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A Plethora of Towns in West-Central Michigan

Posted by graywacke on November 9, 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 2463; A Landing A Day blog post number 899.

Dan:  Today’s lat/long (N43o 40.577’, W85o 47.964’) puts me in west-central Michigan:

Here’s my local landing map:

Egads!  Thatsallotta little towns!

Here’s my streams-only map, showing that I landed in the watershed of the S Br of the White River (2nd hit); on to the White River (2nd hit); on to Lake Michigan (40th hit).  Of course, Lake Michigan’s water makes its way to Lake Huron, to Lake Erie, to Lake Ontario, and then, finally, to the St. Lawrence River (113th hit).

Although I landed in the woods (so a clear view of my landing on StreetView won’t be possible), I was able to put the Orange Dude pretty close:

And here’s what he sees:

I had the OD head south (to just south of White Cloud) to get a look at the South Branch of the White River.  Trouble is, here’s what he sees:

Hmmm.  You can see the problem – according to my StreetAtlas streams-only map, this should be the South Branch of the White River.  Oh, well . . .

So let me tell you.  At this juncture, I would usually say something like “I spent an inordinate amount of time checking out each of the small towns you can see on my local landing map.”  This statement is certainly true, but I feel like I have never spent as much fruitless time pouring over Wikipedia entries, looking for something.  Anything.  But, sorry west-central Michigan.  You are veritably:


However.  As you’ll see below, as I started actually writing this post, some of these apparently hookless towns somehow developed some at-least-quasi-hooks.  So, here goes:

White Cloud

From Wiki:

White Cloud (pop 1400) is designated a trail town by the North Country Trail Association.

The North Country Trail was wiki-clickable:

The North Country National Scenic Trail, generally known as the North Country Trail or simply the N.C.T., is a footpath stretching approximately 4,600 miles from Crown Point in eastern New York to Lake Sakakawea State Park in central North Dakota.   As of early 2019, 3,129 miles (5,036 km) of the trail is in place.

Here’s a map:

How about that.  I’ve never heard of this trail, but here it is.  Too bad it’s missing 1,500 miles . . .


From Wiki:

During the first half of the 20th century, it was one of the few resorts in the country where African-Americans were allowed to vacation and purchase property, before discrimination was outlawed through the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Called the “Black Eden of Michigan”,from 1912 through the mid-1960s, Idlewild was an active year-round community and was visited by well-known entertainers and professionals from throughout the country.  The list included Della Reese, Al Hibbler, Bill Doggett, Jackie Wilson, T-Bone Walker, George Kirby, The Four Tops, Roy Hamilton, Brook Benton, Choker Campbell, Lottie “the Body” Graves, the Rhythm Kings, Sarah Vaughan, Cab Calloway, Louis Armstrong, Dinah Washington, B.B. King, Aretha Franklin, Fats Waller, and Billy Eckstein.

At its peak, it was one of the most popular resorts in the Midwest and as many as 25,000 would come to Idlewild in the height of the summer season to enjoy camping, swimming, boating, fishing, hunting, horseback riding, roller skating, and night-time entertainment. When the 1964 Civil Rights Act opened up other resorts in many states to African-Americans, Idlewild’s boomtown period subsided.


Wiki notes that Morley is the hometown of one Maude Farris-Luse, “supercentarian.”  It turns out that Ms. Farris-Luse was born in 1887 and died in 2002, at the age of 115.  This puts her at #19 on the U.S. all-time list.  Interesting factoids:

  • Of the top 99, three (all currently 114) are still alive, and could threaten to move our Maude down the list a notch or two (or three).
  • Of the top 99, an amazing 93 are women!

Big Rapids

For some reason, Big Rapids doesn’t show up on my local landing map.  It’s located due east of my landing, under the “131B” highway label on my local landing map. 

Anyway, Big Rapids was featured in an April 2009 ALAD post.  From that post:

The significant town in the vicinity is Big Rapids. We’ve all heard of Grand Rapids, but Big Rapids? Well, it’s a decent-sized town (pop 11,000). It turns out that Grand Rapids is named because of rapids on the Grand River. Big Rapids is named because of big rapids on the Muskegon River.

I then quoted the town’s website:

The early history of Big Rapids [and in fact this whole area] was associated with the logging industry. The Muskegon River was used as a transportation artery moving logs downstream to the mills located in Muskegon. Swift currents near the City’s present location were referred to by early lumbermen as “the big rapids” and was adopted as the name of the City.

I closed that post with this:

I hate to admit it, but I can’t find much else . . .Oh well.


From the town’s website:

At the town’s organizational meeting in 1870, they wanted to name the township for the earliest settler and a Civil War veteran, John Smith.  But Smith was such a common name that the honor passed to Frank Everts as the next settler (and also a veteran) in the township.

Everts’ name was misspelled and that misspelling was allowed to stand.

Oh, come on!  The misspelling was allowed to stand!?!  Doesn’t say much for the English-language skills of the founders . . .

Evart has a classy website:

Great drone shot!  I wonder why all those people are on Main Street?  My guess is that the 4th of July (or Memorial Day) parade is getting ready to start . . .

Oceana County

I landed in Newaygo County (presumably named after an Ojibwe Chief, Nuwagon who signed the Treaty of Saginaw in 1819, which ceded more than six million acres of Indian land to the US government, “reserving several smaller tracts for Indian use in the ceded territory.”  I wonder how that worked out for the Indians?).

But anyway, west of Newago County is Oceana County, which includes the lake shore region.  From ReferenceDesk.com:

Oceana County is thought to be named for Lake Michigan, a freshwater “ocean.” However, some apparently have speculated that the name may be related to the title of a controversial 1656 book by James Harrington, The Commonwealth of Oceana.

I’m not buying that the county was named “Oceana” because of Lake Michigan.  Every settler in this area knew that Lake Michigan was not an ocean.  So that leaves the 1656 book.  Let’s check it out.

I found an article entitled “Commonwealthmen” by Clement Fatovic.  In it, he defines Commonwealthmen as “British political writers of the late-17th and 18th centuries who championed the cause of limited government, individual freedom, and religious toleration.”

From the article:

The 17th-century English republican James Harrington’s fictionalized Commonwealth of Oceana (1656) was a touchstone for many Commonwealthmen. Harrington argued that the independence of citizens ultimately depends on their ownership of sufficient land and use of their own arms. In order to prevent tyranny arising from abuses of power or concentrations of wealth, Harrington recommended a balanced or mixed, government of law, not of men.

[This sounds like the credo of the traditional conservative, except the part about concentration of wealth . . . ]

Inspired by these and other ideas found in Harrington’s work, Commonwealthmen generally opposed the establishment of a standing army; favoured the use of the secret ballot; supported the exclusion of privileged officeholders dependent on ministerial appointment; and advocated rotation in office, preferably through annual elections.

So there’s your choice.  Oceana County was named by a geographically-challenged uncreative nincompoop; or by an erudite, well-read, principled Commonwealthman.

Stony Lake

From a history of Stony Lake from StonyLakePropertyOwners.com:

Much of the early 20th century history of Stony Lake was documented by Shelby photographer Harlo Elliott, who sold his distinctive work as postcards, easily identified by an “e” with a circle around it, and his handwritten captions.

The card pictured here is a good example of Elliot’s eye for composition and subject, and for the beauty of Stony Lake:

OK, I must break in here, editorially speaking.  Sure, it’s a nice picture of a boat on Stony Lake, but where’s the sail?  Or the oars?  Or any visible means of propulsion?  And, it appears that the boat is just sitting there, not moving at all.  My guess is that the picture is posed – the photographer’s on the dock, and the boat was gently pushed off . . .

Back to the article:

Perhaps the most colorful character in Stony Lake history was Charlie Jameson, a Toledo grifter, rumrunner, bootlegger and racketeer who had ties to the notorious Detroit Purple Gang. He married a Shelby woman and built a cottage on the northeast end of the lake in 1922. He brought liquor across Michigan to Stony Lake and shipped it out from the channel on Lake Michigan to customers throughout the Midwest. Many stories are told about Charlie’s business sense, his fishing obsession, and his generosity to area residents.

So, ol’ Charlie was one of that rare breed of criminal:  a really great guy . . .

So what about the Detroit Purple Gang that Charlie apparently cozied up to?

Detroit Purple Gang

From Wiki:

The Purple Gang, also known as the Sugar House Gang, was a criminal mob of bootleggers and hijackers, with predominantly Jewish members. They operated in Detroit, Michigan during the 1920s and came to be Detroit’s dominant criminal gang, but ultimately excessive violence, arrogance and in-fighting caused the gang to destroy itself in the 1930s.

[Oh my.  I wasn’t aware of Jewish mobsters . . .]

Liquor became illegal in Michigan in 1917, three years before national Prohibition.  Henry Ford desired a sober workforce, so he backed the state law that prohibited virtually all possession, manufacture, or sale of alcohol starting in 1918.  Detroit is close to Ohio, so bootleggers and others would import liquor from Toledo where it was still legal.  Judges took a lenient view of offenders, and the Michigan prohibition act was declared unconstitutional in 1919.

In 1920, the Eighteenth Amendment was adopted, and prohibition took effect throughout the United States.  Canada became a major point for running alcohol products, particularly the city of Windsor, Ontario directly across the Detroit River from Detroit. This was partly because the Canadian government had also banned the use of alcoholic beverages but still approved and licensed distilleries and breweries to manufacture and export alcohol.

[Those pesky Canadians!]

Detroit’s immigrant neighborhoods were stricken with poverty like most major cities at the beginning of the 20th century, and some became breeding grounds for crime and violence.  For the most part, gang members were the children of Jewish immigrants, primarily from Russia and Poland, who had come to the United States in the great immigration wave from 1881 to 1914.  The gang was led by brothers Abe, Joe, Raymond, and Izzy Bernstein, who had moved to Detroit from New York City.

The Purple Gang started off as petty thieves and extortionists, but they quickly progressed to more violent crimes such as armed robbery.  They received notoriety for their operations and savagery, and they imported gangsters from other cities to work as “muscle” for the gang.

There are numerous theories as to the origin of the name “Purple Gang”. One explanation is that a member of the gang was a boxer who wore purple shorts during his bouts.  Another explanation is that the name came from a conversation between two shop keepers:

“These boys are not like other children of their age, they’re tainted, off color.”

“Yes,” replied the other shopkeeper. “They’re rotten, purple like the color of bad meat, they’re a Purple Gang.”

Their reputation for terror increased, and people began to fear them. Al Capone was against expanding his rackets in Detroit, so he began a business accommodation with the Purple Gang in order to prevent a bloody war.

For several years, the gang managed the prosperous business of supplying Canadian whisky to the Capone organization in Chicago.  The Purple Gang was involved in various criminal enterprises, such as kidnapping other gangsters for ransom, which had become very popular during this era, and the FBI suspected that they were involved with the Lindbergh baby kidnapping.

[Say what?  The Lindbergh baby kidnapping!  It just so happens that I live within a few miles of the scene of that crime, and featured the kidnapping in a marvelous ALAD post.  Just type Little Falls (that would be Little Falls, Minnesota, Charles’ hometown) into the search box.]

By the late 1920s, the Purple Gang reigned supreme over the Detroit underworld, controlling the city’s vice, gambling, liquor, and drug trade.

Wiki goes on and on, discussing the various nefarious goings-on with the infamous Purple Gang.  As mentioned above: “But ultimately excessive violence arrogance and in-fighting caused the gang to destroy itself in the 1930s.”  Back to Wiki:

The Mafia [perhaps you’ve heard of them] stepped in to fill the vacuum left behind.

Time to close this down, with a lovely shot posted on GE by Stephanie Craft of Indian Lake, just one mile SW of my landing:


That’ll do it . . .




© 2019 A Landing A Day

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Lockwood, California

Posted by graywacke on November 1, 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 2462; A Landing A Day blog post number 898.

Dan:  Today’s lat/long (N35o 58.449’, W121o 7.395’) puts me in central coastal California:

Here’s my local landing map:

One might think that “central coastal California” would be a relatively populated area.  But my local landing map belies one’s surmise.  After all, the four towns on my map have the following populations:  Lockwood (379); San Lucas (269); San Ardo (517). Jolon (teeny, not reported).

Before moving on, I must highlight my turn of phrase:  “belies one’s surmise.”  According to the generic Google dictionary, a synonymous phrase might be something like “calls into question one’s supposition that initially appears to be true.”

Of course, the fact that it’s a rhyme is sublime.

My watershed analysis:

Although not apparent, I landed in the watershed of the San Antonio River (which is manifested by the San Antonio Reservoir on the map – first hit ever!); on to the Salinas River (only my second hit). 

See the gap in the river course?  That’s because almost always, the river dries up for a substantial portion of its length – due primarily to the use of water for irrigation.

And an interesting sidelight involves that S-shaped estuary you can see on the streams-only map just north of the mouth of the Salinas.  This is the historic location of the mouth of the Salinas (it’s now known as the Elkhorn Slough).  The internet presents three possible scenarios for this relocation:  1) farmers filled in the lower course of the river in the early 1900s to create more farm land, re-routing the river to discharge further south; 2) the 1906 earthquake shifted the land so much that the river changed course; or 3) a combination of the two.

Moving on to Google Earth (GE), here’s where I could place the Orange Dude to get a look at my landing location:

And here’s what the OD sees:

I was also able to find a bridge over the San Antonio River with Street View coverage:

Here’s a lovely upstream view:

And a lovely downstream view:

So of course, I checked out the four potentially-titular towns, and as you can tell by my eventual title, I found only one hook.  Let’s get a GE look at Lockwood:

Not much, eh?  To be fair, this is the central intersection only, and the “town” includes a larger area (thus the population of 379 hardy souls).  But here where GE puts the dot on the map, there are only four residential properties, an elementary school and a mobile home park, the “Valley Oaks Mobile Home Park:”

What does Wiki have to say?  Not much:

Lockwood is in southern Monterey County and is a small community consisting of farms, ranches, and vineyards, on a vast prairie encompassed by the coastal mountains.

The first post office opened in 1888.  The name honors Belva Lockwood, candidate for President of the United States in 1884 and 1888 on the Equal Rights Party ticket.

Belva was Wiki-clickable, but I quickly skated over to a piece on the National Women’s Hall of Fame website (and yes, she’s an honoree).  From that website:

Belva Lockwood (1830-1917) began to teach school at fifteen and married at nineteen. When her husband died soon after, she was left with an infant daughter to support. She returned to teaching and determined to continue her education.

In 1857 she graduated with honors from Genesee College (later Syracuse University). After a move to Washington, D.C., she married Ezekiel Lockwood. She was nearly forty when she decided to study the law. She finally found a law school (what is now the George Washington University Law School) that would admit her, but even there her diploma was held up until she demanded action.

Lockwood was admitted to the bar of the District of Columbia, but was refused admission to practice before the Supreme Court. She spent five years energetically lobbying a bill through Congress, and in 1879 Belva Lockwood became the first woman to practice law before the US Supreme Court.

In 1884 she accepted the nomination of the National Equal Rights Party and ran for president. She polled over 4,000 votes and ran again in 1888.

Using her knowledge of the law, she worked to secure woman suffrage, property law reforms, equal pay for equal work, and world peace. Thriving on publicity and partisanship, and encouraging other women to pursue legal careers, Lockwood helped to open the legal profession to women.

Wow.  That’s a helluva resume, eh?

A quick word about the 1884 and 1888 elections.  In 1884, in a very close election, Grover Cleveland (Democrat, back when Democrats were the conservatives) squeaked by James Blaine (Republican I never heard of) by 4,914,482 to 4,856,905 votes (219 vs 182 in the absolutely-stupid-to-this-day Electoral College). 

In 1888, Grover ran again, but this time he was beaten by Benjamin Harrison.  Grover won the popular vote, but for the third time in US History, lost the election based on the absolutely-stupid-to-this-day Electoral College, (233 vs 168).

Just for the record (even though Belva wasn’t running this time), in 1892, Grover won both the popular vote and the absolutely-stupid-to-this-day Electoral College vote – beating Benjamin Harrison.

So here’s an interesting query when you’re socializing with friends or family:  Name the presidential candidate (not named Roosevelt) who won the popular vote for president in three consecutive elections . . .

It’s that time for me to search GE looking for posted pictures to post in my post.  But alas (and alack), I couldn’t find any worthy candidates within a reasonable distance from my landing.  But I did find a GE Street View shot of this barn in Lockwood:

I must confess that I made some adjustments using a photo editor . . .

That’ll do it . . .




© 2019 A Landing A Day

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Zzyzx, California

Posted by graywacke on October 20, 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 2461; A Landing A Day blog post number 897.

Dan:  Today’s lat/long (N34o 59.506’, W116o 17.208’) puts me in southwest California:

Here’s the graph mentioned in ALADus Obscurus:


And here’s my local landing map:


You don’t see Zzyzx.  But I did highlight what looks like an airstrip.  Let’s take a much closer look at that airstrip:

And there it is!  And check out this roadsign on I-15 (posted on Google Earth by Veronique Derouet):

Here’s a Google Earth (GE) shot, showing my landing as well as Zzyzx:

Obviously, there’ll be more about Zzyzx in a bit.

Even though I landed out in the boonies, I was able to position the Orange Dude to get a peek at my landing location:

And here’s what he sees:

I landed out in the desert, and StreetAtlas doesn’t show anything on its “streams-only” map.  But I realized that back in June of 2016, I landed nearby (landing 2277).  I thought that I’d be able to steal the watershed analysis from that post, and I did.  I discovered that I landed in the Mojave River watershed (3rd hit).  I stole a map from that post, and added today’s landing:

The Mojave is internally drained (i.e., it doesn’t make it to the ocean).  Occasionally it flows all the way to Soda Lake, and thence to Silver Lake.  The last time Soda Lake and Silver Lake contained water was during the very wet winter of 2004-2005.

I also stole this GE shot from landing 2277:

And this historic shot of the Mojave during a flood:

Moving on to Zzyzx.  Let’s take a closer look on GE:

It looks like there’s some sort of a facility there, and indeed there is.  A little bit of research reveals that the Desert Studies Center (DSC) is there.  The DSC is a “field station” associated with the California State University. 

But much more interesting is the rectangular lake that you can see on the GE shot.  Here’s a photo posted on GE by Eric Mansoor:

And a close-up of what appears to be a now-defunct fountain in the middle of the lake (by Adam Parkzer):

I found a Roadside America piece about Zzyzx.  Here it is, just slightly edited:

On the edge of a dry lake bed, you’ll find a bizarre pseudo-town: “Zzyzx” (pronounced “Zye – Zex,” rhyming with Isaac’s).

[I love rhyming it with “Isaac’s!”]

Travelers between Las Vegas and Los Angeles sometimes stop in the Mojave Desert along I-15 to pose next to the novel highway sign for Zzyzx Road. But few realize that heading several miles down a narrow, mostly paved route will deliver them to an oasis with an oddball history.

We headed south to Zzyzx. It looks exactly like one might expect of an oasis — a clump of tall palm trees and a riot of green and water, out of place in the wasteland.

Before it became Zzyzx, “Soda Springs” was a popular stop for Indians in search of fresh water. Then came Spanish explorers, then a US Army outpost — Camp Soda Springs — a godforsaken posting in the 1860s, protecting government supplies from the (thirsty) Indians. Later there were miners who harvested lake minerals, and then the railroad passed through.

The Z’s arrived in 1944. LA radio evangelist Curtis H. Springer, self-proclaimed minister (and quack doctor), decided the mineral springs were the ideal location for a health resort. He and his wife filed a mining claim on a 12,800 acre parcel of what were public lands.

He named it “Zzyzx Mineral Springs and Health Resort,” touted as “the last word in health” and the last word in the English language — a gimmick so it would be the last listing in any directory.

Springer made a fortune promoting his useless medical products, shipping them all over the world to cure various ailments, even cancers and baldness. He and his wife had failed in a string of earlier health spa attempts, but Zzyzx was a concept whose time had come. The charismatic Springer recruited skid row bums from his Los Angeles mission to live in a tent encampment to help build Zzyzx. He planted rows of palm trees to enhance the oasis atmosphere.

In its heyday, Zzyzx must have been a great destination. The “natural” hot springs feeding the cross-shaped mineral baths were artificially heated by a hidden boiler. The enterprise grew to include a 60-room hotel, church, a private airstrip (the Zzyport), and even a castle built along streets with names such as the “Boulevard of Dreams.” Springer added a radio station that provided his syndicated program of music, scripture, and rantings nationwide.

Senior citizens came to Zzyzx for decades seeking the healing waters, with attendance peaking in the 1960s.

Inevitably, Dr. Springer went too far with his nutty utopia — even pulling money into his coffers from gullible followers who wanted to build homes in Zzyzx. In 1974, the government woke up and realized the “King of Quacks” (a name bestowed on him by the American Medical Association) had no legit claim to the land.  He and his followers were summarily evicted from the property. Federal marshals arrested Springer, who spent a short stint in jail for FDA laws he’d broken with his bogus medicine claims.

Springer retired to Las Vegas and died in 1985. The kingdom of Zzzyzx was taken over by the Bureau of Land Management.

Most of the old concrete buildings still stand. You’ll find a mix of well-maintained structures run by Cal State U, and then completely derelict buildings along the shore of the old lake, including the old (and now roofless) old pool house.

Here’s a shot of the old pool house from allthatsinteresting.com:

Well, there you have it. 

I’ll close with some nearby photos posted on GE.  First this of the Mojave by Christopher Trott:

And then another Mojave shot by Christopher Price:

I’ll close with this lovely Soda Lake shot by g edwards:

That’ll do it . . .




© 2019 A Landing A Day

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Ashtola, Clarendon, Goodnight and Lelia Lake, Texas

Posted by graywacke on October 12, 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 2460; A Landing A Day blog post number 896.

Dan:  Today’s lat/long (N34o 59.188’, W100o 58.035’) puts me in the Texas Panhandle:

Wait a second!  Breaking news!  After 2459 landings, something just happened that has never happened before!  And here’s the news:

For the first time ever, I have landed in the same state three times in a row!  I know, I know.  You, dear reader, are not nearly as excited as I am.  Well, ne’er the less, bear with me . . . . 

Let’s approach this rare event with some math.  Texas’ area is 8.8% (0.088) of the area of the lower 48.  Because 1/0.088 =  11.4, there’s a one in 11.4 chance that I would land in Texas for any given landing.

Just for heck of it, let’s see how many Texas landings I “should” have had.  2460 landings divided by 11.4 is 216.  It just so happens that I’ve landed in Texas a mere 189 times.  So, in the big picture, Texas is way undersubscribed (US), and is therefore a USer (as opposed to being oversubscribed (OS), or an OSer).

Unless you care about my bizarrely nerdy OSer vs. USer stuff, skip the next paragraph . . .

As my regular ALADus Obscurus readers know, the whole scene changed when I found out that my method of calculating “random” landing locations was not quite random.  So, 244 landings ago, I began using a more accurate method to determine how I picked my “random” locations.  At that point, I started doing all of my USer / OSer calcs from scratch and based on these 244 landings (as my regulars know), Texas is an OSer, so my “new” Score went up once again.  My “old” Score is going down with these Texas landings, to 145.0, a mere 0.3 above my all-time low Score.

Moving right along, let’s see how many Texas “doubles” I should have.  The math is easy; there’s one chance in (11.4 x 11.4) =  130 that I should land in Texas twice in a row.  So, with 2460 landings, I should have had 2460/130 = 19 Texas doubles.  The actual number?  Only 11.  Oh, well.

Moving on to triples.  Once again, the math is easy:  one chance in 11.4 x 11.4 x 11.4 = 1481.  Whatever.  With 2460 landings, I “should” have hit this triple a while back.  Once again:  oh, well.  This may have something to do with Texas’ USer status . . .

So, here’s my local landing map:

My local streams-only map looks like this:

I landed in the watershed of Kelly Creek; on to the Greenbelt Reservoir; and thence to the Salt Fork of the Red River (only my 2nd hit).  Zooming back:

The Salt Fork discharges to the Red River (68th hit).  Although not shown, the Red discharges (more-or-less) to the Atchafalaya (75th hit), which ends up in the Gulf of Mexico.

Looking at Google Earth (GE), let’s see how close the Orange Dude can get to my landing:

Not bad.  Here’s what he sees:

 The OD could not get a look at Kelly Creek.  But he could get a look at the Salt Fork, just below the dam that formed the Greenbelt Reservoir:

The OD was a little disappointed that he didn’t get a better look at the river per se:

Thanks (as usual) to the Texas DOT for the road sign!

The OD took a little road trip about 20 miles east (downstream) where he found a bridge over the Salt Fork.  Here’s what he sees:

Let’s do the post alphabetically for the titular cities.  So, we’ll start with Ashtola, and this from Texas Escapes:

History in a Pecan Shell

Ashtola began life as a simple railroad section house in 1906. The site was known as Southard and a post office was applied for and was granted that same year. Within two years the community had a school and two stores.

Southard may have caused some confusion with similarly spelled towns and in 1916 a change of name was requested by the post office department. A man named W. A. Poovey was asked for a new name. After he modestly suggested Poovieville [not “Pooveyville?”], the postal authorities chose Ashtola – a name with no known origin, but with considerably more dignity than Poovieville.

[I agree that Ashtola is more dignified than Poovieville, but where did the name Ashtola come from?  The internet is entirely silent on this.  Maybe one of the founding ranchers was named Ash and he spent some time in the British Virgin Island Tortola.  But then again, would you leave Tortola for the Texas Panhandle?]

The population was estimated at a whopping [my words] 25 people when the Great Depression hit. Ashtola had a gristmill which remained in operation until the early 1970s, but the post office closed in the mid-1950s. From 1949 through the mid-1960s the estimated population had soared [my word] to 50 – dropping to back to a more modest [my words] 25 in the late 1960s. From 1970 to 1990 the population was given as 20.  What it is today is anybody’s guess. [Not my words!]

Here’s a picture of Ashtola the same website (caption below).

“Not much here, but here is some of it.”  Photo courtesy Ken Rudine, July 2006

Next comes Clarendon:  From the town’s website:

In 1878, a charismatic preacher led a group of Methodists to the frontier of the Texas Panhandle to settle at the junction of Carroll Creek and the Salt Fork of the Red River. Rev. L.H. Carhart set out to establish a Christian colony built on the values of temperance and education, and he named it Clarendon in honor of his wife, Clara. [Hmmm.  Why not Claratola?]

As the third settlement in the Panhandle, Clarendon stood apart from the wilder towns of Mobeetie and Tascosa, which were known for saloons and rowdy cowboys. The colony strictly forbade alcohol and built a church as one of its first landmarks. The neighbors said Clarendon was where the saints roosted, and soon the nickname stuck… Saints’ Roost.

The railroad had the audacity [my word] to bypass the town; the town was therefore moved 6 miles south.  The railroad brought people and commerce; but it also brought new lifestyles with saloons and other “vices.”  [I wonder what vices?  Ladies of ill-repute?  I also wonder – why is “vices” in “quotes”?]

Donley County eventually re-established prohibition in 1902, and Saints’ Roost remained dry until 2013 when voters reversed the 111-year-old tradition.

Continuing down the alphabet, it’s time for Goodnight.  Believe it or not, the town was named after local rancher by the name of Charles Goodnight.  From Texas Escapes:

Named for famed cattleman Charles Goodnight, who settled here in 1887.  The railroad soon came through and established a depot. The post office opened in 1888.  Charles and Mary Ann Goodnight, with the help of the Goodnight Baptist Church, opened Goodnight College (1898 until 1917).

Charles Goodnight died in 1929, but up until his death, he was, for all intents and purposes, the town of Goodnight. His house and his buffalo herd remain.

Herd of Buffalo, Good Night Ranch, Goodnight, Texas
Postcard courtesy http://www.rootsweb.com/ %7Etxpstcrd/

From Wiki:

A folk rock band called Goodnight, Texas was named for the town of Goodnight, located 1415 miles directly between their hometowns of Chapel Hill, North Carolina, and San Francisco, California. The band has performed in town 3 times as of 2017.

If you know me at all, you know that I would check out the “fact” that Goodnight is halfway between (and 1415 miles from both) Chapel Hill and San Francisco.  Well, here’s my map:

Whatever.  I wonder where they got 1415 miles?  Duh.  Most people don’t have access to a mapping program that can easily calculate the actual distance between two cities.  But most people do have access to Google Maps.  And low and behold, Google Maps shows approximately equal mileage (by car) to Goodnight from both cities (about 1415 miles).  

So, here’s a video of Goodnight, Texas with the lyrics to follow.  There’s a fairly lengthy instrumental section to begin the piece.  Be patient:


run run run with the railroad
when their backs are tuned

run for the fences Riley
when their backs are turned
follow the railroad Riley
when their backs are turned
run for the mountains Riley
when their backs are turned
you find the place you’re promised
when their backs are turned
run run run with the railroad
when their backs are turned
run run run with the railroad
when their backs are turned
run run run with the railroad
get outta their sight
when the engine turns and you gotta move on
(and u gotta move on at night)
oh oh oh oh oh oh, etc.
not a sound, etc.

So here are the two original guys:

I wonder which one is from San Francisco?

It seems as though they generally perform as a four-man band these days:

Time to move a little further down the alphabet – all the way to “L,” and Lelia Lake.

Right out of the gate, I must confess that when I saw “Lelia Lake” on the map, I read “Leila Lake.”  I then Googled “Leila Lake,” but didn’t even notice when Google translated that as Lelia Lake.  I read the Google entry, not noticing that it was all about Lelia, not Leila.  But when I read the Texas Escapes “History in a Pecan Shell” article, it didn’t help the situation (emphasis mine):

Gyp Brown is regarded as Leila Lake’s founder; the town was named after Brown’s sister-in-law, Leila Payne.

So I’m not the only one!  But then the Texas Historical Society said this:

It was originally named Lelia after Lelia Payne, the sister-in-law of G. A. (Gyp) Brown, the town’s founder. When the community’s post office was established in December 1906, however, the word Lake was added to its name to distinguish it from Lela, Texas, in Wheeler County.

And here’s a GE shot of the actual “lake:”


I suspect more than one person has wondered why would the town be named after a dry depression that I suspect only fills up after a big rain?

Wiki lets me know that one Ace Reid (1925 – 1991), the creator of the cartoon “Cowpokes,” (that at one time ran in 400 newspapers across the US), was born in Lelia Lakes.  Here’s a teeny sampling of his work:

“Well sir, this old $100-a-month cowpoke is at your service, sir!”


“What’s the matter with you?  Haven’t you ever seen a real cowboy?”


‘Looking to close out my post with the usual scenic photo lifted off of GE, I couldn’t come up with much.  But I did see this fine picture of a fine courthouse (the Donley County courthouse in Clarendon) by Rick Roberson:


That’ll do it . . .




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Hebbronville and Falfurrias, Texas

Posted by graywacke on October 4, 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 2459; A Landing A Day blog post number 895.

Dan:  Today’s lat/long (N27o 6.275’, W98o 34.066’) puts me in South Texas:


My local landing map:

I spent some time on Google Earth (GE), trying to figure out my drainage pathway across this arid, stream-less landscape.  More-or-less, I figured that I landed in the watershed of Los Olmos Creek.  Here’s my streams-only map:

So the Los Olmos (which means “the elms”) discharges to Laguna Salada (not labeled, the small bay into which the Los Olmos discharges); on to Baffin Bay (sounds veritably Canadian), to Laguna Madre, the bay behind Padre Island.

Even though I landed out in the boonies, I did have decent GE Street View coverage of my landing:

And here’s what the Orange Dude sees:

I had to send the OD about 50 miles east to get a look at the Los Olmos Creek:

And here ‘tis:

And was I sure that this was Los Olmos Creek?  Thanks to the Texas State DOT (as usual), yes I was:

I suspect that it’s tidal – I don’t think that much water would be flowing out of the desert . . .

While checking out my landing on GE, I noticed a peculiar pattern of paths or roads:

I zoomed in to get a better look:

And looked in close nearby:

I could see no hint of these “roads” using Street View.  Bottom line:  I have no idea what they are!  The South Texas version of the Nazca Lines?  Maybe . . . 

I suspect that this is a shot in the dark, but any local readers who have a clue would be welcome to post a comment!

So, Hebbronville (pop 4600) is close to my landing, but it had no decent hook that I could find.  But I did find this video, which gives a little history and the flavor of the area:


Moving 30 miles east of Hebbronville, we hit Falfurrias.  Not unexpectedly, this town shares a distinction with Hebbronville:  both are the only place in the entire world with their respective names.

Falfurrias (pop 5,000) was named by Edward Lasater (the town’s founding father), after his ranch.  So how did his ranch get its name?  From Wiki:

Town founder Edward C. Lasater stated that Falfurrias was derived from a Lipan word meaning “the land of heart’s delight”. Others believed that it was the Spanish name for a native desert flower known as the heart’s delight. [Who cares what “others believed?”]

Another theory [and who needs another theory?] is that Falfurrias is a misspelling of one or another Spanish or French word. Still another [yet another??] theorizes that the name refers to a local shepherd named Don Filfarrias. The term filfarrias is Mexican slang for “dirty and untidy”.  [Sure, sure.  Of course, Mr. Lasater would name his ranch after some dirty and untidy shepherd . . .]

Falfurrias is known as the home to a shrine honoring Don Pedro Jaramillo (?? – 1907).  From Wiki:

Don Pedro Jaramillo, was a curandero, faith healer, and folk saint from the South Texas Valley region. He is known as “the healer of Los Olmos creek [hey!  That’s my watershed!] and “el mero jefe” (the real chief) of the curanderos.

“Curanderos” has its own Wiki entry (and it mentions our Don Pedro):

A curandero is a traditional native healer/shaman found in Latin America, the United States and Southern Europe. The curandero’s life is dedicated to the administration of remedies for mental, emotional, physical and spiritual illnesses.

The role of a curandero can also incorporate the roles of psychiatrist along with that of doctor and healer. Some curanderos, such as Don Pedro, the Healer of Los Olmos, make use of simple herbs, waters, and even mud to effect their cures.

Others add Catholic elements, often found alongside native religious elements. Many curanderos emphasize their native spirituality in healing while being practicing Roman Catholics.

Curanderos are often respected members of the community. Believers consider their powers to be supernatural and think that many illnesses are caused by lost malevolent spirits, a lesson from God, or a curse.

Want to learn more about SeñorJaramillo and learn a little about Falfurrias, as well?  Check this out:


Time to close out this post with a photo posted on GE.  About 20 miles SE of my landing is this shot of the “Tacubaya Truck Waterfall,” by Bob Chavez:

I couldn’t help myself.  I found out that the cool truck waterfall is at the “The Barn at Tacubaya Ranch,” an event venue owned and operated by the Chavez family.  From their website:

That’ll do it . . .




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Buchanan Dam, Texas

Posted by graywacke on September 26, 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 2458; A Landing A Day blog post number 894.

Dan:  Today’s lat/long (N30o 44.836’, W98o 22.062’) puts me in central Texas:

Here’s my very local landing map:

FYI, Buchanan Dam is both a dam and a community.

I’ll zoom back a bit to show you the VP* of small towns in the general vicinity:

*veritable plethora

I’ll zoom back a bit more to show you that I landed in the greater Austin area (Austin is about 50 miles away):

There’s no need for a streams-only map.  Look back up at my very local map and you’ll see that I landed adjacent to the Colorado River (of Texas, 31st hit).

But I actually landed on a dammed-up portion of the Colorado River, Inks Lake.  Here’s a Google Earth (GE) overview:

The town of Buchanan Dam is the built-up area directly south of the dam.  And (obviously), more about Reverend Jim’s in a bit.

Staying with GE.  As you might expect, I was able to put the Orange Dude pretty close to my landing.  However, there are trees in the way of a direct view, so I thought I’d show you all the little dirt road you’d take to get to my landing:

Here’s what the OD sees:

And there’s a bridge over Inks Lake close to my landing:

Which gave the OD a view of the Buchanan Dam:

Both the Buchanan Dam and the Inks Dam were built in the 1930s.  There’s more of a story behind the Buchanan Dam (from Wiki):

The Buchanan Dam is a multiple arch dam located on the Colorado River of Texas. The dam forms Lake Buchanan and was the first dam to be completed in the chain of Texas Highland Lakes. The dam is used for generating hydroelectric power and for flood control.

Construction of the then-named George W. Hamilton Dam [more about George in a bit] was started in 1931 by a public utility holding company, but soon ended with the dam less than half completed when the company collapsed during the Great Depression. In 1934, the Texas legislature authorized the formation of the Lower Colorado River Authority to complete the Hamilton dam.

Following completion in 1937, the dam was renamed for U.S. Representative James P. Buchanan, who helped obtain federal funding for the project from the Public Works Administration.

Here’s another shot of the dam, this one by Roger Coughlin, posted on Google Earth (GE):

So who was this George Hamilton guy?  Well, first off, he wasn’t this George Hamilton:

For those of my readers who don’t know who the above is, he is an actor, with quite the body of movies & TV work, mainly from the 1960s through early 2000s.

But I will guess that none of my readers know of the George W. Hamilton for whom the dam was initially named. 

Surprisingly, there is no Wikipedia for GWH.  But there I a book on Amazon about him:

The book was named to the list of top history books for 2018 by Amazon Book Review editor, Chris Schleup.  Here’s Amazon’s blurb:

In its list of the “Top 10 Badass Marines,” Leatherneck magazine declared that Major George W. Hamilton “never asked anyone to do anything he wasn’t prepared to do himself…and do better.”

Indeed, the author of A History of the United States Marine Corps once called Hamilton “the most outstanding Marine Corps hero in World War I.” A leader of the first major American assault on June 6, 1918, and the last ranking officer in the American Expeditionary Forces to learn that the war was over, Hamilton remained in the thick of the fighting from start to finish.

Although he earned the Distinguished Service Cross, the Navy Cross, the Croix de Guerre, and two Medal of Honor recommendations for his service, Hamilton’s fame stalled when he died prematurely in 1922. With this first complete biography, Hamilton takes his rightful place among the first rank of American military heroes.

I found a 2018 article about GWH in (of all thing) Investor’s Business Daily by Michael Mink.  Here are a few excerpts:

As a captain and company commander, he was part of the first major American assault, the Battle of Belleau Wood, in June 1918.

As Hamilton witnessed his officers and men being shot and killed all around him, he decided bold action was the best course. Hamilton “ran up and down his line under severe fire, leading his men forward and urging them on by cheering and similar efforts. … at great personal exposure Capt. Hamilton displayed a quality of extraordinary heroism,” wrote Col. Wendell Neville in recommending Hamilton for the Medal of Honor.

The objective of the battle was to capture the woods and clear it of German soldiers. The terrain was an open wheat field leading to a 200-acre forest 53 miles northeast of Paris.

In the dawn hours, Hamilton led his company as they crawled through a hail of machine-gun fire from an enemy lying in wait in trenches. A thousand Marines died on the first day.

“It was every man for himself, kill or be killed,” Mortensen wrote. “There is no better example of this than Capt. Hamilton killing four Germans in hand-to-hand combat in one wild rush. He was leading from the front.

“The Marines’ continuous charge was unlike anything the Germans had ever faced or imagined. Their determination to advance under horrific conditions, using all means available including bayonets and hand-to-hand combat, gave the Germans reason to call the Marines ‘Teufel Hunden,’ translated to ‘Devil Dog.’ ”

From the same article, about “The Final Battle:”

On the night of Nov. 10, 1918, Hamilton commanded two battalions of some 2,230 men, crossing the Meuse River. They were part of an Allied effort to sever the railway network supporting the German Army in France.

A painting titled “The Last Night of the War” by Frederick C. Yohn, captures the moment. It depicts Hamilton “leading a battalion of Marines across a pontoon bridge over the Meuse under heavy artillery and machine-gun fire in an effort to establish a beachhead,” Mortensen wrote.

[OK, OK, so I don’t really see the pontoon bridge.]

The next day, Nov. 11, 1918, the armistice was signed ending World War I. America had lost over 53,000 men in combat, and this year marks the armistice’s 100th anniversary.

After beating the odds by surviving horrendous clashes, Hamilton died piloting an airplane in 1922, when it crashed in Gettysburg during a re-enactment of the Civil War battle showcasing the technology of the day.

Quite the hero.  Every time I read about WW I (or II), I simply cannot fathom what our men went through . . .

Sorry James P. Buchanan, Texas congressman who secured funding for the completion of the dam, but my vote is squarely with Mr. Hamilton.

As noted in the GE shot near the beginning of this post, I happened to stumble on a bar/restaurant in Buchanan Dam with a dam catchy name:  “Reverend Jim’s Dam Pub.”

I love it when a restaurant has a limited menu, with the underlying presumption being that with only a few menu items, the food will be dam good.  Well, here ya go:


Want something else?  Go somewhere else!

Want live music?  Go to Reverend Jim’s:

I’ll close with a couple of Alexander Buchanan Lake shots post on GE.  First this, by Marco Esquivel:

And then this, by Jordan Young:

That’ll do it . . .




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Blackduck, Minnesota

Posted by graywacke on September 19, 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 2457; A Landing A Day blog post number 893.

Dan:  Today’s lat/long (N47o 41.228’, W94o 16.129’) puts me in N-Cen Minnesota:

My local landing map shows a bunch of very small towns, including my titular Blackduck:

My watershed analysis took on a life of its own. I’ll start (as usual), very locally:

You can see that I landed next to Dunbar Creek, which heads south to Dunbar Lake, and then to Round Lake.  Zooming back:

The Popple River (1st hit ever!) flows north out of Round Lake, and then discharges to the Big Fork River (4th hit).  Zooming back:

 The Big Fork discharges to the Rainy (9th hit), which forms part of the border between MN & Canada (Ontario).  Zooming back:

The Rainy discharges to the Lake of the Woods, which includes that peculiar jog north on the international border.  The Winnipeg River (also 9th hit) heads north from there, up to Lake Winnipeg.  Zooming back:  

The Nelson River (68th hit) flows north out of Lake Winnipeg and discharges to Hudson Bay.  The reason the Nelson River has so many hits is that the Red River of the North also discharges to the Lake Winnipeg & the Nelson.    What the heck, I’ll zoom back one more time:

Not much to say here, except that Hudson Bay is obviously well-connected to the North Atlantic Ocean.

As you might suspect, I had no Google Earth (GE) Street View coverage of my landing.  But I was able to get the Orange Dude to a bridge over the Popple River:


And here’s what he sees:

Staying with watersheds, I happened to notice this:

Well, I’ll be!  A few miles south of my landing, there’s the Mighty Mississippi!  (I’ll be discussing the question mark in a bit).  OK, so the MM is probably not all that mighty way up here.  I found a Google Earth (GE) Street View shot of the MM from a bridge over the stretch of the river between the two lakes:

 While getting the Orange Dude situated on the bridge, I noticed that a blue line (indicating Street View coverage) was actually located on the river:




I’ve seen this one or two times before (on the Hudson River in NYC comes to mind), when the Google Cam dude actually hauls his camera onto a boat.  Well, he hopped on a boat so we could all get a more intimate view of the river:

Since the drainage from my landing went to the North Atlantic and the MM flows to the Gulf of Mexico, it is inevitable that there is a nearby line that marks the drainage divide between the two watersheds.    Look back up at the map above that shows the MM.  You can see that Round Lake is part of the Nelson River watershed, and the Winnibigoshish Lake is part of the MM watershed.  The question mark is associated with a series of lakes.  Somewhere in that series of lakes must be the divide!

So, I went to Google Earth.  Here are the series of lakes:

And here’s a clearer view (less the big lake to the south) from StreetAtlas:

Back with GE, I used the elevation tool to look at the elevations of each of the lakes:

Hmmm.  That doesn’t tell me where the divide is – if I didn’t know better, I’d assume that the water simply flows north to south.  I dutifully began checking the waterways between the lakes, and I focused on the Lower Pigeon Lake to Pigeon Dam Lake segment:

Now we’re cooking. Let’s take a closer look at the vicinity of the 1317 mark:

In the above GE shot, I fine-tuned the location of 1317, and marked a couple of other locations.  Zooming in:

Although the photograph is a little fuzzy, it looks to me like there is a small stretch with no waterway.  That has to be the divide!  So imagine that you’re there, and nature calls (you’re a guy, of course, and no one else is around).  You face south and (counterintuitively), your pee ends up in the North Atlantic.  You face north, and it makes its way to the Gulf of Mexico. . .

What a great place to actually visit.  How would I get there?  Well, I added the “roads” feature to GE:

There’s a nearby road with a bridge over the waterway!  It’s easier to see on StreetAtlas:

I’d pay money (if I had to) to go to that spot!  And, if I had to take a whiz . . .

Let’s put this divide in a larger context:

Very cool map.  But now pay particular attention to the spot in northern PA where three watersheds converge.  I realize that it looks like southern NY on the map, but trust me, it’s northern PA.  And why should you trust me?

Because I’ve been there!  My wife Jody, my son Jordan and I were within 10 miles of the spot, visiting the home of some friends (a mom and dad and a daughter).  I had long been aware of the existence of the “triple point,” and knew we were fairly close.  I asked Dave the dad about it.  He’s a nerdy know-it-all kind of guy (and he really does know a lot).  Not only did he know about it, but he had been there!  I started jumping up and down yelling excitedly “Can we go there??  Can we go there??”  Oh, all right, maybe I didn’t jump up and down.  But anyway, as you might expect, off we went.

The location was a hill top (of course), a cow pasture surrounded by a barbed wire fence.  Dave knew of the landowner, and said he was a curmudgeon.  We parked where we couldn’t see his house, checked the field for cows, carefully went through the fence, and up went.

At my insistence, we took water bottles, so we take could off the lids, spin around in a circle from the top of the hill, and have the water end up in three disparate watersheds:  1)  the Allegheny to the Ohio to the Mississippi; 2) the Genesee to Lake Ontario to the St. Lawrence; and 3) the Susquehanna to the Chesapeake Bay.

We had a silly idea, and figured what-the-heck.  We had Jordan shape his body like an “S” and stand at the top of the Susquehanna watershed.  Of course, a picture was taken.  Nina, our friend’s daughter, formed an “A” for the Allegheny and then a “G” for the Genesee (standing at appropriate locations), all photo-documented.  The “G” was especially tough . . .

So now you can see the kind of guy I am and why I would love to go that spot in Minnesota (with a water bottle if I wasn’t alone!)

I am watershedded out. 

So what about Blackduck (pop 750)?  I’ll start with this shot from the town’s website:

Not much to say, except that it was a thriving logging town, founded around the turn of the last century.  It was named after nearby Blackduck River and Blackduck Lake, which were named after a common  duck species common throughout the state… 

LakesnWoods.com has quite the robust history section about Blackduck, although there’s not much of outstanding interest for my readers. 

The piece includes many quotes from the Blackduck Times and then the Blackduck American newspapers.  Here are a choice few:

May 11, 1921: “Will Set Off Big Blast in Blackduck” The largest crowd that ever visited Blackduck is expected to be here on Friday, May 27, when Governor J.A.O. Preus will demonstrate to the farmers of Blackduck and the vicinity the modern method of clearing land. The big blast will take place at Blackduck at 11:30 sharp, when an acre or more of stumps will be blasted simultaneously, Gov. Preus setting off the charge. This event has been anticipated for some time by the citizens of the village but not until today was it made a certainty.

August 31, 1921: School opens next Tuesday, and in accordance with the recommendation of the state high school inspector, the following subjects will be required for graduation:

  • Four years of English
    • Modern European History
    • Citizenship
    • American History
    • General Science
    • Mathematics

The elective courses will consist of additional history, science, mathematics, and manual training. All high school pupils will be required to take music, public speaking, and penmanship. A course in French will be introduced this year providing a sufficient number enroll for it.

January 1922: At the February term of court Beltrami County women will take their place with the men both as grand and petit jurors. Mrs. H.E. Douglas of the village has the distinction of being the first woman drawn on the grand jury.

February 1922: Ga-Be-Nah-Womce, familiarly known as John Smith, and reputed to have been the oldest person in the world, died at Cass Lake. He was 137 years old. Smith remembered events of the war of 1812. One of his boasts was that he had never fought against the white man. He claimed to have met the Schoolcraft and Cass exploration party which passed through this region about a hundred years ago, and recalled the changing of the name of Red Cedar Lake to Cass Lake in honor of one of the explorers.

May 1923: “Cranking a Ford”   The first automobile I saw was early one morning as I got off a boat in Alaska. A native was performing stunts at what seemed one end of a big oddly shaped tin can. His left hand was firmly braced against one of its black wings that sheltered a wheel, and the motion of his body indicated the he was winding or unwinding it.

He stopped at times to wipe the sweat from his eyes and dug into it again with renewed vengeance – furious and exasperated. Whatever were his hobbies, laziness was not one of them. I could tell from a distance that he was an American though his language was unprintable as well as profane.

I was about to step forward to console him – perhaps reason with him – when something he said or did must have provoked the thing he was working on. For it suddenly barked and broke into a bedlam of hideous shrieks! A racket, like a carnival of wild cats, belched from the inside, in long drawn, painful groans – uncanny, death-defying, and unearthly. And in all that noise there was not one forgiving note.

This thing, instead of being deaf and dumb and inanimate, vibrated with fury and shook its black wings as if about to fly at the helpless man for his profanity. Surely his time had come to answer for his sins. But the man, instead of being struck stark with terror at the awful spectacle of uncontrollable wrath provoked by him, actually registered “satisfaction”, calmly, jumped aboard the thing and rode proudly away. Let those who scoff at miracles crank a Ford. (Henry Funkley)

August 1923: “Gasoline Prices Drop to 20 Cents!”

And now for a couple of back-in-the-day photos from the same piece:


I’ll close with this shot of Round Lake by Adam Bauer, posted on GE:

That’ll do it . . .




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Lawton and Geronimo, Oklahoma

Posted by graywacke on September 10, 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 2456; A Landing A Day blog post number 892.

Dan:  Today’s lat/long (N34o 33.843’, W98o 19.333’) puts me in SW Oklahoma:

My very local landing map shows that I landed just outside titular (and major city) Lawton:

Where’s Geronimo?  Here’s Geronimo:

You can see that I landed in the Ninemile Creek watershed:

On to the East Cache Creek.  Zooming back:

Unsurprisingly, the E Cache flows into the Cache, and after a short trip, there’s the Red River of the South (67th hit).  Although not shown, all of my regulars know that the Red discharge (more or less) discharge to the Atchafalaya (74th hit).

Here’s a Google Earth (GE) shot that shows that I landed right in a small subdivision:

Of course, I was keeping my fingers crossed as I yanked the Orange Dude from his perch on the side of the map, thereby generating the blue lines that show where he’s allowed to visit.  Here’s what I saw:



AYKM?  The Googlemobile dude drove into the subdivision, but didn’t take the extra three minutes to complete the outside loop!  Usually, I’m pleasantly surprised by the extent of GE Street View coverage.  Not this time. . .

Here’s a close-in GE shot showing that I landed at the end of the driveway for 350 Southeast Lasso Loop, Lawton OK:

What’s the chance that the folks that live here will ever see this post?  Pretty slim, eh?

Here’s where the OD could get a decent look at Ninemile Creek:

And here’s what he sees:

Sorry about the blurry shot, but this is a 2008 Street View photo.  Picture quality has improved greatly over the last 11 years.  Here’s the view in the other direction (upstream):

I felt like I had to make Lawton titular, given its size (pop 100,000; the fifth-largest city in Oklahoma) and proximity.

I don’t have much to say about Lawton.  I did note under “Notable People,” the fact that singer / song writer / studio musician Leon Russell (1942 – 2016) was born here.  He worked with many famous musicians, including Bob Dylan, Frank Sinatra, Elton John, the Rolling Stones, George Harrison, the Beach Boys, Joe Cocker, Eric Clapton, Ringo Starr, Willie Nelson, the Band, B.B. King, the Byrds, Barbra Streisand and Glen Campbell (and I’m sure I missed several others).

I saw Leon Russel in a February 2016 concert in Sellersville PA.  He died later that same year . . .

His most famous song is “A Song for You” (1970).  Here’s a 1971 live version:


I’m ready to move along to Geronimo (pop 1,300).  There’s not much to say about Geronimo, except that (of course), it’s named after the famous Indian warrior of the same name.

True confessions.  I don’t know anything about Geronimo.  So it’s about time that I learned, eh?  From Wiki:

Geronimo (“the one who yawns,”) June 1829 – February 17, 1909) was a prominent leader and medicine man from the Bedonkohe band of the  Chiricahua Apache tribe. From 1850 to 1886 Geronimo joined with members of three other Chiricahua Apache bands — the Tchihende, the Tsokanende and the Nednhi — to carry out numerous raids, as well as resistance to U.S. and Mexican military campaigns in the northern Mexico states of Chihuahua and Sonora, and in the southwestern American territories of New Mexico and Arizona. Geronimo’s raids and related combat actions were a part of the prolonged period of the Apache–United States conflict, which started with American settlement in Apache lands following the end of the war with Mexico in 1848.

While well known, Geronimo was not a chief among the Chiricahua Apaches.  However, since he was a superb leader in raiding and warfare he frequently led large numbers of men and women beyond his own following. At any one time, about 30 to 50 Apaches would be following him.

During Geronimo’s final period of conflict from 1876 to 1886 he “surrendered” three times and accepted life on the Apache reservations in Arizona.  Reservation life was confining to the free-moving Apache people, and they resented restrictions on their customary way of life.

In 1886, after an intense pursuit in Northern Mexico by U.S. forces that followed Geronimo’s third 1885 reservation “breakout,” Geronimo surrendered for the last time to Lt. Charles Bare Gatewood, an Apache-speaking West Point graduate who had earned Geronimo’s respect a few years before.

Geronimo was later placed under General Nelson Miles.  Miles treated Geronimo as a prisoner of war in Arizona.

While being held as a prisoner, the United States capitalized on Geronimo’s fame among non-Indians by displaying him at various events. For the United States, this provided proof of the superiority of American ways. For Geronimo, it provided him with an opportunity to make a little money.

In 1898, for example, Geronimo was exhibited at the Trans-Mississippi and International Exhibition in Omaha, Nebraska. Following this exhibition, he became a frequent visitor to fairs, exhibitions, and other public functions. He made money by selling pictures of himself, bows and arrows, buttons off his shirt, and even his hat. In 1905, the Indian Office provided Geronimo for the inaugural parade for President Theodore Roosevelt.

He died at the Fort Sill hospital in 1909, as a prisoner of war. Geronimo is buried at the Fort Sill Indian Agency Cemetery surrounded by the graves of relatives and other Apache prisoners of war.

For reasons that will soon be clear, I’m going to do a quick check-in with Billy the Kid.  From Wiki:

Billy the Kid (born Henry McCarty in 1859); also known as William Bonney; died 1881 at age 21) was an American Old West outlaw and gunfighter who killed at least eight men before he was shot and killed at age 21.

McCarty was orphaned at age 14. The owner of a boarding house gave him a room in exchange for work. His first arrest was for stealing food at age 16 in late 1875. Ten days later, he robbed a Chinese laundry and was arrested, but he escaped only two days later. He fled from New Mexico Territory into neighboring Arizona Territory, making him both an outlaw and a federal fugitive. In 1877, McCarty began to refer to himself as “William H. Bonney.”

After murdering a blacksmith during an altercation in August 1877, Bonney returned to New Mexico, where he joined a group of cattle rustlers. He became a well-known figure in the region when he joined a militia group and took part in the Lincoln County War. In April 1878, his militia killed three men, including Lincoln County Sheriff William J. Brady and one of his deputies. Bonney and two other militia members were later charged with killing all three men.

Bonney’s notoriety grew in December 1880 when the Las Vegas Gazette in Las Vegas, New Mexico, and The Sun in New York City carried stories about his crimes.  Sheriff Pat Garrett captured Bonney later that month.

In April 1881, Bonney was tried and convicted of the murder of Brady, and was sentenced to hang in May of that year. He escaped from jail on April 28, 1881, killing two sheriff’s deputies in the process and evading capture for more than two months. Garrett shot and killed Bonney—aged 21—in Fort Sumner NM on July 14, 1881.

Wiki has a lengthy entry entitled “The Legend of Billy the Kid:”

More has been written about Billy the Kid than any other gunslinger in the history of the American West, while hundreds of books, motion pictures, radio and television programs and even a ballet have been inspired by his legend.

When he was still alive, “Billy the Kid” had already become a nationally known figure whose exploits, real and imaginary, were reported in the National Police Gazette and the large newspapers of the eastern United States. After his death on July 14, 1881, all of New York City’s papers ran his obituary, and within days, newspapers around the United States were printing exaggerated and romanticized accounts of Billy the Kid’s short career.

In the fifteen or so dime novels about his criminal career published between 1881 and 1906, the Kid was an outlaw antihero, customarily depicted as a badman with superior gunslinging skills, or even as a demonic agent of Satan who delighted in murder.

So now imagine that not long before he was killed, Billy the Kid met up with Geronimo in Lordsburg NM. Geronimo would have been about 50 years old at the time, with his notorious years behind him.

Amazingly, a couple of musically-inclined gents (Dave Alvin & Jimmie Dale Gilmore) wrote and recorded a song about that chance meeting.  The words are posted after the video:


There is an old story in New Mexico
Bout the night Billy the Kid met Geronimo
In a Lordsburg barroom they spoke their mind
One hand on their pistols and cold blood in their minds.

Billy the Kid said to Geronimo
“My mother died young and left me all alone
“So I grew up wild, my gun my best friend
“I killed 21 men and I’d kill them all again.”

Geronimo said “I’ve got no place to hide.
“The land of my birth, I don’t recognize.
“There’s barbed wire and railroads towns without end
“My people are scattered like leaves in the wind.”

Billy the Kid said, “We’re just the same
“We’re cursed and we’re damned as they whisper our name,
“We’re hunted, we’re hated, we’re feared and reviled,
“By every God-fearing man, woman and child.”

Geronimo said, “No, we’re not the same
“All the harm that I’ve done, I feel great shame
“But I fought for my family, my tribe and my land
“But we’ll pay the same price for the blood on our hands.”

As the morning sun rose and the coyotes cried
And the Chiricahua and the outlaw said good-bye
And rode cross the desert their separate
One prison-bound and other to his young grave.

By the way – there is no historical record of such a meeting.  So, add this to the legend . . .

I’ll close with this shot of the erstwhile Valley View church (from about 15 miles SE of my landing) posted on GE by g smallwood:


That’ll do it . . .




© 2019 A Landing A Day

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Barnhart (and the Permian Basin), Texas

Posted by graywacke on September 3, 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 2455; A Landing A Day blog post number 891.

Dan:  Today’s lat/long (N31o 9.569’, W101o 5.326’) puts me in W-Cen Texas:

My very local landing map shows that I landed just outside titular Barnhart:

Here’s my not-so-very local landing map, showing:  1) plenty of small towns, and 2) that San Angelo is the big town around:

The circled towns have been featured in two previous posts.  From one of them (my Iraan post) comes the following gem:

The name has nothing to do with the country of Iran. Oil was discovered on the ranch of Ira Yates and a contest was held to name the town that would soon materialize. Ira’s wife was named Ann. A woman (Mary Louise Lewis Hardgrave) combined the two names [although she dropped an “n”] and won a town lot as a prize.  She later sold the lot for $1,000.

My streams-only map shows (kind of) that I landed in the watershed of Spring Creek; on to the South Concho River (4th hit); to the Concho (7th hit); to the Colorado (30th hit; no, not that Colorado!).

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

My oil-patch-savvy readers can tell that I landed in the oil patch!  (All of those white patches are where oil wells are located.]

Here’s what the Orange Dude sees:

I found a fairly close-by place for the OD to get a look at my drainageway:

I wasn’t sure of the name of the Creek (since my Street Atlas map doesn’t pick up Spring Creek until quite a few miles further east).  But the good ol’ Texas DOT came to the rescue (as seen by the OD):

And Spring Creek is quite lovely.  A downstream look:

And upstream:


Of course, I checked out all of the local towns (not counting the towns I already covered in previoius posts), and of course, I couldn’t find much.  But I did find an August 2013 Guardian piece by Suzanne Goldberg  featuring Barnhart that caught my attention.  Here are some excerpts:


Fracking boom sucks away precious water from beneath the ground, leaving cattle dead, farms bone-dry and people thirsty

by Suzanne Goldberg in Barnhart, Texas

Beverly McGuire saw the warning signs before the town well went dry: sand in the toilet bowl, the sputter of air in the tap, a pump working overtime to no effect. But it still did not prepare her for the night last month when she turned on the tap and discovered the tiny town where she had made her home for 35 years was out of water.

“The day that we ran out of water I turned on my faucet and nothing was there and at that moment I knew the whole of Barnhart was down the tubes,” she said, blinking back tears. “I went: ‘dear God help us. That was the first thought that came to mind.”

Across the south-west, residents of small communities like Barnhart are confronting the reality that something as basic as running water, as unthinking as turning on a tap, can no longer be taken for granted.

Three years of drought, decades of overuse and now the oil industry’s outsize demands on water for fracking are running down reservoirs and underground aquifers. And climate change is making things worse.

The town — a gas station, a community hall and a taco truck – sits in the midst of the great Texan oil rush, on the eastern edge of the Permian Basin.

A few years ago, it seemed like a place on the way out. Now McGuire said she can see nine oil wells from her back porch, and there are dozens of RVs parked outside town, full of oil workers.

But soon after the first frack trucks pulled up two years ago, the well on McGuire’s property ran dry.

Water levels were dropping in his wells because of the vast amounts of water being pumped out of the Edwards-Trinity-Plateau Aquifer, a 34,000 sq mile water-bearing formation.

“They are sucking all of the water out of the ground, and there are just hundreds and hundreds of water trucks here every day bringing fresh water out of the wells,” Owens said.

“If you’re going to develop the oil, you’ve got to have the water,” said Larry Baxter, a contractor from the nearby town of Mertzon, who installed two 20,000-gal tanks on his land earlier this year, hoping to make a business out of his well selling water to oil industry.

By his own estimate, his well could produce enough to fill up 20 or 30 water trucks for the oil industry each day. At $60 (£39.58) a truck, that was $36,000 a month, easily. “I could sell 100 truckloads a day if I was open to it,” Baxter said.

Very briefly (and this will be in my own words with zero research), fracking is a method to create fractures in an otherwise tight oil-bearing geological formation.  Witihout fracking, little or no oil will flow to a well.  With fracking, suddenly the well can become very productive.  Fracking involves pumping fluids (mostly water) down the well at extremely high pressures.  This opens up fractures in the rock.  And then, some sort of sand-like material is also pumped down the wells.  This material (through which oil can readily move) flows into the fractures, and props them open.

According to the American Geosciences Institute, each fracked well requires anywhere from 1.5 to 16 million gallons of water.

Wow.  I had no fracking idea fracking used so much water.  In the spirit of full disclosure, I must say that I’m generally pro-fracking, in spite of environmental concerns (although this high water use pushes me back a little).  I feel like the energy-independence that fracking provides outweighs environmental concerns.  Looking from a national security perspective, it seems really important that the United States can no longer be held hostage for oil imported from a politically unstable (and unfriendly) country.

That said, I’m in favor of a strong government oversight role – to make sure that communities (or individual homeowners) are not negatively impacted – and when they are, to make sure that the frackers do what needs to be done to correct the situation.

Also – one can make the argument that all of this newly-available petroleum lessens the impetus to develop and use alternative energy sources – obviously not good for our ever-warming planet . . .

The article about Barnhart was from 2013.  I wonder how they’re doing now. . . .

The above article mentions that Barnhart is on the eastern edge of the Permian Basin.  “Permian” is the name of a geologic time period (spanning about 50 million years, beginning 300 million years ago).  The Permian Basin is a sequence of mostly Permian-aged sedimentary rocks (limestones, sandstones and shales) that for a variety of reasons I won’t go into, ended up trapping vast quantities of petroleum in various underground geologic nooks and crannies (my terminology) throughout the basin.

From Wiki:

The Permian Basin is the largest petroleum-producing basin in the United States.  The first oil well was drilled to a depth of 2500 in 1921.  As of 2018 the basin has produced a cumulative 33 billion barrels of oil and 118 trillion cubic feet of gas. Currently, nearly 2 million barrels of oil a day are being pumped from the basin.

Rigzone.com reports that fracking in the Permian Basin continues at a torrid pace.  Almost 550 wells were fracked in June 2019.

At about 4 million fracking gallons of water per fracked well, 2.2 billion gallons of fracking water were used in fracking June alone.  Multiplying by 12, we’re up to 25 billion fracking gallons per fracking year.  Thatsafrackinlotta fracking water . . .

I’ll close with this shot posted on GE by Nick Zapiain:


That’ll do it . . .




© 2019 A Landing A Day

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Idaho City and Placerville, Idaho

Posted by graywacke on August 26, 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 2454; A Landing A Day blog post number 890.

Dan:  Today’s lat/long (N43o 55.308’, W115o 47.038’) puts me in W-Cen Idaho:

My local landing shows that I landed out in the boonies, but reasonably close to my two titular towns:

My streams-only map shows that I landed in the watershed of Elk Creek.  You’ll have to trust me when I say that the Elk ends up in Mores Creek:

Zooming back, it’s apparent that Mores Creek discharges to the Boise River (2nd hit); on to the Snake (86th), to the Mighty Columbia (180th):

Here’ an oblique Google Earth (GE) shot looking up the Elk Creek valley past my landing:

Staying with GE, I couldn’t get anywhere close to my landing on GE Street View, and I had to go all the way down to Idaho City to get a look at Elk Creek:

And here’s what the Orange Dude sees:

Amazing, isn’t it, that this tiny little stream dug out that huge valley?

Just downstream from Idaho City, Elk Creek flows into Mores Creek.  Here’s a look at the creek a few miles southwest from Idaho City:

Moving right along . . .

As you might suspect, I looked at way more than just the two towns on my local landing map.  And as you might also suspect, they were all:

In fact, the above symbol pretty much says it all about Idaho City and Placerville.  But I did see that in Wiki’s Idaho City piece, there’s a section entitled “Chinese.”  Here ‘tis:

Four thousand Chinese lived in the Idaho Territory from 1869 to 1875. Like many Chinese immigrants, they came to work as miners, laundrymen and cooks.

Although today Chinese are rarely seen except as tourists, the 1870 Idaho City census reported at 1,751 Chinese, nearly half of city residents.

Annie Lee was one legendary Idaho city woman who like Polly Bemis, escaped enslavement from the “world’s oldest profession”. She escaped from a member of the Yeong Wo Company in the 1870s to Boise to marry her lover, another Chinese man. Charged by her owner with grand larceny, she told a judge that she wanted to stay in Boise City. The judge subsequently granted her freedom.

Polly Bemis was Wiki-clickable:

Polly Bemis was born in rural northern China. As a child, she had bound feet, which were later unbound. When she was eighteen, there was a prolonged drought, during which her father was forced to sell her to bandits for two much needed bags of seed.

[A daughter for two bags of seeds?  Such a deal . . . ]

She was then smuggled into the United States in 1872 and sold as a slave in San Francisco for $2,500.

[Her value went up quite a bit!]

It was common for Chinese men of that time to have multiple wives and concubines, all having some social status and living under the same roof. When a Chinese man moved to North America, he might take a concubine with him or acquire one there, as custom required him to leave his wife in China to take care of his parents.

An intermediary took her from San Francisco to Idaho, where her buyer, a wealthy Chinese man ran a saloon in a mining camp in the town of Warren

How she gained her freedom from her Chinese owner is uncertain.  However, in mid-1880, the census listed her as living with saloon owner and fiddler Charlie Bemis who befriended her when she first arrived in Warrens, and protected her from unwanted advances.

Wiki goes on and on about Polly & Charles’ life.  The story didn’t really grab me, so I won’t bother with it . . .

Moving over to Placerville, from Wiki:

With the decline of mining in the 1870s, the town’s population declined.  A good percentage of the population was Chinese, as the Chinese were allowed to work the less rewarding claims that the white miners would not touch. The Chinese also established services like laundries and restaurants.

I then Googled Chinese Idaho history.  I found this 2009 AP article by Jennifer K. Bauer.  Here are some excerpts:

. LEWISTON, Idaho (AP) — A black ponytail in a 1920s mason jar, empty graves in an Idaho forest cemetery, a massacre in an isolated river canyon — they’re all links in the little-told story of the Chinese in Idaho, who came by the thousands but then drastically left at the turn of the century. At one point, the Chinese made up a quarter of the state’s population. They were drawn by gold and exited on a tide of prejudicial laws created to stifle their population.

The first recorded Chinese in the area was a man who signed the Luna House register in Lewiston in 1862. By the 1870 Census, 28.5 percent of Idaho’s population was Chinese, although their population was likely underestimated.

Chinese were among the thousands of miners who came to Idaho for gold, discovered in the fall of 1860 in Pierce. When gold became harder to find, or miners heard of bigger strikes elsewhere, they moved on and Chinese immigrants settled in, willing to work harder for less.

Chinese mining methodology was different. While many miners worked alone, the Chinese worked in large, often related groups and drew from their experiences using water in agriculture. They formed neighborhoods with stores, gardens, and medical

But far from being seen as contributors to the evolving Western society, the Chinese were seen as a threat.

When the Nez Perce Indians first encountered Chinese people in the 1860s, they tried to talk to them, said Allen Pinkham, a Nez Perce tribal historian.

“All we got was a blank stare,” Pinkham said, so they called the Chinese “zelmin,” meaning “blank stare.”

Americans had very little understanding of Chinese customs. The perception exists today that most Chinese were opium addicts.

About one-third to one-fourth of the Chinese smoked opium.  Unless locally banned, the imported drug was legal until 1909. A fingernail-sized amount, about three puffs, cost 25 cents and was about as much as the average miner could afford.

“If you’ve been out there on that rock pile six days, you’re probably going to want a little relaxation. That’s probably all you would need to forget you were hungry.”

Chinese had separate cemeteries, carefully chosen through feng shui practices to balance spirituality and geography. They were often located on the slope of a small hill enveloped by surrounding hills, said Terry Abraham, a retired library archivist from Moscow who studied Chinese cemeteries throughout the Northwest.

Some of these cemeteries contain shallow, empty graves.

It was customary for Chinese men to plan for the possibility of their death in the foreign land and make provisions for their remains to be shipped home, Abraham said. About every 10 years, someone would come West to collect remains. The culture’s emphasis on patrilineal descent meant the bodies of women often remained.

Various laws prevented Chinese men from staking their own claims, from returning to the United States once they left, or bringing their wives or parents to the country to start families. One 1882 law put a 10-year moratorium on more Chinese laborers entering the country. Even before the law passed, the Chinese population had dropped by 1,000 in Idaho.

In 1883, Lewiston’s Chinatown, located downtown near the confluence of the Snake and Clearwater rivers, caught fire, says Lewiston historian Garry Bush. “No Lewiston firefighter would fight it until it threatened white structures.”

Bush says whites would cut off the queues of Chinese men to terrorize them. Cutting the traditional ponytail was a sign of treason in China, leading to execution. A couple of years ago, Bush was given a queue in a 1920s mason jar by someone who lived in the Clearwater River region.

One of the worst racial crimes in Northwest history occurred in Hells Canyon in 1887, when as many as 34 Chinese miners, who had worked their way upriver from Lewiston, were slaughtered along the river.

The crime was discovered when some of the bodies washed up two weeks later in Lewiston. Six Oregon men were charged with the crime, several from prominent families in nearby Wallowa County, Ore., says R. Gregory Nokes, a retired Oregonian newspaper reporter and editor who has written a forthcoming book on the massacre that lays out the case for a cover-up.

“It’s one of the worst crimes in Oregon history and it’s not in Oregon or Northwest history books,” he says.

Three of the accused fled and three were found innocent in a short trial for which few records exist. The crime was never fully investigated by U.S. authorities, despite complaints from the Chinese consulate.

Nokes and Wegars were part of an effort to change the name of Deep Creek where the massacre took place. Over the objections of Wallowa County commissioners, the U.S. Board on Geographic Names officially renamed it Chinese Massacre Cove in 2005.

“In my knowledge,” Nokes said, “it’s the first official acknowledgment that anything actually happened at that particular place.”

I’ll end this post with a couple of pictures posted on GE within five miles of my landing.  First this, by Wade Patrick:

And then this, by Bentley Hunter and Gigee Lindsley:

That’ll do it . . .




© 2019 A Landing A Day

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