A Landing a Day

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New Harmony, Indiana

Posted by graywacke on April 18, 2019

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 2440; A Landing A Day blog post number 875.

Dan:  Today’s lat/long (N38o 2.840’, W87o 59.114’) puts me in far southern Indiana:

Here’s my local landing map:

(At the end of this post I’ll explain why I circled the two islands.)

No need for a streams-only map to show that I landed in the watershed of the Wabash River (29th hit).  But I’ll still use a streams-only map to get the broader picture:

So, the Wabash (which is the boundary between Indiana and Illinois) flows south to the Ohio (151st hit).  Of course, from there, we meander along the mighty Ohio to the Mightiest of Them All (947th hit).

I fired up good ol’ Google Earth (GE) and found that this very-rural part of Indiana and Illinois has excellent Street View coverage.  I was able to put the Orange Dude within a few hundred yards of my landing:

But, as you can see, my landing is in the woods, so there’s no way we get a clean look at my landing.  But here’s what the OD sees:

I sent the OD to a nearby bridge to get a look at the Wabash:

And here ’tis:

I had the OD take a look at the bridge itself:

And what-the-heck.  Since we’re so close to the Ohio, I figured we might as well check it out.  The OD found a bridge about 10 miles downstream from the confluence with the Wabash:

It’s time for the titular New Harmony, which has a very interesting history.  From Wiki:

Established by the Harmony Society in 1814 under the leadership of George Rapp, the town was originally known as Harmony. In its early years, the 20,000-acre settlement was the home of Lutherans who had separated from the official church in Germany and immigrated to the United States.

These folks must have had some money.  Twenty thousand acres?  That’s huge – about a 6 mile x 5 mile hunk of land.  So, I had to take a quick look at Harmony Society.  It was Wiki-clickable:

The Harmony Society was a Christian theosophy society founded in Germany in 1785. Due to religious persecution by the Lutheran Church and the government, the group moved to the United States, where representatives initially purchased land in Butler County, Pennsylvania. In 1805 the group of approximately 400 followers formally organized the Harmony Society, placing all their goods in common.

“Theosophy” was Wiki-clickable:

Theosophy refers to a range of positions within Christianity which focus on the attainment of direct, unmediated knowledge of the nature of divinity and the origin and purpose of the universe. Theosophy has been characterized as mystical and occultist.  Theosophy is considered part of Western esotericism, which believes that hidden knowledge or wisdom from the ancient past offers a path to enlightenment and salvation.

Wow.  I love that these guys were on the edge, and searching for the answers to fundamental questions, like the origin and purpose of the universe.    I wonder what they’d think about the Big Bang?   I often wonder why modern religious practice seems to ignore issues like the origin, size, and future of the universe.

Watch out!  I need to keep to my ALAD script . . .

So, Rapp and friends built a town on their 20,000 acres but left after only 10 years to head back to Pennsylvania.  One can only wonder what happened.  Since “all their goods” were held in common, it sounds like an attempt at a socialist utopian commune. 

As good as the idea of a utopian commune may sound, they never seem to work out.  Resentments and rivalries always seem to win out in the end.

Anyway, they sold their land to a guy named Robert Owen.  You guessed it, he was Wiki-clickable:

Robert Owen (1771 – 1858) was a Welsh textile manufacturer, social reformer, and one of the founders of utopian socialism and the cooperative movement. Owen is best known for his efforts to improve the working conditions of his factory workers and his promotion of experimental socialistic communities.

Now wait a minute.  So Robert Owen bought up a failed socialist utopian commune to found a . . . socialist utopian commune?  OK.  Here’s A Landing A Day’s recreation of a conversation between Robert Owen and George Rapp.

George:  So you want to buy this place, eh?  What do you want to do with it?

Robert:  I have become a believer in socialist communal living, and I’d like to establish a community to prove that it can work.

George:  Good luck with that.  I guess that you hadn’t heard that that was exactly what I tried to do. 

Robert:  What went wrong?

George:  Human nature.  Right out of the gate, not everyone pulled their weight, but everyone was treated equally.  You’ll never guess what happened next.  Resentments flared up. Rival factions were formed.  Some men who thought I was doing everything wrong were planning a mutiny.  I expelled a few families, but it only got worse.  I’ll spare you some of the nastier details . . .

Robert:    Ouch.

George:  So what will you do to prevent our mistakes?

Robert:  I don’t have a clue, but I can’t back out now.  I have hundreds of people convinced that it’ll work, so I’ll try my best.

George:  I bet you don’t last 10 years.

Robert:  You’re probably right . . .

Back to Wiki’s piece on Robert:

In the early 1800s, Owen became wealthy as an investor and eventual manager of a large textile mill at New Lanark, Scotland.  In 1824, Owen traveled to America, where he invested the bulk of his fortune in an experimental socialistic community at New Harmony, Indiana, the preliminary model for Owen’s utopian society.

The experiment was short-lived, lasting about two years. Other Owenite utopian communities met a similar fate.

While operating his textile mill, Owen instituted the 8-hour day and coined the slogan:  “Eight hours labour, Eight hours recreation, Eight hours rest.”

Owen embraced socialism in 1817, a turning point in his life, and began making specific efforts to implement what he described as his “New View of Society.”

Owen proposed that communities of about 1,200 people should be settled on land from 1,000 to 1,500 acres, with all of them living in one large building that had a public kitchen and dining halls.

Owen also recommended that each family should have its own private apartments and the responsibility for the care of their children until they reached the age of three. Thereafter, children would be raised by the community-at-large, but their parents would have access to them at mealtimes and on other occasions.

Owen further suggested that these socialistic communities might be established by individuals, churches, counties, or other governmental units. In every case there would be effective supervision by qualified persons. The work and the enjoyment of its results should be experienced communally.

Owen believed that his idea would be the best form for the re-organisation of society in general. He called his vision for a socialistic utopia the “New Moral World.”

Somehow, I’m not surprised that New Harmony failed . . .

In spite of the town’s failure, its various residents were quite distinguished and have many accomplishments.  From Wiki:

William Maclure, president of the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia from 1817 to 1840, came to New Harmony during the winter of 1825–26.  Maclure brought a group of noted artists, educators, and fellow scientists, including naturalists Thomas Say and Charles-Alexandre Lesueur.

Say has been called the father of American descriptive entomology [bugs] and American conchology [mollusks].  Say died in New Harmony in 1834 [well after Owen left.]

Charles-Alexandre Lesueur was a naturalist and artist. His sketches of New Harmony provide a visual record of the town during the Owenite period. As a naturalist, Lesueur is known for his classification of Great Lakes fishes. Many species were first described by both Say and Leseuer, and many have been named in their honor.

Gerard Troost, a Dutch geologist, mineralogist, zoologist, and chemist who arrived in New Harmony in 1825 later became the state geologist of Tennessee from 1831 to 1850.

David Dale Owen (1807–1860), third son of Robert Owen, finished his formal education as a medical doctor in 1837. However, after returning to New Harmony, he was influenced by the work of Gerard Troost.

Owen went on to become a noted geologist. Headquartered at New Harmony, Owen conducted the first official geological survey of Indiana. Owen led federal surveys of the Midwestern United States, which included Iowa, Missouri, Wisconsin, Minnesota, and part of northern Illinois.

In 1846 Owen sampled a number of possible building stones for the Smithsonian Institution Building (the Smithsonian “Castle”) and recommended the distinctive Seneca Creek sandstone of which that building is constructed.

Owen became the first state geologist of three states: Kentucky, Arkansas and Indiana.

Richard Owen (1810–1890), Robert Owen’s youngest son, came to New Harmony in 1828 and initially taught school there.  He assisted his brother with geological surveys and became Indiana’s second state geologist.

After the Civil War, Owen became a professor of natural sciences at Indiana University in Bloomington, where an academic building is named in his honor. In 1872 he became the first president of Purdue University.

Wow.  New Harmony has quite the distinguished alums.

There’s a good article by Jay Jones from the Chicago Tribune about New Harmony entitled “Indian’s Attempt at Utopia:  New Harmony.”  It is well worth the read.  Click HERE to check it out.

One other footnote about Robert Owen.  He was well published, and one of the people who knew (and approved of) Owen’s work was one Karl Marx.  One area where they differed:  Owen believed that a utopian socialist society could spread from seeds planted in many locations.  Marx believed that a political revolution by the working class was necessary.

Basically, Marx was more correct.  But Marxism failed because of that pesky bit of human nature discussed earlier . . .

Before I close this down, I need a quick word about two features highlighted on my local landing map:  Ribeyre Island and Greathouse Island.  They were both formed when large meanders of the Wabash River were cut off (short-circuited) during a large flooding event.

The funny thing is that the boundary between Illinois and Indiana was delineated before the cutoff event occurred.  And evidently, the river per se was not listed as the boundary between Indiana and Illinois; rather the line on the map was so designated. 

End result?  These large chunks of real estate remained with Indiana, even though they are physically on the Illinois side of the Wabash! 

Greathouse Island is for sale.  Here’s a sales video:


Speaking of the Wabash, I’ll close with two GE shots of the river near my landing.  First this, by Thomas Epley:

And then this, by Leica Carol:

That’ll do it . . .




© 2019 A Landing A Day


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Courtland and Muscle Shoals, Alabama

Posted by graywacke on April 9, 2019

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 2439; A Landing A Day blog post number 874.

Dan:  Today’s lat/long (N34o 39.375’, W87o 21.494’) puts me in northwest Alabama:

Here’s my local landing map:


My streams-only map shows that I landed in the watershed of Big Nance Creek:

As you can see, the Big Nance flows right into the dammed-up Tennessee River (34th hit).  Although not shown, the Tennessee makes its way to the Ohio (150th hit); to the MM (946th hit).

Moving over to Google Earth (GE), I saw that I landed right next to what appears to be a decent-sized airport:

But the town of Courtland is teeny, so such a robust airport makes no sense.  I zoomed in and could find just one little airplane on the entire facility.  Well, it turns out that it is the Courtland airport, but it was built as a training facility for WW II pilots.   

Staying with GE, I have an excellent Street View shot of my landing:

Here’s the Orange Dude’s look at my landing:

Staying with GE, I sent the OD on a mission to get a look at the Big Nance:


And here’s the shot he sent back:

The OD (who has a nose for big water) suggested that he head north.  He found a road that crosses the top of the Wheeler Dam across the Tennessee River.  He positioned himself on the north side of the dam:

It’s important to realize that the upstream side of the dam (to the right) is 40 – 50 feet higher than the downstream side of the dam.  This difference in elevation allows for the generation of hydroelectric power. 

So, here’s what he sees:

Hmmm.  What’s that frothy ring of white water?  Here’s a different angle, showing that I’m near the locks, which allow boats to traverse the 50’ elevation difference:

And here’s a close-up:

My guess is that when they’re lowering the water in the locks, it ends up coming up through the ring.  And it just so happens that there was a tugboat and barges in the canal, headed (I presume) downstream:

The Wheeler Dam cost $87,655,000 back in 1936.  Using an inflation calculator, one dollar in 1936 is worth about $18.20 today.  So that was one damn expensive dam, at about $1.8 billion in today’s dollars . . .

Moving on to my closest town, Courtland.  Wiki lets us know that a Notable Person from Courtland is Jack Shackleford, “one of the few survivors of the Goliad Massacre.” 

The Goliad Masacre was part of the Texas Revolution, back in the 1830s.  From Wiki:

The Goliad massacre was an event of the Texas Revolution that occurred on March 27, 1836, following the Battle of Coleto.  As ordered by General (and President of Mexico) Santa Anna; 425-445 prisoners of war from the Texian Army of the Republic of Texas were killed by the Mexican Army in the town of Goliad, Texas.

Under a decree pressured by Santa Anna and passed by the Mexican Congress on December 30 of the previous year, armed foreigners taken in combat were to be treated as pirates and executed. The local Mexican commander General Urrea wrote in his diary that he “…wished to elude these orders as far as possible without compromising my personal responsibility.”

Santa Anna responded to this entreaty by repeatedly ordering Urrea to comply with the law and execute the prisoners.  He also had a similar order sent directly to General Portilla, the Commander of the Goliad Post. This order was received by Portilla on March 26, who decided it was his duty to comply despite receiving a countermanding order from Urrea later that same day.

Colonel James Fannin – the commander of the captured Texian Army at Goliad –  asked for humane treatment for himself and his Texian soldiers but his request was abruptly denied.

The next day, Palm Sunday, March 27, 1836, Portilla had between 425 and 445 Texians marched out of Fort Defiance in three columns on the Bexar Road, San Patricio Road, and the Victoria Road, between two rows of Mexican soldiers; they were shot point blank, wounded survivors were clubbed and knifed to death.

Forty Texians were unable to walk. Thirty-nine were killed inside the fortHuerta of the Tres Villas battalion, with a Colonel Garay saving one, Jack Shackelford.

Nearly the entire Texian force was killed, except for Shackleford and 19 others who were saved by Garay and Francita Alavez (the “Angel of Goliad”) to act as doctors or interpreters.  Also surviving were 28 men who feigned death and escaped.


P.S.  Just one month later, the Texians won their war for Independence when Santa Anna was defeated at the battle of San Jacinto.

Moving right along . . .

As soon as I saw the town name “Muscle Shoals,” I wondered why it was so familiar to me.  Before solving that little mystery, just a quick word on how the town got its name.  Before the Tennessee was all dammed up by the TVA, it ran free through northern Alabama.  In fact, there were numerous rapids, including one named for the prolific number of freshwater mussels that were present.

Well, back in the day, the word “mussels” was sometimes spelled “muscles.”  And I suspect that most of my readers know that “shoal” is another word for “shallow.”  So, there you have it.

I happen to know a little about the lifecycle of freshwater mussels (at least those that live in the Delaware River).  The males send out a bunch of sperm that the females take in as part of their normal water-filtering lifestyle.  The female’s eggs are fertilized.  She then dangles a small protrusion outside of her shell – a “lure” that looks to an eel like something to eat.  The eel comes over, interested in a meal, but instead is blasted by a bunch of fertilized eggs that are in a sac that somehow attaches itself to the eel.  Tiny hatchlings develop while cruising around with the eel, and then drop off into sediment where the baby mussels can fully develop.

Incidentally, the eels themselves migrate out to the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, to the “Sargasso Sea,” which is a huge eddy current east of the Gulf Stream.  They mate and drop fertilized eggs to drift in the ocean for 1 – 2 years.  Somehow, these fertilized eggs / baby eels get carried close enough to the Delaware Bay, and then the baby eels know enough to head up the river, where they may eventually get faked out by some no-good mussel . . .

There’s a similar story for Tennessee River mussels, but it involves fish, not eels.

Back to why Muscle Shoals was familiar to me. It’s all about the song “Sweet Home Alabama” by Lynyrd Skynyrd.  Here’s one of the verses:

Muscle Shoals has got the Swampers.
And they’ve been known to pick a song or two.
Lord, they get me off so much,
They pick me up when I’m feelin’ blue.
Now, how ’bout you?

As a listener to classic rock radio, I’ve heard this song maybe hundreds of times (although I’ve never owned or downloaded any Skynyrd music).  Anyway, the town of Muscle Shoals has a long tradition as a musical center.  From Wiki:

Muscle Shoals hosted the recording of many hit songs from the 1960s to today at two studios: FAME Studios, founded by Rick Hall, where Arthur Alexander, Percy Sledge, Aretha Franklin, Wilson Pickett, Otis Redding and numerous others recorded; and Muscle Shoals Sound Studio, founded by studio musicians known as The Swampers, which produced work for Bob Dylan, Paul Simon, the Rolling Stones and others.

As a longtime Neil Young fan, I have to mention Neil’s prominent place in the song’s lyrics.  From Wiki:

“Sweet Home Alabama” was written as an answer to two songs by Neil Young, “Southern Man” and “Alabama”, which dealt with themes of racism and slavery in the American South. “We thought Neil was shooting all the ducks in order to kill one or two,” said Ronnie Van Zant at the time.  Lyrics from the song:

Well, I heard Mister Young sing about her
Well, I heard ol’ Neil put her down
Well, I hope Neil Young will remember
A Southern man don’t need him around anyhow

In his 2012 autobiography Waging Heavy Peace, Young commented on his role in the song’s creation, writing “My own song ‘Alabama’ richly deserved the shot Lynyrd Skynyrd gave me with their great record. I don’t like my words when I listen to it. They are accusatory and condescending, not fully thought out, and too easy to misconstrue”.

What the heck.  Here’s Neil’s “Alabama” with the lyrics:

Yea, I guess so . . .

I had a “P.S.” earlier, and now it’s time for another one:

P.S.S.  There’s a live 1977 version of Sweet Home Alabama played by Lynyrd Skynyrd in Oakland.  Ronnie Van Sant (the lead singer) has a Neil Young t-shirt.  Here’s a screenshot from the YouTube video:

And yet another.

P.S.S.S.  Neil Young was a pall bearer at Ronnie Van Sant’s funeral.

I’ll close out this post with a GE shot from about 4 miles NW of my landing, by Frank Tuttle:


That’ll do it . . .




© 2019 A Landing A Day

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White Swan and Mount Adams, Washington

Posted by graywacke on April 2, 2019

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 2438; A Landing A Day blog post number 873.

Dan:  Today’s lat/long (N46o 10.817’, W120o 42.569’) puts me in S-Cen Washington:

Here’s my local landing map:

My streams only map shows that I landed in the watershed of Dry Creek (which I presume is not dry after a major rain):

Dry Creek flows into the presumably-wetter Satus Ck; on to the Yakima River (5th hit; the 171st river on my list of rivers with 5 or more hits); on to the Columbia (178th hit).

Moving along to Google Earth (GE), I couldn’t convince the Orange Dude to get close enough to my landing for a decent look.  However, he did manage to kind of sort of get a look at Dry Creek:

I said “kind of sort of” because all the OD could see from the roadway are trees.  No water, no stream bed.  Here’s what he sees, from just past the end of the bridge:

Moving further up the road and looking down at the creek, you can see that this is an arid area, and the only green is immediately along the creek:

Not only is White Swan titular, it’s also the town closest to my landing.  From Wiki:

White Swan is an unincorporated community located on the Yakama Indian Reservation, presumably named after Chief White Swan of the Yakamas around the start of the 20th century.

Under “Famous Residents” (in addition to the owners of the legendary racehorse Seattle Slew) is one Nipo Strongheart.  Nipo is wiki-clickable, and I found he had an amazingly robust Wiki entry (with 197 reference docs).  So who is this dude?

Rather than spend an inordinate amount of time distilling the incredibly-lengthy Wiki article, I found a much more digestible video piece from North West IndianNews (NWIN) about Nipo:


He worked with Cecile D. DeMille on the film “Braveheart” in 1925.  He aided in the writing and production of the movie, with emphasis on preserving Yakama Indian fishing rights.  Here’s a clip of the movie (which seems like a documentary until there’s a maiden in distress):

Wiki points out that in his later years, he was an adherent of the Bahá’í faith.

I’ve heard of this religion but knew nothing about it.  After a little research, I found that Bahá’í is quite interesting.  From Wiki:

The Bahá’í Faith is a religion teaching the essential worth of all religions, and the unity and equality of all people.  Established by Bahá’u’lláh in 1863, it initially grew in Iran and parts of the Middle East, where it has faced ongoing persecution since its inception.  It is estimated to have between 5 and 8 million adherents, known as Bahá’ís, spread out into most of the world’s countries and territories.

It grew from the mid-19th-century Bábí religion, whose founder (the Báb) taught that God would soon send a prophet in the same way of Jesus or Muhammad.  In 1863, after being banished from his native Iran, Bahá’u’lláh (1817–1892) announced that he was this prophet. He was further exiled, spending over a decade in the prison city of Acre in Ottoman Palestine.

Following Bahá’u’lláh’s death in 1892, the leadership of the religion fell to his son `Abdu’l-Bahá (1844–1921), and later his great-grandson Shoghi Effendi (1897–1957).

Bahá’í teachings are in some ways similar to other monotheistic faiths: God is considered single and all-powerful. However, Bahá’u’lláh taught that religion is orderly and progressively revealed by one God through Manifestations of God who are the founders of major world religions throughout history; Buddha, Jesus, and Muhammad being the most recent in the period before the Báb and Bahá’u’lláh.

Bahá’ís regard the major religions as fundamentally unified in purpose, though varied in social practices and interpretations. There is a similar emphasis on the unity of all people, openly rejecting notions of racism and nationalism. At the heart of Bahá’í teachings is the goal of a unified world order that ensures the prosperity of all nations, races, creeds, and classes.

Shoghi Effendi, the head of the religion from 1921 to 1957, wrote the following summary of what he considered to be the distinguishing principles of Bahá’u’lláh’s teachings:

  • The independent search after truth, unfettered by superstition or tradition;
  • the oneness of the entire human race;
  • the basic unity of all religions;
  • the condemnation of all forms of prejudice, whether religious, racial, class or national;
  • the harmony which must exist between religion and science;
  • the equality of men and women, the two wings on which the bird of human kind is able to soar;
  • the introduction of compulsory education;
  • the adoption of a universal auxiliary language;
  • the abolition of the extremes of wealth and poverty;
  • the institution of a world tribunal for the adjudication of disputes between nations;
  • the exaltation of work, performed in the spirit of service, to the rank of worship;
  • the glorification of justice as the ruling principle in human society, and of religion as a bulwark for the protection of all peoples and nations;
  • and the establishment of a permanent and universal peace as the supreme goal of all mankind.

Not quite “Imagine” by John Lennon, but getting there . . .

Time to move on to Mount Adams. First, this GE shot with my landing in the background:

As my regulars know, I have discussed West Coast plate tectonic geology numerous times in this blog.  So, this will be the Cliff Notes version.  Here’s a cross-section showing that the Cascade Volcanoes (of which Mount Adams is one) are created by the subduction of the Juan De Fuca Plate under the North American Plate:

The subducting plate gets hotter & hotter as it goes deeper (thanks in part of the plate-on-plate friction) and magma (molten rock) is created and makes its way up through the crust to feed the formation of the Cascade Volcanoes, including Mount Adams. 

From the WashingtonStateGeology WordPress blog:

Mount Adams is volumetrically the largest volcano in the Pacific Northwest. It is actually a cluster of volcanic vents that erupted andesitic lava from the vent cluster rather than a single vent. The Mount Adams system is one of the youngest in the Cascade Range and is situated further inland than most Cascade volcanoes.

There have been no historical eruptions in the Mount Adams volcanic field. The volcanic center first erupted between 520,000 and 500,000 years ago and continued up to about 1,000 years ago.

It’s time to close out this post with a plethora of Mount Adams shots from Wiki:

That’ll do it . . .




© 2019 A Landing A Day

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Denton, Hobson and Windham, Montana

Posted by graywacke on March 27, 2019

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 2437; A Landing A Day blog post number 872.

Dan:  Today’s lat/long (N47o 9.389’, W110o 5.490’) puts me smack dab in the middle of Montana:

Before continuing, I thought I’d pause a moment on the expression “smack dab.”  I put it in the search block of my blog and found that I have landed smack dab in the middle of:

  1. the lower 48 (Gypsum and Linsborg, KS)
  2. the Florida peninsula (Poinciana)
  3. Iowa (Kamrar)
  4. South Dakota (Fort Pierre)
  5. Utah (Ephraim)
  6. Texas (Rising Star)
  7. the heartland (Hyannis, NE)
  8. Montana (Lewistown)
  9. Kentucky (Liberty)
  10. Colorado (Fair Play)
  11. Mud Swamp (Valdosta, GA)
  12. South Dakota (Fort Pierre)
  13. Colorado (High Creek Fen)
  14. Illinois (Elkhart and Mount Pulaski)
  15. California (Upper San Joaquin Valley)
  16. Utah (Manti)
  17. Minnesota (Royalton and Little Falls)
  18. Colorado (Palmer Lake)

Of course, I did some research about the origin of the phrase but came up empty.  It’s an American phrase and first appeared in a publication in 1892.

Also – I’ve been told I tend to overuse some words and phrases.  Maybe so . . .

So – here’s my local landing map:

I landed in the watershed of the Sage Creek, on to the Judith River (4th hit); on to the Missouri (435th hit); rolling to the MM (945th hit).

Moving over to Google Earth (GE), I couldn’t get a decent look at my landing or any look at Sage Creek.  But I could persuade the Orange Dude to head up to a bridge over the Judith River:

The lighting was great the day the GoogleMobile traversed the bridge (a mostly-cloudy-yet-beautiful day in October of 2009).  Here’s the look downstream:

And up stream:

Of course, I checked out all of the towns shown on my landing map (plus a few more not shown).  I found no clear, obvious hooks, but did find a little something to write about for each of my titular towns. 

I’ll start with Denton.  Wiki mentions that one Don Koehler was born in Denton.  His name was Wiki-clickable:

Donald A. Koehler (1925 – 1981) is one of 17 known people in medical history to reach a height of 8 feet or more. At his tallest, he measured 8’ 2”.  He was generally recognized as the tallest living man in the world from at least 1969 until his death in 1981. His extreme height was a result of the medical condition acromegalic gigantism.

He was “only” 7’ 10” at his death, due to curvature of the spine.  He died of a heart condition at age 55.

Here he is with talk show host David Frost in 1973:

David Frost appearing with Don Koehler World´s Tallest Man on David Frost Presents the Guinness Book of World Records, October 1973

So what about Hobson?  In the Wiki section entitled “In Popular Culture:”

Several scenes of the 1974 movie, Thunderbolt and Lightfoot starring Clint Eastwood and Jeff Bridges were filmed in Hobson, Montana. These scenes were shot in the St. John’s Lutheran Church, the adjacent wheat field and in the Black Bull Bar & Steakhouse.

The movie’s producer Robert Daley traveled extensively around the Big Sky Country in Montana for thousands of miles and eventually decided to shoot the film in the towns of Ulm, Hobson, Fort Benton, Augusta and Choteau and surrounding mountainous countryside.  St. John’s Lutheran Church in Hobson was used for the opening scene.

Time magazine called the film “one of the most ebullient and eccentric diversions around.” Thunderbolt has an 87% “Fresh” rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The RT consensus is “This likable buddy/road picture deftly mixes action and comedy, and features excellent work from stars Clint Eastwood and Jeff Bridges and first-time director Michael Cimino.”  Jeff Bridges received the film’s only Oscar nomination – Jeff Bridges for Best Supporting Actor.  Thunderbolt has since become a cult film.

Here’s the opening scene, shot in Hobson:

Wiki lets us know that the church was shut down in 1971, before the filming of the movie.  It was dismantled with the intention of reassembling the building as a Lutheran Church 400 miles away.  The church’s various parts never made it to the intended destination; their final disposition (with the exception of wood for a floor in a cabin 100 miles away) is unknown.

Here’s a 2008 Street View shot of the Black Bull Bar and Steakhouse:


Backing up a little:

I’m not sure if it was still open in 2008, but it did close down at some point and was reopened as the Tall Boys Tavern in 2015.

Moving along to Windham.  There’s no Wiki entry, but I did find this about Windham, from MontanaPictures.net:


We first discovered Windham, Montana when we made our first visit to the annual “What the Hay Contest.”  You see, Windham is the landmark you look for to alert you to turn south off Highway 87 onto State Road 541 to Utica, Montana.  Most years they post a colorful statue made of hay, like the one pictured below, to help catch you attention.

The ‘What the Hay’ contest takes place on the Montana Bale Trail every September. The Bale Trail, a 21-mile stretch of road from Windham to Utica to Hobson, Montana features over 50 hay-bale sculptures made by locals and folks from around the region.

Here’s a smattering of the hay bale exhibits:


I’ll close with this GE shot taken by David Cure-Hryciuk about 20 miles west of my landing:

That’ll do it . . .




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San Gabriel Mountains, California

Posted by graywacke on March 19, 2019

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 2436; A Landing A Day blog post number 871.

Dan:  Today’s lat/long (N34o 18.186’, W117o 44.261’) puts me generally in southern California:

Here’s my not-so-local landing map, showing of course that I landed in the San Gabriel Mountains, just north of Los Angeles:

And my streams-only map:

I practically landed in the East Fork of the San Gabriel River (first hit ever! – my 1231st river); on to the San Gabriel River (first hit ever! – my 1232nd river); on to the Pacific Ocean (472nd hit).

Let’s take a Google Earth (GE) look at the same area covered by my local landing map:

Here’s a GE shot looking up the valley of the E Fk of the San Gabriel:

Note my yellow landing pin perched precariously on a very steep hillside. 

And here we are looking over the shoulder of Mount San Antonio (the highest peak in the San Gabriel mountains; aka Mount Baldy; aka Old Baldy), with my landing in the background:

A road with Street View coverage runs along the East Fork; of course, I positioned the Orange Dude to take a look:

And here’s what he sees:

I had the OD head way downstream to where the San Gabriel is getting ready to exit the mountains:

The OD then headed down to the flatlands south of the mountains, where he perched on a bridge, looking upstream:

And then he went even further downstream:

The river has clearly lost its soul . . .

Here’s an oblique GE shot that shows the river from the Pacific Ocean, all the way up to my landing – which is visible in the mountains!

Here’s a closeup of the mouth of the river:

So.  I’m a geologist, and of course, there’s a geologic story to be told about the San Gabriel Mountains.  As always, I will do my best to be both clear and interesting.  We’ll see. 

I’ll start with this USGS map of the faults that surround the San Gabriel Mountains (my landing is just north of the “s” in “Mtns”):

You can probably guess that the raison d’etre for the mountains is all about faulting (and, of course, plate tectonics) – after all, the mountains themselves could be termed a “fault block,” which moves as a single entity.

The northern edge of the mountains is delineated by the San Andreas Fault, and the southern edge, by two faults that pretty much act as one.

I’ve addressed the San Andreas Fault several times on this blog, but most extensively in my Carrizo Plain (and San Andreas Fault) CA post.  From that post:

As a geologist, I’ve always been fascinated by the San Andreas Fault.  It’s a 450-mile long slash through western California (map by Geology.com; note that the Carrizo Plain is highlighted):

You can see by the black arrows that the fault moves laterally (a “transform” fault in plate tectonics speak).  The average movement along the fault is a whopping (and I’m serious!) 2.5 inches/year.  OK, it’s corny, but I have to do it.  How long will it be until San Jose is a suburb of Los Angeles?  Well, it’s about 320 miles between the two cities.  320 miles is 1,690,000 feet, which is 20,275,000 inches.  Divide that by 2.5, and get about 8 million years.  A blink of an eye (geologically speaking).

Getting back to the idea of a transform fault, here’s a Wiki picture (by Los688) showing typical transform faults (the red lines).  Note the relationship between transform faults and the spreading center (the black lines).

The above figures are the classic example of a transform fault, which connects displaced portions of tectonic spreading centers (where new crust is created, like the Mid-Atlantic Ridge spreading center).  Transform faults are common and can be found all over the world (mostly, like those associated with the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, under water).

Google Earth (bless her heart) actually shows sea-floor topography.  Here’s a GE shot with a long transform fault across the Mid-Atlantic Ridge:

But the San Andreas is the mother of all transform faults.  And it rips across land!  What’s going on?

Big picture:  Prior to about 30 million years ago, a typical subduction zone was active along the entire California coast.  You all know what a subduction zone is, right?  It’s where oceanic crust (being driven by a spreading center) plunges below continental crust.  I featured subduction zone geology in my Mt. Shasta post (type Shasta in the search box to check it out).  Subduction is still going on off the northern California, Oregon and Washington coasts (causing all of the Cascade volcanoes).  Here’s a graphic I used for that post (by legacy.net):

It turns out that subduction stopped and was replaced by transform movement around 25 – 30 million years ago (more about this later).  It also turns out that I’ve spoken before of the now-defunct ancient subduction zone, in my fairly recent (January 2015) Carrizozo Malpais & Sierra Blanca NM post.  From that post, here’s a picture of the Sierra Blanca Mountain (from the NM Museum of Natural History & Science):


And also from that post, here’s what I lifted from the town of Ruidoso website about the above mountain (this sets the stage very nicely):

The White Mountain (Sierra Blanca) Wilderness Area is situated on the erosional remnants of an ancient volcano that probably once resembled Mount Ranier in Washington state.

This ancient volcano is approximately 25 to 40 million years old. During this time period, an oceanic tectonic plate was subducting under California creating a volcanic mountain chain that extended from Colorado, through New Mexico and west Texas, and into northern Mexico. This ancient volcanic mountain chain was very similar in composition and geologic setting to the current Cascade Mountain range in the Pacific northwest. Only further inland.

About 25 million years ago, the plate boundary changed. The plates began sliding past one another rather than one going under the other. The famous San Andreas Fault was born. This birth was the death of the subduction mechanism that created the volcanic chain in New Mexico. As a result, volcanism ceased around 25 million years ago and erosion has been the dominant geological force ever since.

The volcano has seen the upper half of its cone beveled by erosion over the last 25 million years. The lower half of the volcano is what is now present and exposed in the canyons of the Sierra Blanca Wilderness.

So, once again, beginning about 25-30 million years ago, subduction ceased along most of the California coast, replaced by lateral movement along the plate boundary.  My big question is why?

I spent an inordinate amount of internet time trying to get a gut-level answer to this question.  No luck.  The best I can do is a US Geological Survey website that purports to answer that exact question.  Here’s the graphic from the article (note that the Farallon plate subducted, but the Pacific Plate didn’t):

This shows that as soon as the Pacific Plate bumped into the North American Plate, the Farallon Plate was bifurcated, and became the Cocos Plate (to the south) and the Juan de Fuca Plate to the north.  The Pacific Plate never subducted (unlike the Farallon Plate), and a transform fault formed, such that the Pacific Plate began slipping to the north, rather than subducting.

Trouble is (even though the title of the article is “Evolution of the San Andreas Fault”), the author never clearly explains exactly why it is that the Pacific Plate didn’t subduct.  Oh, well.

Back to now.  And guess what!?!  I now know the answer (well, at least I have a clue), thanks to a California high school kid (and his science teacher) who produced a video on the geology of the San Gabriel Mountains! 

Wyatt Martin (the student and on-screen personality) and Loren Schneider (the teacher, model builder and video producer) are from Serrano High School in Phelan CA – just north of the mountains.

So, my unanswered question is:  Why did the Farallon Plate subduct under the North American Plate (for millions of yeas), but when the Pacific Plate followed on its heels, it did not subduct but rather started to slide laterally past the North American Plate, thereby forming the San Andreas Fault?

The answer became clear (at least clearer) based on an animation that Wyatt presented in the video.  Here’s a screen shot from the animation showing the Farallon Plate subducting under the NA Plate, and the Pacific Plate approaching the North American Plate:

While this is similar to what I presented above, this graphic much more clearly presents the spreading center (shown in red).  The Farallon Plate is heading straight under the North American Plate, but what’s going to happen as the Pacific Plate (and its associated spreading center) approaches?  Well, here’s another screen shot:

So when the spreading center hit the North American Plate, the relative eastward movement stopped; and the movement of the Pacific Plate began to exclusively move northward, away from the spreading center.  See the white line?  That’s the beginnings of the San Andreas Fault. 

So, I don’t really understand all of the details, but at least I have an inkling of what the heck was going on back in the day.  I’m not sure why the spreading center did not proceed unimpeded east under the North American Plate.  But at least I can imagine that a spreading center running into the North American Plate was plenty of reason for the birth of the San Andreas Fault. 

This is why I love geology . . .

So now I need to complete the story about the formation of the San Gabriel Mountains.  I’m going back to Wyatt’s animation, a continuation of the same animation.  This one shows the San Andreas much more extended along the coast – some number of million years have gone by:

And now, here’s another animation screen shot, showing conditions about 5 million years ago:

Notice that the southern portion of the San Andreas has “jumped” east (and was truncated away from the spreading center).  Intuitively, I can imagine that as the North American Plate overrode the spreading center, some pretty serious forces were at work (along with some pretty serious earthquakes) and the spreading center muscled its way east into the North American Plate.  

Here’s the same shot of the San Andreas shown earlier, but note that both the Fault and the coastline jog east in southern California:

During this tectonically chaotic time, chunks of the NA Plate broke off, and were rotated to a more east-west orientation, and uplifted.  One of those chunks ended up the being the San Gabriel Mountains.

So, here’s the full Wyatt Martin / Loren Schneider video:


Here are a couple of GE pics of the E Fk of the San Gabriel River.  First this, by Gareth Mann of the headwaters valley (my landing might be in the picture):


And this, quite a ways downstream, by Mike T:

I’ll close with this shot from somewhere near Mt. Baldy, by Sandi H:


That’ll do it . . .




© 2019 A Landing A Day

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Small Towns Along Route 59 Northeast of Victoria, Texas

Posted by graywacke on March 12, 2019

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 2434; A Landing A Day blog post number 869.

Dan:  Today’s lat/long (N29o 14.043’, W96o 37.807’) puts me generally in SE Texas:

My local map shows a string of towns along Route 59, and although not shown, along a straight stretch of railroad as well:

My streams-only map shows that I landed in the watershed of Sandy Creek:

As you can see, a drop of water from my landing ends up in Lake Texana, on its way to the Lavaca River (3rd hit); on to the Gulf of Mexico. 

Here’s where I put the Orange Dude to get a look at my landing:

And here’s what he saw:

Ain’t much to look at . .

We (the OD and I) went several miles south to where Sandy Creek enters Lake Texana:

And here ‘tis:

This post is about the role of railroads in founding new towns, and what happens when the railroad bypasses an existing town.

As I mentioned earlier, a railroad track runs alongside Route 59, in a very straight line.  I’ll repeat my local landing map so that you can see all of the towns:

I’ll start with Telferner (pop 700).  From Wiki:

The community was established in 1882, when the New York, Texas and Mexican Railway was completed in Texas (from Victoria to Rosenberg). In the early 1900s, the community was named Telferner, after Italian count Joseph Telferner, who was the president and one of the builders of the Railway. By 1904, Telferner was home to roughly 100 residents, with five stores, a gin, and a lumberyard.

The good Count intended to complete a rail line from New York City to Mexico City.  He started in Texas, but never got out of Texas . . .

So, sidings / rail yards were located every 10 miles are so, and naturally, towns grew up in these locations.  So, heading NE out of Telfener, we come to Inez (pop 2000).  From Wiki:

  • Inez was named after the Count’s daughter.
  • In the late 1600s, a French colony called Fort Saint Louis existed near Inez as part of the French claim to the area.

Fort Saint Louis was Wiki-clickable to a page entitled “French Colonization of Texas.”  Say what?

The French colonization of Texas began with the establishment of a fort in present-day southeastern Texas. It was established in 1685 near the present town of Inez by explorer Robert Cavelier de La Salle. He intended to found the colony at the mouth of the Mississippi River, but inaccurate maps and navigational errors caused his ships to anchor 400 miles to the west, off the coast of Texas.

[I hate it when that happens.]

The colony faced numerous difficulties during its brief existence, including Native American raids and epidemics. From that base, La Salle led several expeditions to find the Mississippi River. These did not succeed, but La Salle did explore much of the Rio Grande and parts of east Texas.

As conditions deteriorated, La Salle realized the colony could survive only with help from the French settlements in Illinois Country to the north, along the Mississippi and Illinois Rivers. His expedition north ended along the Brazos River in early 1687, when La Salle and five of his men were murdered during a mutiny.

[Ouch.  A mutiny.  I wonder what La Salle did that drove his men to mutiny . . .]

Although a handful of men reached Illinois Country, help never made it to the fort. Most of the remaining members of the colony were killed during a Karankawa raid in late 1688, although four children survived after being adopted as captives.

Wow.  One of those stories that none of us know . . .

Moving NE from Inez, we hit El Toro (pop 150). Not much to say here, except that “El Toro” is Spanish for “the bull.”

Moving further NE, there’s Edna (pop 5500).  And guess what?  Edna was named for another of the Count’s daughters.  And they have a favorite son, John Willie “Shifty” Henry.  Shifty got his nickname in high school, due to his prowess on the football field.  But he’s a favorite son because of his prowess with a bass guitar. 

Besides bass, he played trumpet and was an accomplished composer.  He was an integral part of the 1940s and 1950s LA music scene.  For part of his career, he played with the Treniers.  Here they are – obviously Shifty is the dude with the bass – playing Ragg Mopp (not Rag Mop as shown on the video):


High energy mid-50s rock ‘n roll.  Interesting that the group instruments are piano, saxophone, bass and drums.  What the heck, here’s another (Get Out of My Car):

Shifty died in an accident in 1957, at age 37.

Continuing our northeasterly trek, we come to Ganado (gah-NAY-doe).  Not much to say, except that Ganado is Spanish for “herd.”  So, we have three town names associated with the Count and two with the cattle business.

I did stumble on one thing about the “Little School of the 400,” which began in Ganado.  It was a pre-school program for Mexican-American children who didn’t speak English.  Some educators were concerned that because of language barriers (and their race), these children were being by-passed by Texas public schools. 

The idea was to make sure that pre-schoolers knew 400 English words before they went to kindergarten.  The idea really caught on, and many Little Schools of the 400 were operated.  The program became a model for other pre-school programs, including Head Start.

If you’re curious (as I was) to see a list of the 400 words, click HERE and go to page 108.  This is from the Master’s Thesis for Eerasmo Vazquez Rios, a student at the University of Nebraska – Lincoln.

Next in line:  Louise.  Think it’s another Telfener daughter?  Nope.  Louise was Telfener’s sister-in-law (his wife’s brother was a major railroad investor; Louise married him). 

One more word about the railroad.  Although the name “Telfener” doesn’t sound particularly Italian, the Count was in fact Italian.  He arranged the housing and meals for the workers building the railroad.  Evidently, that ate lots of pasta and the rail line became known as the “Macaroni Line.”

And now, a quick couple of words about towns that were bypassed by the railroad, and therefore suffered precipitous declines.  First, as seen on my local landing map, Morales.  From the Handbook of Texas Online:

The community grew during the years of the Republic of Texas and early statehood and by 1860 had a post office, a general store, and a Masonic hall. During Reconstruction, Morales experienced a period of extreme lawlessness. It was the site of numerous killings, and travelers opted for routes that avoided the settlement.

Despite the town’s bloodthirsty reputation, by 1870 it had added a gin, a telegraph office—the first in Jackson County—and four saloons. A gristmill and a sawmill followed and were joined soon afterward by several churches and a school.

Morales was on its way to becoming a thriving municipality, but the railroad bypassed it, and it declined quickly. From 1925 to 1945 the population was fifty, and by 1949 it had fallen to twenty-five, where it remained in 1990. The population almost tripled by 2000, reaching seventy-two.

Our last stop is a ghosttown.  Not only does it not exist anymore, but its location is now under Lake Texana just south of my landing.  And yes, the name of the town was Texana.  From TexasEscapes.com:

One of Texas’ oldest ghost towns, the community was formed here in 1832. It had originally been named Santa Anna, after you-know-who, but in 1835 as war clouds formed, the community was renamed Texana.

Texana was thriving in the 1880s and was a hub for stage lines. It was a major port for steamships – and it was reported that as many as 20 ships arrived each week.

But the town was hit by a double-whammy in the mid 1880s when it was first bypassed by Count Telferner’s New York, Texas and Mexican Railroad in 1883, and shortly thereafter, lost an election to Edna for the Jackson County seat of government.

I’ll close with a couple of GE shots.  First this, by Z Harlo of Lake Texana:

And then this, by Rosanna Lopez, of a beautiful sunset over a not-so-beautiful truck stop on Route 59:


That’ll do it . . .




© 2019 A Landing A Day

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Little Creek, Delaware

Posted by graywacke on March 5, 2019

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 2434; A Landing A Day blog post number 869.

Dan:  Today’s lat/long (N39o 10.852’, W75o 29.919’) puts me in E-Cen Delaware:

Oh my!  As my true regulars may know, this is my first landing in Delaware!  I don’t mean my first landing since I’ve been blogging (my last 869 landings); rather, this is my first Delaware landing ever!  So, I landed 2433 times and never hit Delaware.  Until now. 

Speaking of my true regulars, one of them lives in Delaware and is excitedly reading these words right now.  How about that, Bill Gilchrist?!?

By the way, after a mere 814 landings, I had landed in the other 47 states (that’s when I first landed in Rhode Island).  So I’ve been waiting for a Delaware landing for over 1600 landings!

Here’s the bottom of my state hit list (less than 10 hits):

Delaware:        1
Rhode Island:  2
New Jersey:     4
Mass:              5
Conn:              6

Strangely, Vermont has 10 landings and New Hampshire 11.  OK, OK.  So you’re curious about Texas, eh?  Well, I’ve landed there 183 times . . .

Here’s the alphabetically top portion of my state hit list, before today’s landing:

The third column (of course) is the number of hits.  Red means, “never landed there;” i.e., only Delaware.  Blue means “haven’t landed there since I changed how I come up with my random lat/longs;” i.e., my last 218 landings.

Note the column “First Landing.”  You can see that Michigan was the first state in which I landed; and that, for example, it wasn’t until my 371st landing that I hit Connecticut.

For the record, here’s what the same list looks like now:

All righty then.  It’s finally time for my local landing map:

Just for the heck of it, here’s a Google Earth (GE) shot of the vicinity of my landing:

So I landed right next to the state capital.  But am I featuring Dover?  Evidently not!  Instead, there’s this little town of Little Creek east of my landing.

I figured that the town was named after a creek and that I landed in the watershed of Little Creek.   That’s all true, sort of.  Here’s my streams-only map:

So, I landed in the watershed of Little River (obviously, first hit ever).  Wiki points out that Little River is also known as Little Creek (after which the town is named), and is all of 8 miles long.  Personally, I’d go with “creek” . . .

I have pretty good GE Street View coverage:

And here’s what the Orange Dude sees:

I moved the OD to get a good look at Little River:

Er…maybe I should say Little Creek:

To be fair to Little River, I moved him down nearer the town of Little Creek (where the stream is tidal) where it looks more like a river:

The town of Little Creek has its own web site, where they point out that beginning in the late 1800s, Little Creek became a thriving center for the Delaware Bay oyster industry.  They also point out that:

Close-by Pickering Beach is a designated sanctuary for horseshoe crabs. The horseshoe crab is the official the state marine animal, a significant species of the Delaware Estuary.

Here’s a GE shot showing Pickering Beach:

And a GE photo of the beach by Michael Maciarello (unfortunately, with no horseshoe crabs):

But I know that horseshoe crabs are a very interesting critter, so I figured I’d make them my feature for this post.

Horseshoe crabs – essentially unchanged – have been around for about 450 million years.  They are far-and-away the most ancient complex animals.  OK, so a chambered nautilus shellfish and some sponges and jellyfish have been around longer, but horseshoe crabs are real critters!

One of their closest relatives is the trilobite.  Trilobites showed up about 521 million years ago, but had the misfortune of going extinct during the Permian Extinction, about 250 million years ago.  Of course, the horseshoe crab survived the Permian Extinction.

Here’s a shot of the trilobite fossil that my wife Jody gave me:

Horseshoe crabs (and trilobites) belong to the order Arachnid, which makes them cousins to spiders and scorpions…

Females lay eggs on protected beaches at high tide.  They bury numerous batches of eggs, totaling up to 10,000 eggs for a particular high tide.  A smaller male is attached to the lady; he busily fertilizes the eggs after she lays them.  The most prolific breeding grounds in the world – that’s right, in the entire world – are along Delaware Bay, at beaches such as the Pickering Beach mentioned above.

Here’s a picture from the Cape May NJ NPR station (WCAI) of Delaware Bay Horseshoe crabs spawning:


These funky critters have blue blood that has an amazing characteristic.  From Popular Mechanics:

Their distinctive blue blood is used to detect dangerous Gram-negative bacteria such as E. coli in injectable drugs such as insulin, implantable medical devices such as knee replacements, and hospital instruments such as scalpels and IVs. Components of this crab blood have a unique and invaluable talent for finding infection, and that has driven up an insatiable demand. Every year the medical testing industry catches a half-million horseshoe crabs to collect their blood.

About a third of their blood is removed, and those that survive the ordeal (about 70%) are returned to the sea.  But research is lacking to find out the survival rate for those returned.

The relationship between the horseshoe crabs and various migrating shorebirds have been well studied.  Of particular interest is the Red Knot.

From SeaAroundYou.com, I found an article by Deborah Cramer. 

Red knots – sandpipers weighing little more than iPhones – may be in danger of extinction. Their fate depends on how many spawning horseshoe crabs gather each May on the beaches of Delaware Bay.

The birds arrive from Tierra del Fuego, where, in the southern hemisphere’s summer, they winter, feeding on small clams from beaches where the highest tides flow more than four miles across mud and sand.

They stop in Delaware Bay en route to their breeding grounds in the Canadian arctic, a journey of 9300 miles.

The arctic nesting season is short and harsh; there is little to eat on the barren wind-swept tundra. Whether the birds can survive their grueling journey, and arrive in the arctic strong and healthy enough to breed depends upon how well they can refuel along the way.

Horseshoe crab eggs – soft, easily and rapidly digestible, high in lipid – are essential. Red knots, cued to a mysterious call scientists have yet to understand, arrive in Delaware Bay at the last full or new moon in May, when America’s largest population of horseshoe crabs begins to spawn.

In the 1980s, there may have been as many as 20 million horseshoe crabs living in Delaware Bay, and 100,000 to 150,000 red knots wintering in Tierra del Fuego. When migrating birds arrived in Delaware Bay, the beaches were packed with eggs. In one of the world’s most intense feeding frenzies, the birds easily doubled their weight during the 10-14 day layover.

Since then, populations have plummeted. Millions of crabs have been killed as bait for whelk and eel fisheries, and bled for the essential pharmaceutical and medical reasons.   These crabs are returned to the water; some die.

Between 1990 and 2005, the number of horseshoe crabs plummeted by 88%. Egg densities have thinned by 98%, down from 226,000 per square meter to 3400 per square meter, leaving the birds without enough food. The number of red knots passing though Delaware Bay has decreased by 70%.

Regulators reduced the crab take, but by enough and soon enough? Horseshoe crabs mature in 11 – 17 years. The population appears to be stabilizing, but the number of breeding female crabs hasn’t yet increased, and neither has the egg density on Delaware Bay beaches. For now, the future of the red knot hangs in abeyance.

I’ll close with some GE shots; first, this by Morton Fox of some local Delaware Bay wetlands:

Also by Morton:

And then this, by Benjamin Dabson:



That’ll do it . . .




© 2019 A Landing A Day

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Hecla, Nebraska

Posted by graywacke on February 26, 2019

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 2433; A Landing A Day blog post number 868.

Dan:  Today’s lat/long (N42o 2.697’, W101o 14.378’) puts me in Cen-NW Nebraska:

Here’s my local landing map:

Hmmm.  Where the heck is Hecla?  Obviously, more about Hecla in a bit.  But first, what about my watershed?  Well, here’s a streams-only map:

Of course, you’re expecting me to list the various watersheds along with the number of hits I’ve had in each.  Not this time!

So, let’s take a Google Earth look at my landing to see what’s going on:


(Oops.  I see a typo.  The elevation of the low spot is 3380 . . .)

Well looky there.  When it rains, any runoff becomes trapped in a small enclosed basin.  We’re in Nebraska’s Sandhills, which is obviously underlain by sandy soils.  So where does the water go?  Down through the soil, becoming one with a groundwater aquifer system . . .

So getting back to the Hecla mystery.  I guess I need to zoom way in on my local landing map:

Ahh . . . there it is . . . in a teeny font, only visible when you zoom way in.  So I have real black-dot towns like Whitman, Mullen, Hyannis and Seneca, but as you might suspect, they’re all:

So anyway, I figured, what-the-heck, I’ll check on Hecla.  Here’s what Wiki has to say:


OK, so there’s no Wiki entry.  But there is a GhostTowns.com site for Hecla (posted by Brian Garner):

I am not sure if there ever was a post office. The site was more of a whistle stop for the Burlington Railroad. There were a few buildings and a stockyard for the area ranchers to load their cattle onto the trains.

The largest cattle drive in the Sandhills of Nebraska took place here. 5,000 head of steers were moved to Hecla by 19 cowboys and one cook. It took 17 hours and several trains to load all of the cattle.

I think the town was done in by a tornado and was never rebuilt.

Brian posted a couple of great pics:

There’s also a Hecla historic marker:

Don’t feel like you have to read it.  But I’ll repeat the far-and-away most important quote:

“It [the railroad] built a siding named Hecla after a volcano in Iceland.”

Say what?!?  An Icelandic volcano?  AYKM?  I can see that I’ll have to get to the bottom of two issues.  First, what is it about the volcano that inspired some hard-nosed railroaders to name a railroad siding after it?  And secondly, I see an excuse to take a little look at the geology of Iceland.

For starters, Hekla (as the Icelanders spell it) is an active volcano that has erupted more than 20 times since the first recorded eruption in the year 1104.  Several of the eruptions were particularly violent; the volcano became known throughout Europe.

So, here’s some of what Wiki has to say:

In Icelandic, Hekla is the word for a short hooded cloak, which may relate to the frequent cloud cover on the summit.

After the eruption of 1104, stories, probably spread deliberately through Europe by Cistercian monks, told that Hekla was the gateway to Hell.  The Cistercian monk Herbert of Clairvaux wrote in 1180:

The renowned fiery cauldron of Sicily, which men call Hell’s chimney … that cauldron is affirmed to be like a small furnace compared to this enormous inferno [associated with Hekla] . . .

A poem by the monk Benedeit from circa 1120 about the voyages of Saint Brendan mentions Hekla as the prison of Judas.

In the Flatey Book Annal it was recorded that during the 1341 eruption, people saw large and small birds flying in the mountain’s fire which were taken to be souls.

In the 16th century, Caspar Peucer wrote that the Gates of Hell could be found in “the bottomless abyss of Hekla Fell”.

The belief that Hekla was the gate to Hell persisted until the 19th century.

Well, one obvious theory as to why one would call a town “Hecla” is that the namer thinks the town is in a hellish location.  Hecla is in the Sandhill region of Nebraska, which was long considered an inhospitable and economically-devoid region.  From Wiki:

The plant-anchored dunes of the Sandhills were long considered an irreclaimable desert. The fragility of the sandy soil makes the area unsuitable for cultivation of crops. Attempts at farming were made in the region in the late 1870s and again around 1890, both time without success.

That must be it. Hellish it is.

I stumbled on the fact that there is (or was) a Hecla in South Dakota, Montana, Wyoming, Kentucky and Missouri.  Every one of these Heclas has a Wiki entry, but none address the reason that the name “Hecla” was chosen, other than to say that the town was named after the volcano. . .

Funny that “heck” is a gentile word for “hell.”  I wonder if heck comes from Hecla (or Hekla)?  After some amount of internet research, I find no etymological connection . . .

So, what about the geology?  Well, foremost is the fact that Iceland stands astride the Mid-Atlantic Ridge.  Here’s a map showing the Mid-Atlantic Ridge and the most active volcanoes on Iceland: 

Anyway, I want to step back to discuss the Mid-Atlantic Ridge and its role in Plate Tectonics from a historical perspective.  I mostly knew the story but had to refer to Wiki, the Geological Society of America and Prentice Hall publishers.  The following timeline might seem a little random, but it will all come together:

  • 1872: While investigating the possible route of a transatlantic telegraph cable, scientists discovered that a large rise was present in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean between North America and Europe.
  • Late 19th century paleontologists noted similar assemblages of fossils on continents now separated by the Atlantic Ocean.
  • Early 20th century, geologists first noticed that some volcanic rocks were magnetized opposite to the direction of the current Earth’s magnetic field.
  • 1915: Geologist Alfred Wegener proposed his theory of “continental drift,” based on his observation that the east coasts of North and South America were parallel to the west coasts of Africa and Europe; i.e., that the four continents could fit together like a jigsaw puzzle.  Of course, he was also aware of the paleontological evidence.  His theory was very controversial, and not generally accepted because of the lack of a mechanism for moving continents.
  • 1925: The Mid-Atlantic Ridge was found to extend the entire length of the Atlantic Ocean and, in fact extended around Africa into the Indian Ocean.  Here’s a map:

  • In the 1950s, it was discovered that the Ridge includes a deep valley that runs down the middle of the ridge, with this central valley being seismically active.
  • Also in the 1950s, it was discovered that magma magnetized as per the direction of the magnetic field when the magma cooled; it was hypothesized that regular reversals of the earth’s magnetic poles must have happened to cause the remnant magnetism observed in various volcanic rocks.
  • Also in the 1950s, radiometric age-dating methods were developed for igneous rocks such as volcanic rocks.
  • In the 1960s, working with rock cores drilled through volcanic rocks, remnant magnetism and the age of the various layers of volcanic rocks were measured. It was determined that many, many magnetic reversals have occurred.
  • At about the same time, the remnant magnetism of seafloor rocks was measured remotely by research ships as they crossed the Mid-Atlantic Ridge.
  • Stripes of rocks with the same magnetic signature were apparent on either side of the ridge, parallel to the ridge. Most significantly, the stripes on one side of the ridge were a mirror image of stripes on the opposite side of the ridge. 

Here’s a figure showing the relationship between the magnetic stripes and the Mid-Atlantic Ridge:

And another one:

  • Rock samples were collected from the sea floor, and it was found that corresponding magnetic stripes on either side of the ridge were the same age, with the rocks getting progressively older moving away from the ridge.

Bingo!  Do you need anything else?  Spreading centers are present in all of the earth’s oceans, and they are creating ever-larger seafloor tectonic plates.  These plates bump into continental plates, causing all sorts of geologic activity like earthquakes and volcanoes.

The Mid-Atlantic Ridge creates new seafloor at the rate of about an inch per year on either side of the ridge. 

I’ll close with this shot from CourtHouseLover’s Flickr stream (labeled “Nebraska Sandhills (Hecla, Nebraska), as seen from Nebraska State Highway 2  . . . near the defunct town of Hecla:

That’ll do it . . .




© 2019 A Landing A Day

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Nahma, Michigan

Posted by graywacke on February 19, 2019

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 2432; A Landing A Day blog post number 867.

Dan:  Today’s lat/long (N45o 55.485’, W86o 39.828’) puts me on the south shore of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan:

Here’s my local landing map:

My streams-only map:

As you can see, it shows that the drainage from my landing heads west to the Sturgeon River (1st hit ever – my 1,229th river); to Lake Michigan (39th hit); and then, of course, to the St. Lawrence (111th hit).

Google Earth (GE) Street View coverage is so-so for my landing:

And here’s what the Orange Dude sees:

I moved him a couple of miles west and south to get a look at the Sturgeon R:

And here ‘tis (a rare winter Street View):

So what about Nahma?  Well, for starters, “Nahma” is an Ojibwa word for “sturgeon,” appropriate for a town at the mouth of the Sturgeon River. 

I featured the fish in my Onaway Michigan post.  Here’s a little of what I said:

This ancient family of fishes has been recognized since the Upper Cretaceous period (136 million years ago), at a time when dinosaurs were at the height of their development.  To a casual observer, a sturgeon looks like a curious blend of catfish and shark. Like a shark, it has a skeleton made of cartilage, not bone; like a catfish, it finds food with the help of “barbels” hanging like whiskers from its chin.

Sturgeon don’t have scales, but wide-set rows of bony plates called scutes. The toothless beasts vacuum up snails, crayfish, clams and insect larvae from lake and river bottoms.

It’s likely that females hatched during the administration of President Ulysses Grant still swim in the Great Lakes! Female sturgeon live up to 150 years; males up to 80. It takes 12 to 20 years for males to mature and up to 25 years for females to do so.

Wow.  An amazing fish, indeed!  Although not mentioned above, they’re a very large fish, and can be up to 7’ long, weighing over 200 lbs!  Here’s a picture from Michigan State University, of a graduate student researcher:

Back to now:  here’s a quick (3+ minute) video of some folks catching a huge sturgeon, and then (don’t worry) tagging and releasing it:

I found a February 2016 article in the Marquette Monthly by Larry Chabot about Nahma.  I’m going to borrow some of his words:

For a time in the 1950s, Nahma was super-famous, mentioned in newspapers all over the place, and the subject of a major spread in Life Magazine. Why all the fuss? On July 26, 1951, after more than 100 years of operation, the Big Bay De Noc Lumber Company sawmill cut its last log, blew a long, sad blast on the plant whistle and shut down for good.

Rather than abandon its hometown, the company took the unusual step of putting it up for sale: the whole thing, to a buyer willing to create jobs for its now unemployed workforce. Ads for the sale ran nationwide, as did news stories. Nahma’s reputation was growing; all it needed was a buyer.

At its peak, the company had 1,500 workers in the woods and sawmill, and Nahma itself bulged with 800 residents. Except for two churches, the company owned everything: 4,300 acres of land, the hospital, 80-bed dormitory, golf course, barbershop, railroad, airfield, beach, 102 houses and a horse barn that someone thought might make a good dance hall some day.

Here’s a back-in-the-day shot of the sawmill facility:

And today’s GE view from a similar vantage point:

Back to the article:

A 1991 production of United Television titled “Fallen Timber, Faded Dreams,” called it “a time when Nahma roared and the sawmills never stopped.” The video included interviews with Nahma residents who had survived the sale, recalling the old days for the camera:

  • Company-owned houses rented for $6 to $15 a month.
  • The company store sold everything: food, medicine, clothing, hardware and so on.
  • Families paid the company $2 a month for medical care.
  • Electricity (supplied by the company) was turned off at 10:30 each night.

In an emergency, streetlights blinked twice to summon help.

The interviewed residents were perceptive, nostalgic, even humorous:

  • “We thought the timber would last forever
  • So many people crowded the gym for dances that the floor sunk two feet
  • We rode the train to the berry patches
  • The men’s axes were so sharp they could shave with them
  • Only the big shots had indoor plumbing
  • It was a good company town; nobody went hungry
  • When the mill closed, there were lots of tears in our dishpans
  • During the sale we were sort of on sale of ourselves.”

I fear that most companies that ran company towns weren’t so benevolent.  I’ll use the company town issue as a gratuitous excuse to post one of my all-time favorite songs, “Sixteen Tons,” by Tennessee Ernie Ford (posted previously at least once on this blog).  It’s about a not-so-generous coal company:


Back to the article . . .

That big spread in Life Magazine appeared in the October 22, 1951 issue. “SOLD – ONE TOWN” was the headline. Among the many photos were a shot of a huge “For Sale” sign.

“By the end of summer,” said Life, “most people in Nahma were feeling like naked mannequins in a shop window. For five long months their whole town had been up for sale…they felt a little as though they were up for sale themselves. Late last month, the Nahmans ordeal ended. Their former owner…sold them for $250,000 to the American Playground Device Co., which planned to develop Nahma as a resort as well as to build a factory there.”

Warren Miller, Playground president, whose firm made wooden seats, was greeted as a savior by a community hoping for a bright future.

He was praised at a dinner celebration for keeping Nahma from becoming a ghost town. Sadly, only a third of the available workers found jobs in the new plant. Lack of financing caused the firm to shut down its Nahma operation in 1971.

Somehow, Nahma didn’t turn into a ghost town, as you can tell from this oblique GE shot of the town:


In fact, a classy old hotel – the Nahma Inn, built by the lumber company in 1909 – is open for business.  Here’s a shot of their website:

There are 14 guest rooms (either $75 or $85 per night, weekly rates available) and a full-service restaurant (and bar). 

One final point.  I didn’t realize that folks from the Upper Peninsula (the U.P.) refer to themselves as Yoopers.  And the traditional Yooper specialty food item is the pasty (pronounced pass-tee).  From an NPR article about Yooper pasties:

Miners [and I’m sure sawmill workers] have hearty appetites. They work hard during cold Michigan mornings. So, when the whistle blows for lunch, it’s time for a pasty.

The meat turnover was brought to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula by immigrant miners from Cornwall, England, and “Yoopers” — the local population — are very opinionated about them. A pasty is a small circle of pie crust filled with meat, potatoes, onions and spices. Some have carrots, some have rutabaga.

I’ll close with some GE photos, starting with this by Dan Baldini of the silo used back in the day to burn waste and scrap wood (the only significant remnant of the old timber operation still around):

Also by Mr. Baldini, here’s a shot of the Sturgeon River:

And hanging in there with Dan ’til the bitter end, here’s his shot of a barn just south of my landing:

That’ll do it . . .




© 2019 A Landing A Day

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Lanark and Mount Carroll, Illinois

Posted by graywacke on February 12, 2019

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 2431; A Landing A Day blog post number 866.

Dan:  Today’s lat/long (N42o 8.892’, W89o 50.485’) puts me in in the NW corner of Illinois:

Here’s my local landing map:

My streams-only map shows the entire story:

I landed in the watershed of Lake Carroll, which is drained by “Principal Stream Perennial,” aka unnamed tributary; on to the East Plum River (first hit ever!); to the Plum River (2nd hit); to the MM (944th hit).

Moving over to Google Earth, you can see that I have good Street View coverage of my landing:

And here ‘tis:

And the OD was able to get a look at my very local watershed drainage, upstream from Lake Carroll:

Here it is in all of its scum-covered glory:

Not far downstream is Lake Carroll.  Here’s a GE shot of the lake by Kileen Casey:

As I’m working on this draft blog post (which is a Word doc), I just checked the temperature in Lanark.  It’s -30o .  Ouch. 

And then, in the middle of the next night (likely after getting up to go to the bathroom), I was mindlessly looking at my cell phone when I saw this:

So – it was 2:50 am, my iPhone was plugged in, and I had my wits about me enough to take a screen shot of what I saw on Google News:  that it was -38o in Mount Carroll.  Note that Illinois didn’t make the headline and would be unknown to the general public. . .

The geologist in me took notice at a striking feature (to me) while looking at a regional Google Earth shot:

See how different the landscape looks to the northwest of my landing?  Just in case you need some help, here’s a yellow demarcation line:

The landscape to the southeast is flat as can be, while the landscape to the northwest has been dissected by stream erosion.  What’s going on?  Well, the dissected area is part of the famous (to me) “Driftless Area.”  “Drift” is a geologic term for any soil, rocks and/or sediments deposited by glaciers.  So, the Driftless Area has no drift and was therefore never glaciated.  Here’s a map:

And check out how the landscape affects the layout of roads.  Here’s a map of the glaciated (and therefore flat) area east of my landing:

How about that.  Very straight roads.  And in contrast, here’s a map of the driftless area west of my landing:

For a more robust treatment of the driftless area, check out my Lansing, Iowa post.

Let’s leave the cold weather and glacial geology behind, and take a look at Lanark.  From the town website:

The next item to be settled was the naming of this new place. The capitalist looking to develop this new railhead at first chose Glasgow most likely because of his Scottish heritage. However, it was soon learned that Glasgow was already in use in southern IL, so Lanark, the county/shire of the ancient city of Scotland, was suggested by some of the men holding considerable monetary investment in the project.

Lanark, Scotland is an ancient town (1140 A.D.) which was once an ancient capital of Scotland where William Wallace lived and became an outlaw to the English in the late 1290’s (the basis of the Oscar winning film ‘Braveheart’).

True confessions.  I never saw Braveheart.  I know that many people absolutely love the movie.  So, who was this William Wallace guy?  From Biography.com:

In 1296, England’s King Edward I forced Scottish king John de Balliol to abdicate the throne, jailed him, and declared himself ruler of Scotland. In May 1297, Wallace (in his late 20s) and some 30 other men burned the Scottish town of Lanark and killed its English sheriff. Wallace then organized a local army and attacked the English strongholds between the Forth and Tay rivers.

On September 11, 1297, an English army confronted Wallace and his men at the Forth River near Stirling. Wallace’s forces were vastly outnumbered, but the English had to cross a narrow bridge over the Forth before they could reach Wallace and his growing army. With strategic positioning on their side, Wallace’s forces massacred the English as they crossed the river, and Wallace gained an unlikely and crushing victory.

[I read that Braveheart’s version of the battle didn’t even have a bridge!]

He went on to capture Stirling Castle, and Scotland was briefly nearly free of occupying English forces. In October, Wallace invaded northern England and ravaged Northumberland and Cumberland counties, but his unconventionally brutal battle tactics only served to antagonize the English even more.

When Wallace returned to Scotland in December 1297, he was knighted and proclaimed guardian of the kingdom, ruling in the deposed king’s name. But in June 1298, Edward invaded Scotland again.

On July 22, Wallace’s troops suffered defeat in the Battle of Falkirk, and as quickly as that, his military reputation was ruined and he resigned his guardianship. Eventually, Scottish leaders capitulated to the English and recognized Edward as their king in 1304.

Unwilling to compromise, William Wallace refused to submit to English rule, and Edward’s men pursued him until August 5, 1305, when they captured and arrested him near Glasgow. He was taken to London and condemned as a traitor to the king and was hanged, disemboweled, beheaded and quartered.

[Geez.  Take that, William!]

He was seen by the Scots as a martyr and as a symbol of the struggle for independence, and his efforts continued after his death.

Scotland gained its independence some 23 years after William Wallace’s execution, with the Treaty of Edinburgh in 1328, and Wallace has since been remembered as one of Scotland’s greatest heroes.

It turns out that one of the Lanark Illinois’ native son is poet Glenn Ward Dresbach.  I checked out many of his poems, and found what I thought was his best:

Ouch.  I suspect that this tells the story common to many in the Midwest.  Moving to Mount Carroll.  It turns out that the first paragraph of their Wiki entry is all about cold weather:

Due to its elevation and northwesterly location, Mount Carroll is subject to unusually cold winter weather. From 1930 to 1999, Mount Carroll held the record for the lowest temperature ever recorded in Illinois, −35 °F, recorded on January 22, 1930.

[And check out the next paragraph!]

The record was beaten by Congerville in 1999, by one degree. 20 years later on Thursday, January 31st, 2019, Mount Carroll regained the title of coldest city in Illinois when a new Illinois state record low temperature of -38 degrees Fahrenheit was officially recorded.

Man.  Wiki is on it!

So, two notable persons caught my eye:  Neta Snook and Phoebe Snow. 

Wiki, on Neta Snook:

After purchasing a wrecked Canuck [Snook’s Canuck], Snook had it shipped back to Ames, Iowa, and spent two years rebuilding the aircraft in her parents’ backyard. In 1920, Snook soloed in her rebuilt Canuck, flying from a nearby pasture and received her pilot’s license.

Barnstorming throughout the Midwest in her Canuck, she made a living furtively hauling sightseers and “passengers” although her license did not allow it. With the onset of a bitter Iowa winter [maybe not as bitter as this one], Snook decided to head out to California where she could fly year-round. She disassembled the Canuck for shipping [aw, come on – why not fly it to California?] and ended up in balmy Los Angeles.

In 1920, Snook approached Bert Kinner for a job as an instructor in his newly constructed airport, Kinner Field in Los Angeles.  After a brief trial period, she became the first woman to run a commercial airfield.

On January 3, 1921, Amelia Earhart walked onto the airfield and aid to Neta, “I want to fly. Will you teach me?”  Amelia and her parents had agreed that only a woman pilot would teach her to fly.

“For $1 in Liberty bonds per minute in the air, Neta Snook taught Amelia Earhart to fly, but above that, they became friends.”

Amelia paid for the first 5 hours [$60/hr x 5 = $300].  Neta gave Amelia the next 15 hours for free.

At first, her pupil was not the best flyer. Earhart stalled while trying to clear a grove of eucalyptus trees on takeoff; although she not seriously hurt in the ensuing crash. Snook thought to herself, “Perhaps I had misjudged her abilities.”

However, their friendship held sway and that crash was soon forgotten. They flew together for over a year. Snook became close with the entire Earhart family, and often spent time at the family home.

Moving to the next Notable Person.  Mount Carroll is the home of Shimer University and a student from Teaneck NJ – Phoebe Ann Laub – enrolled there in 1968.  She was a heck of a musician and singer, and withdrew from school to head to NYC and pursue her musical dreams.

She felt like she needed a stage name.  From Wiki:

Her stage name came from a fictional advertising character created in the early 1900s for the Delaware, Lackawanna and Western Railroad, in which Phoebe Snow was a young woman dressed all in white, emphasizing the cleanliness of Lackawanna passenger trains whose locomotives burned anthracite coal, which created less soot than bituminous coal.

Here’s a post card featuring Phoebe Snow:


Her only big hit was “Poetry Man”:

Her life followed a tough path.  From Wiki:

Between 1975 and 1978 Snow was married to Phil Kearns and on December 10, 1975, her daughter, Valerie Rose, was born with severe brain damage.

Snow resolved not to institutionalize Valerie, and cared for her at home until Valerie died on March 19, 2007, at the age of 31 (when Phoebe was 57). Snow’s efforts to care for Valerie significantly curtailed her musical career.

Phoebe Snow suffered a cerebral hemorrhage on January 19, 2010 and slipped into a coma.   She died on April 26, 2011 at age 60 in Edison, New Jersey.

I’ll close with this GE shot by Tom Kubik, taken about 10 miles west of my landing:


That’ll do it . . .




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