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Archive for June, 2010

Abilene, Kansas

Posted by graywacke on June 28, 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 –  A mere 7 landings ago, I was poised at 150.2, ready for the big breakthrough to the 140s.  Then, (so predictably), I’ve hit way more OSers than USers.   In fact, today’s landing puts me at 1/7 . . . KS; 55/51; 4/10; 3; 152.0.  Here’s my landing map, showing my proximity to Talmage, Solomon & Abilene:


Here’s a broader view:


I landed in the Mud Ck watershed (my 23rd “Mud” or “Muddy” stream), on to the Smoky Hill R (16th hit); to the Kansas (55th hit); to the Missouri (351st hit); to the MM (747th hit).

Here’s my GE shot, showing a predictably agricultural setting:


Unfortunately, there’s no nearby StreetView.

I’ve decided to feature Abilene; it’s the largest town near my landing and it certainly has the most colorful history. From USCitiesOnLine.com:

The famous Chisholm Trail came to Abilene and helped to gain Abilene its reputation as the wickedest and wildest town in the west as the cowboys celebrated at the end of the trail.

Abilene was named by Eliza Hersey, the wife of Timothy Hersey, the founder of Abilene. She chose the name because it means city of the plains from Luke 3:1 in the New Testament. It began as a small stagecoach stop in 1857, but once discovered by the cattle traders it grew to a city of 3,000. Not only were there more people and houses, but also more saloons, night clubs, gambling houses and businesses. The stockyards here created a booming prairie town. Cattle arriving here were shipped east by train between 1867 and 1872. Everyone has heard of the famous lawmen, Tom Smith and Wild Bill Hickok who attempted to keep the peace in this town of riotous cowboys.

Former US President, Dwight D. Eisenhower was raised in Abilene, spending most of his boyhood here. He attended Elementary through High School in Abilene.

OK.  Here’s a little tidbit about Tom “Bear River” Smith.  Tom was the Marshal for Abilene when something very bad happened.  From Wiki:

In 1870, Smith and a deputy attempted to serve a warrant on two local farmers, Andrew McConnell and Moses Miles who were wanted in connection with the murder of another Abilene man, John Shea.  Smith located the suspects in a small settlement ten miles outside of Abilene. A gunfight erupted, in which Smith was badly wounded in the chest. Smith returned fire and wounded McConnell. His deputy fled the scene, and as Smith lay wounded, Moses Miles hit him with the butt of a rifle, then took an axe and decapitated him.

So, who takes Tom Smith’s place?  None other than Wild Bill Hickock.  From Wiki, this about his time in Abilene:

Hickock’s time as marshal was short lived. While holding off a crowd during a street brawl, gambler Phil Coe took two shots at Hickock, who returned fire killing Coe, but then accidentally shot his friend and deputy, Mike Williams, who was coming to his aid. He lost his job two months later in December.

So, ol’ Wild Bill had some encounters with one John Wesley Hardin.  From Wiki:

In Abilene, Kansas, Hardin again met Wild Bill Hickok, at the time the cattle town’s reining peace officer. Hickok took an indulgent attitude toward the young Hardin. He drank with Hardin and gave him advice. Hickock allowed Hardin to carry his pistols in Abilene, something Hickok never allowed others to do. For his part, Hardin was fascinated by Wild Bill and reveled at being seen on intimate terms with such a celebrated gunfighter.

At the American House Hotel, where Hardin had put up for the night, it is alleged that he began firing bullets through a bedroom wall and the ceiling above him, simply to stop the snoring of a stranger in the next room. The first bullet merely woke the man; the second killed him. Remorseful, and in the silence, Hardin realized that he was about to get into deep trouble with Wild Bill. Still in his undershirt, he exited through a window and ran onto the roof of the hotel portico—just in time to see Hickok arriving with four policemen, having been alerted by other guests. “I believe,” Hardin said later, “that if Wild Bill found me in a defenseless condition, he would take no explanation, but would kill me to add to his reputation”.

Not seen by Hickock, Hardin leaped from the roof into the street and hid in a haystack for the rest of the night. Toward dawn he stole a horse and made his way back to the cow camp outside town. The next day he left for Texas, never to return to Abilene. In his autobiography, Hardin said, “They tell lots of lies about me,” he complained. “They say I killed six or seven men for snoring. Well, it ain’t true, I only killed one man for snoring”.

Mr. Hardin had quite the life (and death).  He was eventually captured and sent to prison, and got out on good behavior after serving 16 years of a 25-year sentence (although he was on parole).  Wiki picks up the story:

Soon after being released from prison in 1894, he was pardoned and passed the state’s bar examination, obtaining his license to practice law.  A brief, failed marriage prompted Hardin to move west, specifically to El Paso.  If Hardin was looking for a new start, he didn’t find it in El Paso.

El Paso lawman John Selman, Jr., arrested Hardin’s girlfriend, the widow M’Rose, for “brandishing a gun in public.” Hardin confronted Selman, and the two men had a verbal dispute. On being told of the argument, John’s 56-year-old father, John Selman, Sr., a constable, approached Hardin on the afternoon of August 19, 1895 and the two men exchanged words. Later that night, Hardin went to the Acme Saloon, where he began playing dice. Shortly before midnight Selman, Sr. walked in and saw Hardin with his back to him, and shot him in the back of the head, killing him instantly. As Hardin’s body lay on the floor, Selman, Sr. fired three more shots into him.

Selman, Sr. was arrested for the murder and stood trial where he claimed he had fired in self defense. A hung jury resulted in his being released on bond. However, Selman, Sr. was killed in a shootout on April 6, 1896 by US Marshal George Scarborough. Selman, Sr. and Scarborough had been playing cards and got into an argument. Both exited to the alley and shot it out, after which Scarborough returned alone.

Scarborough was arrested for murder as no gun was found on Selman, Sr. However, just before his trial a thief was arrested and it was discovered he had Selman’s gun. He stated he had seen the shooting and stolen the gun before the crowd arrived. Scarborough was then released.

On April 5, 1900, four years after he shot John Selman, Scarborough was mortally wounded in a gunfight with two robbers.

Of the three characters I featured in this post, Tom Smith is far and away the most admirable.  In fact, it turns out that Abilene’s own Dwight Eisenhower was an admirer of Tom Smith.  This from the “Kansas Collection” website (www.kancoll.org):

Years later, Dwight David Eisenhower held the memory of Tom “Bear River” Smith in much higher esteem than that of “Wild Bill” Hickok.  He considered Smith to be a personal hero, describing him in this manner:

“According to the legends of my hometown he was

anything but dull.  While he almost never carried a

pistol he…subdued the lawless by the force of his

personality and his tremendous capability as an

athlete.  One blow of his fist was apparently enough

to knock out the ordinary ‘tough’ cowboy.  He was

murdered by treachery.”

Throughout his own celebrated lifetime, Eisenhower reportedly visited Smith’s grave at least once during every return to the town he loved most. During the 8-year period when Ike was the nation’s chief executive, he visited the Abilene cemetery on three separate occasions: in 1954, 1958, and 1959. The admired leader who headed the Allied forces to a WWII victory as a great general of the army, and demonstrated integrity as a decent and honest two-term president of his country, took inspiration from reading these simple earnest words:

THOMAS J. SMITH
Marshall of Abilene, 1870,
Died, a Martyr to Duty, Nov. 2, 1870.
A Fearless Hero of Frontier Days
Who in Cowboy Chaos
Established the Supremacy of Law.

I’ll close with this shot of Dwight playing football in Abilene.  He’s second from the right (in a tie????):


That’ll do it. . .

KS

Greg

© 2010 A Landing A Day

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Silverdale, Washington

Posted by graywacke on June 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, I’m hanging out in the OS Northwest, moving from OR to . . . WA; 47/44; 4/10; 2; 151.5.  Here’s my landing map, showing that I landed in a geographically unique area (hmm, looks like Puget Sound, eh?):


Stepping back a little, you can see that in fact I did land near the Sound & Seattle.  Today’s landing is north of Silverdale (the other landing is from January 2006):


Here’s the broadest view:


For the second straight landing, I landed in the watershed of a Clear Ck.  Today, though, Clear Ck flows into Puget Sound (my 8th Puget Sound landing).  My last landing’s Clear Ck flowed (as you no doubt remember) into the Stinkingwater Ck.

Here’s my GE shot, showing that I landed in quite the upscale neighborhood:


The condos to the north seem modest enough, but the single family homes look rather swanky.

Here’s an oblique GE shot looking west across the Hood “Canal” towards the Olympic Mountains:


I landed in Kitsap County, which is physiographically the Kitsap Peninsula.  From VisitKitsap.com:

In January 1857, local mill owners sent representatives to the Territorial Legislature with the mandate to “bring home a new county.” A bill was introduced to create “Madison” County . The bill passed with an amendment to change the name to “Slaughter” County in honor of a young lieutenant who had been killed during a Native American uprising.

In July 1857, the citizens of Slaughter County voted to change the name to Kitsap, a Native American word meaning good and brave. Ironically, it was Chief Kitsap and his band that killed Lt. William Slaughter.

Wow.  Did you catch that?  The county naming history is ironic (on more than one level).  First, there’s Lieutenant’s Slaughter’s name – one could argue that he was “slaughtered.”  But then, it’s wild that Slaughter County was changed to honor Chief Kitsap, the very guy who killed Slaughter!

Here’s a picture of the Lieutenant and his wife:

At the risk of sounding sexist, it looks to me like the Mrs. could use a makeover . . .

Hmmmm . . . a little more research shows that the above account is not necessarily taken as gospel.  From another Kitsap County site (kitsapfamily.com), Chief Kitsap is put in a much more favorable light:

The county name was changed by means of a general election on July 13, 1857. There was a general dislike of the name “Slaughter” thus it did not appear on the ballot. Some of the choices were; Madison, Mill, and Kitsap. The name Kitsap was chosen, in honor of an admirable Native American Chief who graciously received Captain George Vancouver during his early exploration of this area. “Kitsap” means brave or good, according to tribal legend.

Enough about the name, but I found one more piece of information about Chief Kitsap.  Check this out (from skagitriverjournal.com):

Chief Kitsap had ruled over his tribe for more than six decades and they respected and maybe feared him as a shaman and medicine man. But the tribe turned on him on April 18, 1860, after he administered a new “red magic medicine” to three of his tribe and they soon died. Relatives of the dead swore vengeance, and shot Kitsap and hacked him into pieces.

So, I landed in the unincorporated “town” of Silverdale, pop. About 16,000.  I couldn’t much of particular interest (and neither could the writers of the Wiki article).  Speaking of the Wiki article, here’s an example of how Wiki can be a little less than academic.  Under the section “Commerce” is the following:

Silverdale is a thriving retail center with many businesses in and surrounding Kitsap Mall. There is also a Costco Wholesale Center, located in the Silverdale area, as well as Best Buy, Target, and TJ-Max. Various other small businesses are quite popular.

Here are a couple of pictures of the Silverdale shoreline (on Dyes Inlet):


And of course, I have to have a shot looking at my favorite mountain, Mt. Rainier:


I found a site that features Dale Ireland’s Webcam.  It has a cool feature, where you get to see a 6-hr time-lapse shot over the water, looking west towards the Olympic Mountains.  When I looked, it showed six hours of low clouds (the the movement was still cool).  Click here for Dale’s webcam.  The website has this wonderful shot showing what the webcam sees on a crystal clear day:

I’ll close with this sunset shot from Silverdale:


That’ll do it. . .

KS

Greg

© 2010 A Landing A Day

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Burns and Juntura, Oregon

Posted by graywacke on June 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 –  After a southeastern USer (NC), let me take a diagonal all the way across the country to a northwest OSer . . . OR; 71/61; 4/10; 1; 151.0.  Here’s my landing map, showing my proximity to many small towns (including Juntura) and Burns, a somewhat larger town:


Here’s a broader view:


I landed in the watershed of Clear Ck (my 18th watershed name with “clear” in it; more specifically, my 10th “Clear Ck”); on to the Stinkingwater Ck (my 26th “Blank-Water” stream or river); on to the Malheur R (4th hit); to the Snake R (69th hit); to the Columbia (136th hit).

My “Blank-Water” names include Stillwater, Badwater, Clearwater, Runningwater, Sweetwater, Coldwater, Freshwater, Blackwater, Redwater, Bitterwater, Whitewater, Saltwater, Fallingwater, and, yes, Stinkingwater.

This area is very arid (averaging only something like 11 inches/year of rain).  Any water that hangs around is like to stink a little . . .

Speaking of arid, check out my GE shot:

The word “hardscrabble” came into my head when I looked at this broader GE view:


Although this was my fourth landing in the Malheur R watershed, it’s my first since ALAD.  Here’s a little history about the Malheur from Wiki:

The name of the river is derived from the French for “misfortune.”  The name was attached to the river by French Canadian trappers.  Their misfortune was that some beaver furs they had cached there were discovered and stolen by Indians.

[Seems like a pretty lame reason to burden an entire river with such a negative name, eh?]

The name first appears in the record in 1826 when Peter Skene Ogden, a fur trapper with the Hudson’s Bay Company, referred to it as “River au Malheur” and thereafter as “Unfortunate River.”  The river lived up to its name a second time in 1845, when mountain man Stephen Meek, seeking a faster route along the Oregon Trail, led a migrant party up the river valley into the high desert along a route that has since become known as the Meek Cutoff.  After leaving the river valley the party was unable to find a water supply and lost 23 people by the time they reached the Columbia River.

Here’s a shot of the Malheur in Harney County (the very county in which I landed):


So, Burns is the largest town in the area.  From Wiki:

Burns was established in the early 1880s and incorporated upon Harney county’s creation in 1889. It was named for the Scottish poet Robert Burns by early settler and County Commissioner George McGowan.

So, what about Robert Burns?  I must confess that my knowledge is minimal.  I guess I knew he was a Scottish poet, but that’s about it.  From Wiki:


Robert Burns (25 January 1759 – 21 July 1796) was a Scottish poet and a lyricist. He is widely regarded as the national poet of Scotland, and is celebrated worldwide. He is the best known of the poets who have written in the Scots language, although much of his writing is also in English with a “light” Scots dialect, accessible to an audience beyond Scotland. He also wrote in standard English, and in these pieces, his political or civil commentary is often at its most blunt.

He is regarded as a pioneer of the Romantic movement and after his death became a great source of inspiration to the founders of both liberalism and socialism. A cultural icon in Scotland and among the Scottish Diaspora around the world, celebration of his life and work became almost a national charismatic cult during the 19th and 20th centuries, and his influence has long been strong on Scottish literature.

In 2009 he was voted by the Scottish public as being the Greatest Scot, through a vote run by Scottish television channel STV.

His poem (and song) Auld Lang Syne is often sung at Hogmanay (the last day of the year), and Scots Wha Hae [which, unspectacularly, means “Scots Who Have”] served for a long time as an unofficial national anthem of the country.  Other poems and songs of Burns that remain well-known across the world today include A Red, Red Rose; A Man’s A Man for A’ That; To a Louse; To a Mouse; The Battle of Sherramuir; Tam o’ Shanter, and Ae Fond Kiss.

There you have it.  Did you know he wrote Auld Lang Syne?  I didn’t.  From Wiki:

Auld Lang Syne” is a Scots poem written by Robert Burns in 1788 and set to the tune of a traditional folk song.  It is well known in many English-speaking (and other) countries and is often sung to celebrate the start of the New Year at the stroke of midnight. By extension, its use has also become common at funerals, graduations, and as a farewell or ending to other occasions.

The song’s Scots title may be translated into English literally as “old long since”, or more idiomatically, “long long ago,” “days gone by” or “old times”.

Consequently “For auld lang syne”, as it appears in the first line of the chorus, is loosely translated as “for (the sake of) old times”.

The other town that got top billing in this post is Juntura.  What I found of interest is the Juntura Hot Spring.  The existence of a hot spring is no big deal; there are hundreds of them throughout the west (and I have discussed many hot springs in this blog).  However, it’s the location of this hot spring that really caught my attention.  It’s on an island in the Malheur River!  Here’s a GE shot – you can see the island with the hot spring out at the end of the big river meander:

Here’s a closeup, so you can see the actual hotspring:

As a geologist (and a geologist who specializes in groundwater at that), I am very aware that groundwater flows into streams and rivers (after all, that’s why streams keep on flowing for months and months even when it doesn’t rain much).  My guess is that here near Juntura, groundwater passes near a geologic hot spot on its way to flowing up into the river.  I guess that some of this water flows directly into the river, but the heat is quickly dissapated by the flow of all of the cold river water.  But for a reason unknown to me, some of this upwelling water ends up in this little pond on this little island.  Anyway, it’s very cool.  (OK, OK, so it’s very warm . . .)  It makes me think that there are probably many areas where warm groundwater discharges into rivers, but nobody knows, because it doesn’t warm the river enough for anyone to notice.

Here’s a picture of some guy enjoying a soothing soak:


Moving right along . . . Malheur Lake is shown near the southern edge of my landing map.  It’s an internally-drained lake, fed primarily by the Donner Und Blizten River, which flows into it from the south.  For those of you who, like me, don’t speak German, “Donner Und Blitzen” means “Thunder & Lightening!”  All of these years with Rudolph’s buddies, and I never knew what that meant!

Anyway, I’ll close with this Michael Axel photograph (at leicaglow.com) of Malheur Lake:


That’ll do it. . .

KS

Greg

© 2010 A Landing A Day

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Warsaw and Rose Hill, North Carolina

Posted by graywacke on June 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 –  I landed in a state that I’ve come to think of as a solid OSer, but which, stealthily, has crept to US-land.  The state . . . NC; 32/33; 5/10; 4; 150.6.  Here’s my landing map, showing my proximity to a bunch of small towns:


I ended up selecting Warsaw & Rose Hill for the title of this post because those are the two towns I feature a little later.

Here’s a broader view:


I landed in the watershed of a stream with an outstanding name:  the Quewhiffle Creek; on to the Six Runs Creek (named after a baseball game?); on to a new river, the Black (my 10th Black River!); on to Cape Fear River (9th hit); on to the AO.

Here’s my GE shot, showing that I landed right on the edge of a farm field (although the area looks much more wooded than agricultural).  By the way, that’s a large elementary school to the southwest (more about that later):


Fortunately, there was StreetView coverage for the road next to my landing, so, of course, here’s the shot looking towards the school, with my landing about 75 away:


It turns out that the school is the Union Elementary School:


The school’s out in the boonies, but it’s big (more than 700 students in K-3).  It must have quite the regional draw.

Moving right along – I’ve checked out the various towns around (Clinton, Turkey, Warsaw, Magnolia, Rose Hill), and can’t find much of great interest.  Here’s a little something about how Warsaw got it’s name (from the town’s website):

In 1838, the present day town of Warsaw was laid out into lots along a new rail line that ran from Wilmington to Weldon, North Carolina.  The area was then know as Duplin Depot, but the name was shortly thereafter changed to Mooresville.  During the same year, a merchant named Thaddeus Love moved to town to be the stationmaster of the Duplin Depot.  At the time, a biography of a Polish national  hero, Tadeusz Kosciuszko, was extremely popular.  The Joane Porter book, entitled Thaddeus of Warsaw, furnished Thaddeus Love a catchy nickname. In fact, Love’s nickname was so appealing, that by 1847, the community was already known in legal circles as “Warsaw Depot.” When the town was incorporated in 1855, the community was officially designated as Warsaw

So let me get this straight.  A guy named Thaddeus Love was the local stationmaster.  Coincidentally, Tadeusz (aka Thaddeus) Kosciuszko was capturing the American imagination.  So, I guess Joane Porter’s book, “Thaddeus of Warsaw,” was locally popular, and someone or other gave Thaddeus Love the nickname “Warsaw.”  Somehow, this nickname ended up as the name of the town.  Phew.  This story doesn’t really hang together well at all, but it is what it is.

The only other item of interest I could find involves Rose Hill.  Amazingly, Rose Hill lays claim to the home of “The World’s Largest Frying Pan.”


Here’s a close-up (which doesn’t look much like a frying pan) along with a short write-up:


It was built in 1963 and is still used for festivals and other events. It weighs 2 tons and uses 200 gallons of cooking oil.

I’ll close with this shot of a contender for the title of World’s Largest Frying Pan, this one in  Long Beach WA.  This frying pan is much more photogenic than Rose Hill’s . . .


It turns out, that as I was typing this post, I have house guests (Mike & Laura) who just relocated back East after spending 5 years in Seattle.  I casually mentioned to them that I posted a picture of a guy in a bacon suit from Washington.  Laura immediately said “it must be a Bacon Salt suit; I’ve seen them in Seattle.”  Well, it turns out that this is indeed a “Bacon Salt Suit”.   “Bacon Salt” includes a family of vegetarian bacon-flavored seasonings, with the catchy logo “Everything Should Taste Like Bacon:”

That’ll do it. . .

KS

Greg

© 2010 A Landing A Day

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Baker, Nevada

Posted by graywacke on June 16, 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 –  What the heck.  One good OSer deserves another . . . NV; 74/68; 5/10; 3; 151.2.  Here’s my landing map, showing my proximity to the UT/NV border, the town of Baker, and (further west), the Great Basin National Park:


My watershed entry is rather understated:  ut; Baker Ck; Internal. Water from the vicinity of my landing drains to the southeast under Route 6 (which, as we will later learn, is better known as Route 50, the Loneliest Road in America).

Here’s a broader view:


My GE shot shows a vague desert scene:


The road south of my landing is US Route 6 / Route 50.  Note the arroyo, or ditch or whatever you want to call it that cross the road.  That’s the southeast-trending drainage I spoke of earlier.  Here’s a StreetView shot, looking north towards my landing (about 200 feet away), from where the drainage feature crosses the road:


Here’s a road sign from near the NV/UT border, which shows one of the reason the road across NV is called the Loneliest Road in America:

Here’s an oblique GE shot looking SW towards Great Basin National Park, which contains mountain peaks over 10,000 feet above sea level:


So, what about the town of Baker?  The only historical information I can find is that the town was named after a Mr. Baker who was a local rancher back in the late 19th century.  Here’s a StreetView shot from downtown Baker, looking west towards the National Park:


Here’s some info about Baker from Wiki:

The town is the home of  The School of Natural Order, which follows the teachings of Vitvan.  The Long Now Foundation has recently purchased land near the town in order to construct Clock of the Long Now, a timepiece that will operate with minimum human intervention for ten millennia.

Now hold on a second.  Baker, with a population of less than 400, is associated with what sounds like two very esoteric groups?  This requires a little research.  First, the School of Natural Order and the teachings of Vitvan.  I took the following from Terrain.org, a travelogue called “The Loneliest Road in America,” by David Robertson.  (Route 6/50, of course).   David ends up at “Home Farm,” the headquarters of the School of Natural Order.  He recounts a conversation he had with Val Taylor from Home Farm.  Here’s an excerpt, with Val speaking:

Val: Home Farm is the headquarters of the School of the Natural Order.  The School was founded many years ago by Vitvan, which means “One Who Knows” in Sanskrit.  His English name was Ralph Moriarty deBit, a Methodist raised Kansas farm boy who was drawn to the west.  Somewhere in Oregon in the ’20s he went to a lecture by an East Indian named Mozumdar, who came down the aisle and said to him, “I’ve been waiting for you.  I’ve been sent to find an American to work with.”  deBit went through a seven year cycle of study with Mozumdar, who gave him the name of Vitvan.

The primary purpose of the School is the publication and distribution of Vitvan’s books and lesson courses.  We have over 200 hours of lectures, most of which have been transcribed into lesson course form.  We do no advertising and no proselytizing.

Here’s a picture of Vitvan:

I’m having trouble summarizing Vitvan’s philosophy in a light, quick way that’s appropriate to the tenor of a typical ALAD post.  Vitvan is a Gnostic (I think), with a holistic world-view.  To learn more, here’s the School’s website:  www.sno.org.

Moving along to the Long Now Foundation.  As it turns out, the Long Now Foundation has selected none other than Baker NV as the their site for the Clock of the Long Now.  Wow – from Vitvan to the Clock of the Long Now.   From LongNow.org:

About Long Now

The Long Now Foundation was established in 01996 to develop the Clock and Library projects , as well as to become the seed of a very long-term cultural institution.  The Long Now Foundation hopes to provide counterpoint to today’s “faster/cheaper” mind set and promote “slower/better” thinking. We hope to creatively foster responsibility in the framework of the next 10,000 years.

Civilization is revving itself into a pathologically short attention span. The trend might be coming from the acceleration of technology, the short-horizon perspective of market-driven economics, the next-election perspective of democracies, or the distractions of personal multi-tasking.  All are on the increase.  Some sort of balancing corrective to the short-sightedness is needed – some mechanism or myth which encourages the long view and the taking of long-term responsibility, where ‘long-term’ is measured at least in centuries.  Long Now proposes both a mechanism and a myth.  It began with an observation and idea by computer scientist Daniel Hillis :

“When I was a child, people used to talk about what would happen by the year 02000. For the next thirty years they kept talking about what would happen by the year 02000, and now no one mentions a future date at all.  The future has been shrinking by one year per year for my entire life.  I think it is time for us to start a long-term project that gets people thinking past the mental barrier of an ever-shortening future.  I would like to propose a large (think Stonehenge) mechanical clock, powered by seasonal temperature changes.  It ticks once a year, bongs once a century, and the cuckoo comes out every millennium.”

Such a clock, if sufficiently impressive and well-engineered, would embody deep time for people.  It should be charismatic to visit, interesting to think about, and famous enough to become iconic in the public discourse.  Ideally, it would do for thinking about time what the photographs of Earth from space have done for thinking about the environment.  Such icons reframe the way people think.

In 01999, Long Now purchased part of a mountain in eastern Nevada [west of Baker] whose high white limestone cliffs may make an ideal site for the ultimate 10,000-year Clock.  In the meantime, Hillis and Alexander Rose continue to experiment with ever-larger prototype Clocks.

Here’s a shot of one of the smaller prototype clocks:

Phew.  Very interesting place, this Baker Nevada.  I’ll close with a photo album of the mountains west of town (from Panaramio):

I’ll close with this view from Baker:


No doubt about it.  A visit to Baker would be well worth the trip.

That’ll do it. . .

KS

Greg

© 2010 A Landing A Day

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Bayard, Nebraska

Posted by graywacke on June 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 –  Seemingly inevitably, with 150 but one USer away, along comes the requisite OSer . . . NE; 54/48; 5/10; 2; 150.7.   Here’s my landing map, showing my proximity to Perrin (not really a town), and Bayard (really a town). Note also my proximity to Chimney Rock (south of Bayard) and the North Platte R (also south of Bayard):


Here’s a broader view:


I landed in the watershed of Red Willow Ck (the 16th stream name with “Red” in it) and the 24th stream name with “Willow” in it.)   The Red Willow flows to the N Platte R (24th hit); on to the Platte (54th hit) on to the MM (746th hit); on to the Missouri (350th hit); on to the MM (746th hit).

Here’s my GE map, showing that I landed right along a road on the edge of a farm field.

Unfortunately, there’s no Street View coverage along this road; I had to settle on this shot, looking south from the intersection that’s about a half mile north of my landing (northwest of the big irrigation circle):


Moving on to Bayard.  This is from the town’s website (cityofbayard.net):

The original town of Bayard was established in July of 1888 and was located about one mile west of the present site.  The name was supplied by Millard and Jap Senteny from Bayard, Iowa, who had bought some land out here and thought that Bayard would be a good name.  In 1890 the town was moved to the present site and some new buildings were erected and the town was incorporated on November 13, 1890.

Bayard, Nebraska is in the heart of the area once called “The Great American Desert” by Major Long.  Major Long reported the area would only be good as range for buffaloes, wild goats, and other wild game.  He also thought it would serve as a barrier to prevent too great of an expansion of population westward.

[Quite the visionary, that Major Long . . .]

Bayard’s most famous attraction is Chimney Rock, which is located 3½  miles south of the town.  Chimney Rock is one of the famous landmarks of the Oregon Trail.  In 1956, Chimney Rock was designated a national historic site by the federal Government.

So, I guess I need to check out this “Major Long.”  From Wiki:


Stephen Harriman Long (December 30, 1784 – September 4, 1864) was a U.S. engineer, explorer, and military officer.  As an inventor, he is noted for his developments in the design of steam locomotives. As an Army officer, he led a pioneering scientific expedition throughout a large area of the Great Plains, which he famously described as the “Great American Desert“.

Later in the Wiki article is the following:

On October 14, 1820, 400 Omaha assembled at a meeting with Long; Chief Big Elk made the following speech:

“Here I am, my Father; all these young people you see around here are yours; although they are poor and little, yet they are your children. All my nation loves the whites and always have loved them. Some think, my Father, that you have brought all these soldiers here to take our land from us but I do not believe it. For although I am a poor simple Indian, I know that this land will not suit your farmers. If I even thought your hearts bad enough to take this land, I would not fear it, as I know there is not wood enough on it for the use of the white.”

It seems as though every time I bump into old Native American stories, I’m blown away by the stark reality and complexities of the times . . .

Anyway, moving on to Chimney Rock.   From Wiki:

Chimney Rock is a famous, prominent geological rock formation in western Nebraska, rising nearly 300 feet above the surrounding North Platte River valley.  During the middle 19th century it served as a landmark along the Oregon Trail, the California Trail, and the Mormon Trail, which ran along the north side of the rock.  It is visible for many miles from the east along U.S. Route 26.

The pillar consists primarily of hardened clay interlayered with volcanic ash and sandstone. The harder sandstone layers near the top have protected the pillar since it broke away from the retreating cliff line to the south.

Here’s a shot of Chimney Rock, showing the rock formation which has “retreated” from the Chimney:


From NebraskaHistory.org:

Gloom and doom predictions have always accompanied descriptions of Chimney Rock. Erosion created it; erosion will undoubtedly destroy it.  No one knows how much time will pass before the spire disappears.

You make the call.  Here is visual evidence – a trail-era drawing, old photographs, a recent snapshot, the rock itself – from which you can decide.

“It is the opinion of Mr. Bridger that it was reduced to its present height by lightning, or some other sudden catastrophe, as he found it broken on his return from one of his trips to St. Louis, though he had passed it uninjured on his way down”.

As told to Howard Stansbury in 1849 by mountain man Jim Bridger.

Frederick Piercy, who drew this view, saw Chimney Rock in 1853.  He portrayed its column as tall and rectangular:

In 1929 Emil Kopac of Oshkosh, Nebraska, captured Chimney Rock from the north side as did Piercy.
The rock appeared more pointed, less like a chimney:

Here’s a  photo, also from the 1920’s:

Though covered by concrete, the sodhouse had fallen into ruin by 1977.  Note that the spire is shorter:

The Nebraska State Quarter features Chimney Rock:


I’ll close with this Nat Geo sunset shot of (what else?) . . . the Chimney:


That’ll do it. . .

KS

Greg

© 2010 A Landing A Day

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Wagon Mound, New Mexico

Posted by graywacke on June 9, 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 –  Here we go again.  The elusive 150 is right around the corner due to my third USer in the last four landings . . . NM; 68/76; 5/10; 1; 150.2.  Here’s my landing map, which would lead you to believe that this post features Ojo Feliz and/or Ocate:


Well, Ojo Feliz and Ocate are not really towns; but what is a town for some reason doesn’t show up labeled as such on my StreetAtlas map.  However, off to the east of my landing, at the intersection of I-25 & Route 120 is the town of Wagon Mound.  Here’s a closer view, where, magically, the name shows up:


Here’s a broader view:


For the third consecutive landing, I landed in the watershed of a new river, the Mora; on to the Canadian (37th hit); on to the Arkansas (103rd hit); on to the MM (745th hit).  By the way, the last time I had three landings in a row with a new river watershed was back in December of last year.

More locally, I landed in the Wolf Creek watershed, my 11th watershed with the name “Wolf” in it.  I have eight Wolf Creeks, one Wolf Pit Branch, one Yellow Wolf Creek, and one Wolf Run.

I must admit that I had a little problem with my watersheds.  Technically, I probably should have called this landing “ut; internal.”  Here’s my stream map:


As you can see, my landing would drain into the Laguna Salada, which doesn’t go anywhere.  But Wolf Creek is very close by, so I figured if it rained hard enough, the Laguna Salada would overflow into Wolf Creek.  OK – I’ll admit it – I’m biased against “internal” landings (for reasons I can’t quite figure out).

By the way, Laguna Salada is Spanish for “Salty Lagoon,” which is a good name for a pond that doesn’t drain.

Anyway, here’s my GE shot, with clearly shows the Laguna Salada:


Southeast of my landing are the Turkey Mountains.  Here’s an oblique shot looking past my landing towards the Turkeys:


Before turning my attention to Wagon Mound, let me show you a water “landing” that occurred just before this NM landing.  Of course, as all of you knowledgeable readers know, very frequently, I land outside the lower 48 (i.e., in water or in Canada or Mexico).  I dutifully record where I landed and then simply re-fire my random lat/long program until I land in the lower 48.

Anyway, here’s a map showing my water landing:


I landed just off some oily Louisiana wetlands (a little more than a mile offshore), which, of course are oily thanks to BP, TransOcean & Halliburton.  Here’s a broader view:


So, moving right along to Wagon Mound.  This is from a State of New Mexico website:

The village that is now Wagon Mound was first settled in the early 1860s by pobladores (settlers) trekking across the Sangre De Cristo Mountains from the West. These sojourners were seeking lands to settle and a place to raise their families. Santa Fe Trail pioneers in the mid-1860s were also on the move, coming from the war torn eastern United States and looking for a new beginning in the West.

After crossing the Raton Pass, the settlers observed in the distance a giant volcanic rock which resembled a Conestoga wagon. As they approached the rock they noticed the lush green grass and abundant water supply in the area. They adopted the name Wagon Mound for the region which became a rest stop for travelers along the Santa Fe Trail. Today, Wagon Mound is known as the greatest of the many landmarks on the Santa Fe Trail.

Here’s a picture of Wagon Mound from the town’s website:


Here’s a back-in-the-day shot of the town & Mound:

Here’s another back-in-the-day shot, showing someone riding a buffalo with the Mound in the background:


I’ll close with this shot by David Plowden (davidplowden.com), a professional photographer who captures small towns, rural America, railroads, bridges, boats, industries and “wasteland”, all in black and white.  I perused his website, and really enjoyed it.


That’ll do it. . .

KS

Greg

© 2010 A Landing A Day

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Groom, Texas

Posted by graywacke on June 7, 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 –  Just two landings ago, I landed near Shiner TX.  After a brief journey back East, here I am back in the heart of . . . well, actually, back in the heart of the panhandle of . . . TX; 135/166; 4/10; 5; 150.8.  Here’s my landing map, showing my proximity to Groom:


Here’s a broader view, showing my previously-mentioned heart of the Panhandle location:


I landed in the watershed of a new river, the Salt Fk of the Red; on to the Red (47th hit); on to the Atchafalaya (54th hit).  The Salt Fork of the Red was my 20th stream name with “salt”, “salty,” or “saline” in its name.  The details:  4 Salt Rivers; 4 Salt Forks; 4 Salt Creeks; 1 Salt Draw; 1 Saltwater Creek; 1 Salt Wash; 3 Saline Rivers; 1 Big Saline Bayou; and 1 Saline Bayou.

Here’s my GE shot, showing that I landed in an un-irrigated field, but near irrigated fields:


Here’s a Street View looking north, with my landing about six-tenths of a mile away.  Exciting, eh?:

Here’s a GE shot of Groom, where you can see I-40 that zips around the north side of town.  The main road that goes through town is a segment of good ol’ Route 66.


About Groom, from Wiki (with some edits):

Colonel B. B. Groom leased 592,920 acres of land in the Texas Panhandle in 1882 for the cattle business.  [Wow.  That’s equivalent to a square 30 miles on a side.] He then purchased an estimated 1,300 head of shorthorns in 1882.  His vision of the finest and most desirable cattle ranch in the United States did not materialize for him and his company became insolvent in 1886. [And he still got a town named after him?]

Colonel Groom’s son, Harrison, established a camp at the edge of a little lake just west of the present town of White Deer, 20 miles north of Groom.  [And that was enough for him to get a town named after him?] The site of Groom, Texas, was chosen in 1902 , along the route of the Chicago, Rock Island and Gulf Railway.  The town was named to honor father and son.  [For no particular reason that I see . . .]

So, Groom seems to have two claims to fame.  From Wiki:

There is a 190-foot cross located next to Interstate 40 (formerly U.S. Route 66) at Groom. This cross can be seen from twenty miles away.  Surrounding the base of the Cross are life-sized statues of the Stations of the Cross.  Inspired by this cross, residents of Effingham, Illinois erected a similar cross that is eight feet taller. [Gee.  Couldn’t they have settled for a tie?] Many claim this cross to be the largest in the Western Hemisphere. However, it is smaller than the cross erected in the Valle de los Caidos in Spain.  The cross is also 18 feet shorter than the 208 ft cross at the Mission Nombre De Dios in St. Augustine, FL, and shorter than the 213 ft tall Lakeuden Risti cross-shaped church tower in Seinäjoki, Finland.

Here’s a picture, from crossministries.net (via necklacecrosses.com):


From Wiki:

Also in Groom one can find a leaning water tower which currently serves as a decorative item. It originally was a functioning water tower which was slated for demolition until Ralph Britten bought it and moved it to serve as a sign for his truck stop and tourist information center (located on a stretch of interstate that was once a part of U.S. Route 66). This truck stop can still be seen, set back off the road behind the tower, now boarded up and in disrepair.

The leaning water tower still remains a popular target for cameras, and is a common image from Route 66 photography books.

Here’s Wiki’s picture:


So, Effingham Illinois – here’s a challenge:  build a leaning water tower that’s eight feet taller!!

I’ll close with this cool shot of an old Quonset hut in Groom (a Panaramio shot from GE):


That’ll do it. . .

KS

Greg

© 2010 A Landing A Day

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Old Forge, New York

Posted by graywacke on June 5, 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 in the most OS state in the greater Northeast . . . NY; 38/31; 3/10; 4; 151.4.  This marks the first time I’ve slipped to 3/10 since March 1st, 29 landings ago (when my Score was 153.0).  I should also hasten to add that NY is the most OS northeastern state based on the difference between actual hits (38) and expected hits (31).  On a percentage basis, the leading New England OSer is RI (2/1), closely followed by NH (10/6).

So anyway, I landed in the boonies of the Adirondacks.  I’ll start with a landing map that shows no roads, let alone towns.  Note that the map is about 15 miles across.


Here’s a somewhat broader view, bring in the nearest roads and towns:


Here’s the broadest view:


I landed in the watershed of a new river, the Indian.  This marks the 23rd watershed with the word Indian in it.  Here’s the breakdown:  one Indian Farm Creek; one Indian Wash; one Indian Fork; two Indian Runs; 17 Indian Creeks; and (drumroll please), one Indian River (today’s landing!)

So, the Indian flows to the S Br of the Moose (2nd hit); on to the Moose (2nd hit); on to the Black (which flows through Watertown, my birth town, 9th hit); to the St. Lawrence (87th hit).

Here’s my GE shot, which, not surprisingly, shows totally wooded, hilly terrain.


After all, the Adirondacks are mostly woods.  This from Wiki:

The Adirondack Mountains are contained within the 6.1 million acres of the Adirondack Park, which includes a constitutionally protected Forest Preserve of approximately 2.3 million acres.

Here’s an oblique GE shot, looking east (to give you a little feel for the topography):


So, the largest town nearby is Old Forge.  From Wiki:

Old Forge is a hamlet in Herkimer County, New York. Old Forge was formerly a village that dissolved its incorporation, but remains the principal community in the region. Old Forge forms an extensive business district, primarily directed at tourism especially during the summer months.  Old Forge often records the lowest winter temperatures in New York. On February 17, 1979, the record low temperature for New York was set in Old Forge at -52 degrees Fahrenheit.

So, Old Forge was downgraded from a Village to a mere Hamlet, it gets a lot of summer tourists, and, it’s really cold there (perhaps explaining why they didn’t mention winter tourists).

As you can see on this GE shot, there are a string of lakes beginning at Old Forge, and heading off to the east-northeast.  These are called the Fulton Chain of Lakes:


I’ve numbered them for a good reason.  The names of the lakes are as follows (no kidding!):

1 – First Lake

2 – Second Lake

3 – Third Lake

4 – Fourth Lake

5 – Fifth Lake

6 – Sixth Lake

7 – Seventh Lake

8 – Eighth Lake

Evidently, it’s quite the local sport to kayak / canoe these lakes.  The only portage is between the Fifth & Sixth Lakes.  There’s an annual race called the Adirondack Canoe Classic, where 250 entrants paddle for 90 miles over three days.  The race starts in Old Forge, and, not surprisingly traverses the Fulton Chain of Lakes (all part of the first day).

Using Panaramio shots from GE (with thanks to all of the photographers who posted their shots on Google Earth), this will give you an idea of what the racers see.  I’ll start with the shoreline of Old Forge:


Here’s a shot of First Lake:


Evidently, Second & Third Lakes are less photogenic, but here’s a shot of Fourth Lake:


There’s a little inlet between Fourth & Fifth:


OK, it’s a technicality, but the above is actually the inlet to Fourth Lake, as the water flows from Fifth to Fourth (to Third, to Second, to First).  Anyway, Fifth Lake is teeny; but here’s a shot of a canoe on the Fifth Lake shore, readied for portage to the Sixth Lake (or maybe being readied for launch into the Fifth after portage from the Sixth):


Here’s a GE shot showing the portage:


Here’s a lovely shot of a boathouse on Sixth Lake:


No surprise – here’s Seventh Lake:


I’ll close with the last, but not least – the Eighth:


That’ll do it. . .

KS

Greg

© 2010 A Landing A Day

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Shiner, Texas

Posted by graywacke on June 3, 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 –  Bouncing from one extreme to the other – from MT (the king of OSers) to, of course, the king of USers . . .TX; 134/166; 4/10; 3; 150.9.  As you can see from my landing map, there’s no doubt what town gets top billing:


Here’s a broader view:


I landed in the Rocky Ck watershed (the 31st watershed with the word “Rock” or “Rocky”); on to the Lavaca (2nd hit); on to the G of M.

Here’s my GE shot, showing what I’d call a rural/suburban landscape (within the Shiner urban fringe):


Well, there’s no question about the highlight in Shiner TX.  A quick Google search shows that the happenin’ thing in Shiner is . . . Shiner Beer.

Here’s what you see when you go to their website, www.shiner.com:


Here’s what you see if you enter a D.O.B. that makes you less than 21 years old:


When I put in my real age (which indicates that I just turned the big six-oh, by the way), the website opens to a rapidly changing collage.  I did a “print screen,” which captured this:

You have to love the guy hugging the huge bottle of Bock (showing real “Bock Love.”)  Anyway, it looks like that Shiner Bock is the headliner at the brewery.  What’s Bock, you may ask.  From Wiki:

Bock is a type of strong lager beer, first brewed in the 14th century in the Hanseatic town of Einbeck, Germany, from which it gets its name (originally “Einbeck” / “Einbock”). The original Bocks were dark beers, brewed from high-colored malts. Modern Bocks can be dark, amber, red or pale in color. Bock was traditionally brewed for special occasions, often religious festivals such as Christmas, Easter or Lent.

Bocks have a long history of being brewed and consumed by Roman Catholic monks in Germany. During the spring religious season of Lent, monks were required to fast. High-gravity Bock beers are higher in food energy and nutrients than lighter lagers, thus providing sustenance during this period. Similar high-gravity Lenten beers of various styles were brewed by monks in other lands as well (see Trappist beer).

Those bad-boy monks . . . Anyway, there’s quite the robust Wiki article about Bock (beyond what I copied above).  They discuss Bocks, country by country.  Here’s the very opening of the US entry:

United States

Shiner Bock is the flagship beer of Spoetzl Brewery in Shiner, Texas. They formerly held an annual Bocktoberfest in Shiner, Texas, to celebrate the German history of Bock beers.

Good for Shiner!

I need to include just a little Shiner history, like where they got the name.  From shinertx.com:

History of Shiner

In the valley between the Lavaca and Guadalupe rivers, it began as an Indian settlement called “Half Moon.” It was a place of ranchers and cattle, the railroad and Indians, outlaws and Texas Rangers — and cotton was “King.”  Texas roots run deep in Shiner, Texas.

George West, one of the first to drive cattle in this part of Texas, was married to a Shiner – and Henry B. Shiner donated the land for the town of Shiner to have its start in 1887.

I’ll close with this early 1930s July 4th photo:


That’ll do it. . .

KS

Greg

© 2010 A Landing A Day

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