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Archive for September, 2009

Huntington, Oregon

Posted by graywacke on September 30, 2009

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 –  Oh oh.  I’m on a little 0/3 run here with this landing in . . . OR; 67/58; 5/10; 11; 151.7 (drifting ever further away from 150 . . .).  Here’s my landing map:


The river to the east is the Snake (which forms the boundary between OR & ID); although it’s not obvious on my landing map, I’m in the Burnt River watershed (3rd hit); the Burnt River flows through Huntington on its way to the Snake (64th hit); on to the Columbia (128th hit).

Here’s a great shot of an eastbound train entering ID from OR, crossing the Snake just east of Huntington.  The train had just passed through Huntington and the Burnt River Canyon (which you can see in the background of the photo):


Here’s a map closeup so you can orient the photo (the black arrow shows the view of the photographer):

train location

It turns out that the Oregon Trail went through Huntington.  To the south and east, it followed the Snake River, but at “Farewell Bend,” the trail left the Snake, because the Snake takes a turn to the northeast – hardly the direction the pioneers wanted to go after basically heading northwest across the great plains and Rocky Mountains.  After leaving the Snake, the Trail headed north through Huntington.  Here’s a map showing Farewell Bend (down where Route 30, I-84 and the Snake River come together; you can see “Farewell Bend State Park” on the map).  The Oregon Trail headed north from there through Huntington:


From the National Park Service website:

The Oregon Trail followed the Snake River for only a few miles after entering Oregon.  At Farewell Bend, overlanders said goodbye to the Snake and turned northwest toward the Columbia River.  Even though they were getting closer to their destination, there were still many hardships ahead of them.

There was something contradictory in the mood that struck the emigrants along this stretch of the trail.  There was excitement and exhilaration in being so close to the ending of such a monumental effort, but the great Blue Mountains lay ahead and the thought of crossing these mountains worried the travelers a great deal. Though the snow that blanketed these mountains was indeed beautiful, it also posed a serious threat to the weary travelers.

Here’s a picture showing the pioneer’s view approaching Farewell Bend:


Here’s a picture of the Snake (actually the Brownlee Reservoir) from Farewell Bend:


Here’s a piece from an Oregon Trail journal:

“…we came on the Snake river bottom again, here I campt at a very good place, a large dry creek comes in here which has got good grass….There the road leaves Snake river and we see it no more.  I was sorry for that, for we have caught a number of fish in the Snake.   Willie gets his hook and line in a morning and soon catches enought for breakfast for us.  We have travelled down it for about 360 miles, it is a fine stream.

George Belshaw, August 23, 1853

Back to Huntington; here’s a 1898 shot of the town:

1898 Huntington

Here’s a picture of a lonely fisherman on the Snake near Huntington:

snake near huntington

I’ll close with this shot of a cemetery overlooking the Brownlee reservoir:

cemetary on snake near huntington

That’ll do it.



© 2009 A Landing A Day

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Freeport, Michigan

Posted by graywacke on September 28, 2009

rst 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 –  Well, I’m drifting a little further from 150, with this OS landing in . . . MI; 42/34; 6/10; 10; 151.2.  Here’s my landing map, showing my proximity to Freeport and the Coldwater R.


Two new rivers:  The Coldwater (obviously), and the Thornapple.  These two new rivers are my 1034th and 1035th rivers.  The Thornapple flows to the Grand (7th hit); on to Lake Michigan (29th hit); on to the St. Lawrence (83rd hit).  Here’s a picture of the Coldwater:

coldwater r

Here’s a somewhat broader view, showing my proximity to Grand Rapids and Lake Michigan:


Here’s a very broad view:


Here’s some info about Freeport from InfoMI.com:

Freeport (population 444 according to the 2000 census) was founded in the mid-1800’s by brothers Michael and Samuel Roush who moved here from Freeport, Ohio, naming it after their home town. A train depot and post office were built during the lumber days in 1874, accessing it to the rest of the world. It eventually incorporated into a village in 1907.

Here’s a picture of beautiful downtown Freeport:

downtown freeport

I’m sure that Freeport was really buzzing when one of their own made it pretty big.  It turns out that Freeport is the hometown of one Jessica Price, who was a semi-finalist on the “America’s Got Talent TV Show” (she was eliminated in September of 2008).  Here’s a picture of Jessica in downtown Freeport:


Here’s a little write-up about her run on the show:

Jessica Price is a Top 40 contestant on the third season of America’s Got Talent. A 24-year-old factory worker from Freeport, Michigan, she sings and plays the guitar. After her first performance on America’s Got Talent, she received a standing ovation from the audience. Judge Sharon Osbourne said she looked very nervous, but that she found her feet. David Hasselhoff said “We love you.”

To make it that far, she obviously has talent.  Check her out here:

I stumbled on this, from a blog entitled “Sixty Rivers, The Chronicles of Aengus and his Quest to Fish Sixty Rivers.”

The Coldwater is an interesting river, more so today because it stunk like cow s_t. The water, though cold and clear, had a slight blue-green tinge, reminiscent of stagnant water. The river was obviously being fouled upstream by a farm. While this might be expected as it was only a few years ago that Tyler Creek, which flows into the Coldwater, was contaminated causing a massive fish kill.

We fished upstream from Baker Avenue (just west of Freeport) trying our best to ignore the stench. The earthen bunker walls all along the stream are the remnants of channelizing and rerouting back in the late 1800’s, presumably to help drain surrounding farm land. And it is still easy to tell where the old stream bed was abandoned. Despite this, and in some ways because of it, the river is a pleasant wade with a high canopy above, but with plenty of room underneath to cast a fly. We had a few hits from small fish, but that was it.

Here’s a picture of the author of the blog in the Coldwater:

aengus fishing

Speaking of Tyler Creek (the creek mentioned above that was contaminated by agricultural runoff, resulting in a fishkill), here’s a picture of a farm for sale just outside of Clarksville (located a little NE of my landing).  As mentioned in the caption below, Tyler Creek flows through this farm:

100 acre farm for $750,000

$750,000 –  This Bowne Township parcel has it all. 100+/- acres tillable land, 10+ acres of woods and Tyler Creek flowing through the south property.

Hey, there isn’t a lot googling on in Freeport Michigan . . . .

That’ll do it.



© 2009 A Landing A Day

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Polebridge, Montana

Posted by graywacke on September 26, 2009

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 –  Oh so close (to 150, that is), but alas, that milestone will have to wait.  That ultimate OS spoiler had to step up . . . MT; 106/86; 7/10; 9; 150.7.  Here’s my landing map:


As you can see, once again (as just happened when I landed in the Tonto National Forest), I landed in a total wildnerness.  And once again, I landed in a patch of federally-protected real estate; this time Glacier National Park (see the glaciers east of my landing?)  Here’s a broader view, showing my proximity to the town of Polebridge, the Canadian Border, and a couple of previous landings (today’s is the one north of Polebridge):


Here’s an even broader view, featuring Polebridge:


For the third time, I landed in the N Fk of the Flathead R; on to the Flathead (9th hit); on to the Clark Fork (16th hit); on to the Pend Oreille (17th hit); on to the Columbia (127th hit).

Here’s a nice picture of the N Fk of the Flathead River:

fall-on-the-n fk of the flathead-river-polebridge-montana

It would be easy for me to simply make this a photo essay featuring Glacier National Park (and OK, I’ll probably post a pretty picture or two, like the one above).  But there’s enough about Polebridge to feature it.  From Wiki:

Polebridge is an unincorporated community in Flathead County, Montana, United States. This community is named for the log bridge that formerly connected the North Fork Road in Glacier National Park to Montana Secondary Highway 486, over the Flathead River.

Here’s the Welcome to Polebridge sign:

welcome to polebridge

There’s not much in Polebridge, but there are a few somewhat celebrated establishments there.  First, the Polebridge Mercantile, which is, not surprisingly, the only store in Polebridge:


By the way, there is no electricity in Polebridge.  Just generators, propane and kerosene!  There is also the Northern Lights Café, which, not surprisingly, is the only restaurant (and place for a beer) in Polebridge:

northern lights saloon

There is also the North Fork Hostel, which is the place to stay.  Of course, I love the  fact that it’s named after a river.  It’s easy to find, just follow the sign:


Here’s a picture of one of the cabins (yours for $45/night).  If that’s too pricey for you, you can get a bed in the “dorm” for $20.  Here’s a picture from the North Fork website:


Here’s a picture of a windowsill at the North Fork, designed to discourage bears:


The Hostel sign and the above picture are from a travel blog, which is good viewing.  Click here to read about Lynn’s trip to Polebridge.

Here’s a wonderful picture of a fix-er-upper just outside of Polebridge:

old barn near polebridge

And this, of a grizzly bear visit in Polebridge (with the photographer’s caption below:

grizzly near polebridge

Grizzly bears, listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act, usually keep to themselves. If they become “food conditioned” by humans, they are considered dangerous and may be killed. Karen Nichols left this subject, ambling though an old homestead just west of Glacier National Park, in peace after taking this shot–from her car.  (c) 2004 Karen Nichols from Montana 24/7.

I’ll close with a couple of Glacier National Park scenery pics:




A truly magnificent patch of the country . . .

That’ll do it.



© 2009 A Landing A Day

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Hahira, Georgia

Posted by graywacke on September 23, 2009

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 –  After my lousy run with all the OSers (when I was 2/12), there has been an amazing turnaround.  I’m now 11/13 with today’s landing in . . . GA; 32/35; 8/10; 8; 150.3.  Presuming that I break into the 140’s sooner than later, I will have passed through the 150’s at relative breakneck speed.  When the breakthrough happens, I’ll be discussing it in greater detail (I’m sure you can’t wait).  Of course, I fear that I’ve jinxed myself even talking about the 140’s.  We’ll see . . .

After my “strange” Ambler PA landing, things have settled down as I return to my comfort zone with this landing near a couple of little rural towns.  Here’s my landing map, showing my proximity to both Morven and Hahira:


For the second time, I landed in the Little R watershed (I landed less than a quarter mile from the river); on to the Withlacoochee (also 2nd hit); on to the Suwanee (5th hit, making the Suwanee the 137th river on my list of rivers with 5 or more hits).  By the way, I have landed in 12 “Little River” watersheds; even more strangely, I have landed in two “Withlacoochee River” watersheds.  The other is in central FL.

A quick Google check convinced me to feature Hahira rather than Morven.  Sorry, all you Morven fans out there.

The first thing about Hahira is how to pronounce it correctly:  “hay – HI – ra.”   The town’s website discusses two possibilities for how the name came to be:

It’s said that the name Hahira was created by Berry Folsom, Hahira’s first postmaster. The origin of the name remains a mystery. Folklore is that Mr. Folsom took the name from the Bible. In Exodus chapter 14 verse 2, it’s recorded the children of Israel camped at Pi-Hahiroth between Migdol and the Red sea, opposite Baal Zephon.

Others say there was an Indian named “Hira” who would stop near the railroad tracks near present day Hahira, to rest and watch the iron horse go by. When folks passed they would wave their hands and say, “Hey, Hira”.  We’ll let you choose the version you like best.

Well, given the choice, I’ll have to go with the biblical explanation.  Here’s a little more information about Pi-Hahiroth.  From Wiki:

Pi-hahiroth is the fourth station of the Exodus. The biblical books Exodus and Numbers refer to Pi-hahiroth as the place where the Israelites encamped between Baal-zephon and Migdol while awaiting an attack by Pharaoh, prior to crossing the Red Sea.

I thought this would be pretty straightforward – I’d post a map showing the location of Pi-hahiroth as well as where the Red Sea parted.  No such luck.  The route of the Exodus is anything but historically well known (and the Exodus itself is doubted in many historic circles).  The Bible mentions numerous place names (including Pi-hahiroth), but scholars disagree (and can’t really pin down) where the various places are and where the route would be.  Here’s a discussion from Wiki:

There is little agreement as to the route that would have been taken by the Israelites. Whilst there is a lot of information in the book of Exodus about the route, there is very little that can, with certainty, be ascribed to modern-day locations. Neither of the two mountains featured prominently in the landscape of the Exodus (Sinai and Horeb) has been identified with certainty.

The crossing of the Red Sea has been variously placed at the Pelusic branch of the Nile (the eastern-most branch of the Nile Delta), anywhere along the network of Bitter Lakes and smaller canals that formed a barrier toward eastward escape, or the Gulf of Suez (the northwestern branch of the Red Sea) or the Gulf of Aqaba (the northeastern branch). It is apparent from scriptural usage of the “Red Sea” (lit. the “Sea of Reeds”), that the term was used to refer to both the Gulf of Aqaba and the Gulf of Suez, but the meaning of the term can be easily read to refer to a papyrus marsh in Egypt as well.

Obviously, nobody really knows where Pi-hariroth is (or was).  Just for the heck of it, here are some renditions of the parting of the Red Sea:





It doesn’t seem like great artists have decided to use the Parting as a subject!  Anyway, here’s my favorite, more along the lines of a photo-shopped Google Earth rendition:


Back to Hahira.  Check this out from Wiki:

In March 2008, the Hahira City Council passed a clothing ordinance that bans citizens from wearing pants that are below the waist and reveal skin or undergarments (see sagging). The council was split 2-2, but the tie was broken by the mayor.

My fashion tastes are with the City Council and Mayor; I think the style is ludicrous.  But I don’t think I’d legislate it.  By the way, I haven’t heard the term “sagging.”  From Wiki, here’s a picture with the caption “A boy sagging his jeans.”


So I wonder if the ordinance has been enforced?

All in all, I can’t find too much more to say.  I”ll close with this railroad picture taken in Hahira . .

tracks in hahira

That’ll do it.



© 2009 A Landing A Day

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Ambler, Pennsylvania

Posted by graywacke on September 21, 2009

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 –  OH MY!!!  This is so strange!!  I landed a little less than two miles from the house I lived in from 1980 – 1987 (and my ex-wife still lives there, which is why I think I used the word “strange”), in . . . PA; 25/27; 7/10; 7; 150.9.  Here’s my landing map, showing the proximity to the hometown of my children, Ambler.


Note that Gwynned Valley, Spring House, Maple Glen, Penllyn and Ft. Washington don’t really have town centers; Ambler is the only real “town.”  (Oh my, I see “Pickering Field” on the map.  Many hours were spent there watching Little League baseball games . . .)

I’ll see what I can do to shake off the strangeness, and treat this like any other landing. . .

Here’s a broader view:


I landed in the Neshaminy Creek watershed; on to the Delaware R (7th hit).  I just missed landing in the Wissahickon Creek watershed (a stream I’m very familiar with); it flows to the Schuylkill, then to the Delaware.

Ambler is a northern suburb of Philadelphia, with a commuter rail line that (conveniently for commuters) is the last stop on the express train before downtown.  (At least that was the case when I took the train.  OK, OK – so I’m not treating this like any other landing!)

From Wiki:

Ambler was originally known as the Village of Wissahickon, named for the North Pennsylvania Railroad depot established there in the mid-1850s. The town was renamed to Ambler in 1869 in honor of Mary Johnson Ambler, a local Quaker woman who heroically assisted during The Great Train Wreck of 1856, a local train accident in which 59 people were killed instantly and dozens more died from their injuries.

In 1881, The Keasbey and Mattison Company, whose business included the manufacture of asbestos products moved to Ambler from Philadelphia. The company invested heavily in the town. However, the Great Depression took its toll on the company, and it was sold to an English concern, Turner & Newhall in 1934. Newhall operated the factory until it closed in 1962.

Asbestos contamination remains an issue in Ambler. One area was declared a Superfund site and remediated by the United States EPA. Another remains unremediated. The derelict factory and smokestack remain as a symbols of asbestos’ legacy. Local government has made redevelopment of the sites a priority.

It turns out that I worked at the US EPA in Philadelphia when decisions were being made about how to remediate Ambler’s “White Mountains” (asbestos-containing waste piles).   I was involved with the project; we decide to stabilize some areas that were adjacent to the Wissahickon Creek, and then just cap (with clean soil) the asbestos-laden spoil piles.  I remember that we had an aerial photo of the site; when I looked closely, I could not only see my house, but also my car parked in the driveway.

Here’s a warning sign on the un-remediated asbestos area (located just behind the McDonald’s, which you can see in the background):


Moving from asbestos to the train wreck . . . I generally knew about Mary Ambler and the train wreck, but I didn’t realize how horrific the crash was.  And even though I commuted into Philadelphia on the train, I never stopped to think that I was on the same tracks as the crash (just south of Ambler).  From Wiki:

The Great Train Wreck of 1856 occurred between Camp Hill and Fort Washington, Pennsylvania, on July 17, 1856. Two trains, traveling on the same track in opposite directions, collided, killing between 59 and 67, and injuring over 100. The incident was referred to as “The Camp Hill Disaster” in Montgomery County, and “The Picnic Train Tragedy” in the city of Philadelphia. It was the deadliest railroad catastrophe in the world up to that time and became one of the signature events of its era.

Here’s a summary in my own words:  A “picnic train” was carrying mostly Philadelphia Catholic school kids (as many as 1,000) on a north-bound outing; it was running late.  A south bound freight train waited at the Wissahickon station siding, expecting to let the north bound train go by (there was only a single north-south track with periodic sidings).  The engineer grew impatient and figured he could head south to the next siding before the picnic train came by.  He never made it; there was a head-on collision just south of present-day Ft. Washington.  It just so happened that there was a section of tracks with enough of a curve so that they couldn’t see each other until it was too late.

Here’s a map showing the approximate location of the crash (I circled the section of tracks).  As you can see, it’s in a cluttered area, with the interchange between the PA Turnpike & Route 309 right there.  You can see the curved portion of the tracks where the crash occurred.

train crash

Tragically, almost all of the victims were teenagers.

I used to have dinner with my kids at Marita’s (a Mexican restaurant in Ft. Washington), which was right along the tracks about a half a mile north of the from the crash site.  (This wasvafter the divorce, when I was doing the visitation thing).  If I knew how close we were, I’m sure it would have been a topic of conversation.

Because I landed in an area that was so familiar to me, I checked out my landing site on Google Earth.  It turns out that I landed in the middle of a golf course (the Old York Road Country Club).  I’m not a golfer; so even though I have driven by the club many times, I was hardly aware of its existence.  Anyway, I located my landing very accurately on Google Earth:

Google Earth

It turns out that I was on the edge of the 10th fairway.  The tee is up near the club house; the 10th green is down by the road.  Here’s a picture from the tee; I’ve put a black dot on my landing spot.  This is amazing!   My first photo showing where I actually landed!

my landing

If you look at the Google Earth photo, you can see a house across the street from the 10th green.  Here’s a shot of the green, showing the house:


That’ll do it.



© 2009 A Landing A Day

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Tonto National Forest, Arizona

Posted by graywacke on September 19, 2009

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 –  After two particularly robust (verbose?) posts (Zanoni & Hazard), you’ll find that I don’t have much to say for this OS landing in . . . AZ; 73/67; 7/10; 6; 151.6.  Take a look at my landing map, and you’ll see my problem:


The above map is over 20 miles across, and you see no roads, no towns, just a lot of natural features.  Essentially this entire view is part of the Tonto National “Forest” (quotes are mine) in central AZ.

When I expand the view a little, the only town that pops up is Camp Creek:


Here’s the broadest view:


I’m going to break with tradition, and reference the National Forest rather than a particular town (it turns out that Camp Creek is totally GD).  Anyway, for the fourth time, I landed in the Verde R watershed; on to the Salt (11th hit); on to the Gila (31st hit); on to the Colorado (144th hit).  Here’s a map of the Gila watershed, showing the Verde (my landing is south of the word “Verde”):

verde river watershed

Anyway, this post will simply be a quickie pictoral essay, nothing more.  I’ll start with a couple of views of the Verde River:


This shot of the Verde is only a couple of miles from my landing:

verde below horseshoe

Here are various Tonto National Forest photos that caught my eye.

Superstition Wilderness, Tonto National Forest, Arizona

Weaver's Needle, Superstition Wilderness, Tonto National Forest,




I’ll close with (what else?) a sunset picture:


That’ll do it.



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Hazard, Kentucky

Posted by graywacke on September 17, 2009

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 –  Wow.  I’m up to a phenomenal 8/10 (and a new record low Score, of course) with today’s landing in a solid USer . . .KY; 18/24; 8/10; 5; 151.1. Here’s my landing map, showing my proximity to the Middle Fork of the Kentucky River and the town of Confluence (but perhaps more interestingly, Hazard):


It turns out the Middle Fork of the Kentucky River is a new river (my 1033rd river); on to the Kentucky (5th hit, making the Kentucky the 126th river on my list of rivers with 5 or more hits); on to the Ohio (113th hit); on to the MM (708th hit).

I checked out Confluence, and could find absolutely nothing about it.  It was evidently named after the confluence of both the Wilder Branch and the Grassy Branch with the Middle Fk of the Kentucky River.  Neither the Wilder Branch nor the Grassy Branch appears to be any more than little creeks.  I’m surprised that they named the town after such an inauspicious confluence.

Anyway, here’s a broader view featuring Hazard:


Of course, the Dukes of Hazard comes to mind immediately, and, in fact, there is a connection.  From Wiki:

Founded in 1790, the town of Hazard, as well as Perry County, is named after U.S. Navy Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry, known for his victory report during the War of 1812 when he stated, “We have met the enemy and they are ours.”  The town was initially known as Perry Court House, though some reports note that locals had always referred to the area as “Hazard”.  The town’s name was officially changed to Hazard in 1854.

Wasn’t Oliver Hazard Perry the guy who said “Don’t fire until you see the whites of their eyes?”  I’ll have to check.  (Although, if you’re on a ship you can’t wait that long to fire on the enemy!  What am I thinking??? ) Back to Wiki:

Long isolated by the surrounding mountains, Hazard met the outside world with the arrival of the railroad in 1912. Previously, the only ways in or out of the valley were 45 miles down the North Fork of the Kentucky River (which meets up with the Middle Fork to become the Kentucky River), or an arduous trip over the surrounding mountains.

The CBS television series The Dukes of Hazzard got its name from Hazard, Kentucky. To avoid legal problems, the producers added an extra “Z” and set the show in a fictional county in Georgia.

This about Commodore Perry from Wiki:

At Perry’s request during the War of 1812, he was given command of United States naval forces on Lake Erie. He supervised the building of a small fleet at Dobbin’s Landing in Presque Isle Bay in Erie, Pennsylvania. On September 10, 1813, Perry’s fleet defended against an attacking British fleet at the Battle of Lake Erie. Perry’s flagship, the USS Lawrence, was destroyed in the encounter and Perry was rowed a half-mile through heavy gunfire to transfer command to the USS Niagara, carrying his battle flag (reading “DONT GIVE UP THE SHIP”, the final words of Captain James Lawrence). Perry’s battle report to General William Henry Harrison was famously brief: “We have met the enemy and they are ours; two ships, two brigs, one schooner and one sloop.”

Hmmm.  Nothing about the whites of anybody’s eyes.  From Wiki:

The famous order “Don’t fire until you see the whites of their eyes” was popularized in stories about the Revolutionary War battle of Bunker Hill. However, it is uncertain as to who said it, since various histories attribute it to anyone of four revolutionary soldiers (Putnam, Stark, Prescott or Gridley), and it may have been said first by one, and repeated by the others. It was also not an original statement. The earliest similar quote came from the Battle of Dettingen in1743, where Lieutenant-Colonel Sir Andrew Agnew of Lochnaw warned his Regiment, the Royal Scots Fusiliers, not to fire until they could “see the white’s of their e’en.”

(What the heck is an e’en?)

The phrase was also used by Prince Charles of Prussia in 1745, and repeated in 1755 by Frederick the Great. Whether or not it was actually said at Bunker Hill, it was clear that the Colonial military leadership were regularly reminding their troops to hold their fire until the moment when it would have the greatest effect, especially in situations where their ammunition would be limited.

If I had half a brain, I never would have let this “whites of their eyes” thing make it all the way from my confused brain to this post.  Oh, well . . .

Here’s the Perry Victory (and International Peace) Monument at Put-In-Bay on South Bass Island in Lake Erie (north of Sandusky; about 40 miles east of Toledo):


Moving right along to Hazard.  Hazard is an old coal mining town.  Here’s a write-up about coal company towns common in this part of coal country:

Coal companies built  “coal patch” or “coal camp” villages and towns near their coal mines throughout Kentucky and other coal mining states. Coal patch villages and towns differed from other villages and towns in that they were not incorporated, did not have elected officials and were wholly owned by the coal company which controlled who lived within their confines. The coal company generally provided lots for churches and schools to be built.

Here’s one near Hazard, the Blue Grass Coal Company Camp:


And another one from just east of Hazard (the “town” of Hardburly):


I can’t help but think about good ol’ Tennessee Ernie Ford, and his hit song “Sixteen Tons” (which I loved as a kid back in the ‘50s).  From Wiki:

Sixteen Tons” is a song about the misery of coal mining, first recorded in 1946 by U.S. country singer Merle Travis .  A 1955 version recorded by ‘Tennessee’ Ernie Ford reached number one in the Billboard charts.

A controversy surrounds the authorship of “Sixteen Tons”. It is generally attributed to Merle Travis. However, Kentucky ex-coalminer and singer/songwriter George S. Davis (1904–1992), claimed to have written this song in the 1930s. Davis’ 1966 recording of his version of the song is preserved on the albums George Davis: When Kentucky Had No Union Men.

Here are selected lyrics from “Sixteen Tons:”

Some people say a man is made outta mud
A poor man’s made outta muscle and blood
Muscle and blood and skin and bones
A mind that’s a-weak and a back that’s strong

You load sixteen tons, what do you get
Another day older and deeper in debt
Saint Peter don’t you call me ’cause I can’t go
I owe my soul to the company store

I was born one mornin’ when the sun didn’t shine
I picked up my shovel and I walked to the mine
I loaded sixteen tons of number nine coal
And the straw boss said “Well, a-bless my soul”


If you see me comin’, better step aside
A lotta men didn’t, a lotta men died
One fist of iron, the other of steel
If the right one don’t a-get you
Then the left one will


For a link to YouTube & Ernie singing Sixteen tons (with an intro by Dinah Shore), click here.  I think he’s great!

When I was a kid, I enjoyed watching the Tennessee Ernie Ford show on TV.  Let me tell you something that I remember clearly to this day.  This was live TV, and Ernie was doing a commercial for Green Giant frozen peas.  Don’t ask me why, but he had a single pea in a little cup as a prop for the commercial.  Ad libbing, Ernie said “I’ve got a little pea in this cup.”  He looked mortified, and burst out laughing.  (OK, so maybe it was planned, but I thought it was the funniest thing ever.)  My whole family was watching (as we were wont to do back in the day), and all of us (especially my father the minister) were cracking up.

So, back to Hazard.  I stumbled on this interesting bit of medical lore:

The blue Fugates were a tight-knit family living in the Appalachian Mountains. The patriarch of the clan was Martin Fugate, who settled along the banks of Troublesome Creek near Hazard, Kentucky, sometime after 1800. His wife, Mary, is thought to have been a carrier for a rare disease known as hereditary methemoglobinemia, or met-H.

Due to an enzyme deficiency, the blood of met-H victims has reduced oxygen-carrying capacity. Instead of being the usual bright red, arterial blood is chocolate brown and gives the skin of Caucasians a bluish cast. Hereditary met-H is caused by a recessive gene. If only one parent has this gene, the person will be normal, but if they both have it, there’s a good chance he’ll be blue.

None of Martin and Mary Fugate’s descendants would have been blue had they not intermarried with a nearby clan, the Smiths. The Smiths were descendants of Richard Smith and Alicia Combs, one of whom apparently was also a met-H carrier.

Because of inbreeding among the isolated hill folk–the Fugate family tree is a tangled mess of cousins marrying cousins–blue people started popping up frequently thereafter. A half dozen or so were on the scene by the 1890s, and one case was reported as recently as 1975.

Television stations tried to interview them, but were repeatedly chased away.

In 1960 a doctor named Madison Cawein heard about the blue Fugates and succeeded in tracking down several of them. He was able to diagnose the problem fairly quickly and prescribed a simple, if temporary, cure–the chemical methylene blue, which replaced the missing enzyme in the blood. The results were dramatic. Within minutes after getting a dose, the blue Fugates became a normal pink for the first time in their lives.

Here’s a picture of the Fugates, which looks like somebody simply colored the faces blue:

blue fugates

I’ll close with this story and picture about Robert Kennedy’s 1968 visit to Eastern Kentucky (including Hazard) during an early 1968 campaign swing.  From Thomas Bethell writing in the “Daily Yonder – Keep it Rural” website:

. . . it was only after Robert Kennedy was martyred, a few months after his Appalachian tour, that we all decided he was genuine in his determination to battle poverty. It wasn’t by any means so clear at the time, especially to some of us who watched him at close range as he toured Eastern Kentucky. There was the question of his timing, for one thing. He didn’t begin maneuvering his way into the race for the presidency in 1968 until Eugene McCarthy showed that Lyndon Johnson could be challenged.

So, more than a faint odor of opportunism trailed Kennedy as he made his way into the Appalachian heartland. And he was significantly shorter on specifics than on star power. Robert Kennedy had that, of course, and something more. From a distance, he looked to be holding aloft once again the flame of hope that had been all but snuffed out on November 22, 1963. And by 1968 millions of Americans were desperate for any sign of hope . . .

. . . Soon, of course, an assassin’s bullet would leave us all in limbo, never knowing what Robert Kennedy might or might not have done to make his Appalachian tour the beginning of something genuinely transformative. My first impression might have been completely wrong. He might have been a wonderful president, the first since Franklin Roosevelt to offer real and lasting hope for hard-pressed people, rural and urban alike. Or not. In the winter-spring of 1968 it was much too soon to tell, and the summer never came. But it’s a measure of how desperate some of us were that we suppressed private doubts and wrote glowing accounts of his tour. Over the ensuing decades that tour has acquired the aura of something more spiritual than political.

Here’s a picture of Bobby in Hazard:

rfk in hazard

That’ll do it.



© 2009 A Landing A Day

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Zanoni, Missouri

Posted by graywacke on September 15, 2009

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 – Wow. After a 2/12 run, I’m working on a 7/9 (and just got a new record low Score), thanks to landing in . . . MO; 40/41 (getting mighty close to PS); 7/10; 4; 151.8. I landed in the boonies of south-central MO. Here’s my landing map, showing my proximity to Zanoni. I would generally ignore a “town” this small, but I was intrigued with the name. I guess I could have referenced Gainesville (about 10 miles away, which actually has a few side streets), but I decided to stick with Zanoni.


Here’s a broader view (homemade, because there are no internet maps showing where Zanoni is):


I landed in the Bryant Ck watershed; on to the N Fk of the White R (2nd hit); on to the White (22nd hit); on the MM (707th hit).

I was shocked to find that Zanoni had a Wiki entry. Here ’tis:

Zanoni is an unincorporated community located in Ozark County, Missouri on Route 181 about ten miles northeast of Gainesville. A watermill (doubling as a bed and breakfast) and a post office are all that remain of the community. The community was founded in 1898 and was named for the novel Zanoni by Edward Bulwer Lytton.

So, I figured I had two things to check out: the old mill and associated B&B, and (potentially most interestingly) the novel. I’ll start with the mill. Evidently, there is a healthily-flowing spring coming out of a hillside that some entrepreneur back around the turn of the century decided would be a suitable site for a mill. Here’s an older picture of the mill:

zanoni mill

Here’s a picture of where the water goes now (as opposed to over the mill wheel):

zanoni mill3

As alluded to by Wiki, someone bought the property where the mill is, built a nice house and opened a bed and breakfast, the Zanoni Mill Inn B&B. Here’s their write-up:

Down by the Old Mill Stream is Zanoni Mill Inn. Our Colonial house is a modern home nestled in a secluded valley with a most interesting old water mill. It was powered by the spring which still gushes out of the hillside; the water now goes into a 3 acre man-made lake which is in our front yard. Fishing or a paddle boat ride is quite relaxing, especially on a moonlit evening.

There are many beautiful sites to see on a pleasure hike through our 1700 acre farm. Our indoor pool allows swimming anytime.

Our rooms are very large. Two rooms have private baths and two share a hall bath.

There are 3 other mills in our area; lots of history may be seen here.

After your busy day, you’ll enjoy a good night’s rest at Zanoni Mill Inn, where you’ll wake to the aroma of Mary’s full country breakfasts and lots of arm family hospitality.

Sounds like a great place. And 1700 acres!! Here’s a picture:

zanoni mill inn b&b

The old mill is on the far left. They made some improvements to the mill building; this is what it looks like now:

zanoni mill2

As mentioned in Wiki, there’s a post office in Zanoni (now closed) which doubled as a general store (which may be still open). Here’s a picture:

old store and PO

Before I get to the novel, I stumbled on this interesting point. If you look at my landing map, you’ll see “Hodgson Mill Stream” east of my landing. I Googled it, and it turns out this mill is the basis of the now-huge Hodgson Mill company. Here’s a picture of the old mill:


The brand is familiar to me; here’s a box of pancake mix showing their familiar logo, which features the old mill:


Drum roll please. Here comes the bit about the novel Zanoni. This is certainly the first town I’ve run across named after a novel. And what an intriguing novel! From Wiki:

Zanoni is an 1842 novel by Edward Bulwer-Lytton This piece of literature describes a fascinating story of love and the occult. By way of introduction, the author confesses: “…It so chanced that some years ago, in my younger days, whether of authorship or life, I felt the desire to make myself acquainted with the true origins and tenets of the singular sect known by the name of Rosicrucians.” The author goes on to describe that a manuscript came into his hands written in an unintelligible cipher, a manuscript which through the author’s own interpretation became Zanoni.

Zanoni is an immortal and as such he cannot fall in love but he does fall in love with Viola, an opera singer from Naples.  Zanoni, a Rosicrucian, has lived for ages since the times of the Chaldean civilization. His master Mejnor warns him against having a love affair with the singer but Zanoni does not heed.  He finally marries Viola and they have a child. As Zanoni experiences an increase in humanity, he begins to lose his gift of immortality. He finally dies in the guillotine during the French Revolution.

Admitting my poor grasp of ancient history, I need to check out the Chaldean civilization. From Wiki:

The 11th dynasty of the Kings of Babylon (6th century BC) is conventionally known to historians as the Chaldean Dynasty. The Chaldean Kingdom is in the southern portion of Babylonia, essentially the vast plain formed by the deposits of the Euphrates and the Tigris (in modern day Iraq).

Hmmm. So 2600 years ago, this guy Zanoni is “born” in the Cradle of Civilization. He lives (I assume) an ordinary immortal Rosicrucian’s life, until he falls in love.  Zanoni thinks, “love . . . immortalilty . . . love . . . . immortality . . . . ah, I choose love!”   And then that pesky French Revolution comes around, and it’s all over for him . . .

It turns out that this book has a bit of a cult following. Here are excerpts from some Amazon reviews:

This is one of the great masterpieces of occult fiction, astonishing considering when it was written . . .

And another:

WOW!!! People are finally catching on to this book of great Occult literature. Too bad we have to use the word Occult. I have read this Gem at least three times, and still cry at the end of it. Most people don’t know that Lytton was a member of Parliament in London, and was a good friend of Dickens, too. He wrote dozens of novels, and plays, but confessed that of all of them “Zanoni” was his favorite.

He was renowned as aleader of a Rosicrucian group in London. Lytton said, “It (Zanoni) is a truth for those who can comprehend it, and an extravagance for those that can’t”. A more beautiful Romance has never been written, except for perhaps Romeo and Juliet. There is much truth within these pages. I love this book, and it has blessed me, truly, for reading it. Buy the book, period.

And another:

I have read few books that can artistically work with esoteric content without getting trite, awkward or moralistic. In my opinion, “The Celestine Prophecy” is a figment that should have been left sealed in the author’s imagination. “Zanoni” on the other hand is a tale with an intriguing plot that all the while leads the reader into unexpected and profound esoteric content. This is a book I will be returning to read again and again.

Here’s the cover page for Volume II, which I think has an interesting quote on it: “In short, I could make neither heads nor tails on’t.” This is from a “Google Book” which was scanned from an edition of the book at the New York Public Library.

zanoni front page

Here’s some old business from my “Phil Campbell, Alabama” post:

Zanoni isn’t the only book I’ve stumbled on through this blog.  Check out my Phil Campbell, Alabama post, and you’ll see that I stumbled on a book “Zioncheck for President” by (who else?) Phil Campbell.  I have read the book, and I’m here to tell you that I heartily recommend it.  It is a very personal nonfiction account of an intense few months in the life of Phil Campbell (while he was campaign manager for Grant Cogswell, who was running for Seattle City Council).  It’s a good read, and kept me engaged as I followed Phil’s (and Grant’s) frenetic quest.  It quickly becomes obvious that  Phil has a way with words.  I can just imagine him as he is writing – he’s in the flow of describing a scene, when suddenly a funky, funny, insightful sentence pops out from his fingers on the keyboard and lands in the book.  He smiles, and keeps typing . . .

So, now I’ll have to give Zanoni a shot, although I’m not overly optomistic that I’ll be able to hang in there for the whole book.  I’ll let you know.

That’ll do it.



© 2009 A Landing A Day

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Tallahassee, Florida

Posted by graywacke on September 13, 2009

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 – For only the second time since I began this blog, I landed in the number two USer (behind, of course, TX) . . . FL; 25/38; 6/10; 3; 152.5. This puts today’s Score in an exact tie with the all time low, which I reached about 20 landings ago in early August. Check out my landing map:


OK, so I’ve landed near some big cities before. Strangely (in retrospect), it was way back for landing 9 (April 13, 1999) when I landed in North Philly (within the Philadelphia City limits). Back then, I probably thought “No big deal.” But now I realize that for 49 out of 50 landings (or something like that) I land nearest to a small rural town with a population of less than 10,000, typically less than 3,000.

OK, let me check. Since my blog began (landing 1583 which is 206 landings ago), here are generally-known larger towns that I’ve landed near: Sacramento, Dallas, Pierre, Gillette, Oklahoma City, Greenville and Fort Worth (and I actually landed in Fort Worth). So that’s 7 out of 206, which is more like 29 of 30 (rather than the 49 of 50 I quoted above). But anyway, this is clearly a small town blog. But not today.

So here’s a somewhat expanded view, showing my proximity to the G of M (and also showing that I haven’t landed in this part of the FL Panhandle before, at least partially showing why FL is so US.


Here’s an even more expanded view (with everything but State lines turned off). Today’s landing is N30 / W 84.   This also shows the paucity of Panhandle landings:


I suggest that you sound out “panhandle landings” to yourself. I think it sounds cool.

Moving right along . . . although not visible on my landing map, I landed in the Lost Creek watershed. Lost Creek is a nifty little stream (and it’s called Lost Creek for a good reason). Before I go on, I need to mention that this was my 8th “Lost Creek” (actually, 7 Lost Creeks & one Lost Draw).  This makes  “Lost”  the 53rd stream name on my “Common Stream Name” list (which only includes those stream names that appear on at least 8 different stresams).  Phew.

Here’s a streams-only map that shows that I practically landed in Lost Creek. Note the point labeled “Match Point.”

lost ck spring ck 2

I landed very near the headwaters of Lost Creek; it obviously flows south towards the G of M. The map below is the southern, more downstream portion of the stream. Note the same point along the stream is also labeled “Match Point.”

lost ck spring ck

You can see that not far south of the Match Point, Lost Creek mysteriously ends. In arid areas, this can happen because the stream simply dries up, and/or it empties into a lake basin that has no outlet. But in more temperate climes where there’s plenty of rainfall (like the eastern half of the U.S.), the usual explanation for a stream just ending is that it’s flowing over cavernous limestone, and it flows into an underground channel or cave.   Of course, the water in the stream doesn’t disappear; it simply goes underground and finds another route in its inexorable march towards sea level.

In this case, it’s easy to speculate that the water in Lost Creek flows through some underground limestone passageways, and then re-emerges as the headwaters for Spring Creek. While I think it’s pretty likely, I can’t be sure. I’d love to do a dye study where I’d add an environmentally-friendly dye (which can be detected by sensitive instruments) into the lower reaches of Lost Creek. I’d then monitor the headwaters of Spring Creek and find out if the dye emerges there.

Tallahassee is the home of Florida State University, which has a robust geology department (with about 20 professors). I thought to myself, “maybe somebody from FSU has studied Lost Creek already!” So, I did a Google search and found out that in fact someone did a dye tracing study of Lost Creek! The only problem is that they studied Lost Creek in Montana.

One Newell Campbell (related to Phil?), a geologist with Yakima Valley College did the study. The following is from the abstract of a 1977 paper he published in the journal “Northwest Science” entitled “Geohydrology of the Lost Creek Cave System, Park County, Montana:”

Lost Creek is a tributary of the West Boulder River located in eastern Park County, Montana. Lost Creek crosses a fault contact between granite and limestone and abruptly plunges into a deep swallow hole. The underlying cave system has been explored to a depth of nearly 245 m. The resurgence of Lost Creek, determined by dye tracing and water chemistry, is located at West Boulder Cave near the West Boulder River, 1800 m (about a mile) away.

Here’s the description of the “swallow hole” from the paper:

Lost Creek flows into a swallow hole about 6 m in diameter. The stream drops for a distance of about 25 m and then plunges downward in a series of waterfalls that connect seven plunge pools to a depth of approximately 245 m (800 feet) below the land surface.

Wow. Pretty dramatic stuff. In his attempt to follow the stream in the cave, the author needed three years and many spelunking trips to descend to a depth of 800 feet. At that point, he found that the stream disappears into a gravel bed. (Note that because it’s so flat around Tallahassee, there’s no chance for such dramatic cave topography for my landing’s Lost Creek.)

By the way, Florida A&M University (also in Tallahassee) should be ashamed of itself! Although it has expected science departments (biology, physics and chemistry), it doesn’t have a geology department . . .

I see that I’m going to ignore Tallahassee all together, because a nearby location has caught my interest which is physiographically related to Lost Creek – Wakulla Springs. Wakulla Springs is the headwaters of the Wakulla River, and is located SE of my landing spot. (On the second of my landing maps above, you can see “Edward Ball Wakulla Springs State Park.”)

From Wiki:

Wakulla Springs is located 14 miles (23 km) south of Tallahassee, Florida in Wakulla County, Florida. It is protected in the Edward Ball Wakulla Springs State Park.

The Wakulla cave system (which hydraulically feeds the spring) is a branching (dendritic) flow-dominated cave. Over 12 miles of the cave conduits have been mapped by divers. In 2007, divers physically connected the Wakulla Springs and Leon Sinks cave systems establishing the Wakulla-Leon Sinks cave system with total explored and surveyed passageway exceeding 28 miles in length.

The Wakulla Spring is classified as a first magnitude spring and is the longest and deepest known submerged freshwater cave system in the world. The spring forms the Wakulla River which flows 9 miles (14 km) to the southeast where it joins the St. Mark’s River. After a short 5 miles (8.0 km) the St. Mark’s empties into the Gulf of Mexico at Apalachee Bay.

Scientific interest in the spring began in 1850, when Sarah Smith reported seeing the bones of an ancient mastodon on the bottom. Since that time, scientists have identified the remains of at least nine other extinct Ice Age mammals, deposited as far as 1,200 feet (360 m) back into a cave. Today, at a depth of about 190 feet, the fossilized remains of mastodons are in full view along with other fossils.

Ancient people lived at the springs over 12,000 years ago; these were descendants of people who crossed into North America from eastern Asia during the Pleistocene epoch. Clovis spear points have been found at Wakulla Springs.

(Remember my discussion of Clovis people in my Lubbock TX post? That’s when I landed in the Blackwater Draw watershed which includes the area of Clovis NM.)

Flow rate of the spring is 200-300 million gallons of water a day. A record peak flow from the spring on April 11, 1973 was measured at 14,324 gallons per second – equal to 1.2 billion gallons per day.[2]

Beginning in the 1938, several of the early Tarzan films starring Johnny Weissmuller were filmed on location in Wakulla Springs. Other films such as Creature from the Black Lagoon, Night Moves, Airport 77 and Joe Panther starring Brian Keith and Ricardo Montalban were also filmed on location at Wakulla Springs.

Pretty cool place.  I’ll close with some photos of the Wakulla Spring & River.  I’ll start with a shot of the river a little downstream from the spring.  I can imagine Tarzan here . . .


Here’s an overview of the spring looking downstream towards the river:

wakulla springs

Here’s a shot showing how clear the water is:


Here’s some big freshwater mullet swimming in the spring:


And, of course, there are manatees:


That’ll do it.



© 2009 A Landing A Day

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Ione, Oregon

Posted by graywacke on September 11, 2009

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 – A nice run got me down near a new record low Score, but a set-back today . . . OR; 66/57; 5/10; 2; 153.1. Here’s my landing map:


You see that I’m close to Cecil & Ione; Cecil is just a dot on the map, but Ione has some substance. Here’s a close-up of Ione:


I love the street names:

  • The Alphabet: Streets A through H;
  • The Numbers: Main (aka First), Second, Third & Fifth Streets (what happened to Fourth?)
  • Nature: Cherry, Green, Spring, Birch & Willow Streets
  • Family Name: McGee Street
  • Pure Funkiness: Sure Thing Avenue

Not only is Sure Thing a very interesting name, it is also the only avenue in a town full of streets!

You’ll notice a major waterway up in the northwest corner of my landing map. That’s the Columbia River, marking the boundary between Oregon & Washington. If you look closely at my landing location, you’ll see that I landed directly adjacent to Sixmile Canyon, which is flowing north. It looks like it just kind of ends. Well, here’s a close-up with a better look at the local drainage (with all other map features deleted):


It does just end! There I am, just a few miles from the mighty Columbia River, and I landed in a watershed that goes nowhere! It turns out that this part of Oregon is very arid, and in fact, Sixmile Canyon just kind of peters out in a low area north of my landing. A little further west, and you can see Willow Creek, which in fact has the wherewithall to make it all the Columbia. (By the way, Willow Creek flows through Ione.)

Moving right along, here’s a broader view, featuring Ione:


I don’t have a lot to say about Ione, but here are some very nice pictures to give you a feel for the town & environs. First, this of (what else?) Main Street:

main st

And here’s my Welcome-To-Ione shot:


And this of one of my old standbys, a grain elevator:

grain elevator

And another view of the same structure:

17 Silo 2x3x150 L3

Here are a couple of shots from just outside of town:

lonely house

just outside of town

just outside of town2

It just so happens that I actually landed in a 12 by 12 mile patch of Federal Land, the Boardman Bombing Range. Here’s another landing map, centered more north.  The square area to the north of my landing (basically Zip Code 97818) is the Boardman Bombing Range.  The town of Boardman (inexplicably not labeled on the StreetAtlas map) is on the south bank of the river at exits 164 & 165 on I-84.


Interestingly, I found a piece by a journalist (the classical music critic for the Portland Oregonian newspaper), David Stabler. Well, it just so happens that David felt compelled to hear the beautiful song of the meadowlark (although he claims he’s not a birder). It also just so happens that Oregon’s State bird is the meadowlark. It also just so happens that meadowlarks are hard to come by in the greater Portland area, and that David had heard that the Boardman Bombing Range was the place to go to see (and listen to) meadowlarks. Here’s some of what he wrote about his trip to Boardman:


Oregon’s choice of an ornithological representative lives in an ordnance-strewn locale

“You have to understand, you can’t wander aimlessly around. There’s unexploded ordnance out there.”

That’s Rich Melaas telling me to stay off the Boardman bombing range. All I want to do is find a western meadowlark, which loves that particular patch of scrubland as much as the next fighter jet. In fact, it’s the most abundant bird on the bombing range. But Melaas, who works for the U.S. Navy, which owns the bombing range, is warning me about stepping on live TNT, flash cartridges, thermite flares, spotting charges and machine gun ammo lying around on the range’s 47,000 acres.

“I’ve actually seen 30- and 50-caliber rounds of machine gun ammunition slide out of a helicopter,” Melaas says. “You could blow off your hand if you pick something up.”

I’m not a birder, but I’m determined to find Oregon’s state bird because it has a wonderful song and I’ve never knowingly heard it. I must have, though. Walk through a field or pass along a fence and you’ll likely hear its clear, musical warble.

Farming and other human activity in the Willamette Valley have largely kissed the meadowlark goodbye, pushing the songbird onto the eastern plains, where it thrives among the strafing pits. The U.S. Navy and Oregon National Guard share restricted airspace with the birds for bombing practice, screaming low-altitude maneuvers, strafing runs, drone flights, small-arms practice and such.

Melaas makes it sound like Iraq, but in fact, birds enjoy the range — officially called the Naval Weapons Systems Training Facility Boardman — because agriculture doesn’t disturb it. No farming, no roads, no grazing. Just thousands of acres of open country, scoured by wind and weaponry.

David’s article goes on to greater lengths. Click HERE (and then click on “Meadowlark”), not only to read the rest of his article, but also to see the video he produced about his trip. The video is definitely worth it, as you get a flavor for the area and actually get to see and listen to a meadowlark.

Speaking of Boardman, here’s a shot of I-84 along the Columbia just west of the town of Boardman:

I-84 E of Boardman

Coming back to good ol’ Ione, here are two old truck shots. This one, where the truck for sure doesn’t run anymore . . .

25 Red Truck 2x3x150 L3

And this one, where it looks like maybe it does!

maybe this runs!!

I’ll close with a sunset shot from Boardman.  That’s Mount Hood in the far distance, which is about 50 miles west of my landing:


That’ll do it.



© 2009 A Landing A Day

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