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Archive for January, 2017

Couderay and Radisson, Wisconsin

Posted by graywacke on January 28, 2017

First timer?  In this formerly once-a-day blog (and now pretty much a once-every-four-or-five days blog), I use an app that provides 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 or towns 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) please see “About Landing” above.  To check out some recent changes in how I do things, check out “About Landing (Revisited).”

Landing number 2322; A Landing A Day blog post number 753.

boxDan:  Today’s lat/long (45o 45.318’N, 91o 16.145’W) puts me in the northwest Wisconsin boonies:


My local landing map shows that I landed quite close to my two titular towns:


My streams-only map shows that I landed in the watershed of Section 20 Creek, which flows to Section 19 Creek (just kidding!); which flows to the Couderay River (1st hit ever!); and on to the Chippewa (10th hit).


Zooming back, you can see that the Chippewa flows southwest before discharging into the MM:


I threw in the St. Croix, just so you’d realize that it shares border-definition duties with the Mississippi.

It’s time for my newly-shortened Google Earth (GE) spaceflight. Click HERE.

Street View is lousy (over a mile away from a tree-lined road), so I won’t bother.  I do have a decent view of the Couderay River (be sure not to pronounce Couderay “corduroy”):


And here’s what the Orange Dude sees:


True confessions:  I did a little photo editing of the above shot.  Here’s the original:


I bet the GoogleCamMobile driver pushed the envelope of available light for shooting!

Anyway, moving right along to Couderay.  From Wiki:

Couderay is home to Al Capone’s northwoods hideaway, a tourist site called “The Hideout.”

It required a fair amount of research, but I figured out that it is on Pike Lake, north of Couderay:


Note “New Post.”  A little more about that later.  Anyway, zooming in:


And in even further, for a close-up of Al’s house:


Here’s a picture of the house:


From a 2009 AP story:

Chicago mobster Al Capone’s former hideout in northern Wisconsin, complete with guard towers and a stone house with 18-inch-thick walls, was sold for $2.6 million Thursday to the bank that foreclosed on it.

Capone owned the 407-acre property in the late 1920s and early 1930s during Prohibition, the bank said. Local legend claims that shipments of bootleg alcohol were flown in on planes that landed on the property’s 37-acre lake, and were then loaded onto trucks bound for Chicago.

The two guard towers on the property reportedly were manned with machine guns whenever Capone visited.

The Chippewa Bank acquired the property after foreclosing on owner Guy Houston and his company The Hideout Inc., according to court records.

The Houston family bought the property in the 1950s from Capone’s estate and had operated it as a seasonal bar and restaurant, known for its prime rib, and offered guided tours focusing on the Capone lore.

caponeCapone – nicknamed “Scarface” – headed a massive bootlegging, gambling and prostitution operation during Prohibition and raked in tens of millions of dollars. He was widely suspected in several murders but never charged.

He was considered the mastermind of the gangland killing on Chicago’s North Side in 1929, known as the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre. Seven rivals of Capone’s gang were gunned down in a garage, but investigators never could collect enough evidence to put anyone on trial for the deaths.

Capone was eventually convicted of income tax evasion and spent part of an 11-year sentence at the infamous Alcatraz prison. He died in 1947.

The property’s current status is not clear, but it’s not open to the public and is unoccupied (based on internet postings of snoopy people).

So, what about New Post?  Well, since you’re currently reading a new post, I figured I had to at least give New Post passing mention.  I could find absolutely nothing on the internet about the town (at least initially), even though it has some substance:


And here’s what the OD sees (looking east):


After digging deeper into the internet, I found this about the town’s name (gleaned from the Chippewa Flowage Lake Association website).  Evidently, an old trading post was located nearby, around which a small town built up.  The town became known as simply “Post.”  Post was substantial enough to have its own baseball team in 1913:


Ten guys, eh?  I guess they probably had two pitchers . . .

The “Chippewa Flowage” is a single large lake created by damming up the East & West Forks of the Chippewa River:


The dam (built in 1924) created numerous embayments, called lakes (like Pokegama Lake) which are all part of the “Flowage.”

Anyway, the town of Post was flooded by the flowage, and New Post was built to replace it.  I really doubt New Post has a baseball team . . .

Time to move on to Radisson – spelled just like the hotels. And guess what?  That’s not a coincidence!  Here’s the story.

From Wiki:

The Village of Radisson (pop 241) was named in honor of the early French explorer, Pierre-Esprit Radisson (c.1636–1710).

Pierre was born in France, but traveled to New France (Quebec) in 1651, residing in Trois-Rivières.

From Wiki:

pierre_esprit_radissonAccording to Radisson’s account, in 1652 he had been hunting with several other men near his home in Trois-Rivières when he was captured by the Iroquois.  Only Radisson was spared.  Citing his youth as the reason he was left alive, Radisson states that the Iroquois treated him relatively kindly and that he, partially by showing an interest in Mohawk/Iroquois language and culture, was assimilated into a local Mohawk family who then supposedly settled near modern day Schenectady, N.Y.

After six weeks, Radisson’s assimilation was completed.  However, shortly thereafter, while out hunting with three Iroquois, Radisson reluctantly agreed to attempt escape after meeting an Algonquin man who offered to help him return to Trois-Rivières.  Raddison and the Algonquin killed the three Iroquois.

[Now wait a second!  He was assimilated by the Iroquois/Mohawks, but then killed three of them to escape?]

Radisson and the Algonquin man traveled for 14 days until they were within sight of Trois-Rivières, but were recaptured by patrolling Iroquois shortly before reaching the town.

The Mohawk killed the Algonquin and subjected Radisson, along with approximately 20 other prisoners, to ritual torture.

[That’s what he gets for murder!]

However, much of his punishment was lessened as a result of the advocacy of his adopted Native family. Eventually he was released, and, overwhelmed with relief, described the experience as a moment in which “all my paines and griefs ceased; and, not feeling the least paine, my father bids me be merry, makes me sing, to which I consented with all my heart.”

With the Mohawks, he traveled to Fort Orange (Albany) on a trading mission, and was recognized by the Dutch there as a Frenchman.  They obtained his freedom from the Mohawks; in return, they required three years of missionary work.  He traveled to Holland, and then did Jesuit missionary work among the Indians.

Moving on to Encyclopedia Britannica:                 

With his brother-in-law, Médard Chouart des Groseilliers, he spent the next few years on trading expeditions to the West. In 1658 they explored the Great Lakes region, crossing what is now Wisconsin and the upper Mississippi River valley, and then circling east through what is now Canada.

[Maybe traveling through Radisson!]

Because they had failed to secure a government license, the French authorities in 1663 confiscated their furs and fined them. As a result Radisson and Groseilliers offered their services to the English in what is now Nova Scotia.

They then sailed through Hudson Strait [the entrance to Hudson Bay way up north near Baffin Island] and into Hudson Bay. Their report on the wealth in furs led to the formation of the Hudson’s Bay Company [chartered as a British company] in 1670.

In 1671 he founded Moose Factory, a company trading post a few miles south of James Bay [a southern extension of Hudson Bay].

Three years later, Radisson and Groseilliers made their peace with France and served in the French fleet in French Guinea and Tobago.

[Guinea’s in Africa and Tobago’s in the Caribbean.  Man, this guy gets around!]

Radisson became a resident of Quebec in 1681, and the following year he led an expedition against the English on Hudson Bay.

[OK to be French, but fight the Brits on Hudson Bay?  After all, he founded the British Hudson’s Bay Company!]

After revisiting both France and England, he was again employed by the Hudson’s Bay Company and was eventually pensioned by the company.

I can’t believe he got away with all of the s%#& he got away with . . .

Oh yea.  What about the Radisson Hotels?  From Wiki:

The towns Radisson, Quebec; Radisson, Saskatchewan and Radisson, Wisconsin [yea!], as well as a street and Metro station in Montreal, are named after him.

The first Radisson Hotel, built in 1909 in Minneapolis was also named after him.  The modern Radisson Hotel chain grew from this Minneapolis Radisson.

Here’s a GE Street View of the original (but obviously renovated) Radisson in Minneapolis:


It’s time for a couple of GE Panoramio shots from the general vicinity of my landing.  First this, of the Couderay River by BTJ98836:


And this of the Chippewa, by Schwist:


I’ll close with this, by Prntdckt:


That’ll do it . . .




© 2017 A Landing A Day


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Detroit Lakes and Rochert, Minnesota (and Rocherath, Belgium)

Posted by graywacke on January 23, 2017

First timer?  In this formerly once-a-day blog (and now pretty much a once-every-four-or-five days blog), I use an app that provides 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 or towns 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) please see “About Landing” above.  To check out some recent changes in how I do things, check out “About Landing (Revisited).”

Landing number 2321; A Landing A Day blog post number 752.

text-boxDan:  Today’s lat/long (47o 0.464’N, 95o 31.618’W), while not as far north as my last Washington Canadian Border landing, is still pretty far up there in Minnesota:


Here’s my local landing map:


You can see one of my titular towns (Detroit Lakes) and a whole passel of non-titular towns (and Rochert is nowhere to be found).  And maybe, just maybe, I’ll have very close-in Street View coverage of my landing (since it looks like I landed right on a road).  Stay tuned!

Here’s my local streams-only map:


You can see that I landed within shouting distance of Ice Cracking Lake, so a drop of water that falls on my landing can quickly take a swim in the lake.  The lake is drained by an unnamed stream (at least to me, if not the locals) which flows into and then out of Ice Cracking Lake, then on to the Otter Tail River (3rd hit).

While Otter Tail sounds like a quaint little name for a quaint little stream, it’s actually a fair-sized river with a fair sized watershed.  Zooming back a little:


You can see that the Otter Tail wends its way through Chippewa Lake and Height of Land Lake.  Height of Land!  What an awesome name!  Very much reminds of its sister lake, Sleight of Hand Lake.

As I typed Sleight of Hand, I was suddenly unsure of the word “sleight.”  Here’s the definition:

The use of dexterity or cunning, especially so as to deceive.  “except by sleight of logic, the two positions cannot be harmonized.”

Continuing my streams-only zoom-out:


You can see that the Otter Tail makes its way through numerous lakes (including the Mother Ship, Otter Tail Lake) before discharging into the Red River of the North (48th hit).

You’ll have to take my word on the following:  The Red River of the North heads into Canada where it discharges into the huge Lake Winnipeg (9,500 square miles!).  The Nelson River (66th hit) flows out of the lake, making its way northeast before discharging (with polar bears watching) into Hudson Bay.

It’s time for my Google Earth (GE) spaceflight into Cen-NW Minnesota, but this time with a difference.  I was speaking with my son Jordan, and he said he doesn’t bother watching my GE spaceflight videos, because they take too much time! 

Well, ex-cuuuuuse me!  But ever the sensitive father (and sensitive blogger), recognizing that because it is likely that others feel the same, I have simplified/shortened my spaceflight.  Click HERE to check it out, and then hit your back button.

So what about Street View coverage?  Well, this says it all:


Yes, the Orange Dude is virtually face-to-face (or I should say face-to-pushpin) with my landing!  And here’s what he sees:


I moved him a little further south, and had him look up the road:


I hope the Orange Dude waved hello to the kids in the bus.

As mentioned earlier, I landed adjacent to Ice Cracking Lake.  It turns out that I also landed adjacent to the Ice Cracking Resort.  Here ’tis:


And a screen shot of the resort’s home page:


 We have a nearby Street View look at the Otter Tail River:


And here’s what the OD sees (looking downstream):


And here’s the “upstream” version, which is actually Round Lake:


It’s time to move along to all things titular.

Even though Detroit Lakes is a pretty big town (pop 8,600 which expands to 13,000 during the summer tourist season), it is very much:


OK, so Wiki says that Detroit Lakes was mentioned in John Steinbeck’s Travels With Charley, which caught my attention only because I featured this very book when discussing Alice ND in a March 2016 post.  Alice is featured by Steinbeck while recounting a night spent camping nearby and hobnobbing with an itinerant actor.  It turns out that the entire Alice episode in the book was likely fiction. 

No such intrigue for Detroit Lakes (which happened just a day before Alice).

And then, Wiki says this:

A postcard depicting the Fairyland Cottages in Detroit Lakes appear in the opening credits of the 1983 movie National Lampoon’s Vacation.

Here’s a clip of the opening credits.  Look for some white cottages with red trim, and yes, those are the Fairyland Cottages in Detroit Lakes!


Just in case you missed it (or didn’t bother with the clip), here’s a screen shot:


The resort went of business, and it was purposely burned down as part of a Detroit Lakes Fire Department training exercise . . .

I told you Detroit Lakes was hookless!

Time to move on to Rochert.  That’s the titular town not on my local landing map.  Fortunately for me, GE often shows smaller towns than Street Atlas.  Here ‘tis (about 12 miles from my landing):


And I can’t really blame Street Atlas for not bothering:


In spite of its practically nonexistent status, Wiki has this to say:

The settlement was founded by Palm Peter and by Heuters Nikolaus from Rocherath, Belgium.

Given the similarity between Rochert and Rocherath, I can only presume that the MN version was named after the Belgian version.

Quickly realizing I would find nothing to say about Rochert MN, I thought I’d check out Rocherath, Belgium.  Rocherath is a teeny teeny town in the far east, right near the German border.  Here’s a GE shot:


Zooming closer in, you can see that there’s a twin village, Krinkelt:


So, when one Googles Rocherath, there are many entries about World War II, more specifically the Battle of the Bulge, and more specifically, the Battle of Elsenborn Ridge.

From History.com (about the Battle of the Bulge):

In December 1944, Adolph Hitler attempted to split the Allied armies in northwest Europe by means of a surprise blitzkrieg thrust through the Ardennes (a forest region on the border between Germany and Belgium), and on to Antwerp.

The Allies had been on the march since the Normandy Invasion (June 6, 1944), and the Nazi December offensive was a last-ditch effort to turn the tide of the ward.

Here’s a map:


Caught off-guard, American units fought desperate battles to stem the German advance.  However, advance they did, and the Allied line took on the appearance of a large bulge, giving rise to the battle’s name.

Here’s a Wiki map:


The solid purple line (which roughly corresponds to the German border) was the front line on the 16th of December.  The dashed line is the front as of the 20th of December and the dotted line is the line as of Christmas day.  The Germans would get no further.

 Compare the battle map with the planned invasion map.  Notice how there was no advance to the northwest in the vicinity of Rocherath?  More about that in a minute.

From Wiki (the Battle of Elsenborn Ridge):

Monschau [see map above] lay on the very northernmost sector of the German offensive. Capturing it and the twin villages of Krinkelt-Rocherath were critical to the success of the German offensive because of the road network that lay to their west. The Germans had planned a seven-day campaign to seize Antwerp, and they were counting on the good quality road system to the west of Monschau and Elsenborn Ridge [located about 4 miles northwest of Rocherath] to help them achieve that objective.

So, I spent a fair amount of time perusing the internet, learning about the Battle of Elsenborn Ridge.  It’s very intense reading, and there are copious entries providing much detail about troop movements, practically hour-by-hour.  I’ll start with this GE shot showing the village of Elsenborn (where the north-south trending ridge is located):


Here’s the ALAD synopsis:

The Germans expected to take Rocherath/Krinkelt rapidly, knowing that an untested rookie unit (the 99th Infantry Division, none of whom had yet fired their weapons at the enemy) was thinly defending the front line, and that the German attack would be unexpected.  But the Americans (soon aided by the 2nd Infantry Division), put up magnificent resistance, with intense house-to-house combat.  For three days, the Americans kept the Germans from advancing.

These three days were absolutely critical, as they allowed the Americans to bring in reinforcements to defend the strategically-crucial Elsenborn Ridge, about 4 miles NW of Rocherath.

Look back up at the battle map.  See the north-south portion of the dashed purple line west of Rocherath?  That’s Elsenborn Ridge, where the Germans were stopped.  Remember that the German’s original objective was to go past Elsenborn and keep going northwest all the way to Antwerp. 

Even though the Germans broke through further south (and headed due west, not northwest), their entire offensive was essentially doomed by Elsenborn; and Elsenborn was successful only because of the three days in Rocherath/Krinkelt.

It’s incredibly moving to peruse the internet.  Photographs of war scenes (with many dead soldiers); articles about the Malmedy massacre (where the Germans executed 84 American prisoners of war, 15 miles WSW of Rocherath); and stories of individual heroism, abound.

Here’s a Wiki photo (by Wikoli) of plaques on the twin-village square, right on the border between Roherath & Kinkelt:


I took the Orange Dude into downtown Rocherath/Krinkelt.  Here are three shots from the same location, right on the boundary between Rocherath & Krinkelt.  The first one is looking northwest:


And yes, Stella Artois is a Belgian beer.

I then had the OD look a bit to his right:


And then, further to the right:


It’s time for some Pano shots (all within 7 or 8 miles from my landing). I’ll start with this, by Lynn Hendricks, of the Otter Tail River in Rochert:


And here’s a lovely shot by Wayne Rasmussen:


I’ll close with another by Ms. Hendricks:


That’ll do it . . .




© 2016 A Landing A Day


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Ohio City and Pitkin, Colorado

Posted by graywacke on January 12, 2017

First timer?  In this formerly once-a-day blog (and now pretty much a once-every-four-or-five 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) please see “About Landing” above.  To check out some recent changes in how I do things, check out “About Landing (Revisited).”

Landing number 2319; A Landing A Day blog post number 750.

the-boxDan:  As opposed to my last two borderline landings, today’s lat/long (38o 37.319’N, 106o 37.438’W) puts me squarely in Colorado:


My local landing map shows that I landed close to two teeny towns (for reference, Ohio and Pitkin are only about 6 miles apart):


My streams-only map shows that I landed in the watershed of an unnamed stream, on to Gold Creek, on to Quartz Creek, on to Tomichi Creek:


Zooming back, you can see that the Tomichi flows to the Gunnison River (6th hit); on to the Colorado (177th hit):


Here are a couple of shots of Tomichi Creek, from a real estate website (MirRanchGroup.com):



It’s time for my Google Earth (GE) spaceflight in to Central Colorado.  Click HERE, enjoy the flight, and hit your back button.

Here’s an oblique GE view looking north past my landing up the valley of the unnamed stream towards the Sawatch Range:


I don’t have any kind of GE Street View coverage of my landing, but I can get a view of Quartz Creek (notice the GE SV Cam didn’t make it to Ohio City, let along Pitkin):


And here’s what the Orange Dude sees:


You might have noticed that my local landing map says “Ohio,” but GE says “Ohio City.”   A quick perusal of the internet confirms “Ohio City.”

From Wiki:

In 1879, a prospector, miner, and assayer named Jacob Hess discovered silver in Ohio Creek, now known as Gold Creek.  He moved his camp to Ohio Creek and named his settlement Eagle City.

So, Gold Creek used to be Ohio Creek, and Ohio City used to be Eagle City.  But why, if Jacob Hess discovered silver, was Ohio Creek renamed Gold Creek? 

Mystery solved.  From UncoverColorado.com/ghost-towns:

Ohio City was founded in the early 1860’s as a gold mining town.

[So now, the name “Gold Creek” makes sense!  Before it was a silver mining town, it was a gold mining town!]

After gold ran out, people left. The Colorado Silver Boom of 1879 brought miners back into the area. A large vein was found and Ohio City was reborn.

[They could’ve renamed Gold Creek to Silver Creek . . .]

After the Silver Boom collapse in 1893, folks left town once again.

[But guess what?]

Prospectors came back in 1896 and found the lode that was the source for the gold found in the ’60s. Mining continued until around 1916 when profits dried up.

Here are some Ohio City pics from the UncoverColorado website:



And then this shot, just coming into town:


Moving on to Pitkin.  There’s even less here than in Ohio City, although it’s a much bigger town, pop 66.  (OK, so I don’t know how many people live in Ohio City, but trust me, it’s way less than 66.)

From Wiki:

Pitkin was founded in 1879, and is said to be Colorado’s first mining camp west of the Continental Divide

[It must have beat Ohio City by a couple of weeks.]

Originally named Quartzville, it was renamed to honor Governor Frederick W. Pitkin.

So, Ohio City was on Ohio Creek (renamed Gold Creek), and Quartzville was on Quartz Creek (which remains Quartz Creek). 

I’m a geologist, and I’m generally aware that gold is often found associated with quartz.  I’d say by the names of the two creeks that meet at Ohio City, the old time miners were very aware of this connection. 

Before digging a little deeper (like the miners) into the quartz/gold connection, here are some Pitkin photos from UncoverColorado, starting with this “Welcome to Pitkin” shot, coming into town on a dirt road with a 15 mph speed limit:




(I think the architect of the above was also responsible for the town hall in Ohio City.)

So, it’s time for a little geology as to the quartz/gold connection. First, here’s a picture of gold in quartz from SpecimenGold.com:


And another, from GoldRushNuggets.com:


So why are the two minerals found together?  Well, I happened upon TreasureNet.com, which has a question and answer forum.  Cappy Z. had a question (here are some excerpts):

It is no secret that veins of white quartz have gold seams.  Since gold in quartz is so prevalent does the quartz have some ability to attract gold when molten?  Kind of like a magic wand attracting the iron filings in that kids game?

So, 3XFlyFisher had an answer (somewhat edited by yours truly):

The deposition of gold and gold bearing minerals are hydrothermal in nature. This means that the gold is carried in a molton solution associated with volcanic activity. As the solution and the surrounding host rock begin to cool the gold precipitates in the host rock.

There are temperature-pressure relationships that have been developed that show quartz and gold are deposited/precipitated at nearly the same temperatures and pressures.  Thus, as the solution cools, both quartz and gold come out of solution together.  Therefore, quartz does not “attract” gold, but generally this is how gold is deposited with quartz in volcanic host rocks.

What the heck – I’ll finish up this segment with a picture of a cool piece of natural quartz/gold jewelry (from AlaskaJewelry.com):


It’s time for some GE Pano shots (all within 5 miles of my landing). Here’s one by TexasFlyFisher, overlooking Quartz Creek:


And this, of a funky old miner’s shack door, by Tyson Woodul:


And this, by GregArizona of Fossil Ridge, just west of my landing:


I’ll close with another shot of the ridge, by Josh Laubhan:


That’ll do it . . .




© 2016 A Landing A Day


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Levelland and Needmore, Texas

Posted by graywacke on January 6, 2017

First timer?  In this formerly once-a-day blog (and now pretty much a once-every-four-or-five 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) please see “About Landing” above.  To check out some recent changes in how I do things, check out “About Landing (Revisited).”

Landing number 2318; A Landing A Day blog post number 749.

untitledDan:  Today’s lat/long (33o 28.047’N, 103o 1.395’W) puts me right on the border between New Mexico & Texas, but evidently in Texas based on the title of this post:


Note:  In the post before this one, I used the same terminology in the first paragraph as follows: “ . . . puts me right on the border between Florida & Georgia, but evidently in Georgia based on the title of this post.”

A closer look confirms my Texas landing:


And here’s my local landing map:


You can see a VP* of small towns; my reasons for selecting Levelland and Needmore as titular will become apparent shortly.

*veritable plethora

But first, it’s time for my Google Earth (GE) spaceflight in to West Texas.  Click HERE, enjoy the trip, and hit your back button.

Street View coverage is a couple of miles away, but I’ll take it:


And here’s what the Orange Dude sees:


My streams-only StreetAtlas map was worthless, so I had to go to GE to track downhill topography, and therefore the flowpath for water. 

I found it went generally southeast, but I had to go an incredible distance to find a well defined channel, and even further to find my first bridge with Street View Coverage:


The 167.66 miles is the length of the yellow line to the yellow pin which is where I put the Orange Dude.  I’m sure that this is the longest I’ve had the Orange Dude travel to get a first look at one of my watershed streams!  And here’s what he sees:


Being in Texas, I was confident that there would be an informational sign at the end of the bridge.  And there was (at one end only, but I’ll take it):


OK, so I landed in the watershed of the Colorado River (29th hit).  And just to confirm that the Colorado Watershed extends into New Mexico, here’s a watershed map from Wiki:


Obviously, I spent some time checking out each and every little town out here in West Texas.  But at the end of the day, the two towns with the most interesting names caught my attention:  Levelland (of course, pronounced “level land”) and Needmore (of course, pronounced “need more.”)

Wiki tells us this about Levelland:

Levelland is famous as the site of a well-publicized series of UFO sightings in November 1957.

Several motorists driving on various highways around Levelland claimed to see a large, egg-shaped object which emitted a blue glow and caused their automobiles to shut off.

In most cases, the object was sitting either on the highway or close to it. When the object took off, witnesses claimed their vehicles would restart and work normally.

Among witnesses were Weir Clem, Levelland’s sheriff, and Ray Jones, the town’s fire chief.

The United States Air Force concluded a severe electrical storm (most probably ball lightning), was the major cause for the sightings and reported auto failures.

However, several prominent UFO researchers, among them Dr. James E. McDonald, a physicist at the University of Arizona, and Dr. J. Allen Hynek, an astronomer at Northwestern University, disputed this explanation. Both men argued that no electrical storm was in the area when the sightings occurred.

Wow.  There’s a Wiki article on the UFO sightings, and it’s pretty amazing stuff.  It’s a little too long, and highlights don’t do it justice.  I highly recommend that you read it by clicking HERE.

Alternately, simply Google “Levelland UFO” and you can peruse quite a few articles at your leisure. Really interesting reading.

Moving right along.  The Levelland TX Wiki article also mentioned that a singer named James McMurtry recorded a song about the town, appropriately entitled “Levelland.”  For the record, James McMurtry is the son of famous Texas novelist Larry McMurtry, author of the well known novel Lonesome Dove, which spawned a TV mini-series of the same name.

Well, here we go.  ALAD Nation!  I love this song!  If you like good ol’ straight ahead story-telling back beat country rock ‘n roll (which is my sweet spot), this song is for you.  I highly recommend that you listen to it twice.  Once, following the words, and then, enjoying the video. 

And if you’re like me, you’ll be listening again and again.  In fact, I just bought tickets to see James McMurtry in concert in Alexandria VA . . .

Flatter than a tabletop
Makes you wonder why they stopped here
Wagon must have lost a wheel or they lacked ambition one
In the great migration west
Separated from the rest
Though they might have tried their best
They never caught the sun
So they sunk some roots down in this dirt
To keep from blowin’ off the earth
Built a town around here
And when the dust had all but cleared
They called it Levelland, the pride of man
In Levelland.
Granddad grew the dryland wheat
Stood on his own two feet
His mind got incomplete and they put in the home
Daddy’s cotton grows so high
Sucks the water table dry
As rolling sprinklers circle by
Bleedin’ it to the bone
And I won’t be here when it comes a day
It all dries up and blows away
I’d hang around just to see
But they never had much use for me in Levelland, Levelland
They don’t understand me out in Levelland, Levelland
And I watch those jet trails carving up that big blue sky
Coast to coasters – watch ’em go
And I never would blame ’em one damn bit
If they never looked down on this
Not much down here they’d wanna know
Just Levelland
Far as you can point your hand
Nothin’ but Levelland
Mama used to roll her hair
Back before the central air
We’d sit outside and watch the stars at night
She’d tell me to make a wish
I’d wish we both could fly
Don’t think she’s seen the sky
Since we got the satellite dish and
I can hear the marching band
Doin’ the best they can
They’re playing “Smoke on the Water”, “Joy to the World”
I’ve paid off all my debts
Got some change left over yet and I’m
Gettin’ on a whisper jet
I’m gonna fly as far as I can get from
Levelland, doin’ the best I can
Out in Levelland

Time to move on to Needmore.  Let me start with the fact that besides the fact that we’re in Texas oil country, we’re also in Texas cotton country (as sung about by James McMurtry).

The modern cotton industry started with Eli Whitney’s cotton gin.  What’s a cotton gin?  Very briefly, from Wiki:

A cotton gin is a machine that quickly and easily separates cotton fibers from their seeds, allowing for much greater productivity than manual cotton separation.

Prior to the introduction of the mechanical cotton gin, cotton had required considerable labor to clean and separate the fibers from the seeds.  With Eli Whitney’s introduction of “teeth” in his cotton gin to comb out the cotton and separate the seeds, cotton became a tremendously profitable business, creating many fortunes in the Antebellum South.

The invention of the cotton gin caused massive growth in the production of cotton in the southern United States. Cotton production expanded from 750,000 bales in 1830 to 2.85 million bales in 1850. As a result, the region became even more dependent on plantations and slavery.

While it took a single slave about ten hours to separate a single pound of fiber from the seeds, a team of two or three slaves using a cotton gin could produce around fifty pounds of cotton in just one day.

The number of slaves rose in concert with the increase in cotton production, increasing from around 700,000 in 1790 to around 3.2 million in 1850.  By 1860, black slave labor from the American South was providing two-thirds of the world’s supply of cotton.

The cotton gin thus “transformed cotton as a crop and the American South into the globe’s first agricultural powerhouse, and – according to many historians – was the start of the Industrial Revolution.

According to the Eli Whitney Museum website:

Whitney (who died in 1825) could not have foreseen the ways in which his invention would change society for the worse. The most significant of these was the growth of slavery. While it was true that the cotton gin reduced the labor of removing seeds, it did not reduce the need for slaves to grow and pick the cotton.

In fact, the opposite occurred. Cotton growing became so profitable for the planters that it greatly increased their demand for both land and slave labor. In 1790 there were six slave states; in 1860 there were 15.

From 1790 until Congress banned the importation of slaves from Africa in 1808, Southerners imported 80,000 Africans. By 1860 approximately one in three Southerners was a slave.

Because of its inadvertent effect on American slavery, and on its ensuring that the South’s economy developed in the direction of plantation-based agriculture (while encouraging the growth of the textile industry elsewhere, such as in the North), the invention of the cotton gin is frequently cited as one of the indirect causes of the American Civil War.

I learned something here.  You?  And I didn’t realize that the import of slaves was banned in 1808, but it’s absolutely true. 

Anyway, so, why am I going on and on about cotton gins?  Well, I really enjoy a good gin & tonic.  So, I’ll close with this GE StreetView shot of downtown Needmore:


That’ll do it . . .




© 2016 A Landing A Day


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Moniac and Saint George, Georgia

Posted by graywacke on January 1, 2017

First timer?  In this formerly once-a-day blog (and now pretty much a once-every-four-or-five 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) please see “About Landing” above.  To check out some recent changes in how I do things, check out “About Landing (Revisited).”

Landing number 2317; A Landing A Day blog post number 748.

text-boxDan:  Today’s lat/long (43o 26.229’N, 96o 34.897’W) puts me right on the border between Florida & Georgia, but evidently in Georgia based on the title of this post:


A closer look confirms my Georgia landing, right in that peculiar southern bulge in the southeastern corner of Georgia:


Here’s my local landing map:


I’ll back out a little for another look, showing I’m not far from Jacksonville:


My watershed analysis is straightforward.  I landed right next to the St. Mary’s River, which discharges to the Atlantic Ocean:


Because I’ll be discussing the Okefenokee Swamp in a little bit, I added the Suwanee River, which drains most of the swamp.  St. Mary’s drains just a little.

It’s time for my Google Earth (GE) spaceflight into the “Georgia Bend,” as the southern bulge is known.  Click HERE, enjoy the trip, and hit your back button.

I have pretty good Street View coverage of my landing:


And here’s what the Orange Dude sees:


I don’t have to go far to get a look at the St. Mary’s River:


And here ‘tis:


So of course I went to Wiki to check out the towns of Moniac and Saint George.  I’ll start with teeny Moniac. 

Moniac is an unincorporated community along the St. Marys River, part of the “Georgia Bend” (the “tail” of Georgia that sticks further south than the rest of the state).  The area was an early trading post in the 1820s; the settlement’s name comes from an Indian chief whose entrance trail to the Okefenokee Swamp passed near by.

The population in 1904 was estimated to be 400.  According to the 1910 census, the population was 184.

Pretty funny.  Wiki says nothing about the population after 1910.  If I were to draw a graph of population vs. time and extend the line, the population went to zero a long, long time ago.

Here’s a GE shot of today’s downtown Moniac:


I’d say that zero population estimate looks about right . . .

One other thing.  I found an article by Lois Barefoot Mays in CharltonCountyArchives.org that disputes Wiki on how the town got its name:

Charlton County’s 1972 history book states that the town of Moniac got its name from a prominent Indian chief whose trail of entrance to the Swamp passed that way. Since then, printed documents have been found that show that Moniac was in fact named for a man who probably never came near this territory.  He was David Moniac, a Creek Indian.

Moniac was a West Point graduate from southern Alabama who fought with the U.S. Infantry in the Indian War (aka the Florida War or the Seminole War) of 1836.

David Moniac was the first Indian to be admitted to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. He received the appointment to West Point in 1817 (at age 15).  He graduated as a 2nd Lt. In July 1822.

He was killed in Florida, after achieving the rank of Major.  He was leading a regiment of Creek Indians against the Seminoles (the enemy tribe in the Florida War).

Way to go, Ms. L. Barefoot Mays, for correcting the record.  Could you please dive into Wiki and make appropriate changes?  I’m totally with you.

One more thing about Moniac.  Here’s a historical marker:


So a surveyor (Andrew Ellicott) built a mound marking the east end of the straight-line border between the US and Spanish Florida.  According to a treaty between the US & Spain, the line was to run from the confluence of the Flint & Chattahoochee Rivers, extending east southeast to a point marking the headwaters of the St. Mary’s River (which is where Mr. Ellicott placed his famous mound).

Here’s a GE shot showing the Mound’s location:


And a map showing the western end of the line:


And the eastern end of the line (at Ellicott’s Mound):


So, Mr. Ellicott canoed/trekked up the St. Mary’s and built a mound of earth at the only dry location he could find in the general vicinity of the headwaters of the river.  He designated this as the eastern end of the survey line.

He then marked out a straight line, running approximately 158 miles:


Imagine doing this in 1800!  Dense forests everywhere; no roads, no modern surveying instruments (let alone GPS!).  He really knew his astronomy, and used the stars to determine his location.  But I can imagine starting at one end, and then being a few thousand feet too far north when you reached the other!  But no.  He nailed it.

By the way, Andrew Ellicott had quite the resume:

  • He completed the unfinished Mason-Dixon line
  • He surveyed the limits and street plans for Washington DC
  • Performed a topographical survey of the Niagara River and Niagara Falls
  • Plotted a road from Reading PA to Erie PA (a straight line distance of 250 miles). For those of you who (like me) are familiar with the ridges of central Pennsylvania, you realize the difficulty of this task (think about the PA Turnpike and all of the tunnels).
  • Surveyed the boundary between Alabama and Florida (the 31st parallel).
  • Surveyed the boundary between Georgia and North Carolina, which was in dispute.

Time to move on to Saint George.

Saint George has very little internet presence (aka, it’s hookless).

Of some (but not much) interest is the Wiki-noted fact that St. George has the southern-most post office in Georgia and that St. George Elementary is the southernmost school in Georgia.

From VanishingSouthGeorgia.com, this photograph by Brian Brown is of the afore-mentioned southern-most elementary school:


Hard to argue with the sentiment (although in our current political climate, I often wonder).

(Never fear, ALAD Nation!  I will not – I repeat – will not – begin talking politics!)

Anyway, I was curious about the name “Saint George” (Wiki has nothing to say on the king_george_iisubject).  After all, the State of Georgia was named after King Georgia II, hardly a Saint (king of England from 1727 to 1760).  He was quite the fru-fru dude (as shown to the right).  He hardly looks saintly!

There’s a Saint George, Utah, but that was named after Mormon Apostle George A. Smith.  George was Joseph Smith’s nephew and (according to the Mormon hierarchy) is one of 13 Apostles who preside below the Mormon top gun aka the Prophet aka the President.  This hierarchical structure is present to this day.  Anyway, during George Smith’s time, the Prophet was Brigham Young.  I don’t believe that the Mormons typically bequeath sainthood on their leadership . . .

But there is an actual Saint George, who I assume the town of Saint George, Georgia was named after.  From Wiki:

Saint George; AD 278 to 303); according to legend, was a Roman soldier of Greek origin and officer in the Guard of Roman emperor Diocletian.  Diocletian ordered his death for failing to recant his Christian faith.  As a Christian martyr, he later became one of the most venerated saints in Christianity.

Saint George is the patron saint of England. His cross forms the national flag of England, and features within the Union Jack of the United Kingdom.

During my internet perusing, I came across the fact that the settlers of the Georgia Bend region were overwhelmingly of British origins (although I can’t find the reference now); so it’s the official ALAD position that Saint George was named after Saint George.

I came across VanishingSouthGeorgia.com, and this photo by Brian Brown of a house in Saint George:


It was identified as a “great example of so-called Cracker-style architecture” common in Northern Florida and Southern Georgia. 

This definitely rang a bell for me, so a quick ALAD search took me to my Bronson, Florida post, which contained this picture of a strikingly-similar house:


From my earlier post:

This picture was labeled “Classic Cracker House.”  My only knowledge of the term “cracker” is that it is a derogatory term applied to southern whites (mostly poor, I assume).  But I did a little research.  From Wiki (under “Florida Cracker Architecture”):

Florida cracker architecture is a style of woodframe home used fairly commonly in the 19th century, and still popular with some developers as a source of design themes. Florida cracker homes are characterized by metal roofs, raised floors, large porch areas (often wrapping around the entire home), and straight central hallways from the front to the back of the home (sometimes called “dog trot” or “shotgun” hallways).

Then I looked at the Wiki entry for “Florida Cracker.”  Here are some excerpts:

The term “cracker” was in use during the Elizabethan era to describe braggarts.  The use of the word is documented in William Shakespeare’s King John (1595): “What cracker is this … that deafens our ears with this abundance of superfluous breath?”

By the 1760s the English, both at home and in the American colonies, applied the term “cracker” to Scots-Irish and English American settlers of the remote southern back country, as noted in a letter to the Earl of Dartmouth: “I should explain to your Lordship what is meant by Crackers; a name they have got from being great boasters; they are a lawless set of rascals on the frontiers of Virginia, Maryland, the Carolinas, and Georgia.

Among some Floridians, the term is often used as a proud or jocular self-description. Since the huge influx of new residents (mostly northerners) into Florida in the late 20th and early 21st centuries, the term “Florida Cracker” is used informally by some Floridians to indicate that their families have lived in the state for many generations. It is considered a source of pride to be descended from “frontier people who did not just live but flourished in a time before air conditioning, mosquito repellent, and screens.”

Other Floridians (and white southerners in general) find the term highly offensive and insulting.

Well!  I certainly learned something . . .

Back to now.  Also by Brian Brown (the fellow who took the picture of the Cracker house in St. George) is this shot of the St. Mary’s River:


Speaking of the St. Mary’s, here’s a Wiki map:


Interesting that the river stops exactly at Ellicott’s Mound, eh?

From Wiki about the river:

The Saint Marys River (sometimes misspelled as St. Mary’s River) is a 126-mile-long river that forms a portion of the border between Georgia and Florida.   It is named after the Irish Saint Mary.

Now wait a minute!  “Misspelled as St. Mary’s River?!?”  You may have noticed that I have been consistently “misspelling” St. Marys as “St. Mary’s” throughout the post At least “St. Mary’s River” is grammatically correct!  For the record, my ALAD spreadsheet calls the river St. Mary’s!  And I will belligerently continue my misspelling ways.

So how about the Okefenokee Swamp?  I’ve featured it before, but thought that this time, I’d be a little more geologic.

From Wiki:

The Okefenokee was formed over the past 6,500 years by the accumulation of peat in a shallow basin on the edge of an ancient Atlantic coastal terrace, the geological relic of a Pleistocene estuary. The swamp is bordered by Trail Ridge, a strip of elevated land believed to have formed as coastal dunes or an offshore barrier island.

This is just the kind of geologic mumbo jumbo that gives my science a bad name!  I don’t even know what they’re talking about!  (Oh alright, so maybe I have a clue, but the wording is way too obtuse). 

So, peat (an accumulation of decaying vegetation) accumulated in a shallow basin over the past 6,500 years.  But the rest?  I need to understand it a little better, and pass the information along to my readers.

I found an on-line book:  “A Tide-swept Coast of Sand and Marsh: Coastal Geology and Ecology of Georgia” by Miles O. Hayes, Jacqueline Michel.

In the book, I garnered the following information:

The swamp formed in a low area landward (to the west of) a sandy ridge that is the remnants of an ancient barrier island system that was deposited when sea level was much higher than today.  This former barrier island is today called the Trail Ridge.  The Ridge is composed of sand and trends north-south:


The barrier island was deposited some time between 1.0 and 1.7 million years ago when sea level was as much as 95-100 feet higher than today. 

The swamp is underlain by a vast deposit of peat, composed of >70% organic matter.  After a period of weathering, this organic material becomes a waxy brown mass with the consistency of peanut butter.  The peat accumulated over a period as long as 1 million years. (A little more than Wiki’s 6,500 years, eh?)

These deposits have been studied extensively by geologists, because its origin is likely similar to the origin of the extensive coal beds found throughout the world.

This got me thinking.  Back in the Carboniferous era (spanning 60 million years, from 360 million years ago until 300 million years ago), incredible thicknesses of coal deposits were laid down all over the world.  Ergo, the name “Carboniferous.”  And essentially all of the world’s coal is the same age.  Why is that?  Why aren’t there younger coal beds? 

Well, I found a post by science blogger Robert Drulwish (on NationalGeographic.com) entitled “The Fantastically Strange Origin of Most Coal on Earth.” This is a great post, and definitely worth the read!  He answers all of my questions about the origin of the world’s coal beds (and will answer yours as well, I’m sure)!  Click HERE.  Please.

If you refuse to so click, I’ll at least tell you this:  It turns out that the Carboniferous was a wet warm era with lots of treeish plants that grew quickly and died young (thus allowing for large accumulations of organic detritus).  But more importantly, the strain of bacteria that today breaks down organic matter was absent!  These bacteria have been present ever since 300 million years ago, and effectively nearly eliminate extensive accumulations of dead plant matter.  How about that . . . 

I’ll close with a couple of GE Panoramio shots of the St. Mary’s River.  First this, by MappyB:


And then this, by Mr. IPhone Tommy:


That’ll do it . . .




© 2016 A Landing A Day


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