A Landing a Day

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New Richmond, Somerset, Hudson and Hammond, Wisconsin

Posted by graywacke on May 16, 2019

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 2444; A Landing A Day blog post number 880.

Dan:  Today’s lat/long (N45o 4.339’, W92o 37.086’) puts me in west central Wisconsin:

Here’s my local landing map:

My streams-only map shows that I landed in the watershed of the Willow River (2nd hit); on to the St. Croix (6th hit), which shares State Line duties with the Mighty Missipp (948th hit).

So, this was my second landing in the Willow River watershed.  A quick Landing spreadsheet search reveals that my only other Willow River watershed landing was Landing 254 way back in July 2003.

A quick A Landing A Day review is likely needed for some of my readers.  Landing #1 was April 1st, 1999, with a landing in the UP of Michigan.  But that wasn’t really my first landing. . . 

From “About Landing:”

Sometime in the mid 1990s, I got an idea in my head:  for no good reason, I thought it would be cool to be able to randomly select a specific latitude/longitude location in the United States every day; keep track of the state and the watershed for each location, and see what town or city or interesting geographical site might be nearby.  I am a mathematical kind of guy and knew that I could use a programmable calculator along with a computer-based map program to make it happen.

So I used my programmable calculator to calculate a random latitude/longitude (lat/long) somewhere in the lower 48, at the push of a button.  For simplicity, I ignored Alaska and Hawaii.  Also for simplicity, I just programmed in that the random lat/long would be somewhere in the large rectangle that would include all of the land and water ranging from northeast Maine to the Florida Keys to southwest California to northwest Washington State.  I knew that often, a random lat/long location would be in the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, the Gulf of Mexico, Mexico and Canada, but figured I would just ignore those.  (Check out a map of North America, and you’ll see why the large rectangle that would include all of the U.S. would also include large areas of land and water outside the U.S.)

For the mapping portion of the exercise, I used the program StreetAtlas.  StreetAtlas allowed me to enter in lat/long info, and it would jump right to the location specified.  I enjoyed being “zoomed in” as much as possible when I went to the specified location.  I might see just a little bit of a street and maybe a stream; or maybe see no features at all.  Then, I’d zoom out one click at a time, and various map features would begin to appear on the map:  the roads, towns and streams in the vicinity.

StreetAtlas had a lot of detail on streams, so I could see what the nearest creek was, and follow it downstream until I hit another creek or a river, etc., etc., eventually to an ocean.

In my head, I called the process “landing.”  So, every day, I could “land” somewhere.  Knowing that I have a somewhat-addictive personality, I made a rule:  no more than one landing a day.

For a while, I kept track of the states and watersheds where I landed on a piece of paper and plotted my approximate landing locations by hand on a blank U.S. map.  But then I realized that I should be keeping track of my landings on a computer spreadsheet.  In addition, I transferred the landing process from the programmable calculator to Excel.

[Plus there’s that whole business of ALADus Obscurus, which is fully addressed in “About Landing” and “About Landing (Revisited).”]

So why do I start each post with “Dan?”  Well, Dan was a next door neighbor (his parents still live there), and when Dan was a high school kid, he was good buddies with my son Jordan, and so hung out at our house a lot.  He saw me landing a number of times, and began to enjoy watching me land.  When Dan went off to college, he asked me if I could email him and let him know where I landed.  Of course, I complied.

My emails to Dan began getting more robust, as I began doing more and more research about my landing location.  Dan emailed me one day, saying that essentially, I was writing a blog but with only one reader.  He was becoming computer savvy and, as a journalism major, also was familiar with WordPress.

He suggested that he’d come over on Thanksgiving break, and help me set up A Landing A Day, which happened on November 25, 2008, with landing 1583 near Yellow Pine, Idaho.  As mentioned in italics at the very beginning of this post, today is landing 2444 and blog post 880 . . .

JFTHOI*, here’s Excel’s rendition of all 2444 landings:

*Just for the heck of it

And JFTHOI2, here’s the rendition of just my blog post landings:

Enough!  It’s way past time to move on to Google Earth (GE).  I have no decent Street View coverage for my landing, but I can get a look at the Willow River not far downstream from my landing:

And here’s what the Orange Dude sees:

And what about all of those titular towns?  Well, none of these hooks are great, but hey – they’re all worth a visit.  Let’s start with New Richmond. 

This is a little grim, but a terrible tornado leveled the town back in 1899.  This tornado actually has its own Wiki page:

June 12, 1899, was the day of the Gollmar Brothers Circus, which drew hundreds of visitors in addition to the town’s 1,800 inhabitants. Around 3:00 p.m., clouds began to build, and the sky became quite dark. As the circus ended for the day around 4:30 PM, a heavy rain, with some hail, began to fall. The rain let up around 5:00 PM, and people began to head home for the day. By 6:00 PM, the streets of New Richmond were full of tourists, travelers and residents.

Meanwhile, the impending disaster which was to befall the region was just beginning to unfold. The tornado was reported to have first touched down around 5:30 about five miles south of Hudson and began moving off to the northeast. The tornado swept away several farms near the rural communities of Burkhardt and Boardman as it traveled northeast. Four fatalities were reported at Boardman

[It must have gone right by my landing location.]

There was little warning in New Richmond. The tornado was completely illuminated by lightning, but it was visible for only a few minutes before it reached the town, as the view was largely obstructed by buildings and large trees. Initially, several of the town’s residents recalled hearing a faint rumble in the distance which many mistook for the sound of a passing train.

Before long the tornado became more visible, and those who did come to realize the danger approaching began to alert those around them, and panic ensued in the streets as people scrambled to take shelter. Despite the best efforts of the storm’s early spotters, a great many of the town’s residents were not fully aware of the oncoming storm until it was almost upon them.

Shortly after 6:00, the tornado tore into the southwest corner of the city. Within a few moments, as many as fifty homes were leveled in this area.

The greatest destruction caused to the city by the tornado was to the town’s business district, a three-block stretch of Main Street between First and Fourth Street lined with stores, offices and tenements built of brick and stone. It was here that a large majority of the fatalities occurred, as many of those who thought they would be safe within the confines of the reinforced structures were killed by cascades of falling debris as the buildings on Main Street were swept away.

A 1.5-ton safe from the city bank was thrown a full block away. Probably one of the greatest demonstrations of the tornado’s strength was seen at the Nicollet Hotel, a newly constructed three-story brick building located adjacent to the Willow River. The tornado swept the building clean down to the foundation, killing at least five people.

Almost simultaneously, the town’s Methodist Church was completely obliterated, the only remnant being the 1.1-ton cast iron bell, which was found nearly 200 feet from the church foundation. As the tornado cleared Main Street, it tore the iron-frame bridge spanning the Willow River from its fitting and onto the adjacent riverbank in a twisted heap. The City Hall was completely flattened, the adjacent water tower sent toppling to the northeast and dumping its contents into First Street and transforming it into a muddy deluge.

The tornado then moved into the east side of New Richmond, where many of the city’s working class residents lived. As many as forty homes in this neighborhood were completely obliterated, leaving the neighborhood virtually unrecognizable. Within a period of roughly seven to ten minutes, over half of New Richmond was laid to ruins.

Here’s a Wiki shot of the damage (with a horse that didn’t make it):


In total, 122 people died; 117 of them (and at least one horse) in New Richmond . . .

Moving counter-clockwise to Somerset.  From Wiki:

Somerset has a lengthy and colorful history. Before the turn of the century, Somerset was bordered on the south by cranberry bogs. The terrain naturally lent itself to the production of cranberries as a result of the hilliness of the area, which is dotted with ponds, sloughs, swamps and bogs.

These wet areas became of greater interest to the local population during Prohibition. These same low spots where water collected became ideal for collecting water for the production of moonshine (homemade alcoholic beverages).

Indeed, Somerset already had a history of being a rough logging town, and it was only a natural progression to become the supplier of bootlegged alcohol to the twin cities of Saint Paul and Minneapolis. After Prohibition ended, the citizens of Somerset returned to the more humble activities of logging and farming.

I’m not so sure about the importance of ponds and bogs to moonshine making, but the bootlegging history is well-documented.  From a Patch.com article:

A history of Somerset was prepared by Father John T. Rivard, a Somerset priest from 1946 to 1969.  In it, he went so far as to call Somerset “the Moonshine Capital of the Midwest.”  Most local old-timers know some of the tales of “Somerset Moon.”

Moving down to Hudson, right there along the St. Croix River.  From Wiki:

On August 30, 1917, a violent mob of 1,000 held a night rally in front of the armory protesting the attempt by the pacifist People’s Council of America to hold a conference in Hudson. The crowd then moved on the four organizers in the lobby of their hotel and threatened to hang them. Only after the pleadings of county attorney N. O. Varnum were the four allowed to leave town at once and unharmed.

Geez.  So what’s so threatening about the People’s Council of America (after all, they’re a bunch of pacifists)?  Well, here’s what Wiki has to say about the group:

The People’s Council of America was an American pacifist political organization established in New York City in May 1917. Organized in opposition to the decision of the Woodrow Wilson administration’s to enter World War I, the People’s Council attempted to mobilize American workers and intellectuals against the war effort through the publication of literature and the conduct of mass meetings and public demonstrations. The organization’s dissident views made it a target of federal, state, and local authorities, who disrupted its meetings and arrested a number of its leading participants under provisions of the Espionage Act.

The People’s Council frequently saw its gatherings banned or disbanded, particularly during the August – September 1917 time period.

On August 24, 1917, a meeting of the organization in Philadelphia was disrupted and shut down by a mob of soldiers and sailors.  That same day, city authorities in Memphis denied the group use of a public hall for its meeting.  On August 28, a People’s Council gathering in Fargo, North Dakota, was quashed by the coordinated mass singing of “The Star-Spangled Banner.”

On August 30, 1917, a mob of 1,000 gathered in Hudson, WI . . .  [as discussed above.] 

Effort was then made to hold a national conference in Minneapolis on September 1, but the organization was denied use of a hall in the city. When the alternative of meeting in a circus tent was advanced, Minnesota Governor Joseph Burquist intervened to ban the People’s Council from gathering anywhere in the state on the grounds that it would give aid and comfort to the enemies of the United States.

The People’s Council scrambled and attempted to hold its convention in Chicago, but the event was broken up by the police.  When Chicago Mayor “Big Bill” Thompson attempted to reverse this action, on the grounds that “pacifists are law-abiding citizens” and that he would not “have it spread broadcast that Chicago denies free speech to anyone,” Illinois Governor Frank Lowden responded by sending four companies of the Illinois National Guard to Chicago the next day to make sure that the People’s Council could not gather.

Bottom line.  The group garnered a lot of attention, but was singularly unsuccessful . . .

My last stop is Hammond.  Nothing much going on there, but Wiki had this intriguing comment:  “Hammond was home to the Running of the Llamas.”

“Running of the Llamas” was not Wiki-clickable, but I did a quick copy and paste into the Google search line.  I found out that there is a runningofthellamas.com:

For 20 years, The Running of the Llamas was a unique community in Hammond, Wisconsin. The final Running was in 2016, this is now an archival site. We would like to thank the llamas, their owners, handlers and fans for making this an extraordinary community event that will be remembered fondly for years to come.

Here’ a quick YouTube video (the trailer for a 30-minute documentary by Heidi Freier):

The New Richmond news published a story about the final Running, in 2016.  Here’s a pic:


From the article, here’s the obit:

If you’ve never attended the Running of the Llamas in Hammond, an annual event that will celebrate its 20th anniversary this weekend, you best get there this weekend because the end is here.

Sheila Fugina, the organizer behind the event, said that this year’s finale will be everything it has been in the past, but is coming to an end because it’s been coordinated by only a handful of volunteers who love it, but can’t do it alone anymore.

Time to move on to some pics.  Just a few miles SW of my landing, the Willow River cascades down some sort of change in the bedrock at the Willow River State Park.  Here are some GE pics.  First this, by Adrian Jiminez:

Another shot, by Dawne Olson:

And this artsy one, by Douglas Feltman.

And yes, the falls are there in the winter (by Jared Morton):

I’ll close with this good ol’ barn shot (very close to my landing), by Haley Kelliher:

That’ll do it . . .




© 2019 A Landing A Day

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