First timer? In this formerly once-a-day blog (and now pretty much a once-every-three-or-four days 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 2167; A Landing A Day blog post number 595.
Dan – Today’s landing marks the 55th straight western / midwestern landing (and it’s in the mother of OSers at that). . . MT; 124/104; 3/10; 33; 150.5.
And the beat goes on. 55 landings in a row that haven’t touched the east! Just like my last bunch of posts, I’ll do the statistics: Each landing, I have a 0.82 chance of a western / midwestern landing. Raise that number to the 54th power (and then take the inverse) and I get one chance in 54,984 that I would not land in the east for 55 straight landings!!! Wow. 55 straight equals one in 55,000 . . .
For all of you random doubters out there (to be clear, I mean that you doubt the randomness of my landings, not that you’re a doubter who randomly doubts): Before I landed in Montana, I “landed” in the Atlantic Ocean and then in eastern Ontario (north of NY State). See? An eastern landing is definitely possible.
Here’s my regional landing map:
And here’s my local landing map that shows (as you no doubt suspected from the title of this post), a plethora of small towns:
As shown on the map below, I landed in the watershed of Big Muddy Creek (7th hit); on to the Missouri R (394th hit); on to the MM (851st hit); on to the G of M (1155th hit).
A word about the Big Muddy. It is officially termed a “creek,” but I, the sole ALAD decider, have deemed it a river. I mean, really! It’s almost 200 miles long, it has a huge watershed that stretches well up into Saskatchewan. And historically, it has been known as the Big Muddy River as well as Martha’s River (according to Lewis & Clark).
Also, this factoid: the Big Muddy is one of three Canadian watersheds (joining the Milk and the Poplar) that drain to the Gulf of Mexico.
And of course that fan favorite, my Google Earth (GE) trip to Montana from outer space:
Staying with GE, here’s a map (just east of Redstone) showing where a road with Street View coverage crosses the Big Muddy:
And here’s the Street View shot, looking upstream:
Look back up at the GE aerial. See the large meander NW of the orange dude? See how it looks to be cut off? Here’s a closer view:
Sure ‘nuf. The stream cut through the base of the meander, causing an “ox-bow lake.” It then looks like a farmer built roadways across the old meander to gain access to his fields . . .
One other point before continuing. Back in March 2009, I landed just a few miles east of this landing. I decided to feature Plentywood for that post. Of course, my Plentywood post makes for a fascinating read. Just type Plentywood into the search box to check it out.
Moving right along. This time, I decided on a light-weight-hit-and-miss kind of post that flukily features Whitetail, Dooley & Comertown. I’ll start with Whitetail. From Wiki:
Whitetail is a small, unincorporated village. The area was first used as a camp along a cattle-driving route in the 1880s. The town grew with the arrival of the Soo Line Railroad in 1914. The line was planned for extension all the way to Glacier National Park, but work was stopped during World War I and the line never went any farther than Whitetail. At its peak the town had more than 500 residents, declining to 248 in 1940 and 125 in 1970. [And now? Practically nobody!]
The small Whitetail checkpoint along Montana’s border with Canada, which served about three travelers every day, was set to receive $15 million for upgrades under President Barack Obama’s economic stimulus plan. On April 1, 2011, Canada closed its border to northbound traffic through Whitetail. The US followed suit and closed the southbound crossing on January 25, 2013.
Come on! Really? I’m not going to bother fact-checking the $15 million claim. It’s hard to imagine how one could spend $15 million on a checkpoint that services three cars/day. But stranger things have happened with federal expenditures . . .
So it turns out that every one of the towns on my landing map has pretty much the same story. Each one was a minor settlement for local farmers before the railroads came through. Then, the Great Northern built the more southern line and Soo Line put in the more northern one. Towns popped up every 10 – 20 miles along the rail lines, fueled by optimism about the economic potential of the region (typical of the entire High Plains region).
After quick growth, it turned out that family farms couldn’t be easily supported by marginal soils, especially considering the incredibly harsh winters and short growing seasons. Throw in the Great Depression, and the entire region never had a chance . . .
For some reason, the “town” of Dooley has a strong internet presence. It has a relatively long Wiki entry, with information like this:
Ted Nelson was a popular man in town and owned many of the businesses. He bought the Herman Bretzke building and started the first restaurant in Dooley. Mrs. Nelson managed the restaurant. The Racket Variety Store was owned by Ted. Ted also then bought and started a meat market, and had Christ Grythnes as the meat cutter. His meat market was one of the two in town. The other was caught in all three of Dooley’s fires.
Dooley suffered many different kinds of disasters. In May 1916, the west side of Main Street caught on fire, wrecking many of the businesses. Four years later the east side suffered a fire destroying many of the local businesses. Also a year before, in 1919 a smaller fire took place and wrecked a garage and two smaller businesses.
In 1934 a tornado came through town, wiping out the Stadig Livery Barn. The town also suffered infestations of armyworms, grasshoppers and Mormon crickets, which harmed local agriculture. Some of the winters that the town faced were very severe and kept the train from passing through. The trains feared that they would freeze up or run out of fuel.
Before continuing: Mormon crickets? From Wiki:
The Mormon cricket is a large insect that can grow to almost 3 inches in length. It lives throughout western North America in rangelands dominated by sagebrush.
Despite its name, the Mormon cricket is actually a katydid, not a cricket [and is not typically Mormon. Most are agnostics]. It takes its name from Mormon settlers in Utah, who encountered them while pushing westward, and for the prominent role they play in the miracle of the gulls.
OK, OK. The miracle of the gulls? From Wiki:
After Brigham Young led the first band of Latter-day Saints into what is now Salt Lake City, Utah, the pioneers had the good fortune of a relatively mild winter. Although late frosts in April and May (of 1848) destroyed some of the crops, the pioneers seemed to be well on their way to self-sufficiency. Unfortunately, swarms of insects appeared in late May.
According to traditional accounts, legions of gulls appeared in June. It is said that these birds, native to the Great Salt Lake, ate mass quantities of crickets, drank some water, regurgitated, and continued eating more crickets over a two-week period. The pioneers saw the gulls’ arrival as a miracle, and the story was recounted from the pulpit by church leaders. The traditional story is that the seagulls annihilated the insects, ensuring the survival of some 4,000 Mormon pioneers who had traveled to Utah. For this reason, Seagull Monument was erected and the California gull is the state bird of Utah.
Just for the record, the above account doesn’t necessarily stand up to a critical analysis. Check out the Wiki entry for “miracle of the gulls” if you’d like more info.
OK, OK. The Seagull Monument? Here ‘tis (Wiki photo by BigBen2):
And a close-up of the birds (Wiki photo by Ben McKune):
Leaving the Mormons behind, here’s a can’t-miss NatGeo video about swarms of Mormon Crickets:
Back to Dooley. Here’s a 1916 overview shot of the town, from Railroads-of-Montana.com:
See the large white building on the left side of the photo? Here’s what the area looked like after one of the major fires mentioned in the Dooley write-up (from the same website). The building doesn’t look so white:
Moving on to Comertown. Like Dooley, Comertown is now an official ghost town. But unlike Dooley, Comertown actually has a tombstone (photo by Curtis Pattee, from his website “abandoned west”):
Comerstown also has an abandoned train car (photo by Mr. Pattee):
There are more great Northeast Montana shots on his site. Click HERE to check them out.
I then found a funky Comertown video (by Allen Storaasli) in three parts: Part 1 documents a horse race from the “Dooley sign,” finishing in Comertown. Part 2 follows a pick-up driving through the area that was Comertown. Part 3 is a short video tour of an abandoned store building. Not the most thrilling 3½ minutes you’ve ever spent, but far from the worst 3½ minutes you’ve ever spent:
Time for some GE Panoramio shots close to my landing. I’ll start with this, by Hank Snowbirdpix, from about 3 miles SW of my landing (Hank’s caption below):
Elevators at Daleview.
This was a former grain shipping point on what are now abandoned tracks of the Soo Line.
Here’s a shot from just north of the border, by Bryan Smith:
There are some badlands about 10 miles SE of my landing. Here are two badlands shots by J. B. Chandler:
And this (also by Mr. Chandler) of an abandoned building:
I’ll close with this shot of the only historic building in Dooley (by Scott Knox):
That’ll do it.
© 2015 A Landing A Day