the Allied lines and brought news that Millis and another wounded officer were trapped in no man’s land.

Upon hearing this, Funk and another stretcher-bearer, Private First Class Charles D. Barger, voluntarily ran 500 yards through heavy machine-gun fire with their stretcher and rescued Millis.  They then returned to no man’s land and rescued the other officer, First Lieutenant Ernest G. Rowell.

For these actions, both Funk and Barger were awarded the Medal of Honor the next year.  These were the only Medals of Honor received by Army medical personnel in World War I.

So.  I couldn’t resist but to take a quick trip to the Bois-de-Bantheville, France.  It turns out that Bantheville is a teeny town in the French countryside:

“Bois” means “woods,” so I assume the forest near Bantheville is the “Bois-de-Bantheville.”  The Orange Dude was very excited to take a quick trip to France to get a look at the bois:

, and he was enchanted by this pastoral scene:

He loved the countryside so much, I couldn’t reign him in.  He went au bois (to the woods) on the west side of town, and saw this equally-enchanting pastoral scene:

The road sign lets us know that we’re 3 kilometers from Bantheville . . .

In downtown Bantheville is this WWI monument (posted on GE by Dominique Salè):

I got a little help from the internet for the translation:

I assume that “her” refers to the town.

Just outside of town is this smaller monument:

It honors U.S. Army Major James D. Rivet, who died on October 15, 1918 (three days before Jesse Funk performed his heroic rescue).  The monument says “Heroic ally sacrificed his life in taking Bois-de-Rappes, October 15, 1918.”  A website about the monument goes on to say that this was part of the effort to liberate the town of Bantheville, which was accomplished on October 21.

A little more research reveals that the Bois-de-Rappes is also known as the Bois-de-Bantheville.  Here’s a NYTimes article from October 22, 1918:

The war was going very badly for the Germans; the end of war came just three weeks later, on 11/11/1918.  There’s something especially poignant about people who are killed just before a war ends . . . 

To close things out, of course I checked out photos on GE near my landing.  It was pretty slim pickins, but I found this shot by JB the Milker taken about 12 miles north of my landing.  By the way, this marks my eighth post featuring photos by JB (OH-2; KS-2; SD-2; ND-1; and now MO-1).  That boy gets around . . . 

That’ll do it . . .




© 2020 A Landing A Day


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Las Vegas, Nevada

Posted by graywacke on February 13, 2020

First timer?  In this formerly once-a-day blog (and now pretty much a once-a-week blog), I use an app that provides 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 or towns 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) please see “About Landing” above.  To check out some relatively recent changes in how I do things, check out “About Landing (Revisited).”

Landing number 2472; A Landing A Day blog post number 909

Dan:  Today’s lat/long (N46o 30.177’, W115o 52.888’) puts me in southern Nevada:

My local landing map shows a very-nearby recent landing (the more northern one), and today’s landing, both about 35 miles NW of Las Vegas:

A quick look at Google Earth (GE) shows that I landed in the same watershed that I did in my previous landing:

So, I’ll simply borrow a GE shot from that landing (#2354; July 2017):

And also borrow these words:

As you can see, runoff from that rare desert storm heads east, and ends up collecting in the general vicinity of the Elevation 3014 yellow pushpin.  I added the various elevation pushpins in to show you that the water has no choice as to where it ends up.

So that post featured Mercury and Indian Springs.  It’s an excellent post (as they all are); it dives deep into the Yucca Flats nuclear test facility and Area 51.  Curious?  Type “Mercury” into the search box.  If you don’t bother, at least you should take a look at the lovely photo with which I closed the post (by Hobgot, of the mountains south of the Indian Springs):

So what am I left with?  Well, I guess I’ll slum it this post and head down to Las Vegas.  From Wiki:

More than 150 years ago, a spring-fed creek flowed through the Las Vegas Valley, creating an oasis in the desert. With the only free-flowing water and grass for miles around, the site attracted the native Paiute as well as traders, emigrants and gold seekers traveling the Old Spanish Trail to California.

[I’m sure the Paiute were delighted to share their desert oasis with the white man.]

The Spaniards called the place las vegas, which is Spanish for the meadows.

Archeological excavations of the fort site revealed pottery shards, stone tools and projectile points of both Anasazi and Paiute origin.  A high concentration of artifacts was uncovered directly north of the northeastern fort bastion, suggesting the presence of a campsite that was intermittently used for centuries prior to the arrival of Euro-Americans.

The Mormons settled Salt Lake City in 1847, and Mormon travelers began passing through the meadows of Las Vegas due to the need to procure supplies from southern California.  With the sudden increase in freight and emigrant traffic on this trail, and the need for security on this vital trade route, the settlement of Las Vegas became a practical step for the expanding Mormon state.

In June of 1855 thirty Mormon settlers led by President William Bringhurst arrived at the meadows and with the assistance of the local Paiute population began construction of a fort structure along the creek.

[I’m sure the Paiute were delighted to assist in building a fort to protect the Mormons from . . . uhhh . . . . the Paiute??]

The settlers diverted water from the creek to irrigate farmland and constructed an adobe corral directly north of the fort.  However, crop failures, disappointing yields in nearby lead mining efforts and dissension among the group’s leaders caused the settlers to abandon the fort in March of 1857.

The fort and surrounding land became the center of 19th century and early 20th century Las Vegas (which wasn’t much).  But then things started to change.

Before discussing the above-mentioned changes, let’s take a look at the “Mormon Fort.”  For the record, I must mention that the head of the Mormon Church (Russel Nelson, the President of the Church, aka “The Prophet”) has unequivocally stated that the Church should no longer be referred to as the Mormon Church, but rather the “Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.”  I don’t think that he said that we couldn’t say CJCLDS, or COJCOLDS (for fans of the word “of.”). 

By the way, one might also colloquially say, for example, “she’s a Mormon.”  Now, one must say “she’s a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints,” aka MOTCOJCOLDS.  Strangely, it’s actually pronounceable.

[Full disclosure:  I like Mormons.  My daughter’s a Mormon.  I have three granddaughters who are Mormon.  Through my daughter, I know many Mormons, and I really like almost all of them.  However, as is obvious, I am not a Mormon, and I enjoy poking fun at any group that takes itself seriously, including Mormons . . . ]

So, here’s a GE shot of the COJCOLDS Fort State Park today.  (Oh oh.  I might be hearing from Google Earth letting me know that “GE” is unacceptable!):

So let’s head in to downtown Las Vegas and take a look at the old Mormon Fort:

And then zoom back and check out the neighborhood:

The fort is close to downtown Las Vegas (just to the southwest); the Strip is mostly just off the map to the south.

Taking another close look at the fort, check this out:

Oh my!  The spring-fed stream that created a desert oasis is still there!

And here’s a photo posted by Kat Kruse of the actual stream:

If I were a betting man, I would have bet good money that the stream was nowhere to be found in today’s Las Vegas . . .

I wonder if it’s real, or if the City pumps water into the old stream bed . .

Moving right along . . . from History.com, this look at 20th century Las Vegas history:

In 1905 the railroad arrived in Las Vegas.  The future downtown was platted and auctioned by railroad company backers, and Las Vegas was incorporated in 1911.

Nevada outlawed gambling in 1910 but the practice continued in speakeasies and illicit casinos. By the time gambling was legalized again in 1931, organized crime already had roots in the city.

In 1931 construction began on the massive Hoover Dam, drawing thousands of workers to a site just east of the city. Casinos and showgirl venues opened up on Fremont Street, the town’s sole paved road, to attract the project’s workers. When the dam was completed in 1936, cheap hydroelectricity powered the flashing signs of along Fremont Street.

In 1941 the El Rancho Vegas resort opened on a section of highway just outside the city’s jurisdiction. Other hotel-casinos soon followed, and the section of highway became known as “the Strip.” In 1946 mobster Bugsy Siegel, backed by East Coast Jewish gangster Meyer Lansky’s Mexican drug money, opened the Flamingo, a swank resort that took its cues from Hollywood. Top-drawer talent was booked for its lounges and dozens of celebrities attended its Christmas Day opening.

Siegel was murdered in 1947, but his vision for Las Vegas lived on: During the 1950s and 1960s, mobsters helped build the Sahara, the Sands, the New Frontier and the Riviera. Money from organized crime combined with funds from more respectable investors—Wall Street banks, union pension funds, the Mormon Church and the Princeton University endowment.

Tourists flocked to the resorts—8 million a year by 1954—drawn by performers such as Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and Elvis Presley, and by rows of slot machines and gaming tables.

In 1966 Howard Hughes checked into the penthouse of the Desert Inn and never left, preferring to buy the hotel rather than face eviction. He bought other hotels too—$300 million worth—ushering in an era in which mob interests were displaced by corporate conglomerates.

In 1989 longtime casino developer Steve Wynn opened the Mirage, the city’s first mega-resort. Over the next two decades the strip was transformed yet again: Old casinos were dynamited to make room for massive complexes taking their aesthetic cues from ancient Rome and Egypt, Paris, Venice, New York and other glamorous escapes.

Casinos and entertainment remained Las Vegas’ major employer, and the city grew with the size of the resorts and the numbers of annual visitors. In 2008, even as residents faced recession, rising unemployment and a housing price collapse, the city still received nearly 40 million visitors (compared to 6,000,000 visitors in 1970).

I’ve put together this population history:

1900:   22
1910:   800
1920:   2,300
1930:   5,165
1940:   8,422
1950:   24,624
1960:   64,405
1970:   125,787
1980:   164,674  (metro – 463,000)
1990:   258,300  (metro – 741,500)
2000:   478,434  (metro – 1,400,000)
2010:   583,800  (metro – 1,952,000)
2020:   644,644  (metro – 2,200,000)
No surprise – Las Vegas grew more in the 20th century than any other city in the U.S. (by far).  By the way, Chicago holds that title for the 19th century, growing from under 5,000 in 1840 to 1,700,00 in 1900 . . .

To close things down, let’s take a quick look at Cold Creek, an unincorporated “community” nearby:

I noticed some lovely pictures posted on GE near Cold Creek.  Here’s a sampling; first this by Jonathon Berman:

And another by Mr. Berman:

And this, by Chris Nunley:

I’ll close with another beauty by (who else?) Jonathon Berman:

That’ll do it . . .




© 2019 A Landing A Day


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Terlingua, Texas

Posted by graywacke on January 31, 2020

First timer?  In this formerly once-a-day blog (and now pretty much a once-a-week blog), I use an app that provides 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 or towns 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) please see “About Landing” above.  To check out some relatively recent changes in how I do things, check out “About Landing (Revisited).”

Landing number 2471; A Landing A Day blog post number 908.

Dan:  Today’s lat/long (N29o 40.720’, W103o 37.173’) puts me in the Big Bend area of Texas:

My local landing map shows that I landed way out in the boonies, Miles from Nowhere (credit to Cat Stevens).

I have a very-straightforward streams-only map:

I landed in the Terlingua Creek watershed (1st hit ever!); on to the Rio Grande (53rd hit). 

Note to those few readers who really pay close attention:  I used my standard parenthetical phrase (“1st hit ever!”) that has always been reserved for rivers; not used for creeks.  Well, I am in charge of this blog and I make the rules and I break the rules as I please.  Terlingua Creek is 83 miles long; I’ve had countless “rivers” that are shorter than that.  Ergo – I’m treating Terlingua Creek as if it were a river.  Please address any complaints in the comment section. . .

Even though I’m Miles from Nowhere, I can still manage to have the Orange Dude get a decent look at my landing, courtesy of Google Earth (GE):

And here’s what he sees:

I told the OD to head south, and see if he can find the spot where his road crosses Terlingua Creek.  He complied:


And here’s what he sees:

Pretty obvious that water almost never flows into those drainage structures, eh?

While I had the OD’s ear, I asked him politely to head back north to the end of the dirt road that runs west to east just south of my landing:

And here’s what he sees:

Cowboy Mining Company, eh?  And let’s take a look at the disturbed area very close to my landing, evidently associated with the Cowboy Mining Company:

Of course, I Googled the company.  And what the heck.  I’ll jump right to a very quick video (less than one minute long):

So Cowboy Mining Company mines sodium bentonite.  What’s that?  From Cowboy:

Sodium bentonite is a naturally occurring clay that acts uniquely when it comes in contact with water. When bentonite becomes wet, it absorbs the water and expands many times its dry size to form a watertight membrane or barrier.

Got that? When bentonite gets wet, it expands and becomes entirely impervious to water.  Back to the website, with a little geology:

Bentonite’s parent material, volcanic ash, is the direct by-product of plate tectonics.

During the Crustaceous Period (from 145 to 65 million years ago), the North American Plate drifted westward forcing the eastern edge of the Pacific plate which was diving deep into the earth’s mantle.

Soon a chain of volcanoes stretching from Mexico to southern Canada were spraying large quantities of ash and lava. During these near-continuous eruptions, ash billowed up into high altitude winds. The prevailing winds carried the ash eastward. As the ash began to fall back to earth, it accumulated into deposits that can be seen today.

As the ash drifted east, it landed into the “Western Interior Seaway,” which existed at that time:

As the ash fall subsided, the only activity was the slow accumulation of sediment eroding from nearby landforms. Over the subsequent millions of years, minerals from within the ash and elements in the sea water combined to form the intricate chemical lattice that makes bentonite so unique. Sediment accumulated into massive layers above this mineral-rich soup. The weight slowly compacted the bentonite beds into distinct layers within the Cretaceous formations.

OK.  But what happens next is critical:

Sixty million years ago a period of intense mountain building caused folding and raising of the North American plate. This action elevated the formations and drained the sea.

Class:  Pay attention!  What used to be a seabed got lifted way the heck up above sea level!

The rising land mass began drying up as water trapped within the formations migrated downward. This action further refined the ash by carrying dissolved silica out of the bed, down into the underlying mud.

In the millions of years since, thousands of feet of sediment have eroded from these mountains re-exposing the bentonite layers.

So.  It turns out that I have been professionally aware of bentonite my whole career.  I work in the field of subsurface environmental investigations and cleanups.  One of the things that we do is install groundwater wells for the sole purpose of collecting samples of the groundwater to see if it’s contaminated. 

Without “boring” you with details (one of our standard drilling jokes), we use bentonite to seal around the well; and after the well has outlived its usefulness, we abandon the wells using bentonite. 

My wife and I (my wife, really) is part owner of a drilling company that uses bentonite.  So I went out in our shop where we store supplies, and here’s what I found:

Hmmm.  PDS Bentonite Plug – Natural Sodium Bentonite.  Of course, I was curious if I could figure out if this bentonite comes from the Cowboy Mine right next to my landing. 

Well, the Cowboy Mining website says that they’re a subsidiary of PDS Inc. (getting warmer), so I went to the PDS website.  Here’s their home page (highlighted by yours truly):

I figured they might have numerous bentonite mines in West Texas, but they weren’t clear about that (and they didn’t mention Cowboy Mining).  With some further perusal of the website, I found this photo:

Note the mesa (or ridge) in the background. 

I sent the OD back out to the road adjacent to my landing, and had him look East.  Here’s what he saw:

Ding! Ding! Ding!  Same mesa!  No doubt about it.  The bentonite we buy comes from the mine located directly adjacent to landing 2471! 

Moving right along . . .

Since Terlingua is titular, I knew I needed to say something about it.  I found a piece in TexasHighways.com.  Here are a few excerpts:

From about 1900 to 1950, the Big Bend region was one of America’s top producers of mercury, also known as quicksilver, an element extracted from cinnabar ore. About a dozen mines operated in the Terlingua Quicksilver District. Mining companies dug shafts hundreds of feet deep and lugged out cinnabar by hand, cart, and burro. Furnaces heated the scarlet-red rock to release mercury vapor, which was condensed into liquid metal and bottled in cast-iron flasks. Railroads shipped the flasks around the globe as World Wars I and II drove demand for quicksilver to make ammunition and explosives, as well as thermometers.

Mining heritage is nowhere more tangible than in Terlingua. Terlingua Ghost Town, as it’s now known, inhabits the skeleton of the 1903 Chisos Mining Company. Chicago industrialist Howard Perry opened the mine after discovering that land he received as payment for a debt happened to sit atop rich cinnabar deposits. (According to one legend, the ore was so prevalent that a cowboy observed drops of quicksilver form on the ground from the heat of a branding fire.)

The Chisos Mine turned out to be the biggest mercury producer in the region, and at times, in the nation. In the town’s heyday of the 1910s and ’20s, as many as 2,000 people lived in Terlingua, which had a post office, company store, hotel, school, and dance pavilion. Most of the residents were Mexicans who had moved north to escape the violence of the Mexican Revolution and oppressive working conditions in Mexican mines. Finding work in Terlingua, they built simple homes of stacked limestone rocks and adobe mortar.

Here are a couple back-in-the-day shots of Teringua:

Continuing the geological bent of this post, here’s a little about the mercury-containing mineral, Cinnabar, from Geology.com:

Cinnabar is a toxic mercury sulfide mineral with a chemical composition of HgS. It is the only important ore of mercury. It has a bright red color that has caused people to use it as a pigment, and carve it into jewelry and ornaments for thousands of years in many parts of the world. Because it is toxic, its pigment and jewelry uses have almost been discontinued.

Here’s a picture from the same website (caption below):

Chinese red (cinnabar) lacquer box: A carved wooden box with a red lacquer finish from China’s Ming Dynasty Period (box c. 1522-1566). Boxes like this were frequently painted with a lacquer containing a cinnabar pigment.

As an environmental geologist, I’m a little concerned about toxic mercury contamination in and around Terlingua.  An article entitled “Mercury concentrations and distribution in soil, water, mine waste leachates, and air in and around mercury mines in the Big Bend region, Texas, USA” caught my interest, so I checked it out (well, I checked out the abstract). 

Amazingly, it looks like it’s not as bad as one might think . . .

I’ll close with a couple of shots posted on GE.  First this, a look at the road that runs north-south just east of my landing (the one the OD visited), by Dave Liale:

And this, a shot of a funky old bus, permanently parked in Terlingua by Harlan Kraft:

I’ll close with this, a shot from near the road just east of my landing (looking south, by John Roberts):

That’ll do it . . .




© 2019 A Landing A Day


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