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Archive for December, 2018

Shemya Island, Alaska

Posted by graywacke on December 28, 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).”

A Landing A Day blog post number 860.

Dan:  Rules are made to be broken, right?  The exception makes the rule, right?

As you know, I have had a hard-and-fast rule since I began my blog:  I always, always allow my random lat/long generator to select a location for each and every landing and each and every landing post.

Well, this is the Christmas season, and I have been extra busy.  Even though this is not like me, I just couldn’t find time for my landing.  I try to post every week, and I’m already about a week late. 

Of course, I did some research on my legitimate landing location (which I will dutifully write about for my next post), but found the area around my landing to be pretty much

It’s Christmas day as I sit at my computer writing this.  Christmas Eve night was (and how can I put this delicately) a bit of a hassle.  I was agitated, made all the more so because our indoor cat Lorenzo was outside and in no mood to come back in.

At 1:00 (Christmas Day!) I was lying in bed unable to get to sleep.  As is my wont, I reached over to my bedside table and picked up my iPhone.  I started to idly look at the news (as if that will put me to sleep), when I saw that a Christmas Eve Delta flight from Beijing to Seattle made an emergency landing at an isolated island at the western end of the Aleutian chain – about 1400 miles west of Anchorage.

The island wasn’t named in the article I read, but I have an app on my iPhone – FlightRadar24.  It is map-based, and you can scroll around and see all of the commercial flights in the air at any given time around the world.  You can also click on an airport, and get a list of all recent departures and arrivals.

I knew the flight was supposed to arrive in Seattle, so I clicked on the SEA airport, and hit “arrivals.”  After much scrolling, I saw this:

Hmmm. A Delta flight from Beijing to Seattle was supposed to land in Seattle at 7:36 am, but was diverted to “SYA.”  A quick Google search shows that SYA is Shemya Island, Alaska; more specifically Eareckson Air Station on Shemya Island.

I pay a little extra to FlightRadar24, so I can get a simulation of the flight path.  Here’s a shot of the flight (DL128) a few hours after takeoff from Beijing, with the jet (a 767) flying happily along at 35,000 feet.

But several hours later, check this out:

See the altitude?  This baby’s going down!  Here’s a closer shot of where it landed.  (The jet is facing the wrong way, because it had already taxied and stopped):

And here’s a much closer view:

Here it is Christmas Eve, and a jet full of people (188) find themselves on an isolated island in the western Aleutians.  The plane could not be adequately repaired at Shemya Island, so Delta had to send a plane with an extra crew, repairmen, spare parts, and some customer relations type to make the best of a not-so-great situation for all of the customers and crew.

Here’s the FlightRadar24 info on the plane from Shemya to Seattle:

So let’s see.  The plane was supposed to land in Seattle at 7:36.  The plane that took them to Seattle departed Shemya at 3:00 in the afternoon got in at 10:10 pm (all Seattle time).  They were supposed to land at 7:36 am.  So it looks like they had something like 15 hours in Shemya.   

I really hope they enjoyed their stay.

From Wiki, about Shemya Island:

A United States Air Force radar, surveillance, weather station and aircraft refueling station, including a 10,000 ft runway, opened on Shemya in 1943 and is still in operation. The station, originally Shemya Air Force Base or Shemya Station, had 1,500 workers at its peak in the 1960s.

In 1956, Northwest Airlines leased Shemya Island from the U.S. government to use as a refueling station on their North Pacific route. According to Northwest’s website, that made them “the first airline to operate its own airport.”

The station still operates as a radar station and aircraft refueling station with a staff of about 180 people.

Under “Accidents and Incidents” is this:

On 24 December 2018 Delta flight Flight DL 128 from Beijing to Seattle carrying 194 passengers landed safely on Shemya Island due to engine issues. The diverted aircraft was a 767-300ER, registration number N1612T.

I wonder who updated the Wiki entry so quickly?

To watch a local Seattle TV clip about the situation, click HERE.

So, let’s start taking a closer look at Shemya Island by taking a very-long-distance Google Earth (GE) look at Shemya:

Wow.  Look at the Aleutian Island Arc.   Ready for some geology?  Here goes:

Island Arc systems are found around the world, but the Aleutian Arc is the longest and most pronounced. 

North of the arc is the North American Plate and south of the Arc is the Pacific Plate:

The Pacific Plate is headed north, and is diving under the North American Plate, like this:


So I can understand why there is a whole string of volcanic islands (of which Shemya is one).  But why the arcuate shape?  Not just here, but all around the world where a similar plate tectonic situation exists.

I’ve always been baffled about the arc, but no more!  After checking out at least a dozen articles about the formation of island arcs, no one seemed to tackle the issue head-on.  Until I found this (thank you Bill Kingsland!):


It’s that simple!

Heading back to Shemya, here’s a GE shot:

As a geologist, I was curious about why it is so flat.  I thought that island arcs were composed of a bunch of volcanoes – hardly a place to build a 2-mile long runway on a 4-mile long island. 

Yes, it’s flat, but it’s a flat surface that tilts from the high side (to the NE, at elevation 200 – 275), down to the southwest.  The runway is at elevation 85.

Here’s a low-angle shot of the island that highlights its topography:

Regardless, it hardly seems volcanic.  I found a USGS article:  “The Geology of the Near Islands, Alaska,” by Olcott Gates (I hope his friends and family called him “Ollie”); Howard A. Powers (“Howie”); and Ray E. Wilcox (OK, so Ray is just Ray). 

This article is part of a series entitled “Investigations of Alaskan Volcanoes.”

So anyway, Ollie and his pals determined that the island was volcanic in or about the Middle Tertiary (about 30 million years ago) – the age of the bedrock formations that make up the island.

Volcanism has been inactive since then.  So what happens to a smallish island out in the ocean that just sits there for millions and millions of years?  Well, after trillions and trillions of waves smash onto the rock of the island, it pretty much got leveled.

This leveling was completed in the late Tertiary or early Quaternary (about 3 million years ago).

Soon thereafter, tectonic forces were doing their thing, and the island was uplifted and tilted (remember — there are a high side and low side to this flat island).

And then, the island just waited around for some military types to realize that this island was perfectly suited to be a refueling stop (and a spy station).

It’s time to close out this post some Shemya photos.  From Wiki, here’s a wintry shot showing the cliff on the NE side of the island:

On the website “US Islands Awards Program” was an article about Shemya by John Reisenauer with this picture, showing a summertime version of the cliff:

I’ll close with this from Brandeis University:


That’ll do it . . .




© 2018 A Landing A Day






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Grenada, Tie Plant and Duck Hill, Mississippi

Posted by graywacke on December 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 2425; A Landing A Day blog post number 859.

Dan:  Today’s lat/long (33o 39.823’ N, 89o 258.085’) puts me in Cen-N Mississippi:

Here’s my local landing map:

My local streams-only map shows that I landed in the watershed of Linsday Creek:

And then on to Sabougle Creek Canal.  Zooming back:

We then move on to the Yalobusha River (4th hit), and then to the Tallahatchie (11th hit).  Zooming back some more:

The Tallahatchie discharges to the Yazoo (15th hit); on to the Mighty Mississipp (940th hit).

I have pretty decent Google Earth (GE) Street View coverage of my landing:

And here’s what the Orange Dude sees:

I had the OD head north to find Lindsay Creek:

And here ‘tis:

I have a couple of Grenada hook.  My first involves a topic that I suspect Grenadians would like to forget.  Oh, well, here goes, from Wiki:

In 1966, James Meredith started a solo March Against Fear to challenge oppression in Mississippi and encourage voter registration by African Americans. His planned route from Memphis, Tennessee to Jackson, Mississippi, passed through Grenada.

After Meredith was shot and wounded on the second day, and had to be hospitalized, other prominent activists and many marchers joined the effort, taking up his cause. The marchers, including Martin Luther King and Dick Gregory, spent about a week demonstrating in Grenada against discrimination and for voter’s rights. During that time, the town officials appeared cooperative, protecting the marchers with local police.[13]

Six black voter registrars were hired, and registered 1,000 black residents during that week. But after the march passed through, the county fired the registrars. It was reported later that summer that the town never entered the 1,000 new black voters on official rolls. They had to start all over again to gain official voter registration.

As is my wont, I enjoy checking out Mississippi Delta Blues artists.  From Grenada, there is one “Magic Sam.”  From Wiki:

Sam “Magic Sam” Maghett (February 14, 1937 – December 1, 1969) was an American blues musician. Maghett was born in Grenada, Mississippi and learned to play the blues from listening to records by Muddy Waters and Little Walter.  After moving to Chicago at the age of nineteen, he was signed by Cobra Records and became well known as a bluesman after his first record, “All Your Love” in 1957.


Sam’s breakthrough performance was at the Ann Arbor Blues Festival in 1969, which won him many bookings in the United States and Europe.  His life and career was cut short when he suddenly died of a heart attack in December of the same year.  He was 32 years old. He was buried in the Restvale Cemetery in Alsip, Illinois.

Wow.  I was 19 years old in 1969, at the height of my music immersion.  But I never heard of Sam or his music.  I suspect I would have known him had he lived longer.

Anyway, here’s Magic Sam’s Boogie (1969):

And, his first record, “All Your Love” (live, 1969):

Time to move to Tie Plant. Tie Plant?  AYKM?  Well, here’s what Wiki has to say:

The community was named for the production of railroad ties near the original town site.

That’s it for Tie Plant. So how about Duck Hill?  From Wiki, this about the name:

Supposedly the name came from an Indian, named Duck, that lived on top of the big hill just as you enter the town coming from Grenada.  Chief Duck, as he was called was also a Medicine man who treated not only the Indians, but, was also known to help out the general population of the town. He was a member of the Choctaw Indian tribe.

Here’s a downtown Duck Hill picture:

So, Duck Hill has quite the notorious past.  A quick perusal of internet resources shows a nasty train crash (1862), a notorious lynching (1937), and the “Battle of Duck Hill” (1943). 

First the train crash.  Two trains crashed head-on in 1862, resulting in the death of 34 Confederate soldiers.  Here’s an eyewitness account, from the Montgomery County portion of MS GenWeb.com:

“While enroute to Holly Springs, I narrowly escaped being crushed to death in a railroad collision, near Duck Hill Station, south of Grenada. The coaches being crowded, another man and I had taken a seat on the platform between two passenger coaches. The train making a short stop at Canton, and without any thought of danger or accident, we proposed to go to the rear and get a seat in another car.

When we vacated our position, two others took our places and were later killed in the accident.  As we came around a considerable curve into straight road in full view of Duck Hill Station, there was a fearful crash, resulting in the destruction of two engines, several cars, and the death of thirty-two men. About forty others were wounded, bruised and mangled…some mortally, some seriously and others only slightly.

“We remained at the wreck from 2:30 A.M. until 4:00 P.M. We buried the dead, mostly Arkansas and Texas volunteers, in one long pit grave, wide enough to lay the men crosswise…with only their blankets for coffins. I have been on the battlefield, seen men torn and mangled with ball and shell, but never have I seen such a heartrending scene as this. From that day to this, I have never felt safe on a railroad car.”

This, about the notorious 1937 lynching, from Wiki:

Duck Hill was the scene of two of the most infamous lynchings in U.S. history. In 1937, a white mob, in broad daylight, seized two black men who had just been arraigned for murder.  The men, Bootjack McDaniels and Roosevelt Townes, were transported by school bus to the lynching site, where they were tied to pine trees.

Before a mob of some 500 white men, women, and children, McDaniels was repeatedly burned in the chest with a blowtorch; the mob then finished him off with intense gunfire.  The lynchers then turned the blowtorch on Townes; they then burned him to death on a gasoline-soaked pyre.

Although congressmen from other southern states, who at the time were fighting a federal antilynching bill, demanded that the lynchers be punished, no one was ever arrested for the mob murders of McDaniels and Townes.  The main effect of the outcry over the Duck Hill murders was to drive lynching in Mississippi underground—i.e., to efforts to disguise it as something more palatable (e.g., the death of black people who allegedly resisted arrest), or to keep reports of it out of Mississippi newspapers.

Then, from a 1943 Time Magazine article about the “Battle of Duck Hill:”

It was the night after the Fourth of July. The little town of Duck Hill lay quiet in the hot dark of the North Mississippi hills. Suddenly rifle fire crashed out. Bullets hit the water tower and the post office, ripped into homes. As lights flashed on, the volleys grew ragged and firing ceased. There was only frightening quiet.

The trouble at Duck Hill had the historic elements of race friction: Southern Negroes quartered close in a Southern military camp. On the Fourth, some Negro troopers in Starkville to the east were roughly treated. At Camp McCain, resentment smoldered. Next night hot heads grabbed their rifles, broke into a supply house, crammed their pockets with cartridges, set out for Starkville, some 70 miles away. At Duck Hill their weariness equaled their anger. They took up a position along the Illinois Central tracks, shot away their anger with their ammunition, retreated when the lights came on.

There were no casualties at the battle of Duck Hill.

It’s time to close out this post with a GE photo.  Here’s one by Mike Michalski of Grenada Lake:

That’ll do it . . .




© 2018 A Landing A Day






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Alliance and Berea, Nebraska

Posted by graywacke on December 6, 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 2424; A Landing A Day blog post number 858.

Dan:  Today’s lat/long (42o 9.552’ N, 103o 18.739’) puts me in western Nebraska:

Here’s my local landing map:

I had to move over to Google Earth (GE) to track my very-poorly-defined drainage pathway, but eventually, I realized that I landed in the watershed of Blue Creek:

As you can see, Big Blue makes its way to the North Platte (32nd hit).

Although not shown, we all know (don’t we class?), that the North Platte joins up with the South Platte to form the Platte (71st hit); on to the Missouri (433rd hit) and, of course, to the MM (939th hit).

I landed way out in the boonies, so forget a decent GE Street View shot of my landing.  But I put the OD on the nearest road to give you a feel for the landscape:

And here’s what he sees:

I had him turn towards the east a little:

I had to go very far away (about 80 miles) to get a look at Blue Creek:

So, there are three other landings between 2424 and the Orange Dude!  And yes, 2189 and 2137 were also in the Blue Creek watershed.  Here’s what he sees:

So what about Alliance?  Well, there’s not much to say except that it’s the home of Carhenge.  Here’s a GE shot, showing the location of Carhenge (the star):

Doesn’t look like much from here, so I’ll zoom in:

There it is, but you can see that I was distracted by the disturbing Pacman image.

Zooming much closer:

And here’s a Street View look:

And a GE photo look (by Mayor Snorkum):

And a close-up by Darel Chastain:

What the heck.  Here’s a YouTube video:



Well, there you have it.  So what about Berea (pop 41)?  Well, as is apparent on GE, there’s not much there:

As anticipated, Wiki doesn’t have much to say:

The Burlington Railroad reached the area of Berea in 1889, and railroad support facilities, including a water tower and section house, were built on the site. The town was founded by a group of settlers, originally from Ohio, who named their new home after Berea, Ohio.

[As a 13-year resident of Ohio, Berea is vaguely familiar to me as a Cleveland suburb.  As a geologist, I am more familiar with the “Berea Sandstone,” a geologic bedrock formation.  Interestingly, Berea was known as the location of millstones made out of Berea Sandstone.]

In 1890-91, the town had a population of 50, and a general store, newspaper, and post office; five years later, a school and community hall had been added.

Being an Ohio boy, I checked out Berea Ohio.  From Wiki:

Berea was established in 1836. Henry O. Sheldon, a circuit rider clergy, selected Berea and Tabor as possible names for the community. The townspeople decided to simply flip a coin, and Berea won, thus becoming the town’s name.

So, a minister picked the name.  Even though Tabor lost the contest, here’s its biblical significance (from Wiki):

Mount Tabor is located in Lower Galilee, Israel, at the eastern end of the Jezreel Valley, 11 miles west of the Sea of Galilee.

In the Hebrew Bible (Joshua, Judges), Mount Tabor is the site of the Battle of Mount Tabor between the Israelite army under the leadership of Barak and the army of the Canaanite king, commanded by Sisera.

Barak, eh?  Yes, the name “Barack” has similar roots . . .

So, what about the winner – Berea.  Well, it turns out is a city in Greece, now known as Veria, and is the site of a visit by the apostle Paul.

So, I checked out Acts 17:  1-15.  I’m not big on quoting bible verses in this blog, so I won’t.  But it tells the story of Paul preaching in Thessalonica (today Thessaloniki), where some Jews and Greeks went along with Paul’s teachings, but others did not.  The anti-Paul crowd forced him out of town.

He traveled on to Berea, where he was met in similar fashion, but with a higher percentage ending up on his side. 

The folks from Thessalonica who were not happy with Paul’s message traveled over to Berea where they “agitated” the crowd, and forced Paul to travel on to Athens.

So anyway, what about Veria today?  From Grekomania:

Veria: City On a Cliff

There is evidence that the site of Veria has been occupied by humans as early as 1000 BC. It’s easy to see why: the city sits on a ridge on the foothills of the Vermio Mountains. It overlooks, to the east, the Macedonian Plain, which was the heart of the Macedonian Empire.

It is an impressively beautiful view. Which also would have given the ancient city ample warning if invaders were coming out of the 180-degree panorama from the east.

Veria’s main square and park, Elia Park, “the balcony of Veria,” is built on the edge of the ridge, with the flatness of the plain stretching out for a long distance towards the east.

From the website, here’s a shot of Elia Park (note the lower landscape in the distance):

(Until otherwise noted, all photos come from Grekomania; back to the verbiage):

The old Jewish Quarter of Veria, in the Historical center of the city known as Barbouta, was turned into a ghost town by the German Occupation, but has now been largely restored. Virtually all of Veria’s Jews, numbering about 500, were shipped off to the death camps by the Nazis, and the quarter fell into disrepair.

Barbouta is one of the best-preserved Jewish Quarters in Europe.  It is a triangular-shaped walled compound with a central courtyard, and two gates for ingress and egress. The Quarter is next to the old Byzantine walls, just beyond which is the Tripotamos River, which splits the city in two. The synagogue, abandoned for decades, has been recently remodeled and upgraded.

Here’s the synagogue:

The old Christian Quarter, with its stone-paved, narrow streets, stone houses features walled-off gardens protected by heavy, metal, nail-studded doors which provided security for its residents. Houses in both Quarters feature, as well, sahnisia, the upper story projecting outward over the street and supported by timbers.

Here’s an ancient Christian church:

In the Historical Center, there are Turkish baths, mosques, and minarets cheek by jowl with Byzantine-era churches. Next to the City Hall, the massive, flat stones of a portion of the ancient main roadway has been exposed.

Here’s a shot of the mountains outside of the city:

And a nighttime street view:

I’ll close with this GE aerial view of what well may be my drainage pathway (southeast of my landing), by J Sidle:

That’ll do it . . .




© 2018 A Landing A Day






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