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Archive for January, 2014

Hanksville, Utah

Posted by graywacke on January 31, 2014

First timer?  In this formerly once-a-day blog (and now more-or-less a twice 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.

 Landing number 2079; A Landing A Day blog post number 507.

Dan –  Enough already!  Yet another OSer, making it seven of the last eight, thanks to this landing in . . . UT; 74/58; 3/10; 150.4.   Here’s my regional landing map that lets me know I’m in for some spectacular scenery:


And I know this why?  Because the SE quadrant of Utah is one of the most beautiful pieces of real estate on the planet.

 My more local map shows that I landed right next to the Dirty Devil River, about 15 miles downstream from Hanksville:


My watershed analysis is a no-brainer:  The Dirty Devil (4th hit); on to the Colorado (166th hit).  Here’s a map showing the regional watershed hydrology (and that I landed about 25 miles upstream from the Dirty Devil’s confluence with the Colorado:


My last landing (First Mesa, Arizona) was at longitude 110.0581W.  Today’s landing was just a tad further west, at 110. 5010W.  But the latitude makes all the difference.  Two and a half degrees doesn’t sound like much (my AZ landing was at 35.6859N and today’s landing is 38.2452N), but check out this Google Earth (GE) shot of the two landings:


OK, so I have to do a little math.  The latitude difference is actually about 2.56 degrees.  My landings are about 180 miles apart.  That means each degree of latitude (at least locally) equals about 180 miles / 2.56 degrees = about 70 miles/degree.  This little analysis fits into the “just in case you want to know” category.

 By the way, I had to turn off a bunch of my landing pins on GE to simplify the above photo.  All of my landings since January 2013 are saved on GE; when I turn them back on, this is what the shot looks like:


OK, this got me started.  Here’s a GE map of the whole country showing all 104 landings since the beginning of 2013:


Check out the contiguous block of states with no landings:  OH, PA, NJ, DE, RI, MD, VA, NY, MA, VT and NH!  Adding up the areas, I get about 234,000 square miles.  That’s way bigger than CA (164,000 sq mi), and CA has 7 landings already!  It’s almost as big as TX (269,000 sq mi) and TX also has 7 landings!  Maybe you can see why I go a little crazy with the USer & OSer thing. 

Oh-oh.  Now I’m can’t stop myself.  Check out this map, where I’ve drawn a line separating an eastern block of states from a western block of states:


 The eastern block of states has a total area of 694,000 square miles.  I’ve landed there 13 times, for an average landing density of (694,000/13), which equals one landing for every 53,400 square miles.

 Let’s check out the western block of states.  It’s much bigger, with a total area of about 2,368,000 square miles.  But I’ve landed there way more often, 91 times.  This works out to an average of one landing for every 26,000 square miles.  Look at that!  My landing density is twice as high for the western states as for the eastern.  Go figure . . .

 If you’re saying to yourself something like “maybe Greg’s random landing program isn’t so random,”  I can only answer that it absolutely is!

 For those who could care less about landing densities, my apologies.  It’s time to get back to today’s landing . . .

 Here’s my Google Earth (GE) shot, looking west:


Here’s a GE shot looking back east:

GE1a - view from landing

Wow.  Pretty cool terrain, eh?  You know what?  I think it’s time for me to use my new-found video skills.  Here’s a 25-mile Google Earth trip up the Dirty Devil from the Colorado north to my landing:


 How about Hanksville?  Well, there’s not much.  Wiki tells me that this was a Mormon settlement (surprise, surprise) founded in 1882 and named after one of the Mormon leaders, Ebenezer Hanks.  It has some mining history, but has settled into being a tourist destination, or at least a sight-seeing base of operations.

 Here’s a picture of Hanksville (from CapitolReef.org, a website about Capitol Reef National Park):

 Hanksville-A-72 from Capitol Reef dot org

(Capitol Reef is about 40 miles east of Hanksville, out of range of this landing . . . )

 I chanced upon a blog posting that is definitely within range of this landing.  In fact, it is so outstanding, I absolutely insist that all of my readers visit it.  The name of the blog is “Embedded in Academia” (it’s written by a John Regehr, a U of U computer science professor) and the post title is “Around Hanksville Utah.”  It’s a travelogue about a father and sons weekend trip to Hanksville.  It does a better job than I could ever do talking about (and showing pictures of) the absolutely awesome landscapes around Hanksville. 

 I hope Professor Regehr won’t mind, but I think I’ll lift a couple of his photos as a teaser:




He has many, many more great shots.  Click HERE to get to it.

Now that you’ve read (and enjoyed) my guest blogger’s post, I really don’t have much to do!

 I’ll close with some GE Panoramio shots close to my landing (I don’t believe the good professor & sons came this close to my landing).  First, this shot of Arsenic Arch by Max Forster, about 3.5 miles east of my landing:

 pano max forster

Here’s a shot of Angel Slot Canyon by JCFZ, about 4 miles north of my landing:

pano jcfz angel

Here’s a Dirty Devil River shot (in winter!) about 3.5 miles south of my landing (by Troy G.):

 pano troy g

I’ll close with this shot by OuestUSA26, entitled “Vue depuis Burr Point, UT”  (from about 6 miles south of my landing):

 pano ouestusa26 

That’ll do it.





© 2013 A Landing A Day

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First Mesa, Arizona

Posted by graywacke on January 26, 2014

First timer?  In this formerly once-a-day blog (and now more-or-less a twice 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.

 Landing number 2078; A Landing A Day blog post number 506.

Dan –  This is actually getting serious.  Yet another OSer (six of my last seven landings), and my Score is back up to 150!  This is my 10th landing since originally breaking the 150 barrier.  Haven’t a clue what I’m talking about?  Click HERE.

 Anyway, I landed in . . . AZ; 84/77; 4/10; 150.0.  Here’s my regional landing map:


My local landing map shows just two towns, Keams Canyon and Polacca:


You’re probably a little surprised as to why the post is entitled “First Mesa.”  Well, let me start with a Google Earth (GE) shot showing the same area as the above landing map.


Note that instead of Polacca, it says “First Mesa.”  First Mesa is a topographic ridge that rises dramatically above the surrounding terrain.  But to Wiki, First Mesa refers to villages up on the Mesa:

 First Mesa (Hopi: Wàlpi) includes three villages on the Hopi Reservation. As of the 2000 census, the population was 1,124, spread among three Hopi and Arizona Tewa villages atop the mesa:

  • Hano (or Tewa)
  • Sitsomovi (or Sichomovi), and
  • Waalpi (or Walpi).

Here’s a closer-in GE shot that shows the three villages atop the mesa.  (I think GE is wrong; it calls the town of Polacca “First Mesa.”)


Here’s an end-on view of the Mesa (looking northeast), showing the three villages:


Here comes a first for A Landing A Day:   I produced a crude “fly-over” You Tube video of the First Mesa (over the village of Hano), using Google Earth.  Here ‘tis:


Pretty cool eh?  By the way, the blue dot is the little “hand” on GE that grabs the photo and pulls it forward.  Why it’s a blue dot instead of the little hand, I have no clue.  Anyway, now that I’ve downloaded a video screen capture app and know how to do this, this may become a regular feature for future posts. . . 

More about the villages of First Mesa later.  But I need to circle back to my landing.  Here’s my close-in GE shot, which shows that I landed at the head of a shallow valley:


Backing up a little, you can see that I landed about two miles from the nearest road, which happens to have StreetView coverage (thus the blue line and the little orange dude):


So, here’s my StreetView shot from the orange dude’s perspective:


Wow:  Snow in the desert!  The gap in the rocks to the right is my landing valley . . .

 I was able to follow this little tributary downstream to another little tributary, and then to another, all heading southwest.  Eventually, 60 miles later, I found the discharge point into the Little Colorado River (17th hit); on to the Big Colorado River (165th hit; third on my list after the Mississippi & the Missouri).

 Here’s a GE shot showing the miles of desert my runoff would have to cross in order to reach the Little Colorado (which, trust me, never happens).


A road with StreetView coverage crosses the dry stream bed (that would hypothetically carry my run off) about four miles upstream from the Little Colorado.  Here’s the shot from the bridge looking upstream:


It’s time to get back to First Mesa.  Amazing place.  I’ll start with a GE Panoramio shot (by Tim Thomas), looking northeast towards First Mesa (on the left).  Although you can’t see it, the Village of Walpi is perched on top of the mesa:

 pano tim Thomas looking n, 1st mesa on the left

While I didn’t read anything about the geologic particulars of First Mesa, I happen to know that mesas in general are elevated erosional remnants (underlain by flat-lying bedrock), protected and maintained by a caprock that is particularly resistant to erosion (like sandstone).

 Here’s a broad GE shot of First Mesa:


The populated portion with the three villages is off to the far left.  The mesa has a topographic dip that separates the inhabited portion from a much larger, broader portion of the mesa.

 I’m going to zoom in to near the dip; the inhabited portion in the upper left corner:


The purpose of this photo is to show you the caprock that is resistant to erosion and is the raison d’etre of the mesa.  Not too obvious, eh?

 So, I found a very good write-up about the history and culture of First Mesa from the ExperienceHopi website.  I’ve selected some excerpts from the website:

First Mesa is the home of historic Walpi Village, continuously inhabited for more than 1100 years.  Walpi stands above the valley at 300 feet, surrounded by awesome vistas of the sky and distant horizons. Walpi is the most inspiring places in Arizona. Sharing First Mesa with Walpi are the villages of Sichomovi and Tewa (Hano), both established in the late 1600s.

On a guided walking tour (provided by a local tourism program) you will learn about the history of the first community “founded” at First Mesa, Walpi Village, which dates back to about 900 A.D., long before the first non-Natives landed on the shores of what is now North America.

In 1540, the Spaniard Pedro de Tovar made contact with the Hopi in his search for the seven cities of gold.  An estimated 2,000 people occupied Walpi at this time.  The Spanish established missions in the Hopi Villages and began conversion to the foreign Christianity.  In 1680, the Pueblo people of present-day southwestern United States revolted and drove the missionaries from their homelands.  For centuries thereafter, missions were not reestablished among the Hopi.

After the revolt of 1680, two other villages were established on First Mesa: Sichomovi and Hano (Tewa).  Sichomovi village was settled by people of Walpi. Hano was originally settled by a group known as the Hano people. When they abandoned the site of Hano, it was resettled by the Tewa who came from present-day New Mexico.

Amazingly, the people living atop this small mesa still retain separate languages after 600 years.

The village of Walpi is a living village where the homes are passed down through matrilineal clan lineage. Just as it has been over the centuries, there is no electricity or running water in the old village of Walpi.

First Mesa is known for the finest polychrome pottery and kachina doll carvings.

Here’s a picture of Hopi First Mesa polychrome pottery, circa 1350-1625 (from the U of Arizona museum):


From Wiki, this about Kachinas:

Kachinas are spirits or personifications of things in the real world.  A kachina can represent anything in the natural world from a revered ancestor to  a location, a quality, a natural phenomenon, or a concept. There are more than 400 different kachinas in Hopi and Pueblo culture. The local pantheon of kachinas varies in each pueblo community; there may be kachinas for the sun, stars, thunderstorms, wind, corn, insects, and many other concepts.

Kachinas are understood as having humanlike relationships; they may have uncles, sisters, and grandmothers, and may marry and have children. Although not worshipped, each is viewed as a powerful being who, if given veneration and respect, can use their particular power for human good, bringing rainfall, healing, fertility, or protection, for example. One observer has written:

“The central theme of the kachina [religion] is the presence of life in all objects that fill the universe. Everything has an essence or a life force, and humans must interact with these or fail to survive.”

Here are drawings of Kachina dolls, from an 1894 anothropology text book (from Wiki):


Here’s a picture of kachina dolls in the Heard Museum in Phoenix (also from Wiki):


Time for some pictures, eh?  I’ll start with a shot from 1920:

 walpi in 1920

This shot (also 1920) shows the “entrance” to the village, coming down the mesa from the north:

 baslerWalpi_arizona 1920

The World Monuments Fund website has a series of pictures of Walpi.  I’ll start with a modern shot of the entrance, taken from about the same place as the 1920 photo above:

 USA - wallpi

I’m going to close with a bunch of great shots of Walpi village, all from the World Monuments Fund website:




That’ll do it.



 © 2013 A Landing A Day

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Jackson Hole, Wyoming (Part 2)

Posted by graywacke on January 22, 2014

First timer?  In this formerly once-a-day blog (and now more-or-less a twice 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.

 Landing number 2077; A Landing A Day blog post number 505.

Dan –  Oh my.  I know, Dan, that you read my previous Jackson Hole WY post, and are looking forward to reading this Jackson Hole (Part 2) post.  Anyone else who hasn’t read my first Jackson Hole post, you must click HERE to read it.  When you’re done, come right on back!

 OK, so I’ll repeat my local landing map:


OK.  Here comes the new stuff.  Note the town of Kelly and the lake just east of Kelly.  Here’s a closer view:


You can see that I landed about 13.5 miles from “Lower Slide Lake.”  Hmmm, unusual name, eh?

 From Wiki, about Lower Slide Lake:

 Lower Slide Lake is located in Bridger-Teton National Forest, in the U. S. state of Wyoming.  The natural lake was created on June 23, 1925 when the Gros Ventre landslide dammed the Gros Ventre River. The lake was once much larger; however part of the rock dam failed less than two years later (on May 18, 1927) causing deadly flooding downstream.

Sounds like an ALAD story!  As you and my regular readers know, I’m interested in natural lakes, and the stranger the reason for their creation, the more I like it.  (Check out my Lake City CO post HERE, and my Clear Lake CA post HERE.)

 So, it looks like I need to check out the Gros Ventre landslide. 

 Here are some excerpts (with minor editing here and there) from a U.S. Forest Service article about the slide:

 On June 23, 1925, one of the largest fast-moving landslides in generations occurred near the town of Kelly, Wyoming. In just three minutes, huge amounts of rock and debris cascaded down the north slope of Sheep Mountain, changing the area forever.

Hurling down the slope at 50 mph, the mile-wide slide carried 50,000,000 cubic yards of debris. The mass rode 300 feet up the opposite slope, blocked the Gros Ventre River, and formed a five-mile long body of water known today as Lower Slide Lake.

 [ALAD Note:  The geologic formation that slid was the Tensleep Sandstone.  Underlying the Tensleep was the Amsden Shale.  The surface that represents the contact between the two formations was parallel to the slope.]

Three primary factors are thought to have contributed to the unusual event:

1. Heavy rains and rapidly melting snow saturated the Tensleep Sandstone, causing the Amsden Shale rock layer on Sheep Mountain to become exceptionally slippery;

2. The Gros Ventre river cut through the sandstone into the shale.  This created an unsupported downslope edge of the sandstone formation.

3. Swampy pools with no outlets on top of the mountain provided an extra source of water to produce the saturating conditions.

Earthquake tremors (which were occurring) added to these already unstable factors and could have precipitated a landslide.

[I found some cross sections from the Penn State University Geology Department, showing what is discussed above:]

psu geology cross section

[Back to the U.S. Forest Service piece:]

William Bierer, a long-time native to the area, had predicted a slide in the near future. Convinced of the validity of his theory, Bierer sold his ranch on Sheep Mountain to Guil Huff, an unsuspecting cattle rancher, in 1920. Bierer died in 1923 before his prophecy became reality.

Two years later, on the afternoon of June 23, 1925, Huff rode horseback down the river to the north side of Sheep Mountain where he had heard loud rumblings. He arrived at 4 p.m., in time to witness 50 million cubic yards of land mass descending rapidly toward him. He and his horse escaped the impact by a mere 20 feet.

By June 29, after heavy rains caused the dam to fill and overflow, the Huff house was floating in the lake.

A man-made dam has a built-in spillway so that the waters cannot top the dam, erode, and breech it. The slide dam, made by nature, was not equipped with a spillway.  Engineers, geologists, and scientists came to the area to study the slide; they determined that the dam formed as a result of the slide was permanent and safe.

 [Apparently, the flow of the river was able to infiltrate through the dam, rather than flowing over it (remember that the dam included blocks of sandstone bedrock).  Therefore, the dam was not being overtopped.]

Most of the local people accepted that decision and ceased worrying about a possible disaster, especially when the spring runoff in 1926 passed with no major problems.

The winter of 1927, however, was one of the most severe ever recorded in the state to that time. When spring arrived, the unusually deep snowpack melted quickly, aided by days of rain. On May 17, water began spilling over the low places of the dam.

Some local ranchers saw the water rising; they rode up towards the dam and saw that the top 60 feet of the dam had given way under the pressure of the excess water.  They turned around and headed for Kelly to warn the residents of the impending danger. By the time they arrived, the people had only 15 minutes in which to flee to safety.

Despite the warning, six lives were lost in the tragedy. The little town of Kelly was almost completely obliterated.

Here’s a back-in-the-day photo that accompanied the U.S. Forest Service piece.  It shows the raw slide scar (on the other side of the river).  I assume this photo was after the flood, since the river cuts a clear channel across the “dam”:

 old slide pic

This is a recent shot of the slide debris field with the slide scar in the background (Panoramio by NMNC):

 pano nmnc debris field and scar

Here’s a GE shot showing that Kelly is only about 4 miles downstream from the lake.  I wonder how they managed 15 minutes of warning to the poor folks of Kelly?  They must have seen the problem from quite a ways downstream of the dam.  But even so – let’s say the flood waters were moving at 20 mph (not unreasonable, could have been faster).  At 20 mph, it would only take 12 minutes for the water to travel four miles.  Oh, well . . .

 ge - kelly & slide area

Obviously, the dam didn’t completely fail; the lake’s still there, just much smaller than it was in 1927 prior to the big flood (it’s about 2 miles long today vs. 5 miles long before the flood).  Currently, the river overtops the dam (as it probably has since the flood).  Here’s a GE shot:

 ge - outfall over dam

I can only assume that some smart people have looked at the dam to be sure it’s stable now.  But hey, it has been there for 80 some years with no problems . . . .

 Here’s a GE Panoramio shot of the lower part of the lake (by Hobbes7714):

 pano hobbes 7714 lower part of lake

I wonder if the sunken trees are from 1925?  Nahhhhh . . . .    But really, why would there be trees in the lake if they weren’t from back before the slide???

 And a shot of the Gros Ventre river valley just below the lake, as it makes its way through the slide debris (Pano, Ralph Maughan):

 pano ralph, river just below lake

I’ll finish up with a bunch of lovely Panoramio photos from the vicinity of the lake.  Upstream from the lake in the Gros Ventre River valley is an area with very colorful rocks.  Here’s another shot by Ralph Maughan:

 pano red rock shot near the lake by ralph maughan

Ralph also took this artsy closeup of some of the rocks:

 pano great red rock shot near the lake by ralph maughan

Here’s yet another classic Teton Range shot, this one taken from just below the lake by Tim Jansa:

 pano tetons from the slide Tim Jansa

I’ll close with this great shot (also by Mr. Maughan) taken from above the lake looking west:

 pano ralph does it again red rocks, tetons 

That’ll do it.



  © 2013 A Landing A Day

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Jackson Hole, Wyoming

Posted by graywacke on January 18, 2014

First timer?  In this formerly once-a-day blog (and now more-or-less a twice 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.

 Landing number 2077; A Landing A Day blog post number 504.

 Dan –  Getting a little serious with a 1/6, thanks to this OSer landing in . . . WY; 73/66; 5/10; 149.6.  One more OSer, and I’ll be at 150 even . . .

 Here’s my regional landing map:


My local map shows that I landed near the Snake River Valley at the foot of the Teton Range (aka, Jackson Hole):


Obviously, I landed in the Snake River watershed (the relatively small part of the watershed that’s in WY as opposed to ID).  Here’s a more local shot, showing how a drop of water from my landing wends its way to the Snake:


This was my 74th hit for the Snake, which flows to the Columbia (148th hit).

 Here’s my Google Earth (GE) shot, looking east.  That’s Dry Creek to the left (north) of my landing:


Now looking west, and zooming back a fair bit, here’s a GE shot showing Jackson Hole and the Tetons:


Turning around once more, now I’m peaking over the crest of the Tetons, looking east at my landing (the yellow push-pin is faintly visible in the distance).


I’ve stumbled on a GE feature that will probably become a regular for my more scenic landings.  When using GE StreetView (which I do practically every landing), I “grab” the little orange dude icon on the right hand side of the GE screen, and put him on a nearby road that shows up blue (i.e., the roads with StreetView coverage).  When I let go of the orange guy, I zoom right down to the road, and up pops StreetView coverage.

 Occasionally, I have missed the blue-highlighted road sufficiently that GE is a little confused, and it gives instead a “ground level view,” close to the road I was aiming for.  When this happens, I just zoom back out, and try again for the road.  But then it hit me:  by putting the orange guy at my landing, I can effectively stand next to my landing and see what one would see if one were standing there.

 So here’s my ground level view, looking east:


Cool, eh?

 As you can tell by the post’s title, I’ve decided not to feature any particular town.  “Jackson Hole” refers to the Snake River Valley at the foot of the Tetons.   The major reason that Jackson Hole is so spectacular is the difference in elevation between the valley and the peaks.  Here’s a GE shot, with a little detail showing the elevation of Grand Teton Mountain, and the elevation of the Snake River:


Untold millions of photos have been taken here, many of which look more or less like this (a GE Panoramio shot by Tom Ringold):

 pano tom ringold

I know all of my readers are dying to know who “Jackson” is.  From the town of Jackson Chamber of Commerce website:

 It was David Jackson [a trapper and fur trader] who gave his name to the valley when he supposedly spent the winter of 1829 on the shores of Jackson Lake.  For the mountain men, a “hole” indicated a high valley that was surrounded by mountains, and William Sublette, who was Jackson ‘s partner in an early fur company, referred to the mountain valley along the Snake River as Jackson ‘s Hole.

By perusing Wiki, I’ve learned that the first white man to see the valley was John Colter, who was a member of the Lewis & Clarke expedition.  Lewis and Clarke never saw the Tetons; Colter returned west a couple of years after the expedition, and entered the valley from the east (along what is now Route 26, see landing map above).  After he crossed Togwotee Pass (about 25 miles east of the Hole), here’s more or less his first view of the Tetons (from Wiki):

 Tetons_from_Togwotee_Pass wiki

I hope that he thought it was staggeringly beautiful (as opposed to thinking, oh, sh__, another mountain range to cross).

Jackson Hole is one of the most beautiful places on the planet.  But first, there’s some interesting geology here, and I’m going to do my best to do it justice (as opposed to the innumerable insufferably boring/tedious geologic write-ups that I find everywhere . . .)

 Of course, the geologic story of the Tetons is complex, but here’s the cool part.  Only about 8 or 9 million years ago (right in the midst of the already-existing Rocky Mountains), a north-south fault opened up due to some tensional forces on the earth’s crust.  Some vertical forces were active as well, such that the west side of the fault uplifted, and the east side of the fault slipped downward.  (I tried to get some simplified explanations for the forces involved, but it quickly got over my head . . .)

 The vertical movement on this fault has so far exceeded five miles (about 30,000 feet).  Sounds like a lot, right?  Let’s do a little math.  30,000 feet divided by 8 million years = only 0.0038 feet/year (not even 1/16 of an inch!!).

 Phew.  As dramatic as the Tetons are, a movement of less than 1/16th of an inch per year got the job done.  Amazing what happens when you have millions of years to play with!

 Here’s a simplified cross section showing the 30,000 feet of movement:

 cross section

(Interestingly, this cross section came from the Genesis International Research Association, “devoted to finding the common ground between science & religion.”)

 Anyay, here’s a more complete cross section (from the National Park Service) that more or less shows the same thing:

 NPS cross section

(Note how units 5 and 7 used to line up, and that unit 7 has eroded away during the 8 million years of uplift.)  I’d guess they’re about 30,000 feet apart . . .)

 It is generally accepted that we ain’t done yet – that the Tetons will keep on growing!  There’s research going on to see if the fault moves only during earthquakes, or if it’s also moving very slowing without earthquakes.

 Here’s a picture showing the Teton Fault scarp (a “scarp” is an actual physical cliff that shows where active fault movement has recently occurred):

 carleton college fault scarp

I lifted this from the Carleton College (MN) website.  It’s a quiz question for beginning Earth Science students:  which number shows a fault scarp?  The answer is obviously 2!

 These are the youngest of the Rocky Mountains – not in terms of the age of the rocks (there are some really old rocks, like 2.5 billion-year-old rocks, making up the Tetons) – but rather in terms of how long the mountain peaks themselves have been around. 

 There’s another completely different geology story even closer to my landing!  To make sure you don’t get over-geologied in one fell swoop, I’ll give you a four-day breather.  That’s right, for the first time in A Landing A Day history, I’m going to do a two-part post for the same landing!  But first, some pretty GE Panoramio pictures . . . 

 I’ll start with this summertime shot by Doug Best:

 pano doug best summer

Here’s a winter shot from nearly the same place, by Richard Ryer:

 pano richard ryer winter

And an incredible reflective shot, once again by Doug Best:

 pano doug best

Lovely fence & flowers (with, what else, the Tetons in the background), by Kevin Mikkelsen:

pano kevin mikkelsen

And I’ll close, with this lovely shot of the ass end of a bison, by Aaron Nuffer:

 pano aaron nuffer

That’ll do it.



© 2013 A Landing A Day

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Grenville, South Dakota

Posted by graywacke on January 13, 2014

First timer?  In this formerly once-a-day blog (and now more-or-less a twice 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.

 Landing number 2076; A Landing A Day blog post number 503.

Dan –  I’m not happy about going 1/5 (but as long as my Score stays below 150, I’m OK), thanks to this OSer . . . SD; 57/52; 5/10; 149.2.

Here’s my regional landing map:

 landing 1

My local landing map shows that I landed next to Pickerel Lake, and not too far from the teeny weeny town of Grenville (pop 54):

 landing 2

Also not far away is the mysteriously-named “Enemy Swim Lake” (more about that later).

 My Google Earth (GE) shot shows my proximity to Pickerel Lake:

 GE 1

Stepping back a little, you’ll get to see the entire lake:

 GE 2

Before talking about my watershed, here’s a regional landing map, water only:

 landing 3

You can see that I landed amongst a multitude of lakes of varying sizes (with no streams or rivers anywhere in sight).  A little research determines that I landed in a portion of the “Prairie Pothole Region.”  Here’s a map from Wiki showing that the northeast corner of SD is just a small part of the entire region:


The PPR (I feel quite scholarly saying “PPR”) is a glacially-derived terrain that has resulted in a landscape dominated by innumerable depressions, ranging in size from a fraction of an acre to many hundreds of acres.  These depressions were formed by basically two mechanisms:

 1.  The advancing then retreating glaciers left an inherently irregular surface behind, often resulting in an undulating topography with multiple closed drainage areas (i.e., potholes).

2.  In conjunction with the above, chunks of ice were often left behind by retreating glaciers.  These chunks of ice were then covered by soils and sediments deposited by the glaciers.  When the chunks melted, a particular type of pothole resulted, known as a kettle.  If the kettle is large enough to support a lake, the lake is known as a kettle lake.

 This is a very young landscape, as the glaciers retreated a measly 10,000 years ago.  It just so happens that it’s also a semi-arid region, with precipitation averaging just 20” per year (more or less) – much less than the 45” for me here in New Jersey.  The result is that typical drainage patterns of small streams leading to small rivers leading to larger rivers just doesn’t exist.  There are very few streams; rainfall runoff and snowmelt simply flow into the nearest pothole.  If the pothole is dry, some of the water soaks in to the ground and some of the water evaporates.

 Larger kettle lakes may have very small streams flowing in, but typically don’t have a stream flowing out.

 Getting back to what I really care about (my landing), I’ll show my close-in GE shot once again:

 GE 1

See that teardrop-shaped area just south of my landing?  That’s a dry pothole.  (The larger dark splotch north of my landing is a wet pothole, aka a pond).  Anyway, when it rains, water that falls on my landing ends up in that little teardrop-shaped dry pothole.  I assume that if a major rainfall occurs (or if there’s a lot of melting snow), that little pothole might overflow and the runoff might make it all the way to Pickerel Lake. 

 Pickerel Lake is a kettle lake with no outlet; so there’s no more drainage to speak of . . .

 A while back I mentioned Enemy Swim Lake.  From USGenNet.org:

 Indian name—”Tak-ain-wey-api”(Enemy Swim). There are several versions of its name origin; this one came from Abe Crawford, Felix Rondell and John One Row:  In 1812, a band of Sisseton Sioux were camped on the south bank of the lake.  A band of warring Cheyennes came from the north, and were looking for a scrap with their enemies the Sioux. They ran into the camp of the latter, a battle took place, and the Sioux got the best of them. To save themselves the Cheyennes took the water, and swam across the lake.

Before moving on, I guess I have to say something about the titular town of this post, Grenville.  After some digging, I found Volume 9 of “South Dakota Historical Collections.”  Here is an excerpt of a debate among some SD politicos (that I believe occurred in 1864) about how to deal with the Indians, so when “the President” is mentioned, it’s Lincoln.  It’s worth the read . . .






The guy talking (a Senator Sherman) was a realist.  He realized that the treaties were worthless, and if we want to help the Indians, we need to do it with legislated aid, not more treaties that would inevitably be broken  . . .

Moving right along.  While looking at a wider map view, this is what I saw:

 landing 4

Hmmm, thought I.  This is familiar territory.  In fact, it made me hearken back to one of my favorite posts, Doran MN (posted on June 10, 2009).  This post featured some very unique hydrology going on in the vicinity of Browns Valley.  

So, for the second post in a row, I’m going to borrow some material from an older post:

 Here’s a map, showing “Lake Traverse” which is a headwaters lake for the Red River (a tributary of which flows north out of Lake Traverse).   The Red River continues north, eventually discharging into the Nelson River and then Hudson Bay.  

A little bit downstream, the Little Minnesota flows into big Stone Lake.   From there, the Little Minnesota flows to the Minnesota which flows to the Mississippi.


So right there near the town of Browns Valley is a significant watershed divide, with water either going to the Hudson Bay or to the Gulf of Mexico!!

 What’s fascinating is that the land between the Little Minnesota and Lake Traverse is pretty much flat.  Check out this picture that shows the flood of March 2007.  We’re looking south from Lake Traverse in the foreground towards Big Stone Lake. The flooding you see (south of Lake Traverse) is from the Little Minnesota.


Look carefully, and you’ll see that water’s coming into Lake Traverse from some kind of opening under the highway (a little way in from the lower right corner of the photo).  Think about it!!  At that moment, the continental divide is actually within a body of water!! So, two adjacent water molecules might be flowing down the flooded Little Minnesota. They just happen to flow toward the passageway into Lake Traverse.   As fate would have it, one molecule hangs a left ends up in Hudson Bay; while the other stays straight and ends up in the Gulf of Mexico. Very cool. Very cool, indeed . . .

 Moving right along:  I’ve read that the Red River of the North has a relatively flat gradient, which makes the river sluggish, and more susceptible to flooding.  I also read that the gradient is getting progressively even flatter, because of isostatic rebound.

Isostatic rebound is the phenomenon whereby the land surface actually raises when the load of glacial ice is removed. Even though the glacial ice left 10,000 years ago, isostatic rebound is continuing today.  Because the glaciers were thicker and lasted longer further north, the land further north is rebounding more. Therefore, the river gradient is getting progressively flatter.

 Imagine if isostatic rebound were to continue indefinitely. It could be imagined that the Red River (or at least parts of it) could begin to flow south, joining up with the Little Minnesota. My oh my, what hydrological havoc!!!

 Disclaimer: I strongly suspect that hydrologists have looked at this and have concluded that it won’t happen. I just found it fun to think about . . .

 Prompted by my own disclaimer, I did the following Google search:  Browns Valley isostatic rebound.  Bingo!  I found an article (from MinnPost.com) that goes to lengths to explain why flooding is such a persistent problem for the Red River.  The article is entitled “Too often a losing battle: Geological forces are stacked against the Red River Valley.”  

Here’s the excerpt from the article that talks about isostatic rebound:

 And there is yet one more geological problem that is playing out in the background of the flooding: Canada is literally rising.

 “The weight of the glaciers depressed the surface of the Earth and since the glaciers receded, the land to the north has been rising,” Thorliefson [Harvey Thorliefson, head of the Minnesota Geologic Survey] said. The ice sheet that covered Canada was more than 2 miles thick. When it melted starting about 12,000 years ago, the land that had been under the ice quickly rose, or “rebounded,” almost 1,000 feet. In the intervening 10,000 years or so, it has risen another 1,000 feet and, according to Thorliefson, still has another 650 to 1,000 feet to go.

 Why that matters is that the Red River flows downhill into Canada, and the bottom of the hill is rising. The river has already lost 50 percent of its gradient, Thorliefson said, and will lose more over the next few thousand years. It won’t be enough to make the river reverse direction and flow south, but it will slow the already-slow river even more, thus increasing the danger from floods. “It will become gradually more sluggish,” he said.

 Phew! I’m hydrologically and geologically exhausted.

 There you have it.  I particularly like where the two water molecules were traveling together (mere microns apart), but were torn asunder and ended up separated by 2,000 miles – the distance from the Hudson Bay to the Gulf of Mexico . . .

 I’ll close with a Panoramio shot (by WeFish) that was taken from the eastern shore of Pickerel Lake (very close to my landing).  We’re looking across the lake at the setting sun . . .

 wefish pano 

That’ll do it.



© 2013 A Landing A Day

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McDermitt, Oregon

Posted by graywacke on January 9, 2014

First timer?  In this formerly once-a-day blog (and now more-or-less a twice 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.

 Landing number 2075; A Landing A Day blog post number 502.

Dan –  My Score remains well under 150 in spite of this OSer landing in . . . OR; 80/67; 6/10; 148.8.  Here’s my regional landing map:

landing 1

 My local landing map shows that I landed about 25 miles north of McDermitt, which is right on the OR / NV border:

 landing 2

Is any of this familiar?  If you’re a regular reader, it should be.  Landing 2047 (posted August 28th and entitled “Orovada, Nevada) was 25 miles south of McDermitt, as opposed to 25 miles north for this landing.  That post featured McDermitt more than Orovada (more about McDermitt later).

 Anyway, here’s my Google Earth (GE) shot:

 GE 1

You can see that I landed near a ridge top.  By the way, we’re looking north, and as you can see, the drainage heads west and northwest.

 Backing up (and still looking north), you can see that the rare drop of water that lands on my landing spot basically heads north, but gets stranded in the playa (a dry lake bed with no outlet).

 GE 2

Here’s a very cool GE panoramio shot by PNPLibi, taken from a point about halfway between my landing and the playa.  I believe that we’re looking north, and the light splotch on the right side of the photo in front of the mountains might be the playa itself!


 As long as I’m in GE, here’s a shot that shows today’s landing as well as the Orovada landing mentioned earlier:

 GE 3

The Southeast corner of Oregon is pretty well deserted, and McDermitt is the only game in town.  I know this is pretty cheap, but I’m going to repeat the portion of my Orovada post that discusses McDermitt:

 Moving along to McDermitt, from Wiki:

 McDermitt straddles the Nevada–Oregon border.  McDermitt’s economy has historically been based on mining, ranching and farming, although the last mining operation closed in 1990, resulting in a steady decline in population.

 Mining in the area has included gold, uranium, silver and, most notably, mercury.  In fact, from 1939 until 1989, this area was the leading producer of mercury in the United States.  Here’s a picture of the mercury mineral kleinite (yellow) on calcite (white), from the Cordero mine near McDermitt:


Back to Wiki:

 The state line goes through the White Horse Inn, a historical landmark now being restored, which was a saloon, hotel, and (reportedly) brothel.  When it was open, food could be ordered and paid for in Oregon, avoiding the Nevada state sales tax.

 Here’s a GE shot with the White Horse Inn and the State Line marked out.  Well, the line almost goes through the building . . .


Here’s a picture of the White Horse Inn, from Trip Advisor:


The community, originally called Dugout, was named after Fort McDermit, which in turn was named after Lt. Col. Charles McDermit.   It is not known why there is a discrepancy in the spelling.

 Here’s ALAD’s take on the extra “t” in McDermitt:  One of the most powerful and persuasive members on the town-naming committee absolutely never cursed, and strongly frowned on the practice.   He thought that “Dermit” was two close to “damn it.”  Adding the extra “t” added a little extra distance between the town and the curse . . .

 Dugout / McDermitt joins a list of ALAD communities where I would prefer the original, more colorful town name. My regular readers probably expect that I would now post this so-called list.  OK, OK, so maybe I don’t keep track of absolutely all things landing.

  I found this back-in-the-day shot of McDermitt (from Trip Advisor), which shows the town just before a July 4th horse race, circa 1930):


I must admit that I feel a little ashamed to so wantonly steal from a previous post.  Oh, well . . .

 Anyway, here’s a GE Panoramio shot from the top of Blue Mountain about five miles east of my landing (check out my closer-in landing map).  Since we’re looking west, my landing is pretty much in front of the sun somewhere out there. . . .

 oldadit from blue mtn

Here’s a shot from Route 95 near Blue Mountain (Panoramio, by David Goulart):

 david goulart

Here’s a Panoramio shot by ShadowRider from more-or-less the same location, but in winter (and I presume looking in a different direction):


For my closing shot, I’m going to wander a little further afield, going about 35 miles northeast of my landing to visit the Pillars of Rome.  Here’s a Panoramio shot of the pillars by Grakster:


That’ll do it.



© 2013 A Landing A Day

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Des Allemands, Louisiana

Posted by graywacke on January 5, 2014

First timer?  In this formerly once-a-day blog (and now more-or-less a twice 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.

 Landing number 2074; A Landing A Day blog post number 501.

 Dan –  Pretty much on the heels of my Baton Rouge LA landing, I’m back once again in good ol’ . . . LA; 35/35; 7/10; 148.4.  Here’s my regional landing map:


My more local landing map shows that I landed just outside of Des Allemands:


You can see that the Bayou Des Allemands flows right through the town, and of course, that’s my watershed.  The Bayou Des Allemands flows to the Bayou Perot, which makes its way to the Gulf of Mexico.  In my judgment (and mine is the only judgment that matters), neither of these Bayous make it to “river” status.

 Backing out a little more, you can see that both Des Allemands (the town and bayou) aren’t all that far from New Orleans:


My Google Earth (GE) shot shows what appears to be a farm field of some sort.  Rice?  I haven’t a clue.


Zooming out, here’s a more regional shot, including the New Orleans metro area:


I love the way the MM snakes its way along . . .

 Heading back to the town of Des Allemands.  As is my custom, the first order of business is pronunciation.  According to the “Unique Local Pronunciation Guide” on the website AARoads.com, here ‘tis:

 dess – ALL – munds

 From Wiki, here’s some info:

 “Des Allemands” means “of the Germans” in French.

 [Wow.  Here we are in the good ol’ US of A, and the name of the town is in French, but means, “of the Germans.”  I guess this could only happen in Louisiana, but I sure don’t know about the German angle.  Anyway, back to Wiki . . . ]

Des Allemands was settled in 1721 by immigrants to the colony of Louisiana from Germany under the leadership of John Law and the “Company of the Indies”.  The German Louisiana colony was originally up the Mississippi River in what is now Arkansas, but experienced hostility from the local Native Americans in that area, and moved to a location much closer to the colonial capital of New Orleans.

 From Acadian-cajun.com, here’s a poster that was used to recruit Germans to partake in the Louisiana adventure (presumably after the Arkansas disaster):

 acadian-cajun.com old poster

The popular name for the German settlements along the Mississippi River upstream from New Orleans was the “German Coast.”

 From Wiki, about the German Coast:

The German Coast (French: Côte des Allemands) was a region of early Louisiana settlement located above New Orleans, primarily on the east side of the Mississippi River.

[Des Allemands is one of the exceptions, on the west side of the river.]

When John Law’s Company of the Indies folded in 1731, the Germans became independent land-owners.  Despite periodic flooding, hurricanes, and the rigors of frontier life, the German pioneers made a success of their settlements. Their farming endeavors provided food not only for themselves but also for New Orleans’ residents. Some historians credit these German farmers with the survival of early New Orleans.

From the time of their arrival, the German immigrants began speaking French and intermarried with the early French settlers. Over the subsequent decades they intermarried with the descendants of the latter as well as the Acadians. Together with other settlers, they helped create Cajun culture. For example, German settlers introduced the diatonic accordion to the region, which become the main instrument in Cajun [and Zydeco] music.

 [Who’d a thunk?  The Germans are why that great Cajun and Zydeco music relies so heavily on the accordion!]

The German Coast was the site of the largest slave revolt in US history, the 1811 German Coast Uprising. Leaders were Quamana and Harry, slaves, and Charles Deslondes who gathered an estimated 200 slaves from plantations along the River Road and marched toward New Orleans.

During their two-day, twenty-mile march, the men burned five plantation houses (three completely), several sugarhouses, and crops. They were armed mostly with hand tools.

White men led by officials of the territory formed militia companies to hunt down and kill the insurgents.

The initial battle was brief. Within a half hour of the attack, 40 to 45 slaves had been killed.  The remainder slipped away into the woods.

Over the next two weeks, white planters and officials interrogated, tried and executed an additional 44 insurgents who had been captured. Executions were by hanging or decapitation. Whites displayed the bodies as a warning to intimidate slaves. The heads of some were put on pikes and displayed at plantations.

Phew.  A Landing A Day has been presenting some rather graphic violence during my latest posts.  First, the Fetterman Massacre (my Story, WY post), then the Hay Meadow Massacre (my Hugoton KS post), and now this . . .

 Moving on to a subject much more pleasant, I saw in Wiki that Des Allemands hosts an annual Catfish Festival.  Here are some excerpts from a June 9, 2013 Times Picayune article by Angel Thompson:

In 1975, Gov. Edwin Edwards signed a proclamation declaring Des Allemands the Catfish Capital of the World, and in 1980, the Legislature passed a resolution naming it the Catfish Capital of the Universe.

Des Allemands will honor the king of its fishing industry June 21-23. Admission and parking are free.

Pay-one-price rides, games, food, a country store, a quilt raffle, a plant booth and craft booths will be open throughout the weekend.

A catfish-skinning exhibition will be June 22 from 2:30 to 3 p.m. and June 23 from 2 to 2:30 p.m.

Dancing music will be provided throughout the weekend, including:

 [Note:  I did a little research and added the genre info.]

Don Rich (Swamp Pop)

  • Ruff-n-Ready (Party Rock)
  • No Way Out (Variety Band)
  • Aaron Foret (Swamp Pop)
  • Warren Storm (“the Godfather of Swamp Pop”)
  • Stanley Mann (??; more about Stanley, below)
  • Willie T and the Cypress Band (Swamp Pop)
  • Tout Les Soir (Cajun)
  • 90 Degrees West (high energy modern country) and
  • Louisiana Road House (Swamp Pop / oldies).

Catfish platters, boats, po-boys and sauce piquante will be served, as well as seafood gumbo, hamburgers, hot dogs, french fries and other foods.

 Very cool.  I’d love to go to the 2014 festival (June 20 – 22).  I can just about guarantee that both the music and the food are great!

 But I had to learn a little more about the music, particularly “Swamp Pop.”  In spite of 40 or so trips to Louisiana (primarily New Orleans), I’m not familiar with Swamp Pop.

 Here’s a little history of Swamp Pop from Wiki:

As children, swamp pop musicians listened to (and often performed) traditional Cajun music and black Creole (zydeco) music, as well as popular country and western (hillbilly) songs. In the mid-1950s, however, like other American youths, they discovered the alluring new sounds of rock and roll and rhythm and blues artists like Elvis Presley and Fats Domino.

As a result, these teenaged Cajuns and black Creoles stopped playing Louisiana French folk music and instead began to sing rock and roll and rhythm and blues compositions in English. At the same time, they switched from folk instruments like the accordion, fiddle, and iron triangle to typical rock n’ roll instruments:  the electric guitar and bass, keyboards, saxophone, and drums.

Just because Don Rich is first on the list, I’ve chosen a Don Rich example of Swamp Pop music (“Party Time”) for your listening pleasure:


 I can just imagine all of those two-steppers out on the dance floor . . .

 Note that after “Stanley Mann,” I added “??.”  Well, the only Stanley Mann I could find is paired with Terry Gajraj.  You gotta check out their video:


I actually really like the video!  A little internet research shows that the lead singer is Terry Gajraj, “the premier Chutney / Soca / Reggae singer and musician from the Caribbean.”  OK, OK, so he didn’t play at the Catfish Festival.  But I still don’t know who Stanley Mann is (but I’m glad I stumbled on Mr. Gajraj.

 I’ll close with this GE Panoramio photo entitled “Swamp, Des Allemands, LA” by Thomas Ueberhoff:

 pano tom ueberhoff

That’ll do it.




© 2013 A Landing A Day

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Hugoton, Kansas

Posted by graywacke on January 1, 2014

First timer?  In this formerly once-a-day blog (and now more-or-less a twice 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.

 Landing number 2073; A Landing A Day blog post number 500.

 Dan –  Before I slip into my accustomed posting mode, take a second to read the sentence just above.  There it is:  A Landing A Day blog post number 500!!

 As soon as I posted, I took a Word Press screen shot.  Of course, I had to go back in to the post so I could add this shot:


Back to the usual . . .

 I’m still below 150 in spite of my second OSer in a row, thanks to this landing in . . . KS; 60/56; 7/10; 149.0.

 Here’s my regional landing map:


Moving closer in, we can see the usual plethora of small towns:


When faced with multiple titular candidates, I do my usual slew of Google searches, looking for the oft-elusive hook.  I spent the most time looking at Johnson City (it being the closest and all), but the winner (obviously) was Hugoton.

 My Google Earth shot shows (surprise, surprise) that I landed in a farm field:


Before moving on to Hugoton, we all need to know what watershed I landed in.  As it turned out, it was tough to figure out which way the drainage went:  northeast towards the Arkansas, or southeast towards the Cimarron.  After futzing around for a while with the GE elevation tool, the winner was the Cimarron (14th hit); then, on to the Arkansas (112th hit), to the MM (816th hit).  What made it tough is that it’s very flat and quite dry, so I could find no streams to follow . . .

 On to Hugoton, from Wiki:

Settlers from McPherson, Kansas established a settlement in what was then west-central Seward County, Kansas in 1885.

 [McPherson wasn’t good enough for ‘em, eh?]

They originally named this settlement Hugo in honor of French writer Victor Hugo.

[OK, OK, so I don’t know beans about Victor Hugo.  After a quick Wiki-peek-ia, I see that he wrote a couple of famous novels:  Les Miserables and The Hunchback of Notre Dame.  I guess I knew that . . .]

However, the town changed its name to Hugoton to distinguish it from Hugo, Colorado.

[Seems to me that being in a different state is sufficient differentiation!  And Hugoton – I think Hugoville would be better – and it sounds more French.]

 In 1886, the Kansas Legislature established the surrounding area as Stevens County, and Gov. John Martin designated Hugoton as the interim county seat. This set off a violent county seat war with nearby Woodsdale.

Hugoton became the permanent county seat in 1887, but the conflict continued, culminating in the Hay Meadow Massacre.

Are you kidding me?  A “county seat war,” culminating in the Hay Meadow Massacre?  Oh my, I’ve developed quite the Google itch needs scratching . . .

I’ll start with the town of Woodsdale.  Well, after Woodsdale lost the fight and Hugoton became the county seat, Woodsdale just faded away.  Here’s a GE shot of Woodsdale today:

GE Woodsdale

That’s right:  there’s nothing there – nada, zip, rien.  Zooming back a a little you can see where Woodsdale is (was?) relative to Hugoton and my landing:

GE Woodsdale2

 Here’s a broad summary of what went down (from Wiki):

The Hay Meadow Massacre, July 25, 1888, was the most violent event of the Stevens County, Kansas, county seat fight.

In July 1888, Sam Robinson, the marshal of Hugoton and a group of men supporting Hugoton for the county seat planned an outing in No Man’s Land just south of the county (what later became the OK Panhandle).  Ed Short, the marshal of Woodsdale and Woodsdale supporter, learned of the outing and gathered some men of the opposing faction. They caught up with Robinson, Robinson eluded them.

Short, feeling they needed more help, sent for reinforcements. Sheriff John M. Cross, also a Woodsdale booster, and four others headed out to search for the Hugoton party. Not finding them, they camped for the night on a hay meadow at Wild Horse Lake.

Meanwhile, Robinson’s friends had organized a group of Hugoton supporters with the intentions of rescuing him. They met Robinson and returned to the strip. Locating the Woodsdale camp at the hay meadow, they surrounded the meny and killed four of them and injured the fifth.

The Hugoton party, believing they had killed all of Woodsdale group, returned, saying that they had killed the party in a shootout. However, the surviving member and a group of haymakers that witnessed the event stated that the Woodsdale party had been captured, disarmed, and then executed.

The state militia was called out and the Hugoton men arrested, but it was soon determined that no court had jurisdiction in No Man’s Land. Eventually the case was tried before the United States Court for the Eastern District of Texas. Seven men were convicted of murder and sentenced to death. On appeal, however, the Supreme Court held that the Paris court had no jurisdiction and no sentence was carried out.

Here’s some very juicy details from an article by Ken Butler on OKOLHA.net (the article that was the main reference for Wiki):

Not long after Cross and his men had settled in for the night (near two of the haystacks in the meadow), Robinson and his band of men arrived at the Haas camp and abruptly awakened the lot.  The Cross posse had not expected any trouble during the night and only one or two of the men were able to reach a gun, but seeing that they were outnumbered they did not fire.  All weapons were taken from Sheriff Cross and his men.

It is reported that as Robinson slowly raised his rifle he said, “Sheriff Cross, you are my first man” and coldly pulled the trigger.  After killing the Sheriff, Robinson and his men fired their guns pointblank into each of the unarmed Woodsdale posse.

After the men had been gunned down, matches were lit and held to their faces to confirm their death.  Some of the victims were shot a second time.  When confident that all of the Woodsdale men were dead, Robinson and his posse left the bodies of Sheriff Cross and his four men as they fell.

One of the posse, Herbert Tooney had been shot through the neck but was still alive.  He had feigned death so well that he had not been shot again.  After he was confident that all had left, he began to move about and check his companions, but found no sign of life. Tooney slowly made his way to his staked horse and with great effort he mounted the animal.

After riding a few miles, the 19-year old wounded man came upon an old “buffalo wallow”.   His desperate condition prompted him to dismount and lie down in the muck.   A few minutes in the sludge renewed his hope to survive.  Tooney got back on his horse and continued riding north.

 There’s a survival story the likes of which you’ve never heard!  Anyway, Tooney is the guy who testified against the Hugoton group.  Here’s a picture of the actual murder scene – dead bodies and all –  taken (I assume) the day after:

hay meadow massacre

 And this all happened because some pumped up dudes’ egos were out of control ABOUT A STUPID COUNTY SEAT!!!!!  AYKM??  No need to wonder why mankind is always at war . . .

 I need to calm down with some soothing photos, starting with this back-in-the-day shot of Main Street in Hugoton:

 back in the day shot of hugoton

I’ll close with this rural Kansas Panoramio shot by “Mario)))”:

mario))) pano

 That’ll do it.




© 2013 A Landing A Day

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