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Archive for February, 2011

Ropesville and Wolfforth, Texas

Posted by graywacke on February 18, 2011

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

Dan –  Oh my!  I’m holding my breath, as I landed in yet another User (5th in a row, 6/7) . . . TX; 140/171; 6/10; 154.1.  Here’s my landing map, showing my proximity to Ropesville and Wolfforth:


Here’s a broader view, showing my proximity to Lubbock:

And, an even broader view:

For the fifth time, I landed in the Yellow House Draw watershed.  This is highly unusual – landing 5 times in a non-river watershed!  In fact, I’m pretty sure it has happened for only one other non-river watershed – the Big Muddy Ck in MT, with 6 hits.  The Yellow House Draw, bursting with its 5 hits, flows into the North Fork of the Double Mountain Fork of the Brazos River (phew – quite the mouthful, eh?).  Interestingly, this is also the 5th hit for this watershed – so all of my N Fk of the Dbl Mtn Fk Brazos hits were from the Yellow House Draw.  So (and I’m taking a deep breath here), the N Fk of the Dbl Mtn Fk of the Brazos and the Yellow House are the 143rd and 144th watersheds on my list of watersheds with 5 or more hits.

Moving right along – as might be expected, the North Fork of the Double Mountain Fork of the Brazos River flows to the Double Mountain Fork of the Brazos (7th hit); on to the Brazos (24th hit); on to the G of M.

Here’s my GE shot, showing an unusual-looking agricultural setting (with interesting curvilinear features overlying a circular irrigation footprint):


Here’s a broader GE view:


From TexasEscapes.com, about Ropesville:

Ropesville was platted in 1917 and when the time came (1920) to name a post office, the ranch cowboys suggested the name Ropes for the rope corrals they had built to pen outgoing cattle.

That names was submitted, however, postal authorities thought mail might be misdirected to Ropers, Texas, so the application was rejected. They trotted out the old standby “ville” – tacked it on and resubmitted. The rest is history.  Plain old Ropes, Texas lives on [as shown on this photo of the old railroad depot]:


Here’s a shot of downtown Ropesville (from Panaramio / Johnny Roswell):


From TexasEscapes.com, about Wolfforth:

The community began in 1916 along with the development of the Panhandle and Santa Fe Railroad. The Wolffarth Brothers (George and Eastin) were honored by becoming the town’s namesakes. The post office (frequently the culprit in misspellings of unusual surnames) used the spelling that’s on the map today, while the railroad (and presumably the Wolffarth Brothers) spelled it correctly.

Here’s a shot of the Wolfforth water tower from Wiki:


Funny thing about the names – as you may recall from my most recent landing, the folks at the Shelbina MO town website crowed a bit about the fact that their town was the only one named “Shelbina” in the world.  As far as I can tell, Ropesville and Wolfforth share the same distinction . . .

From IretonFamily.com, I found quite a few pictures of the Ireton family from Ropesville.  I enjoy looking at these back-in-the-day shots.  It’s amazing how good they are at not smiling – which is so typical of family pictures from this era.  I’ll start with the 1927 Ireton family reunion:


Here are some Ireton brothers from 1930:


And here’s another family reuinion, this one from 1931:


To give you a feel for the landscape near my landing, here’s a Panaramio shot by Robert E. Burke:


I’ll close with this Panaramio shot of a sunset over Ropesvilleby Eddie C. Wimberley:


That’ll do it. . .

KS

Greg

© 2011 A Landing A Day

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Shelbina, Missouri

Posted by graywacke on February 13, 2011

First timer?  In this formerly once-a-day blog (then every-other-day blog and now a one-to-three-times a week 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 –  Stand back!  Four USers in a row (and 5/6) with this landing in . . . MO; 43/44; 5/10; 2; 154.7.  Here’s my landing map, showing my proximity to the N Fk of the Salt River as well as a town with the unique-sounding name of Shelbina (more about its uniqueness later):


Here’s a broader view:


For the second time, I landed in the watershed of the N Fk of the Salt R (I landed less than a quarter mile from the river); on to the Salt (also 2nd hit); on to the MM (767th hit).

Here’s my GE shot, showing a rural agricultural area.  The N Fk of the Salt is clearly visible also:


So, Shelbina . . .


Shelbina is a town founded in the later half of the nineteenth century.  It has had a population of approximately 2000 since the early 1900s.  The name Shelbina is certainly unusual.  This, from the Shelbina city website history write-up:

There is only one community in the entire world with the name Shelbina, making us truly unique in name.  The name, Shelbina, was coined by an early minister to honor his daughter Vina, by combining her name with the name of the county, Shelby, thereby, Shelbina.

Makes me wonder how many other unique town names I’ve run across and not thought about it (I suspect there are many).

Shelbina joins recent landing towns Sentinel OK and Centenary SC in that I’m having a tough time finding something of interest about the towns.  However, I always enjoy good back-in-the-day photos, like this 1938 shot of Centre Street:

Step back thirty years.  My how Main Street looks more laid back without cars:

Here’s another shot of Main Street (I’m not sure when).  Notice the cool buildings on the left:

Here’s a shot of the same buildings today:

From the Stalcup family blog (Stalcuptree.blogspot.com), check out this highly unusual photo.  It shows a wagon full of “Sun Shunners” in front of the Stalcup book store in Shelbina in 1906:

I can’t imagine why “this group of fun-lovers” calls themselves the Sun Shunners (I guess they must all wear hats).  Also unimaginable is the reason they went to all the trouble to get themselves an official carriage.  Regardless, this is a wonderful glimpse at a by-gone era . . .

I’ll close with this shot of Old Glory waving over Shelbina Lake:


That’ll do it. . .

KS

Greg

© 2011 A Landing A Day

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Contact and Henry, Nevada

Posted by graywacke on February 13, 2011

First timer?  In this formerly once-a-day blog (then every-other-day blog and now a one-to-three-times a week 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, after five USers in a row, I shouldn’t be too greedy.  I am allowed to be a little frustrated, though, because I missed a solid USer (ID) by a measly 18 miles, as I landed in . . . NV; 76/70; 6/10; 4; 154.6.

Here’s my landing map, showing my proximity to Contact & Henry:


Here’s a broader view:


I landed in the Devil Ck watershed.  This is only my second “devil” – ish watershed, with Devil Ck joining UT’s Dirty Devil River.  Devil Ck flows to the Salmon Falls Ck which flows to the Snake R (71st hit); on to the mighty Columbia (138th hit).

Here’s my GE shot, showing a stream-carved very empty landscape:


Backing up a little for a broader view, it looks like I landed in a beautifully-diverse western landscape:


Here’s an oblique GE view (looking west):


Going back to my landing map, I’ll provide a closer-in view:


Note “Choke-A-Man Draw,” just west of my landing.  Of course, I Googled it, and was excited to see a Google book come up entitled “Nevada Place Names.”  With great anticipation, I began scrolling down through the alphabet.  I got to “Chief,” but then was appalled to see that the next entry was “Claim Canyon.”  What the heck happened to “Choke”??????  Then I noticed this cryptic little note after the “Chief” entry:  “Pages 76 to 77 not shown in this preview.”  Are you kidding me????  Does this represent a conspiracy against ALAD???

If any reader knows the scoop on the name “Choke-A-Man Draw,” please comment . . .

Anyway, moving along to Contact.  I found out (from Howard Hickson, see below) that Contact was named after a geologic contact between granite and porphory.  Porphory is an igneous rock with large crystals; I assume that mine-able minerals were present along this contact.

From OutbackNevada, I found a series of Howard Hickson’s Histories, including this one, “New Teacher in Town.”   It provides a great overview of Contact, plus includes some interesting tidbits about moonshiners along with a nice human interest story about (you guessed it), the new teacher in town.  This is way longer than my usual cut and paste selections, but I really enjoyed the read:

New Teacher in Town
Contact, Nevada (1933-1934)

In 1933, Marguerite Patterson Evans wrote to her sister-in-law, Edna Patterson, that Contact consisted of two general stores, a crude family hotel, two saloons, a post office, elementary school building, and a high school occupying an old pool hall. She noted there were four regular salaries in town: three teachers and a highway maintenance man. Most of the 100 townspeople relied on welfare to make ends meet. Marguerite was the newly appointed high school principal and teacher.

When she arrived, poor times were haunting the town and its residents. Stagnation and sluggishness had come to Contact hand in hand with the Great Depression.

Contact is some 15 miles south of the Idaho border and 50 miles north of Wells, Nevada, on US Highway 93. Today, a few crumbling buildings, makeshift houses, house trailers and a sparse number of people are all that is left of the little mining camp that tenaciously lived through more busts than booms.

Although gold and silver were discovered in the 1870s, nothing much happened in the way of unearthing riches except during the district’s two production peaks. The first was from 1916 to 1918 followed by another from 1942 to 1946. Both were during times when the United States was at war and large amounts of copper were required for the war efforts.

For those who treasure statistics, Contact produced 742 ounces of gold, 58,713 ounces of silver, 3,343,845 pounds of copper, 324,233 pound of lead, and18,400 pounds of zinc for a total of $702,760. Of Elko County’s 34 mining districts, Contact ranked 12th in overall production. The place even supported a weekly newspaper, The Contact Miner, for a time.

Between start and stop mining operations, other entrepreneurial activities occupied the local breadwinners. In 1979, an article in the Los Angeles Times claims that the town was, during Prohibition, the chief supplier of bootleg whiskey for Idaho.

At a town reunion that same year, Virgil Church, a former resident said, “There were six major moonshine operations in Contact from 1917 until the repeal of Prohibition in 1932. Those were just the big outfits. I was a moonshiner. Hell, everybody in town was a moonshiner making grain whiskey in their cellars. Dad rolled into town in 1912 in a brand new Ford Motel T with Mom and 11 kids. He raised us in Contact with money he made bootlegging.”

John Detweiler added, “My father was justice of the peace here for years. He was never a bootlegger or moonshiner. Said he couldn’t risk the chance, said they’d throw away the keys to the jailhouse if the judge was ever arrested. But hell, he was the Number One supplier of everything needed to make whiskey. Dad hauled in all the coal, barrels, wheat and sugar to supply the moonshiners.”

Detweiler said his father, the justice, had the slot machine concession in town. “He would always take me with him when he collected money from the slots at Hard Rock Tilly’s sporting house at the south end of town. As long as I was with him, Mother figured Dad wouldn’t get in any trouble there.”

When Prohibition ended so did another Contact boom. Life was again tough on the people. Marguerite came to town after Prohibition ended and Contact residents were mostly destitute. Her female students wore threadbare, patched dresses. She wrote: “I hung my prize ribbons in my front room to impress my sewing class. I am at least going to teach these girls how to handle a pattern and make simple dresses. None of the families have enough money to buy patterns and material for sewing so I went down to Elko to see what I could do for aid. I went to the Red Cross and requested enough material for underwear and three dresses for each girl. The girls are so thrilled that I have a difficult time sending them home after school.”

Marguerite wrestled with another problem. Daisy, a local baker, couldn’t pass her Wasserman test for syphilis. It was common knowledge that Daisy was generous with her affections but Marguerite decided she would have to do something more serious than eat Daisy’s cooking to be contaminated.

There was no doctor in town. In March1934, Marguerite and the other teachers dealt with epidemics of measles, scarlet fever, impetigo, streptococcus throat, and flu. Once, when she needed to take the temperature of a little boy, she had to borrow a thermometer. She hiked down to a local saloon for some 100-proof whiskey. The thermometer was dipped in the booze and Marguerite hoped that few germs would survive the ordeal.

In her last letter from Contact: “Entertainment is in the Community Social Hall. The hall is the pride of the town with walls covered with lurid murals of the Contact that might have been – according to the dream of the men who raised money to build this substantial concrete building.”

Years passed. Dreams died. Yet, there are still people living in Contact. I guess it can’t be called a ghost town yet.

Marguerite Evans left Contact after her first year there. In her long career she taught at Montello, Halleck, White Pine High School in Ely, and was the librarian at Elko High School. During World War II she was director of the Enlisted Men’s Club at the Army Air Force Base at Wendover, Utah, where the atomic bomb crews were trained. She retired in the 1950s. Born in 1901, she died in Elko in 1985.

Howard Hickson
April 6, 2002

Here’s a picture from the same website, showing some of the miner’s houses:

Here’s a recent shot from Contact by Randy Hale that I found on the UNLV Library website:


I found this about Henry on Elkrose.com, about Elko County ghosttowns:

Henry was a depot and water station on the Oregon Short Line. The station came into being in late 1925 and was named after Henry Harris, a popular negro foreman for the Sparks-Harrell cattle empire. Harris had come from Texas and served as a cook for Nevada Governor John Sparks. After moving to Elko County, he became respected and admired for his knowledge of the cattle industry.

A couple of ranches operated near Henry and utilized the depot for shipping cattle. Because of the number of children on the nearby ranches, a school operated at Henry during the 1930s and 1940s. By time the Oregon Shortline ended operations and pulled up its rails in 1978, the area was empty. The small depot, adjoined by the water pump and tower, remain today amid a stand of trees.

From the same website, here’s a picture of the Henry train depot:


I’ll close with this cool shot of an abandoned railroad bridge:


That’ll do it. . .

KS

Greg

© 2011 A Landing A Day

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Centenary, South Carolina

Posted by graywacke on February 6, 2011

First timer?  In this formerly once-a-day blog (then every-other-day blog and now a one-to-three-times a week 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 guess this means I’m on a roll, what with my third USer in a row (and my fourth out of five landings), with this landing in . . . SC; 18/20; 5/10; 1; 155.3.  Here’s my landing map, showing my proximity to Centenary and the Pee Dee River (off to the east):


Here’s a broader view:


I landed in the watershed of Bull Swamp, on to Mulyn Ck; on to the Pee Dee R (7th hit); on to the AO.

My GE shot shows a tidy agricultural area:


Check out this fancy place (which, of course, I would call a plantation), located SE of my landing on the above photo:


Here’s a StreetView shot; my landing is about 900 feet away,  in the back of the field near the woods:


As just happened with my Sentinel OK landing, the nearest town (in this case Centenary) comes up a little short on the interest level.  As for Sentinel, I’ll hasten to add that this is nothing against Centenary, and I’m sure it’s a fine little town.

I did find this Panaramio shot just northeast of my landing near the Pee Dee, which discusses the Battle of Blue Savannah:


Here’s a broader view:


This battle features Francis “Swamp Fox” Marion.  When I was a kid, I absolutely loved the Disney TV Swamp Fox series.  Anyway, here’s a picture of the historic Swamp Fox:


From History.com, here’s some info about the battle:

On September 4, 1780, Patriot Francis Marion’s Carolina militia routs Loyalists at Blue Savannah, South Carolina, and in the process Marion wins new recruits to the Patriot cause.

Following their surprising success at Nelson’s Ferry on the Santee River in South Carolina on August 20, Lieutenant Colonel Francis “The Swamp Fox” Marion and 52 of his militiamen rode east in order to evade pursuing British Loyalists. They were successful, but during their escape, another, much larger, force of Loyalists led by Major Micajah Ganey, attacked the militia from the northeast.

Marion’s advance guard, led by Major John James, routed Ganey’s advance guard and Marion ambushed the rest, causing Ganey’s main body of 200 Loyalists to panic and flee. The success of Marion’s militia broke the Loyalist stronghold on South Carolina east of the PeeDee River and attracted another 60 volunteers to the Patriot cause.

Marion, a mere five feet tall, won fame and the “Swamp Fox” moniker for his ability to strike and then quickly retreat into the South Carolina swamps without a trace.  His military strategy is considered an 18th-century example of guerilla warfare and served as partial inspiration for Mel Gibson’s character, Benjamin Martin, in the film The Patriot (2000).

More about the Swamp Fox, from Wiki:

[Warning!  The following is more controversial than usual for A Landing A Day!]

The public memory of Francis Marion has been shaped in large part by the first biography about him, “The Life of General Francis Marion” written by M. L. Weems. The New York Times has described Weems as one of the “early hagiographers” of American literature “who elevated the Swamp Fox, Francis Marion, into the American pantheon”. Weems is known for having invented the apocryphal “cherry tree” anecdote about George Washington and “Marion’s life received similar embellishment”, as Amy Crawford wrote in Smithsonian Magazine in 2007.

Francis Marion was one of the influences for the main character in the 2000 movie The Patriot, which according to Crawford “exaggerated the Swamp Fox legend for a whole new generation”.

Around the time of The Patriot’s release, comments in the British press challenged the American notion of Francis Marion as a hero. In the Evening Standard, British author Neil Norman called Francis Marion, a thoroughly unpleasant dude who was, basically, a terrorist.

British historian Christopher Hibbert described Marion as

… very active in the persecution of the Cherokee Indians and not at all the sort of chap who should be celebrated as a hero. The truth is that people like Marion committed atrocities as bad, if not worse, than those perpetrated by the British.

In a commentary published in the National Review, conservative talk radio host Michael Graham rejected criticisms like Hibbert’s as an attempt to rewrite history:

Was Francis Marion a slave owner? Was he a determined and dangerous warrior? Did he commit acts in an 18th-century war that we would consider atrocious in the current world of peace and political correctness? As another great American film hero might say: “You damn right.”

That’s what made him a hero, 200 years ago and today.

Michael Graham also refers to what he describes as “the unchallenged work of South Carolina’s premier historian Dr. Walter Edgar, who pointed out in his 1998 ‘South Carolina: A History’ that Marion’s partisans were “a ragged band of both black and white volunteers.”

British historian Hugh Bicheno has compared Gen. Marion with British officers Tarleton and Maj. James Wemyss; referring to all of them:   “…they all tortured prisoners, hanged fence-sitters, abused parole and flags of truce, and shot their own men when they failed to live up to the harsh standards they set.”

Anyway, here’s a painting by John Blake White of the Swamp Fox.  Below the picture is a description of the painting from Smithsonian.com.


In early 1781, Revolutionary War militia leader Francis Marion and his men were camping on Snow’s Island, South Carolina, when a British officer arrived to discuss a prisoner exchange. As one militiaman recalled years later, a breakfast of sweet potatoes was roasting in the fire, and after the negotiations Marion, known as the “Swamp Fox,” invited the British soldier to share breakfast. According to a legend that grew out of the much-repeated anecdote, the British officer was so inspired by the Americans’ resourcefulness and dedication to the cause—despite their lack of adequate provisions, supplies or proper uniforms—that he promptly switched sides and supported American independence. Around 1820, John Blake White depicted the scene in an oil painting that now hangs in the United States Capitol. In his version, the primly attired Redcoat seems uncomfortable with Marion’s ragtag band, who glare at him suspiciously from the shadows of a South Carolina swamp.

Inspite of the controversy discussed above,  I’m hanging on to my image of Leslie Nielson as Disney’s heroic good-guy Swamp Fox . . .

In more traditional A Landing A Day style, I close with this nearby shot of a cotton field:


That’ll do it. . .

KS

Greg

© 2011 A Landing A Day

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