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Archive for June, 2017

Solomon Rapids, Beloit and Cawker City, Kansas

Posted by graywacke on June 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 2353; A Landing A Day blog post number 784.

Dan:  Today’s lat/long (39o 28.482’N, 98o 12.548’W) puts me in N-Cen Kansas:

My local landing map shows two of three titular towns:

Glen Elder didn’t make the cut, and Solomon Rapids is nowhere to be seen.

You can see on the local landing map that I landed adjacent to the Solomon River (7th hit).  Here’s a zoomed-back streams-only shot:

The Solomon discharges to the Smoky Hill River (19th hit); on to the Kansas River (64th hit); on to the Missouri (422nd hit). 

And of course, the MM gets another one (its 915th).

It’s time to take a trip to the heart of the heartland.  Click HERE to watch as the Google Earth yellow pushpin settles gently into Kansas farmland.

So let’s check out the GE Street View coverage of my landing (and get our first look at Solomon Rapids):

Here’s what the Orange Dude sees:

Not far way, we can get a look at the Solomon River:

And check out the idyllic scene at the bridge (note the fishermen):

And note the minimal guard rail! No bridges look like this in NJ! 

 I zoomed in to get a little better look at the fishermen:

I think I’ll start with the town identified on Google Earth, Solomon Rapids.  Today, essentially 100% of Solomon Rapids is the Solomon Rapids Seed Company:

But there’s more to Solomon Rapids than Solomon Rapids Seed Company.  It took some effort, but I found excellent material on Solomon Rapids history.

Laura Thiessen had an article published under “Lost Kansas Communities,” put out by Kansas State University.  The title of her piece is “Killer Competition:  A Case Study of Solomon Rapids, Mitchel County Kansas, 1870 – Present.”

Here are some excerpts:

The town of Solomon Rapids was founded in 1870 with the construction of a water powered mill located along the Solomon River, about ¾ of a mile west of the present-day town.

[Interesting.  The town was right on the river, three-quarters of a mile from its current location.  More about that later.]

In the early years, business places were “a hotel, doctor, dentist, three general stores, a Presbyterian church and the grain elevator where the post office was.”  School District #11 was formed in October 1872, and Miss Mary Green was one of the first teachers.

With the establishment of the school, church and many small businesses Solomon Rapids appeared to be well on its way to being a successful town.

Willow Springs [later renamed Beloit] was founded at about the same time, and it, too was rapidly developing into a real town.

By the end of 1870, the area around Willow Springs and Solomon Rapids was well established.  Mitchel County was formed, and it was time to select a county seat.  Solomon Rapids, Willow Springs and Glen Elder were all in a race for county seat.

The founder of Willow Springs, Aaron Bell, knew that Willow Springs had the potential to be a successful town and county seat. He was able to get the people to realize the potential of Willow Springs as well and by the end of the campaign, despite Solomon Rapids having a larger population, [emphasis mine] Willow Springs won with 143 votes, Solomon Rapids had 43 votes and Glen Elder 36 votes.

The decline of Solomon Rapids (and the success of Willow Springs) began soon thereafter.

Most of the Solomon Rapids businesses were closed by 1940. The most dramatic period of decline occurred in the 50s. The post office which had been in operation since 1910 was discontinued in 1953.

Looking at GE, it’s apparent that all traces of the former town are gone, with the exception of the Solomon Rapids Seed Company.

Based on the information that the former town was ¾ of mile west of the current town (and was on the river), I figured it would have been here:

Note that there is a north-south road headed to the river at this point; likely a road that went to the former town.

And from a water-powered mill perspective, this location makes sense.  See the large meander in the river?  A mill race may have been constructed that cut across the neck of the two-mile long meander:

With a dam across the river at the upstream end of the mill race (now gone), river water would have been diverted into the gently-sloping mill race.  At the downstream end of the race, the water would have a fall of several feet down to the elevation of the Solomon (which, of course, was steadily getting lower over the course of the two-mile meander).

Of course, this is where the mill wheel would capture the water and harness the energy necessary to turn the wheel which then turned the millstone, and ground the grain into flour.

Check out this GE shot:

Could this be an old concrete structure that marks the beginning of the mill race?   If so, the dam is gone, and the river’s course has probably shifted to the east.

Alternatively, here’s a shot just a little ways downstream:

Note that the banks on either side of the river bulge in (due to some buried dam foundations preventing erosion?), and it looks like there could be a dam remnant in the middle of the river.

ALAD nation!  Especially those who live in north-central Kansas!  How about a trip to the Solomon River to conduct a little archeological investigation?

Odds are, what I’m looking at have other explanations, but one never knows . . .

On to Willow Springs – er, I mean Beloit. From Wiki:

The town site of Beloit was first settled by Aaron Bell in 1868 with the idea of utilizing water power from the Solomon River for a mill.  For some time, the town was known as Willow Springs.  Beloit is named after Beloit, Wisconsin.

Beloit’s old mill dam is still around:

And a closer view:

Here’s a picture from KansasTravel.org:

I found out that the water supply for the town comes from the river, and the intake is just above the dam.  I’m assuming that the building in the above picture has something to do with the intake.  I’m also assuming that the dam wasn’t built for water supply, but rather for the old mill (which might have been located on the concrete pad next to the dam . . .)

Anyway, I had to check out Beloit Wisconsin, just to see where the name came from.  Well, it turns out that some city father made up the name, more-or-less to sound like Detroit.  Consistent with this information, the only “Beloits” in the entire world are in the U.S.  Besides the two we already know about there are four others; all (I think) named after Beloit Wisconsin.

Time for a quick trip to Cawker City.  From Wiki:

It is one of several places claiming to be home of the largest ball of twine in the world.

It turns out that there are four ball of twine categories recognized by Wiki:

  • Largest ball of twine built by a community
  • Largest ball of twine built by a single individual
  • Heaviest ball of twine
  • Largest nylon ball of twine

Cawker City is the proud home of the largest ball of twine built by a community.  From Wiki:

In Cawker City, Kansas, Frank Stoeber created a ball that had 1.6 million feet of twine and 11-foot-diameter when he died in 1974. Cawker City built an open-air gazebo over Stoeber’s ball where every August a “Twine-a-thon” is held and more twine is added to the ball.

By 2006, the twine ball had reached 17,886 pounds, a circumference of 40 feet, and a length of 7,801,766 feet (almost 1500 miles).

In 2013, its weight was estimated at 19,973 pounds. In August 2014, the ball measures 41.42 feet in circumference, 8.06 feet in diameter and 10.83 feet in height, and it still growing.

For the record, the largest ball of twine built by a single individual is in Darwin MN.  From Wiki:

Darwin, Minnesota, is the home of a ball of baler twine rolled by Francis A. Johnson. It is 12 feet in diameter and weighs 21,140 pounds. Johnson began rolling the twine in March 1950, and wrapped four hours every day for 29 years.

OMG.  Four hours every day for 29 years!  And it’s larger than Cawker City’s ball.  Come on Cawker City!  You know what you have to do . . .

Weird Al Yankovich wrote a song about this Minnesota ball of twine.  For your listening and viewing pleasure:


If you listened to the whole thing, you realize what a long (and funny) song this is.  As always, Weird Al is very clever.  Here’s my favorite verse:

Oh, what on earth would make a man decide to do that kind of thing?
Oh, windin’ up twenty-one thousand, one hundred forty pounds of string.
What was he trying to prove, who was he trying to impress?
Why did he build it, how did he do, it was anybody’s guess.
Where did he get the twine, what was goin’ through his mind?
Did it just seem like a good idea at the time?

Speaking of time, it’s time for a couple of nearby GE Pano shots.  First this, by FischerFoto, from less than 2 miles S of my landing:

And then this, by Ape54321, taken between Beloit & my landing:

That’ll do it . . .




© 2017 A Landing A Day

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Raeford and Dundarrach, North Carolina

Posted by graywacke on June 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 2352; A Landing A Day blog post number 783.

Dan:  Today’s lat/long (34o 57.100’N, 79o 12.952’W) puts me in S-Cen North Carolina:

My local map shows my two titular towns:

My local streams-only map shows that I landed in the watershed of Toneys Creek, on to Raft Swamp. 

Zooming back:

Raft Swamp discharges to the Lumber River (first hit ever!); on the Little Pee Dee River (first hit ever!); on to the Pee Dee (11th hit).

I’ll open Google Earth (GE) and double click on the “landing 2352” pushpin (in the lengthy list of My Places).  Click HERE to see what happens.

You may have noted that I landed in the woods, so in spite of my close-by Street View coverage, there won’t be much to see:

Like I said:

I sent the Orange Dude a little ways south to get a look at Toneys Creek:

And here’s what he sees:

I went a little further south (I won’t bother showing you where) to get this look at Raft Swamp:

Kinda looks like a swamp, eh?

Of course, I checked out Raeford.  From Wiki:

John McRae and A.A. Williford operated a turpentine distillery and general store, respectively. Each took a syllable from his name and came up with the name Raeford for the post office they established. The McRae family, was made up primarily of old Highland Scot families. Note that in the 18th and 19th centuries, the nearby Upper Cape Fear Valley of North Carolina was the largest settlement of Gaelic-speaking Highland Scots in North America.

I’ve featured the Welsh language in a previous post (in an April 2015 post featuring Carnarvon IA), so I thought I’d feature Scottish Gaelic this time.  Here’s a Scottish weather forecast presented by Sarah Cruickshank in Scots Gaelic on BBC Alba, uploaded by money2tight2mention:


While perusing my local Street Atlas landing map, I noticed Dundarrach, and thought to myself “that certainly sounds Scottish!”  I embarked on a rather meandering but intense search for the name origin.  Google said next-to-nothing about the town, let alone its name origin.

Because there’s a Dundarrach Street in Charlotte (and I no longer  cared about any references to North Carolina), I had to do the following Google search:  “Dundarrach -NC -North Carolina -Charlotte.”  The minus signs tell Google to ignore any hits that contained NC, North Carolina or Charlotte.

After three pages of unhelpful entries, I found a picture entitled “Colintraive – Rhubodach ferry from Dundarrach.” 

With some research, I found the towns of Colintraive & Rhubodach, and the route of the ferry that connects the two towns. Looking at the photo, I surmised where Dundarrach must be.  Here’s the photo (with the ferry boat docked on the far shore):

And here’s where I figured Dundarrach must be (and I put a yellow push pin there):

Zooming back a little:

But then, I scrolled down from the photograph, and found a map:

Bingo!  Zooming way back, I’ll put Dundarrach into the larger Scottish scene (it’s not far west of Glasgow):

I checked out GE Street View, and son-of-a-gun if there wasn’t coverage right next to downtown Dundarrach:

The Orange Dude noticed a young mother (from Dundarrach?) out for a stroll with her wee one on a lovely day in Dundarrach Scotland:

I nudged the OD a little further south:

So he looked north to get this look of Dundarrach:

I sent him just north of Dundarrach to find this lovely shot:

And a little further north:

The Isle of Bute is right across the Kyles of Bute (the waterway) from Dundarrach:

From Wiki:  The Isle of Bute (Scottish Gaelic: Eilean Bhòid), or simply Bute, is an island in the Firth of Clyde in Scotland. It is divided into highland and lowland areas by the Highland Boundary Fault.

More about the fault in a bit.

It turns out that there’s a 13th-century castle in the Bute capital “city” of Rothesay.  Here’s a GE shot showing that the castle is right in the middle of town:

Here’s a Wiki picture of the castle:

I put the OD on a street next to the castle:

Wow.  An incredibly scenic and historic castle (with a moat!) right in the middle of town.  Very cool.

Another item of interest from Wiki:

The human occupation of Bute dates from prehistoric times. The Queen of the Inch necklace is an article of jewelry made of jet found in a tomb on the adjacent island of Inchmarnock that dates from circa 2000 BC.

Here’s a map showing the Queen’s little island:

I found a Blogpot (“Bensozia”) post about the necklace and the Queen, entitled “The Queen of the Inch,” which begins with this picture of the 4000-year old necklace:

Quoting from the post:

In the 1950s a tenant farmer on the tiny Scottish island of Inchmarnock hit a stone slab with his plow. This turned out to be the cover of a 4,000-year-old, stone-lined tomb.

Within was a single burial, a middle aged woman who became known as the Queen of the Inch. She had only a few grave goods, but among them was a spectacular jet necklace (above). The queen was dug up, examined by archaeologists, then (in the 1960s) reburied. In 2006 she was dug up again so her bones could be studied using modern techniques, and last year she was reburied again.

This time a reconstruction was made of her face, by the usual forensic method. Isotope analysis of the bones showed that she ate a mostly land-based diet, and that she probably grew up in the Scottish Isles.

She looks like she could be the lady next door!

Lord Smith of Kelvin, who owns the whole island, had this to say about the investigation and the reburial:

It is right that she goes back. When you speak with the researchers and scientists, obviously they wanted her for a period of time. But I was always clear that once they had actually looked at her properly, because we all need to understand what her forebears were like and what they did and so on, she had to go back. It’s where she belongs and it’s where she was buried and that’s where she’s going back to, to rest for ever.

Bravo for him.

For the record, note that the necklace is made of “jet.”  What’s jet?  From Wiki:

Jet is a type of lignite, a precursor to coal, and is a gemstone. It has an organic origin, being derived from ancient deposits of decaying wood under extreme pressure.

A particularly famous jet deposit from Whitby, England was laid down approximately 180 million years ago.  Jet has been mined from this location since 4,000 B.C., and perhaps earlier.

The English noun “jet” derives from the French word for the same material: jaiet.  The adjective “jet-black”, meaning as dark a black as possible, derives from this material.

Moving right along – I mentioned earlier that the “Highlands Boundary Fault” goes through the Isle of Bute.  Indeed it does:

Note on the above map that the  rock formation shown in green to the northwest of the fault is Precambrian metamorphic rock (in the very general vicinity of one billion years old).  Southeast of the fault (the beige rock formation), the rocks are Devonian sedimentary rocks (a mere 400 million years old).

How do very two completely different rock formations of completely different composition and age come to be right next to each other?  It’s the faults fault. 

Here’s a cartoonish cross-section (from the Scottish Natural Heritage website) showing the fault:

The green is the ancient metamorphic rock, and the orange is the less-ancient sedimentary rock (sandstone).

It turns out that the ancient metamorphic rocks are much more resistant to erosion than the younger sedimentary rocks.  So, the “Scottish Highlands” are northwest of the fault and the “Scottish Lowlands” are southeast of the fault.  Can you pick out the fault on this GE shot?

Here’s a cheat-sheet:

Of course, there is much geologic information about the fault, but most of it is very dry and over my head.  And I’m a geologist!

I’ll close my Dundarrach segment with two GE Pano shots of the waterway around the Isle of Bute (the Kyles of Bute).

First this, of the small islands (the Burnt Islands) just west of Dundarrach (photo by Stavrosspb):

And this, by Rainbow Chaser:

Heading back to NC, I looked and looked, but couldn’t find much in the way of decent Pano shots to close out the post.  I’ll have to settle for this, by MikeBike, of the Lumber River a few miles west of my landing:

That’ll do it . . .




© 2017 A Landing A Day

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Post, Texas

Posted by graywacke on June 18, 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 2351; A Landing A Day blog post number 782.

Dan:  Today’s lat/long (32o 56.846’N, 101o 12.669’W) puts me in Cen-NW Texas:

This was my second Texas landing in a row, making this my 62nd double (and my 10th TX double).  As you’d expect, TX leads the pack in doubles, with CA (the second-largest-state) in second place with 9.

My local landing map shows that I landed closer to a whole passel of towns  than I landed to titular Post:

As you can readily guess, those non-titular towns are totally:

My close-in streams-only map shows that I landed in the watershed of Sand Creek:

Perhaps you can tell that I labeled the creek myself.  That’s because StreetAtlas gave me no information about the identity of the stippled blue linear splotch.  As you’ll see, good ol’ Google Earth in conjunction with the Texas DOT let me know the name of the creek.

Anyway, zooming back:

Sand Creek discharges to Double Mountain Fork of the Brazos River (8th hit); on to the Brazos (32nd hit). 

JFTHOI, I thought I’d zoom back one more time so you can see how the Brazos makes its way to the G of M:

I’ve already mentioned Google Earth, which I try not to do before my yellow pushpin flight.  Speaking of which, click HERE to check it out.

Moving right to the Google Earth connection to Sand Creek, here’s a shot showing where the creek passes a road with Street View coverage:

And here’s what the Orange Dude sees:

As mentioned previously, I can always count on the Texas DOT to label even small streams:

My Street View coverage ain’t great; I simply had the OD move down the road a little:

Note that I showed two topographically-elevated mesas, cut by the Sand Creek (with my landing in the Sand Creek valley).  Here’s what the OD sees:

It’s time for me to post a little Post in this post (from Wiki):

Post (pop 5,400) is located on the edge of the caprock escarpment of the Llano Estacado, the southeastern edge of the Great Plains.

[More about the Llano Estacado in a bit.  Continuing:]

In 1906, Charles William (C. W.) Post, the breakfast cereal manufacturer, bought 200,000 acres of ranchland and established the Double U Company to build and manage houses and commercial structures.

[AYKM?  200,000 acres?  That’s 312.5 square miles!  That’s a huge hunk of real estate that takes a lot of bowls of Grape Nuts!]

They planted trees along every street and prohibited alcoholic beverages and brothels. The Double U Company rented and sold farms and houses to settlers.

Two years later, the town had a school, a bank, and a newspaper, the Post City Post. The railroad reached the town in 1910. The town changed its name to “Post” when it incorporated in 1914, the year of C. W. Post’s death. By then, Post had a population of 1000, 10 retail businesses, a dentist, a physician, a sanitarium, and three churches (Baptist, Methodist, and Presbyterian0.

So here’s a little more about C.W. (from Wiki):

Post suffered a mental breakdown in November 1885, the result of the stress and overwork which accompanied his job as a farm implement manufacturer.  Post made a break with his previous life, moving to the state of Texas in 1886.  Post began a real estate development in Fort Worth on 200 acres that he had obtained, platting the land for streets and homes and constructing two mills.

The stress of this work again proved too much for Post’s constitution, and a second breakdown followed in 1891.  Post began a period of extensive travels in search of a cure, coming to take particular interest in the chemistry of digestion.  After a period traversing Europe, Post visited the Battle Creek Sanitarium of Battle Creek, Michigan, a facility operated by John Harvey Kellogg. He was inspired to start his own company based upon the dietary products used there.

In 1895, Post founded Postum Cereal Co., with his first product, Postum cereal beverage. Post’s first breakfast cereal premiered in 1897, and he named the product Grape-Nuts cereal because of the fruity aroma noticed during the manufacturing process and the nutty crunch of the finished product. In 1904, he followed up the Grape Nuts label with a brand of corn flakes, which was first called Elijah’s Manna before being renamed Post Toasties in 1908.

[He must have been making some big bucks, as he founded Post City in 1906-1907.]

At the end of 1913, the chronically ill Post’s health deteriorated to the point that he canceled public appearances, which prompted speculation in the press regarding his well-being.

In early March 1914, Post was believed to be suffering from appendicitis and was rushed via a nonstop train from California to Rochester, Minnesota to be operated on by William and Charles Mayo, regarded as the preeminent surgeons of the day.

Although there is some historical uncertainty about whether Post actually underwent surgery, there is no doubt that his health did not substantially improve.  On May 9, 1914, despondent over his ongoing stomach illness, Post took his own life with a self-inflicted gunshot.

His 27-year-old daughter, Marjorie Merriweather Post, inherited his company along with most of his vast fortune, one of the largest of the early 20th century .

A quick aside about Marjorie Merriweather.  From Wiki:

Mar-a-Lago is an estate and National Historic Landmark in Palm Beach, Florida, built from 1924 to 1927 by cereal-company heiress and socialite Marjorie Merriweather Post.

The 126-room house contains the Mar-a-Lago Club, a members-only club with guest rooms, a spa, and other hotel-style amenities.

At the time of her death in 1973, Post bequeathed the property to the National Park Service, hoping it could be used for state visits or as a Winter White House. However, due to the costs of maintaining the property exceeding the funds provided by Post, and the difficulty in securing the facility in the flight path of Palm Beach Airport, the property was returned to the Post Foundation by an Act of Congress in 1981.

In 1985, Mar-a-Lago was purchased by businessman Donald Trump and his then-wife Ivana Trump was put in charge of running the property.  The Trump family maintains private quarters in a separate, closed-off area of the house and grounds and since becoming President, Trump has frequently stayed there, referring to it as his “Southern White House”.

As promised, I’ll talk a little about the Llano Estacada, which is a large plateau.  Here’s a map by Meredith McClain:

I landed just off the Llano, southeast of Lubbock.

From MySite.du.edu (University of Denver):

The Llano is a very flat, semiarid plateau, ranging in elevation from 5000′ on the northwest to less than 3000′ on the southeast, sloping more or less uniformly to the east-southeast at a rate of at least 10′ per mile. The slope is imperceptible to an observer on the plateau. The Llano is dry and treeless, the prevailing wind is from the southwest, and mirages are a frequent occurrence under the hot sun.

The surface of the Llano is remarkably flat, reminding one of the sea, and it is conceivable that the curvature of the earth could be perceived as it is on the sea. The area around Levelland, Texas, would be a good place to look for grain elevators sinking beneath the horizon.

[Levelland!  More about that later.]

A sequence of sediments that eroded from the Rocky Mountains underlie the Llano Estacada; (known amongst geologists as the Ogallala Group).  These sediments were deposited by streams carrying eroded material away from the Rockies during uplift that began about 5 million years ago (during the Pliocene).  This is why the Llano slopes away from the Rockies.

What causes the Llana is the “caprock” that overlies the Ogallala.  The caprock is a hard caliche layer formed when surface drying of the sediments caused mineral-laden water to rise by capillary action to the surface. Evaporating, the minerals were left behind to cement the otherwise fairly loose sandy sediments of the Ogallala Group.

This very hard caprock is more resistant to erosion than similar sediments located in surrounding areas; thus the Llana is elevated by an average of 300’ causing the Llana Estacada escarpment.  (An escarpment is a steep slope or cliff that defines the edge of a plateau.)

Let’s take a look at the escarpment on Google Earth:

As you can tell, the escarpment is the boundary between the brown/orange region to the west from the ill-defined grayish area to the east.

I sent the Orange Dude to take a look at the escarpment just south of Post:

And here’s what he sees:

So, I mentioned the town of Levelland earlier; obviously an aptly-named town on the Llana Estacada.  I featured Levelland not long ago (in a January 2017 post).  In that non-Post post, I featured the song “Levelland” by singer-songwriter James McMurtry.  Here’s an excerpt from that post:

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 . . .

[Update:  I lied.  I almost bought tickets for his Alexandria show, but ended up going to his show in Blairstown NJ.  Jody and I went and absolutely loved it.  And yes, he sang “Levelland.”  And what the heck; for those of you who missed my Levelland post (or want to hear the song again), here goes, with the words below:]


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 right here
And when the dust had all but cleared
They called it Levelland, the pride of man

Granddad grew 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

Footnote:  In March this year, the NY Times magazine had an article entitled “25 Songs That Tell Us Where the Music is Going,” and yes, James McMurtry was one of the 25 featured artists.  The featured song is “Copper Canteen.”


Honey, don’t you be yelling at me when I’m cleaning my gun
I’ll wash the blood off the tailgate when deer season’s done
We got one more weekend to go
And I’d like to kill one more doe

So I’ll shovel the sidewalk again ’cause you’re still in a stew
I bet the bridge tender’s widow* won’t mind that I can’t please you
She’s sure got the run of the men
Out here where the pickin’s are thin and there’s not much to do

I woke up last night in the grip of a fright scared to breathe for I might make a noise
This life that we craved so little we saved between the grandparents graves and the grandchildren’s toys

We grew up hard and our children don’t know what that means
We turned into our parents before we were out of our teens
Through a series of Chevys and Fords
The occasional spin round the floor at the Copper Canteen

Now the big boxes out on the bypass are shaving us thin
I guess we’ll hold on a couple more years ’til the pension kicks in
Then we’ll sell all the stock in the store
Leave only the lock on the door
And wonder what then

When I wake up at night in the grip of a fright
And you hold me so tight to your chest
Then your breath on my skin still pulls me back in
‘Til I’m weightless and then I can rest

So if Monsignor should pull you aside as you’re leaving the church
And I’m out on the ice, dropping lines for the walleye and perch
Tell him it’s not your job to bring me to the fold
And I’d rather stand out in the cold

And honey I know that the woodpile’s low and you can’t close the flue
So I’ll split up a couple more cords ‘fore the winter time’s through
Hold on to your rosary beads
Leave me to my mischievous deeds like we always do

*The Bridge Tender is a 2014 novel by Marybeth Whalen as well as a 2012 novel by Gary Landry.  Both books involve a widow.  Hmmmm . . . I wonder what McMurtry is talking about?  Maybe it has nothing to do with either book, but maybe it does. . . .

I found a Slant Magazine review of the song (by Jeremy Winograd) that speculates on the bridge tender’s widow:

Complicated Game [album title] starts off with its most vivid vignette, “Copper Canteen.” The opening descending arpeggios set the album’s contemplative mood effectively, but it’s McMurtry’s couplets that do the heavy lifting. He employs a few small details to acquaint the listener with the setting: references to ice fishing for walleye and perch place the song clearly in the rural upper Midwest, “where the pickings are thin and there’s not much to do.” The song captures a boredom, even a dread, underlying the stillness and monotony of the characters’ lives. The narrator tells his wife to “hang onto your rosary beads and leave me to my mischievous deeds” (which may or may not include sleeping with “the bridge tender’s widow”).

Interesting that the NY Times reviewer said that after the election, she (Ruth Graham from Slate) was drawn back to this song – she doesn’t say, but maybe she sees it as a portrait of a voter both candidates wanted (and Trump got).

Well, it’s time for me to take a spin around my landing, checking out GE Pano shots.  I couldn’t find much, but I did find this striking sunset shot taken by John Drew a few miles west of my landing:

That’ll do it . . .




© 2017 A Landing A Day

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Magasco, Texas

Posted by graywacke on June 13, 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 2350; A Landing A Day blog post number 781.

Dan:  Today’s lat/long (31o 16.086’N, 94o 4.587’W) puts me in SE Texas:

My local landing map shows a number of small towns close to the Sam Rayburn reservoir:

My streams-only map shows that I landed in the watershed of the Briar Branch:

As you can see, the Briar Branch’s more formal name is likely Briar Branch of the Ayish Bayou (2nd hit). 

However, upon zooming back a little further, I suppose it’s possible that the Briar was a branch of the Angelina River.  Regardless, this is the 5th hit for the Angelina, making it the 170th river on my list of rivers with 5 or more hits. 

But that damn reservoir (or I should say dam reservoir) covered up the evidence . . .

You can also see that the Angelina lost out to the Neches (11th hit) for naming rights after the two rivers combine.  See the Sabine off to the east?  Trust me on this – the Neches ends up as part of the Sabine watershed (21st hit).

It’s Google Earth (GE) free fall time!  Strap on your parachute, but don’t hit the ripcord until you’re close to landing (otherwise, the video will take way too long).  Click HERE for the experience.

As you can see, I landed in the woods, so there will be no bare-naked street view shots of my landing.  But there will be a look from here:

And here’s what the Orange Dude sees:

I instructed the OD to move west on the same road just a little ways to get a look at the Briar Branch:

And here’s what the he sees:

And JFTHOI, I told the OD to head south of Sam Rayburn reservoir on the Angelina until he could get a look.  Here’s what he saw:

It looks like a nice RV campground in the background . . .

Real quick quiz: Who’s Sam Rayburn?  I didn’t know any specifics, but his name was familiar to me as a politician, so I guessed a Texas politician.  From Wiki:

Samuel Taliaferro Rayburn (1882 – 1961) was an American politician who served as the 43rd Speaker of the United States House of Representatives from 1940 to 1947, 1949 to 1953, and 1955 to 1961, the longest-serving speaker in American history. He represented Texas’ 4th congressional district as a Democrat from 1913 to 1961.

So I was only 11 when he died, but I was already watching the Huntley-Brinkley report by that age (my family didn’t watch Walter Cronkite).

How about Sam’s cool middle name?  Taliaferro means “ironcutter” in Italian.

With 6 towns to choose from (based on my local landing map), I obviously just chose one. Of course, I checked them all out, and all (including Magasco) were totally:

Wait a minute (you might be saying) – you must have found a hook for Magasco!  Well, sort of . . .

All I could learn about Magasco, is that it is the only place in the entire world called Magasco!  Here’s a screen shot from GeoTarget.com:

If GeoTarget says it, it must be true!!!!

There is nothing else – nada, rien, zero – on the internet about Magasco TX (not including numerous automatically-generated sites like “Auto Glass Repair in Magasco TX.” There’s also a “Magasco Drive” in nearby Pineland and Magasco Lake – a 7-acre lake in (of all places) Magasco.

So.  Like I did, you should go to Google and search for “Magasco.”  Not Magasco TX, just Magasco.  And what do you see?  Page after page devoted to a Cameroonian pop star who goes by the name of (what else?) Magasco.

From Wiki:

Tohnain Anthony Nguo better known as Magasco aka “Bamenda Boy” is a Cameroonian Afro-pop/afro-beats artist, born in 1988 in Bamenda, Northwest Cameroon.

Although his music is not my style, I found myself really enjoying several of his videos.  Because I’m ignorant of modern music genres, I won’t even attempt to classify his music. 

I’ll start with his Kumba Market song (Kumba is a city in Cameroon)


I took a GE trip to Kumba and started checking out Panoramio shots.  And lo and behold, I found one of the Kumba Market (by Ronio):

Here’s another Magasco video (with “Pit Baccardi”), entitled “One by One.”  Magasco sings in English (the “one by one” part), while Pit Baccardi raps in French.  There are a lot of cool shots of kids in this (although there are some PG-13 dance scenes towards the end of the video).  By the way, English and French are both official languages in Cameroon.


I wasn’t paying attention to You Tube after watching a Magasco video when I realized a video from another Cameroonian artist, “Mr. Leo” was playing.

This appears to be a love song to a pregnant sweetheart – in French, entitled “On Va Gerer” (we will manage):


If you like the music, there’s plenty more where that came from.  And watch out about “Love It” by Magasco — it goes a little beyond PG-13.  But don’t worry, everybody keeps their clothes on, and it’s just dancing . . .

So, I thought I’d check out Cameroon, at least a little.

From Wiki, some early Colonial history:

Portuguese sailors reached the coast in 1472. They noted an abundance of shrimp in the Wouri River and named it Rio dos Camarões (Shrimp River), which became Cameroon in English.  Over the following few centuries, European interests regularized trade with the coastal peoples, and Christian missionaries pushed inland.

In 1884, the territory was colonized by Germany as Kamerun.  With the defeat of Germany in WW I, the territory was split into British Cameroon and French Cameroon.

Independence was gained in 1960, and the French & English colonies were united.

Strangely, the Wiki article never mentions slavery.  I thought that the west coast of equatorial Africa was the nexus of the slave trade. 

So, I did a little research, and found this from History.com:

Though exact totals will never be known, the transatlantic slave trade is believed to have forcibly displaced some 12.5 million Africans between the 17th and 19th centuries; some 10.6 million survived the infamous Middle Passage across the Atlantic.

[Oh my.  About 2 million Africans didn’t survive the journey.]

Though descendants of these enslaved Africans now make up considerable segments of the population in the United States, Brazil and many Caribbean islands, written records of their ancestors’ origins are difficult—if not impossible—to find. Through extensive research, however, scholars have been able to make educated guesses about where many of the slaves brought to the New World originated.

It should be noted that slaves brought to the United States represented only about 3.6 percent of the total number of Africans transported to the New World, or around 388,000 people—considerably less than the number transported to colonies in the Caribbean (including more than 1.2 million to Jamaica alone) or to Brazil (4.8 million).

Here’s a graphic from SlaveVoyages.org (note that the Cameroon coast is on the Bight of Biafra Bight, confirming that Cameroon was indeed part of the slave trade):

And check out a mesmerizing interactive map graphic (from History.com) that shows the slave trade year by year.  Click HERE.

One other bit about Cameroon.  There’s a large volcanic mountain right on the coast, Mt. Cameroon.  Mt. Cameroon is an active volcano that last erupted in 2012.

Here’ a shot of the mountain from TheCultureTrip.com:

Wiki notes that Cameroon’s Lake Nyos is part of the same volcanically active area (known as the Cameroon Line), and that the lake was the site of a disaster in 1986.

I made a little Google Earth video that shows Mt. Cameroon (I circled it with the cursor) and the volcanic Cameroon Line (highlighted by the cursor), leading towards Lake Nyos).  I then zoomed in to get a look at the lake. Click HERE for the quick trip.

From Wiki, about the disaster:

Lake Nyos [a little less than a square mile in area] is a deep crater lake in Cameroon, located on the flank of an inactive volcano. A volcanic dam impounds the lake waters.

A pocket of magma lies beneath the lake and leaks carbon dioxide (CO2) into the water, changing it into carbonic acid.

In 1986, possibly as the result of a landslide, Lake Nyos suddenly emitted a huge cloud of CO2 (estimated to be nearly a third of a cubic mile) which suffocated 1,746 people and 3,500 livestock in nearby towns and villages. The cloud was heavier than the surrounding air, so hugged the ground and flowed down two valleys leading away from the lake.

Nyos is one of only three known exploding lakes to be saturated with carbon dioxide in this way, the others being Lake Monoun, also in Cameroon, and Lake Kivu in Democratic Republic of Congo.

Though not completely unprecedented, it was the first known large-scale asphyxiation caused by a natural event.

To prevent a recurrence, a degassing tube that siphons water from the bottom layers of water to the top allowing the carbon dioxide to leak in safe quantities was installed in 2001, and two additional tubes were installed in 2011.

Today, the lake also poses a threat because its natural volcanic dam is weakening. A geological tremor could cause this natural levée to give way, allowing water to rush into downstream villages all the way into Nigeria and allowing large amounts of carbon dioxide to escape.

Here’s a shot of the volcanic dam that holds back the lake (Pano shot by Ledeclau):

It looks tenuous, eh?

Let’s head back to good ol’ Texas, and finish off with a quick sunrise shot Pano on Lake Rayburn by Rob Keith:

That’ll do it . . .




© 2017 A Landing A Day

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Doniphan, Nebraska

Posted by graywacke on June 8, 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 2349; A Landing A Day blog post number 780.

Dan:  Today’s lat/long (40o 47.818’N, 98o 23.112’W) puts me in Cen-SE Nebraska:

My local map shows my proximity to Doniphan:

Zooming back a little, and we can that Doniphan turns out to be suburban Grand Island:

We can also see that I landed in the Platte River watershed (69th hit).  Zooming back with a streams-only shot, we can see that the Platte (of course) makes its way to the Missouri (421st hit):

And, of course, the MM gobbles up another one, for its 914th hit.

It’s time to secure another Google Earth (GE) yellow pushpin into that great lower 48 bulletin board.  Click HERE to make it happen.

Did you see the major N-S road on your way in?  That’s U.S. 34, and yes, it has Street View coverage:

And here’s what the Orange Dude sees:

And just north, US 34 crosses the Platte:

And here’s the view:

 Before talking about Doniphan, I’ll discuss something I noticed very close to my landing – “Mormon Island:”

There’s a “Mormon Island Recreation Area” that is featured on Rand McNally’s “Best of the Road” website.  Here’s an excerpt:

Mormon Island State Recreation Area sits near the site of an extraordinary passage in America’s history. In 1846 Brigham Young led a group of pioneer Mormons westward in search of a promised land in which to practice their new religion. They eventually settled in the Salt Lake region of Utah.

For decades after, other Mormons followed the route (which came to be known as the Mormon Trail) blazed by that first group. The 500-mile section of the Mormon Trail that passed through the state of Nebraska followed the north side of the Platte River and ran parallel to the Oregon Trail, which was on the river’s south side.

In the mid-1880s one of the last groups of Mormon emigrants stopped and set up winter camp at a site along the Platte River. Settlers in the area called the Mormon encampment “Mormon Island.” At winter’s end the group moved on, but the name stuck.

Mormon Island State Recreation Area sits on an island cradled between two arms of the Platte River.  It has a 46-acre lake at its center.

Hundreds of thousands of Sandhill cranes stop and rest at Mormon Island each spring. They begin to arrive in mid-February and their numbers peak in mid-to-late March.

Speaking of Sandhill Cranes, I found a couple of GE Panoramio shots by Chuck Leypoldt, taken a few miles upstream from Mormon Island:

I did a little research about the Mormon Trail and the Oregon Trail, in particular with regard to the assertion that the Mormon Trail was on the north side of the river and the Oregon Trail on the south.  This seemed a little rigid in my estimation – I imagine a sign saying “Mormons, Keep Right.”  (They usually do.)  Anyway, I read in several sources that state that both the Mormons and the non-Mormons used trails on either side of the river.

FYI, about 200 miles of I-80  follows the Platte River and the path of the two trails.

So, Wiki has little to say about Doniphan:

The town of Doniphan was platted in 1879 as a midway point between Hastings and Grand Island on the St. Joseph and Grand Island Railroad.  It was named for Col. John Doniphan of Saint Joseph, Missouri, an attorney for the railroad.

No surprise.  Yet another Great Plains town named for a railroad guy.  But JFTHOI, I Googled “John Doniphan.”  The first Google entry that pops up is for Alexander W. Doniphan, so I clicked.

Well, he is also from Missouri, so I figured the two were related.  Anyway, this about Alex:

Alexander William Doniphan (1808 – 1887) was an attorney, soldier and politician from Missouri who is best known today as the man who prevented the summary execution of Joseph Smith, founder of the Latter Day Saint movement, at the close of the 1838 Mormon War.

I like his dishevelved look – locks of hair flying around, and a very loose tie.  Very unusual for a formal back-in-the-day portrait, eh?

Anyway, it turns out that I’ve discussed the Mormon War in a couple of earlier posts.  Here’s an excerpt from my Independence MO December 2009 post:

As persecution persisted in Ohio and other areas in the East, Joseph Smith suggested that some of the Saints settle in Missouri.  In 1831, Joseph Smith received a command [from God?] that they should buy as much land in the Jackson County area of Missouri as possible.  He also received revelation that Jackson County would be the site of the New Jerusalem at the time of the Second Coming.

In the spring of 1832, another 300-400 families arrived and the area began to rapidly prosper. By the end of 1832 there were over 800 Saints in Jackson County.  In July 1833, the peace the Saints were enjoying in Missouri ended suddenly. The first settlers of the area and other non-Mormons became afraid and suspicious of the Saints. They did not like the huge influx of people moving into the area that did not hold the same political, cultural, or religious ideas as them. By this time, there were nearly twelve hundred Saints in the area. The town of Independence also began to lose business at this time because a flood had caused the Missouri river to change its course. This was also blamed on the Mormons.

On July 20, four to five hundred non-Mormon citizens met at the courthouse in Independence. The meeting quickly turned into a mob that went searching for the leaders of the Church. Bishop Edward Partridge and Charles Allen were tarred and feathered by the mob because they would not denounce the Book of Mormon.

Three days later, the mob returned again this time with guns, clubs, and whips. They burned fields and haystacks, and destroyed homes. Six leaders of the Church offered their lives in exchange for the safety of the rest of the members. Their offer was turned down and they were forced to sign an agreement that they would be out of the county by April 1, 1834.

Wild times, eh?  Here’s a quick summary of what happened after:  The Mormons left Independence, but not Missouri.  Tensions continued, culminating in the “1838 Mormon War.”  Twenty-one Mormons and one non-Mormon were killed, and Joseph Smith surrendered.  As a result, about 10,000 Missouri Mormons left and settled in Nauvoo, Illinois.  That’s where Joseph Smith was killed, and then Brigham Young led the flock out to Salt Lake.

And then, from my Gallatin MO Oct 2014 post:

You’ll have to trust me here.  I don’t seek out Mormon story lines.  I seek out interesting hooks that I can feature in my blog posts.  But I’ll tell you – it seems like over and over again, it’s a Mormon story that catches my interest.

Anyway, I recalled featuring the Mormon War in a previous post, and it turned out to be a December 2009 post on Independence Missouri.  Sufficeth it to say that the Joseph Smith-led Mormons settled in Missouri, but were booted out after the 1838 Mormon War.  They headed back east across the Mississippi and settled in Nauvoo, Illinois (featured in my May 2013 “West Point, Illinois” post).  Joseph Smith was killed in Illinois.  Brigham Young took over the reigns of leadership (in spite of a splinter group led by James Strang, featured in my August 2014 Charlevoix Michigan post), and led the crew out west to Salt Lake City.

So back to today and  Alexander Doniphan, from Wiki:

As a brigadier general in the Missouri Militia, Doniphan was ordered into the field with other forces to operate against the Mormons, even though he had worked diligently to avoid the conflict, and believed that the Mormons were largely acting in self-defense. After the surrender of the Mormon town of Far West, General Samuel Lucas took custody of Joseph Smith and other Mormon leaders, and instituted a drumhead court martial, which declared Smith and the others guilty of treason, and ordered Doniphan to execute them.

[Quick aside, a “drumhead court martial” is held in the field to hear urgent charges of offences committed in action.  The term originates from the use of a drumhead as an improvised writing table.]

Doniphan indignantly refused to carry out the execution, saying: “It is cold blooded murder. I will not obey your order. . . . if you execute these men, I will hold you responsible before an earthly tribunal, so help me God”.

The Mormon leaders were accordingly sent to Liberty Jail during the winter, to await trial during the following spring of 1839.  Doniphan was appointed as their defense attorney and energetically defended them at the risk of his good reputation and, in all probability, his life.

Ultimately, the church leaders were released from custody, and they subsequently made their way to the new Mormon settlement in Hancock County, Illinois, where Joseph Smith was killed in 1844. In Doniphan’s honor, Joseph and Emma Hale Smith named a son Alexander Hale Smith.

Alexander Doniphan remains highly esteemed by the Mormons for saving the life of Joseph Smith and other early church leaders. His story is routinely told in church literature and histories.

By the way, Emma Hale Smith was the first of Joseph Smith’s many (34) wives.  Emma and Joseph had 11 children, of which two were adopted.  Of the remaining 9, only five survived infancy, one of whom was Alexander.

And just for the record:  as far as anyone knows, Smith had no children from other wives. . .

Time for some GE Panoramio shots. But first, here’s a GE Street View shot of a sculpture at a rest area on I-80, just east of my landing:

Check out what a good photographer (with some photo shop) can do with the same sculpture (GE Pano shot by Juan234x):

Staying with Juan, here’s a shot from Mormon Island:

Staying with Mormon Island, here’s a shot by PGornell:

And one by Rick Wilbur:

That’ll do it . . .




© 2017 A Landing A Day

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St. Xavier and Lodge Grass, Montana

Posted by graywacke on June 3, 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 2348; A Landing A Day blog post number 779.

Dan:  Today’s lat/long 45o 22.910’N, 107o 35.278’W) puts me in S-Cen Montana:

My local landing map shows that I landed midway between St. Xavier and Lodge Grass:

My streams-only map shows that I landed in the watershed of Rotten Grass Creek, on to the Bighorn River (20th hit).  Note that I included Lodge Grass Creek and the Little Bighorn River even though I didn’t land in their watersheds.  More about each of them later.

Zooming back:

You can see that the Bighorn makes its way to the Yellowstone (56th hit) and to the Missouri (420th hit).  Of course, the Missouri flows into the MM (913th hit).

It’s time to throw the yellow push pin at the lower 48  and see where it lands (OK, OK – so we already know where it lands).  Click HERE.

I landed out in the middle of nowhere, so I won’t bother with a Street View shot of my landing.  But Rotten Grass creek?  Of course:

And here’s what the Orange Dude sees:

Before I move on, I’ll start with a little discussion about the name “Rotten Grass,” although I’ll actually begin with Lodge Grass Creek.

You already noted that I included Lodge Grass Creek on my watershed map (and the town of Lodge Grass is titular).  The town was named after the creek and here’s what Wiki has to say about the creek’s name:

The two words of the name of “Lodge Grass” are not put together to make a meaningful phrase. This is because the name “Lodge Grass” came from a mistake of interpretation of the Crow Indian name for “Greasy Grass.”

Lodge Grass is named after Lodge Grass Creek, which flows through the town.  As explained in a YouTube video by historian Joe Medicine Crow, the correct Crow name for Lodge Grass Creek is Greasy Grass Creek.

Crow tradition holds that when the Crows camped on the bottoms of Lodge Grass Creek or Little Bighorn River, the grass in the valley would be high and in the morning when the dew was heavy the bellies and legs of the horses would become wet and glisten as if covered with grease. Thus the Crows called the creek “the Greasy Grass”.

The Crow name for “greasy” is tah-shay and the Crow name for “lodge” is Ah-shay.  Evidently an early interpreter mistakenly interpreted the Crow name for “Greasy Grass” as “Lodge Grass”.

The misinterpreted name stuck, and so the creek, and then the town became known as Lodge Grass.

So it wouldn’t surprise me if Rotten Grass Creek has a similar story, except that “rotten” and “greasy” could easily be English translations of the same word (although, would the Crow name two adjacent creeks the same???)

Anyway, it’s time to take a look at St. Xavier. The town was named after a Catholic mission that was established in 1887 for the education (and religious conversion, I suspect) of Crow Indian children.  Here’s a little more from the National Park Service:

The main goal was to educate Crow children and to assimilate them to the white man’s way of life after many broken treaties. There were many difficulties starting the mission and keeping it going through the years. Attendance though was always an issue because it meant that the Crow parents would have to part with their children (the mission could house as many as 150 children). Despite the many hardships endured by the St. Xavier mission it did manage to last for some 30 years but finally had to close due to financial difficulties and lack of needed supplies, including food.

After the Orange Dude checked out the Rotten Grass Creek, he ambled up the road just a little and saw this:

So I’m not sure if there is still an active mission here. . .

So who was St. Xavier?  From Wiki:

Saint Francis Xavier (1506 – 1552), was a Roman Catholic missionary, born in Xavier in Basque (part of present day Spain).  He was a co-founder of the Society of Jesus (Jesuits).

He led an extensive mission into Asia, mainly in the Portuguese Empire of the time, most notably in India. He was the first Christian missionary to venture into Japan, Borneo, the Maluku Islands, and other areas. In those areas, struggling to learn the local languages and in the face of opposition, he had less success than he had enjoyed in India.

Xavier was about to extend his missionary preaching to China but died in Shangchuan Island shortly before he could do so.

He was beatified by Pope Paul V in 1619. Known as the “Apostle of the Indies,” and the “Apostle of Japan”, he is considered to be one of the greatest missionaries since Saint Paul.

Shangchuan Island?  I had to check it out.  Here’s a GE shot, showing its proximity to Macau and Hong Kong (two places I visited when I worked for Mobil Oil):

It’s about 15 miles from end to end.  From Wiki:

Shangchuan Island (pop 17,000) was one of the first bases established by the Portuguese off the China coast, during the 16th century. They abandoned this base after the Chinese government gave consent for a permanent and official Portuguese trade base at Macau in 1557.   [I remember the Portuguese influence in architecture and culture that remains in Macau.]

The Jesuit missionary St. Francis Xavier died on the island on December 2, 1552, as he was waiting for a ship to take him to mainland China.

Ever curious, I checked out some GE Panoramio shots of the Island, and I found two to share.  First this, by 福记:

And this, by Dong Xiangxi:

It’s time to head back to Lodge Grass.  We already know about the name, but there’s more to discuss, thanks to the proximity of my landing (and Lodge Grass) to the Little Bighorn battlefield, the site of Custer’s Last Stand:

It turns out that I landed near here on a couple of occasions, one just before I started blogging and one soon thereafter (landing 1657 posted in Feb 2009).  Since the odds are extremely high that very few current ALAD readers actually read this earlier post, I’m going to borrow heavily from it: 

From my 2009 post:

Not only was this my second landing in the Little Bighorn watershed, this was my second landing near the town of Lodge Grass.  Here’s my landing map (today’s landing is the one further away from Lodge Grass):

It turns out that my other Lodge Grass landing was quite recent:  August 1, 2008.  Dan, here’s my landing email to you from August:

[Let me interrupt myself here for a little A Landing A Day history.  Dan is a neighbor of mine who became interested in my habit of “landing” every day.  When he went off to college, he asked me if I would email him to keep him abreast of my landings.  I began writing more and more elaborate emails to Dan about my landings; it was Dan’s idea that rather than email him about my landing, I should start a blog.  To this day, each of my blog posts is addressed to Dan.  So anyway, in my February 2009 blog post, I decided to copy and paste from my August 2008 email to Dan.]

[From my 2008 email to Dan:]

Dan –  I landed in the watershed of a new river (and a notable river at that):  the Little Big Horn.  The Little Big Horn flows to the Big Horn (14th hit); on to the Yellowstone (38th hit); on to the Missouri.  I landed about 20 miles south of the battlefield site, near the town of Lodge Grass, with about 500 people.  From Wikipedia, here’s a list of notable residents:

  • Tuff Harris, Miami Dolphins safety, attended school here.
  • Hairy Moccasin, a scout for the Seventh Cavalry and survivor of the Battle of the Little Big Horn, retired to the vicinity.
  • Joe Medicine Crow, author and historian of the Crow Nation, was born near town.
  • Kevin Red Star – Native American artist, was born and lives here.
  • Pauline Small, first women to be successfully elected to any office of the Crow Nation, was born here.
  • White Man Runs Him, a scout and source for the history of the Battle of the Little Bighorn, retired to the area.
  • Thomas Yellowtail, former Medicine man and Sun Dance chief of the Crow Nation, was born here.

In particular, I like the names “Hairy Moccasin,” “Joe Medicine Crow” and “White Man Runs Him.”

More about Hairy [from Wiki, I presume]:

Hairy Moccasin (also known as Esh-sup-pee-me-shish) was a Crow scout for George Armstrong Custer‘s Seventh Cavalry during the 1876 campaign against the Sioux and Northern Cheyenne. He was a survivor of the Battle of the Little Big Horn.

Interesting, eh?  He was a scout for Custer, but survived.  One can only imagine that as the result of the battle became clear, suddenly Hairy thought to himself, “I look more like a Sioux than I do like a white man.”

More about White Man Runs Him:

White Man Runs Him (Mahr-Itah-Thee-Dah-Ka-Roosh) – (c. 1858 – 1929) was a Crow scout serving with George Armstrong Custer‘s 1876 expeditions against the Sioux and Northern Cheyenne that culminated in the Battle of the Little Bighorn. His accounts of the battle and the events leading up to the battle are invaluable to modern historians, but were largely ignored for nearly a hundred years.

Also known as White Buffalo That Turns Around, he was born into the Big Lodge Clan of the Crow nation, the son of Bull Chief and Offers Her Red Cloth. At the age of about 18, he volunteered to serve as a scout with the United States Army on April 10, 1876, in its campaign against the Sioux and Northern Cheyenne, traditional enemies of the Crow.

Hmmm . . I expect White Man Runs Him (aka White Buffalo That Turns Around) hooked up with Hairy Moccasin, and the two planned their escape.

Back to today’s post [actually my 2009 post]:

Sorry about the repetition, Dan, but I think the above is pretty interesting.

I think I’ll spend a little more time looking for some pictures . . .

Here’s a 1928 picture of a Crow Indian gathering.  The caption is below the picture:

17 Dec 1928, Lodge Grass, Montana, USA — Every July the Indians gather at Lodge Grass, Montana, to celebrate the fourth. Until a few years ago they all came in light wagons, but as you will notice from the picture, the camp is pretty well surrounded by automobiles. The large building in the right background is an assembly hall where the council meetings are held. The Crow Indian camp is shown in the foreground. — Image by © Underwood & Underwood/CORBIS

Here’s a picture of the Lodge Grass Railway Depot, built in 1908:

Here’s a 1924 picture of a “Parade” at the Crow camp near Lodge Grass:

[Remember – this is still 2009. . . ]

I actually landed a little closer to the teeny town of Wyola (just south off of my landing map, above).  Searching Wyola, I came across a travel blog.  I think it’s worth a read, as it ties in with my August 2008 email to Dan.  With thanks to Stu Jenks, here’s one of his blog entries.  This is well worth the read – no skimming allowed!

Leopard Appaloosa, Wyola, Montana, Crow Reservation” © 2007

I’m tired of the Interstate. I think I’ll drive by the river for a while.

I get off at Lodge Grass and head south on a little two lane road. Railroad tracks on my right. Little Big Horn River on my left. Sun’s about set.

It’s poor here on the Crow Rez but not bad at all. Poor is relative. If you have land along the river, some horses, a nice little house, a good truck and friends and family to love, how poor are you?

Speaking of Horses, the Crows love their horses. Many of the Northern Plains Indians loved their steeds but nothing like the Crows. They also love their dogs. A matriarchal society, the Crows have a long history of male and female chiefs. Word has it that they even had a trans-gender chief back in the day. Two-Spirit, The Crows called people like that, having male and female spirits inside of them at the same time.

The Crows were the enemies of many other tribes, the Lakota, and the Northern Cheyenne being a couple. Don’t know why but they were picked on a lot by the other Indians. When the U. S. Calvary arrived, many men joined as scouts. Do you blame them?  (Possible conversation: Army Man: ‘Can you tell us where the Cheyenne are?’ Crow Man: ‘Why do you want to know?’ Army Man: ‘Because we want to kill them.’ Crow Man: ‘They are right over there. Wait a second and I’ll go with you.’)

One of the most accurate accounts of what happened at the Battle of Little Bighorn came from a Crow scout named White Man Runs Him [or his other name was White Buffalo That Turns Around. Something tells me the first name was given to him by a Lakota or a Cheyenne.] He advised Custer not to attack the throng of Indians by the river.  When Custer ignored his advice, White Buffalo took off his army uniform and put on his tribe gear. When confronted by Custer, he said he wanted to die as an Indian not as a soldier. Custer got pissed and relieved him of duty, and for most of the attack, White Buffalo and three other Crow scouts [including Hairy Moccasin]  saw it all from a ridge nearby.

The Sun has now set. I’m heading south. The sky is lavender. Hope to be in Colorado by tomorrow afternoon. Maybe I’ll drop by the Denver Museum of Art and check out their Native American Art collection. I remember from 18 years ago, that it was an amazing collection, that was both historically extensive as well as being modernly progressive. Hope they still have it. You never know. Things change.

I turn left and get on Route 457 heading east. That’ll take me back to I-90. Then I see this amazing horse and his buddies. I pull over immediately onto the grassy shoulder.

I’ve never seen a horse like that in all of my life.  (Later I found out that he was a Leopard Appaloosa).  Black spots on White. Amazing.

I take his picture:

The buddies of this crazy-looking Appaloosa come over with the What’s-You-Doing look. I grab some fresh grass from my side of the fence and feed a couple of his friends. The Appaloosa never does come over to the fence. He keeps his distance, which is OK. But his corral-mates took the grass from my hand and they have themselves a little snack. I rubbed their noses too.

I talk to them. They say nothing. They just eat the grass and then look to me to give them some more. I smile and oblige them.

Back to 2017.  Great post by Stu Jenks, eh? 

Anyway, it’s time for some GE Pano shots near my landing.  Hopefully, you’ll settle for just one, taken by FloridaPix, six miles north (and closest to) my landing:


That’ll do it . . .




© 2017 A Landing A Day

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