A Landing a Day

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Archive for September, 2011

Athens, Texas

Posted by graywacke on September 30, 2011

First timer?  In this formerly once-a-day blog (and now pretty much a once-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 in the first paragraph), please see “About Landing,” (and “Abbreviations” and “Cryptic Numbers”) above.

Dan –  Holy cow.  Two USers in a row, and a big three for four, as I landed in . . . TX; 142/172; 4/10; 1; 157.4.  I hope you noticed that after a run of 13 landings where I was 3/10 or worse, I’ve broken into the much more positive 4/10+ category.  Let’s see how long I can stay . .

Anyway, here’s my landing map, showing that I landed just south of Athens:

Here’s a broader view:

Believe it or not, this was my third landing in the Coon Ck watershed, on to the Catfish Ck; to the Trinity R (11th hit). 

Here’s my GE shot, showing that I landed on the Athens campus of the East Texas Medical Center!

Here’s a StreetView shot – I landed just to the right of the water tower. 

Here’s a nice shot of the main building on the campus:

I learned that the East Texas Medical Center is a huge regional organization with facilities all over East Texas.

But enough of health care.  This landing is actually more about . . . hamburgers.  That’s right, hamburgers.

I was checking out the Athens website, and right on the home page was this inviting link:

So, of course, I clicked, and I found an interesting article by Frank Tolbert (as written in “Tolbert’s Texas.”) 

Frank starts his article in dramatic style, thusly:

“It took me years of sweatneck research before I finally determined, at least in mine and in some other Texas historians’ estimation, that Fletcher Davis (1864-1941), also known as “Old Dave” of Athens, Texas, invented the hamburger sandwich.”

He goes on to tell a convincing tale of Old Dave’s little café in Athens that was serving what eventually was called a hamburger back in the late 1880s.  But the hamburger’s break out moment occurred at the 1904 World’s Fair in St. Louis, when Old Dave set up a booth on the midway.  His booth was noticed by a reporter for the New York Tribune, who mentioned the delicious sandwich. 

Anyway, as I was reading this, I was thinking . . .

 “Wait a minute!  Last summer, I was driving south on I-95 in Connecticut with Jody (my wife) and Robbi (a friend).  Robbi said she had a hankering for a hamburger, but she really wanted an extra-special burger that was not from a fast food joint or from any franchise for that matter.  So Robbi called our friend Bob, who was back in New Jersey near his computer.  She asked Bob to find us a good burger joint in New Haven (which was about 30 miles down the road). . . .

 “Bob (being a good-natured, helpful kind of guy), hopped on his computer and then called back in a minute, telling us that we should eat at Louis’ Lunch.”

 Here’s what you see after you Google “New Haven Hamburger” (which is what I assume Bob did):

No wonder Bob told us to eat there!  And, of course, he told us that we’d be eating at the birthplace of the hamburger.

Anyway, it’s a very cool place, but I didn’t land near New Haven, so I don’t want to spend too much time describing Louis’ Lunch.  You can Google it if you want to see pictures and learn more.  But anyway, as I read more of Frank Tolbert’s hamburger history article, I became intrigued, because Frank actually went out of his way to debunk the Louis’ Lunch claim!

 Here’s what Frank has to say:

In 1974, the New York Times ran a story in which one Kenneth Lassen claimed that his grandfather Louis Lassen “invented” the hamburger sandwich in 1900 in a small café in New Haven, Connecticut.  And Kenneth Lassen complained that “the birthplace of the American hamburger, a tiny restaurant called Louis Lunch, was in danger of being replaced by a twelve-story medical complex. . .”

The New York Times story admitted that “a serious challenge to the title is a theory supported by the McDonald’s Corporation, the nationwide hamburger chain.  McDonald’s historians have researched the problem and claim the inventor was an unknown food vendor at the St. Louis Fair in 1904.”

After this New York Times story was published I got a letter from a New Haven native, Neil E. Shay, now of Dallas.  He wrote:

“A pox on the New York Times for bulldozing honest facts out of the way.  Let me state that Looie (Louis Lassen) sold one fine steak sandwich but it was never a hamburger.  Up until I left the City of the Elms and New Ideas, New Haven, circa 1933, Louis Lassen was still serving this steak sandwich – never a hamburger.  It was probably beef off the rump, cut in thin slices.  And it was really something to take to bed with you around midnight after a social event.”

When he heard about the New Haven Preservation Trust having plans to declare “the dimly lit, twelve-by-eighteen, Louis Lunch building a historic landmark,” Clint Murchison, Jr. [the grandson of an Athens banker who knew Old Dave and has been in contact with Frank Tolbert], told me:

“Let’s face it: if we let the Yankees [not the baseball team, but all of us damn northerners] get away with claiming the invention of the hamburger sandwich they’ll be going after chili con carne next.  The New Haven claim as the birthplace of the American hamburger is a phony one, and the quicker they tear down that old building and raise the medical complex the better.”

Phew.  Don’t mess with Texas . . .

 So, Frank goes on with significant evidence that in fact it was Old Dave who had the booth at the World’s Fair.  Anyway, one other interesting tidbit from Frank’s article is about how French Fries got their name.  You’ll never believe it, but this is all tied in with Old Dave’s trip to the St. Louis World’s Fair.  Once again, quoting Frank:

. . .Fletcher Davis was “interviewed by a fancy dan reporter for the New York Tribune who also asked about the fried potatoes served with thick tomato sauce.”  Mr. Davis told the reporter that the sandwich was his idea but he learned to cook the potatoes that way from a friend who lived in Paris, Texas.

Clint Murchison, Jr., quoted his grandfather as saying: “Apparently the 1904 reporter thought Old Dave said Paris, France, in referring to the way the potatoes were cooked.  For the New York Tribune story on the hamburger said the sandwich was served with french fried potatoes.”

Hey Dan, notice the “fancy dan” reference?  Aren’t you a fancy dan reporter for the Denver Post?

Anyway, click here to read all of Frank’s hamburger history article:

 I’ll close with this lovely picture of a Great Blue Heron, taken at nearby Lake Athens  (Panaramio shot by Larry David Hodge):

That’ll do it. . .

KS

Greg

© 2011 A Landing A Day

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Des Moines, New Mexico

Posted by graywacke on September 25, 2011

First timer?  In this formerly once-a-day blog (and now pretty much a once-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 in the first paragraph), please see “About Landing,” (and “Abbreviations” and “Cryptic Numbers”) above.

Dan –  Wow.  All the way up to 3/10 with this landing in . . . NM; 70/79; 3/10; 13; 157.9.  Here’s my landing map, showing my proximity to Des Moines:

Here’s a broader view:

Here’s my GE view, showing an ill-defined arid, very rural, landscape:

I landed in the Corrumpa Ck watershed (Ay Corrumpa!); on to the Beaver R (7th hit); to the N Canadian R (14th hit); to the Canadian R (39th hit); to the Arkansas R (108th hit); to the MM (774th hit).

OK, so it’s not “Ay Corrumpa,” the expression is actually “Ay Corumba.”  Hey close enough.  I Googled Ay Corumba and was embarrassed to find out what it means.  However, it’s common enough, even being one of Bart’s expressions on The Simpsons . . .

Speaking of Corrumpa Creek, here’s a picture of where the Santa Fe Trail heads down from the rim of the Corrumpa Creek valley (McNees Crossing).  This is somewhere in Union County, which is county I landed in.  I think we’re looking at the actual trail itself.  Very cool.  The early 1800s version of an interstate highway . . .

By the way, McNees crossing was named after Robert McNees who was killed by Indians there in 1828.

So what about Des Moines?  Well, it’s one of four US towns called Des Moines.  Iowa has the big one, of course, but there’s also one in WA and one in CA.   I’d guess these towns grew up around Catholic monasteries, as  “Moines” in French means “monks.”  Des Moines NM has all of 177 people (as of the 2000 census).

Des Moines is very close to not one, but two volcanoes.  I bet you don’t think about volcanoes when you think of NM, especially not the NE corner, near the OK Panhandle.  Here’s another landing map, which shows the two volcanoes.  Sierra Grande is west of my landing, and Capulin Volcano National Monument is northwest of Sierra Grande. 

Sierra Grande is a “shield volcano,” which is a low-rise volcano composed of lava flows.  Here’s a picture of Sierra Grande, taken from Capulin (from Wiki):

About Capulin, from Wiki:

 

Capulin Volcano National Monument is a well-preserved, relatively young (58,000 to 62,000 years old), symmetrical cinder cone. It rises steeply from the surrounding grassland plains to an elevation of 8,182 feet above sea level. The irregular rim of the crater is about a mile in circumference and the crater about 400 feet deep.

A paved road spirals around the volcano and visitors can drive up to a parking lot at the rim. Hiking trails circle the rim as well as lead down into the mouth of the volcano.

Definately worth a road trip.  One of these days . . .

I’ll close with this shot of Capulin:

That’ll do it. . .

KS

Greg

© 2011 A Landing A Day

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Ulen, Minnesota

Posted by graywacke on September 19, 2011

First timer?  In this formerly once-a-day blog (and now pretty much a once-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 in the first paragraph), please see “About Landing,” (and “Abbreviations” and “Cryptic Numbers”) above.

Dan –  Well, well. What a surprise.  Back to an old-time OSer . . . MN; 71/54; 2/10; 12; 158.5.  Here’s my landing map, showing that I landed near Ulen:

Here’s a broader view:

My GE shot shows that I landed right next to a road (no StreetView coverage, unfortunately), in the expected farm setting:

For the second time, I landed in the watershed of the S Br of the Wild Rice R; on to the Wild River (7th hit); on to the Red R (43rd hit); on to the Nelson (60th hit); on to Hudson’s Bay.

Here’s a StreetView shot of downtown Ulen:

From LakesnWoods.com about Ulen:

ULEN was named in honor of Ole Ulen, its first settler. He was born in Norway, April 18, 1818, and died in Ulen village, January 19, 1891.

As you may suspect, Ulen is pretty much bereft of internet information.  However, one point of interest is the Ulen sword.  I guess I’ll start with Wiki:

The Ulen Sword is a purported Viking sword found in a field 3 miles west of Ulen, Minnesota, where it is currently on display in the Ulen Historical Museum.  However, it bears no resemblance to any sword of known early Medieval provenance and is almost certainly a 19th-century French military sword.

The sword was found buried underground by Hans O. Hansen on his farm on April 20, 1911. Because of drought, Hansen decided to set his plow blades much deeper than usual, and unearthed the artifact.

The sword’s crossguard has a design on each side: one side depicts a helmeted soldier, and the reverse is a breastplate covering a dagger and two crossed axes.

Hmmm.  Sounds like there is some skepticism.  But this is one of those unreferenced Wiki pieces, so I’ll do a little more research.

Here’s a more supportive Ulen Sword website (Geir Odden’s Site of Norwegian heritage, http://www.geirodden.com):

On April 20, 1911, Hans Strand, according to affidavits, found a rusted sword buried in his field about 3 1/4 miles west of Ulen, MN. Strand bought the farm in 1898, and was the first to cultivate it, but had been tilling the land at a shallow level prior to 1911. As there had been some drought in the previous years, he set his plow at six inches, which was supposed to help retain moisture in the ground and it was at the deeper level that the sword was pulled up.

The length of the blade is 16 inches, and the point has been hammered off, apparently by some blunt instrument. The pommel is brass, with a simple thick cross guard. At the place where the cross guard meets the blade, there is a design, a helmeted soldier on one side and a breastplate over crossed axes and a dagger. The sword is in the museum in Ulen, Minnesota.

From The Viking Rune, where there are some posted discussions:

Tom Thowsen February 28, 2010 at 6:17 pm

Right now we [the Kensington Rune Stone International Supporters Club] are debating the Ulen sword, found in Minnesota in 1911. This sword bears a sign, which actually shows it might have belonged to Paul Knutsson.

FYI, Paul Knutson is some ancient Viking guy who was known to have gone to Greenland, and is speculated to have been one of the explorers who made it to the upper Midwest.

Moving right along . . . here’s a Flickr shot of a Ulen establishment that’s cashing in on the Viking/Norwegian flavor of the area (by afiler, aka Andrew Filer):

To see afiler’s Ulen shots, click here.

I’ll close with this shot also by Mr. Filer.  It’s a bit of a head-scratcher . . .

That’ll do it. . .

KS

Greg

© 2011 A Landing A Day

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