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Archive for December, 2008

Como, Mississippi

Posted by graywacke on December 31, 2008

First timer? In this (hopefully) once-a-day blog, I have my computer select a random latitude and longitude that puts me somewhere in the continental United States (the lower 48). I call this “landing.” I keep track of the watersheds I land in, as well as the town I land near. I do some internet research to hopefully find something of interest about my landing location. To find out more about A Landing A Day (like who “Dan” is and what the various numbers and abbreviations mean), please see “About Landing,” (and “Abbreviations” and “Cryptic Numbers”) above.

Dan –  Turning things around with my second USer, this time . . . MS; 24/26; 5/10; 22; 164.5.  I’m only one USer away from a new record low.

As is often the case in the south, I like the names of the various watersheds:  Egypt Ck; Strayhorn Ck; Arkabutla Ck; Coldwater R (3rd hit); Tallahatchie R (6th hit); Yazoo R (9th hit); MM.   I particularly like “Arkabutla.”  Also, peculiar having the Coldwater River in MS, eh?

I landed near the town of Como, population about 1300.  Here’s a map:


Here’s a picture of downtown Como:


From the website of the Como Courtyard Bed & Breakfast:

The land on which Como now stands was purchased from local Indians around 1825 for fifty cents an acre. The earliest prominent resident was Dr. George Tait.  There are two versions of how Como received its name. One comes from the Indians who named the area Como, meaning “tops of trees,” for that was all that could be seen when looking out over the land. The other story is that Dr. Tait refused to call the town “Taitville,” preferring to name it for Lake Como, Italy.

I totally vote for the “tops of trees” option.

Around the turn of the 20th century when “Cotton was King,” Como was known for having more millionaires per capita than almost anywhere else in the U.S. Be this fact or fiction, there were undoubtedly many wealthy and worldly residents in the area. Some of their homes still stand as a testament to their success – and to a lifestyle that has faded into folklore.

For a small town, Como has had more than its share of famous residents and visitors:

Actress Tallulah Bankhead (1903-1968): Tallulah gained fame first as a stage actress in New York and London before being signed to a long-term contract with Paramount Pictures in 1931. Her wild and tempestuous lifestyle off-screen often led to her being typecast as a femme fatale in her movies. She spent much of her life in London where she was a member of the clever and elite Noel Coward set, but she was a frequent visitor to Como. (Her sister, Eugenia, was married at least five times but spent her final years alone in Como.)

Bluesman Mississippi Fred McDowell (1904-1972): “Hill Country Blues” is a type of blues that many consider to be the most African sounding music in the U.S. today, and Fred McDowell is often credited with being the “Father of Hill Country Blues.” McDowell’s vocals and guitar riffs made him a hero among blues fans. He was especially popular in Europe where he often toured. McDowell’s original songs were recorded by many internationally known artists, including the Rolling Stones (he was buried in a silver-lame suit the Stones bought for him while they toured together in Europe.)  Former Rolling Stone Bill Wyman sent a film crew to Como during the summer of 2000 to film the area’s blues artists for a BBC/Showtime documentary and book. Every now and then Como residents are a bit surprised to find a Japanese or German or French tourist in town in eager to find McDowell’s grave to pay their respects. McDowell was a modest, soft-spoken man whose musical influence can still be felt around the world.

Fred McDowell is featured more later in this post.

Grammy-winner Bonnie Raitt: Probably today’s best-known female rhythm and blues artists, Raitt spent a great deal of time in Como during the early years of her career. The music of Mississippi Fred McDowell was a major influence on her style, and he served as her mentor and teacher. It is rumored that Raitt actually lived with McDowell and his family in Como. Raitt and McDowell also shared the same manager, Dick Waterman. As added testament to her admiration of him, Raitt paid for a marker to be placed on his grave when she learned that his family had not been able to afford a gravestone. Still today, when Raitt performs in concert anywhere in the general  area, she often asks the crowd, “Is anyone here from Como?”

I somehow doubt that Bonnie Raitt actually lived with Fred McDowell in Como.  But obviously, Fred McDowell is a meaningful person in her life (at least musically).  The rest of my post is about ol’ Mississippi Fred, starting with this picture:


One of Mississippi Fred McDowell’s songs is called Highway 61.  (Bob Dylan also did a Highway 61 song, quite different from Fred’s).  Anyway, here’s a map showing my landing location relative to both Como (east of my landing) and Highway 61.


FYI, Memphis is about 40 miles north on Route 61.  Continuing north, Route 61 goes to St. Louis through Davenport IA, to Minneapolis, to Duluth, and then up along the coast of Lake Superior to Canada.

Heading south, Route 61 goes through Baton Rouge to New Orleans, where it ends up being Tulane Ave.  According to StreetAtlas, Route 61 ends where Tulane Ave. hits I-10.

True confessions:  I was actually closer to Crenshaw and Sarah, but Como seemed much more interesting . . .

Anyway, back to Highway 61 and Fred McDowell.  Here’s a You Tube video that has Highway 61 as the soundtrack.


Here are the words to Highway 61:.  I recommend that you first watch the video, and then play it again, following the words.  (You can do that if you open a new tab, rather than a whole new window, for YouTube.)

Lord, that 61 Highway
It’s the longest road I know-whoa
Well, that 61 Highway
It the longest road I know-oh
She run from New York City
Down the Gulf of Mexico

You know, it’s some folks said them
Greyhound buses don’t run
You know, it’s some folks said them
Greyhound buses don’t run
Well just go to West Memphis, darlin’
Look down Highway 61

I said, please
Please see somebody for me
I said please
Please see somebody for me
If you see my baby
Tell her she’s alright with me

I started school one Monday mo’ning
Lord, I throwed my books away
I started school one Monday mo’ning
Lord, I throwed my books away
I wrote a note to my teacher, Lord
I gonna try 61, today


Lord, if I hap’n a-die, baby
‘Fore you think my time have come
Well, if I hap’n a-die, baby, Lord
‘Fore you think my time have come
I want you bury my body-yeah
Out on Highway 61

So here’s the Graywacke truth patrol:  OK, so Fred said that Highway 61 runs from New York City to the Gulf of Mexico.  Well, New Orleans is pretty close to the gulf, so Graywacke is OK with that.  But New York City?  Of course, saying that Highway 61, she run from Duluth to the Gulf of Mexico, jus’ don’t cut it.

I’m not sure why Mississippi Fred implied that Highway 61 runs through West Memphis.  It runs through Memphis, and I suspect always has.  (West Memphis is across the Mississippi R from Memphis in Arkansas.)

A final tribute; here’s a grave marker with words to one of Missisippi Fred’s songs:


It says:

You may be high

You may be low

You may be rich, child

You may be poor

But when the Lord

Gets Ready

You got to Move



© 2008 A Landing A Day

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Wheeler, Wisconsin

Posted by graywacke on December 30, 2008

First time here?  Check out “About Landing,” above.

Dan –  The LG decided to cut me a little slack, although I landed in what has been a solid-USer and is now closing in on PS-land . . . WS; 29/30; 5/10; 21; 165.2.  For the second time, I landed in the Hay R watershed, on to the Red Cedar (2nd hit), on to the Chippewa (7th hit), on the MM.

I landed in W-Cen WS, right along the Hay R, just downstream from the river/railroad town of Wheeler (population about 300).  Here’s a map:


You know I have a thing about street names in small towns, and Wheeler is a classic.  Here’s the map:



OK, so there’s a 1st Steet (aka Rt 170) and a 2nd Street, and then it’s mostly about trees:  Oak, Elm, Birch and Pine.  Then we have Church Street (think there’s a church there?) and Railroad Street (of course along the tracks) and Bridge Street (presumably named after the bridge over the Hay River just north of town).  That’s it.  There’s no Main Street, although I presume that 1st Street is in fact the town’s main street. 

I suspect that there’s a “wrong side of the tracks” in Wheeler (and that would be along Railroad Street, of course).

Oh man.  This place is so GD.  No photos, no history, no nearby point of interest, no nothing. 

Well, there is Tainter Lake, located just south of my landing spot.  The following is from Wiki:


Before the installation of the dam at Cedar Falls, Tainter Lake did not exist. There was just the Hay and Red Cedar Rivers and acres of pine forests. The decision to build the mill and dam came from Andrew Tainter (1823 – 1899) a wealthy lumber baron who became the lake’s namesake. His company continued to log until 1899 when the forests were exhausted and competition keen. The mill at Cedar Falls closed in 1901.

Note that poor Andrew didn’t have a chance to enjoy retirement.  He died the same year when his business went down the tubes.  Moving right along . . .

During those productive years of logging, acres of forest land near and next to the Hay and Red Cedar River were cleared. After the land was cleared by logging, farmers moved to the area, removed stumps and began farming. Most of the newly created farm land sloped to the rivers. Decades later this same water shed, and the farming industry, would mean trouble for Tainter Lake.  (see “Algae” below).

The Dam

Tainter Lake was formed by the Cedar Falls dam, which was originally a timber dam that was replaced with a concrete dam in 1910. Electric generators were added in 1912 and 1915 and the project has changed little since that time. 

The dam is 510 feet long 50 feet high.  Its powerhouse contains three 2,000 kW electrical generators with a total capacity of 7.1 MW. The facility can produce over 33.6 million kilowatt hours of electricity each year. 

Wow.  They’re still using the generators installed in 1912 and 1915?  That’s dependability!!  Since the average house uses 18,000 kilowatt hours of electricity each year (according to Wiki answers), that means that the dam produces enough electricity for 33,600,000 / 18,000 = 1,866 homes.


Tainter Lake is fed by both the Red Cedar River and the Hay River. These rivers drain the farm fields north of Lake Tainter. The water that drains off those fields is full of fertilizers that feed millions of green algae in the summer months.  Lake Tainter is infamous for the large algae blooms that turn the water green and cause it to smell very foul.  

Little effort has been spent toward the cleaning of the lakes. This is mostly because the fact that it is nearly impossible to contain all the runoff from the large farm fields. The slow current and warm summer water temperature of the lake unfortunately provides ideal conditions for the algae to produce large blooms.

The fishing in Tainter lake is below par. The lake has not been a good fishing lake for several years and has not had a bait shop on it for almost 15 years. During the summer, the algae blooms make fishing very difficult. The algae is thick and creates very poor water clarity, not allowing the fish to see any bait. The algae also floats on the surface and smells, making it very unpleasant to fish.

The author didn’t mention that when algae covers a lake, it’s tough for the fish to survive because the dissolved oxygen levels in the lake go way down.  Anyway, the author was obviously pretty upset about the smelly algae that no one is doing anything about.  Here’s a picture, apparently sans algae:



Back to Wheeler – if you find yourself in town and hungry or thirsty or in need of gas, be sure to stop at the Bridge Stop convenience store.  They have a website, which lets you know what you can get there:

Bridge Stop, located in Wheeler,  is a clean, family oriented store dedicated to providing everything you need in one convenient location. We’re stocked with everything you need. From the daily necessities of milk, bread, and eggs to fishing bait, movies, and over-the-counter medicine, you’ll find the best selection of products.

Get your morning caffeine rush with coffee or cappuccino or grab some lunch with heat-and-serve sandwiches and pizzas. We also have a roller grill that provides delicious hot dogs, corn dogs, and tornados. Treat your sweet tooth with our ice cream and wide selection of candy. Stop in our Wheeler, Wisconsin, convenience store today!





© 2008 A Landing A Day

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Dugway, Utah

Posted by graywacke on December 29, 2008

Here for the first itme?  Check out “About Landing.”


Dan –  Oh oh.  4 OSers in a row (and 5/6).  I’m still hanging in there with 4/10+, but barely.  So where did I land?  Just another classic WBer . . . UT; 57/45; 4/10; 10; 166.0. 



I have practically nothing to say about watersheds.  I landed in a ut, on to a low spot called “Hatch Well,” which is internally-drained.



I landed out in the Utah desert, about 60 miles SW of downtown Salt Lake City (and about 35 miles south of the Great Salt Lake), near the town of Dugway.  My guess is that Dugway is a mining town – and I’ll admit to probably being influenced by the past tense of the word “dig,” and it’s obvious connection to mining.  But first, here’s a map:




Well, it turns out that I was totally wrong.  From Wiki:

Dugway is located in Tooele County.  The population was 2,016, at the 2000 census, a modest increase over the 1990 figure of 1,761. “Dugway” is synonymous with the United States Army’s giant testing facility, Dugway Proving Grounds. The housing area designated for military and civilian personnel is referred to as “English Village.”

For those, like me, who had no clue how to pronounce Tooele, here’s the pronunciation (from my daughter who used to live in Utah):  “Too – will – a”  with the accent on the second syllable.  When I was out visiting my daughter, I pronounced it “Toolee”  and received only mocking laughter for my pronunciatory naïveté.  (OK, so pronumciatory isn’t a word . . .)



So anyway, Dugway Proving Grounds:




DPG Mission Statement:

“Dugway Proving Ground – THE Focal Point for Chemical and Biological Defense”

DPG Vision Statement:

“As the nation’s designated chemical and biological Major Range and Test Facility Base, Dugway Proving Ground provides testing and support for chemical and biological defense and related programs.”



The Dugway Profile

We provide quality testing today that will help keep Our Nation’s Defense strong for tomorrow. Our test experts are qualified and eager to support your test needs, from initial planning and test conduct through test evaluation and reporting.

The Department of Defense has designated U.S. Army Dugway Proving Ground as a major range and testing facility, and the primary chemical and biological defense testing center under the Reliance Program. Testers here determine the reliability and survivability of all types of military equipment in a chemical or biological environment.

The Proving Ground covers 798,214 acres. It is located in the Great Salt Lake Desert, approximately 85 miles southwest of Salt Lake City, Utah. Surrounded on three sides by mountain ranges, the Proving Ground’s terrain varies from level salt flats to scattered sand dunes and rugged mountains.

 Here’s a picture of the residential “English Village.”


Very cool scenery out there in the Utah desert, eh?  From Wiki’s entry about Dugway:

The transcontinental Lincoln Highway passed through the present site of the Dugway Proving Ground, the only significant section of the old highway closed to the public. At least one old wood bridge over a creek still stands.

Here’s a picture of the bridge:



From Wiki, this about the Lincoln Highway:

The Lincoln Highway was the first road across the United States of America.   The Lincoln Highway originally spanned coast-to-coast from Times Square in New York City to Lincoln Park in San Francisco through 13 states: New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, Nebraska, Colorado, Wyoming, Utah, Nevada, and California.



Conceived in 1912 and formally dedicated October 31, 1913, the Lincoln Highway was America’s first major memorial to President Abraham Lincoln, predating the 1922 dedication of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C. by 9 years. As the first automobile road across America, the Lincoln Highway brought great prosperity to the hundreds of cities, towns and villages along the way. Affectionately, the Lincoln Highway became known as “The Main Street Across America”.


The Lincoln Highway Association (LHA), originally established in 1913 to plan, promote, and sign the highway, was re-formed in 1992 and is now dedicated to promoting and preserving the road. The LHA, with over 1100 members throughout the United States and overseas, has active state chapters in 12 Lincoln Highway states. The association maintains a national tourist center in Franklin Grove, Illinois, in a historic building built by Harry Isaac Lincoln, a cousin of Abraham Lincoln. The LHA holds yearly national conventions, and is governed by a board of directors with representatives from each Lincoln Highway state.

Here’s the route of the Lincoln Highway:


LH Route

And here are the current routes that follow the Highway:


It turns out that many people like to drive the entire length of the old Lincoln Highway.  But, of course, they have a problem because they can’t follow the LH (as afectionadios call it) through the Dugway Proving Grounds.  Here’s a picture showing horses along Pony Express Road, the LH bypass around Dugway.  This is part of a cool LH blog.  Click here to check it out.


This shows a part of the original LH west of Dugway (in 1913).  Tough place to get a flat or run out of gas . . .






 © 2008 A Landing A Day

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Bellingham, Minnesota

Posted by graywacke on December 28, 2008

There’s a first time for everything.  If this is your first visit, check out “About Landing,” above.



Note:  I missed posting this last night.  This is, in fact, yesterday’s landing.  Hopefully I’ll be posting another tonight.  As always, I remain dedicated to the “never more than one landing a day” rule.


graywacke Greg


Dan –  Well, I’ve got a little 1/5 sag going on, and it’s about time for one of the bad-boy OSer MM&Ms.  This time . . . MN; 60/44 (are you kidding me?); 4/10; 19; 165.5.  For the third time, I landed in one of my favorite watersheds, that of the Lac Qui Parle River; on to the Minnesota (12th hit); on to the MM.


Ah, so poetic:  “Lake Which Speaks” River.  So, what’s the story here?  Wiki says that the River was named for the Sioux word for a lake on the Minnesota River just upstream from where the Lac Qui Parle River comes in.  Evidently, the Lac Qui Parle River built up a delta where it emptied into the Minnesota, forming the Lac Qui Parle Lake.  There’s a dam there now, but evidently, the dam just enhanced a natural lake already there.


The Lac Qui Parle Lake is one of those gilding-the-lily kind of names:  the Lake Which Speaks Lake.  Like the Schuylkill River (“kill” is Dutch for River, so it’s the Schuyl River River).  I’m sure there are others.  I just asked Jody, and she mentioned Mt. Fujiyama.  “Yama” means mountain, so plain ol’ Fujiyama (or Mt. Fuji) will do just fine.


But why, the Lake Which Speaks?  Ah . . from a book entitled “Minnesota Geographic Names” comes the supposition that “its name most probably was suggested to the Indians by echoes thrown back from the bordering bluffs.” 


Here’s a map showing my landing spot, and the Lac Qui Parle off to the east.  As you can see, I landed just south-southeast of Bellingham (population about 200). 





Here’s a broader-scale map:




I fear Bellingham will be pretty much GD (check out “Abbreviations” above), although I found this shot:


Welcome to Bellingham!


 I was right.  It turns out that Bellingham is very-much GD.  It’s so GD that this is my emptiest post yet.  Oh, well.













© 2008 A Landing A Day

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Trail, Oregon

Posted by graywacke on December 26, 2008

First time here?  Check out “About Landing,” above.

Dan –  Well, continuing to hang out in the mid-160s, I landed in a solid WBer . . . OR; 64/52; 4/10; 18; 165.0 (OK, exactly in the mid-160s).  I landed in the Trail Ck watershed, on to the Rogue R (6th hit), on to the PO.

Trail Ck flows south from near my landing spot to . . . Trail, Oregon.  Now, let me tell you, Trail OR is a tough spot to Google.  When one Googles “Trail Oregon” what you get are mostly sites that mention some trail or other, followed by “Oregon,” like “Pacific Trail, Oregon & Washington” for example.  I found a couple of very generic nothing kind of sites about the town, but that’s all.  It’s even worse when one Googles “Trail OR.”  You get a lot of sites like “Science on the Campaign Trail, (or lack thereof).”  So, the bottom line is, I have nothing – absolutely nothing – on the town of Trail Oregon.

However, it turns out that I landed not too far from Crater Lake.  What the heck.  I’m a geologist, and Crater Lake is so cool.

Here’s a map showing my landing location as well as Crater Lake:


crater-lake landing


Here are some great pictures:


Crater Lake in Winter






From one of the myriad sites about Crater Lake, here’s some geology:


The lake was formed after the collapse of a volcano, posthumously named Mount Mazama. This volcano violently erupted approximately 7,700 years ago. That eruption was 42 times as powerful as the 1980 eruption of Mt. St. Helens. The basin or caldera was formed after the top 5,000 feet of the volcano collapsed. Subsequent lava flows sealed the bottom, allowing the caldera to fill with approximately 4.6 trillion gallons of water from rainfall and snow melt, to create the seventh deepest lake in the world at 1,932 feet.

Rolling mountains, volcanic peaks, and evergreen forests surround this enormous, high Cascade Range lake, recognized worldwide as a scenic wonder. On summer days, neither words or photographs can capture Crater Lake’s remarkable blueness. For much of the year, usually October to July at higher elevations, a thick blanket of snow encircles the lake. Snowfall provides most of the park’s annual 66 inches of precipitation.

Crater Lake rarely freezes over completely; it last did in 1949. Heat from the summer sun stored in the immense body of water retards ice formation throughout the winter.  Humans probably witnessed the cataclysmic eruption of Mount Mazama about 7,700 years ago.

Stuff of interest:  7,700 years ago, there were certainly people in the general vicinity.  Wow – 42 times as powerful as Mt. St. Helens – I wonder what those folks (that survived) thought?  And who woulda thunk that Crater Lake was the 7th deepest in the world??  That fact deserves some research.  So, here’s a list of the 13 deepest lakes in the world:



Baikal Siberia, Russia 5,369 ft (1,637 m)


Tanganyika Africa (Tanzania, Zaire & Zambia) 4,708 ft (1,435 m)


Caspian Sea Iran and Russia 3,104 ft (946 m)


Nyasa Africa (Mozambique, Tanzania & Malawi) 2,316 ft (706 m)


Issyk Kul Kirgizstan, Central Asia 2,297 ft (700 m)


Great Slave Northwest Territories, Canada 2,015 ft (614 m)


Crater Lake Oregon, U.S.A. 1,943 ft (592 m)


Lake Tahoe California & Nevada, U.S.A. 1,685 ft (514 m)


Lake Chelan Washington, U.S.A. 1,419 ft (433 m)


Great Bear Northwest Territories, Canada 1,356 ft (413 m)


Lake Superior Canada & U.S.A. 1,333 ft (406 m)


Titicaca Peru 1,214 ft (370 m)


Pend Oreille Idaho, U.S.A. 1,150 ft (351 m)


I kind of knew that Lake Baikal was the deepest, and I also kind of knew that Lake Superior was deep, but beyond that, this list is new for me.  Lake Chelan?  I’ve never heard of that!  Maybe, if the LG wills it, I’ll land near there some day.  And the Pend Oreille?  I’ve landed in the Pend Oreille River watershed many times, but am not familiar with Pend Oreille Lake.  Once, again, I’ll save that for a future landing . . .

I must find something local to the town of Trail.  Let me see . . .Well, it turns out that Lost Creek Lake is only a couple of miles from where I landed.  So, I’m less than thrilled, since Lost Creek Lake was created all of 30 years ago.  Anyway, here’s a picture:



 Lost Creek Lake


That’s it . . .




© 2008 A Landing A Day

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Timber Lake, South Dakota

Posted by graywacke on December 26, 2008

First time here?  Check out “About Landing,” above.


Dan –  Well, I’ve been on a pretty good roll, so I can live with a solid WBer (and the LG needs to keep me in line).  So the solid WBer is . . . SD; 43/41 (actually, not all that solid!); 5/10; 17; 164.5.

For the 6th time, I landed in the Grand R watershed, on to the MO, on to the MM.  Locally, I landed in the High Bank Creek watershed (which flowed to the Grand).

So I landed outside of the town of Timber Lake, population 443.  This town has very unimaginative street names, as shown in this map:




1st Street through 10th Street, and A Street through G Street; Sioux and Whitehorse thrown in for good measure.

Although, Timber Lake has it’s own newspaper!!  Very cool:




From the town’s newspaper website comes this great photo.

 Big Foot Riders

 Along with the photo was this write-up:

After assembling at the site of Sitting Bull’s Camp on Monday, the Big Foot Riders made their way south on their annual ride to Wounded Knee, site of the massacre of 350 Indians on December 29, 1890.  Thirty riders braved sub-zero temperatures to make the 25-mile ride to Timber Lake the first day.  Ica Ducheneaux took this photo as the riders crossed the Grand River early Monday morning.  Ica, a senior at Cheyenne-Eagle Butte, is the student photographer for the ride. They “camped” at the Timber Lake Community Center Monday and Tuesday nights.


As you’d expect, there are many websites discussing the Wounded Knee Massacre.   From Last of the Independents.com comes the following, which gives good background, and explains who Big Foot is:


The Ghost Dance


    A phenomena swept the American west in 1888 by, started by Paiute holy man Wovoka, who lived in Nevada. Wovoka, son of the mystic Tavibo, drew on his father’s teachings and his own vision during an eclipse of the sun.  He began spreading the “gospel” that came to be known as the Ghost Dance Religion.  He claimed that the earth would soon perish and then come alive again in a pure, aboriginal state, to be inherited by the Indians, including the dead, for an eternal existence free from suffering. 

To earn this new reality, however, Indians had to live harmoniously and honestly and shun the ways of the whites, especially alcohol, “the destroyer.”  Wovoka also discouraged the practice of mourning, because the dead would soon be resurrected, demanding instead the performance of prayers, meditation, chanting, and especially dancing through which one might briefly die and catch a glimpse of the paradise-to-come, replete with lush green prairie grass, large buffalo herds and Indian ancestors.

Kicking Bear, a Miniconjou Teton Lakota, made a pilgrimage to Nevada to learn about this new “religion”.  Together with Short Bull, another Miniconjou mystic, they gave another interpretation, choosing to disregard Wovoka’s anti-violence and emphasizing the possible elimination of the whites. Special Ghost Dance Shirts, they claimed, would protect them against the white man’s bullets

Here’s a picture of a Ghost Dance shirt.



The Wounded Knee Massacre


White officials became alarmed at the religious fervor and activism and in December 1890 banned the Ghost Dance on Lakota reservations.  When the rites continued, officials called in troops to Pine Ridge and Rosebud reservations in South Dakota. The military, led by veteran General Nelson Miles, geared itself for another campaign. 

The presence of the troops exacerbated the situation. Short Bull and Kicking Bear led their followers to the northwest corner of the Pine Ridge reservation, to a sheltered escarpment known as the Stronghold. The dancers sent word to Sitting Bull of the Hunkpapas to join them. Before he could set out from the Standing Rock reservation in North Dakota, however, he was arrested by Indian police. A scuffle ensued in which Sitting Bull and seven of his warriors were slain. Six of the policemen were killed.

General Miles had also ordered the arrest of Big Foot, who had been known to live along the Cheyenne River in South Dakota. But, Big Foot and his followers had already departed south to Pine Ridge, asked there by Red Cloud and other supporters of the whites, in an effort to bring tranquility. Miles sent out the infamous Seventh Calvary led by Major Whitside to locate the renegades. They scoured the Badlands and finally found the Miniconjou dancers on Porcupine Creek, 30 miles east of Pine Ridge. The Indians offered no resistance.  Big Foot, ill with pneumonia, rode in a wagon. The soldiers ordered the Indians to set up camp five miles westward, at Wounded Knee Creek. Colonel James Forsyth arrived to take command and ordered his guards to place four Hotchkiss cannons in position around the camp. The soldiers now numbered around 500; the Indians 350, all but 120 of these women and children.

The following morning, December 29, 1890, the soldiers entered the camp demanding the all Indian firearms be relinquished. A medicine man named Yellow Bird advocated resistance, claiming the Ghost Shirts would protect them. One of the soldiers tried to disarm a deaf Indian named Black Coyote. A scuffle ensued and the firearm discharged.

The silence of the morning was broken and soon other guns echoed in the river bed. At first, the struggle was fought at close quarters, but when the Indians ran to take cover, the Hotchkiss artillery opened up on them, cutting down men, women, children alike, the sick Big Foot among them. By the end of this brutal, unnecessary violence, which lasted less than an hour, at least 150 Indians had been killed and 50 wounded. In comparison, army casualties were 25 killed and 39 wounded.  Forsyth was later charged with killing the innocents, but exonerated.


Sometimes, I just don’t have anything to add . . . 


Anyway, I can’t find much about Timber Lake, but here is a cool storm cloud photo taken just outside town.  The photographer’s caption is below the photo.    



An intense scuddy updraft takes on a tornado-like appearance.


I couldn’t find out what a scuddy updraft is, but evidently it’s not a mainstream meteorological term.  There are many more very cool cloud pictures at this website.







© 2008 A Landing A Day

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Pointe a la Hache, Louisiana

Posted by graywacke on December 25, 2008

Note to first time users:  Please check out “About Landing,” above.


Dan –  Your home state just made the transition from OS-land to PS-land.  That’s right, I landed in . . . LA; 27/27; 5/10; 16; 164.0.  164.0 ties my record Score. 

This is as good as any time for a little Score recap.  I had a record low of 180.5 back on October 25, 2005.  I then embarked on that infamous terrible OSer run that left me without a record low Score until over a year and half later, when, on June 13th, 2007, I had a new low of 179.7. 

Then, in short order (in a little more than a month), I was down to 172.2.  I then embarked on another long OS-dominated run, such that it wasn’t until May 19th 2008 that I once again had a new low Score (171.5).  Since then, it has pretty much been steady-as-she-goes, on down to my current 164.0.

(Less knowledgeable blog readers:  you must read “About Landing” to have a clue about the above discussion.)

So, I landed way down the delta, and didn’t land in a “watershed,” per se.  Here’s a map showing my landing:

 landing in close

And here’s a zoomed-out version, showing my relationship to the closest town, Pointe A La Hache.  

 landing zoomed out

Although I could find nothing official about this on the web, since “hache” is axe in French, I assume the town name means “point of the axe.”  I can’t really find an axe based on current geography, but the Army Corps of Engineers has pretty much had their way with the lower Delta, changing landforms to keep the MM intact.

So, I found a travel blog (Observations from the Urban Prairie) which included a trip past Pointe a la Hache.  It starts with a picture of the ferry crossing.  Put your cursor on the photo, and you will that, ironically, the blogger called this picture:  “wb (west bank)_ferry-landing”.  So his landing is my landing . . .


This is the West Pointe a la Hache side of what constitutes the most downstream crossing of Old Man River. This may be the most desolate river crossing location anywhere. The ferry runs on a thirty minute schedule. Suprisingly, it does carry a brisk trade, even with Plaquemines Parish largely in ruins in this poast-Katrina world.

The ferry is one of two linking Plaquemines’ westbank with its sparsely populated eastbank (who those so blessed happen to know is actually the proverbial land of Oz). These ferries are the only links between the parish’s two halves. 

In transit via ferry:


The river is very wide here. Midwesterners, you ain’t seen nothing till you’ve been South.

The eastbank objective of the ferry is Pointe a la Hache, the parish’s erstwhile seat of government.  Most public functions, however, have been situated in the more northerly locale of Belle Chasse (nearer the bulk of the population, in any case), since December 2002, when the historic courthouse was torched by an arsonist:


I don’t have any idea why the blogger thinks that the East Bank of the River (East Pointe a la Hache) is the Land of Oz.  Anyway, from the New Orleans Time Picyune:

Officials: Louisiana Courthouse Was Burned to Destroy Records

POINTE A LA HACHE, La. (AP) — The torching of the century-old Plaquemines Parish Courthouse was motivated in part by a desire to destroy records of a botched theft of a boat motor, parish officials say they have been told by federal authorities.

A federal indictment returned July 16 in New Orleans alleged the operator of a Gretna motorcycle shop and two others conspired to burn the courthouse in an effort to help customers and friends by destroying evidence in pending criminal cases.

The fire on Jan. 12, 2002, destroyed the courthouse and caused more than $2.5 million in damage.

Are you kidding me?!?  They should throw the book at these bums!!  Take a look at what the courthouse used to look like:


As you know, Plaquemines took a direct hit from Katrina.  Here’s a shot from Pointe a la Hache:


And, just for the heck of it, here’s a funky shot of Pointe a la Hache, showing a Katrina-damaged church bus, and a FEMA trailer in the background:

Pointe a la Hache

One more thing.  Dan, as you may remember, I landed out in the marsh outside of Port Sulphur, just a little further down river from Pointe a la Hache.  That landing was just last August.  From my email to you, here’s a Katrina picture of Port Sulphur:


 The closer you look, the worser it is.




© 2008 A Landing A Day

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Corydon, Iowa

Posted by graywacke on December 24, 2008

First time here and are curious what this is about?  Check out “About Landing.”

Dan –  Well, no record today, as I landed in one of the border-WBers.   Hmmm, that could be Minnesota, or it could be . . . IA; 34/30; 4/10; 15; 164.7.  I landed in the W Jackson Ck watershed, on to the Jackson Ck, and then, for the second time, the S Fk Chariton R; on to the Chariton (also 2nd hit); on to the MO.  

 In the S-Cen part of IA, I landed just a whisker outside of Corydon, a town with a pop of about 1600 in 2000.   Here’s a map:


The most interesting thing I can find out about Corydon is that the James brothers, Jesse & Frank, along with Cole Younger and Clell Miller robbed the Ocobock Bank in Corydon back in 1871.

The Day the James Gang Held Up the Ocobock Bank

June 3, 1871 – spirits ran high as Corydon citizens flocked to the Methodist Church for a big town meeting. No one wanted to miss hearing the renowned orator, Henry Clay Dean, extol the virtues of a railroad coming through town.  The town square was deserted as the crowd gathered in the church yard one block west of the square.

Earlier that week, four “cattle buyers” had arrived in the Corydon area.  On the day of the meeting, people paid little attention to the four men, clad in linen dusters, as they rode into town from the south.  The riders approached the northeast corner of the square and the Wayne County Treasurer’s Office.  The office was full of money from recent tax collections.  As a ploy to get into the safe, the leader of the group asked the lone clerk if he could get change for a $100 bill.  The junior clerk informed him the safe was locked and the treasurer was gone to the town meeting. 

Trying to be helpful, the clerk directed them one block west to the Ocobock Bank.  (Today this is the site of Citizens Bank).

Quietly mounting their horses, the men rode down the street to the Ocobock Bank.  The bank was empty except for an unfortunate clerk.  Forcing him into the safe, the gunmen helped themselves to about $10,000! Finding their heist too easy, the gang rode to the town meeting and interrupted the speaker with taunts of “You better check the bank!” and “Someone robbed the bank!”  The crowd thought it was a hoax.

Several minutes passed before the crowd realized the truth.  They quickly formed a posse and pursued the bandits into Missouri, but were forced to end their search when the trail became too hard to follow.

Townsfolk soon realized the bank had been robbed by the infamous James-Younger Gang.  Eyewitness descriptions of the bandits indicated they were Jesse and Frank James, Cole Younger and Clell Miller.  The treasurer’s clerk had given Jesse James directions to the bank!

Here’s a picture of the bank:

ocobock bank

Here’s a picture of handsome Jesse:


So, there’s quite the story about Jesse’s death in 1884.  Here ’tis –  (kind of long, but a very interesting read):

In November, 1881, Jesse moved his wife and family to St. Joseph, Missouri, renting a house in the name of J.D. Howard. Acting as a member of the respected community, Jesse had plans of taking up a straight and narrow life. However, he wanted to pull off one last bank robbery of a bank in Platte County, Missouri, in hopes of making enough money to retire and become a gentleman farmer.


But, the State of Missouri had had enough and put up a reward of $10,000 for any information leading to the capture of Frank or Jesse James.


In January 1882, a James Gang member, Bob Ford, murdered another James Gang member, Wood Hite.  This killing, coupled with Ford’s greed and desire for notoriety, would be a death sentence for Jesse James.


When word of the shooting reached authorities, Ford was arrested, but when he informed detectives that he had access to the much-wanted Jesse James, he was released. Next, Ford secretly met with Missouri Governor Thomas T. Crittenden, who told him that if he killed the notorious outlaw, he would receive a full pardon for the Hite murder as well as the killing of James, and also receive the reward money. Ford agreed to perform the deed and next met with the Sheriff of Clay County, where the two formulated a plan to get Jesse James.


In March of 1882, Jesse was planning the aforementioned bank robbery with Charlie Ford and Bob Ford.  Though he instinctively distrusted Robert Ford, he was having breakfast with the brothers in his home.  After breakfast, the men went to the parlor, to continue discussing the robbery plans. When Jesse noticed that a framed needlepoint picture, done by his mother, was hanging crookedly on the wall, he stood on a chair to adjust the picture. Suddenly he heard the sound of Bob Ford cocking his pistol and turned just slightly. Bob then shot Jesse just below the right ear and Jesse toppled to the floor dead. Jesse was 34 years old.


Initially, Ford was charged with murdering both Wood Hite and Jesse James, but true to his word, Governor Crittenden pardoned him while he stood trial for the murder.


Charles Ford, when he heard that Frank James was searching for them and planned to kill them in revenge for his brother’s death, began to move from town to town. For the next two years he ran like a scared rabbit, changing his name several times, until finally he could take it no more and committed suicide in 1884.


In the meantime, Bob Ford was capitalizing on his betrayal of Jesse James, taking to the stage, appearing in an act entitled Outlaws of Missouri. Night after night, Ford retold his story, carefully omitting that he had shot James in the back. But, this charade was short lived as he was greeted with catcalls, jeers, hoots and challenges. Ford later took off to Las Vegas, New Mexico where he operated a saloon for a time before moving on to Creede, Colorado.


Sometime after arriving in Creede, he opened a dance hall he called Ford’s Exchange. But luck was not with Ford, and just six days later, on June 6th, the entire business district, including Ford’s dancehall, burned to the ground. Wasting no time, Bob quickly reopened another saloon just a few days later in a make-shift tent.


The very next day, June 8th, in walked a man by the name of O’Kelley said “Hello, Bob,” and as Ford turned around to see who had addressed him, O’Kelley shot him with both barrels, killing him instantly.

In the meantime, O’Kelley was arrested and tried for murder.  He was convicted and given a twenty-year sentence in the Colorado Penitentiary. However, after serving ten years, he was released in 1902. Two years later, in January, 1904, Kelly was shot down in the streets of Oklahoma City.


Here’s a picture of Bob Ford, posing with the gun he used to kill Jesse.


Bob Ford


Wow.  A life of crime does not pay!!  So, Jesse James, murdered.  Charles Ford, committed suicide.  Bob Ford, murdered.  O’Kelley, murdered.







© 2008 A Landing A Day

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Citrus Heights, California

Posted by graywacke on December 23, 2008

Newcomers –  Read “About Landing” if you want to know what the heck’s going on here . . .

Dan –  A nice little run is putting me just one USer away from a new record.  Just like two landings ago, I landed in the Central Valley of . . . CA; 75/86; 5/10; 14; 164.2 (the record is 164.0).   As usaul for the Central Valley, the watershed situation was confusing; but here’s my best shot:  I landed in the Linda Ck watershed, on the Cirby Ck, on to the Dry Ck, on to the Sacramento R (23rd hit).

I landed in the middle of what is pretty much a suburban area NE of Sacramento, in the City of Citrus Heights.  Citrus Heights has more than 85000 people, even though it was incorporated in 1997.  As I’ve said before, I’m generally less enthralled when I land in urban areas, especially newly developed areas like this.   Here’s a map showing my landing locaiton:

today's landing

Anyway, here’s a big-picture map:


From the City website, here’s a little history:

Throughout most of the Spanish-Mexican period of the growth of California (1542-1848), settlement was limited to a narrow coastal strip with only a few isolated frontier outposts of civilization.  One of these outposts was the vast estate of John Augustus Sutter, a German-Swiss immigrant, who was granted 11-square leagues of land in the Sacramento Valley.



This is the Sutter of Sutter’s Mill fame (where the 1849 Gold Rush began).  Sutter’s Mill is in Coloma CA, about 20 miles east of Citrus Heights.  Here’s a little blurb about John Sutter (from Wiki):


 Johann Augustus Sutter (February 28, 1803June 18, 1880) was a Swiss pioneer of California known for his association with the California Gold Rush through the discovery of gold by James W. Marshall at the mill bearing Sutter’s name.  Although famous throughout California for his association with the Gold Rush, Sutter ironically died poor, having seen his business ventures fail.


Obviously poor John didn’t cash in on the Gold Rush . . .

But wait, a little old business (from 3 paragraphs ago).  What’s a league?  John owned 11 square leagues.  From Wiki:


A league is a unit of length or area long common in Europe and Latin America, although no longer an official unit in any nation. The league most frequently expresses the distance a person, or a horse, can walk in 1 hour of time (usually about 3.5 miles or 5.5 kilometres).


So, 11 square leagues is about 3.5 leagues by 3.5 leagues, or about 10 miles by 10 miles.  Wow.  One hundred square miles.  One heck of a piece of real estate.



So, I landed about 4 miles west of Folsom Lake.  Here’s an aerial photo of the lake:



Well, I see that I landed close to Folsom Prison. 

Of course, Johnnny Cash comes quickly to mind.  Here are the words to Folsom Prison Blues:

“Folsom Prison Blues”

I hear the train a comin’
It’s rolling round the bend
And I ain’t seen the sunshine since I don’t know when.
I’m stuck in Folsom prison, and time keeps draggin’ on
But that train keeps a rollin’ on down to San Antone.

When I was just a baby my mama told me, son,
Always be a good boy, don’t ever play with guns.
But I shot a man in Reno just to watch him die
When I hear that whistle blowing, I hang my head and cry..

I bet there’s rich folks eating in a fancy dining car
They’re probably drinkin’ coffee and smoking big cigars.
Well I know I had it coming, I know I can’t be free.
But those people keep a movin’
And that’s what tortures me…

Well if they freed me from this prison,
If that railroad train was mine
I bet I’d move it on a little farther down the line.
Far from Folsom prison, that’s where I want to stay
And I’d let that lonesome whistle blow my blues away…..

Here’s the best video I could find of Johnny Cash singing the song – it was recorded in 1959.    I know you’ve all heard the song many times, but it’s well worth another listen.  This is one of the all-time classic performances in American 20th century music.  So, readers, please focus, and give it up to Johnnny. 


All right.  Being a left-brained geography-type of guy, I have to make a statement about the railroad track that runs near the Folsom prison.  If you check out a map, here’s what you see:

I hear the train a comin' ??

As you can see, it looks like a dead-end set of tracks comin’ up by Folsom Prison.  Hardly a place where there would be a train with a bunch of rich people headed on to San Antone.  So, I’m not sure about Johnny’s assertion that he can hear the train a-comin’ . . . and it keeps a rollin’ on down to San Antone . . . .”

Now don’t get me wrong.  I fully understand the song-writer’s (or poet’s) right to change the facts a little bit for the sake of art . . .




© 2008 A Landing A Day

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Leslie, Missouri

Posted by graywacke on December 21, 2008

If this is your first visit, you’ll need to check out “About Landing.”

Dan –  This is one of those peculiar PS landings, where I can’t tell whether my Score will go up or down.  As it turns out, my Score went down a measley 0.1, which makes this count as USer (at least as far as keeping me at 5/10).  The PSer? . . . MO; 37/37 (it was 36/36); 5/10; 13; 165.0 (down from 165.1).

I landed in the Big Ck watershed, which flows to the Bourbeuse R (2nd hit), on to the Meramec (3rd hit); on to the MM.  This was my 14th “Big” stream name, 9 of which are Big Creeks.  The others are Big Fork, Big Run, Big Ditch, The Big Wash, Big Bayou and Big Slough.  Oh, and I supposed I should tell you also that this was my 58th stream or river with the word “Big” in it’s name, like “Big Bureau Creek” mentioned in a previous post.

Anyway, “bourbeuse” is French for muddy.  Hmmm – should I add the Bourbeuse to the “Muddy” list of common stream names?  Sure, what the heck.  That makes the Bourbeuse the 21st stream named Mud or Muddy. 

There’s a section of the river, right near my landing spot, where’s there’s 11 miles of river between points less than one half mile apart.  Here’s the map:

the crooked Bourbeuse

Anyway, I landed near the town of Leslie:


According to Wiki, Leslie had 87 people in 2000.  I don’t have a clue if this sign is pre-2000 or post-2000, so I don’t know if Leslie is growing or shrinking.  If I had to bet, I’d suspect that Leslie had 108 people back in ’80s or ’90s.  Here’s a map:


Of note is the fact that a Major League Baseball player was born in Leslie, one Frank Saucier.  Here’s Frank’s story:

Frank Saucier (born May 28, 1926 in Leslie, Missouri) played two months of the 1951 baseball season for the St. Louis Browns. Although he had a spectacular minor league career, he is perhaps best known for being replaced by the shortest player in baseball history, Eddie Gaedel, who pinch-hit for him in a stunt devised by Browns’ owner Bill Veeck in 1951, Saucier’s only season in the big leagues.

In his brief (18-game) Major League career, Saucier had one hit in 14 at bats (the one hit driving in a run), giving him a .071 batting average with one RBI.

Saucier graduated from Westminster College in Fulton, Missouri with a degree in math and physics; the baseball field there is named after him.   Ironically, the site is named Frank Saucier Field; his full name is Frank Field Saucier.

So, three things of note:  he was part of the famous midget scam, he had a degree in math and physics (how many professional baseball players can say that), and he has a college baseball field named after him.  I love that Frank Saucier Field was named after Frank Field Saucier.

Here’s some of the story of Eddie Gaedel (this is great stuff, well worth the read):


Eddie Gaedel was a dwarf who was 3′ 7″ tall and weighed 65 pounds.  In 1951, he entered a Major League Baseball game between the Browns and Detroit Tigers as a pinch-hitter for leadoff batter Frank Saucier. He had a legitimate Major League contract, which was all he needed to make a valid plate appearance.  The umpire demanded to see the contract.

Upon reading the contract, the ump motioned for Gaedel to take his place in the batter’s box. (As a result of Gaedel’s appearance, all contracts must now be approved by the Commissioner of Baseball before a player can appear in a game.)

Eddie Gaedel was under strict orders not to move the bat off his shoulder. When Gaedel had hinted to Veeck that he might be tempted to swing at a pitch, the owner promised to bring a rifle to the game and shoot him if he tried. Tigers catcher Bob Swift offered his pitcher a piece of strategy: “Keep it low.”

With Bob Cain on the mound – laughing at the absurdity that he actually had to pitch to Gaedel – and Swift catching on his knees, Gaedel crouched with bat in hand. Cain delivered four consecutive balls, all high. Gaedel took his base (stopping twice during his trot to bow to the crowd) and was replaced by pinch-runner Jim Delsing. The 18,369 fans gave Gaedel a standing ovation.

Veeck had dearly hoped that Delsing would go on to score in a one-run Browns victory, but he ended up stranded at third base and the Tigers went on to win the game 6–2. American League president Will Harridge, saying Veeck was making a mockery of the game, voided Gaedel’s contract the next day. Veeck humorously threatened to request an official ruling on whether Yankees shortstop and reigning MVP Phil Rizzuto was a short ballplayer or a tall midget.

Initially, major league baseball struck Gaedel from its record book, as if he had not been in the game. He was relisted a year later. Eddie Gaedel finished his major league career with an on-base percentage of 1.000. His total earnings as a pro athlete were $100; however, he was able to parlay his baseball fame into more than $17,000 by appearing on several television shows.

Some claim that living down the stunt was difficult for Gaedel. Combative in his private life, he later became a heavy drinker and died of a heart attack after being mugged in Chicago in 1961. He was just 36 years old. The only baseball figure to attend the funeral was Bob Cain, the pitcher who had walked him. Said Cain: “I never even met him, but I felt obligated to go.”

Due to scarcity, Gaedel’s autograph now sells for more than Babe Ruth‘s. 

Here’s a picture of the famous at-bat:








© 2008 A Landing A Day

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