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Archive for March, 2014

Chico, Sunset and Alvord, Texas

Posted by graywacke on March 27, 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 2091; A Landing A Day blog post number 519.

Dan –  Phew.  Four USers in a row, thanks to this landing in . . . TX; 153/183; 6/10; 148.7.  By the way, I had three water “landings” before TX, all in the Atlantic Ocean . . .

 Here’s my regional landing map:


My local landing map shows why this post title includes Sunset, Chico and Alvord:


My Google Earth (GE) shot shows that I landed right at the edge of a farm field:


The road just west of my landing has Street View coverage!!  Here’s the shot looking east towards my landing:


Apparently, we’re looking past some oil production facilities located right along the road.

 Moving on to my watershed analysis, here’s a streams-only landing map:


As you can see, Big Sandy Ck flows not far east of my landing, and discharges into the West Fork of the Trinity River (5th hit, making it the 152nd river on my list of rivers with five or more hits); on to the Trinity (12th hit).

 And this, a little unnecessary ALAD trivia:  I’ve landed in six different “Big Sandy Creek” watersheds.  The others are: 

In GA; flowing to the Omulgee River
In CO; flowing to the Arkansas R (twice)
In KS; flowing to the Little Blue R
In MT; flowing to the Milk R
In KS; flowing to the Cimarron R

Before moving on, here’s a Street View shot of the Big Sandy about 10 miles south of my landing:

 GE SV Big Sandy Ck 15 mi s of landing

If any of the three titular towns had a clear hook, I would have featured it.  But since I couldn’t find such a hook, I’m going to present some dribs and drabs about each of the three.  I’ll start with Chico with this from the Texas Historical Society:

 Settlement of the Chico area began in the mid-1870s, when J. T. Brown, from Chico, California, moved to the area and opened a general store near Dry Creek.

I can’t say as I have a recollection of having one of my landing towns being named for a town located further west!  Well, there’s a first time for everything.  Just so  you  know, Chico CA was founded in 1860 . . .

 Moving on to Sunset, we have this (also from the Texas Historical Society):

 Sam Smith opened a grocery store in the 1870s and in 1880 applied for a post office under the name Smithville. The name was already taken, however, and postal authorities suggested the name Sunset.

A quick Google search shows that “Sunrise” would have been available – there is a Sunrise TX, but it wasn’t founded until the early 20th century.  While the Post Office could have done much worse than “Sunset,” it seems that “Sunrise,” is more forward-looking . . .

 Moving on Alvord, this from Wiki:

 Originally known as Nina, Alvord adopted its present name in 1882 in honor of the president of the Fort Worth and Denver Railway.

ALAD comments:  Of course, I much prefer Nina to Alvord, for two reasons:

1.  “Nina” is so much more pleasant to the ear than “Alvord.”
2.  Naming yet another town after yet another railroad exec is so lame . . .

My guess is that the locals pronounce the town something like “AL-verd,” with as little emphasis as possible on the second syllable.  Back to Wiki:

There is no connection with the Arizona bandit Burt Alvord.

That’s some information we can live without.  But you know, telling me that is like telling me not to yawn!  Of course, I’ll yawn, and of course I’ll check out the Arizona bandit Burt Alvord.  From Wiki:

 Burt Alvord (1866 – after 1910) was a little-known lawman and later outlaw of the Old West, who witnessed the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral at age 15. He began working as a deputy sheriff in 1886 but later turned to train robbery around the start of the 20th century.

I love the “after 1910” part.  That’s kind of like the dates that could be attached to yours truly:  (1950 – after 2013).  Back to Wiki (after skipping some of their write-up):

 In December 1903, Alvord and Stiles [his partner in crime] were  captured by the Texas Rangers, but were able to escape.  Alvord decided to fake their deaths using the bodies of two Mexican men. They sent the bodies into Tombstone, with the news that they had been killed. However, an examination of the bodies revealed it was not the wanted men.

What a pathetic attempt!  And the medical examiner didn’t need the high tech skills of the folks on NCIS to figure this out!

The Rangers followed them into Mexico, trapping them near Naco in February, 1904. Both outlaws resisted, but were captured after they had been wounded.  Alvord spent the next two years in prison. [Only two years!!!]  After his release, he sailed for South America. He was last seen in 1910 working as a canal employee. His life after that is unknown.  [But I’ll assume he lived happily ever after!]

I stumbled on something near my landing that I didn’t know existed (or even could exist):

GE brushy creek vineyards

That’s right, a Texas vineyard.  And what do I know?  Reading some reviews (and their price list), they must make some pretty good wine.  Here’s one of their labels:

brushy creek label

And, a pretty picture of the vineyard:


I’ll close with a couple of lovely Panoramio shots.  First, this of blue bonnets take about 3 miles north of my landing by David & Connie:

pano blue bonnet hill by David & Connie 3 mi n

And finally, this sunset shot, taken about 3 miles northeast of my landing by Michael Bilodeau:

pano windmill and great ball of fire 3 mi ne by michael bilodeau

That’ll do it.



© 2014 A Landing A Day

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Palmer Lake, Colorado

Posted by graywacke on March 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 2090; A Landing A Day blog post number 518.

Sorry about the extra long delay between posts.  But as you’ll see, this excellent post is well worth the wait!

 Dan –  Well how about this:  three USers in a row, thanks to this landing in . . . CO; 70/71 (barely a USer!); 5/10; 149.2.  Here’s my smack-dab-in-the-middle of Colorado regional landing map:


My local map shows that I landed about three miles from my titular town:


I’ll back out a little more to show you where I am relative to I-25, Colorado Springs and Denver:


Here’s my Google Earth (GE) shot looking east past my landing towards the plains.  You can see I landed up in the mountains:


Note that I landed right on a ridge.  It’s not obvious which side of the ridge I’m on, so I’m not sure if the drainage goes one way or the other.  It’s a tough call.  I zoomed in as close as possible and used the GE elevation tool.  For the first time ever, I could not definitively say which way a drop of water that falls on my landing would go!  Here’s a much-closer-in StreetAtlas landing map, showing that ultimately,it doesn’t make all that much difference:


What I mean is that the water might head west to the North Monument Creek (which flows to the Monument Creek not very far away), or it might head east, right to the Monument.  Go ahead.  You pick.

 You can also see that I practically landed on Balanced Rock Road.  More about that later.

 But let’s zoom back and look at a larger watershed picture:


As you can see, Monument Creek (and, needless to say, the North Monument Creek) is part of the Arkansas River watershed (114th hit); on the MM (820th hit). 

 You can also note that I landed very close to the major watershed divide between the Arkansas and the Missouri.  So imagine you’re a drop of water who happens to find yourself on that very watershed divide.  You’re hanging out with other drops.  You happen to slide north, ending up in the South Platte River.  Wending your way northeast, you find yourself in Nebraska joining up with the North Platte to form the Platte.  Then, just as Iowa is looming, you swoosh your way into the Missouri River.  You then head south through the state of Missouri, finding the Mississippi just north of St. Louis.

 Your neighboring drops of water up on the ridge happened to head south.  They find themselves in the Monument Ck, on to the Arkansas River.  They head east into Kansas, then make a right turn and head on into Oklahoma.  Angling across OK, they head southeast into Arkansas.  They bisect Arkansas, and make it to the Mississippi (in the boonies of southeast Arkansas.)  They may or may not meet up with their friends from up on the ridge . . .

 What the heck.  I can’t be all that far from the Continental Divide, right?  Right.  Here’s a slightly expanded streams only map:


Imagine a drop of water on the triple point between the Colorado, the Arkansas and the Missouri!  Don’t worry – no more drops of water travelogues.  But I will say that the drop that heads over to the Colorado should end up in the Gulf of California east of the Baha peninsula, but it’ll never make it thanks to man’s interference.  Read all about it in my Yuma, Arizona post (type “Yuma” in the search box.  If I don’t say so myself, it’s a great post . .  

 Back to GE, here’s a ground level view of my landing, looking southeast:

 GE ground level view of landing

Staying with GE, here’s a zoomed back shot looking southwest past my landing, with Pike’s Peak in the background:


Notice how abruptly the mountains arise?  I wonder why, geologically speaking.  Here’s what the U.S. Geologic Survey (in a 1920 guidebook to the geology along the railroad line between Denver and Colorado Springs) has to say about the Palmer Lake area:

 The mountain front rises abruptly from the plain without foot hills of any kind:

USGS Palmer Lake x-section

The reason for the absence of foothills is that the rocks of the plains, when they were bent by the upthrust of the mountains, could not stand the strain to which they were subjected, and in many places they broke and the lower crystalline rocks of the mountains were forced up into direct contact with the broken edges of the soft, flat-lying rocks of the plains, forming what is called a fault. The positions of the rocks and their relations are shown in the above figure.

Hmmm.  The above write-up mentions the absence of foothills.  I happen to know that they do in fact have foothills near Denver.  Well, here’s a cross-section near Denver (from the City of Boulder website), showing that here, the rocks of the plains (the various formations shown on the cross section below) were bent upward by the thrust of the mountains – unlike those near Palmer Lake that were sheared off with deforming.  These upturned rock layers form the foothills:

 foothills x-section

Living in Denver, Dan, I’m sure the above discussion is of great interest to you . . .

 Anyway, I mentioned above that I practically landed on Balanced Rock Road.  Of course, I was hopeful that there would be GE StreetView coverage.  No such luck.  But here’s a Panoramio shot by JRossVideo of the road not far from my landing:

 mon pano JRossVideo balanced rock road sw of landing

Great looking road, eh?  Of course, I need to find the balanced rock.  And thanks to the magic of Panoramio, here’s a shot (once again by JRossVideo) of “the Lonely Balanced Rock.”  I don’t know – there might be more, but this one’ll do it for me . . .

 pano jrossvideo 'lonely balanced rock'  10 mi sw

Anyway, moving on to Palmer Lake.  The lake (and the town) were named after General William Jackson Palmer, whose pet project was the formation of the Denver and Rio Grande (the D&RG) Railroad.  Palmer Lake was important to the railroad, as it was the only consistent water supply stop for the run between Denver and Colorado Springs.  Plus, (as you readers now know) it was located at the top of the divide between the South Platte and the Arkansas rivers; so the engines needed more water after the long climb up from either direction.

 The D&RG was a narrow-guage railroad, only three feet between the rails.  Here’s a map of their routes, and a little write-up (both rom Wiki):




The railroad started as a narrow gauge line (only 3 feet between the rails) running south from Denver, Colorado in 1870 [and going through Palmer Lake]. It served mainly as a transcontinental bridge line between Denver, and Salt Lake City, Utah.

The Rio Grande was the epitome of mountain railroading, with a motto of “Through the Rockies, Not Around Them.” The D&RG operated the highest mainline rail line in the United States, over the 10,240 feet Tennessee Pass in Colorado.  At its height, around 1890, the D&RG had the largest operating narrow gauge railroad network in North America.

 The D&RG morphed into the D&RGW (the “W” for Western), and operated independently until 1988 when it merged with the Southern Pacific and it lost its unique identity.  By the way, speaking of unique, the D&RGW had this unique distinction, (from Wiki):

 The Rio Grande Zephyr was a passenger train operated by the D&RGW between Denver, Colorado and Ogden, Utah. The Rio Grande Zephyr was the last privately operated intercity passenger train in the United States, operating until 1983, long after Amtrak began taking over passenger rail service in the United States (in 1971).

 Here’s a picture of the Rio Grande Zephyr from CarTracks.com:


Moving back to Palmer Lake, here’s a Panoramio shot of the tracks going by the lake, by Gerald C. Vogel:

 pano gerald c vogel tracks by the lake

Here’s an artsy winter shot of the lake (from nearly the same spot) by David Ladderman:

 pano david ladderman artsy winter shot of the lake

And another shot by David (from the very same spot), sunset over the lake.

 pano david ladderman sunset shot of the lake

I’ll close with this shot of Pike’s Peak by 52Moxie, taken about one mile west of my landing:

 pano 52Moxie 1 mile west view to Pike's Peak

 That’ll do it.




© 2013 A Landing A Day

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Poinciana, Florida

Posted by graywacke on March 14, 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 2089; A Landing A Day blog post number 517.

 Dan –  All it takes is a couple of USers in a row, and I’m back below 150, thanks to this landing in . . . FL; 29/45; 4/10; 149.8.  Here’s my regional landing map showing that I’m smack dab in the middle of the peninsula:

 fl landing1

Here’s a closer-in landing map showing that I landed in the greater Kissimmee / Winter Park area:

 fl landing2

You can see that I added “Poinciana.”  For some reason (in spite of the tens of thousands of people who live there), it wasn’t shown on my Street Atlas map. . .

 Here’s my Google Earth shot, showing at least a localized boonies area:

 fl GE 1

If I zoom back (and look to the east), it stays boonies:

 fl GE2

But if I zoom back and look a little west, I see a 7-mile stretch of urbanization (the aforementioned Poinciana):

 fl GE3 urban

Here’s a close-up of a very small piece of it:

 fl GE 4 urban close-up

I zoomed back with GE, and discovered the reason that most visitors venture to this part of Florida:

 fl ge disney

Not that I have any issues with Disney World, but I wouldn’t feature Mickeyville unless I actually landed on the grounds . . .

 It’s time for a streams-only landing map:

 fl landing streams

And yes, drainage from my landing ends up in the Kissimee River (3rd hit) and on to Lake Okeechobee (the body of water 75 miles south of my landing in the above map). There has been much man-made drainage engineering associated with Lake Okeechobee and the Everglades (south of the Lake).  But as is my norm, I care more about drainage as it was before us western-civilization types started messin’ with it. 

 Back in the day, water from Lake Okeechobee flowed to the south into the Everglades.  At least one of the outlets of the Everglades was the Miami River:

fl landing everglades

Good enough for me (5th hit for the Miami, making it the 151st river on my list of rivers with 5 or more hits).

 Before I get away from hydrology, I have to show you this GE shot of Winterhaven:

 fl GE winter haven lakes

A little bit of research shows that all of these lakes are water-filled sinkholes.  Here’s the story:  sinkholes happen in limestone (the entire Florida peninsula is limestone).  A sinkhole happens when the roof of a cavern collapses.  The cavern is there because limestone is slightly soluble; i.e., water flowing through limestone dissolves it (the way water would dissolve, say salt, but at a much, much slower rate).

 Caverns are formed at or below the water table, but sinkholes typically happen when the water table is lower, and the buoyancy of the water is lost.  So – my more astute readers may wonder – how it is that the sinkholes are now lakes if the watertable was deeper for the sinkholes themselves to form?  And the answer is . . . global warming!!!

 That’s right, over the last 10,000 years ago (since the end of the last ice age), no one (not even those of the most conservative persuasion) can argue about the significant warming accompanied by sea level rise that occurred as the glaciers began melting (and has continued more-or-less to this day).  So back when glaciers ruled the earth, sea levels were much lower, as was the watertable in now low-lying Florida (and many sinkholes were forming).

 From Ice Age Now.com:

 During the last ice age, sea level was at least 394 feet lower than it is today, exposing much more area on the continents.

Many changes took place as sea level rose, among them the disappearance of the land bridge from Siberia to Alaska, the appearance of much of Britain and the islands of Southeast Asia, and the filling of the Hudson Bay.

 Here’s a map from the same website showing the world with lower sea levels:

sea level much lower

Bottom line:  see how fat Florida is?  That’s because of the much lower sea level.  So:  limestone + lower sea-levels & deeper water tables = caverns (which collapsed, forming a myriad of sinkholes).  Then the glaciers melted.  High sea levels & shallow water tables = a myriad of lakes, as the water table rose to fill the sinkholes.

 Moving right along . . . I was doing a little research on Kissimmee the city and Kissimmee the river when I stumbled on one Hamilton Disston, a name with which I had no familiarity.

 Well, he has a Wiki entry:

 Hamilton Disston (1844 – 1896) was an industrialist and real-estate developer who purchased four million acres of Florida land in 1881, an area larger than the state of Connecticut, and reportedly the most land ever purchased by a single person in world history.

 [Wow.  Four million acres.  Size of Connecticut.  Largest real estate purchase ever.]

Disston was the son of Pennsylvania industrialist Henry Disston who formed Disston & Sons Saw Works, which was one of the largest saw manufacturing companies in the world.

 [Evidently, there’s a lot of money in saws.]

The Florida Historical Society reports that Disston’s $1 million deal to buy 4 million acres of the flat prairie of the Kissimmee River valley to the Gulf coast “prevented the state of Florida from having to declare bankruptcy in 1881.”

[Hamilton was no dummy.  Twenty-five cents an acre???  He proably saw an opportunity to drive a hard bargain.  A little Google research shows that the average cost of a house in 1880 was $2,200.  Let’s say that now, it’s $220,000 (making the math easy).  So I might be able to conclude that real estate is now 100 times more expensive.  So that makes the inflation-adjusted price a pathetic $25/acre!]

 Hamilton Disston’s investment in the infrastructure of Florida spurred growth throughout the state. His related efforts to drain the Central Florida around the Kissimmee River (as well as the Everglades) triggered the state’s first land boom with numerous towns and cities established through the area.

 [That damned good-for-nothing swamp land . . .]

Although Disston’s engineered canals aided water transport and steamboat traffic in Florida, he was ultimately unsuccessful in draining the Kissimmee River floodplain or lowering the surface water around Lake Okeechobee and in the Everglades.

 [Round 1 in the Florida wetlands battle goes to Mother Nature.]

He was forced to sell much of his investments at a fraction of their original costs.

However, his land purchase primed Florida’s economy and allowed railroad magnates Henry Flagler and Henry Plant to build rail lines down the east coast of Florida, and another joining the west coast, which directly led to the domination of the tourist and citrus industries in Florida.

Once again, I’ll use the same segue:  moving right along . . . it turns out that there’s a “Disney Wilderness Preserve.”  It also turns out that I actually landed within the Preserve!  Here’s a map of the Preserve with my landing location shown:

Wiki mapia disney wilderness preserve

I found a video produced by Destinations in Florida Travel, which takes us along a trail to Lake Russell, the lake just north of my landing:


 I’ll close with a couple of Panoramio photos from the Wilderness Preserve.  First this, by StephofNature:

 pano stephofnature

Here’s a lovely sunset shot by Ealaspada:

 pano ealaspada sunset

 That’ll do it.




© 2013 A Landing A Day

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Tulare Lake, California

Posted by graywacke on March 10, 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 2088; A Landing A Day blog post number 516.

 Dan –  After two water landings (in the Atlantic Ocean), I ended up back out west, but a USer this time . . . CA; 98/112; 3/10; 150.4.  Here’s my regional landing shot, which looks suspiciously like a Central Valley landing:


Here’s my closer-in landing map, showing all of the various cities and towns in the vicinity (and yes, it is the Central Valley):


You’re probably asking, “Where’s Tulare Lake?”  Patience.

 Here’s my Google (GE) shot.  Surprise, surprise . . .


As always, I checked out Street View coverage, hoping for a close-up view of my landing.  Here’s a GE shot showing the roads with Street View coverage in blue:

 GE2 - no streetview

I couldn’t have picked a spot further from coverage!

 I figured that the scenery doesn’t vary all that much, so here’s a StreetView shot from the E-W road just SW of my landing (about ¾ of a mile away), generally looking towards my landing:

 GE streetview .75 mi SW

As is typical when I land in the Central Valley, trying to figure out my drainage and watersheds is pretty well impossible.  But I realized that I had landed fairly close to a fairly recent landing.  So I checked out my Alpaugh CA post (November 2013, 25 landings ago).  Son of a gun.  It was only 25 miles away:

 GE showing alpaugh landing

 In that post, I discussed Lake Tulare, a once-large-but-now-dry lake.  Here’s a hand-drawn map of the lake from my Alpaugh post.  Today’s landing is just off the map, north of Corcoran:

ge4-tulare-lake from alpaugh post

 But in this post, Lake Tulare is front and center (and titular).  Here’s what wiki has to say about it. 

 Tulare Lake was a freshwater lake in the southern San Joaquin Valley, California.   After Lake Cahuilla disappeared in the 17th century, Tulare Lake was the largest freshwater lake west of the Mississippi River.  The lake dried up after its tributary rivers were diverted for agricultural irrigation and municipal water uses.

The lake was named for the tule rush that lined the marshes and sloughs of its shores. The lake received water from the Kern, Tule and Kaweah Rivers, as well as from southern distributaries of the Kings.

Here’s Wiki’s map (and I added today’s landing location):

TulareBasinMap Wiki

Back to Wiki verbiage: 

Above a threshold elevation of 207 to 210 feet, the lake overflowed into the San Joaquin River. This happened in 19 of 29 years from 1850 to 1878. There were no overflows after 1878 due to increasing diversions of tributary waters for agricultural irrigation and municipal water uses.

For centuries, the Tachi tribe or Tache, a Yokut people, built reed boats and fished in this lake in their homeland, until after the arrival of Spanish and American colonists. The Yokut had once numbered about 70,000.  They had one of the highest regional population densities in precontact North America, which was possible because of the rich habitat.

Even well after California became a state, Tulare Lake and its extensive marshes supported an important fishery: in 1888, in one three-month period, 73,500 pounds of fish were shipped to San Francisco. It was also the source of a regional favorite, western pond turtles, which were relished as terrapin soup in San Francisco and elsewhere. The lake and surrounding wetlands were a significant stop for hundreds of thousands of birds migrating along the Pacific Flyway. Tulare Lake was written about by Mark Twain.

The expression “out in the tulies”, referring to the 3–10 ft-tall sedges lining the lakeshore, is still common in the dialect of old Californian families and means “beyond far away”.

 The Lake’s Decline

Late 19th-century settlers drained the surrounding marshes for early agriculture. The government dammed the Kaweah, Kern, Kings and Tule Rivers upstream in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, which turned their headwaters into a system of reservoirs. In the San Joaquin Valley, the state and counties built canals to deliver that water and divert the remaining flows for agricultural irrigation and municipal water uses. Tulare Lake was nearly dry by the early 20th century.

Enough water remained so the Alameda Naval Air Station used Tulare Lake as an outlying seaplane base during World War II and the early years of the Cold War. Flying boats could land on Tulare Lake when landing conditions were unsafe on San Francisco Bay.

The lake bed is now a shallow basin of fertile soil, within the Central Valley of California, the most productive agricultural region of the United States.

The destruction of the terrestrial wetlands and the lake ecosystem habitats resulted in substantial losses of terrestrial animals, plants, aquatic animals, water plants, and resident and migrating birds.

Here’s the Cliff Notes version:  Before white men came to California there was a large lake, filled with fish and home to all sorts of wildlife, central to sustaining a population of 70,000 Indians.  The white man came into California.  The Indians around the lake were either killed by the whites or die off due to disease brought by the whites.  Then the lake with its ecosystem is dried up to support agriculture; it no longer exists.

 Amazing how much societal norms have improved . . .

 I’ll close with this Panoramio shot (by Jonan1961) taken from just outside of Tulare .

 pano jonan1961 just e of tulare

 That’ll do it.




© 2013 A Landing A Day

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Dugway, Utah (again)

Posted by graywacke on March 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 2087; A Landing A Day blog post number 515.

Dan –  Enough already.  Three OSers in a row (but more disturbingly, 11 of my last 13 landings), thanks to landing in . . . UT; 75/58; 2/10; 151.0. 

 By the way, this is my 100th landing since Jan 1, 2013, when I “got back in the saddle” and began landing regularly based on a New Year’s resolution (after a 7-month hiatus with no landings).  I’ve landed in UT six times over that timeframe.  Since the math is so easy, let me see how “well subscribed” UT has been. 

 Well, it’s as I suspected.  UT is about 3% of the area of the lower 48; I’ve landed there 6% of the time.  Like I said, easy math:  I’ve landed in UT twice as much as I should have . . .

 Anyway, here’s my regional landing map:


My very-close-in landing map shows that I landed near Simpson Springs and a Pony Express Trail Monument:


Backing out a little, you can see my titular town:


Here’s my Google Earth (GE) shot:


You can see that I landed in a vague arid landscape.  Just looking, it’s pretty tough to tell the scale, right?  So, I’ve set up a quiz for you.  Is the yellow line a mile?


Or is it 100 yards?


And the answer is . . . 100 yards!

 Here’s another GE shot with an actual mile marked off.  The 100 yard line is there (in red):


As is often the case in arid environments, my watershed analysis was a bit of a challenge, as there are no streams anywhere near my landing.  Using the GE elevation tool, I figured that water would flow in a fairly straight line to the southwest, ending up in what is known as the “Old River Bed:”

 GEF - old river bed

Apparently, the “Old River Bed” is a geographical expression in common local usage; several Panoramio photos reference it, like this one, taken from where the 6-mile yellow line hits the Old River Bed.  It’s entitled “Descending into the Old River Bed with Table Mountain in the Background” by acidman1968:

 pano old river bed acidman1968

It turns out that “Old River Bed” is also an expression that makes it into the geological literature.  From “Survey Notes” (Utah Geological Survey); Volume 32, Number 1, May 2000 (from an article about early Native American presence along the Old River Bed):

 The Old River Bed is the now-dry channel of a prehistoric river that flowed between the Sevier and Great Salt Lake basins for a period of about 3,000 years. Although both basins were occupied by Lake Bonneville at its Pleistocene highstand, the two basins became separated sometime prior to about 12,000 years ago as Lake Bonneville regressed due to changes in climatic conditions.

Some time thereafter, waters from the Sevier basin flowed northward and emptied into Great Salt Lake (for a duration of 3,000 years), forming an extensive deltaic/marsh ecosystem in what is now the Dugway Proving Ground area.

Human foragers, apparently taking advantage of the wide array of resources usually found in Great Basin wetlands, occupied the natural levees along stream distributaries.

Just a quickie about lake Bonneville.  From Wiki:

Lake Bonneville was a prehistoric lake that covered the majority of the western half of present day Utah.  Formed about 32,000 years ago, Lake Bonneville existed until about 14,500 years ago, when a large portion of the lake was released through the Red Rock Pass in Idaho.

At more than 1,000 ft deep and an area of nearly 20,000 square miles, the lake was nearly as large as Lake Michigan and significantly deeper.  With the change in climate, the lake began drying up, leaving Great Salt Lake, Utah Lake, Sevier Lake, Rush Lake, and Little Salt Lake as remnants.

Of course, here’s a map, with my landing approximately located:

utah geological survey lake bonneville map

 Here’s a wonderful YouTube video by HugeFloods.com (a website I’ve visited for several past landings).  It tells the story of Lake Bonneville and its demise.  It’s about 15 minutes long, but worth every minute if you (like me) enjoy the drama of these geologic stories.  The story takes place mostly in Idaho, which received the massive Bonneville flood.  Remember my Twin Falls ID post and the Snake River gorge?  The gorge was carved in part by the Bonneville flood.

 I need to get back to Simpson Springs and Dugway.  First, Simpson Springs, from Wiki:

Simpson Springs has long been a water source on the trail west from Salt Lake City across the desert regions. It was named Simpson Springs for Captain James H. Simpson following his work to establish a military mail route to California in 1858.

The site was undoubtedly used by Native Americans and possibly the Fremont Indian cultures due to its good water supply. The Old River Bed [there it is again!] several miles west has provided evidence of indigenous activity.

Simpson Springs became an important station stop for the Pony Express and the Overland Stage on the trail through Utah desert. The station was discontinued after completion of the first Transcontinental Railroad in 1869.

Here’s a 360 Panorama by Calvin Jones, shot from the Pony Express Station Marker at Simpson Springs.  The main clue you have that there’s a spring nearby is the tree you can see in the distance.  My landing is out there somewhere more-or-less behind the monument:


Here’s a Panoramio shot that actually shows some water (Feb 2009, by Kestral70):

pano kestrel70 simpson spring (water)

 Moving right along to Dugway.  Well, as soon as I saw “Dugway,” I thought, “Dugway, again?”  That’s right, I have a December 2008 Dugway UT post.  This was an early ALAD post:   number 29.  And then I had a “Dugway, Revisited” post in February 2009, where I featured an extensive and very interesting comment on my December post.  All in all, it’s a good read.  Search for “Dugway” in the ALAD search box to check them out.

 All you need to know going forward in this post is that the “town” of Dugway is all about the Dugway Proving Ground, a US Army facility that was a center for the development of chemical and biological weapons. 

 I discovered that Wiki has expanded their Dugway coverage since 2008.  They have now posted a section entitled “The Dugway Sheep Incident.”  You must read this.  Every word:

In March 1968, 6,249 sheep died in Skull Valley, an area nearly thirty miles from Dugway’s testing sites. When examined, the sheep were found to have been poisoned by an organophosphate chemical. The sickening of the sheep, known as the Dugway sheep incident, coincided with several open-air tests of the nerve agent VX at Dugway.

Local attention focused on the Army, which initially denied that VX had caused the deaths, instead blaming the local use of organophosphate pesticides on crops. Necropsies conducted on the dead sheep later definitively identified the presence of VX.

The Army never admitted liability, but did pay the ranchers for their losses. On the official record, the claim was for 4,372 “disabled” sheep, of which about 2,150 were either killed outright by the VX exposure or were so critically injured that they needed to be euthanized on-site by veterinarians. Another 1,877 sheep were “temporarily” injured, or showed no signs of injury but were not marketable due to their potential exposure. All of the exposed sheep that survived the initial exposure were eventually euthanized by the ranchers, since even the potential for exposure had rendered the sheep permanently unsalable for either meat or wool.

Following the incident, the Army and other state and federal agencies compiled reports, some of which were later characterized as “studies”.  A report which remained classified until 1978 and unreleased to the public until nearly 30 years after the incident was called the “first documented admission” by the Army that VX killed the sheep.

In 1998, Jim Woolf, reporting for The Salt Lake Tribune, made the content of the report public for the first time.  The report described the evidence that nerve agent was the cause of the sheep kill as “incontrovertible.”  The 1970 report stated that VX was found in both snow and grass samples recovered from the area three weeks after the sheep incident.

The report concluded that the “quantity of VX originally present was sufficient to account for the death of the sheep.”

Wow and double wow.

I was a curious and (I thought) informed 18-year old in 1968 (as was my wife).  Neither of us has any recollection of press coverage of the incident.  My best buddy Mike (ten years older who was working for Newsweek magazine at the time) also confessed no knowledge of the incident.

 Moving right along, it must be time for some pretty Panoramio pictures!  Here’s a shot looking northeast from Simpson Springs (Kerk Phillips):

 pano looking ne from simpson kerk phillips

I posted a shot by acidman1968 earlier.  Here are two more shots by the a-man.  First, this of the Simpson Buttes (just 3 miles west of my landing):

 pano Simpson Buttes just west of landing acidman1968

I’ll close with this shot from the Old River Bed looking past some bluffs towards the Simpson Buttes:

  pano bluffs along the old river bed with the simpson bluffs in the background acidman

That’ll do it.




© 2013 A Landing A Day

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Hampden, North Dakota

Posted by graywacke on March 2, 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 2086; A Landing A Day blog post number 514.

 Dan –  Still mired in a slump (now 2/12), thanks to this OS landing in . . . ND; 60/48; 2/10; 150.6.  Here’s my regional landing map:


My local landing map shows that I landed very close to the incredibly small town of Hampden:


I zoomed back quite a bit, and found that I’m in the midst of . . .(here comes that phrase again) . . .a veritable plethora of small towns:


Here’s my Google Earth (GE) shot, showing that I landed in the expected agricultural setting:


Just for the heck of it, here’s a closer look at my landing and the nearby farmstead:

 GE2 close-up

Speaking of just for the heck of it, here’s a close-in view of Hampden (population:   not-very-many; some-number-less-than-fifty):

 GE3 hampden

Obviously, we’ll have some more about Hampden in a bit.  But first, my watershed analysis.  Let me start with this “streams-only” landing map:


You can see why I put “streams” in quotes.  There are no streams, just a veritable plethora of little lakes.  Does this whole scene look familiar?  It should!  Just ten landings ago, I landed in the northeast corn of South Dakota (my Grenville post).  In that post, I showed a similar map, and discussed (at some length) the fact that I had landed in the “Prairie Pothole Region.”

 Here’s the regional map of the region that I presented in my Grenville post.  Obviously, I’ve landed there again!


For any of you who didn’t read my Grenville post, here’s what I said about the Prairie Pothole 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.

 Looking back up at my zoomed out landing map, you can see that there are some larger lakes some distance south of my landing.  Could they be downhill from my landing?

 Using the GE elevation tool, I determined that with a huge flooding rain fall / snow melt event (filling up all of the potholes on the way), drainage from my landing site would in fact generally head southwest, eventually ending up in the Devil’s Lake Basin (which includes, of all things, Devil’s Lake).  Here’s another streams-only map:


Here’s what Wiki has to say about Devil’s Lake (the lake, not the town):

 Devils Lake is an endorheic, or closed, lake, and is part of the Devils Lake Basin.  Above an elevation of 1,458 ft the lake flows [or one could say “would flow”] naturally into the Sheyenne River, though the lake has not reached this level in approximately 1000 years.

 [I wonder what happened 1000 years ago?  The thousand-year flood, I reckon.]

An increase in precipitation between 1993 and 1999 caused the lake to double in size, forcing the displacement of over 300 homes and flooding 70,000 acres of farmland.

Here’s a 1986 aerial photo (from Wiki), showing the Lake at its normal (smaller) size:

 wiki Devilslake_05_24_1984

Here’s Wiki’s 2009 photo showing a much larger lake:

 wiki Devilslake_03_22_2009

In response to the flooding (and dissatisfaction with a federal Corp of Engineers proposal), the state constructed an outlet to divert water from Devils Lake into the Sheyenne River.  The outlet began operation in 2006, but did not operate at the maximum permitted rate until 2009.

 I guess I could say that I landed in the Sheyenne River watershed, since water now flows from the Lake into the Sheyenne.  But I always lean towards natural, not manmade drainage-ways, so I’ve decided to put this landing into my “internal” category.  I mean, really.  Based on the natural drainage patterns, the water hasn’t made it to the Sheyenne in 1000 years . . .

 Moving on to Hampden.  I quickly seized upon a Hampden blog (another WordPress blog).  Here’s something I found there:

Meet another Hampden!

February 28, 2010 by Julie

Hampden, North Dakota got a recent mention on a website from…Hampden, New Zealand! Head on over and read it.

So, of course I did click on the link they provided, and here’s what I found, posted on the website Hamraki Rag (a website featuring the general Hampden NZ area):

hamraki rag

 How many Hampdens are there in this world?

The other day we looked up Hampden on Google. There are, of course, a few pages about our Hampden, but there are many other Hampdens.

Hampdens of various sizes can be found in the US, Canada and South Australia. We noticed a village called Mount Hampden, just on the outskirts of Harare in Zimbabwe as well. And of course there is the original one in the UK, Great Hampden in Buckinghamshire.

Like ours, most of these Hampdens and some ink-saving cousins without the ‘p’, are named after John Hampden, an Englishman who lived in the 17th century. He is the chap who is regarded as one of the designers of English style parliamentary democracy which we inherited in New Zealand and many other democratic countries where there are Hampdens. (Not too sure about Zimbabwe, but that is another story.)

We thought it was strange that we don’t know much about these other Hampdens, even though we share the name. However, because we are all named after the same historic figure known as “the Patriot” perhaps there are some characteristics shared among Hampdenites? How nice if we could get in touch with people living in other Hampdens to find out how they live, eat, work and feel?

So we sent out emails to Hampdenites all over the world asking if they could contribute to the Rag and tell us what their Hampdens are like. The response so far has been overwhelming. Many want to hear about our Hampden as well.

The first reply was from North Dakota, USA.  Hampden, North Dakota is in Ramsey County (pop. 11,234 in 2006, with Devils Lake as its major city), right near the border with Canada. They are on the latitude of 48 N, so we are almost equidistant to our respective poles. Our Hampden is often talked about as having been one of the smallest boroughs in the country. This one in North Dakota occupies a total land area of 0.4km2 (with a population of 60 in 2000).

 ALAD note:  The population is down to 48 per the 2010 census.

 Here’s the reply to Hampden NZ from Judy Neidlinger from Hampden ND:

Hampden, North Dakota is a farming community in the northern part of the state. It is actually quite close to Canada.  It was started in 1904 and like most towns in our state, it came into existence because of its location near the railroad.  As the railroad arrived, people started building and creating a community.

In its early years it included every kind of business to meet the needs of the people.  It thrived and met the needs of those living in town and the farmers surrounding it.  The town’s size has decreased through the years; farms are bigger and fewer and hence the population is smaller.

In 1980 the school closed and children from the community were bused to the three surrounding schools. In the late 1970s a shopping mall was built to replace deteriorating buildings. That mall has been a key to the life of the community. It has included a cafe, grocery store and Senior Citizens center for all the years since it was built as well as having been used for sometime as a hardware store, beauty shop and quilt shop.

The railroad which brought the people here is no longer here. Supplies and produce come and go to this community via truck. Regardless of the smallness of its size, the people here care about its appearance and keep it neat and attractive. In 2004, former residents and area people came back to celebrate its existence for 100 years.

We invite you to come for a visit and you can learn about us through our website.  (Their website address is http://hampden.wordpress.com/.)

 I now see that I’ll need two pieces of research:  John Hampden, and Hampden NZ.

 On second thought, I think we learned enough about John in the New Zealand write-up: 

 “John Hampden was an Englishman who lived in the 17th century. He is the chap who is regarded as one of the designers of English style parliamentary democracy which we inherited in New Zealand and many other democratic countries.”

Moving on to Hampden NZ.  No offense, Hampden, but I’m going to use your town (actually your beach) as a photo op.  But first a very broad GE overview for a basic geography lesson:

GE4 NZ overview

And now for a general Hampden vicinity GE shot:

 GE5 hampden & vicinity

You have to love the contrast in the town names:

 Moeraki     Hampden     Waianakararua     Herbert     Maheno     

 IQ test:  Can you pick out the Brit names vs. the Maori names?

 What caught my eye are objects on the beach between Hampden and Moeraki.  They are known as Moeraki Boulders.  Here’s an ALAD exclusive, presenting a Panaramio panorama by Arroz Marisco:


 Here are some cool Panaramio shots of the boulders.  First, by Daniel Meyer:

 pano boulders daniel meyer

By Vladimir Minakov (at low tide):

pano vladimir minakov boulders 

By Funtor (at high tide):

 pano by funtor moeraki boulders

These circular “boulders” are more property called “concretions.”  And get this.  Since I never forget an ALAD post, I knew that I had featured concretions quite a while back. I did a search, and the answer?  From August, 2009:   Selfridge, NORTH DAKOTA!  That’s right, I’ve gone full circle!  If you want to read about Selfridge and its nearby Cannonball River Concretions (and want to learn what causes concretions), type “Selfridge” in the search box . . .

 But even more cool than reading one of my old posts is checking out a link that I provided in my Selfridge post.  This is an absolutely wonderful website with dozens of pictures of concretions from the world over (including three or four shots of Moeraki Boulders).  Click HERE to see it.

 Before I close with some Panoramio shots from the greater Hampden / Devil’s Lake area, I found this little Wiki blurb about Bisbee (a town about 35 miles west of my landing). 

 Bisbee was featured in the September 10, 2001 edition of Newsweek, discussing the slow, painful decline of the town since (at that time) even the mayor, Bob Weltin, was preparing to forsake what was left of the town and seek a better life elsewhere. Things Bisbee had lost over the years, according to the Newsweek article, included movies at Pettsinger’s Theater, root-beer floats at Brannon’s Drug and Soda Fountain, and groceries at Dick’s Red Owl. At the time of the article, there wasn’t a doctor, lawyer, plumber or priest in Bisbee anymore. Population had dropped more than 30 percent in a decade. At the time of the article, there were only 227 “hearty souls” hanging on for dear life in Bisbee.

 Get this.  The population was 126 as of the 2010 census (and probably 93 today).

 So, here are some Devil’s Lake Panoramio shots.  First, this by MrBur1:

pano lake mrbur1

And then this very cool shot, by JCCND:

 pano lake jccnd

 Now, moving up just north of Hampden, here’s a shot of an old schoolhouse by Scott Knox:

 pano scott knox old schoolhouse

I’ll close with two shots by Cory Enger.   First this, of a Canola field:

 pano canola cory enger

And finally, this:

 pano sunflowers cory enger


That’ll do it.



© 2013 A Landing A Day

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