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Archive for March, 2010

Big Piney and Marbleton, Wyoming

Posted by graywacke on March 27, 2010

First timer?  In this formerly once-a-day blog (now pretty much an every-other-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 –  With 150 as a seemingly unattainable goal, I’ve landed in another WB OSer . . . WY; 66/60; 5/10; 5; 151.8.  Here’s my landing map, showing my proximity to Big Sandy, Marbleton and Big Piney:


Here’s a broader view:

It turns out that Big Sandy isn’t really a town, so this post features the twin towns of Marbleton & Big Piney.  But first, this about my watersheds – I landed in the Eighteenmile Canyon watershed, on to the Buckhorn Canyon, and for the second landing in a row (amazingly), on to a creek with the name Fourmile Creek!  So, in two landings, I’ve had an Eighteenmile Canyon and two Fourmile Creeks.  How about that.  Anyway, the Fourmile Creek flows to a new river – the Big Sandy (my 1060th).  This is my third Big Sandy River (the other two being in WV/KY and AZ).  This Big Sandy flows to the Green R (26th hit); on to the Colorado (150th hit).

Here’s my GE shot:


The facility to the east of my landing caught my eye, because it didn’t exactly look like a ranch.  I suspected it had something to do with oil & gas.  Zooming out a little confirmed my suspicion –  each of the deadend roadways ends at a well (or well cluster):


Here’s a Street View shot from the north-south road east of my landing, looking west towards the well facility that’s just east of my landing (get that??):

A little research, and it turns out that I landed on the northern edge of the Jonah Field.  From Wiki:

The presence of natural gas in and around Sublette County was known for years, but it was not deemed practical to extract, because of the low permeability of the gas-containing bedrock.  A project called Wagon Wheel Nuclear Stimulation Project was proposed, which would have been an attempt to detonate 5 small nuclear explosions to fracture the rock and enable natural-gas production. The project was abandoned and the Jonah Field was left undeveloped for years.

However, hydraulic fracturing [rather than nuclear explosions] was finally used to open (stimulate) the tight sandstone bedrock formations that exist more than a mile and a half underground, which allows gas to be recovered at economic rates.

Jonah Field is known for being one of the largest on-shore natural gas discoveries in the USA in the early 1990s. The startling fact is that Jonah has a surface area of approximately one township yet it contains 10.5 trillion cubic feet of gas. In comparison, the Hugoton Field covers most of the southwest portion of Kansas, a 14 county area, yet it contained only about three times the volume of gas in Jonah.

The effect of drilling gas wells on the population of sage grouse is a highly-contentious issue: one report states that grouse populations are as healthy as ever, another report states that grouse are in a serious state of decline.

[Let me guess.  The oil companies’ expert says the grouse are thriving; the environmental groups’ expert says they’re in serious decline.  I used to work for Mobil Oil.  I know it works that way . . .]

The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service states that in fact oil and gas exploration represents the single greatest threat to sage grouse.

About hydraulic fracturing, from Wiki (& me):

Wiki:  Hydraulic fracture stimulation is commonly applied to wells drilled in low permeability reservoirs.  Most gas wells in the US rely on hydraulic fracturing to produce gas at economic rates.

Me:  A fracture fluid is pumped down a well under extremely high pressure, which opens up new fractures in the rock.  Once the fractures are open,  “proppant” is then pumped down the well.  The proppant enters the fractures and props them open; otherwise, the fractures would close back up when the pressure is reduced.

Wiki:  The fracture fluid can be any number of fluids, ranging from water to gels, foams, nitrogen, carbon dioxide or even air in some cases. Various types of proppant are used, including sand, resin-coated sand, and man-made ceramics depending on the type of permeability or grain strength needed. Radioactive sand is sometimes used so that the fracture trace along the wellbore can be measured.

Moving on to Marbleton & Big Piney.  From MountainManCountry.com:

It’s a curiosity, considering most Wyoming towns are few and far between, that Big Piney and Marbleton would only be a mile apart on Hwy 189. The town of Marbleton, incorporated in 1914, was the dream of Charles P. Budd, the eldest son of Dan Budd who founded Big Piney.  In the early days, there were a lot of drainage problems with the site on which Big Piney was built. So Charles Budd decided that it would make sense to move the town up on the bench to take advantage of the better building sites.

Charles did establish Marbleton on the bench in late 1913, but it never replaced Big Piney. Marbleton started out as Big Piney’s rival, each vying to be the major town site in this area. Marbleton now has a population of about 720 while Big Piney has about 400.

[so I guess Marbleton won . . .]

They have separate post offices and town governments. Any attempts to combine the two towns have been unsuccessful. The truth is people here kinda’ like it that way. Both towns cooperate with each other and have a combined fire department. Amazingly, through the years, both towns have grown and prospered. Industries supporting the town today include ranching, oil and gas mineral extraction and tourism. A small general aviation airport services the towns of Marbleton and Big Piney.

Here’s a GE shot, and you can see that Marbleton is on higher ground:

More about Big Piney from Wiki:

In 1987, actress Glenn Close co-produced a documentary about the vanishing cowboy of the American West, entitled, “Do You Mean There Are Still Real Cowboys?” The film focused on several generations of cattle ranching families in Big Piney, originally shown as part of the PBS television series, “The American Experience.” It was narrated by actor Robert Redford.

In the Big Piney/Marbleton vicinity is located the Wardell Buffalo Trap, a canyon used by Native Americans to trap bison.  Its potential archeological value led to its listing on the National Register of Historic Places in 1971.

About the Wardell Buffalo Trap from Wiki:

The Wardell Buffalo Trap in Sublette County, Wyoming is a small box canyon used by Native Americans for 500 years during the Late Prehistoric Period.  Nearly 55 feet of bison bones were found at the site. A campsite and butchering area is located nearby, and evidence has been found for a fence at the entrance to the canyon.

Here’s some more info from PindaleOnLine.com:

Wardell Buffalo Trap Revisited
by Clint Gilchrist & Dawn Ballou
September 10, 2005

‘Organized chaos’ may be the best way to describe a group of Indians on foot driving a herd of 1500-pound wild bison at full speed for as much as a mile into a specially built corral of juniper and sagebrush and then killing them with bow and arrows. It would have taken a long time for full-grown, excited, angry bison to bleed to death from the small 1-2” stone arrowheads, giving them plenty of time to raise havoc.

Based on their data from a 1970 dig, researchers speculate that a group of 100-125 individuals built a 50 by 30 foot corral of juniper and cottonwood at the base of a bluff in the box canyon. They possibly built drivelines of trees and sagebrush in a V shape ¼ to ½ mile stretching out from the trap. Small herds of maybe 20 bison were diverted on their way back from getting water. It was extremely dangerous and took intimate knowledge of the buffalo. It required extensive advance planning and then a coordinated effort during the drive and kill.
It seems inevitable that people would get injured or killed during the drive or kill. But the danger was acceptable because the success of the fall hunt could be the difference between life and death for the whole group in the upcoming harsh Rocky Mountain winter. One thousand years ago, right here in our Upper Green River Valley, this very scene unfolded over and over again each fall not far from Big Piney.

Most people have heard of “buffalo jumps”. With this method, people drove stampeding buffalo to their deaths by running them over high cliffs. This was a relatively effective method of resolving the problem of how to kill buffalo to get a supply of winter meat. However, the scene that took place near Big Piney was not a jump, but rather a “buffalo trap”, where the animals were herded into a confined pen and then killed.

The Wardell Buffalo Trap has become almost legendary in professional circles for its contribution to the knowledge of late prehistoric human buffalo procurement. It is the earliest known evidence of a communal bison kill involving use of bow and arrow in the northwest plains.

Here’s a shot of exposed bison bones from the 1970 dig:

Here’s a shot of the entrance to the box canyon – the buffalo trap is up this road a piece:



That’ll do it. . .

KS

Greg

© 2010 A Landing A Day

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Nohly, Montana

Posted by graywacke on March 25, 2010

First timer?  In this formerly once-a-day blog (now pretty much an every-other-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, my nice little US streak has come to an end.  And what better OSer to end it than the number one OSer . . . MT; 109/90; 5/10; 4; 151.3.  Here’s my landing map, showing my proximity to Nohly (MT), Buford (ND), the Missouri R (running E-W) and the Yellowstone R (flowing N to meet the Missouri near Buford):


I landed in the Fourmile Ck watershed (my fourth “Fourmile Creek”; my 31st “X-Mile” creek or river); on to the Nohly Ck; on to the Missouri (346th hit); on to the MM (737th hit).

Here’s a broader view:


Here’s my GE shot, showing some farming in the uplands south of my landing, and likely open prairie in the lowlands where I landed:


I mentioned above that I landed near where the Yellowstone meets the Missouri.  Here’s a GE shot of the confluence:


There’s not much to see, but here’s a photo of the confluence:

It’s a little surprising to me that the confluence to two such major rivers should be out in the middle of nowhere, although way, way back in the day, this was considered an area of some import.  There was an old fort at the confluence (Fort Buford), and just upstream from the confluence along the Missouri is an old trading post known as Fort Union.  First, Fort Buford – from a ND state history site:

Fort Buford State Historic Site preserves remnants of a vital frontier plains military post. Fort Buford was built in 1866 near the confluence of the Missouri and Yellowstone rivers, and became a major supply depot for military field operations. Original features still existing on the site include a stone powder magazine, the post cemetery site, and a large officers’ quarters building which now houses a museum.

Fort Buford was one of a number of military posts established to protect overland and river routes used by immigrants settling the West. It is probably best remembered as the place where the famous Hunkpapa Sioux leader, Sitting Bull, surrendered in 1881.

Here’s a plan of the original fort:

Here’s a photo of a re-enactment of some sort:

About Fort Union, from Wiki:


Fort Union Trading Post National Historic Site is the site of a partially reconstructed trading post on the Missouri River. It is one of the earliest declared National Historic Landmarks of the United States. The fort was built in 1828 or 1829 and was the most important fur trading post on the upper Missouri until 1867.

At this post, the Assiniboine, Crow, Cree, Ojibway, Blackfeet, Hidatsa, and other tribes traded buffalo robes and furs for trade goods including items such as beads, clay pipes, guns, blankets, knives, cookware, cloth, and especially alcohol. Historic visitors to the fort included John James Audubon and Sitting Bull.

Today, the reconstructed Fort Union memorializes a brief period in American history when two cultures found common ground and mutual benefit through commercial exchange and cultural acceptance.

Santa Fe trader and author William Davis gave his first impression of the fort in the year 1857:

Fort Union, a hundred and ten miles from Santa Fé, is situated in the pleasant valley of the Moro. It is an open post, without either stockades or breastworks of any kind, and, barring the officers and soldiers who are seen about, it has much more the appearance of a quiet frontier village than that of a military station. It is laid out with broad and straight streets crossing each other at right angles. The huts are built of pine logs, obtained from the neighboring mountains, and the quarters of both officers and men wore a neat and comfortable appearance.

Sitting Bull is associated with both forts.  He was the much-celebrated Indian military leader, who’s best known for leading the Sioux against General George Custer at the Battle of Little Bighorn.  Here’s a wonderful photo:

From Wiki, here’s some info about Sitting Bull’s life after the battle:

The Native Americans’ victory celebrations were short-lived. Public shock and outrage at Custer’s death and defeat led the government to assign thousands more soldiers to the area. Over the next year, the new American military forces pursued the Lakota, forcing many of the Native Americans to surrender. Sitting Bull refused to surrender and in May 1877 led his band across the border into Canada. He remained in exile for many years, refusing a pardon and the chance to return.

Hunger and cold eventually forced Sitting Bull, his family, and nearly 200 other Sioux in his band to return to the United States and surrender on July 19, 1881.  Sitting Bull had his young son Crow Foot surrender his rifle to the commanding officer of Fort Buford.  He told the soldiers that he wished to regard them and the white race as friends.  Two weeks later, Sitting Bull and his band were transferred to Fort Yates.

Arriving with 185 people, Sitting Bull and his band were kept separate from the other Hunkpapa gathered at the Fort.  Army officials were concerned that the famed chief would stir up trouble among the recently surrendered northern bands.  Consequently, the military decided to transfer him and his band to Fort Randall, to be held as prisoners of war.

Loaded onto a steamboat, Sitting Bull’s band, now totaling 172 people, were sent down the Missouri River to Fort Randall.  There they spent the next 20 months.  They were released to the Standing Rock Agency reservation in May 1883.

In 1885, Sitting Bull was allowed to leave the reservation to join Buffalo Bill Cody’s Wild West show.  He earned about $50 a week for riding once around the arena, where he was a popular attraction.  It is rumored that he often cursed his audiences in his native tongue during the show.  Historians have reported that Sitting Bull gave speeches about his desire for education for the young, and reconciling relations between the Sioux and whites.

Sitting Bull stayed with the show for only four months before returning home.  During that time, he had become somewhat of a celebrity and a romanticized warrior.  He earned a small fortune by charging for his autograph and picture, although he often gave his money away to the homeless and beggars.

Sitting Bull realized that his enemies were not limited to the small military and settler communities he had encountered in his homelands, but were in fact numerous and possessed technological advancements.  He also realized that the Sioux would be overwhelmed if they continued to fight.

In 1890 James McLaughlin, the U.S. Indian Agent at Fort Yates on Standing Rock Agency, feared that the Lakota leader was about to flee the reservation with the Ghost Dancers, so he ordered the police to arrest Sitting Bull.  At around 5:30 a.m. on December 15, 1890, 39 police officers surrounded the house, knocked and entered.  The officer in charge, Lt. Bullhead, told Sitting Bull that he was under arrest and led him outside.

The camp awakened and men converged at the house of their chief.  As Lt. Bullhead ordered Sitting Bull to mount a horse, he explained that the Indian affairs agent needed to see him and then he could return to his house.  However, Sitting Bull refused to comply with orders and the police used force on him.  The Sioux in the village were enraged.  A Sioux man known as Catch-the-Bear shouldered his rifle and shot Lt. Bullhead who, in return, fired his revolver into the chest of Sitting Bull. Another police officer, Red Tomahawk, shot Sitting Bull in the head and the chief dropped to the ground.

A terrible close-quarters fight erupted, and within minutes several men were dead.  Six policemen were killed immediately and two more died shortly after the fight.   Sitting Bull and seven of his supporters lay dead, along with two horses.

What a strange, tragic story . . .

I’ll close with some info about and a photo of a railroad bridge over the Missouri, located at Nohly (see landing map).  The following is from a write-up about the Samuel Knight Chapter of the Society for Industrial Archeology’s 2002 fall tour, by Scott See.   (Note that the bridge is known as the Snowden Lift Bridge, after the town of Snowden on the north bank of the river).

We started our day in Williston, North Dakota and drove west toward Montana. Our first stop of the day was at the Snowden Bridge. When it was built in 1913 it was the longest vertical lift bridge in the world with a lift-span section measuring 296 feet. The bridge was designed to allow the trains of the Great Northern Railroad to cross the Missouri River, while still enabling boat traffic to pass underneath, it was built during the twilight years of shipping on the upper Missouri. In fact, the railroad’s dire prediction that the bridge would never be used almost came true – the lift span was only operated 6 times.

Here’s an old postcard of the bridge, in the raised position:


Some pretty impressive engineering, eh?  I’ll close with this old shot of the bridge:


That’ll do it. . .

KS

Greg

© 2010 A Landing A Day

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Tarpon Springs, Florida

Posted by graywacke on March 23, 2010

First timer?  In this formerly once-a-day blog (now pretty much an every-other-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 hitting all the big USers.  First TX (#1 USer), then NM (#5), then VA (#3), and now the #2 USer . . . FL, 26/40; 5/10; 3; 150.9.  If my next landing is CA (#4), I’d have a Royal Flush.  Anyway, here’s my landing map:


Lucky I didn’t land in the G of M, eh?  Anyway, here’s the broader view:


Here’s my GE shot, showing that I landed in what looks like an upscale neighborhood, recently built out on the peninsula.


The big story with this landing is that fact that I landed right on a road, and the road has StreetView coverage.  So, ladies and gentlemen, I have a close-up picture of my exact landing spot.  I’ve marked it with the oval:


Wow!  I hope your excitement matches mine . . .

Here’s a broader GE shot:


Notice the landform jutting out into the bay, just SW of my landing.  It turns out that it’s Howard Beach State Park, which is an island that has been connected to the mainland by a causeway.  Here’s a GE close-up:


And here are a couple of shots of the beach:


I mentioned that there’s a “causeway” connecting the mainland to Howard Beach.  This is my opportunity to expound on the root of the word.  It comes from the Latin, with the same root as the word “caustic.”  Well, caustic is associated with a strong base (as opposed to a strong acid), like lye.  Limestone is also “basic:”  water in contact with limestone has a high pH (acid has a low pH);  lime applied to soil increases the soil pH.  Anyway, the Romans built roads across swamps made out of limestone.  Putting this all together, you can more-or-less at least get a feel for why a causeway is called a causeway.  Phew – that was harder than I thought . . .

Moving right along – you can see on my landing map and on the broader GE shot, there’s an island off the coast, west northwest of my landing – it’s called Anclote Key.  Here’s a lovely picture that makes me want to be there:


Moving on to Tarpon Springs:  From the Tarpon Springs C of C site:

For Tarpon Springs, the boom started in 1887 when railroad service to New York was initiated. Wealthy Northerners came to this popular destination and built beautiful Victorian mansions; established churches, schools and hotels; and started businesses. Because the waters surrounding this area were teeming with sponges, divers from Greece came here and soon developed a flourishing sponge industry. The many Greeks who migrated here also set up enticing restaurants, pastry shops, and markets giving the area a Mediterranean mystique.

From Wiki:

In 1905, John Cocoris introduced the technique of sponge diving to Tarpon Springs. Cocoris recruited Greek sponge divers from the Dodecanese Islands of Greece, in particular Kalymnos, Symi and Halki leading, by the 1930s, to a very productive sponge industry in Tarpon Springs, generating millions of dollars a year. The 1953 film Beneath the 12-Mile Reef, depicting sponge diving, takes place and was filmed in Tarpon Springs.

When a red tide algae bloom occurred in 1947, wiping out the sponge fields in that region of the Gulf of Mexico, most of the sponge boats and divers switched to fishing and shrimping for a livelihood. The city then converted most of its sponge-related activities, especially the warehouses where they were sold, into tourist attractions.

The Sponge Docks are now mostly shops, restaurants, and museums dedicated to the memory of Tarpon Springs’ earlier industry. Most sponges sold on the docks are now imports: relatively few sponges are harvested from the area, although attempts have been made in recent years to restart local sponge harvesting.

Led by local businessman George Billiris, in the late 1980s the sponge industry made a comeback and in the fall of 2007, a record harvest of sponges by a single boat was made.

Proud of their Greek heritage, the town decorates with Greek & US flags:


Here’s a shot of a sponge boat, with what I assume are locally-harvested sponges:


As mentioned above, there’s also a shrimping fleet in Tarpon Springs.  Here’s a shrimp boat:


Here’s a back-in-the-day shot of downtown Tarpon Springs:


I’ll close with a sunset shot over the Tarpon Springs harbor:


That’ll do it. . .

KS

Greg

© 2010 A Landing A Day

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Phenix, Virginia

Posted by graywacke on March 21, 2010

First timer?  In this formerly once-a-day blog (now pretty much an every-other-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 –  On a bit of a roll (and down into the 151s) with today’s landing in . . . VA; 14/26; 5/10; 2; 151.5.  My last three landings (TX, NM and VA) were in three of the top five USers (the other two being California & Florida).  Here’s my landing map:


And a broader view:


For the fourth time, I landed in the Roanoke R watershed.  The Roanoke dumps into the Atlantic  (320th hit for the big AO).

Here’s my GE shot, showing that I landed on the edge of a what appears to be a very well maintained farm:


Note the intersection of the two roads located just south-southeast of my landing (just past the little building at the bottom of the picture).  Here’s a Street View shot, looking north from that intersection past the building.  My landing would be out of sight, about 0.2 mi away.


The largest town in the vicinity of my landing is Phenix (pop about 200).  As one might expect, there’s not too much that could be found about Phenix, although they do have their own website:  WelcomeToPhenixVirginia.com.

There’s a kind of stream-of-consciousness write-up of the town’s history, which I think is great.  Here’s the intro:

The following is a brief history of the Town of Phenix that was written by long time resident Sara Gilliam with contributions from her well-known husband Ned Gilliam.  The history runs from the founding of Phenix until around the mid-1980s.

This is from the beginning part of Sara’s write-up:

Phenix was first a hog lot owned by Mr. S.C. Daniel in 1905.

[First town I’ve run across that started as a hog lot!]

In 1906, the Virginian railroad was being built, beginning in West Virginia and terminating at Norfolk, Virginia.  The rails were laid by Italians.

[No doubt about who built the railroad!]

Anticipating the railroad going through this section of Charlotte County, the land was bought by the Home Development Company.  This land contained a total of twenty-two hundred acres.

The post goes on to include discussions about the history of many homes & businesses.  The following caught my eye:

T.R. Ramsey, better known as Tommy, had a barber shop located first in the Charlotte Gazette building.  He later moved his shop by Canada’s store and was a barber there for many years.  His slogan said:

“To Phenix, to Phenix

To get a neat trim

Home again, home again

Wearing a pleased grin.”

Here’s another interesting paragraph:

One of the greatest enterprises of Phenix was a moving picture run by Mr. Alfred Fears.  This was at the time when all factories were operating and tobacco was selling at its best.  The picture was shown in the warehouse and, unfortunately, it was upside down.  People were sitting patiently waiting while Mr. Fears explained to them that he would soon have it fixed.

I’m a little confused as to exactly what it was that Mr. Fears was doing . . .

Here’s another:

Sleigh riding was a great sport in 1934 when snow and ice stayed on the ground for about two weeks and large crowds, young and old, enjoyed this recreation.  Records were played on the Victrola.  This was before radio days.  Possum hunting was a great sport; also young people would get together and go serenading.  Royal Harper played his guitar.

As Sara mentioned in the above history, tobacco was king around Phenix.  Here’s a picture of some old tobacco drying sheds taken nearby:


I wonder if the building in my earlier Street View picture is an old tobacco drying shed?  I think so.

That’ll do it. . .

KS

Greg

© 2010 A Landing A Day

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Bloomfield, New Mexico

Posted by graywacke on March 19, 2010

First timer?  In this formerly once-a-day blog (now pretty much an every-other-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 TX, I’m staying in the neighborhood (and a US neighborhood at that), with this landing in . . . NM; 66/75; 5/10; 1; 152.1.  Here’s my landing map, showing my proximity to Bloomfield and the San Juan River:


This was my 16th landing in the San Juan R watershed; on to the Colorado (149th hit).  Here’s a broader view:


Here’s my GE shot, showing an arid landscape:


While perusing GE, I noted a peculiar heavy dark line across the earth, north of my landing:


Here’s a close-up of the western end of the line, showing that it’s an aqueduct heading into (or out of) a tunnel:


Using Street View, I was able to get this look at the aqueduct, where it crosses under a road a few miles west of my landing:


I’ve done a little searching, and couldn’t find any info about the aqueduct . . .

Moving right along, to Bloomfield.  Well, I’m here to say that I could nothing about the history of Bloomfield, or anything of particular interest about Bloomfield.  It’s pretty big, with a population of about 6,000.  I’m sure it’s a fine community, but some local historians need to put some local information out there on the web . . .

What I could find was that there’s an Anasazi site (part of the Chaco complex) just west of Bloomfield known as the Salmon Ruins.  From FirstPeople.us, I’ve excerpted from an article by Lynne Escue:

UPDATE:  I’ve been asked by Lynne Escue to remove my excerpts, so I did.  I suggest that you go to the First People website to read her article:

http://www.firstpeople.us/articles/The-Salmon-Ruins/The-Salmon-Ruins.html

Here are some pictures of  the ruins:


I’ll close with this shot of the outlet of the Navajo Dam (which spans the San Juan River), located about 20 mi NE of my landing:

That’ll do it. . .

KS

Greg

© 2010 A Landing A Day

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San Perlita, Texas

Posted by graywacke on March 17, 2010

First timer?  In this formerly once-a-day blog (now pretty much an every-other-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 –  I was uncomfortable in the 153s, so, thanks to today’s landing, I’m back in the good ol’ (bad ol’?) 152s . . . TX; 133/164; 4/10; 6; 152.7.  Today’s landing was, geographically speaking, quite noteworthy.  I’ll start (as always) with my landing map, showing my proximity to San Perlita and Port Mansfield:


Because San Perlita’s a little closer to my landing; it got the top billing for this post.  I’ll step back a little, and you’ll have a clue as to the significance of this landing:


That’s the Mexican border just south of my landing (near Brownsville).  This landing becomes my southern-most landing in TX.  Of all my landings, only a handful of S FL landings are further south.  Here’s my landing distribution map – today’s landing is obvious!


Here’s the broadest view (although this is hardly necessary):


Here’s my GE shot, which shows a rather non-descript landscape, with a suspiciously turquoise (i.e., industry-related) water body:


Here’s a broader GE view, biased towards the coast.  What a strange landscape!!


Let me return to another landing map.  I was intrigued by the series of little islands heading out across the bay from Port Mansfield, labeled “Port Mansfield Channel”:


Here’s a GE shot of the channel.  Now it’s clear that the islands are what was dredged up when the channel was dug:


This history of Port Mansfield (from Lone Star Internet) sheds light on the channel:

Until 1948, the little-used highway from Raymondville to a little settlement called Redfish Bay on the shores of Laguna Madre was traveled by occasional fishermen going to deserted beaches.  No real community marked the road’s end at the water’s edge.  The people of Willacy County, employing own financing, set about creating a port.  They built wharves, docks, and a turning basin.  They laid out a town site and called it Port Mansfield.  The Ship channel completed in 1962, slicing across shallow Laguna Madre, through Padre Island ventures into the deep waters of the Gulf of Mexico.  Former “occasional” fishermen now have lots of company – sports editors rate Port Mansfield as one of the 10 best fishing spots in the nation!

I found a website dedicated to Texas coast aerial photos, with a ton of pictures of the Port Mansfield channel through the years.  I was going to lift a few of these pictures to insert into my blog, when I came across this warning:

High resolution digital copies of many of these photographs are available for sale.  These photographs are copyrighted and are the property of Richard L. Watson.  They may not be copied or used without permission.  You may however link to this website from your website or by email.

Well, that convinced me not to lift any photos!  Anyway, I enjoyed perusing the pictures, and you can too, if you click here.

Moving on to San Perlita – from TexasEscapes.com:

The area was a part of a Spanish land grant that the King Ranch acquired after proving in court that the terms of the grant hadn’t been met. The land became part of the state and the King Ranch obtained it shortly thereafter.

Henrietta King sold the land to developers and the town was laid out in 1926. Charles Johnson and H.G. Hecht were the town planners while Johnson’s wife, Pyrle planned the landscaping. Pyrle became the namesake of the town that is the self-proclaimed “Pearl of the Valley”.

The post office was established in 1929 and the railroad arrived a year later. In 1933 there were eighteen businesses operating in town, but by 1939 there were less than half that number.

Today there appears to be one open business and several well-kept building which date from the town’s founding.

The school is well-kept and the entire community as a whole is quite neat, despite the number of vacant lots.

I like the fact that “San Perlita” came from the name “Pyrle.”  Anyway, here’s a shot of an abandoned store.  It looks like the builders spared no expense . . .


Here’s a picture of a church that seems to be alive and well:


I’ll close with two shots from Port Mansfield.  First, a sunrise . . .


And then, this sunset (looking out the Port Mansfield Channel) . . .


That’ll do it. . .

KS

Greg

© 2010 A Landing A Day

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Currie, Nevada

Posted by graywacke on March 15, 2010

First timer?  In this formerly once-a-day blog (now pretty much an every-other-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 –  I landed out in the wide-open desert spaces of . . . NV; 73/67; 4/10; 5; 153.3.  Here’s my landing map, showing that I landed a few miles west of Rt 93, but near nothing of note:


Here’s an expanded view, showing my proximity to Tippett and Currie.  You can see a previous landing – it was my Tippett ALAD landing from July of 2009.

My earlier post was pretty much about how Tippett is a ghosttown.  So, I’ll feature Currie, which, surprise surprise, is pretty much a ghosttown.

But first, here’s my broader view:

And, my GE shot, which is a pretty cool looking landscape:


I’m right near a N-S drainage divide (easily seen on my close-in landing map, as well as on the photo above); a drop of water at my landing heads north, and then turns west.  In this oblique GE shot (looking SW), you can really see the divide, and follow the drainage off to the right, wrapping around the hills.  The water ends up in Goshute “Lake,” (3rd hit) which goes nowhere.


At the intersection of 93 & Alt 93 (see broader landing map, above) is Lages Station.  Here’s a StreetView shot of what you’ll find here:


Here’s a description of Lages Station (from Chrissy’s Flickr photostream):

Lages Station sits at the convergence of Hwy 93 and Alt Hwy 93 in Nevada. The town’s only building is a restaurant/gas station/motel/rv park/residence housing a family of three generations, a dog, chickens, peacocks, and rabbits, too, I was told.

Click here to check out Chrissy’s Lages Station photos.

Anyway, on to Currie, from Wiki:

Currie is a very small town located in Elko County, Nevada. Its population is around 20, and is often considered a ghost town.

The town is named after Joseph Currie, who started a ranch there in 1885.  Discovery of copper in the neighboring town of Ely prompted the building of a railroad from Ely to the Southern Pacific main-line, at Cobre, Nevada.  Currie is the mid-point between the two towns.  On March 22, 1906, the first passenger train from Cobre to Currie was operated.   Between 1906 and 1941, approximately 4.6 million people passed through Currie on rail.

[4.6 million??  Hard to believe!  I wonder where the author got that number . . .]

The Ely copper smelters were closed on June 20, 1983 and the railroad closed one day later.

The major portion of the town, the business district (20 acres), is owned by Glenn and Brenda Taylor, who now reside in Utah. It consists of Goshute Mercantile, the bar, adjoining house, cabins, RV park, garage, historic buildings, and corrals.  There is also the Northern Nevada Railroad depot and the Currie Elementary school.  The Tayor’s wish to sell their part of the town.

Here’s the town’s “For Sale” sign (Panoramio photo by gpsman):


Here’s Currie’s railroad depot (for sale):


Here’s the Currie Hotel back in the day:


And the Currie Hotel today (for sale):


And the Currie school (for sale).  You have to love the “School Zone” sign:


I’ll close with this shot looking south on one of the Rt 93s, with Lages Station in the middle distance:



That’ll do it. . .

KS

Greg

© 2010 A Landing A Day

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Prairie City, Oregon

Posted by graywacke on March 12, 2010

First timer?  In this formerly once-a-day blog (now pretty much an every-other-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 –  Still diddling around in the 152s with my latest OSer . . . OR; 68/60; 4/10; 4; 152.8.  Here’s my landing map, showing my proximity to Prairie City and the John Day River.


Here’s my broader view:


Obviously, I landed in the John Day R watershed (7th hit); on to the Columbia (132nd hit).  Quick quiz, Dan:  Where does the Columbia rank on my rivers hits list?  OK, OK, the first two are easy:  The Mighty Mississip (736), followed by the Missouri (345).  Now, is number 3 the Columbia?  Or the Colorado?  Or the Ohio?  And the answer is:  Colorado (148) followed by the Columbia (132) and then the Ohio (118).

Here’s my GE shot, looking past my landing towards the John Day River valley.


This, from the Prairie City town website:

In 1862 a group of gold miners camped along a stream, now called Dixie Creek. A gravel bed in the stream made a nice place for the women to wash clothes. As the story goes, these ladies began seeing gold in the gravel bar as they washed their clothing. Another “gold strike” in Grant County was made!

This gold discovery was about three and one half miles above the present location of the town of Prairie City, which was called Dixie.

As the gold began to “play out”, the town slowly began to migrate toward the “prairie”. The fertile John Day River bottom drew settlers to form a permanent town and these settlers began making their livings from the surrounding abundant timber and also by ranching and farming.

The first Post Office was established in 1870 and Prairie City was incorporated in 1891.

Here’s a picture of the former Prairie City train station (now a museum):


Sorry, Prairie City, but I couldn’t find an interesting hook.  However, you are located in a beautiful area, near the Strawberry Mountains (S of Prairie City, W of my landing).  Here’s Strawberry Lake:

And this shot, of the Strawberry Mountains:


I’ll close with this shot along Rt 26 just east of Prairie City, that reminds us all that this ain’t Jersey . . .


That’ll do it. . .

KS

Greg

© 2010 A Landing A Day

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Durant, Mississippi

Posted by graywacke on March 10, 2010

First timer?  In this formerly once-a-day blog (now pretty much an every-other-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 –  Finally, I broke away from the Northern Plains (and TX).  I landed deep in the heart of Delta Country, in . . . MS; 29/29; 4/10; 3; 152.4.  Notice that MS has ventured into PS-land.  Anyway here’s my landing map, showing my proximity to Durant:


Here’s my broader view:

Here’s my GE shot, showing a woodland setting:

I’ll back out just a little from my close-in landing map, to show my proximity to a previous landing:


This should look familiar to you (and other faithful ALAD readers); the nearby landing is my January 25, 2009 Pickens MS landing.

The main feature of that post was one Elmore James, a legendary slide guitar Delta blues player who was born in Richland, which is between Pickens & Durant.  In that 2009 post, I showed a picture of his tombstone, but I failed to mention that he was buried in Durant.  I’ve come full circle with Mr. James; I feel obliged to feature him once again.

But first, just a little about the town of Durant, from Wiki:

Durant is a city in Holmes County, Mississippi, United States. It was founded in 1858 as a station on the Mississippi Central Railroad, later part of the Illinois Central.  Durant was named for Louis Durant, a Choctaw chief, who had lived on a bluff just across the nearby Big Black River. The population was 2,932 at the 2000 census.

So, Louis Durant was a Choctaw chief, eh?  Could’ve fooled me!  You’ll note a reference to the Big Black River.  It is, in fact, the watershed in which I landed (5th hit, making the Big Black the 139th river on my list of rivers with five or more hits); on to the MM (736th hit).  In honor of the Big Black making the five-or-greater list, here’s a watershed map:


This little aside – you may recall my July 2009 Kosciusko MS post (where I featured Thadeus Kosciusko himself).  Anyway, check out this road sign (that I stumbled on looking at Street Views) right in downtown Durant.  FYI, Kosciusko’s about 17 mi E of Durant on Rt 12:

So, back to Elmore James.  Here’s a picture, followed by part of what I wrote back in January of 2009:



. . . like Como, this landing has a famous blues musician, one Elmore James.  Elmore was born in Richland, which is between Ebeneezer and Goodman.  He was born in Richland in 1918 and died of a heart attack in Chicago in 1963, at the age of 45.  I suspect he led a hard life.  Anyway, you can pick out his home town of Richland on the landing map.

Like Mississippi Fred, Elmore had a great influence on rock and roll musicians (and like Fred, Elmore was a slide guitar bluesman).  His songs were covered by the Allman Brothers and Jimi Hendrix, and he has been mentioned by the following artists as an inspiration to their music:  B.B. King, Eric Clapton, John Mayall and George Thorogood.

Click here to go to my Pickens post; I copied words to one of his songs (“It Hurts Me Too”) along with a link to hear Elmore singing.

Anyway, it turns out there’s a “juke joint” in Durant where James Elmore played back in ’52 (more about that later).  What’s a juke joint, you might ask.  From Wiki:

Juke joint (or jook joint) is the vernacular term for an informal establishment featuring music, dancing, gambling, and drinking, primarily operated by African American people in the southeastern United States.  The term “juke” is believed to derive from the Gullah word joog, meaning rowdy or disorderly. A juke joint may also be called a “barrelhouse”.

Classic juke joints found, for example, at rural crossroads, catered to the rural work force that began to emerge after the Civil War.  Plantation workers and sharecroppers needed a place to relax and socialize following a hard week, particularly since they were barred from most white establishments by Jim Crow laws.  Set up on the outskirts of town, often in ramshackle buildings or private houses, juke joints offered food, drink, dancing and gambling for weary workers. Owners made extra money selling groceries or moonshine to patrons, or providing cheap room and board.

So there’s a website all about Delta blues and juke joints:  “Junior’s Juke Joint,” at deltablues.net.  This graphic is from the website, as is the text below:

I’m a cultural anthropologist who lives in the Mississippi Delta, Louisiana side, and I spend lots of time in Delta juke joints. You’re about to take a trip inside the places where the blues began. I’m not talking about white people blues bars filled with college students. I’m talking about edge-of-a-cotton-field juke joints filled with real Delta folks.

If you’re in one of these places and you notice a tall white guy with a gray ponytail, that’s probably me.   Buy me a beer for directing you to such an awesome place.

He has descriptions of many juke joints, one of them being the Studio 51 in Durant:

While staying in Holmes County, I spent several days hunting for a still-standing juke joint (called Studio 51) that Elmore James played in. This is it.

Elmore James played his awesome slide guitar here in 1952 according to the mayor’s cousin who was there. In those days, it was known as “Ed Powell’s in the Alley.”

This juke joint and the alleys outside would have been wall-to-wall people that night.  Just the year before (1951), Elmore’s “Dust My Broom” reached the Top Ten R & B chart. Overnight, he was famous.

“Junior” goes on to describe the neighborhood, but then he focuses on his interactions with a barmaid . . .

I explained why I was there; in short, the mayor had sent me there because Elmore James had played there.

“Who’s Elmore James?”

I explained Elmore James. Then I asked, “You the owner?”

“Barmaid.”

“You got a Diet Coke®?”

“Ain’t got nothin’ but beer.”

I started asking questions about the place, questions which deepened her mistrust. She seemed to know only the name of the place and the name of its owner. I asked her, “Can you call the owner?”

“Ain’t got no telephone here.” She abruptly got up and soon disappeared behind the bar.

Junior finally got to speak with the female co-owner (her husband is the other co-owner):

In about 5 minutes, I looked up and there behind the bar sat the 60 something woman in the orange shirt, the co-owner, I soon discovered. I guess she entered through a back door. I left the table and took a seat at the bar, introducing myself as I sat.

I carefully explained who I was and what I did. “The mayor, Mr. Wiley,” I said, “sent me here because Elmore James played here.”

That statement broke the ice. “Elmore James played here? I didn’t know that. Who would-a thought? Wait ‘til I tell my husband. He’ll love it.”

She introduced herself then. Even the barmaid became friendly. I got permission and started taking photographs.

Here’s a shot of the interior:

Here’s more of the interior:  the corner of the joint where Elmore James would have set up and played.

Back to the website:

Here we are looking at the music on the jukebox [so that’s what Junior looks like . . .]

It contained 45 rpm vinyl records and operated on quarters only.  Here’s the cost of listening to music in the Studio 51:

1   song =   .25¢

3 songs =   .50¢

7 songs = $1.00

35 songs = $5.00

[Junior goes on to describe all of the cool old Delta music that’s on the jukebox]

I don’t blame the barmaid for mistrusting me at first.  Look at the situation from her point of view. 99.999% of the white people who unexpectedly stroll through the door of a juke joint pack a badge on their shirts or inside their wallets. The barmaid’s reaction was a perfectly normal reaction, one I have caused at least 100 times in the last couple of years.

If this white boy lived in Jackson, Mississippi, about 45 minutes down Interstate 55, about once a month on a Saturday afternoon you’d find me in the Studio 51. I’d have a couple of cool friends with me and a couple of rolls of quarters for that awesome jukebox. While the cold beer flowed and the music played, we’d enter a time warp–somewhere along about 1959.

When I read the term “juke joint,” I assumed that it was named after the word “jukebox.”  Wrong.  It’s the other way around . . .

Anyway, Junior has quite the website.  Click here for some interesting perusing.

Since I landed in Durant, and Elmore James’ grave is in Durant, I’ll close with this picture:

That’ll do it. . .

KS

Greg

© 2010 A Landing A Day

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Flaxville, Montana

Posted by graywacke on March 8, 2010

First timer?  In this formerly once-a-day blog (now pretty much an every-other-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 –  Six of my last 10 landings have been in the northern Great Plains; ND, MN, ND, KS, SD and now . . . MT; 108/89; 3/10; 2; 153.0.  Here’s my landing map, showing my proximity to Flaxville and some other small towns (although I don’t think that Madoc & Redstone would classify as “towns”):


Here’s a broader view, showing that I landed way the heck up there:


Here’s my GE shot, showing a mostly-agricultural patchwork:


Believe it or not, this was my 5th landing in the Big Muddy Creek watershed (practically making the Big Muddy a de facto river).  The Big Muddy flows to the Missouri (345th hit); on to the MM (735th hit).

I could find nothing on the history of Flaxville.  I assume it was thus named because flax was grown here.  Hmmmmm.  I don’t really know what flax is.  From Wiki:

Flax (also known as common flax or linseed) is native to the region extending from the eastern Mediterranean to India and was probably first domesticated in the Fertile Crescent.  Flax was extensively cultivated in ancient Ethiopia and ancient Egypt.  In a prehistoric cave in the Republic of Georgia dyed flax fibers have been found that date to 34,000 BC.

In addition to referring to the plant itself, the word “flax” may refer to the unspun fibers of the flax plant.

Flax is grown both for its seeds and for its fibers. Various parts of the plant have been used to make fabric, dye, paper, medicines, fishing nets, hair gels, and soap. It is also grown as an ornamental plant in gardens.

Flax seeds produce a vegetable oil known as flaxseed or linseed oil, which is one of the oldest commercial oils and solvent-processed flax seed oil has been used for centuries as a drying oil in painting and varnishing

Nutritionally, one tablespoon of ground flax seeds and three tablespoons of water may serve as a replacement for one egg in baking by binding the other ingredients together. Ground flax seeds can also be mixed in with oatmeal, yogurt or any other food item where a nutty flavor is appropriate. Flax seed sprouts are edible, with a slightly spicy flavor.

Here’s a picture of flax flowers:


Moving right along (and back to Flaxville):  Thanks to Brian’s 2006 motorcycle trip travel blog, I could get a pretty good look at Flaxville.  Brian (who’s from Palo Alto CA) has a cousin Karen and her husband Kip who have a big-time wheat farm 7 miles due south of Flaxville (about halfway between my landing and the town).

Click here for Brian’s blog.

I’ve lifted a few highlights:


This is the K-12 school in Flaxville, Montana.  It was shutdown this past year (the children get bussed an extra 12 miles to the larger town of Scobey).  Kip and his brothers attended this school, and Kip and Karen’s children also attended for several years.  At times one grade in this school might have had a single person in it, or up to 8 or 10 children in one grade.

Above are two homes for sale in Flaxville, Montana.  You can own the home on the left for $350, and the one on the right for $500, and then each year you would owe the government anther $80 or so in taxes to continue owning them.  That’s it.  No, that’s not a typo:  home ownership in the USA for $350 *TOTAL*.  Where I live in Palo Alto, California these homes would easily be worth over a million dollars each (to be torn down and build a new home on the spot).  In Palo Alto the owners might pay around $15,000 each year in taxes to continue owning it.

From Brian’s blog come the following pictures.  First, this broad landscape shot (in a grasslands area, not a wheat-growing area):


And this, of Brian’s motorcycle in downtown Flaxville:


Here’s a shot headed north into town.  Brian marked up the picture to show Kip’s grain elevators:


Here’s a shot of a storage yard for some of Kip’s farming equipment:


I got these pictures from Google Earth Panaramio, shot south of Flaxville; first this of wheat being harvested (this could be Kip’s wheat for all I know):


And this, of wheat being planted:


I’ll close with this shot of a sunset south of Flaxville:


That’ll do it. . .

KS

Greg

© 2010 A Landing A Day

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