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Archive for February, 2014

Plains and Kismet, Kansas (revisited)

Posted by graywacke on February 24, 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 2085; A Landing A Day blog post number 513.

 Dan –  When I saw my random lat/long, I thought that maybe I landed in north Texas.  No such luck, as I landed north of Texas and north of the Oklahoma panhandle and into the southwest corner of this OSer . . . KS; 61/56; 2/10; 150.2.  Note that I’m back in the 150s . . .

 Here’s my regional landing map:


My local landing map shows a veritable plethora of small towns (I should come up with another phrase instead of “veritable plethora”):


This all seemed a little familiar, because not too many landings ago (12 to be exact) I landed not far from here:


Remember my Hugoton post?  The one about the crazy County Seat War? 

 Also –  as I was checking out Plains (the closest town), I got another flash of familiarity.  More about Plains a little later, but first, my Google Earth (GE) shot:


No surprises here (and no StreetView coverage, either); although I think the scenery is pretty consistent over a very large area.  Thinking that, I went south of my landing to Route 54, and took a look at the StreetView shot.  I happened to notice that a pick-up truck was passing the Google StreetView camera car. 

 Using my new-found screen capture skills, I produced this enthralling video (at least, it gives you a feel for the landscape):


Moving right along to my watershed analysis.  It look a while, but using the GE elevation tool, I figured out that drainage from my landing site headed southeast, towards Crooked Creek.  Here’s a streams-only landing map:


As you can see, I’m in the Cimarron River watershed (15th hit); on the Arkansas (113th hit); on to the MM (819th hit).  By the way, this was my 11th “Crooked Creek” watershed in which I have landed.

  Here’s a more regional shot to show most of the Arkansas River system:


 Anyway, like I said before, it’s time to get back to Plains (which seemed familiar).  So familiar, in fact, that I was pretty sure I landed near hear and did a post about Plains.

 Yup.  Back in March 2011, I had a “Plains and Kismet, Kansas” post.  Here’s a map showing where I landed back then, relative to today’s landing:


My first choice in this situation was to find a hook associated with one of the other small towns in the area.  Much Google time spent, no results.

 Combine this with the fact that I was in the very same area just 12 landings ago, and I decided that I would more-or-less repeat a good chunk of my March 2011 post.  Here goes . . .

 Plains & Kismet are pretty-much typical high plains towns – settled as agricultural hubs in the late 1800s as the railroads pushed through.  Plains has a claim to fame, as discussed in the Meade County Economic Development website:

 From the book: “Plains, Kansas – 100 Years” by Joyce Knott:

 In 1901 and 1902, Albert Hempel and Don T. Edwards surveyed and laid out the  main street of Plains, Kansas. Asked why they made it so wide, they answered, “There was plenty of no-good ground, so it just as well be in a street.”

 Grand Avenue is nearly a half block wide. It is the widest main street in the United States, Bob Ripley once stated in his “Believe It or Not” column.

 The street was unpaved until 1929, when the city council decided to pave half of each side of the street with bricks. Noticing that the street was twice as wide as most cities main streets, Simon Elliott, then mayor of the town, added a raised brick sidewalk down the center of the street. The walk, stretching three blocks through the center of town, is known as “Simon’s Monumnet.” The city doubled its on-street parking by allowing parking along both sides of “Simon’s Monument” as well as along the sides of the street.

 Today the street, including 12 foot wide sidewalks along the sides, measures 155 feet, 5 inches across, store front to store front.

 Here’s a picture of Main Street from the same website:

plains 1

And here’s another, from Panaramio (by Marnox1, who points out that the trees in the distance are in the middle of the street):

plains 2

Just down the road from Plains, here’s a picture from Panaramio, by “Scarulu 16” which is inexplicably labeled “Arco Iris Sobre El Hill:”

plains 3


Here are some back-in-the-day shots of Plains from OldMeadeCounty.com, starting with an overview from the early 1900s:


plains 4


Wow.  That’s what it looks like when you just plunk down a town on the open prairie.  A few years later, the town is more substantial.  Here’s a picture of Grand Avenue from the 1920s:


plains 5


And this, a bunch of folks posing during a 1906 flood (I love this photo!):


plains 6


Moving on to Kismet –  I found a website from rootsweb/ancestry.com, about the Olin family.  (Kismet was founded by Alfred & Emeline Olin).  Here’s what they had to say:

 Although no records have been located as to the origin of the name “Kismet” for the town, it has been surmised that the “fate or “the end” (which are dictionary meanings of “Kismet”) of the railroad as it traveled west hinged on its successful crossing of the Cimarron River just to the west of Kismet. The railroad made that crossing at Arkalon where several years later a train went into the river. At that time the track was built in a more direct route with the mighty “Samson of the Cimarron” bridge across the river.

 Here’s a picture of the Samson bridge, also from Marnox1:


kismet 1


Here are some Kismet photos, from Dankalal.net, which presents a series of motorcycle travel blogs.  This, from a Nov 26, 2006 trip:

 kismet 2


I’ll close with this wonderful picture of the Plains High School 1923 girl’s basketball team (from OldMeadeCounty):


That’ll do it.




© 2013 A Landing A Day

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Van Horn, Texas

Posted by graywacke on February 21, 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 2084; A Landing A Day blog post number 512.

 Dan –  When I needed a USer to get me back below 150, what better state than the granddaddy of USers . . . TX; 152/183; 2/10; 149.9.  Here’s my regional landing map, showing I landed in the heart of West Texas:


My local landing map shows that I landed out in the middle of nowhere, a full 24 miles from the nearest town (which happens to be Van Horn):


My Google Earth (GE) shot shows a vague arid landscape:


Zooming back and looking southeast, you can see that I’m about 4 miles from a bluff marking the edge of what appears to be a plateau:

GE1 - A 

I’ll be closing this post with some photos from this high country, but first, what about my watershed?

 Well, Street Atlas showed me nothing, so I had to use the GE elevation tool and trace the downhill route that a drop of water would take from my landing.  After heading off to the southwest (towards the Rio Grande, I presumed), my drainage path headed in a northerly direction.  On and on I went, until I ended up in a closed basin (a playa).  Here’s a GE shot showing both my landing and the distant playa:


I noted that my drop of water crosses I-10 on my way up north to the playa.  Here’s a view of where the drainage crosses I-10 (looking south, or upstream):

 GE3 - at I-10

That’s quite the culvert, undoubtedly designed for a nasty cloudburst that results in a flash flood.

 Here’s a GE StreetView shot, looking downstream from the access road that runs right next to I‑10:

 GE I-10 street view at culvert

A north-south road (US 54) runs about a mile west of the playa.  Here’s a StreetView shot looking east from the road towards the playa.  Maybe the playa is the faint light-colored strip.  But then again, maybe not . . .

 GE playa

So little Van Horn (pop 2000) has some definite hooks.  I’ll start with a couple of points of minor interest:

 Point #1:  Van Horn has the distinction of being the western-most town in the Central Time Zone.  My more geographically-astute readers may be aware that TX is a Central Time Zone state, but would be inclined to ask, “What about El Paso?  That’s way out in the western tip of West Texas?”

 Well, check out this map!


Look closely.  Not all of Texas is in the Central Time Zone!  Most importantly, El Paso is in the Mountain Time Zone, and voila!  Van Horn becomes the western-most town in the Central!

 Point #2:  U.S. Highway 90 ends in Van Horn.  “No big deal,” one might be inclined to think.  But hey!  Route 90 begins in St. Augustine FL and is an important east-west highway along the Gulf Coast (and was way more important prior to the Interstate Highway system).  Anyway, here’s a map:

 US_90_map wiki

Point of minor Route 90 interest:  My wife Jody and I have very good friends who live in New Orleans (Yo! Susan & Kelly), on a side street only two houses away from U.S. 90 (Gentilly Blvd.).

 Second point of minor Route 90 interest:  Its entire length is part of the “Old Spanish Trail” which is an automobile route conceived of in 1915 and completed in 1920 that connected St. Augustine with San Diego (a trip of 3,000 miles, all on paved roads).  The far western part of the Trail was primarily U.S. Highway 80 (now replaced by I-10 and I‑8).

 Moving right along, here’s a little Van Horn history from Wiki:

 Anglo-Texan settlement of Van Horn began in the late 1850s, supportive of the San Antonio-El Paso Overland Mail route.  The town is instead named for Lt. James Judson Van Horn, who commanded an army garrison at the Van Horn Wells beginning in 1859. Lt. Van Horn’s command was relatively short-lived as the post was seized by Confederate forces in 1861 and Lt. Van Horn taken prisoner.

A lowly lieutenant was a garrison commander?  Also, I suspect that very few (if any) towns anywhere have been named for a lieutenant (unless the lieutenant went on to do something else).

 Of greater interest, the Wiki write-up has a section entitled “Space Tourism,” as well as a section entitled “10,000 Year Clock.”  Very interesting . . .  (said in the German-accented voice of Arte Johnson as the German soldier on Laugh-In.)  Oops, I guess I dated myself a little.  I regularly watched (and loved watching) Laugh-In which ran from January 1968 (my senior year in high school) through March 1973 (second semester of my last year in college).

Memory’s a funny thing.  I felt sure that my whole family sat around the TV watching Laugh-In, but obviously, most of the time, I must have been with college buddies watching it . . .

 Whack!  (I just slapped myself upside the head to get me back on track.)

Let’s start with Space Tourism in Van Horn.  Here’s what Wiki has to say:

In late 2006, the Wall Street Journal reported that Jeff Bezos, founder and CEO of amazon.com, had acquired 290,000 acres (453 sq mi) of land 25 miles (40 km) north of Van Horn to house his fledgling space tourism company, Blue Origin.

An incredible hunk of real estate!  If it were a square, it would be more than 21 miles on a side!  And it just so happens that their launch facilities are very close to my drainage-destination playa:

 GE - blue origin

Here’s what Wiki has to say about Blue Origin:

Blue Origin is a privately funded aerospace company set up by Amazon.com founder Jeff Bezos. The company is developing technologies to enable private human access to space with the goal of dramatically lower cost and increased reliability. It is employing an incremental approach from suborbital to orbital flight, with each developmental step building on its prior work.

The company motto is “Gradatim Ferociter”, Latin for “Step-by-Step, Ferociously.”  Blue Origin is developing a variety of technologies, with a focus on rocket-powered Vertical Takeoff and Vertical Landing vehicles for access to suborbital and orbital space.

Initially focused on sub-orbital spaceflight, the company has built and flown its New Shepard spacecraft design at their Culberson County, Texas facility.  Blue Origin hoped to be flying customers by the end of 2012.  As of 2013, however, the company website has made no statements about the date of its first flights.

Here’s a GE Panoramio aerial shot of the facilities by SoCalAviator:

 pano SoCalAviator

Here’s a GE close-up of the launch pad (in the foreground of the above photo).  It ain’t much, just a couple of hundred yards across:

 GE launch pad - 200 yds across

So, I went to Blue Origin’s website, which I encourage you to do also (not surprisingly, blueorigin.com).  I found this cool video of their launch vehicle doing its Vertical Takeoff & Vertical Landing thing (which happened in November 2011):


 Here’s another video, this of the capsule blasting off and then coming back down via parachute.  Normally, the capsule would be on top of the launch vehicle.  I believe that this video shows a test of the “suborbital capsule escape system,” which is designed to bring the capsule back down safely in the event of a problem with the launch vehicle:


 Ouch!  That landing seemed a little rough . . .

 Moving right along, here’s the Wiki article on Van Horn has to say about the 10,000 year clock:

 In 2009, The Van Horn Advocate announced that the Long Now Foundation was starting geologic testing for an underground space to house a 10,000 Year Clock of the Long Now, on the Bezos ranch, north of Van Horn.

 This “Long Now” clock was immediately familiar to me.  I searched my landings, and son of a gun there it was – in my Baker NV post (June 2010), I wrote about the Long Now Foundation and their 10,000 year clock.  It turns out that a location near Baker had been selected by the Foundation to build and house the 10,000 year clock. 

 Well, it looks like they scrapped the Baker site and are now focusing on the Van Horn site, perhaps lured by Jeff Bezos and Blue Origin.  As with Blue Origin, I strongly suggest that my readers visit the Long Now Foundation website:  longnow.org.  Pretty wild. 

 Here’s what Wiki says about Long Now:

The Long Now Foundation, established in 1996, is a private, non-profit organization based in San Francisco that seeks to become the seed of a very long-term cultural institution. It aims to provide a counterpoint to what it views as today’s “faster/cheaper” mindset and to promote “slower/better” thinking.

The Long Now Foundation hopes to “creatively foster responsibility” in the framework of the next 10,000 years.  They use a 5-digit date (02014 rather than 2014) because (quoting from their website):  “the extra zero is to solve the deca-millennium bug which will come into effect in about 8,000 years.”

Of course, I’m going to focus on the clock here in West Texas.  According to the website, the clock is currently being built inside of a mountain.  In fact, here’s a photo from the Long Now website of the clock site:

 long now-clockone-001b

This looks about right for the mountains just west of my playa and also just west of the Blue Origin facilities.  That would be my playa in the distance. in the above photo.  Here’s a GE shot looking back the other way:

 GE looking past the playa to the clock mountain


Here’s a short excerpt from the article entitled “Clock on the Mountain” by Kevin Kelly (on the Long Now website):

 The Clock is now being machined and assembled in California and Seattle. Meantime the mountain in Texas is being readied. Why would anyone build a Clock inside a mountain with the hope that it will ring for 10,000 years? Part of the answer: just so people will ask this question, and having asked it, prompt themselves to conjure with notions of generations and millennia.

If you have a Clock ticking for 10,000 years what kinds of generational-scale questions and projects will it suggest? If a Clock can keep going for ten millennia, shouldn’t we make sure our civilization does as well? If the Clock keeps going after we are personally long dead, why not attempt other projects that require future generations to finish? The larger question is, as virologist Jonas Salk once asked, “Are we being good ancestors?”

 Here’s a quote from Danny Hillis, the prime force behind the Clock:

“I want to build a clock that ticks once a year. The century hand advances once every 100 years, and the cuckoo comes out on the millennium. I want the cuckoo to come out every millennium for the next 10,000 years.”

Once again, if you want to learn more about the Long Now Foundation, or about the clock in particular (the article by Kevin Kelly quoted above goes into great detail about the clock), go to LongNow.org.  (By the way, the Clock article mentions that they have a site in Nevada – I assume that’s the site near Baker that I mentioned earlier.)

 It’s time to circle back to my landing, and close with some GE Panoramio shots.  Here’s a shot by Popi Originals (about 10 mi NE of my landing):

 pano Popi Originals

About five miles east of my landing is this shot (looking west) by Brucewel:

 pano brucewel

I’ll close with this sunset shot (also by Brucewel), taken about 10 miles east of my landing:

 pano brucewel sunset

That’ll do it.




© 2014 A Landing A Day

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Peru and LaSalle, Illinois

Posted by graywacke on February 15, 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 2083; A Landing A Day blog post number 511.

Dan –  I landed in a PS (perfectly subscribed) state, knocking it into the realm of the OSers.  The state?  It’s . . . IL; 39/38; 2/10; 150.5.  Here’s my regional landing map:


My local landing map shows that I landed right along the Illinois River, just south of the twin cities of Peru & LaSalle:


Obviously, I landed in the Illinois R watershed (20th hit); on to the MM (818th hit).  Here’s a streams-only shot, showing the course of the Illinois R as it cuts diagonally across Illinois before discharging to the Mississippi a little north of St. Louis. 


Here’s my Google Earth (GE) shot:


It shows that I landed in a large field.  At first I thought it might be water, but upon closer inspection, I see it’s not.  Here’s a very close-in shot:


My guess is that this is a springtime photo, and the field has just been plowed and disked (and probably planted).  My thought is that it turned green not long thereafter.  

Grammatical conundrum:  the farm implement that smooths the soil after it has been plowed is a disc, not a disk.  But using disc as a verb, I had trouble with the past tense being “disced.”

 Anyway, here’s a zoomed-back GE shot:


See the bridge just west of my landing?  It has StreetView coverage.  Here’s a view from the bridge looking up towards my landing:

GE streetview from bridge towards landing

So, let me tell you.  I’ve already spent way too much time plowing (and disking) through multiple Google searches, checking out LaSalle and Peru & all of the little towns around here.  Nothing against the towns or this area, but I’ve come up pretty much hookless.  Well, I did find Starved Rock State Park.  Here’s a landing map, showing that the Park is about 6 miles east of my landing:


From the Illinois Department of Natural Resources:

 In 1673, French explorers Louis Jolliet and Father Jacques Marquette passed through here on their way up the Illinois from the Mississippi.

When the French claimed the region (and, indeed, the entire Mississippi Valley), they built Fort St. Louis atop Starved Rock in the winter of 1682-83 because of its commanding strategic position above the last rapids on the Illinois River.

ALAD note:  The City of LaSalle was named after the French explorer Robert LaSalle.  While he wasn’t the first Frenchman in the area (see above), he was the senior guy who claimed all of the Mississippi River basin for France in 1682.  Of course, it all became part of the US of A thanks to the Louisiana Purchase (1803.)  Just for the heck of it, here’s a map of the Purchase:


Damn.  I hate it when the facts get in the way of a good story.  OK, OK, so Illinois wasn’t part of the Louisiana Purchase.  Well, it turns out that the British gained control over Illinois in with the 1763 Treaty of Paris, that marked the end of the French and Indian War.  Oh-oh.  This is all getting too deep, so I’m going to bail out.  Back to State DNR website:

Pressured from small war parties of Iroquois in the French and Indian wars, the French abandoned the fort by the early 1700s.  The fort became haven for traders and trappers, but by 1720 all remains of the fort had disappeared.

Starved Rock State Park derives its name from an Indian story of injustice and retribution. In the 1760s, Pontiac (chief of the Ottawa tribe upriver from here) was slain by an Illiniwek while attending a tribal council in southern Illinois.

During one of the battles that subsequently occurred to avenge his killing, a band of Illiniwek, under attack by a band of Ottawa, sought refuge atop a 125-foot sandstone butte. The Ottawa surrounded the bluff and held their ground until the hapless Illiniwek died of starvation- giving rise to the name “Starved Rock.”

 Moving right along from history to my favorite subject, geology.  This from Wiki about the park:

 A catastrophic flood known as the Kankakee Torrent, which took place somewhere between 14,000 and 17,000 years ago (before humans occupied the area), helped create the park’s signature geology and features.  These sandstone bedrock features (cliffs and canyons) are very unusual for the central plains.

 A quick note.  This all sounds familiar, and hearkens me back to a landing in the Wisconsin Dells (my February 2013 Mauston Wisconsin post).  A glacial flood (a different glacial flood) very similarly carved out the beautiful sandstone features there as well.

Anyway, Wiki tells us that the melting glaciers formed glacial Lake Chicago (a precursor to Lake Michigan), and that a breach of the southern shoreline caused this catastrophic flood.  OK, so some geologists think it was a different glacial lake further east.  Whatever.

 Here’s what Wiki has to say about the resulting features caused by the flood:

 The Kankakee Torrent was responsible for the rapid creation of several geological features of Illinois. Both the Kankakee River and Illinois River largely follow paths carved out by the torrent, a process that is believed to have taken only days.

Most notable today is a region in north-central Illinois known as Starved Rock; while most of Illinois is located on a low-lying plain with little variation in elevation, Starved Rock State Park features several canyons which were created in the Kankakee Torrent.

 OK.  So let’s check out the sandstone cliffs and canyons in Starved Rock Park that were carved out by the Kankakee Torrent.   All of these are GE Panoramio shots.  I’ll start with this, by Ivaylo Mollov:


And then this at the river by Fonz76:

 pano fonz76

Here’s a winter shot by GregorP:

 pano gregorP

I’ll close with this, by TensionHead:

  pano tensionhead

That’ll do it.



© 2013 A Landing A Day

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Princeton, Massachusetts

Posted by graywacke on February 11, 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 2082; A Landing A Day blog post number 510.

Dan –  Phew.  An eastern USer after all of those western OSers . . . MA; 5/7; 2/10; 150.4.  And for those of you who may have thought that my random number generator had some sort of western bias, let me say that today I “landed” twice in the Atlantic Ocean, once in the Gulf of Mexico, and once in eastern Canada before I finally sunk my boots in some good ol’ American soil . . .

 Here’s a recap of my last 11 landings, and you’ll see what I mean about all of those western OSers:

WY  (OS)
KS  (OS)
LA  (US)
OR  (OS)
SD  (OS)
WY  (OS)
AZ  (OS)
UT  (OS)
LA  (OS; notice the switch from US to OS)
WY  (OS); and finally . . .
MA  (US)

For those of you readers who have no clue (and don’t really care) what this is all about, my apologies for taking up your time.  If you do care but aren’t up to speed, click HERE and then HERE.

 Here’s my regional landing map:


My local landing map shows my proximity to Hubbardston and Princeton:


I could have featured some other towns in the general area, but must admit that I was a little intrigued with Princeton, what with me being a Jersey guy and all.  In fact, I’m a central Jersey guy (and the real Princeton is in Central Jersey).  In fact, my youngest actually went to Princeton.  So anyway, I figured I’d see what Princeton MA has to say for itself.

(Note:  I generally mock snobby locals who glom onto Princeton, as if it actually gives them status.  My apologies for that previous paragraph . . .)

 But first, my Google Earth (GE) shot:


Wow.  A bunch of woods, eh?

 I’ll zoom back a little.  Still a bunch of woods . . .


When I zoomed back a little more, I could see a ski area, Wachusett Mountain,  a few miles east of my landing:


Here’s a low-level GE shot, looking north up the ski slopes:

 GE3 - Wachusett Mountain

After all of my western landings, I must chuckle a little at the temerity of us easterners to call this a mountain.  Hey – it’s all relative . . .

 Here’s my streams-only map; you can following my drainage all the way from Joslin Brook to the Connecticut River:


The Wests Branch of the Ware River is a new river for me, as is the Ware River itself.  This was my second landing in the Chicopee R watershed; on to the Connecticut R (13th hit).

 So, it’s time for Princeton.  From Wiki:

 According to tradition, in 1675 Mary Rowlandson (who was kidnapped by Indians during King Philip’s War) was ransomed upon Redemption Rock  [located within the town of Princeton], by King Philip.

OK, I’ve got three threads to follow from that once sentence: 

  • Redemption Rock
  • Mary Rowlandson
  • King Philip & King Philip’s War

 I’ll start with Redemption Rock.  From Wiki:

 Redemption Rock is a colonial-era historic site in Princeton, Massachusetts. In 1676, during King Philip’s War, the release of Mary Rowlandson (the wife of a Puritan minister) from her Native American captors was negotiated atop a granite ledge known as Redemption Rock.

Rowlandson would later write about her experience in “A Narrative of the Captivity and Restoration of Mrs. Mary Rowlandson,” considered a seminal work in the American literary genre of captivity narratives.

Redemption Rock is located off Massachusetts Route 140, near Wachusett Mountain.

OK.  So here’s what Wiki has to say about Mary Rowlandson:

Mary Rowlandson (1637 – 1711) was a colonial American woman who was captured by Indians during King Philip’s War and held for 11 weeks before being ransomed.

 Finally, here’s what Wiki has to say about King Philip’s War:

King Philip’s War was an armed conflict between Native American inhabitants of present-day New England and English colonists and their Native American allies in 1675–78. The war is named after the main leader of the Native American side, Metacomet, known to the English as “King Philip” [who was killed in 1676, two years before the war ended].

 Wow.  Who’d a guessed that King Philip was an Indian?  Back to Wiki:

The war was the single greatest calamity to occur in seventeenth-century Puritan New England. In the space of little more than a year, twelve of the region’s towns were destroyed and many more damaged, the colony’s economy was all but ruined, and many of its population was killed, including one-tenth of all men available for military service.

 Let me ciricle back to Mary Rowlandson and the book she wrote.  From Wiki’s plot summary:

On February 10, 1675, the settlement of Lancaster, in the Massachusetts Bay Colony, was attacked by Indians. The Indians burn houses down and kill several residents and wounding more. They take many of the survivors captive, including Mary Rowlandson and her three children. Mary and her youngest child are among the injured while others of her family, like her brother-in-law, are killed. The Indians lead the captured survivors from their settlement into the wilderness.

Rowlandson and her youngest, Sarah are allowed to stay together, but her two oldest, Joseph and Mary, are separated.

After spending a night in a nearby town, the Indians and the captives head further into the wilderness. The journey is difficult for the injured Rowlandson and her daughter. They reach an Indian settlement called Wenimesset.

After staying in Wenimesset for about a week, Rowlandson’s injured daughter, Sarah, dies.  Rowlandson is sold to another Indian who is related to King Philip by marriage. They bury Rowlandson’s dead daughter, and she is allowed to visit her oldest daughter Mary who is also being held in Wenimesset, and her oldest son who is allowed to visit from a nearby Indian settlement. The Indians give Rowlandson a Bible where she finds hope.

The Indians decide to head north and Rowlandson is again taken away from her family and “friends” she made. The Indians move quickly through the forest; Mary suspects the British army must be close by.

Some number of weeks are spent wandering throughout the region (and Wiki spends some number of paragraphs describing the wandering).  Back to Wiki:

. . . they [the Indians and Rowlandson]  meet messengers telling Rowlandson she must go to Wachuset where the Indians will discuss the possibility of returning her to freedom. She reaches Wachuset and speaks to King Philip who guarantees she will be free in two weeks. The council asks how much her husband would pay for her ransom and they send a letter to Boston saying she can be free for twenty pounds.

The ransom is paid, and Mary and her family are released.

She is reunited with her husband after 11 long weeks. They stay with a friend in Concord for a while until Rowlandson’s sister, son, and daughter are returned. Now back together, the family builds a house in Boston where they live until 1677.

 As you regular ALAD readers know, I’ve discussed Indian conflicts many many times.  But nearly all are associated with my western landings.  We (I, anyway) tend to forget that the Indians (of course) were everywhere in America; and of course, the first conflicts would have pre-1700’s up and down the eastern seaboard. 

 As awful as this must have been for Mary Rowlandson, the Indians lost everything (including most of their population . . .)

 So anyway, I’ll close with some GE Panoramio shots.  First this of Asnacomet Pond by Wayne Brink (about 3 miles south of my landing):

 pano asnacomet pond by wayne brink

Here’s a shot of Moosehorn Pond by Bylund (about 2 miles south of my landing):

 pano moosehorn pond by bylund

And finally, here’s a shot from the top of Wachusett Mountain (about 4 miles east of my landing):

 pano mad ned view from wasachusetts mountain


That’ll do it.




© 2013 A Landing A Day

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Alcova, Wyoming

Posted by graywacke on February 7, 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 2081; A Landing A Day blog post number 509.

 Dan –  Are you kidding me?  Nine out of ten landings are OSers?  Yup, thanks to this landing in . . . WY; 74/66; 1/10; 151.0.

 My regional landing map shows that I landed near the middle of the state:


Moving closer in, you can see that I landed along the North Platte River, between two reservoirs: 


My watershed analysis is pretty straight-forward:  North Platte R (27th hit); to the Platte (60th hit); to the Missouri (379th hit); to the MM (817th hit).

 Here’s my Google Earth (GE) shot, looking north past the North Platte:


I noticed a steep canyon just to the east and north.  It turns out this is Fremont Canyon.  Here’s a GE shot of the Canyon, looking downstream towards Alcova Reservoir (more about the Fremont Canyon in a bit).


So, I must check out the town of Alcova.  Here’s a GE shot; it looks like maybe 20 people live there:

 GE Alcova

Wiki says that 76 people live there.  That must include the suburban sprawl that don’t show up on this photo.  Not surprisingly, there’s really nothing about Alcova to talk about. 

 So, I think that Fremont Canyon is worth a quick look.  Check out this video!  It gets a little repetitive (it should only be 2 minutes long, not 4), but is definitely worth a quick look.  I hung around to the end; you’ll see why I did, but don’t feel you have to.  The video is from Calculated Risk Films:


 I have some GE Panoramio shots of the Canyon, but I’m going to save them for the end of the post.

 Here’s a GE look at some features 15 – 20 miles west of my landing:  Independence Rock, Devil’s Gate and Martin’s Cove:


They’re all related because they’re right along the combined route of the Oregon Trail, California Trail and the Mormon Trail (collectively known as the Emigrant Trail).  Here’s a map showing the trail route in the general vicinity of my landing:

nps trail map 1

So let’s start with Independence Rock.  Here’s a close-up of the trail as it wraps around the rock:

 nps trail map 2 - independence rock

Here’s a GE shot of the rock, looking South:

 GE independence rock

Wiki has the following to say:

The rock lies directly along the route of the Emigrant Trail (the collective name for the Oregon, California and Mormon trails).  Pioneers usually left the Missouri River in the early spring, attempted to reach the rock by July 4 (Independence Day in the United States), in order to reach their destinations before the first mountain snowfalls (thus the name). John C. Frémont camped a mile below this site on August 1, 1843, and made this entry in the journal of his 1843-’44 expedition:

“Everywhere within six or eight feet of the ground, where the surface is sufficiently smooth, and in some places sixty or eighty feet above, the rock is inscribed with the names of travelers. Many a name famous in the history of this country, and some well known to science, are to be found among those of traders and travelers…”

Fremont carved a large cross into the rock monolith, which was blasted off the rock on July 4, 1847 by some among hundreds of California and Oregon emigrants who had gathered on the site.  Many Protestants considered the cross Fremont carved to be a symbol of the Pope and Catholicism.  John Frémont was actually a member of the Episcopal Church (United States).

Here’s a GE Panoramio shot of the rock by ea1494:

 pano ind rock ea1494

I lifted this close-up of some names carved on the rock from the Patrick Family Vacation 2010 blog:

 patrick family vacation 2010 names on the rock

How about Martin’s Cove and Devil’s Gate?  Here’s a shot showing the trail as it wends its way by the Gate, and through the Cove:

 nps trail map 3 - martin's cove, devils gate

From Wiki about Martin’s Cove:

 In November 1856, about 500 Mormon emigrants in the Martin Handcart Company were halted for five days in the Cove by snow and cold while on their way to Salt Lake City.  The Martin Handcart company had begun its journey on July 28, 1856 which was dangerously late in the season and would ultimately lead to the disaster. Although the number who died in the Cove is unknown, more than 145 members of the Martin Company died before reaching Salt Lake City.

Handcart Company?  From Wiki:

The handcart pioneers were participants in the migration of Mormons to Salt Lake City, Utah, who used handcarts to transport their belongings.  The Mormon handcart movement began in 1856 and continued until 1860.

Motivated to join their fellow Church members in Utah but lacking funds for full ox or horse teams, nearly 3,000 Mormon pioneers from England, Wales, Scotland and Scandinavia made the journey from Iowa or Nebraska to Utah in ten handcart companies.

The trek was disastrous for two of the companies [the Martin Handcart Company being one], which started their journey dangerously late and were caught by heavy snow and severe temperatures in central Wyoming. Despite a dramatic rescue effort, more than 210 of the 980 pioneers in these two companies died along the way. John Chislett, a survivor, wrote, “Many a father pulled his cart, with his little children on it, until the day preceding his death.”

Although fewer than 10 percent of the 1846–68 Latter-day Saint emigrants made the journey west using handcarts, the handcart pioneers have become an important symbol in Mormon culture, representing the faithfulness and sacrifice of the pioneer generation.

 Man, those Mormons were something . . .

 Just downstream from the Cove is a gap in a ridge known as Devil’s Gate.  From the National Park Service:

 Devil’s Gate is a narrow cleft carved through a bedrock ridge by the Sweetwater River.  Devil’s Gate became visible approximately 15 miles to the east along the Emigrant Trail. The gorge was impassable to wagons, and the trail passed to the south of the ridge, but this dark, gloomy canyon intrigued the emigrants. Many camped here, and almost all took the detour to inspect the gorge.

Here’s a lovely Panoramio shot (by High Desert) of Devil’s Gate from the banks of the Sweetwater River as it flows through Martin’s Cove:

 pano high desert view devil from martin

Here’s a closer-in shot looking through the gap, from wunderground.com:

dg by wunderground

From Wiki, here’s some more about the Gate:

 Devil’s Gate is a remarkable example of superposed or an antecedent drainage stream. The Sweetwater River cuts a narrow 100-meter deep slot through a granite ridge, yet had it flowed less than a kilometer to the south, it could have bypassed the ridge completely. The gorge was cut because the ridge of rock was originally buried by valley fill sediments. The river cut downward and when it hit granite, kept on cutting. It was a matter of pure chance that the river hit the buried ridge where it did.

Here’s a GE shot that show’s Devil’s Gap (to the left).  You can see that it seems as though the river could have much more easily flowed around the ridge instead of through it . . .

 GE devil's gap

I’ll close with a couple of Panoramio shots back up near my landing (both of Fremont Canyon).  First this, by Maslaten of the downstream end of the Canyon, where the North Platte flows into the Alcova Reservoir:

 pano maslaten head of alcova res

Finally, here’s a great Canyon shot by Chris Sanfina:

 pano chris sanfina fremont canyon

 That’ll do it.




© 2013 A Landing A Day

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Winnfield, Louisiana

Posted by graywacke on February 3, 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 2080; A Landing A Day blog post number 508.

Dan –  Incredibly (thanks to today’s landing), I have landed in the same state for the fourth time in my last 16 landings.  This is particularly amazing, considering that this state ranks a measly 29th out of 48  (the lower 48) in size.  Sixteen landings ago, this state was a solid USer.  But today’s landing has turned the tide, and this state now joins the ranks of the OSers.  The new member of the OS club is . . . LA; 36/35 (see what I’m talking about?); 3/10; 150.6.  I’ve now landed in OSers 8 of my last 9 landings . . .

 Here’s my regional landing map:


My local landing map shows that I landed just outside of Winnfield:


As you can see, I landed near the Port de Luce Creek.  Here’s a streams-only landing map that shows where the water goes from there:


As you can see, water flows from the Port de Luce to the Sonnett Ck; to a new river for A Landing A Day, the Dugdemona R; on to another new river for me, the Little.  From there (off the above map), we go to the Black R (12th hit); to the Red R (55th hit); to the Atchafalaya (62nd hit).

 Here’s my Google Earth (GE) shot:


Backing out a little, here’s the whole town of Winnfield:


Checking out Winnfield, I find that its primary claim to fame involves the famous (and/or infamous, depending on your point of view) Long clan.  That’s right, Winnfield is the hometown of Huey P. Long and his younger brother Earl K. Long. 

 For Huey, I must refer my readers to one of my three recent LA posts, specifically Baton Rouge.  I decided to use that post to feature Huey – heck, if I knew I’d be landing in his hometown, I might have saved it.  Anyway, click HERE to find out all you need to know about Huey P. Long (at least all I think you need to know . . .)

 Here’s a picture (from GE Panoramio by JimeHall) of a Huey P. Long statue in Winnfield:

 pano huey p long statue by jimehall

Moving right along to Earl, I’ll let you know that Winnfield felt like he deserved equal billing (at least as far as statues go).  Here’s a Panoramio shot (also by JimeHall) of the Earl K. Long statue:

 pano earl k long statue by jimehall

From Wiki, about Earl:

 Earl Kemp Long (1895 – 1960) was the Governor of Louisiana for three non-consecutive terms. Long termed himself the “last of the red hot poppas” of politics, referring to his stump-speaking skills.

I’ll take over from Wiki and summarize his career as Lieutenant Governor (LG) and Governor (G):

 1932:                 lost election for LG
1936-1939:      served as LG
1939-1940:      served as G
1944:                  lost election for LG
1948-1952:      served as G
1956-1960:      served as G

Back to Wiki:

In that 1932 defeat, Earl’s older (and more famous) brother, Huey P. Long, Jr., endorsed Earl’s opponent John Fournet, although the rest of the Long family stood with Earl. Huey was the out-going Governor, and soon-to-be-elected U.S. Senator.  The outraged Earl, at thirty-six, called Huey (then 38) “the yellowest physical coward that God had ever let live.” Huey Long said of Earl: “Earl is my brother but he’s crooked. If you live long enough he’ll double cross you.”

 Wow.  Great fun around the table at Thanksgiving dinner, eh?  I wonder what Mom & Dad thought . . .

For those of you who haven’t read my Baton Rouge post (and don’t know much about Huey Long), he was assassinated in the Louisiana State Capitol Building in 1935.

 So, that’s about it for Winnfield.  Not wanting to call it a day, I figured that I’d do a feature on the Atchafalya River.  This landing marks the 55th time I’ve landed in the Atchafalya watershed (the 15th time since I began blogging), but the first time I’ve actually written a piece on the river . . .

 First off, I think it’s a wonderful name.  It just rolls off the tongue:  ah chaf fa LIE ya.  But of real interest is the history of the river, and how we Americans have played a crucial part in the river’s actual essence – its physical nature, identity and fate.

 The following write-up is a combination of words from the Lake Forest College website, Wiki, and me:

 Back in the 10th century A.D., the Red River and the Mississippi River flowed to the Gulf of Mexico on separate, more-or-less parallel courses:

real old

 In the 15th century, a bend in the Mississippi known as Turnbull’s Bend joined the river with the parallel Red River; the flow of the Red River joined the Mississippi and the much smaller river flowing south from Turnbull’s bend became the Atchafalaya.

 15th century

 In the heyday of steamboats along the Mississippi River, it took a boat several hours to travel the bend’s 20 miles. To reduce travel time, Captain Henry M. Shreve, a river engineer and founder of Shreveport, La., dug a canal in 1831 through the neck of Turnbull’s Bend. At the next high water, the Mississippi roared through this channel.


 With the Mississippi River taking a new course, the Red River began emptying into the smaller Atchafalaya River.  Also, Shreve’s cut altered the flow so that Mississippi water and Atchafalaya water flowed back and forth through the lower part of Turnbull’s Bend (the Lower Old River) depending on the season.

Between 1850 and 1950, the percentage of Atchafalaya’s share of the total flow of the two rivers increased from less than 10 percent to about 30 percent. By 1953, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers concluded that the Mississippi River could change its course to the Atchafalaya River by 1990 if it were not controlled, since this alternative path to the Gulf of Mexico through the Atchafalaya River is much shorter and steeper.


 Knowing that this process would diminish the Mississippi and every city along the river as well as all commerce up and down the river, in 1964 the Army Corps built a control structure that controls the flow of the two rivers (called the Old River Control Structure). 70% of the water flows through the Mississippi, while 30% flows through the Atchafalaya.


 The Old River Control Structure and both rivers require constant maintenance and upkeep as the Army Corps continues to battle the natural forces at work. A flood in 1973 nearly destroyed the structure; the Atchafalaya was perilously close to receiving the entire flow of the Mississippi.  The structure was repaired and additional improvements made in 1986.

If it weren’t for the Old River Control Structure, the Mississippi River as we know it would not exist. New Orleans and Baton Rouge would lose their geographic significance and source of income, and thousands of American businesses would have to overhaul their practices.

Here’s an aerial photo of the whole control complex, from Wiki:


From my internet perusal, it appears that most experts expect that some day, the Mississippi will gets its way and head down the Atchafalaya.  It’s not a question of “if,” but of “when.”

 I’ll close with this wonderful picture of the Collins family on their farm near Winnfield in 1912 (from RootsWeb.com):

 CollinsfamWinnfieldLAc1912  rootsweb

They should’ve gotten the dog to turn around . . .

That’ll do it.




© 2013 A Landing A Day

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