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Archive for June, 2018

Rockport, Gregory and Lamar Texas

Posted by graywacke on June 22, 2018

First timer?  In this formerly once-a-day blog (and now pretty much a once-a-week 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 relatively recent changes in how I do things, check out “About Landing (Revisited).”

Landing number 2406; A Landing A Day blog post number 840.

Dan:  Today’s lat/long (28o 1.824’N, 97o 8.295’W) puts me in south Texas, right along the Gulf:

My local landing map:

I’m going to jump right to Google Earth (GE) for my “watershed” analysis.  Here’s a local shot, showing that I landed in Port Bay:

From Port Bay, the water makes its way to Copano Bay, and then to Aransas Bay:

Most likely, water from my landing makes it out to the Gulf via Aransas Pass, the inlet located near Port Aransas:

So of course, I checked out GE Street View (looking for a view across the water at my landing); here’s the closest the Orange Dude could get with a water view:

Here’s what he sees:

With better lighting, you’d be able to get a much clearer view of the bay, I’m sure.

I found a much closer spot for a Street View look, but I couldn’t see the water from here:

But while there, I noticed the sign for the Bay Creek Club:

When I checked out the club, I was appalled to see that the place was in ruins:

My first thought was:  “Hurricane damage?”

The date on the aerial photography was August 29, 2017.  I thought about Hurricane Harvey, and found this on Wiki:

After becoming a hurricane on August 24, Harvey continued to quickly strengthen over the next day, ultimately reaching peak intensity as a Category 4 hurricane. Around 10:00 pm on August 25, the hurricane made landfall at peak intensity on San Jose Island, just east of Rockport, with winds of 130 mph and an atmospheric pressure of 937 mbar. Harvey became the first major hurricane to make landfall in the United States since Wilma in 2005.

Oh my!  That’s it!  The photo was taken just four days after the hurricane made landfall “just east of Rockport.”

Here’s a NWS Hurricane Harvey storm track:

We all remember how Harvey hung around just offshore for day after day after day, causing incredible flooding.

Here’s a satellite photo taken just before landfall:

Key Allegro is a fancy schmancy neighborhood just east of Rockport:

Key Allegro took quite a hit.  Here are a couple of GE shots showing a very small sample of the damage here:

I’ll head west to my namesake town of Gregory.  I found this, from TexasEscapes.com:

Gregory high school is where country music legend Don Williams (1939 – 2017) went to school. Williams was raised in nearby Portland and sings about his childhood there in the song Good ol’ Boys Like Me.”  The smell of cape jasmine through the window screen. I can still hear the soft southern winds in the live oak trees.”

As my regulars probably know, I’m not a big country music fan, but Don is more folk-country, and he has a great voice.  Here he is, singing “Good ol’ Boys Like Me.”


Notice the line about “the soft southern winds in the live oak trees.”  Well, speaking of live oak trees, let’s head over to Lamar, home of “The Big Tree,” a very large, very old live oak:

From Wiki:

The Texas Forest Service estimates the Big Tree (a live oak tree) to be over 1,000 years old, while other recent estimates place it nearer to 2,000 years old. Also known as Bishop Oak and Lamar Oak, the Big Tree is a charter member (#16) of the Live Oak Society.  The “Big Tree” is possibly the oldest live oak in the world. It possesses a circumference of over 35 feet and is more than 45 feet tall, while the crown’s spread is 90 feet.

I took a screen shot video of a sweeping panoramic view of the tree, posted on GE G. Donald Bane.  Click HERE to get a great view of the tree.

Here’s some more about the tree from Chron.com, an article by Andrew Dansby:

“I’ve been aware of that tree all my life,” said John Porter Jackson, whose great-great grandparents arrived in Rockport from Virginia by train in 1888. “I remember as a kid in preschool going up there. Obviously, the tree predates all of us, so for those of us who grew up around here, it’s a part of who we are.”

By “up there,” he meant Lamar. “The Lamar Peninsula,” he said, “is a different world.”

Jackson paused. “Some people here call them Lamartians.” The corners of his mouth crooked into a tentative smile. Jackson suggested two worlds on each side of the Lyndon B. Johnson Causeway, which links the Lamar Peninsula to Fulton and Rockport. “That’s a nine-minute run,” he said. “That may not seem like much to you in Houston, but here, a Lamartian would think about it before making that trip to the Walmart.”

I’ll close with this GE shot by Josh Keng, taken from Goose Island State Park, near the Big Tree:

That’ll do it . . .




© 2018 A Landing A Day






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Bannack and Virginia City, Montana

Posted by graywacke on June 13, 2018

First timer?  In this formerly once-a-day blog (and now pretty much a once-a-week 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 relatively recent changes in how I do things, check out “About Landing (Revisited).”

Landing number 2405; A Landing A Day blog post number 839.

Dan:  Today’s lat/long (44o 59.665’N, 112o 29.321’W) puts me generally in the southwest corner of Montana:

My local landing map:

My streams-only map shows that I landed in the watershed of Blacktail Deer Creek:

As you can see, the Creek makes its way to the Beaverhead River (4th hit); on to the Jefferson River (8th hit).  At the town of Three Rivers (not shown), the Jefferson hooks up with the Madison to form the Missouri (428th hit).

It goes without saying that the Mighty Mississippi is the mother ship (934th hit).

I really landed out in the boonies, and have no Google Earth Street View coverage of my landing.  Here’s an oblique GE shot, showing my location in the Blacktail Deer Valley:

Up near Dillon (past the green blob in the above shot), the Blacktail discharges to the Beaverhead.  Just before it does, I was able to get a Street View look at the creek:

Here ‘tis:

I moved the Orange Dude just a few miles north to get this view of the Beaverhead:

If the Street View shots seem of low quality, it’s because they were taken back in 2009, before many improvements were made by Google for their GoogleCams.  I think the area is overdue for a visit from a GoogleMobile . . .

So, I found the area to be pretty much hookless.  Dillon is the only decent-sized town, but there wasn’t anything of sufficient interest for it to gain titular status.  However, I did find some Old West shoot-em-up gold mining towns, my titular Bannack and Virginia City.

I found a write-up for Bannack that covers a bit of Virginia City history as well, from LegendsOfAmerica.com.  Here are some excerpts (a little long, but well worth the read):

By 1863, the settlement had gained some 3,000 residents and applied to the U.S. Government for the name of Bannock, named for the neighboring Indians. However, Washington goofed it up, spelling the name with an “a” – Bannack, which it retains to this day.

In addition to its reputation for gold, Bannack also quickly gained a reputation for lawlessness. The roads in and out of town were home to dozens of road agents, and killings were frequent. In January, 1863, Henry Plummer arrived in Bannack and just months later was elected sheriff in hopes that he might bring some peace to the lawless settlement. What was not known by the citizens of Bannack, was that Plummer would later be suspected of being the leader of the largest gang of the area road agents.

This group of bandits referred to themselves as the “Innocents” and grew to include more than 100 men. According to Plummer’s accusers, his contacts as sheriff gave him knowledge of when people were transporting their gold, which he would pass on to his gang.

In May, 1863 a group of miners discovered gold in Alder Gulch, about eighty miles to the east of Bannack. When they took their gold to Bannack to buy supplies word soon leaked out and many of the area prospectors headed to Alder Gulch, which would soon become the thriving settlement of Virginia City.

The road between Bannack and Virginia City became a very hazardous journey as the road agents targeted the travelers journeying between the two mining camps. The ambitious Sheriff Plummer allegedly soon extended his operations to Virginia City when he was appointed U.S. Deputy Marshal. Violent holdups became even more commonplace and about a hundred men were murdered during 1863.

By December, 1863, the citizens of Bannack and Virginia City had had enough of the violence. Men from Bannack, Virginia City and nearby Nevada City met secretly and organized the Montana Vigilantes. Masked men began to visit suspected outlaws in the middle of the night issuing warnings and tacking up posters featuring a skull-and-crossbones or the “mystic” numbers “3-7-77, which some have said was the measurement for a grave, 3 feet wide, seven feet long, 77 inches deep. While the exact meaning of these numbers remains elusive, the Montana State Highway patrolmen wear the emblem “3-7-77” on their shoulder patches today.

The vigilantes dispensed rough justice by hanging about twenty-four men. When one such man who was about to be hanged pointed a finger at Sheriff Henry Plummer as the leader of the gang, all hell broke loose.

The residents were divided on whether or not Plummer was part of the murderous gang. But, one night after heavy drinking in a local saloon, the vigilantes decided he was guilty and tracked him down. On January 10, 1864 fifty men gathered up Plummer and his two main deputies. The three were marched to the gallows, where the two deputies were hanged first. According to one legend, Plummer promised to tell the vigilantes where $100,000 of gold was buried, if they would let him live. However, the vigilantes ignored this as they gradually hoisted him up by the neck.

Interestingly though, even after Plummer and several of his henchmen were hanged, the robberies did not cease. In fact, the stage robberies showed more evidence of organized criminal activity, more robbers involved in the holdups, and more intelligence passed to the actual robbers.   Many historians today think that the story of Plummer and his gang was fabricated to cover up the real lawlessness in the Montana Territory – the vigilantes themselves.

The “3-7-77” notation is interesting.  From Wiki:

3-7-77 was the symbol used by the Montana Vigilantes in Bannack and Virginia City, Montana. People who found the numbers ‘3-7-77’ painted on their tent or cabin knew that they had better leave the area or expect to be on the receiving end of vigilantism. The numbers are used on the shoulder patch of the Montana Highway Patrol, who claim they do not know the original meaning of the symbol.

Various theories have been put forth about its meaning, including:

  • The numbers represent the dimensions of a grave, 3 feet by 7 feet by 77 inches.
  • Frederick Allen, in his book A Decent Orderly Lynching, says the number meant the person had to buy a $3 ticket on the next 7:00 a.m. stagecoach to take the 77-mile trip from Helena to Butte.
  • The number set may have something to do with the date March 7, 1877; the numbers were first used in that decade and first appeared in print later in that decade of the 19th century. The first Masonic meeting in Bannack, Montana took place March 7, 1877. Many members of this lodge were also the original Vigilantes.

Here’s some interesting naming history for Virginia City, from Wiki:

On June 16, 1863 under the name of “Verina” the town was formed a mile south of the gold fields. The name was intended to honor Varina Davis, the first and only First Lady of the Confederate States of America (wife of Jefferson Davis). Verina, although in Union territory, was founded by men whose loyalties were thoroughly Confederate. Upon registration of the name, a Connecticut judge, G. G. Bissell, objected to their choice and recorded it as Virginia City.

At least he didn’t name it Connecticut City.

I found a site with numerous lovely pictures of today’s Bannack, a ghosttown that is a tourist attraction.  Here’s a screen shot from the GhostTownGallery webpage:

I recommend you click HERE to peruse the many pictures on the website (by Daniel Ter-Nedden).

Virginia City is also a ghosttown that is now a tourist attraction.  Here’s a shot by Donnie Sexton from YellowstonePark.com:

I’ll close with this Google shot of the Beaverhead near Dillon by Sarah Coombs:

That’ll do it . . .




© 2018 A Landing A Day






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The Brazos River, Texas

Posted by graywacke on June 4, 2018

First timer?  In this formerly once-a-day blog (and now pretty much a once-every-five-or-seven 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 relatively changes in how I do things, check out “About Landing (Revisited).”

Landing number 2404; A Landing A Day blog post number 838.

Dan:  Today’s lat/long (29o 57.515’N, 96o 6.455’W) puts me generally in southeast Texas:

My local landing map shows that I landed “adjacent” to the Brazos River:

Two things to say here.  You’ll notice the absence of towns in my title, and the absence of towns on my landing map.  Secondly, you may be curious as to why the word “adjacent” is in quotes above.  You’ll find out shortly.

The absence of towns isn’t because I landed in a desolate, unpopulated portion of Texas.  I was just zoomed in a little too far.  So here’s a more typical local landing map:

And yes, the towns are pretty much hookless.

I certainly don’t need a local streams-only map, but here’s a regional shot showing what happens to the Brazos River:

Oh yea, before I forget, this was my 33rd hit in the Brazos River watershed.

There was no decent Google Earth (GE) Street View coverage of my landing, but I could put the Orange Dude on a bridge over the Brazos downstream from my landing:

We’ll quickly get to the bottom of the “adjacent” issue (where my landing map showed my landing adjacent to the river) by taking a look at a very local Google Earth (GE) shot of my landing:

What’s going on here?  My StreetAtlas maps and Google Earth always are in precise agreement when it comes to the location of my landing.  Well, guess what?  From a lat/long perspective, they are in precise agreement!

You can probably guess what’s going on here.  The location of the river has shifted to the south!  I landed at the outside edge of a meander, and those outside edges have a way of migrating through time.  And this movement happens not on a geologic time scale, but on a human time scale.

GE has a nifty historic aerial photo tool, which allows us to take a close look at what’s going on. The shot above is dated February 2017.  Let’s go back in time a little, to November 2015:

Hmmm.  A little closer to the bank, eh?  How about April 2012? 

Not much change.  October 2008:

Right on the edge.  But check out April 2006:

No doubt about it!  Here’s September 2003:

And finally, February 1995:

I’d say the basis of my StreetAtlas map was the river’s location back in the early 2000s.  The Brazos marks a county boundary near my landing, and the StreetAtlas map shows the boundary line right in the middle of the river.  I wonder how they handle the migrating river issue?  Does the county boundary shift, or was it defined by a years-ago river course and now follows a meandering path that doesn’t always line up with the river?

So.  Why do rivers meander?  Most references have long, esoteric discussions that I generally find tedious.  Steep valleys underlain by bedrock don’t meander; their courses are generally straighter, and may be controlled by features in the bedrock.

But streams that are in unconsolidated sediments (sand and clay) which typically have a much flatter gradient, are much freer to meander.  I think that the simplest explanation is that “nature abhors a straight line,” and the slightest bend becomes more and more extreme.

Here’s a Wiki figure showing the typical progression of a meander:

The cut-off meander in the final stage is known as an “oxbow lake.”  Here are a couple of oxbow lakes just upstream of my landing:

The outside bend of a meander (where active erosion is occurring) is known as a “cut bank.”  The inside of the bend (where sand deposition typically occurs) is known as a “point bar.”  So, while one bank is being eroded, the opposite bank is building up with new sediment.  Here’s my landing location:

And here’s a shot showing how much longer my meandering river is than a hypothetical straight version:

It’s only a matter of time before a new oxbow lake is created just west of my landing.  What’s your guess?  Fifty years from now?

And the Brazos certainly does flood (when most of the cut bank erosion occurs).  Here’s the front page of an article from the Houston Chronicle:

That’s one ugly cut bank!

While I was working on this post, I received the following text message from my daughter Willow:

“Thanks for the good night.  [She and the grand kids were over for dinner earlier that evening.]  What’s the curvy river/stream west of Harrisburg that flows into the Susquehanna?”

I had no idea why she cared about the “curvy river/stream west of Harrisburg,” but figured that she had been on Google Maps (which doesn’t label streams), and couldn’t find the name of said stream.

Well, she certainly asked the right person.  I went right to StreetAtlas, and found said curvy stream.  I texted back:

“It’s the Conodoguinet Creek.  Wow.  It meanders like crazy!”

Here ‘tis, with all of the urban trappings:

Check out all of the residential neighborhoods sitting right within the meanders.  The stream can’t flood on a regular basis!  And it’s course certainly isn’t shifting like the Brazos.  My guess is that these meanders are “entrenched.”  More about that in a minute.  But here’s a streams-only shot:

And a distance-comparison shot (straight line, about 11 miles; meandering line, about 30 miles):

From Wiki:

Conodoguinet Creek is a 104-mile-long tributary of the Susquehanna River located in the greater Harrisburg metropolitan area.   The name is Native American, and means “A Long Way with Many Bends”.

So what about “entrenched” meanders?  These are meanders that came to be when a stream is meandering lazily along (likely not very high above sea level, like the Brazos), when regional uplifting comes along, and the entire system is raised.  The meanders hang in there, but the stream begins to cut down vertically, even vertically through bedrock.  This results in much higher topography in and around the meanders (allowing development like we see west of Harrisburg).

Here’s a GE shot showing the urbanization of some of the meanders:

FYI, the land between the meanders is typically between 70 and 120 feet higher than the elevation of the adjacent stream.

In the case of the Conodoguinet, the uplift occurred many 10s of millions years ago.  Check out this GE shot:

The Conodoguinet is in the right foreground.  To the left, see how the ridges have been cut by the Susquehanna?  This is all part of the same process.  Eons ago, the ridges weren’t there; the underlying linear sandstone formation had been eroded to near sea level.  The Susquehanna (and the Conodoguinet) were also near sea level.  When the whole area was uplifted, the Susquehanna cut through the underlying formations of sandstone (creating water gaps), and the Conodoguinet cut through the underlying shale formation – leaving the meanders in place.

Any questions?  If so, check out my Nanticoke, Pennsylvania post that covers water gap formation in much more detail (type “Nanticoke” in the search box).

Phew.  All of this Pennsylvania stuff because of Willow’s somewhat random text . . .

Anyway, back to the Brazos. From Wiki:

The Brazos River, named by early Spanish explorers Rio de los Brazos de Dios (translated as “The River of the Arms of God”), is the 11th-longest river in the US at 1,280 miles from its headwater source in New Mexico down to the Gulf of Mexico.

The watershed:

And I have landed twice in the NM portion of the watershed (including my Clovis NM landing which is worth a visit or re-visit).

So how does one pronounce “Brazos?”  East Coast elitist that I am, I simply assumed BRAY-zohs.  Wrong.  I encourage you to click HERE, scroll down until you see the audio file you can click on, and listen to a local who really knows how to pronounce Brazos!

I’ll close with this GE photo from a few miles north of my landing by Houston Suburban Warrior:

That’ll do it . . .




© 2018 A Landing A Day






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