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Bucyrus, Ohio

Posted by graywacke on May 24, 2017

First timer?  In this formerly once-a-day blog (and now pretty much a once-every-four-or-five days 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 recent changes in how I do things, check out “About Landing (Revisited).”

Landing number 2346; A Landing A Day blog post lucky number 777.

Dan:  Today’s lat/long 40o 47.394’N, 83o 3.302’W) puts me in Central-NW Ohio:

My local landing map shows my immediate proximity to Bucyrus:

I have a straight-forward watershed analysis:

As you can see, I landed in the watershed of the Sandusky River (2nd hit), which discharges into Lake Erie (11th hit).  Of course, the waters of Lake Erie end up in the St. Lawrence (107th hit).

It’s time to hop on our trusty yellow push-pin and take a ride.  Click HERE.

I land adjacent to an intersection of two roads that look as though they should be Street View-worthy.  Well, looks can be deceiving:

So, I have to get a look from about 2 miles away:

And here’s where I get a look at the Sandusky:

The picture quality is lousy, but here ‘tis:

And bless you Ohio DOT, for letting unwary drivers know that they’re crossing the not-so-mighty Sandusky:

And there’s not even a bridge!

Just so you know, the Sandusky claims some river-dignity up close to Lake Erie:

Moving on to Bucyrus.  From Wiki:

The town was named by Col. James Kilbourne, who laid out the town in 1822.  The name’s origin is uncertain; one theory is that the name is derived from “beautiful” coupled with the name of Cyrus the Great, founder of the First Persian Empire.  An alternate theory is that the city was named after Busiris, a city of ancient Egypt.

I’ll reject the “Busiris” angle for two reasons:  1. There would have been no reason to change the spelling, and 2.  “Busiris” (an ancient Egyptian place name) is primarily known from an obscure corner of Greek Mythology.

So that leaves us with Beautiful Cyrus.  I’m inclined to reject that as well; but since I’ve already rejected Busiris, I guess I’m stuck with it.

For the record, there are 6 teeny towns across America named Cyrus (NC, KY, WV, MO, MN and PA).  The largest (and only incorporated town) is in MN (pop 258), which was named after the last name of a settler.  There is no other Bucyrus in the U.S. or anywhere in the world.

So what the heck, how about a little information on Cyrus the Great, Persian emperor circa 550 BC?  I for one knew nothing about him.  But thanks to Wiki, I learned quite a bit:

Cyrus the Great was the founder of the Persian Empire.  Under his 30-year rule (from 560 to 530 BC) the empire embraced all the previous civilized states of the ancient Near East, expanded vastly and eventually conquered most of Southwest Asia and much of Central Asia and the Caucasus. From the Hellespont (the waterway between the Black Sea and the Mediterranean Sea) in the west to the Indus River in the east, Cyrus the Great created the largest empire the world had yet seen.

Here’s a map of the Empire (which includes Egypt, added by Cyrus’ son):

Back to Wiki:

Cyrus the Great respected the customs and religions of the lands he conquered.  This became a very successful model for a centralized administration, establishing a government that worked to the advantage and profit of its subjects.

What is sometimes referred to as the Edict of Cyrus (described in the Bible) left a lasting legacy on the Jewish religion.  This edict authorized and encouraged Jews who had been exiled to Babylonia to return to Israel and rebuild the Temple.  Cyrus is referred to in the Bible as “His [the Lord’s] anointed” (Isaiah 45:1), and is the only non-Jew to be called so.

Here are the first three verses of Isaiah 45.   (Isaiah 45 is often titled “Cyrus, God’s Instrument”):

“Thus says the Lord to His anointed,
To Cyrus, whose right hand I have held—
To subdue nations before him
And loose the armor of kings,
To open before him the double doors,
So that the gates will not be shut:

‘I will go before you
And make the crooked places straight;
I will break in pieces the gates of bronze
And cut the bars of iron.

I will give you the treasures of darkness
And hidden riches of secret places,
That you may know that I, the Lord,
Who call you by your name,
Am the God of Israel.

Wow.  The Lord thought mighty highly of Cyrus, eh?  He saw fit to make sure that Cyrus succeeded in his conquests!  And interesting that He identified Himself as the God of Israel (implying that maybe he wasn’t also the God of Persia?).  Although in the third verse, He wanted to make sure that Cyrus knew who was calling the shots. . .

Anyway, back to Wiki:

Cyrus the Great is also well recognized for his achievements in human rights, politics, and military strategy, as well as his influence on both Eastern and Western civilizations. Having originated from Persis, roughly corresponding to the modern Iranian province of Fars, Cyrus has played a crucial role in defining the national identity of modern Iran.

There’s a fascinating artifact known as the Cyrus Cylinder.  From Wiki, here are pictures of the front and back of the cylinder:

It’s little, only measuring 9″ x 4″.

Also from Wiki:

The Cyrus Cylinder is an ancient clay cylinder, now broken into several pieces, on which is written a declaration in Akkadian cuneiform script in the name of Persia’s King Cyrus the Great.  It dates from the 6th century BCE and was discovered in the ruins of Babylon in Mesopotamia (modern Iraq) in 1879.

It is currently in the possession of the British Museum, which sponsored the expedition that discovered the cylinder.

It was created following the Persian conquest of Babylon by Cyrus in 539 BC, when the Babylonian Empire was incorporated into his Persian Empire.

The text on the Cylinder praises Cyrus, sets out his genealogy and portrays him as a king from a line of kings. The Babylonian king Nabonidus, who was defeated and deposed by Cyrus, is denounced as an impious oppressor of the people of Babylonia and his low-born origins are implicitly contrasted to Cyrus’s kingly heritage.

[Amazing how the winner gets to write the hitory . . . ]

The victorious Cyrus is portrayed as having been chosen by the chief Babylonian god Marduk to restore peace and order to the Babylonians. The text states that Cyrus was welcomed by the people of Babylon as their new ruler and entered the city in peace.

It appeals to Marduk to protect and help Cyrus and his son Cambyses.  It extols Cyrus as a benefactor of the citizens of Babylonia who improved their lives, repatriated displaced people and restored temples and religious sanctuaries across Mesopotamia and elsewhere in the region.

The Cylinder’s text has traditionally been seen by biblical scholars as corroborative evidence of Cyrus’ policy of the repatriation of the Jewish people following their Babylonian captivity (an act that the Book of Ezra attributes to Cyrus).

Neil MacGregor, Director of the British Museum, has stated that the cylinder was “the first attempt we know about running a society, a state with different nationalities and faiths—a new kind of statecraft.”

It was adopted as a national symbol of Iran which put it on display in Tehran in 1971 to commemorate 2,500 year celebration of the Persian Empire.  The Shah’s sister, Princess Ashraf Pahlavi, presented the United Nations Secretary General U Thant with a replica of the Cylinder. The princess asserted that “the heritage of Cyrus was the heritage of human understanding, tolerance, courage, compassion and, above all, human liberty”.

Reception in the Islamic Republic

In September 2010, former Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad officially opened the Cyrus Cylinder exhibition at the National Museum of Iran (where the cylinder was on loan to Iran from the British Museum).  Ahmadinejad considers the Cyrus Cylinder as the incarnation of human values and a cultural heritage for all humanity, and called it the “First Charter of Human Rights”.


“The Cylinder reads that everyone is entitled to freedom of thought and choice and all individuals should pay respect to one another. The historical charter also underscores e necessity of fighting oppression, defending the oppressed, respecting human dignity, and recognizing human rights. The Cyrus Cylinder bears testimony to the fact that the Iranian nation has always been the flag-bearer of justice, devotion and human values throughout history.”

The cylinder is probably the only subject of agreement between the Shah and the leaders who came after the revolution . . .

Cyrus was killed in battle in the steppe region of Kazakhstan.  This from Wiki about his tomb:

Cyrus the Great’s remains were interred in his capital city of Pasargadae, where today his limestone tomb (built around 540–530 BC) still exists. Though the city itself is now in ruins, the burial place of Cyrus the Great has remained largely intact; and the tomb has been partially restored to counter its natural deterioration over the centuries. According to Plutarch, his epitaph said:

“O man, whoever you are and wherever you come from, for I know you will come, I am Cyrus who won the Persians their empire. Do not therefore begrudge me this bit of earth that covers my bones.”

Years later, in the chaos created by Alexander the Great’s invasion of Persia, Cyrus the Great’s tomb was broken into and most of its luxuries were looted. When Alexander (who admired Cyrus) reached the tomb, he was horrified by the manner in which the tomb was treated.

The edifice has survived the test of time, through invasions, internal divisions, successive empires, regime changes and revolutions.

Here’s a GE shot of Iran, identifying the tomb’s location:

And a much closer view:

And closer yet.

Here’s a GE Panoramio shot of the tomb by Reza Dehghanizadeh:

Quite the guy and quite the tomb.

It’s time to head back to Ohio, and I can’t leave Bucyrus without mentioning favorite son Judson Laipply.  If you know the name, you know what’s coming.  He’s the famous You Tube star who burst on the scene with “Evolution of Dance” in 2006.  

Join the 299,165,874 others who have viewed this video:

(OK, so maybe it’ll hit 299,200,000 by the time you view it.  I wonder if the 300,000,000th viewer wins something . . .)

I’ll close with this GE Panoramio barn shot by JB the Milker (a frequent ALAD contributor):

That’ll do it . . .




© 2017 A Landing A Day

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Bayou Bartholomew, Arkansas and Louisiana

Posted by graywacke on May 20, 2017

First timer?  In this formerly once-a-day blog (and now pretty much a once-every-four-or-five days 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 recent changes in how I do things, check out “About Landing (Revisited).”

Landing number 2345; A Landing A Day blog post number 776.

Dan:  Today’s lat/long 33o 0.047’N, 91o 40.211’W) puts me on the border between Arkansas and Louisiana:

With my two-state post title, you still don’t know in which state I landed (and don’t look at ALADus Obscurus; that’s cheating).

With bated breath, here’s my local map:

It’s official:  I landed in Louisiana, but where are the towns?  Of course, you can see the titular Bayou Bartholomew.  Zooming back, one can see that yes, there are towns (but none apparently worth titular status):

My streams-only shot shows (of course) Bayou Bartholomew (3rd hit); on to the Ouachita R (13th hit):

Zooming back a little, we can see that the Ouachita makes its way to the Black River (14th hit); on to the Red (63rd hit); on to the Atchafalaya (70th hit):

So.  It’s time for the Google Earth (GE) trip into far NE LA.  Click HERE.

I have Street View coverage only a mile away, but it was a miserable rainy day when the GoogleMobile happened by.  Consequently, the Street View shot just isn’t worth it.

I also have nearby Street View coverage of the Bayou (taken on the same rainy day).  Here’s the map:

And here’s what the Orange Dude sees:

The Bayou Bart’s looking a little rain-swollen.  Let’s see what Wiki has to say about my titular Bayou:

Bayou Bartholomew is the longest bayou in the world meandering approximately 364 miles between the U.S. states of Arkansas and Louisiana.

[Wow.  Longest Bayou in the world!  More about that in a bit.]

It contains over 100 aquatic species making it the second most diverse stream in North America. Known for its excellent catfish, bream, and crappie fishing, portions of the bayou are considered some of the best kept secrets of Arkansas anglers.

[Bream???  More about that later as well.]

The present bayou bed was formed by the waters of the Arkansas River during a period when it was changing course. Approximately 2,000 years ago (and for many hundreds of years previously), the river was flowing down the current bayou bed.  But then, the Arkansas diverted to its current course, flowing directly to the Mississippi River.  Consequently, the leisurely bayou began to develop in the now abandoned river bed.

In order to appreciate the previous paragraph, one must also appreciate that the Arkansas is one big river with a huge watershed.  (It’s in 6th place on my list of watersheds, with 126 hits).  Here’s a Wiki shot of the watershed:

And here’s a StreetAtlas streams-only map that shows how close the Arkansas is to the headwaters of the Bartholomew:

So all of that water from that huge watershed was flowing down what today is the lazy ol’ Bartholomew Bayou.  And here’s what happened:  These Gulf Coast rivers develop serious meanders as they make their way across the flat coastal plain, filled with ancestral Mississippi River sediment.

Throw in a massive flood (say, one on the magnitude of only once in a thousand years), and the river wants to go straight instead of meandering all over the place.  When that happens, it quickly erodes a new channel and heads off in a new direction, say more directly towards the Mississippi.

And then what happens to its former self?  It takes on a new, much more laid-back identity . . .

So, what about the claim that the Bartholomew is the world’s longest bayou?  Well, first off, the term “bayou” is only applied to waterways that end up in the Gulf of Mexico.  Secondly, “bayou” has a rather vague definition.  It comes from the Choctow “bayuk,” which means “small stream.”  It has come to mean any sluggish waterway.

So is this the largest bayou in the world?  What the heck, why not . . .

And then real quickly:  “bream” (a kind of fish) was mentioned earlier.  It’s a general term for a large class of fish that include sunfish and bluegills.

So anyway – as we all know (after reading my watershed analysis) – the Bayou Bartholomew ends up in the Ouchita River, then the Black River, the Red River, and finally in the Atchafalaya, which flows into the Gulf.  The Red / Atchafalahya system does not have a straight-forward hydrologic history. 

As it turns out, I blogged about this hydrologic history in my February 2014 Winnfield, Lousisiana post (when I also landed in the Red River / Atchafalaya River watershed).

I’m going to borrow some from that post:

So, that’s about it for Winnfield.  Not wanting to call it a day, I figured that I’d do a feature on the Atchafalya River.  This landing marks the 55th time I’ve landed in the Atchafalya watershed (the 15th time since I began blogging), but the first time I’ve actually written a piece on the river . . .

[Quick update:  we need to add 7 to each of the above numbers.]

First off, I think it’s a wonderful name.  It just rolls off the tongue:  ah chaf fa LIE ah.  But of real interest is the history of the river, and how we Americans have played a crucial part in the river’s actual essence – its physical nature, identity and fate.   [Wow Greg, great sentence!]

The following write-up is a combination of words from the Lake Forest College website, Wiki, and me:

Back in the 10th century A.D., the Red River and the Mississippi River flowed to the Gulf of Mexico on separate, more-or-less parallel courses:

There was no Atchafalaya River anywhere to be seen, ancestral or otherwise.

In the 15th century, a bend in the Mississippi known as Turnbull’s Bend joined the river with the parallel Red River.  The flow of the Red River then joined the Mississippi.  The much smaller river flowing south from Turnbull’s bend became the Atchafalaya:

In the heyday of steamboats along the Mississippi River, it took a boat several hours to travel the bend’s 20 miles. To reduce travel time, Captain Henry M. Shreve, a river engineer and founder of Shreveport, La., dug a canal in 1831 through the neck of Turnbull’s Bend. At the next high water, the Mississippi roared through this channel.

With the Mississippi River taking a new course, the Red River began emptying into the smaller Atchafalaya River.  Also, Shreve’s cut altered the flow so that Mississippi water and Atchafalaya water flowed back and forth through the lower part of Turnbull’s Bend (the Lower Old River) depending on the season.

Between 1850 and 1950, the percentage of Atchafalaya’s share of the total flow of the two rivers increased from less than 10 percent to about 30 percent.

In 1953, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers concluded that the Mississippi River would change its course to the Atchafalaya River by 1990 if it were not controlled, since this alternative path to the Gulf of Mexico through the Atchafalaya River is much shorter and steeper.

Knowing that this process would diminish the Mississippi and every city along the river as well as all commerce up and down the river, in 1964 the Army Corps built a control structure that controls the flow of the two rivers (called the Old River Control Structure).

This structure makes it so that 70% of the water flows through the Mississippi, while 30% flows through the Atchafalaya.

The Old River Control Structure and both rivers require constant maintenance and upkeep as the Army Corps continues to battle the natural forces at work. A flood in 1973 nearly destroyed the structure; the Atchafalaya was perilously close to receiving the entire flow of the Mississippi.  The structure was repaired and additional improvements made in 1986.

If it weren’t for the Old River Control Structure, the Mississippi River as we know it would not exist. New Orleans and Baton Rouge would lose their geographic significance and source of income, and thousands of American businesses would have to overhaul their shipping practices.

Here’s an aerial photo of the whole control complex, from Wiki:

It’s time for an ALAD true confessions.  Since my first Red River watershed landing (landing 65, July 1999), my landing spreadsheet says “Red R; Atchafalaya R.”

In other words, I am assuming (wrongly it turns out) that the Red River watershed is in the exclusive domain of the Atchafalaya.  If you were paying close attention to the above hydrologic analysis, you now know (as do I) that some of the Red River ends up in the Atchafalaya and some of the Red River ends up in the Mississippi. 

Oh well.  Too late now . . .

It’s time for some GE Panoramio shots to tie a bow around this post:

One problem:  There are no post-worthy (or bow-worthy) Pano shots anywhere close to my landing!  Zero.  Nada.  None.

But I did find this lovely shot of the Bayou Bartholomew in Wiki:

That’ll do it . . .




© 2017 A Landing A Day

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Faith, South Dakota

Posted by graywacke on May 16, 2017

First timer?  In this formerly once-a-day blog (and now pretty much a once-every-four-or-five days 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 recent changes in how I do things, check out “About Landing (Revisited).”

Landing number 2344; A Landing A Day blog post number 775.

Dan:  Today’s lat/long 45o 9.733’N, 101o 2.277’W) puts me more-or-less in central South Dakota:

Zooming in, is a VP* of small towns:

*veritable plethora

Obviously, you’ll learn soon enough why only Faith survived.

My streams-only map shows that I landed very close to (and in the watershed of) the Moreau River (3rd hit), on to Lake Oahe. 

If you don’t know about Lake Oahe, you will when I zoom back a little:

Oh!  It’s just the dammed up Missouri River (419th hit); on to the MM (912th hit).

It’s time to add another Google Earth (GE) yellow push-pin to my already-robust collection.  Click HERE to do so.

My GE Street View coverage is pretty lousy:

But here’s what the Orange Dude sees:

I had the OD head a little north on the same road ‘til he came to a bridge over the Moreau River.  Here’s what he sees:

I had the OD look around, and he couldn’t help but notice some construction work on the southbound lane of the bridge.  Although it’s tough to see on the picture below, it looks like they’re going to resurface the far (southbound) lane:

I headed to the north end of the construction zone:

I’m not sure about the black blob (it appears in all of the south-facing photos), but note that the southbound lane is blocked and has a stop sign.  There’s no work going on; maybe this is a weekend.

Then I went to the other end of the construction zone (about a third of a mile away):

Hmmm.  The southbound lane is blocked and there’s another stop sign.  Obviously, drivers are on their own to stop and look and then proceed if the way is clear.   

Wow.  You would never see this anywhere close to NJ (where I live).  The NJ DOT would pay all the necessary overtime to keep the project moving 24/7, with flagmen at either end of the construction zone.  End of story.

I found another look at the river further downstream:

I was able to verify that this is, in fact, the Moreau River:

Moving right along to the VP of small towns. Of course, I checked out each one.  And obviously, all but one were entirely:

But have faith.  One little town had a hook, and it’s a good ‘un.  But first, here’s a graphic from the Faith town website:

I like the train silhouette.

Anyway, from Wiki, this about Faith (pop 421):

According to folk etymology, the town was named Faith because it took faith to live out on the prairie.  However, the story of the city as documented in various informal, locally published histories, is that the town was named for Faith Rockefeller, one of the daughters of a major investor in the railroad responsible for founding the town.

That wasn’t the hook. But this is:

The most complete Tyrannosaurus Rex skeleton known, (commonly nicknamed Sue), was discovered about 15 miles northeast of Faith in August 1990.

Ding ding ding! 

OK, the first thing I’m going to do is take a look around, 15 miles NE of Faith:

The lighter areas are eroded badlands (great for finding fossils).  Unfortunately, there is no Street View coverage, there are no Pano photos.  So, I’ll have to settle for a low-angle oblique GE shot, showing the badland landscape in this area:

I’m sure the T Rex fossil bed was in here somewhere.

I found this picture of the outcrop, with the fossil area next to the person up on the outcrop (a screen shot from the You Tube trailer for “Waking the T. Rex:  The Story of Sue,” a short Disney Documentary):

From Wiki, about Sue:

“Sue” is the nickname given to fossil “FMNH PR 2081,” which is the largest, most extensive and best preserved Tyrannosaurus Rex specimen ever found (over 90% recovered).  It was discovered in August 1990 by Sue Hendrickson, a paleontologist, and was named after her.

After ownership disputes were settled, the fossil was auctioned in October 1997, for $7.6 million, the highest amount ever paid for a dinosaur fossil, and is now a permanent feature at the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago.

It is 40 ft long, stands 12 ft tall at the hips, and according to the most recent studies is estimated to have weighed between 10 and 20 tons when alive.

Here’s a Wiki picture (by Connie Ma) of Sue at the Field Museum:

And here’s a picture of Sue at the outcrop (from AwesomeStories.com):

Back to Wiki for some of the back story:

During the summer of 1990, a group of workers from the Black Hills Institute [a for-profit corporation specializing in the excavation and preparation of fossils], located in Hill City, searched for fossils at the Cheyenne River Indian Reservation near the city of Faith. By the end of the summer, the group was ready to leave.

However, a flat tire was discovered on their truck before the group could depart.  While the rest of the group went into town to repair the truck, Sue Hendrickson decided to explore the nearby cliffs that the group had not checked.

As she was walking along the base of a cliff, she discovered some small pieces of bone. She looked above her to see where the bones had originated, and observed larger bones protruding from the wall of the cliff.

She returned to camp with two small pieces of the bones and reported the discovery to the president of the Black Hills Institute, Peter Larson.  He determined that the bones were from a T. rex by their distinctive contour and texture.

Later, closer examination of the site showed that it was evident that much of the dinosaur had been preserved.

The fossil was named “Sue” after the woman who discovered it. After discovery, excavation, and transport to the Institute’s facilities in Hill City SD, controversy arose as to who the rightful owners of the fossil was.

The parties in dispute were the land owner, Maurice Williams; the tribe (and thus the federal government) and the Black Hills Institute. On May 12, 1992, FBI agents seized Sue from the institute over the course of three days.

Through the ongoing court battle, it was finally decided that Maurice Williams was the owner of the fossil (even though he had been paid $5,000 by the Black Hills Institute for the right to remove Sue). The federal government later brought a 39-count, 153-charge indictment against the Institute and several of its members, which was related to this case and other fossils. This case turned into the longest criminal trial in South Dakota state history.

Peter Larson, the president of the institute, was convicted on two counts of customs violations, for which he served two years in federal prison. Sue Hendrickson received immunity from prosecution for her testimony.  T Rex Sue was finally auctioned off by Sotheby’s auction house and sold by Maurice Williams to the Field Museum in Chicago, Illinois for $8.36 million.

I Googled Sue Hendrickson.  From Wiki:

In 1955, Hendrickson (at age 6) was enrolled at the Munster (IN) public elementary, frequently being praised by her teachers as “a good student and obedient child.”  However, she eventually found herself bored with school in Munster, and at age 16 was able to convince her parents to let her stay with her aunt in Florida, where she enrolled at a Fort Lauderdale high school.

An adventurous and rebellious teenager, Hendrickson never completed high school, dropping out at the age of 17 in favor of moving from state to state with her boyfriend before returning to Florida, where she was hired by two professional divers who owned an aquarium fish business.

A strong swimmer who had once been on her high school’s swim team, Hendrickson quickly learned to dive and began collecting tropical fish off the Florida Keys to sell to aquarists and pet stores.

Aside from her work as a diver, Hendrickson also worked part of the year as a lobster fisherman, and would occasionally take the summer off to volunteer on paleontological digs.

She took a job in shipwreck salvage, and soon found herself exploring old shipwrecks, becoming fascinated by working in the company of archeologists, often working in the Dominican Republic.

By the mid-1980s, Hendrickson had also tried her hand at amber mining in the Dominican mountains and she soon became one of the largest amber providers for scientists. Hendrickson found three perfect 23-million-year-old butterflies, which make up half of the whole world’s total collection.

Although she found the work too monotonous to pursue full-time, writing that “You could dig for months and find nothing in the Dominican caves,” she became an expert at identifying fossilized insects.

She also joined a team of paleontologists (including Peter Larson) who were excavating whale, dolphin, seal and shark fossils at an ancient seabed in Peru over the course of several summers.

She later accompanied Larson to the Black Hills Institute in South Dakota. By this time, paleontology had become her main passion.

[We all know what happened next . . . ]

In 2005, Glamour magazine honored her in their “Glamour Woman of the Year Awards.” In 2010, she published an autobiography entitled Hunt for the Past: My Life as an Explorer. In 2008, she was featured on the “Dare to Explore” chapter of National Geographic Kids.

Hendrickson now lives on the island of Guanaja, off the coast of Honduras. She is a member of the Paleontological Society, Explorers Club, Society for Historical Archaeology, and was awarded an honorary Ph.D. from the University of Illinois at Chicago in 2000.

Here’s a picture of Sue on the Sue outcrop with Sue’s jaw before she got sued (screenshot from the Disney trailer mentioned earlier):

There are slim pickins for GE Pano shots.  But at least I found one, by DocShot, taken about 20 miles west of my landing:

 That’ll do it . . .




© 2017 A Landing A Day

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Florence, Wisconsin

Posted by graywacke on May 4, 2017

First timer?  In this formerly once-a-day blog (and now pretty much a once-every-four-or-five days 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 recent changes in how I do things, check out “About Landing (Revisited).”

Landing number 2342; A Landing A Day blog post number 773.

Dan:  Today’s lat/long 45o 54.137’N, 88o 23.458’W) puts me in far NE Wisconsin:

My local landing map shows that I landed just west of Florence (about 7 miles west):

My streams-only map shows that I landed in the watershed of the Pine River (first hit ever!); on to the Menominee (16th hit):

Zooming back, you can see that the Menominee makes its way to Lake Michigan’s Green Bay:

This was my 37th Lake Michigan watershed landing.  Of course, we’re in the Great Lakes / St. Lawrence R watershed (106th hit).

It’s time for my Google Earth spaceflight in to the wilds of NE Wisconsin.  Click HERE.

Although in terms of distance I have decent GE Street View coverage, I landed deep in the woods:

And here’s what the Orange Dude sees:

I get a decent-enough look at a nearby crossing of the Pine River:

And here’s what the Orange Dude sees:

The OD turned his head a little:

It looks like a portable electric generator in front of the truck.  The ever-curious OD made his way to the back of the truck:

So I can’t figure out why a guy in a box truck sets up a generator in front of his truck while parked on a bridge.  This will just have to remain one of life’s little mysteries . . .

I sent the OD on a mission to find a Menominee R crossing.  He succeeded:

And here’s what he sees, looking east:

I had him head a little south on the same road and look back towards the bridge:

I just wanted to be sure the state line signs were there to let unwary motorists know what was going on as they crossed the humble Menominee.

So Florence is my one-and-only.  On the Florence County website, I found this little bit of history about the town of Florence:

From the Heritage of Iron & Timber 1880-1980

Published for Florence County, Wisconsin, 1980

In 1879 Mr. VanDyke and Mr. Hagerman, financiers, purchased a three-fourths interest in an iron mine near what is today Florence.  They also arranged for railroad extension to the mine.  They felt that this economic opportunity was due to the good work done in this mining region by Mr. N.P. Hulst.

They decided to name the mine and the town Florence in honor of Mrs. Florence Hulst, Mr. Hulst’s wife.  The following is the text of a letter sent to Mrs. Hulst on December 15, 1879 by Mr. Hagerman, President of the Menominee Mining company:

Mrs. Hulst — The time is come when we must give a name to the new town in Wisconsin at the end of the Railroad now being built, and to the new mine in the vicinity, now called the Eagle, but which name we do not wish to keep, as there is already an Eagle P.O. in Wisconsin. 

The Company owns all the land around the lake, where the town will be located.  It will be a lively town.  We shall put an anti-whiskey clause in all deeds and we expect it will be as much noted for its temperance and morality as for its — well, anything the future may develop. 

We all wish to call the new town and the mine FLORENCE, in honor of the first white woman who had courage enough to settle (for a while) in that rugged country.  I mean the first white woman known to us.

Will you permit your name to be used?

I love it!  If you were skimming, read the last two paragraphs carefully.  I love the part about “well, anything the future may develop” and “I mean the first white woman known to us.”

Here’s a circa 1910 shot of Main Street, also from the Florence County website:

Moving right along.  I noted that Wiki has the following entry under Noble People:

Charles White Whittlesey, Medal of Honor recipient in World War I, was born in Florence.

This guy has quite the story.  The following is absolutely well worth the read.  From Wiki:

Lieutenant Colonel Charles White Whittlesey (January 20, 1884 – presumed dead November 26, 1921) was a United States Army officer and an American Medal of Honor recipient who led the “Lost Battalion” in the Meuse-Argonne Offensive in October 1918 during the final stages of World War I.

Whittlesey attended prestigious Williams College. [Forbes ranked Williams 2nd among U.S. undergraduate institutions, 2010, 2011, 2014, 2016.  Strangely, I’ve never heard of it!].  He also obtained a law degree from Harvard Law School.

In WWI, he headed up the 77th division, known as the “Metropolitan Division,” because it was made up largely of New York City men, mainly from the polyglot Lower East side. Its members spoke 42 different languages or dialects.  [Times have changed on the Lower East Side!]

On the morning of October 2, 1918, the 77th Division was ordered to move forward against a heavily fortified German line as part of a massive American attack in the Meuse-Argonne region. Whittlesey commanded a battalion of 554 soldiers, who advanced forward through a ravine.

Although Whittlesey’s troops made excellent headway up the ravine, the units on their flanks failed to make to likewise advance.  As a result, Whittlesey’s troops were surrounded on all sides by German troops and pinned down by German fire from the surrounding 200-foot high bluffs.

The following days were perilous for Whittlesey and his men, as they were without food or water.  Some of the men had never thrown a live grenade, but for four days, they resisted snipers and attacks by waves of German troops armed with hand grenades and flame throwers.

During this period war correspondents seized on the incident and dubbed the unit the “Lost Battalion.”

On October 7, the Germans sent forward a blindfolded American POW carrying a white flag, with a message in English:

“The suffering of your wounded men can be heard over here in the German lines, and we are appealing to your humane sentiments to stop.  A white flag shown by one of your men will tell us that you agree with these conditions. Please treat Private Lowell R. Hollingshead (the bearer) as an honorable man. He is quite a soldier. We envy you.

Whittlesey never considered surrendering.

That very night, a relief force arrived and the Germans retreated. Of the original 554 troops involved in the advance, 107 had been killed, 63 were missing and 190 were wounded. Only 194 (including Whittlesey) were able to walk out of the ravine.

The story of the Lost Battalion was one of the most talked about events of World War I.   In 1919, the events were made into a movie (and a 2001 made-for-TV movie).

He tried to return to his career, working as an attorney at the Wall Street firm of White & Case, but found himself in constant demand for speeches, parades, and honorary degrees. The pressure wore on him; he complained to a friend: “Not a day goes by but I hear from some of my old outfit, usually about some sorrow or misfortune. I cannot bear it much more.”

In November 1921, Whittlesey acted as a pallbearer at the burial of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery.  A few days later he booked passage from New York to Havana aboard the SS Toloa, a United Fruit Company ship.

On November 26, 1921, the first night out of New York, he dined with the captain and left the smoking room at 11:15 p.m. stating he was retiring for the evening.  It was noted by the captain that he was in good spirits.

Whittlesey was never seen again. He was reported missing at 8:00 a.m. the next day. He is presumed to have committed suicide by jumping overboard, although no one reported seeing him jump and Whittlesey’s body was never recovered.

However, it is quite apparent that his death was a suicide, considering:

  • Before leaving New York, he prepared a will leaving his property to his mother.
  • He also left letters addressed to his parents, his brothers Elisha and Melzar, his uncle Granville Whittlesey, and to several friends including George McMurtry, who also received the famous German letter asking for surrender.
  • In his cabin he left a note to the captain of the Toloa leaving instructions for the disposition of the baggage left in his stateroom.

Speaking of baggage, one can only imagine the baggage this poor guy had to carry with him after his experience.  They didn’t call it post-traumatic stress syndrome back then. . .

Here’s a picture of the French monument to the Lost Battalion (from Wiki):

Time for some GE Panoramio shots beginning with three of the Pine River, I’ll start just upstream from my landing, with this, by Aaron Carlson:

The LaSalle Falls (on the Pine River) are a little further downstream.  Here’s a shot by Outdoor Painter:

And just downstream of the falls, this by F. Collin Hobbs (great name!):

Usually, I find what I consider to be the most lovely photo of a local natural scene for closing.  But, hey, the exception makes the rule.  I’ll close with this shot of the Florence County jail (in Florence, by Rich R):

That’ll do it . . .




© 2017 A Landing A Day

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Trenton, Georgia

Posted by graywacke on April 29, 2017

First timer?  In this formerly once-a-day blog (and now pretty much a once-every-four-or-five days 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 recent changes in how I do things, check out “About Landing (Revisited).”

Landing number 2341; A Landing A Day blog post number 772.

Dan:  Today’s lat/long 34o 54.351’N, 85o 27.925’W) puts me in far NW Georgia:

And my local landing map, showing why Trenton made titular status:

I’ll zoom out a little to show you a slighty-more-regional shot:

OK!  So Chattanooga TN is the nearby big city.

I have a straightforward watershed analysis:

You can see that I landed in the Lookout Creek watershed, on to the Tennessee River (33rd hit).  You’ll have to trust me here, but the Tennessee meanders its way through Alabama, Tennessee & Kentucky before discharging into the Ohio (143rd hit); and to the MM (911th hit).

I’m going to be hanging out a lot on Google Earth (GE), so let’s get started by clicking HERE to get a good look at NW Georgia.

Check back up at my very local landing map.  See the road that runs right next to my landing?  Guess what?  It has GE Street View coverage (although landings in the woods are less-than-thrilling . . . )

I moved the Orange Dude (OD) down the road a little so we can look up a driveway (as opposed to looking straight at the woods).  And here’s what the OD sees:

So, I landed in a tight little valley that slopes south-southeast and is home to a little rivulet that juts east when it hits the flats, and heads over to Lookout Creek.  Let’s have the OD take a look at this “unnamed tributary:”

And here’s what he sees:

While he was there, the OD (who sometimes has a mind of his own), turned around and looked north:

He probably heard the women talking . . .  (and that’s my landing valley in the left background).

I was so taken with the two women – one walking her dog and, for reasons we’ll never know, one woman carrying her dog – that I prepared a little screen shot video.  Click HERE.  Please.

Let me put back up the local GE map:

This time, I’ve highlighted a side road apparently lined with little buildings of some sort.  By the way, the women and their dogs were right at the point where they could have turned right to visit these little buildings.  Let’s take a closer look (and bring along the OD for good measure):

Here’s what he sees:

Hmmm.  Cottages, very little cottages, that look rather new.  The Street View coverage dead ends just a little further north:

Check out what the OD sees now:

Wow!  There’s a lot to talk about.  I’ll go from right to left.

So, to the right, is that a woman with a white dog?  Same woman?  Same white dog?  I thought so at first, but she’s dressed differently.  And maybe the white blob isn’t a dog.  And wouldn’t the GoogleMobile visit this little side road at the same time as visiting the main road?  Whatever . . .

Moving to the center, there’s an airplane, right?  And then behind it, there appears to be another aircraft.  Being towed?  But the trailing aircraft looks like a hang glider, which wouldn’t be towed by an airplane!  What’s going on?

Well, I had the OD take a closer look around, and just up the dirt road in front of the little cottages, I saw this:

A hang glider!  Hmmmm.  So the trailing aircraft is a hang glider.  Well, there’s a big mountain right across the valley.  Could hang gliders take off from the top and make their way down to this field?  Although I’m still a little confused as to why there’s an airplane sharing airspace with a hang glider. . .

Anyway, I figured I’d drag the OD up on top of the mountain:

And you’ll never guess what he sees:

And I circled a hang glider way above the mountain!  Think there are some updrafts?  I went looking for some GE Panoramio shots, and found this, by Flyboy_69:

That hang glider just took off, with the pilot running down that very steep ramp.    And guess where he’s going to land?  Maybe he’ll be staying in one of those little cottages!

See the sign?  Lookout Mountain Hang Gliding.  Here’s a screen shot of their website:

Looky there!  Little cottages!

To get a feel for the topography, here’s an oblique GE shot looking north:

And while I was at it, I produced another little screen shot video, trying to give you a slight feel for the hang glider pilot’s perspective.  OK.  He took off, caught an updraft, did a 180, headed east over the mountain, and then circled back towards where he took off.  As he flies over the precipice, he sees this peculiar yellow push-pin, and zooms down for a closer look.  You gotta check this out by clicking HERE.

The Lookout Mountain Hang Gliding website a video showing take-offs & landings:

And – if you watched the whole thing – did you notice?  There was an ultra-light airplane in the video that is likely what we saw in that end-of-the-road Street View shot much earlier.

Geez.  I guess I need a quick look at Trenton.  From a Georgia State website about Georgia cities:

Settlers first came to Trenton, the county seat of Dade County, in the 1830s. Incorporated on February 18, 1854, the city’s name recognizes the industrial engineers from Trenton, NJ who came to the area in search of coal and iron.

Trenton NJ is just down the road from where I live; although I’m tempted to pay a visit, I decided to stay in Georgia.


The noted Southern humorist George Washington Harris (1814–1869) is buried in the Brock Cemetery in Trenton. Although he was considered one of the seminal writers of Southern humor and greatly influenced the literary works of Mark Twain and William Faulkner (among others), his grave was not officially identified and marked with a monument until 2008.

From the University of Virginia:

Harris’ great achievement was his creation of Sut Lovingood, “a nat’ral born durn’d fool.” Sut is one of the cruelest characters encountered in Southern humor. He grossly exaggerates the qualities of conniving, cruelty, brutish behavior and coarse speech–the qualities that enable men to survive the harsh life of the frontier.

In turn, respectability, kindness, and brotherhood are characteristics for derision as they constitute the personalities of the weak.

Sut furnishes the reader with a self description which should give a fair idea of the qualities this character possessed:

“Every critter what has ever seed me, if they has sense enough to hide from a coming calamity…jist knows five great facts in my case…Firstly, that I hain’t got nary a soul, nothing but a whisky-proof gizzard…Secondly, that I’s too durned a fool to come under military law. Thirdly, that I has the longest pair of legs ever hung to any carcus, excepting only of a grandaddy spider…Fourthly, that I can chamber more corkscrew, kill-devil whisky, and stay on end, than anything excepting only a broad-bottomed churn. Fivety, and lastly, kin get into more durned misfortunate skeery scrapes, than anybody, and then run outen them faster, by golly, nor anybody.”

I read some other Sut passages, and the one above is one of the easier to get through.  Someone suggested that Harris’ work needs to be read out loud, because when silently reading, it’s harder to translate the heavily-accented dialect.

Anyway, back to Wiki:

As the rift between the North and South widened in the years leading up the Civil War, Harris, an ardent Democrat and secessionist, moved to Nashville, and began writing political satires in support of the South.

In early 1862, Harris fled Nashville ahead of invading Union forces, and spent the remainder of the war evading the Union Army.

Following the success of Sut Lovingood Yarns, Harris made plans to publish a new collection of stories entitled High Times and Hard Times. In late November 1869, he traveled from his new home in Alabama to Lynchburg, Virginia, to show his manuscript to a prospective publisher.

On December 11, while riding the train back to Alabama, Harris fell gravely ill somewhere near Bristol, Tennessee. When the train stopped in Knoxville, Harris, unconscious, was taken to the Atkin Hotel.

At the Atkin, Harris was examined by a doctor, who issued a preliminary diagnosis of apoplexy.  Later in the evening, four other doctors arrived and rejected the initial diagnosis, suggesting a possible morphine overdose.

Around 10:00 PM, Harris briefly regained consciousness, and managed to say one final word: “poisoned”.  He died shortly afterward, with the official cause listed as “unknown.”  No copy of his manuscript, High Times and Hard Times, has ever been found.

He had moved to Trenton after the war, and was buried there in 1869.  Mysteriously, his grave was not marked; but in 2008, a memorial was placed at the Trenton cemetery where he was interred.

Just east of Trenton is the “Cloudland Canyon.”  You can see plenty of GE Panoramio shots at the Canyon:

So, I’ll close with some of them.

I’ll start with this, by Ben Prepelka:

And this, by Chase1Ash:

There are a couple of lovely waterfalls in the Canyon.  Here’s a shot of one by Dave Nelson dotcom:

And another, by DVandevate:

And yet another, also by DV:

One more by DV:

Here’s a shot of a big rock by DWGPhotos:

Also by DWG:

I’ll close with this waterfall pic (maybe shot from a hang glider?) by Pete Seabolt:

A drone is more likely . . .

That’ll do it . . .



© 2017 A Landing A Day



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Halfway, Oregon

Posted by graywacke on April 19, 2017

First timer?  In this formerly once-a-day blog (and now pretty much a once-every-four-or-five days 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 recent changes in how I do things, check out “About Landing (Revisited).”

Landing number 2339; A Landing A Day blog post number 770.

Dan:  Today’s lat/long 44o 51.893’N, 117o 5.874’W) puts me in far Northeast Oregon:

My local landing map puts me about halfway between Halfway & Pine:

I’ll head straight over to my streams-only map:

As you can see, I landed in the watershed of Sag Creek, on to Pine Creek.

Backing up a little:

Pine Creek does not pass Go, does not collect $200, but rather goes directly to the Snake River (81st hit).  As 93 out of 100 of my readers know, the Snake makes its way to the Columbia (168th hit).  The 7 remaining readers just learned something.

It’s time for my Google Earth (GE) spaceflight, starting with an unusual perspective.  Click HERE to check it out.

Here’s an oblique GE shot looking north past my landing, across the Pine Creek valley, towards the Wallowa Mountains:

And another, looking up the Pine Creek Valley from the Snake River and the town of Oxbow towards my landing:

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

I think it’s time to check out Halfway.  From the town’s 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 (about 9.5 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 boom town back in the 1890s (platted in 1886).  But Pine?  Fuhgettaboutit.

So, let’s look at a StreetAtlas map:

Well, well, well.  What about Richland?  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). Here’s my version of the story (and I’m stickin’ to it):

The Halfway post office (while apparently not actually in the current town location) wasn’t far 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 the post office moved to the newly platted town a little to the south, the town, of course, became Halfway.

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 not budging! Pine Schmine . . .

Phew.  And guess what?  There’s another Halfway hook (from Wiki):

Halfway earned a place in the history of the dot-com era in December 1999.  The town received and accepted an offer from Half.com to rename itself as Half.com for one year in exchange for $110,000; 20 computers for the school; and other financial subsidies.

[Quick aside:  Half.com (bought by eBay in 2001) was founded in 1999 as an on-line shopping site.  Products are limited to books (including textbooks), music, movies, video games and video game consoles).  The website pits commercial sellers against one another; they undercut each other so that they’re the lowest price on the site.  Actually, it’s pretty cool.] 

Back to Wiki:

It became the first city in the world to rename itself as a dot com. Among the less obvious reasons the town was chosen were its small population size (and thus its likelihood to accept such an offer) and the city’s location, which fit perfectly into Half.com’s marketing scheme:  “They’re within four miles of the 45th parallel which makes it halfway between the equator and the North Pole”.  [More on this in a moment.]

The proclamation did not legally change its name.  The city created and posted two signs at its borders that greeted visitors with “Welcome to Half.com, Oregon – America’s First Dot-com City”.

I had to search far and wide before finally finding a picture of the sign (from SeattleTimes.com):

The city auctioned one of these off in September 2007 for $1000; the winner was Half.com’s founder Josh Kopelman.

Here’s a GE shot showing the location of the 45th parallel (about a half mile south of Cornucopia):

Digressing a bit here . . . there are a number of very-cool road signs across America that inform motorists that they are crossing the 45th parallel.  Here’s one from MNMuseumOfThems.org (with the caption underneath):

I also read (somewhere) that Half Moon, California was considered for the name change (but it never happened).  I happen to know that Half Moon Bay is the location of “The Mavericks,” a wave-break well known to big-wave surfers.  I’ll use this opportunity to gratuitously post some pictures of some of these waves.

Here’s on from Wiki (by Shalom Jacobovitz):

And this on SurfTweeters.com by Frank Quirarte:

And what the heck, here’s a YouTube video by u2bheavenbound:


These guys are truly amazing.  Whatever you may think of the surfing culture, these guys are world-class athletes . . .

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 . . .



© 2017 A Landing A Day



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Algodones, Bernallilo and Placitas, New Mexico

Posted by graywacke on April 15, 2017

First timer?  In this formerly once-a-day blog (and now pretty much a once-every-four-or-five days 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 recent changes in how I do things, check out “About Landing (Revisited).”

Landing number 2338; A Landing A Day blog post number 769.

Dan:  Today’s lat/long 35o 27.830’N, 106o 30.472’W) puts me in Cen-N New Mexico:

My local landing map:

I’ll zoom out a little to let you know that I actually landing in the greater Albuquerque area:

On my local map, you may have noticed that the Rio Grande runs past my landing.  But before I codify my watershed, let’s look at my streams-only map:

So . . . I landed in the watershed of Wide Stream Intermittent (known as WSI by the locals), which discharges (rarely, I suspect) to the Rio Grande (50th hit).  Congratulations, Rio Grande, on this milestone!

I want to look at the WSI on Google Earth (GE), but first we’ll need to strap in for my GE spaceflight.  Click HERE, enjoy, and then hit your back button.

So here’s my drainage pathway:


And an oblique GE shot looking up the WSI towards my landing:


There’s no Street View coverage anywhere close to the WSI – let alone my landing.  The best I can do is have the Orange Dude look across the Rio Grande towards the break in the distant bluff that was carved out by the WSI:


Here’s what he sees:


I spent some time looking at USGS maps of the area, hoping to find a name for the WSI.  No luck.  I found a great map, which clearly shows the WSI valley:


Here’s a closer look at the same map; believe me there’s no label for the thin blue line that is the Wide Stream Intermittent:


Of course, I did get Street View coverage of the Rio Grande:

And here’s what the Orange Dude sees:

But here’s a better picture of the Rio Grande (from Bernalillo), a GE Pano shot by Alex Tucker:

So what about Algodones?  It is truly hookless.  The only thing I have to go on is the name itself.  In Spanish, Algodone means cotton.  “Algodones” by itself doesn’t really make sense, it should be “los algodones,” which would be translated as “the cottons.” 

From TheRoute-66.com, about the origin of the name:

The name is a Spanish word that means “cotton.”  The name may be derived from the fact that cotton was grown in this area and sold to the other pueblos in the 1700s. But drought and less land available for cultivation plus the raids of the Apaches led to its demise.

I stumbled on this expression:  “vivir entre los algodones.”  In Spanish, this idiomatic expression means to be spoiled and overprotected.  Literally, it means, “live between the cottons.”  Maybe live between the sheets?  One may wonder why I brought this up, since the chance that this expression has anything to do with the town is practically nil. . .

About 15 miles SE of my landing are the Sandia Mountains.  Here’s a view (from a real estate website) that shows the view from 8 Via Sole Drive in Algodones, looking SE:

Moving to Bernalillo.  Here’s a screen shot of the “History” section of the city’s website:

You’ll have to trust me on two points:  First, this is, in fact, the top of the “History” section on the website (even though the word “history” is no where to be seen).  Second, the word “Coronado” doesn’t appear in the fairly extensive write-up after the title. 

Say what?  If “The City of Coronado” has nothing to do with history, what does it have to do with?  Well, a little bit of research, shows that there is, in fact, a Coronado connection.

I stumbled on some local information about Coronado, after seeing the title of this GE Pano shot:

It wasn’t a great shot of the Sandias, but I dug a little deeper into Kuaua, and found this, from NMHistoricSites.com:

The Coronado Historic Site and the ruins of Kuaua Pueblo are located in Bernalillo.  In 1540, Francisco Vásquez de Coronado—with 500 soldiers and 2,000 Indian allies from New Spain—entered the Rio Grande valley somewhere near this site.

Coronado was searching for the fabled Seven Cities of Gold.  Instead of treasure, he found a dozen villages inhabited by prosperous native farmers.  These newly “discovered” people spoke Tiwa, and their ancestors had already been living in this area for thousands of years.

Coronado called them “Los Indios de los Pueblos” or Pueblo Indians.  He and his men visited all twelve Tiwa villages during the course of the next two years.  They weren’t only looking for gold; they survived on food and other supplies that they obtained from them.  Without the assistance of the Tiwas (willing or unwilling), Coronado and his men very likely would have starved to death.

Kuaua was the northernmost of the twelve villages.  Its name means “evergreen” in Tiwa.  It was first settled around AD 1325 and was occupied by approximately 1,200 people when Coronado arrived.  Conflict with Coronado and later Spanish explorers led to the abandonment of this site within a century of first contact.  Today, the descendants of the people of Kuaua live in the surviving Tiwa-speaking villages of Taos, Picuris, Sandia, and Isleta.

From a Coronado perspective, it is interesting that back in June 2016 I landed near Lochiel, Arizona, which is more-or-less where Coronado entered the United States as he began his mission to find the 7 cities of gold.

Even more interestingly, in October 2016 I landed near Gypsum, Kansas, which is more-or-less where Coronado ended his mission.  Here’s a map:

So now I landed more-or-less where Coronado crossed the Rio Grande . . .

Moving right along to Placitas.  Let me go back a couple of days when I first landed here in the desert northwest of Algodones.  As has happened before, I was sitting at my kitchen table, using a website to select my random lat/long landing location.

My wife Jody was sitting across the table, and I let her know that I was landing.  Sometimes she’ll ask what I’m doing at my computer, and I’ll say I’m “landing,” even when I’m doing research/writing.  But when I’m actually coming up with a new landing location, I’ll let her know that now, I’m “really landing.”

So, this was one of those real landing moments, and I told her that I just landed in New Mexico.  Knowing that she used to live in New Mexico, I asked her if she knew Algodones.

“Algodones?  Yea, I’ve heard of it, but I’m not sure where it is.”

I zoomed back a little more, and I asked her if she knew Bernalillo.  Of course, I mispronounced it, and she corrected me (bern – a – LEE- o), and let me know that it was in Bernalillo County.  She was paying attention now.

When I zoomed back a little on my local landing map, I caught my breath.  Here’s our dialogue (more-oro-less):

“Jody – you’ll never guess where I just landed.”

“You landed near Placitas, right?”

I turned my computer around so she could see:

“Yup – Placitas.”

Oh my.  Jody used to live in Placitas.  To this day, she uses the word “placitas” (along with some miscellaneous letters and numbers) as one of her standard passwords.

She didn’t just “live” in Placitas.  While a student at the University of New Mexico, for about 8 months she lived in a non-functioning school bus that she and her then boyfriend bought for $300 and towed out to a piece of vacant land in Placitas (rent free, but with owner’s permission).  A school bus with no electricity, no water, no toilet.

They dug a pit and put an outhouse over it; they brought in two wood stoves – one for cooking and one for heat.  They used kerosene lanterns for light.  They built a chicken coop, and kept chickens for eggs.

As you might expect, this whole episode in Jody’s life has become one of our family legends.

About 20 years ago, she and I visited some friends who lived in Albuquerque, so of course we cruised around Placitas.  Things had changed so much, she couldn’t figure out where her school bus had been.  But while interviewing Jody for this post (and thanks to Google Earth), we pretty much nailed it.

Let me start with this GE shot of Placitas today:

She lived west of town, and the more she thought about it, she was able to say that she lived south of the main drag and just west of road with word “tunnel” in it. Hmmmm . . .

And there it is, Tunnel Springs road.  Zeroing in, she also remembered “the arroyo,” a little further west.  That nailed it.  I’ll put the magic yellow oval on this gotta-be-it zone:

“By jove, Sherman, I think we’ve found it!  All we need to do is crank up the Way Back Machine – let me see, let’s set it for April 23rd, 1971.  We’ll put the Orange Dude out on the main drag, and take a look:”

“The bus!   And yes, that’s Jody!  Good job, Mr. Peabody!”

Not a bad view from the bus – those are the Sandia Mountains in the background.

A quick detour on the Sandias:

Sandía means watermelon in Spanish, and is popularly believed to be a reference to the reddish color of the mountains at sunset.  [This is what Jody told me].  However, as Robert Julyan notes, “the most likely explanation is the one believed by the Sandia Indians: the Spaniards, when they encountered the Pueblo in 1540, called it Sandia, because they thought the squash gourds growing there were watermelons, and the name Sandia soon was transferred to the mountains east of the pueblo.”

Here’s a lovely shot (from Wiki) of the Sandias over the Rio Grande:

Back to Placitas.  No surprise, Placitas was quite the hippie community back in 1971.  From PlacitasSage.org:

In the 1960s, Placitas was an alternative to nearby urban areas which offered employment but little space. Improved roads allowed a reasonable commute, and the population of Placitas began to grow gradually.

Some moved here to write, to make art and music, to enjoy life at a slower pace. Some wanted to “live off the land,” a movement which gained strength in the 1970s. Some of these folks gathered in communes, others simply built their own homes on acreage that was affordable and available.

One of the Placitas communes was “Lower Farm,” which Jody remembers visiting.  Here’s a classic hippie photo by Roberta Price (check out the guitar player’s pants!).  She wrote a book on communes in the west (Across the Great Divide – A Photo Chronicle of the Counterculture) which includes this photo (with the caption below):

Placitas was the southern point of our commune explorations in the summer of 1969 and again in the early winter of 1970, and though we spent a short time there, we caught a glimpse of the vibrant counter-cultural life at that time.

But the real center of Placitas life was the Thunderbird Bar.  Jody remembers it well, and occasionally went there to hear some live music.  I googled the Thunderbird, and came across a facebook page belonging to Larry Goodell, the Placitas “poet-in-residence.”  Back in the day, he performed at the Thunderbird and has collected Thunderbird memorabilia and posted it on his page. 

Here are some posters, mostly from the early 1970s when the Thunderbird was at its prime (it burned down in the mid-70s).  Note REO Speedwagon, Tim Buckley, Mason Williams, Albert King, John Lee Hooker and Freddie King – some pretty big names . . .

(I really enjoyed perusing these.  If you’re not so inclined, you can scroll down quickly.)

Fifteen cent beers!

Here are a couple of inside shots from the same era (I don’t see Jody):

And, this, showing the outside (featuring, I think, Dolly from “Dolly and the Lama Mountain Boys):

From SandovalSignPost, this, by Bill Pearlman, relating a Thunderbird Bar conversation with Joe Gonzalez:

Old days that run the gamut. How the myriad conversations came and went, the goodwill exchanged in language. The strange creatures that appeared here, the wild days at the old Thunderbird Bar of Placitas. Joe reminds me that the Thunderbird was our center, our forum, our symposium— where ideas were explored, where stories were told, and where laughter surged from friendly voices and passed beyond us. The camaraderie of those days, what we did with our energies, our affections, our vehemence. Lived out a youth, a Volks camper, a bad war, a skyrocketing high, a refugee’s sense of distance.

In one of those JFTHOI* moments, here’s Mason Williams performing Classical Gas in 1968.  Great song.  He was a pretty big name to be playing the little ‘ol Thunderbird Bar!  This is skippable, but this song was a huge hit, and I enjoyed seeing him play it.

*Just for the heck of it


And in another JFTHOI moments, here’s Tommy Emmanuel (who I’ve seen four or five times) also performing Classical Gas.  In my humble opinion, if you don’t know Tommy, you should really check this out.  And if you do know Tommy, you’ll enjoy it.


For the record:  Even though I’m sure it was going on all around her, Jody was a non-drinker, non-druggie during her days in Placitas. . .

I came across a YouTube video of a 1970 BB King concert in Placitas, the “Medicine Ball Caravan” festival.  I wasn’t going to bother posting it, but I realized it’s a great performance with good sound quality, and well worth your time:


I’m going to cycle all the way back to my when-I-was-really-landing moment.  As most readers probably know, I often “land” outside of the lower 48, because of the roughly rectangular landing area I have to identify when coming up with my random lat/long.  Anyway, this was one of those times when I first “landed” in the Atlantic Ocean, and then Mexico.  And Mexico again.  And (AYKM?) Mexico again. 

I was blown away when Mexico came up for the fourth straight time!  But this one was special.  So special, that I’m going to let you see the special place I landed.  Click HERE (and don’t skip this trip!).

Here’s a static shot of the Isla San Jose (and the yellow push-pin that was my landing location):

The island is about 18 miles long and 5 miles wide, and is unhabited.  But it (along with the much smaller San Francisco Island just south) is incredibly beautiful.  Here are some GE Pano shots.  I’ll start with this, by Samir Gonzalez:

Rodriguez 324:

Also, Rodriguez 324:

And yes, another by Rod:

And again:

By you-know-who:

Geez.  Enough already . . .

Hold on to your hats, this is by KNBStover (of San Francisco Island):

Same beach, another angle, by Jack Bennett:


I’ll close this segment with this, by Bacamacari:

I’ll circle back to Placitas, and close with this lovely GE Pano shot of the Sandia by NMGuy:

That’ll do it . . .



© 2017 A Landing A Day



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Bearmouth, Ravenna and Garnet, Montana

Posted by graywacke on April 9, 2017

First timer?  In this formerly once-a-day blog (and now pretty much a once-every-four-or-five days 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 recent changes in how I do things, check out “About Landing (Revisited).”

Landing number 2337; A Landing A Day blog post number 768.

Dan:  Today’s lat/long 46o 45.755’N, 113o 20.028’W) puts me in W-Cen Montana:


My local landing map shows two (of three) titular towns:

So where’s Garnet?

Before we can answer that question, let’s take a look at my watershed analysis:

You can see that I landed in the watershed of Bear Creek (in a valley known as Bear Gulch, as you’ll soon see), and that Bear Creek discharges to the Clark Fork (22nd hit). 

Zooming back, you can see that the Clark Fork discharges in (ends up being?) the Pend Oreille (24th hit), and that the Pend Oreille takes a brief sojourn to Canada (BC) before discharging into the Columbia (167th hit):

JFTHOI, I’ll zoom in to get a better look at the conjunction of the Pend Oreille and the Columbia:

And (borrowing from an earlier Montana Clark Fork watershed post):

Notice how the Pend Oreille (P.O.) heads up into Canada before it discharges into the Columbia (which is headed south out of Canada)?  It turns out that the P.O. discharges into the Columbia a few hundred yards north of the international boundary line.  Here’s a Google Earth (GE) shot, showing the “Boundary” hydroelectric dam – and yes, some of the kilowatts stay in Canada and some of them head south . . .

Now it’s time to watch as GE zeroes in on landing 2337. Click HERE (then hit your back button).

As always, the first thing I do when I crank up GE is check out Street Views of my landing.  This one’s not so hot (about three and a half miles away):

And here’s what the Orange Dude sees:

But wait!  Let me zoom in a little on the brown road sign:

Ah ha!  Bear Gulch (the home of Bear Creek) and Garnet, the titular town that doesn’t make it on my StreetAtlas map.

And here’s a GE shot identifying Garnet:

(For the record, Ravenna shows up on StreetAtlas, but not on GE.  Oh, well).

Here’s an oblique GE shot looking past Bear Gulch past my landing:

There’s Street View coverage along the road right before Bear Creek discharges to the Clark Fork.  But it looks like the creek is in a culvert, so there’s nothing to see.  But here’s the view from I-90, looking across the Clark Fork at where the creek discharges:

I took the Orange Dude a little further west, along the road that runs on the north side of Clark Fork.  Here’s a view of the river:

It’s time to move on to the town that shows up on both platforms:  Bearmouth.  Wiki:

Bearmouth [sometimes written as Bear Mouth, which I prefer] was not a mining camp, but rather a town that depended on the survival of other towns that were mining camps, such as neighboring Garnet. The town was also a main stop for stagecoaches on the old Mullan Road.

During the late 19th century, enormously rich ores from Garnet came into Bearmouth to be shipped to smelters. When Garnet died, Bearmouth followed suit.

It had a beautiful two-storied, balconied inn for travelers to spend the night, which still stands.

Still stands, eh?  Well, here’s a Street View shot looking across the Clark Fork at the very same two-storied balconied inn (now the Bearmouth Chalet, associated with an RV park):

Just a quick note about the Mullan Road (that ran through Bear Mouth.  From Wiki:

Mullan Road was the first wagon road to cross the Rocky Mountains, ending up in the Pacific Northwest.  It was built by U.S. Army troops under the command of Lt. John Mullan, between the spring of 1859 and summer 1860. It led from Fort Benton, Montana – at the navigational head of the Missouri and the farthest inland port in the world – across Idaho and into western Washington to Fort Walla Walla, near the Columbia River. The road previewed the route approximately followed of modern-day Interstate 15 and Interstate 90 [which runs right through Bear Mouth].

Moving on to Ravenna.  True confessions.  I probably would have ignored Ravenna if it weren’t for the fact that way back in the day, I lived just outside of Ravenna, Ohio.  I went to grad school at nearby Kent State University, and worked in Akron (also nearby) for a couple of years. 

I happen to know that Ravenna Ohio was named after Ravenna Italy.  I’d like to think that Ravenna Montana was named after Ravenna Ohio . . .

Anyway, all that remains in Ravenna, Montana (and the only reason it has any internet presence at all), is the remains of electrical Substation #9.  I had the Orange Dude travel a few miles west from Bear Mouth and look across the river.  Here’s what he sees:

One might ask why there is an electrical substation out in the middle of nowhere.  I had to go to YouTube to find out.  DavidEgg22 posted an artsy video of the abandoned substation.  He has a write-up, which I’ll present before the video:

Uploaded on Nov 12, 2011.  [Geez.  He missed 11/11/11 by one day . . .]

Ruins and rust; taken over by nature! The Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul and Pacific Railroad electrified 440 miles for their trains to cross the mountains of the Pacific Northwest. The electric locomotives were powered by substations that converted 110,000 volt AC current to 3,000 volts DC. The 22 substations were built in 1909 and were located approximately 30 miles apart. The electric operations ended during June 1974 and the line through here was abandoned March 1980. The Ravenna Substation #9 is one of 7 substations still standing.

In 1981, I walked the two miles of track to this remote station (and me without a camera!) The building looked to be in good shape and most of the windows were still intact but the interior equipment was all removed and salvaged. The floors were scattered with papers such as train orders, log books and the like. The nigh voltage power still ran up over the building (accessible by ladders) producing a humming sound. As you can see from this video, the building has started to deteriorate with the help of vandals and Mother Nature.

Here’s the video – with, believe it or not – 16,162 views!


I couldn’t help myself, so I took a quick Wiki look at Ravenna Ohio.  The only thing of interest was in the list of Notable People.  Here’s a screen shot of the top half of the list:

How about that!  See the entry after Robert B. “Yank” Heisler???

I scanned the list, looking to see if there was a truly Notable Person (besides, of course, yours truly).  Yank didn’t make it.  My skepticism about the list-worthiness of many of these individuals is confirmed by Wiki’s note in the box at the top of the list.  Here’s what it says:

This list of “famous” or “notable” persons has no inclusion or exclusion criteria.  Please help to define clear inclusion criteria and edit the list to contain only subjects that fit those criteria (August 2013).

It doesn’t look like anyone has done any editing.  If/when they do, I hope that I make the cut!

Someone who will definitely make any cut is Bill Bower.  He was the “last surviving pilot of the Doolittle Raid.”

From Wiki:

William “Bill” Bower (1917 – 2011) was a U.S. Air Force Colonel and veteran of World War II. Bower was the last surviving pilot of the Doolittle Raid, the first air raid to target the Japanese home island of Honshu.

A native of Ravenna, Ohio, Bower graduated from Ravenna High School in 1934.  He attended Hiram College and Kent State University from 1934 until 1936.

And this, about the Doolittle Raid (also Wiki):

The Doolittle Raid, on April 18, 1942, was an air raid by the United States of America on the Japanese capital Tokyo and other places on the island of Honshu during World War II, the first air strike to strike the Japanese Home Islands. The raid took place only 4 months after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.

It demonstrated that Japan itself was vulnerable to American air attack, served as retaliation for Pearl Harbor and provided an important boost to American morale. The raid was planned and led by Lieutenant Colonel James “Jimmy” Doolittle of the US Army Air Forces.

Sixteen B-25B Mitchell medium bombers were launched from the aircraft carrier USS Hornet deep in the Western Pacific Ocean, each with a crew of five men. The plan called for them to bomb military targets in Japan, and to continue westward to land in China—landing a medium bomber on Hornet was impossible.

[They must have physically loaded the planes on the aircraft carrier, knowing they could take off, but not land.]

Fifteen aircraft reached China, but all crashed, while the 16th landed at Vladivostok in the Soviet Union. All but three of the 80 crew members initially survived the mission. Eight airmen were captured by the Japanese Army in China; three of those were later executed. The B-25 that landed in the Soviet Union was confiscated and its crew interned for more than a year. Fourteen complete crews, except for one crewman who was killed in action, returned to the United States or to American forces.

Here are a couple of shots from the USS Hornet (via Wiki).  First this, of the bombers crowded on the deck just prior to the mission:

And this, of one of the planes taking off, headed to Tokyo:

As mentioned previously, Bill Bower was the last surviving pilot.  Four surviving crew members remain.  To learn more about the raid and the remaining survivors, Google Doolittle Raid and/or go to DoolittleRaider.com.

It’s time to head back to Montana and check out Garnet.  I found an April 2015 article from the Missoulian by Rob Chaney entitled “Garnet Ghost Town Seeks Volunteer Resident.”  Here’s a picture from the article (a BLM pic), followed by some excerpts:

A chance to really get to know the ghosts at Garnet Ghost Town is one of the benefits of a volunteer residency summer program at the historic site.

“It’s primitive, to say the least,” U.S. Bureau of Land Management Garnet Ranger Nacoma Gainan said. “It’s for people who love the outdoors and want to give back. There’s no electricity, no Wi-Fi and no running water. But there are trails to explore, artifacts to inspect. Volunteers are really left to their own devices after the visitors are gone.”

In the past, one volunteer from Buffalo, New York, spent 11 consecutive summers at Garnet, while another couple made it their summer plan for a decade. This year, however, the calendar is open for the months of August and September.

BLM provides a private furnished cabin with propane stove and refrigerator, wood stove and a food stipend. Volunteers will provide visitor information, lead tours and handle sales of souvenirs.

Garnet’s mining history started in the 1860s, when the first lodes of silver and gold were discovered there. At its peak, nearly 1,000 people lived in the small valley.

The town went through several booms and busts, and a small operating mine still functions near the boundary of the town site. Over the years, preservationists restored many of the town’s buildings, including its Miners Union hall, Kelly’s Saloon and several residences.

Here’s a GE pano shot (by Ostrom), reminding us all that they have a winter in Montana, and the miners were living and working all winter long:

Here’s a what-the-heck shot of a not-so-old piece of presumed mining equipment (pano shot by OffTheTrail):

I’ll close with this Pano shot by Elifino 57, taken near Bear Mouth.  I like the picture, even though the photographer pushed the “color saturation” bar on his photo editor a little too far to the right . . .

That’ll do it . . .




© 2017 A Landing A Day



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Onaway, Michigan

Posted by graywacke on April 4, 2017

First timer?  In this formerly once-a-day blog (and now pretty much a once-every-four-or-five days 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 recent changes in how I do things, check out “About Landing (Revisited).”

Landing number 2336; A Landing A Day blog post number 767.

Dan:  Today’s lat/long 45o 17.215’N, 84o 0.570’W) puts me in N-Cen Michigan:

My local landing map shows a few towns, only one of which (as you already know) became titular:

Here’s a short and sweet watershed analysis:

I landed in the watershed of the Ocqueoc River (1st hit ever!), on to Lake Huron (17th hit); on to the St. Lawrence (105th hit).

By the way, this was my 57th landing in Michigan, yet my first landing in the Ocqueoc watershed . . .

So I need to Google the Ocqueoc River.  From Wiki:

The Ocqueoc River (pronounced AH-kee-ock) is 34 miles long and encompasses a watershed of approximately 95,000 acres or 150 sq miles.

[Actually, pretty small watershed; only 10 mi x 15 mi . . .]

The word Ocqueoc comes from a French term meaning “crooked waters.”

I spent some amount of time (aka too much time) trying to find a French phrase that means crooked waters (or something like crooked waters) that sounds even a little like Ocqueoc.  The French word for water is “eau,” (pronounced oh), which seems like a start, but still, no luck.  Oh, well.  Back to Wiki:

Ocqueoc Falls are the largest waterfalls in the Lower Peninsula of Michigan with a drop of about 5 feet.

AYKM?  Oh my.  This requires research!

So I googled “highest waterfalls in Michigan,” and found that the Ocqueoc Falls (which the website said were 10’ tall, not 5’) are the 107th highest falls in the state.  So the top 106 are in the Upper Peninsula?  Seems unlikely.

But it’s true.  The counties for each of the falls were listed, and I methodically checked the first 106 falls and aye-yup, they were all in the UP.  How about that?

Sorry about the “aye-yup.”  I fear that’s Maine, not Michigan . . .

We need a couple of Google Earth (GE) Panoramio photos of the mighty Ocqueoc Falls.  First, this by ChrisF66:

And this lovely winter view of the falls (reminding us that they really have winter in Northern Michigan), by PGerow:

Speaking of Google Earth, it’s time for my GE visit to landing 2336.  Click HERE.

My closest town is Millersburg (pop 200), but it’s totally hookless.  Tower has zero internet presence, and any references about Black Lake are all about the lake, not the “town.”  What’s left?  Onaway.  As is my wont, my first stop was Wiki:

Onaway is the Sturgeon Capital of Michigan, and there is a lake sturgeon streamside rearing facility on the nearby Black River, where the fish migrate down to the Cheboygan River and then to Lake Huron.

OK, I’ll have to look into the sturgeon angle a little more.  But first, back to a bulletized version of Wiki:

  • This farming community received a post office in 1882 with Thomas Shaw as postmaster. The town was name Shaw for him.

     [Logically enough.]

  • Arriving in 1886, Marritt Chandler platted the community under the name of Onaway.

  [No explanation for “Onaway.”]

  • Chandler took over as postmaster and officially changed the town’s name to Onaway in 1890.
  • In 1893, Shaw took back the postmaster position and changed the town’s name to Adalaska.

   [He gave up on “Shaw,” but whence cometh “Adalaska?”]

  • Once again, the post office was renamed back to Onaway in 1897.

   [Seemingly out the blue, back to Onaway.]

OnawayMi.com has a much more straightforward town name discussion, and fills in the crucial missing piece about Onaway:

The Onaway area was first settled in the 1880’s by Thomas Shaw and Merritt Chandler. Chandler was the first to plat the land, naming the town from a stanza in Longfellow’s “The Song of Hiawatha.” Onaway is an Ojibwa Indian cry meaning ‘Alert’ or ‘Awaken’.

So Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (known as Waddy to his friends) was an American poet (1807-1882), best known for “Paul Revere’s Ride” and “Evangeline” besides “The Song of Hiawatha.”  What a distinguished looking gentleman!

I’ll dig a little into “The Song of Hiawatha” – it’s a very long epic poem, based on Ojibwa myths and legends.  If you’re like me, you don’t know much more than the first half of the first line:

“By the shores of Gitche Gumee . . .”

In the spirit of full disclosure, here’s the second half of the first line, and as a bonus feature, the second line:

“by the shining Big-Sea-Water,
Stood the wigwam of Nokomis, daughter of the Moon, Nokomis.”

Anyway, I found Cliff’s Notes for the poem.  Fom Schmoop.com (oh, all right – not really Cliff’s Notes):

The poem starts by telling us how the Master of Life, Gitche Manito, came down from the skies and told all the people of the Earth to stop fighting and get along. To seal the deal, he had these people make peace pipes, which they take out and smoke together whenever a conflict arises. Then Gitche Manito throws in an added bonus: he tells the people that he will soon send a prophet who will suffer on their behalf so that they will all live better lives.

Some time after Gitche Manito’s appearance, a boy named Hiawatha is born to a woman named Wenonah. Hiawatha’s father is a demigod who controls the west wind, but as a dad he’s a deadbeat. He deserts Hiawatha’s mother, who ends up dying from heartbreak. In the meantime, Hiawatha grows up to be a strong and wise young man whose great reputation travels all across the land.

The book goes on to tell us about all the great stuff Hiawatha does, like making the corn grow better and killing a giant fish-god named Mishe-Nahma. Eventually, Hiawatha gets lonely and decides to ask a woman named Minnehaha to marry him.  She says yes and they live happily together. Along the way, Hiawatha finds the time to invent reading and writing and to teach these things to his people.

In the second half of the poem, Hiawatha loses his two best friends. Then he has to chase down a troublemaker named Pau-Puk-Keewis who has been destroying everything in his path. Finally, a terrible winter kills Hiawatha’s wife Minnehaha with a fever. Hiawatha feels as though there’s nothing left in his life to keep him in his village. One night, he has visions of white men arriving in a giant boat and teaching his people a new religion. Sure enough, this vision comes true and Hiawatha trusts that his people will be safe with the whites (um, he might be mistaken on that one).

At the end of the poem, Hiawatha gets in his canoe and paddles away from his village. He doesn’t know when or if he’ll ever come back. And that’s that.

Now I need to get to the Onaway part.  At the wedding feast (after the wedding of Hiawatha and Minnehaha), Chibiabos is asked to sing a song.  FYI, Chibiabos is a mythical Native American character.  According to most sources, he’s a God of the Underworld (although not a bad guy).  But I prefer this, from InfoPlease:

He is the musician; the harmony of nature personified. He teaches the birds to sing and the brooks to warble as they flow.

In that musical vein, here’s a picture entitled “Chibiabos the Flute Player” by Ed Copley (from EdCopleyFineArt.com):

Anyway, quoting from the poem, here’s an introduction to Chibiabos:

“Sing to us, O Chibiabos!
Songs of love and songs of longing,
That the feast may be more joyous,
That the time may pass more gayly,
And our guests be more contented!”

The song begins (Chibiabos singing to Hiawatha):

“Onaway! Awake, beloved!
Thou the wild-flower of the forest!
Thou the wild-bird of the prairie!”

And later in the song:

“Onaway! My heart sings to thee,
Sings with joy when thou art near me,
As the sighing, singing branches
In the pleasant Moon of Strawberries!”

And again, as the song ends:

“I myself, myself! Behold me!
Blood of my beating heart, behold me!
O awake, awake, beloved!
Onaway ! Awake, beloved!”

Yo Chibiabos.  You’re a dude, and you only sang to Hiawatha?  Shouldn’t you say something about Minehaha?

That’s enough on the Onaway name origin; actually, more information than you need, eh?

Moving right along to sturgeon.  Onaway is the “Sturgeon Capital of Michigan” because nearby Black Lake is famous for its sturgeon, and also because there’s a sturgeon hatchery on the Upper Black River that flows into Black Lake.

I found a Feb 2017 Lansing State Journal article about Black Lake sturgeon by Kathleen Lavey.  I’ll be quoting from the article more extensively in a minute, but for background, I’ll start with this excerpt:

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:

And a fingerling, from the Black River hatchery:

From Wiki, more about Lake Sturgeon:

In 1860, this species, taken on incidental catches of other fishes, was killed and dumped back in the lake, piled up on shore to dry and be burned, fed to pigs, or dug into the earth as fertilizer.  It was even stacked like cordwood and used to fuel steamboats. When their meat and eggs (cavier) became prized (around 1880), they were caught by every available means, including nets.  Over 5 million lb were taken from Lake Erie in a single year. The fishery collapsed, largely by 1900. They have never recovered. Like most sturgeons, the lake sturgeon is rare now and is protected in many areas.

Due to conservation efforts (such as the Onaway fish hatchering) and improvements in water quality in the Great Lakes and the rivers and streams that feed the lakes, lake sturgeon are making a modest come back.

In fact, fishing for lake sturgeon is actually legal.  Getting back to the Lansing State Journal article by Kathleen Lavey.  It is entitled:

8 sturgeon, more than 300 fishermen and a 66-minute season

Here are some excerpts:

GRANT TWP. – It’s the Friday night before winter sturgeon season starts on Black Lake, and Brian Bailey stands inside the door of a party tent, selling $5 admission buttons while wearing a crown and fake velvet cape with the image of a sturgeon on the back.

Inside, it feels like Christmas Eve. Volunteers in fleece and flannel sell tickets for beer and serve chili from slow cookers. With their shanties in place, fishermen and women listen to live, mostly country music, swap fish stories and discuss their hopes for the next morning.

Bailey earned the crown, cape and title of “Sturgeon King” by spearing the biggest fish out of six caught in 2016, a whopping 97-pound, 70½-inch female.

Now he’s presiding over the annual shivaree — the word denotes a noisy party — thrown by the Black Lake chapter of Sturgeon for Tomorrow. The group’s members have worked tirelessly to save the threatened prehistoric fish, a toothless, bottom-feeding giant that can grow up to 8 feet long and live for 150 years.

The brief, shining ice-fishing season — which begins on the first Saturday of February and can last an hour, five days or anything in between — is their moment to enjoy the results of their hard work.

He called it “exhilarating.”

“You can’t explain it,” he said, with a wide smile at the memory. “You’re pulling this thing through a 4-by-8-foot hole in the ice.”

This year, 332 licensed fishermen and women checked in at the Michigan Department of Natural Resources field office in Onaway or on the ice to pick up flags and tags, signs they had permission to peer through holes in the ice starting at 8 a.m. Feb. 4.

They set up shanties over the 15-square-mile lake’s dozen or so sandbars and readied their spears for a chance at catching the biggest fish Michigan’s lakes have to offer.

The brief, shining ice-fishing season — which begins on the first Saturday of February and can last an hour, five days or anything in between — is their moment to enjoy the results of their hard work.

The shivaree is an acknowledgment of efforts to restock sturgeon populations in Black Lake and nearby Mullet and Burt lakes. It celebrates the fact that spear-fishing is simply a way of life in the northeastern Lower Peninsula.

Here’s a short video from the article about this year’s Black Lake catch:


The full article describes this year’s goings-on in detail.  Click HERE to check it out.

Time for some local GE Pano shots. I’ll start with this by Jason Barnes, taken about a mile and a half SE of my landing:

A couple of guys walking their dogs. How pastoral. Wait!  Is that a dog next to the road taking a dump?  Moving right along . . .

I’m always a sucker for a scenic hay bale shot.  Here’s one (from 5 miles NW of my landing) by David Coats:

I’ll close with (what else) a sunset shot over Black Lake by David Martinez:

That’ll do it . . .




© 2017 A Landing A Day



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