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:

landing-1a

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:

landing-1b

And here’s my local landing map:

landing-2

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:

ge-sv-landing-map

And here’s what the Orange Dude sees:

ge-sv-landing

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:

ge-sv-colorado-map

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:

ge-sv-colorado

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):

ge-sv-colorado-2

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:

800px-coloradotexas_watershed

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:

ge-sv-needmore-gin

That’ll do it . . .

KS

Greg

 

© 2016 A Landing A Day

 

4 Responses to “Levelland and Needmore, Texas”

  1. Judy said

    Enjoyed. Thanks. I’m from Lamesa and the terrain is all the same in West Texas. Brought back memories.

    • graywacke said

      Glad you enjoyed it. Since you said that it “brought back memories,” I assume that you, like in the James McMurtry song, moved on.

      • Judy said

        Yes and just in general your blog of the area. I’m glad I found your blog. It has been very interesting to see all the places you land. Always look forward to Monday to see where you’ve reported. 🙂

  2. Jordan said

    Fath – a few things.

    1) thanks for the shoutout in ALADus Obscurus. I know that I’m way behind, but it seems like the opposite has since been happening…
    2) isn’t it ridiculous that a second river is called the Colorado River? And it’s fairly substantial too? There should be some rule similar to cities in the same state that there can’t be two of the same river if they’re both over a certain size. Surprised you didn’t clarify that it’s not the same Colorado River.
    3) Did you actually go to to the JM concert?

    Son

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