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Rotten Hill and Amarillo, Texas

Posted by graywacke on July 10, 2020

 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 2489 ; A Landing A Day blog post number 929

Dan:  Today’s lat/long (N35o 22.039’, W102o 12.375’) puts me in the Texas Panhandle:

As discussed in ALADus Obscurus, this is my second Texas landing in a row.  Check this out:

Only in Texas could two landings be 600 miles apart!  OK, maybe north to south in California as well . . .

My very local landing map shows that I landed in the middle of nowhere, and the only StreetAtlas notation is for Rotten Hill.  Seein’ as how that’s my last name, I was immediately drawn to the location.  Obviously, more about Rotten Hill in a bit.

Zooming back, you can see that I’m in the greater Amarillo area:

You may wonder why Vega and Wildorado are circled.  Well, that’s because I featured both towns in my August 2014 “Vega and Wildarado” post (when I landed a little south of the towns).  As always, it’s a great post, featuring Route 66, the name “Wildorado” and The Grapes of Wrath,

But moving right along to my watershed analysis:  my streams-only StreetAtlas map showed nothing local to my landing, so off I went to Google Earth (GE).  I powered up GE’s hydrographic features, and found this:

So, I landed in the Sierrita de la Cruz Creek watershed.  One of the annoying features of the hydrographic features feature is that the streams are named only when they discharge into something.  That’s why the name of the Creek doesn’t show up until it discharges into the Canadian River (51st hit).  Zooming back on StreetAtlas:

The Canadian discharges to the Arkansas (137th hit); on to the MM (963rd hit).

From the Texas State Historical Association, I found this about the Sierrita de la Cruz:

Its name, which means “little mountain of the cross,” is derived from a nearby hill overlooking the Canadian Valley on which the outlaw Sostenes l’Archeveque was buried after his death at the hands of Colas Martinez and his fellow pastores in 1876; for years the grave was marked by a wooden cross.

The Historical Association has quite the piece about the outlaw Sostenes l’Archeveque:

Sostenes l’Archevêque, one of thefirst badmen of the old Southwest, was the son of a French father and a Mexican-Indian mother. When Sostenes was a boy, his father was killed by an Anglo-American in New Mexico. Sostenes reportedly vowed that when he grew up he would kill every gringo he met. Subsequently, he won considerable notoriety in the upper Rio Grande settlements as a cold-blooded gunfighter. By 1876, when he was finally run out of New Mexico, he was said to have killed twenty-three Americans, and his murderous actions had become unbearable even to his own Hispanic relatives.

L’Archevêque’s sister was married to Nicolás (Colas) Martínez, a former Comanchero turned sheep rancher. Martínez vowed that he would kill his outlaw brother-in-law himself if he continued in his crime spree.

In the fall of 1876 two brothers named Casner were traveling through the area with sheep and considerable money, having successfully mined a small fortune in the California gold fields with their father and another brother. L’Archevêque, accompanied by an unsuspecting lad named Ysabel Gurules, tracked down the campsite, and L’Archevêque killed the two brothers.

Gurules fled and brought word to Martinez and several companions.  They lured L’Archevêque to a small adobe house and shot him; he died a few hours later and was buried at a site near the south bank of the Canadian River that subsequently became known as Sierrita de la Cruz.

Before moving on to Rotten Hill, I need to check out my landing and my watershed on GE.  Here’s a map showing that I couldn’t get the Orange Dude very close to my landing:

And here’s what he sees, looking west toward my landing:

I managed to get the OD on a bridge over the Sierrita de la Cruz Creek:

And here’s the Creek – OK, just the creek bed (looking downstream):


So, what about Rotten Hill?  One of the Google search entries said “Rotten Hill:  A Late Triassic Bonebed in the Texas Panhandle.”  This referred to a scholarly article of the same name by a plethora of geologists (Spencer G. Lucas et. al., 2016) and published in the NM Museum of Natural History and Science Bulletin 72. 

Quoting from the Abstract:

The Late Triassic Rotten Hill bonebed is a low diversity multitaxic and monodominant bonebed; the vast majority of the bones are of the metoposaurid Koskinonodon perfectum.

Translation:  The fossil bed, while involving numerous species, is predominantly composed of fossil bones from an ancient amphibian – species Koskinonodon perfectum (KP) – which lived between 208 to 227 million years ago.

Before going further, let’s learn a little about good ol’ KP.  Let’s start out with this Wiki shot:

So, it looks like an alligator, but with its eyes perched out on its snout.  Plus, it’s an amphibian, rather than a reptile.  From Wiki:

Koskinonodon is an extinct genus of large amphibians. These animals were part of the family called the Metoposaurids which filled the crocodile-like predatory niches in the late Triassic.  It reached lengths up to 10 ft, with a 25-in-long skull.  It was an ambush hunter, snapping up anything it could fit in its huge jaws.  It was very common during the Late Triassic (Norian age) in what is now the American Southwest.

From Wiki, here’s a complete KP skeleton:

It’s time to get back to the abstract:

It closely resembles other metoposaurid-dominated bonebeds that suggest aggregation of a group of metoposaurids, followed by catastrophic mortality, complete disarticulation and disassociation of the skeletons, culminated by rapid transport and burial.  The mass death assemblage was hydraulically concentrated.

Phew.  Got that?  A whole bunch of these KP dudes were hanging out together, died together, got all ripped apart, and then the remains were transported by water and buried in sediment (still all together).  Through the eons, the bones were fossilized, where they remained in the rock for 200+ million years.  Wow. 

Back to the abstract:

K. perfectum is represented by numerous skulls, lower jaws, vertebrae, girdle and limb bones representing a minimum number of 68 individuals based on recovered interclavicles.

OK, so they figured out that there were at least 68 KPs represented in the bonebeds, based on “recovered interclavicles.”  The interclavicle is a connector bone between the two clavicles (collarbones).  So that means there’s only one interclavicle per individual.  Here’s what a reptilian interclavicle looks like:

I can only imagine the excitement when each interclavicle was found and cataloged.  (I may sound sarcastic, but I’m not.)

Let’s learn a little more about KP, from Wiki:

The hunting style of Koskinonodon involved lying at the bottom of a shallow swamp, waiting for a fish, crustacean, smaller amphibian, or even a young phytosaur to wander by. When it spotted prey, it used its huge jaws to engulf and consume them.

A few particular adaptations suggest Koskinonodon had this aquatic lifestyle. First, they had lateral lines formed by the sensory sulci. These are useful for detecting changes in water pressure made by the swimming motions of nearby organisms. Their sprawling limbs were also adapted for water. They would not move quickly or efficiently on land, although they may have done it to find another water pool with more food or other resource.

Mass graves have been found, thought to be a result of a group of these animals gathering together in a withering water pool during a drought and all perishing because the water was never replenished.

Bingo!  With no other viable alternative, that seems to be the most likely scenario for our unlucky 68 KPs.  They were likely all eaten by scavengers, leaving only the bones.  Then, when flooding rains arrived, they were buried by incoming sediment.  Although the bones were “hydraulically concentrated,” I suspect that they were not transported any significant distance by the moving water, because they would be widely scattered if that happened.

And then, perchance, some lucky geologists stumble on the bones and figure everything out.  I love geology!

I’ll head on over to Amarillo (pop 200,000, the largest city in the panhandle).  I’m sure if I dug a little deeper in Amarillo, I’d find something of historical interest, but I’ve decided to feature a little bit of music associated with the city.

First we have native son Jimmie Dale Gilmore (who was born in Amarillo but raised in Lubbock).  

He teamed up with Dave Alvin to put out what I think is a great song.  Dave Alvin is from Downey CA (an LA suburb), and he sings about being “Downey to Lubbock bound.”  And then Jimmie Dale counters that he’s headed from Lubbock to Downey.



Well I’m a wild blues blaster
from a sunburnt California town
And I gotta loud Stratocaster
that can blow any roadhouse down
You know I been up on the mountain
And I looked for the promised land
And I been to the Ash Grove
And I shook Lightnin’s hand*

*The Ash Grove was a folk and blues music club in LA (1958-1973) visited by Dave Alvin in his youth.  “Lightin” refers to Lightnin Hopkins, a blues guitar legend.

Now I’m leaving tonight people
I’m Downey to Lubbock bound

Well I’m an old flatlander
From the great high plains
Like wanderlust and wonder
West Texas wind blows through my veins
But it seemed like California
Was the place to be
For a hippie country singer
That was me

And I’m leaving tonight man
I’m Lubbock to Downey bound

Forty years on the highway
Livin’ on dreams and gasoline
Yet somehow still surviving
On Advil, Nyquil and nicotine
Every city and every heartbreak
Every hopeful kiss
Every road I’ve traveled
Has led me to this

Now I’m leaving tonight people
I’m Downey to Lubbock bound

Well I took a lot of detours
Cul-de-sacs and dead ends
But I made a lot of music
And I made a lot of friends
I took a lot of turns
Maybe some were not that good
If I had to do it over
Well I surely, mostly would

I’d stay right on this highway
That’s Lubbock to Downey bound

Well I’m a wild blues blaster
Looking to find what can be found

And I’m an old flatlander
I’ve been round and round and round

I know someday this old highway’s
Gonna come to an end

I know when it does
You’re gonna be my friend

So, I’m leaving tonight people
I’m Downey to Lubbock bound

I’m leaving tonight
I’m Lubbock to Downey bound

I’m going to stick with good ol’ country music, this time featuring a song by Jerry Jeff Walker.  You regulars may remember that I featured Jerry Jeff in my Terlingua TX (revisited) post.  I posted several of his songs (from the album Viva Terlingua), but not this one, which prominently features Amarillo (at least partially because it rhymes with armadillo). 

It’s called “London Homesick Blues.”


Gotta put myself back in that place again

Well, when you’re down on your luck
And you ain’t got a buck
In London you’re a goner
Even London Bridge
Has fallen down
And moved to Arizona
Now I know why

And I’ll substantiate the rumor
That the English sense of humor
Is drier than the Texas sand
You can put up your dukes
Or you can bet your boots
That I’m leavin’ just as fast as I can

I wanna go home with the armadillo
Good country music from Amarillo
And Abilene
The friendliest people and the prettiest women you ever seen

Well, it’s cold over here
And I swear
I wish they’d turn the heat on
And where in the world
Is that English girl
I promised I would meet on
The third floor?

And of the whole damn lot
The only friend I got
Is a smoke and a cheap guitar
My mind keeps roamin’
My heart keeps longin’
To be home in a Texas bar

I wanna go home with the armadillo
Good country music from Amarillo
And Abilene
The friendliest people and the prettiest women you ever seen

Well, I decided that
I’d get my cowboy hat
And go down to Marble Arch Station
‘Cause when a Texan fancies
He’ll take his chances
Chances will be taken
That’s for sure

And them limey eyes
They were eyein’ the prize
That some people call manly footwear
And they said “You’re from down South
“And when you open your mouth
“You always seem to put your foot there”

I wanna go home with the armadillo
Good country music from Amarillo
And Abilene
The friendliest people and the prettiest women you ever seen

As is my wont, I checked out pictures posted on GE near my landing.  I landed so far out in the boonies, that the closest posted pictures were about 15 miles away, like this by JB Brown (to the SW of my landing):


That’ll do it . . .




© 2020 A Landing A Day


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Anahauc, Texas

Posted by graywacke on July 3, 2020

 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 2488 ; A Landing A Day blog post number 928

Dan:  Today’s lat/long (N29o 39.686’, W94o 48.411’) puts me in SE Texas:

My very local landing map shows water, water everywhere:

Zooming back a bit, we can see my titular town:

Zooming back a bit more puts me in the greater Houston – Galveston area:

Not much need for a watershed analysis.  I landed in Trinity Bay, which is the estuary of the Trinity River. 

Moving over to Google Earth:  I asked the Orange Dude to find the best spot to get a look at my landing.  He complied:

And here’s what he sees:

Good thing they put up two stop signs.  Obviously, one would not be enough.

The OD told me that if he moved east a few hundred yards, he could get a look a cool complex of some sort:

I did some research to try to figure out what’s going on and found out the property is (was?) for sale.  From an article in the Houston Chronicle:

When Hurricane Ike ravaged Tom Fereday’s Anahuac, Texas, house in September 2008, he opted to create a storm-proof structure with character.

“Ike took out almost everything blocks from the water,” he remembers. The Houston resident says after the storm he walked out to his property on Trinity Bay and saw that the “sun was shining and there was only half of the house left.”  He decided to build a house and a lighthouse-like structure.

Both buildings were built to withstand 225-mile-per-hour winds, and both remain incomplete (the oil industry slump has put a damper on Fereday’s business, so he’s halted construction for the time being). Both are also on the market for $1,599,950, including the two acres on which they sit.

Here are some pics from the article:

Time to move north along the Trinity Bay coast up to Anahuac proper. But first, we need to pronounce it correctly:  AN na wack.

From TexasEscapes:

Construction of a Mexican fort at Anahuac was begun in 1830.  Gen. Manuel de Mier y Terán, commanding officer of the Mexican province of Coahuila y Texas, named the town Anahuac in 1831. This the Aztec word for the Aztec capital [what today is Mexico city].

From Wiki:

Anahuac is the ancient core of Mexico. Anahuac is a Nahuatl name which means “close to water.” Anahuac is sometimes used interchangeably with “Valley of Mexico”, where a well-developed Aztec culture created distinctive landscapes on an island in a lake, and surrounding a lake.  The lake no longer exists, and the landscapes are now hidden by the urban sprawl of Mexico City.

So what long-gone lake are we talking about? From Wiki:

Lake Texcoco was a natural lake within the “Anahuac” or Valley of Mexico.  Lake Texcoco is best known as where the Aztecs built the city of Tenochtitlan, which was located on an island within the lake. After the Spanish conquest of the Aztec Empire, efforts to control flooding by the Spanish led to most of the lake being drained. The entire lake basin is now almost completely occupied by Mexico City, the capital of the present-day nation of Mexico.

And this, about the capital city, Tenochitlan (of course, from Wiki):

The largest and most dominant city at the time of the Spanish conquest was Tenochtitlan. It was founded by the Aztecs on a small island in the western part of Lake Texcoco in 1325.  The inhabitants controlled the lake with a sophisticated system of dikes, canals and sluices, creating farmland out of what was lake bed. Much of the surrounding land in the valley was terraced and farmed as well, with a network of aqueducts channeling fresh water from springs in the mountainsides into the city itself.

Here’s a map showing the lake in the 1300s (up to several hundred feet deep), and a GE shot of Mexico City at the same scale.  The red dots mark the location of Tenochitlan.  Note that the dark patch on the GE shot is not water; it’s the hilly area you can see along the west shore of the lake.

  As you can see, the lake was about 40 miles long from north to south.

So today’s Mexico City, with a population of about 10 million people (the largest city in the Americas), is built almost entirely on a lakebed and is built at the same location as a native American city.  It’s almost more than I can fathom.

I thought I’d visit Mexico City on GE, and check out Street View.  I went to the central, old part of the city, and took a look at the Street View possibilities:

Wow.  Every Mexico City street has been photographed by the GoogleMobile and is ready for the Orange Dude to visit.  Without aiming at any particular street or feature, I told the Orange Dude that I was going to drop him at a random location.  After he got his feet under him, amazingly, here’s what he saw:

AYKM?!?  The GoogleCam dude obviously landed inside some building!  Of course, I had the OD take a look around:

So it’s a restaurant!

Wow.  What an amazing restaurant!  I hope the food is good . . .

Anyway, I sent him out on the street, so I could find out the name of the restaurant.  Here ‘tis:

The Cafe de Tacuba.  And here’s what I assume is a lunchtime crowd either waiting for the doors to open, or waiting for their name to be called:

OK.  It’s fair to assume that the food is good. . . 

Here’s the trace left by the GoogleCam guy in Café Tacuba:


And there are numerous buildings in the historic Mexico City district with similar indoor “Street View coverage” (Cafe Tacuba is the one just SW of the dot marked “Centro Historico”):

I could spend hours exploring Mexico City (and did spend some time perusing the interiors of some beautiful old buildings), but I must finish up this post and then work on landing at another exciting location . . .

As per usual, I need to head back to Anahuac TX to close out this post.  The Trinity River flows right by Anahuac on its way into Trinity Bay.  Here’s a funky shot by Uriah Massey, of some mysterious wooden structures in the Trinity River near Anahuac:

That’ll do it . . .




© 2020 A Landing A Day


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Vienna, Seville and Rochelle, Georgia

Posted by graywacke on June 22, 2020

 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 2487 ; A Landing A Day blog post number 927

Dan:  Today’s lat/long (N32o 2.243’, W83o 33.335’) puts me in Cen-S Georgia:


Here’s my local map, showing the towns named for cities in Europe:

I’m not going to bother with a Street Atlas streams-only map, and move straight to Google Earth (GE).  As I was using the GE elevation tool to figure out what was downhill from my landing, here’s what I found:

Obviously, the yellow pushpins show various elevations, and the yellow line is more-or-less my drainage pathway.  Notice that runoff from my landing heads down to elevation 323, and then has no where to go.

Here’s a close-up of the low spot:

Now wait a second.  This is one of my “internal drainage” landings!  I’ve had a ton of NV, UT and CA internal drainage landings, and a fair amount in NM, OR and AZ; but none before in Georgia! 

Typically, this kind of drainage system is in arid regions, subject to fairly recent (geologically speaking) tectonic activity that ends up producing closed basins.  Georgia doesn’t fit.

I’ve had some internal drainage landings in the Nebraska Sand Hills, where the near-surface geology is predominantly made of thick sand beds.  Rainfall simply soaks in rather than running off.  So, I checked on the soils near my landing, and found the Wilcox County Soil Survey.  Here’s a map:

So, I landed in an area with Cowarts-Nankin soils.  What are Cowarts-Nankin soils, one might ask.  Well, here’s the answer:

A “loamy sand” means that there’s mostly sand, with a little finer-grained stuff like silt.  So, my guess is that the low spot is underlain by very sandy soils (and not much silt), and the water that makes its way there soaks in, and makes its way underground and then flows slowly (maybe a few 10s of feet per year) through the sands towards eventual discharge in surface water, likely in one of these streams:

Unlike western internal landings where the water never makes its way to the ocean, here it does, although it might take years to get there . . .

Staying with GE, here’s the closest that the Orange Dude could get to my landing spot:

And here’s what he sees:

As you can tell by this post’s title, I’ve decided to feature European cities, rather than their Georgia counterparts.  Believe me, if I found a decent hook here in Georgia, I’d go with it.  But the truth is that I found all of the small towns in the vicinity of my landing to be:

So, off to Europe I go.  I’ll start with Vienna.  My first order of business was to check on how the locals pronounce the name of their town.  Just as I expected, it’s pronounced:  VY-yenna.

After confirming that Vienna Georgia was named after Vienna Austria, I started to look for a simple little hook, knowing that Vienna Austria would entail more history & culture than I could digest (or want to write about).

From the website “10 fun facts about Vienna by Kaley Ann”:

  • Vienna is the only capital city in the world to produce significant quantities of wine within its city limits. Home to over 1,700 acres of vineyards and 320 vintners, the Viennese love their wine.
  • Vienna is often called The City of Music, or the World’s Capital of Music, as more famous composers have lived here than in any other city in the world. Between 1750 and 1825, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Ludwig van Beethoven, Joseph Haydn and Franz Schubert lived there.  A little later, Johann Straus and Johannes Brahms also called Vienna home.
  • Sigmund Freud, the father of psychoanalysis, lived and worked in Vienna for much of his career.
  • The Wiener Riesenrad, constructed in 1897, is the oldest still operating ferris wheel in the world. Located in the Wurstelprater amusement park, this is one of Vienna’s most popular tourist attractions.
  • Pez, the fun little tablet candies that we all know and love, were invented in Vienna in 1927. The name Pez is an abbreviation on the German word “pfefferminz”, meaning peppermint. Because the original PEZ candies only came in that one flavor! The dispenser was invented in 1949, designed to look like a lighter. Smoking was prohibited at that time, so the Pez slogan was “No Smoking – PEZing Allowed.”
  • The snow globe was also invented in Vienna. In 1900, Erwin Perzy, a fine instruments mechanic, was trying to improve the brightness of lightbulbs for a surgical lamp. But instead, he accidentally invented a snow globe. Perzy and his brother to open The Original Vienna Snow Globe shop. Over 100 years later, they are still making traditional snow globes right in Vienna, all hand painted and manually assembled.

Now, I’ll give the same treatment to Seville.  I couldn’t find anything on its local pronunciation.  SEE-ville, anyone? 

Anyway, Seville Spain is incredibly beautiful and has a great reputation as a tourist mecca.  A point of interest about Seville is that it has a “secret code” that is more-or-less NO8DO.   Here are Google Images of the code:

As you can see, it’s all over the city.  Here’s some info from NotJustATourist.com:

Inscribed across every alleyway and plaza is a top secret message reading: ‘NO8DO’. The “8” is said to symbolize a skein (small coil) of yarn. The Spanish word for skein is ‘madeja’. Replace the 8 with madeja and you have ‘no madeja do’.

Repeat the code out loud and it sounds like ‘No meh day hah doe’. This phrase can be roughly translated to “It has not abandoned me”.

The code was encrypted long ago by the 13th century King Alfonso X. When the King’s own son attempted to usurp his power, Seville remained loyal and did not abandon him. As a thanks, Alfonso X gifted the citizens a heartfelt personal message.

There you have it.

Of course, you’ve heard of Vienna and Seville, but how about Rochelle?  Well, it turns out that Rochelle GA was named after La Rochelle France.

La Rochelle is on the west coast of France, on the Atlantic Ocean.  The city is protected from open ocean batterings by two islands, the Ile de Re and the Ile D’Orleron.  Here’s a Google map:


Like Vienna and Seville, it is replete with history and culture, and I’m pretty much going to ignore both.  But (unlike Vienna & Seville) it’s on the sea . . .

The Orange Dude couldn’t have been happier when I sent him from rural Georgia (no offense, rural Georgia) to check out La Rochelle.  I sent him down to the “Vieux Port” (Old Harbor), to take a look around.  Right off, he saw this:

And then, not moving in the X-Y coordinate plane, but spinning on his Z axis, he saw this:

The two ancient forts guard the entrance to la Vieux Port.  Here’s a GE shot, showing the inner harbor, and two forts:

Here’s a shot posted on GE by Jean-Baptiste Engelking (French or German?) of the entrance to the harbor:

It seems to me that if you were sailing an enemy combatant ship, and you wanted to enter the harbor, you were in deep trouble . . .

Here’s another shot by Mark Jone.  (Yo, Mark, are you sure there’s not an “s” on the end of your last name?):

Anyway, while perusing GE, I saw this incredibly-huge marina:

And a closer view:

And a closer view yet:

I had the OD head over to take a look, and here’s what he saw:


I checked out other photos posted in GE in the general vicinity of La Rochelle, and here’s what I found.  First this amazing shot by Dennis Derrien:

And this, by Isabelle Bertrand:

Here’s a shot by Nicholas Fourcade of a bridge that goes out to the Ile de Re:

And a lovely shot, just off the Ile D’Orleron, by Nadine Nedelec:

Enough Europe. I’ve got to get back to the good ol’ US of A.  I’ll close with a shot posted on GE by Jessica Parks, taken a few miles north of my landing:

That’ll do it . . .




© 2020 A Landing A Day


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Starkville and Sturgis, Mississippi

Posted by graywacke on June 8, 2020

 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 2486 ; A Landing A Day blog post number 926

Dan:  Today’s lat/long (N33o 27.793’, W88o 57.775’) puts me in Cen-NE Mississippi:

My local map shows my proximity to Starkville, the proud home of Mississippi State University:

Taking a very local look at my streams-only map:

I landed in the watershed of Jackson Branch (of Self Creek); on to Self Creek; on to Trim Cane Creek.  Zooming back:

Trim Cane Creek discharges to Line Creek; on to Tibbee Creek; to Catalpa Creek; and finally to the Tombigbee River (I’m ignoring the Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway, part of a man-made connector between the Tennessee River & the Tombigbee, and thus to the Gulf of Mexico).

But wait a second!  Counting the Jack Branch as a creek, I landed in the watershed of six (count ‘em) six creeks!  Jackson, Self, Trim Cane, Line, Tibbee and Catalpa!  I did a fairly extensive search of my landing spreadsheet, and I’m convinced that this is the one and only time (out of 2486 landings) that I’ve been able to identify six creeks as part of my landing watershed system!

Moving over to Google Earth, here’s a close-up shot of my landing:


I wonder what the clearings are?   I’ve seen areas like this where hunters clear out some woods so they can get better shots at passing deer . . .

Anyway, I pretty much landed in the woods, so once again, we don’t get a good look at my landing spot:


This’ll have to do:


The Orange Dude traveled down the road a piece to find a bridge over Trim Cane Creek:

The woods are so dense, you can hardly see any water.  So, here’s the bridge:

I’ll start with Starkville.  It actually has a rather dark history in the world of whites vs. blacks; but I won’t go into that.  Nothing to be gained.  But today, it’s actually a very integrated, very cool college town.  Mississippi State University is huge, with an enrollment of almost 22,000.  It has a research and development budget of %240 million; largest in Mississippi.  Take that, Ole Miss . .  .

In their more-than 120-year history, the Bulldogs have won 21 individual national championships and 30 regular season conference championships. The school is noted for a pervasive baseball fan culture, with Dudy Noble Field holding 17 of the top 25 all-time NCAA attendance records and the school’s Left Field Lounge being described as an epicenter of college baseball.

We’ll take a quick GE SV trip to Dudy Noble Field:

Quite the stadium – nicer than many minor league parks.  So, what’s the Left Field Lounge?  It was Wiki-clickable:

The Left Field Lounge is the area beyond the outfield fence in Dudy Noble Field. It is truly unique in college baseball, and has enabled the grounds to be named the “#1 place to watch college baseball.”

The Left Field Lounge started in the 1960s with fans driving cars and trucks into the area to watch a game. In the late 1960s, fans started bringing grills, tables, and ice chests full of drinks for a full tailgate party experience.

As the area became more popular, a line would form to get in before the game.  The area would fill up, and some would be turned away. In the early 1970s one truck driven to the Left Field Lounge would not start and was unable to leave after the game was over, so the owners just left the truck there.

For the next game, the truck was still there, creating what was essentially a reserved spot. Other fans picked up on this idea and brought in trucks and grills with the intention of leaving them there.  Eventually, the university established rules for the spots in Left Field Lounge.

Spaces were rented for the season, and after all of the spaces were filled, those not receiving a space were placed on a waiting list.

The famed author John Grisham is an alumnus of Mississippi State and avid fan of MSU college baseball. For the book Inside Dudy Noble: A Celebration of Mississippi State Baseball, he wrote an introduction about his time at MSU and in the Left Field Lounge.

Here are some excerpts:

I guess every ballpark, in earlier times, was something else. Great things come from humble origins and all that, but it’s difficult to believe Dudy Noble was once a cow pasture. I discovered it early in March of 1975 while a sophomore at State. This was before Polk [a legendary baseball coach], and the crowds were small. On those cool spring nights, I would take a thermos of coffee and sit by myself in the bleachers by first base. I was 20, older than some of the kids I was watching, and had just recently hung up my spikes because I couldn’t hit a junior college curve ball. I was sad because I wasn’t playing, yet I loved to watch the game. It was a pleasant place to be in the spring, but the park wasn’t magical, yet.

The following year State hired Ron Polk, and Dudy Noble snapped back to life. He won, as he always has and always will, and suddenly the stands were full, the crowds were loud, the trucks and trailers appeared in left field, the Lounge was open for business, and the clouds of barbecue smoke became a symbol of baseball success at Mississippi State. We outgrew the old park, and he convinced us to build a new one.

The older I become, the more I find myself drawn back to Dudy Noble. There are many reasons. It’s great baseball played by very talented kids. The game is pure and uncorrupted by money. The place is filled with memories, both of my college days and of the great games and moments since then. It’s a wonderful place to unwind. The food is plentiful. The people are happy. The mood is festive. Time is meaningless. The game is played without a clock. There are no telephones in Left Field. Deadlines are more distant. Appointments seem insignificant. Regardless of wins and losses, I always feel better when I leave Dudy Noble than when I arrive. There are few places of which this can be said.

Just a quick word about Grisham.  I just finished his novel “The Guardians” about a small organization (“Guardian Ministries”) dedicated to finding innocent people falsely convicted of major crimes (generally murder) who are serving life sentences or awaiting the death penalty.  And then (obviously), they work hard to prove their innocence and get them out of jail.  Not a great book, but definitely readable, and I enjoyed it.

Grisham’s book is based on an actual organization – The Centurion Ministries – based in Princeton NJ (less than 10 miles from my home).  There are numerous parallels – obviously, Mr. Grisham got permission from Centurion.  And, my wife and I actually know a woman who works at Centurion . . .

Moving west to the tiny “town” of Sturgis (pop 200).  Besides the fact that they have an annual motorcycle rally (modeled after the much larger, original one in Sturgis ND), I saw on Wiki that it was the home of Kid Thomas.  Kid was Wiki-clickable:

Louis Thomas Watts, commonly known as Kid Thomas was an American musician in the rock, rock & roll and blues genres.

Kid Thomas was born in 1934 in Sturgis, MS.  As a child he moved to Chicago, Illinois, and learned the harmonica. He initially played blues, but then switched to rock ‘n roll. By the early 1950s, he played regularly with Muddy Waters, Elmore James and Bo Diddley, and as a solo performer.

He traveled to Los Angeles with the idea of emulating the success of Little Richard. There, he met record producer George Motola, and in 1959 recorded the single “Rockin’ This Joint To-Nite,” which was released on Motola’s Transcontinental Records label.

The record has been described as “one of the wildest rock’n’roll discs of all time with Kid Thomas blowing his harmonica and shouting out the lyrics in a frantic frenzy.”  However, it was not a commercial success. He continued to perform in Los Angeles clubs.

In 1965, he recorded two singles for the Muriel Records label, “The Hurt Is On” and “Wail Baby Wail”, another full-blooded rocker featuring guitar by Marshall Hooks, but neither were hits.

Finding little commercial success in the latter half of the 1960s, Kid Thomas worked mowing lawns in Los Angeles. On September 3, 1969 (at age 35), while driving his truck he struck a young boy and killed him. Arrested on a charge of manslaughter, the charge was later dismissed for lack of evidence. However, the boy’s father waited outside the courthouse and shot him. Kid Thomas died at UCLA Medical Center, Beverly Hills on April 5, 1970.


Here’s his 1959 single “Rockin’ this Joint Tonight.”  Remember, this song never took off:


If I were producing this song, I would have slowed him down just a little . . .

And here’s a “B” side from one of his singles, “You Heard What I said,” which I think is better:


I couldn’t find much in the way of pretty photos near my landing, but I did find this, by Sandra Jaramillo, taken a few miles north of my landing:


That’ll do it . . .




© 2020 A Landing A Day


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Stewartville and Rochester, Minnesota

Posted by graywacke on May 28, 2020

 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 2485 ; A Landing A Day blog post number 925

Dan:  Today’s lat/long (N43o 49.743’, W92o 40.952’) puts me in southeast Minnesota:

My local map shows that I’m in the general Rochester area:

My streams-only map shows that I landed in the watershed of the North Branch Root River (1st hit ever!); on to the Root (5th hit, making the Root the 174th river on my list of rivers with 5 or more hits); on to the MM (962nd hit):

With Google Earth (GE), I was able to position the Orange Dude to get a halfway-decent look at my landing . . . er . . . uh, actually – a look at the woods that contain my landing spot:

And here’s what the OD sees:

Not far away, the OD was able to get a look at the North Branch of the Root River:

And here ‘tis:

Moving on to Stewartville.  Wiki mentioned that one of her native sons is John Paule Goode, a “geographer and cartographer.”  Mr. Goode was Wiki-clickable:

John Paul Goode (1862 – 1932, born in Stewartville), a geographer and cartographer, was one of the key geographers in American geography from 1900 to 1940.

The first section in his Wiki article is entitled “Evil Mercator.”  Really? 

In 1908, Goode spoke at an American Association of Geographers meeting in Baltimore about creating an alternative to the “Evil Mercator” projection that has severe distortion at the poles and northern latitudes.

Yea, we all know the maps where Greenland is bigger than the United States, and Antarctica is the world’s largest continent:

The Evil Mercator was created in the attempt to take a spherical map (i.e., a globe) and force it to conform to a flat piece of paper.  I’m not sure I’d go all the way to “evil.”

So anyway, in 1923 Mr. Goode came up with the “Goode Interrupted Homolosine Projection.”  (I’ll presume that someone else added his name.)  Here’s the very-familiar result:

It actually involves a geometrically-complex concept that included some compromise approximation, but I’d say he did a Goode job . . .

It’s time to head north a bit, to visit what is far-and-away the largest city in the vicinity of my landing – Rochester (pop 110,000) – and home to the Mayo Clinic. 

Here’s a quick touch-and-go for the Mayo Clinic.  William Mayo settled his family in Rochester in 1864 and opened up a one-man medical practice.  But his sons, Bill & Charlie Mayo joined up with several colleagues to open a more ambitious medical practice they called the Mayo Clinic. 

There’s plenty more (of course) on the internet about the growth of the Clinic, but I’ll move on to another native son, Luis Walter Alvarez. I’m going to do the rest of this post in my own words (all blue!), although I’ll borrow a sentence or a phrase or a fact from here or there from various internet articles.  I might have played a little fast and loose with some of the facts, but the basic story told herein is solid:

Although he was born in San Francisco, Luis’ father was a physician who moved the family to Rochester where he went to work for the Mayo Clinic. 

Luis became a brilliant physicist, with a distinguished career highlighted by a Nobel Prize in Physics.  But what I’d like to talk about is his collaboration with his son, Walter. 

Walter is a geologist, who became interested in investigating plate tectonic movements in Italy.  (Hey.  You never know what might interest a geologist!)  There’s a limestone formation (the Gubbio Formation) in Italy that has a very complete sequence of sediments that spans about 50 million years.  Iron minerals in this particular limestone allow geologists to determine the direction of the magnetic field when a particular limestone bed is being deposited.

So Walter figured that he could look at the sequence of beds and see how the direction of magnetic north changed through the millions of years, caused by the movement of Italy’s tectonic plate.

However, much to his surprise and delight, he discovered that the limestone beds showed more than subtle changes in direction; they showed complete reversals of the earth’s magnetic field.  These reversals (where our compasses would fairly suddenly do a 180) are fairly common (geologically speaking).  There have been 183 reversals over the last 83 million years, but statistically speaking, their occurrence appears to be random.

So Walter changed his research focus and began looking for evidence of the timing of these reversals.  As part of his work, he studied the fossils of microscopic sea creatures (foraminifera or “forams”) that are abundant in the limestone beds.

These critters are extremely valuable for geologists because there are hundreds (thousands?) of species that can be differentiated, and each specie is relegated to a relatively small time period.  The limestone is also interspersed with volcanic ash deposits that can be absolutely dated (e.g., 87 million years before present). 

Walter had noticed that there was a distinctive clay layer present in the Gubbio Formation that seemed to mark the boundary between the Tertiary Period (when dinosaurs roamed the earth) and the more recent Cretaceous Period (where suddenly there were no dinosaurs.  This boundary was known to be about 65-66 million years ago.  (For some reason, geologists in their infinite wisdom decided that the letter “K” would stand for the Cretaceous; so the boundary between the Cretaceous & the Tertiary became known as the “K-T” boundary.)

Walter noted that there were no forams in the clay layer, and that also, there were more forams below the clay layer than above the clay layer.

So Walter was having a chat with his brilliant physicist father (Luis) and he wondered if his dad could help out doing a study of some of the trace elements present in the various limestone layers as well as the peculiar clay layer.  Walter was hoping that a more detailed elemental analysis might shed light on the magnetic reversal issue, and while they were at it, maybe shed some light on the mysterious clay layer.   Luis had access to some sophisticated testing equipment at UC Berkeley that could determine trace amounts of various elements that might be present, so he agreed to help out his son.

As most of my readers are probably aware, they discovered that the element Iridium was inexplicably more prevalent in the clay layer than would be expected.  In fact, the Iridium concentration in the clay was about 30 times higher than the average for bedrock in Italy.  They were also aware that Iridium is present in high concentrations in certain classes of meteorites.  A hypothesis was born: a huge meteorite enriched in Iridium had collided with earth, resulting in the fallout of Iridium worldwide.  And the resulting apocalyptic chaos resulted in the extinction of the dinosaurs (and the extinction of many other species, including many forams).

Here’s a father and son picture, at the famous K-T boundary clay layer in the Gubbio Formation in Italy:

Geeks rule!

After years of work, various researchers found hundreds of locations around the world, right at the stratigraphic K-T boundary, with elevated concentrations of Iridium.  And then, eventually, the smoking gun was found, evidence of a huge crater right along the coast of the Yucatan peninsula that was eventually confirmed to have occurred right at the K-T boundary.  Subsequent studies have demonstrated that the impact of this meteorite (estimated to be between 6 and 9 miles across) would have created true havoc for life on earth. 

As you might suspect, I could go on and on, discussing truly interesting things about the impact and its aftermath.  But I won’t, because you all have access to the internet and can research the topic to your heart’s content . . .

Time to wrap things up.  I couldn’t find much in the way of cool pictures posted on Google Earth, but I did find this shot by Barry Hughes, taken about 8 miles northeast of my landing (not even in my watershed . . . )



That’ll do it . . .




© 2020 A Landing A Day


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Elsah and Alton, Illinois

Posted by graywacke on May 19, 2020

 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 2484 ; A Landing A Day blog post number 924

Dan:  Today’s lat/long (N38o 59.170’, W90o 20.873’) puts me in southwest Illinois:

Here’s my local map:

I’ll zoom back a bit to show that I’m only about 25 miles north of St. Louis:

Taking a look at my streams-only map, there’s no question that I landed in the watershed of Mill Creek:

And there’s no question that Mill Creek flows into Piasa Creek (pronounced “PY – ah – saw”) and then right into the Almighty (not just Mighty) Mississippi.

Moving over to Google Earth (GE), I couldn’t get the Orange Dude close enough to my landing for a worthwhile look.  But he could say hello to Mill Creek:

And here’s what he sees:

I sent the OD down by the river near Elsah, just to take a look around.  And right away, he saw this:

Oh my!  A very large, very handsome tug boat.  I asked the OD if he could get a look at the name posted on the stern.  He complied:

His eyes are better than mine, so I asked him to get a closer look for my benefit:

It’s a little tough to read, but it’s the “Crimson Duke.”  Of course, I Googled it.  From TowBoatGallery.com:

Wow.  It’s almost 200’ long!  And has three 1050-hp engines . . . 

And then, amazingly, I found a drone video (by Bowzer) that features the Crimson Duke on a trip from Elsah to Alton!  It’s kind of long, but don’t let that worry you.  You must watch the first couple of minutes that feature a beautiful drone flight along the limestone bluffs, and then we zero in on the Crimson Duke.  Feel free to skip ahead to the end of the video if you want to watch the ship sail under the Alton bridge.

One other thing:  I totally disagree with the creator’s choice of music.  A lazy ride down the Mississippi shouldn’t be accompanied by the 1812 Overture!!!


Speaking of the limestone bluffs, I need to do a little geology.  From the Illinois State Geologic Survey:

During the Mississippian Era [about 350 million years ago], the area now called Illinois was located south of the equator.

[Wait a second!  Illinois was south of the equator?]

The equator has not moved during the history of the Earth, but the tectonic plates that make up Earth’s crust have slowly moved around during Earth’s life of 4.6 billion years. During the 40 million years of the Mississippian Period, what is now Illinois moved slowly northward from near 30° south latitude to just north of 10° south latitude.

[OK.  Here’s a CAM* that shows what was going on 350 million years ago:]


Illinois and surrounding areas of the midcontinent were covered by a warm, shallow inland sea that extended inland from the deep ocean at the edge of the continental plate. During the early part of the Mississippian, this inland sea covered most of the midcontinent and was up to several hundred feet deep in the southern Illinois area. As time went on (measured in millions of years), the depth of the water became shallower.

Limestone, the most abundant Mississippian rock type in Illinois is primarily calcium carbonate (calcite, or CaCO3) and can form in several different ways. One of the most common ways begins with shelled sea animals that secrete calcium carbonate to form their protective shells. When these animals die, their shells collect on the sea floor. Often the shells are broken by strong currents (due to storms and tides) near shore and are carried seaward. When these shells become compacted and cemented on the sea floor (by calcite that precipitates from the sea water), limestone forms.

There you have it.

Let’s take a quick visit to Elsah, a somewhat funky old town.  From Wiki:

James Semple, a US Senator from Illinois, founded Elsah in 1853 and offered free lots to anyone who built houses with stone from his quarry. It is believed that he named the village of Elsah after Ailsa Craig, the last outcropping his family saw as they departed Scotland for the United States.  By 1861, the village had grown to its current size, as geographic and economic limitations prevented further expansion.

Here’s a GE Street View shot of the main drag in Elsah:

Wiki says that Elsah was named “after Ailsa Craig, the last outcropping his family saw as they departed Scotland for the United States.”  Say what?  Of course, at first blush, I thought that Ailsa Craig was a person, but a person is not generally referred to as an “outcropping,” except maybe for Sylvester Stallone.  (Get my joke?)

Here’s what Wiki has to say about Ailsa Craig:

Ailsa Craig is an island of 240 acres in the outer Firth of Clyde, 10 miles west of mainland Scotland, upon which blue hone granite has long been quarried to make curling stones. The now uninhabited island is formed from the volcanic plug of an extinct volcano.

[Very cool!  Curling stones come from this little island!]

An early reference to the rock is made by Sir Donald Monro, Archdeacon of the Isles who referred to the rock as “Elsay” in the 16th century.  [Very close to Elsah!]

The modern name of the island is an anglicization of the Gaelic, Aillse Creag meaning “fairy rock.”

The island is sometimes known as “Paddy’s Milestone”, being approximately the halfway point (and the most prominent landmark) of the sea journey from Belfast to Glasgow, a traditional route of emigration for many Irish labourers going to Scotland to seek work.

Here’s a broad GE shot:

And a closer view:


Much closer:

Here’s a wonderful shot of the island posted on GE by Alan Miller:

And this, by Bern Spears:

And this, by Jan Kopanski:

Moving along to Alton.  There’s not much to say about Alton, except for a couple of things.  One, there’s a wonderful bridge over the Mississippi River at Alton.  Here’s a pic by Casey Dikkers:

Hey.  Is that the Crimson Duke going under the bridge??

And another, by Tony Smith:

But what really caught my eye while researching Alton was this, from Wiki, under “Early History:”

Early native settlement is demonstrated by archaeological artifacts and the famous prehistoric Piasa bird painted on a cliff face nearby. The image was first written about in 1673 by French missionary priest Father Jacques Marquette.

The first thing I noted was I landed in the Piasa Creek watershed but more importantly, “Piasa” was Wiki-clickable:

The Piasa (PY-ah-saw) or Piasa Bird is a Native American dragon depicted in a mural painted by Native Americans on bluffs above the Mississippi River. Its original location was at the end of a chain of limestone bluffs in Madison County, Illinois at present-day Alton, Illinois.

The original Piasa illustration no longer exists; a newer 20th-century version, based partly on 19th-century sketches and lithographs, has been placed on a bluff in Alton, Illinois, several hundred yards upstream from its origin [see above photo].

The limestone rock quality on the new site is unsuited for holding an image, and the painting must be regularly restored. The original site of the painting was a high-quality (6–8 foot thick) layer of lithographic limestone, which was predominantly quarried away in the late 1870s by the Mississippi Lime Company.

AYKM??  This isn’t as bad as the Taliban and the Buddha statues in Afghanistan, but it’s pretty bad! 

In 1673, Father Jacques Marquette saw the painting on a limestone bluff overlooking the Mississippi River while exploring the area. He recorded the following description:

“While Skirting some rocks, which by Their height and length inspired awe, We saw upon one of them two painted monsters which at first made Us afraid, and upon Which the boldest savages dare not Long rest their eyes. They are as large As a calf; they have Horns on their heads Like those of a deer, a horrible look, red eyes, a beard Like a tiger’s, a face somewhat like a man’s, a body covered with scales, and so Long A tail that it winds all around the Body, passing above the head and going back between the legs, ending in a Fish’s tail. Green, red, and black are the three Colors composing the Picture. Moreover, these 2 monsters are so well painted that we cannot believe that any savage is their author; for good painters in France would find it difficult to reach that.”

The mural may have been associated with the large city of Cahokia, which began developing about 900 AD. Cahokia was at its peak about 1200 AD, with 20,000 to 30,000 residents. It was the largest prehistoric city north of Mexico and a major chiefdom. Icons and animal pictographs, such as falcons, thunder-birds, bird men, and monstrous snakes were common motifs of the Cahokia culture. The Piasa creature may have been painted as a graphic symbol to warn strangers traveling down the Mississippi River that they were entering Cahokian territory.

Before presenting a little background about Cahokia, I must add this – that lessens the sin of the rock quarry that removed the mural.  From Wiki:

Later French explorers, like St. Cosme, reported that by 1699 the mural was badly worn due to the habits of the local Indians to “discharge their weapons” at the image as they passed.

No comment.  Moving on to the city of Cahokia.  The city was located across the river from St. Louis, about 20 miles south of the mural.  From Wiki:

At its apex around 1100 AD, Cahokia covered about 6 square miles and included about 120 manmade earthen mounds in a wide range of sizes, shapes, and functions.  In population, it may have exceeded that of London at the same time.

Here’s the largest mound today:

The stairs approximate where wooden stairs were originally located.

I’ll close with a couple of shots posted on GE, first this taken from the top of the bluffs near Elsah (by John Colbert):

I wonder if John is a fan of The Late Show.  If so, he may pronounce his last name “coal-bear” . . .

And then this, by Mark Antunes, also taken near Elsah:

That’ll do it . . .




© 2020 A Landing A Day


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Randlett and Roosevelt, Utah

Posted by graywacke on May 13, 2020

 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 2483 ; A Landing A Day blog post number 923

Dan:  Today’s lat/long (N40o 14.460’, W109o 49.569’) puts me in northeast Utah:

My local landing map:

Check out my streams-only map:

Looks like I landed right near where Dry Gulch Creek (to the left) mysteriously transforms into the Uinta River (2nd hit)!

Zooming back:

The Uinta River discharges to the Duchesne (3rd hit); on to the Green (38th hit).

“Class!  And the Green discharges to the . . . ?”

Two or three kids raise their hands.  The teacher calls on the shyest one, little Samantha, who says (through her stammer), “The-the-the-the Co-Co-Colorado!”

“Excellent!  For extra credit:  Samantha, how many times has A Landing A Day landed in the Colorado River watershed?  I’ll accept any answer within 20 of the correct number.”

Samantha squints, thinking hard.  Pausing slightly to make sure her stutter is under control, she says “I’ll say . . . 200.”

“Very good!  The actual number is 188!”

In the back of the class, an entirely orange student raises his hand.  “Yes, Orange Dude?”

“I have to leave now and go to northeast Utah.  Can I be excused?”

“Yes, of course,” says Teacher.  Just check in with the office on your way out.  Have a good trip!”

We (the Orange Dude & I)  met near Randlett, and the OD headed down the road a piece, trying to get a decent look at my landing.  “This is as good as I can do:”

And here’s what he sees:

Note that the valley of Dry Gulch Creek isn’t visible, except for the top of the trees.

I sent the OD back down to Randlett, and he got this view of either the Dry Gulch Creek or the Uinta River:

See the cliff?  Let’s take an oblique GE look:

As I am wont to do, I spent an inordinate amount of time on the internet trying to find something – anything – on the geology that tells the story of the cliff & the plateau.  I came up entirely empty . . .

Speaking of spending an inordinate amount of time on the internet, that’s what I also did for Randlett, looking for a hook.  It didn’t really happen, but I found this, from Niche.com, about Randlett (as a place to live).

Randlett is a town in Utah with a population of 143. Randlett is in Uintah County. Living in Randlett offers residents a rural feel and most residents own their homes. In Randlett there are a lot of bars. Residents of Randlett tend to be conservative.

Heading over to Roosevelt, I discovered that the town (pop 7,000) was named after Theodore Roosevelt.  I realized that for someone memorialized on Mount Rushmore, I didn’t really know that much about him.  I knew that he was a Rough Rider who charged up some hill in Cuba, and that as president, he was big on creating National Parks.  I also recalled that he was instrumental in getting the Panama Canal built.  That’s about it.

Wiki had quite the robust entry on good ol’ Theodore.  I decided to bulletize the info (editing for clarity and brevity) and sprinkle in some direct Wiki quotes.  Here goes:

  • Born in 1858 in Manhattan
  • Roosevelt’s youth was largely shaped by his poor health and debilitating asthma. He repeatedly experienced sudden nighttime asthma attacks that caused the experience of being smothered to death, which terrified both Theodore and his parents.
  • Hiking with his family in the Alps in 1869, Roosevelt found that he could keep pace with his father. He had discovered the significant benefits of physical exertion to minimize his asthma and bolster his spirits. Roosevelt began a heavy regime of exercise. After being manhandled by two older boys on a camping trip, he found a boxing coach to teach him to fight and strengthen his body.
  • He was home schooled and then attended Harvard. When he entered college in September 1876, his father advised: “Take care of your morals first, your health next, and finally your studies.”
  • His father (a wealthy businessman) died two years later; he inherited $125,000 (equal to $3.3 million in today’s dollars)
  • He considered a career in the natural sciences but had a yearning for politics, so he went to Columbia Law School
  • He was elected to the NY State Assembly while still at Columbia; he dropped out of law school.
  • He was married at 22 (just out of Harvard). In 1884, a daughter was born; his wife Alice died of childbirth complications two days later.
  • His mother died of typhoid fever 11 hours before his wife.

[Unimaginably horrible time for Theodore.]

  • His sister raised baby Alice until she was three; Theodore (then remarried) reclaimed custody at that point.

[Wow.  That could have been an unimaginably horrible time for his sister.  She had to give up a three-year-old, who she raised as a daughter.]

  • He bought a ranch in North Dakota and spent three years shuttling back and forth from New York. He embraced the western cowboy life.
  • In 1886 (just two years after the death of his wife), he remarried. He and Edith had 5 children.
  • Ran for Mayor of NY City in 1886. Came in third.
  • Named as head of the U.S. Civil Service Commission, a newly-created agency with the job of making sure that government employees are hired and promoted based on merit, not on cronyism. He zealously rooted-out favoritism (which was rampant at the time) wherever he found it.
  • In 1895 (at age 37), he was named Police Commissioner for NY City. He fought corruption, and insisted on high ethical standards for the police.
  • In 1896, newly-elected president William McKinley appointed Roosevelt as the Assistant Secretary of the Navy.
  • Secretary of the Navy John Long (Roosevelt’s boss) was more concerned about formalities than functions and left many major decisions to Roosevelt, who called for a build-up in the country’s naval strength, particularly the construction of battleships.
  • Roosevelt also began pressing his national security views regarding the Pacific and the Caribbean on McKinley, and was particularly adamant that Spain be ejected from Cuba.
  • On February 15, 1898, USS Maine, an armored cruiser, exploded in the harbor of Havana, Cuba, killing hundreds of crew members. While Roosevelt and many other Americans blamed Spain for the explosion, McKinley sought a diplomatic solution.
  • Without approval from Long or McKinley, Roosevelt sent out orders to several naval vessels, directing them to prepare for war. George Dewey, who had received an appointment to lead the Asiatic Squadron with the backing of Roosevelt, later credited his victory at the Battle of Manila Bay to Roosevelt’s orders.
  • After finally giving up hope of a peaceful solution, McKinley asked Congress to declare war upon Spain, beginning the Spanish–American War.

From Wiki, about the Battle of Manila Bay:

The Battle of Manila Bay, took place on 1 May 1898, during the Spanish–American War. The American Asiatic Squadron under Commodore George Dewey engaged and destroyed the Spanish Pacific Squadron under Rear Admiral Montojo. The battle took place in Manila Bay in the Philippines, and was the first major engagement of the Spanish–American War. The battle was one of the most decisive naval battles in history and marked the end of the Spanish colonial period in Philippine history.

  • Roosevelt resigned from his Navy post, and formed a “temporary unit,” pressed into duty for service in Cuba. The press dubbed his unit the “Rough Riders,” and he was “promoted” to Colonel.
  • Volunteers from all over the country signed up for the regiment.
  • Diversity characterized the regiment, which included Ivy Leaguers, professional and amateur athletes, upscale gentlemen, cowboys, frontiersmen, Native Americans, hunters, miners, prospectors, former soldiers, tradesmen, and sheriffs.
  • The Rough Riders went to Cuba; their most famous engagement was the charge up San Juan Hill.

From Wiki:

The Battle of San Juan Hill (July 1, 1898) was a decisive battle of the Spanish–American War. This fight for the heights was the bloodiest and most famous battle of the war. It was also the location of the “greatest victory” for the Rough Riders, as stated by the press and its new commander, Theodore Roosevelt.  Roosevelt was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor in 2001 for his actions in Cuba and became the only U.S. president to win the award.

The 10-week long Spanish American war (fought in both Cuba and the Phillippines) resulted in the Treaty of Paris, which allowed it temporary control of Cuba and ceded ownership of Puerto Rico, Guam, and the Philippine islands.

The defeat and loss of the last remnants of the Spanish Empire was a profound shock to Spain’s national psyche and provoked a thorough philosophical and artistic reevaluation of Spanish society.  The United States gained several island possessions spanning the globe and prompted a rancorous new debate over the wisdom of expansionism.

  • Roosevelt ran for and won the governorship of the State of New York in 1898.
  • In 1900, he reluctantly accepted the Republican Party’s nomination for Vice President, becoming the running mate of the incumbent William McKinley (who’s VP, Garrett Hobart, died of a heart attack).

Wiki, on the 1900 election and Roosevelt’ role:

Roosevelt’s vice-presidential campaigning proved highly energetic and an equal match for Democratic presidential nominee William Jennings Bryan’s famous barnstorming style of campaigning. In a whirlwind campaign that displayed his energy to the public, Roosevelt made 480 stops in 23 states. With the nation basking in peace and prosperity, the voters gave McKinley and Roosevelt an even larger victory than the Republicans had achieved in 1896.

Wiki, on McKinley’s assassination:

On September 6, 1901, President McKinley was attending the Pan-American Exposition in Buffalo, New York when he was shot by Leon Czolgosz. Roosevelt was vacationing in Vermont, and traveled to Buffalo to visit McKinley in the hospital. It appeared that McKinley would recover, so Roosevelt resumed his vacation in the Adirondacks. When McKinley’s condition worsened, Roosevelt was again summoned to Buffalo. McKinley died on September 14, and Roosevelt was informed while he was at the train station in North Creek NY; he continued on to Buffalo and was sworn in as the nation’s 26th president.

Here’s Wiki’s quick summary of Roosevelt’s presidency:

Roosevelt took office as vice president in March 1901 and assumed the presidency at age 42 after McKinley was assassinated the following September. He remains the youngest person to become President of the United States.

[Did you know that?  Think it was Kennedy?]

Roosevelt was a leader of the progressive movement, and he championed his “Square Deal” domestic policies, promising the average citizen fairness, breaking of trusts, regulation of railroads, and pure food and drugs.

He made conservation a top priority and established many new national parks, forests, and monuments intended to preserve the nation’s natural resources.

In foreign policy, he focused on Central America where he began construction of the Panama Canal. He expanded the Navy and sent the Great White Fleet on a world tour to project the United States’ naval power around the globe.

His successful efforts to broker the end of the Russo-Japanese War won him the 1906 Nobel Peace Prize. Roosevelt was elected to a full term in 1904 and continued to promote progressive policies, many of which were passed in Congress.

He groomed his close friend William Howard Taft to successfully succeed him in the 1908 presidential election.

The bullets return:

  • In March 1909, shortly after the end of his presidency, Roosevelt left New York for the Smithsonian-Roosevelt African Expedition, a safari in east and central Africa.
  • Roosevelt and his companions killed or trapped approximately 11,400 animals (including 1000 large mammals), from insects and moles to hippopotamuses and elephants. The 1,000 large animals included 512 big game animals, including six rare white rhinos.
  • In 1912, Roosevelt decided to run for President. He decided to abandon the Republican party to Robert Taft, and formed a third party, the Progressive Party.  His party became popularly known as the “Bull Moose Party, after Roosevelt told reporters, “I’m as fit as a bull moose.”  While campaigning, this happened (Wiki):

On October 14, 1912, while campaigning in Milwaukee, Roosevelt was shot by a saloonkeeper named John Schrank. The bullet lodged in his chest after penetrating his steel eyeglass case and passing through a thick (50 pages) single-folded copy of the speech titled “Progressive Cause Greater Than Any Individual”, which he was carrying in his jacket.

[Whoa.  One lucky dude . . .]

Schrank was immediately disarmed, captured and might have been lynched had Roosevelt not shouted for Schrank to remain unharmed.Roosevelt assured the crowd he was all right, then ordered police to take charge of Schrank and to make sure no violence was done to him.

As an experienced hunter and anatomist, Roosevelt correctly concluded that since he was not coughing blood, the bullet had not reached his lung, and he declined suggestions to go to the hospital immediately. Instead, he delivered his scheduled speech with blood seeping into his shirt.

He spoke for 90 minutes before completing his speech and accepting medical attention. His opening comments to the gathered crowd were, “Ladies and gentlemen, I don’t know whether you fully understand that I have just been shot, but it takes more than that to kill a Bull Moose.”

Afterwards, probes and an x-ray showed that the bullet had lodged in Roosevelt’s chest muscle, but did not penetrate the pleura. Doctors concluded that it would be less dangerous to leave it in place than to attempt to remove it, and Roosevelt carried the bullet with him for the rest of his life.

  • Roosevelt finished a solid third in the election, won handily by Democrat Woodrow Wilson.
  • In 1913, Roosevelt embarked on an expedition to the Amazon jungles of Brazil, and then this happened:

During a boat trip down a tributary to the Amazon River, Roosevelt suffered a minor leg wound after he jumped into the river to try to prevent two canoes from smashing against the rocks. The flesh wound he received, however, soon gave him a tropical fever.  Because the bullet lodged in his chest from the assassination attempt in 1912 was never removed, his health worsened from the infection.

This weakened Roosevelt so greatly that six weeks into the adventure, he had to be attended to day and night by the expedition’s physician and his son Kermit. By then, he could not walk because of the infection in his injured leg  Roosevelt was riddled with chest pains, fighting a fever that soared to 103 °F and at times made him delirious, at one point constantly reciting the first two lines of Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s poem “Kubla Khan”:

“In Xanadu did Kubla Khan
A stately pleasure dome decree”.

[More about Kubla Khan and his pleasure dome in a bit.]

Regarding his condition as a threat to the survival of the others, Roosevelt insisted he be left behind to allow the poorly provisioned expedition to proceed as rapidly as it could, preparing to commit suicide with an overdose of morphine. Only an appeal by his son persuaded him to continue.

Despite Roosevelt’s continued decline and loss of over 50 pounds, the expedition became centered on Roosevelt’s survival.

Upon Roosevelt’s return to New York, friends and family were startled by his physical appearance and fatigue. Roosevelt wrote, perhaps prophetically, to a friend that the trip had cut his life short by ten years. For the rest of his few remaining years, he would be plagued by flare-ups of malaria and leg inflammations so severe as to require surgery.

  • Roosevelt’s youngest son Quentin, a pilot during WWI, was shot down and killed in France. It is said that Roosevelt never got over his grief.
  • Roosevelt was a leading contender for the Republican nomination for president in 1920. From Wiki about the lead up to the election:

Roosevelt wrote:  “I wish to do everything in my power to make the Republican Party the Party of sane, constructive radicalism, just as it was under Lincoln.”

Accordingly, he told the 1918 state convention of the Maine Republican Party that he stood for old-age pensions, insurance for sickness and unemployment, construction of public housing for low-income families, the reduction of working hours, aid to farmers, and more regulation of large corporations.

Roosevelt’s physical condition was rapidly deteriorating due to the long-term effects of jungle diseases. He was hospitalized for seven weeks in late 1918, and never fully recovered.

On the night of January 5, 1919, Roosevelt suffered breathing problems. After receiving treatment from his physician, he felt better and went to bed. Roosevelt’s last words were “Please put out that light, James” to his family servant James Amos. Between 4:00 and 4:15 the next morning, Roosevelt died in his sleep after a blood clot had detached from a vein and traveled to his lungs.

He was 60 years old. Upon receiving word of his death, his son Archibald telegraphed his siblings: “The old lion is dead.

Before moving on, here’s Mount Rushmore:

And a close-up of our man:


A quick digression to Kubla Khan.  Remember that when Roosevelt was delirious with fever, he compulsively repeated two lines from the poem:

“In Xanadu did Kubla Khan
A stately pleasure dome decree”.

From Wiki:

Kubla Khan: or, “A Vision in a Dream: A Fragment” is a poem written by Samuel Taylor Coleridge, completed in 1797 and published in 1816. According to Coleridge’s preface to Kubla Khan, the poem was composed one night after he experienced an opium-influenced dream after reading a work describing Xanadu, the summer palace of the Mongol ruler and Emperor of China, Kublai Khan.

Some of Coleridge’s contemporaries denounced the poem and questioned his story of its origin. It was not until years later that critics began to openly admire the poem. Most modern critics now view Kubla Khan as one of Coleridge’s three great poems, along with The Rime of the Ancient Mariner and Christabel.

OK, OK. But what about the “stately pleasure dome?”  Well, it turns out that Coleridge, in a preface, referenced a work by Samuel Purchas about Marco Polo’s description of Xanadu.  From Wiki, this excerpt and discussion of Purchas’ work:

“In Xanadu did Kublai Khan build a stately Palace, encompassing sixteen miles of plain ground with a wall, wherein are fertile meadows, pleasant springs, delightful streams, and all sorts of beasts of chase and game, and in the midst thereof a sumptuous house of pleasure, which may be moved from place to place.”

This quotation was based upon the writings of the Venetian explorer Marco Polo who is widely believed to have visited Xanadu in about 1275.  Marco Polo also described a large portable palace made of gilded and lacquered cane or bamboo which could be taken apart quickly and moved from place to place.  This was the “sumptuous house of pleasure” mentioned by Purchas, which Coleridge transformed into a “stately pleasure dome”.

Here’s the entire first verse of the poem:

In Xanadu did Kubla Khan
A stately pleasure-dome decree:
Where Alph, the sacred river, ran
Through caverns measureless to man
Down to a sunless sea.
So twice five miles of fertile ground
With walls and towers were girdled round;
And there were gardens bright with sinuous rills,
Where blossomed many an incense-bearing tree;
And here were forests ancient as the hills,
Enfolding sunny spots of greenery.

The actual city where Kublai Khan had his summer palace is more commonly known as Shangdu.  It was an actual city, and there are ruins at the site.

So, thanks to S.T. Coleridge’s psychedelic poem (where he referred to Shangdu as “Xanadu,”) the name Xanadu has come to be a metaphor for any place of splendor.  It refers to many things, including:

  • A bright spot on Titan, Saturn’s moon.
  • Bill Gates’ house.
  • The original name of the huge shopping mall in the NJ Meadowlands.
  • A 1980 film starring Olivia Newton-John (one star on Rotten Tomatoes; I just checked out the trailer and see why)
  • A TV series
  • A video game
  • Many other things musical & artistic

Enough already!  Time to head back to Utah!

I’ll close this with a couple of shots posted on GE.  First this, of the barren rocky slopes common near my landing, by Dean D:

Grey Desert Hills, 1981

And this, taken about 5 miles north of my landing by Glade Allred:

That’ll do it . . .




© 2020 A Landing A Day


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Council Grove, Bushong and Admire, Kansas

Posted by graywacke on May 7, 2020

 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 2482 ; A Landing A Day blog post number 922

Dan:  Today’s lat/long (N38o 47.432’, W96o 15.950’) puts me in E-Cen Kansas:

If “E-Cen Kansas” sounds familiar, it should.  Just two landings ago, I landed a mere 25 miles south of today’s landing.  I featured Americus, which is 9 miles south of one of today’s titular towns, Bushong.

Here’s my local landing map:

My streams-only map shows that I landed in the Rock Creek watershed, on to the Neosho River (the same river as two landings ago, 9th hit). 

Zooming out:

The Neosho (as I’m sure you all remember) discharges to the Arkansas (136th hit); on to the MM (960th hit).

Of course, per usual I went over to Google Earth (GE) to check things out.  I didn’t get a great look at my landing (even though I could get within a half mile) thanks to intervening trees:

Here’s what the OD sees:

A few miles south, the OD got a good look at Rock Creek, and yes, I’m sure it’s Rock Creek:


Thanks, Kansas DOT!  And here’s the creek:

Just northeast of my landing, I noticed a dead-ended GoogleMobile route:

Here’s a close-up:

Here’s a shot of the “road.”

The Orange Dude asked, “where in the heck are you taking me?”  I think he was imagining being a character in a Stephen King novel . . .

Here are some more StreetView shots:


I think that the GoogleMobile driver had some second thoughts about driving up this apparent driveway, as well!  Anyway, there’s another entryway at the end of the road:

This appears to be quite the cool property!

I think I’ll start with Council Grove, far-and-away the largest local town (pop 2,200).  From Wiki:

It was named after an 1825 agreement between White European Americans and the Osage Nation that was signed under “Council Oak,” allowing settlers’ wagon trains to pass westward through the area on the Santa Fe Trail. Pioneers later gathered at a nearby grove of trees so that wagons could band together for their trip west.

I wonder what the Osage Nation received in return for their cooperation?  Whatever it was, I’m sure it amounted to nothing in very short order.

Also.  There’s a “Madonna of the Trail” statue in Council Grove, which is also Wiki-clickable:

Madonna of the Trail is a series of 12 identical monuments dedicated to the spirit of pioneer women in the United States. The monuments were commissioned by the National Society of Daughters of the American Revolution. They were installed in each of the 12 states along the National Old Trails Road, which extended from Cumberland, Maryland, to Upland, California.

Here’s a map of the road (established in 1912, as one of the original roads created due to that new-fangled contraption, the automobile:

Back to Wiki:

Created by sculptor August Leimbach and funded by contributions, the Madonna of the Trail monuments were intended to provide a symbol of the courage and faith of the women whose strength and love aided so greatly in conquering the wilderness and establishing permanent homes. Dedicated in 1928 and 1929, the twelve statues became sources of local pride. Through the continuing efforts of local and national groups, all are currently in good condition and on display.

Here’s the one in Council Grove:

Time to head on over to Bushong.  From Wiki:

The city, originally a whistle-stop of the Missouri Pacific Railroad, was first named Weeks. The city took its present name in 1886 in honor of St. Louis Browns [baseball] catcher Albert J. “Doc” Bushong.

Following the Browns’ victory in the 1886 World Series over the Chicago White Stockings, the Missouri Pacific Railroad honored several of the St. Louis players by naming some of their depots after the players.

Bushong (whose career spanned 16 years, from 1875 – 1891) had played every game in the series and was at bat in Game Six, when the winning run scored by Curt Welch stealing home. The city of Bushong is the only one still carrying its name from the 1886 World Series.

The 1886  World Series was decided in extra innings of game 6 by Curt Welch’s so-called “$15,000 slide” following a passed ball [while our man Bushong was at the plate]. The decisive run scored by Welch became one of the most famous plays in the history of baseball in that era.

Following his baseball retirement in 1891, Bushong, then 33 years old, began practicing dentistry full-time along with two brothers, who were also dentists, at a large dental house in Hoboken, New Jersey. Eventually he became manager of the establishment. Also while working in Hoboken, he began and, according to baseball historian William Rankin, “built up a large and flourishing practice”, at his home in south Brooklyn, 442 Ninth Street.

I hitched my wagon up to GE to get a look at Doc Bushong’s house at 442 Ninth Street, and here’s what the OD could see:

442 is the building straight ahead, the second from the corner.  It looks like there’s a business on the ground floor.  Yup.  It’s “Brooklyn Net Wellness:”

I don’t get their peculiar sign that appears to highlight “klyn et ess” (on this July 2018 photo).  I Googled “klyn et ess” and found one hit – a May 2019 subReddit post (HalfLitSigns) that included a picture of the sign, with this note:  “This subreddit is for any light-up signs that have only part of their letters lit up, making it spell something stupid.”

The Street View photo was taken in June 2019; if in fact the sign is simply missing some of its letters due to an electrical issue, it has been that way for almost a year!  Here’s hoping they’ve fixed their sign.

BTW, There’s another photo posted on HalfLitSigns subreddit:

FYI, Brooklyn Net Wellness is an upscale massage parlor.  It has good reviews, but is shut down thanks to the crazy times we’re all living through. 

Today’s last stop is Admire.  According to the town website, the locals pronounce it AD-mire.  Say AD-mire three times out loud, to fix it in your consciousness.  Paraphrasing from the ADmire’s website:

The town was founded in 1886 by a group of investors (including Joseph Admire.)  In June 1887, the town fathers decided to run an excursion train to Admire for the purpose of interesting people in moving there and buying lots. 

From the website:

The day before the excursion visitors were to arrive, the groves of trees around town were ransacked for nice thrifty trees. [These cut-down trees were evidently “planted” around town.]  The visitors could not help admiring the beautiful appearance of the town. In one of the speeches given that day one of the visitors remarked how admirable Admire was. The joke was on the town, however, for in a few days when the trees had withered and dried the town had the appearance of being very, very dead.

A drought then hit, and the town suffered greatly.  The website tells a story that a 4’ diameter well was hand dug, trying to obtain more water for the town.  The well came up totally dry, however. 

Back to the website:

The work was ended when a portion of the well caved in. One man was trapped at the bottom of the well, and rather than risk further loss of life in a rescue operations, as another cave in was feared, the well was filled up. The lone well digger still resides one hundred and sixty feet below Main Street.

Staying with the Admire town website, here’s a shot of the “Community Pride” web page:

Look closely at the gentlemen (lady?) on the left.  Are you as baffled as I am about why this picture was chosen?  Some guy (or woman) in a cowboy hat with:

  • A strap around his (her) hat
  • Tape around the toes of his (her) shoes
  • Tape around one of his (her) ankles
  • A cloth bag with a leash

I’m sure there’s an explanation . . .

I’ll close with a couple of shots of a very cool, very old stone wall, just north of my landing.  First this, posted on GE by Maxine Arnoldy:

And then this of the same wall from a different angle, by Al Schmidt:

That’ll do it . . .




© 2020 A Landing A Day


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Mobile Bay, Alabama

Posted by graywacke on April 29, 2020

 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 2480 ; A Landing A Day blog post number 920

Dan:  Today’s lat/long (N30o 17.503’, W87o 50.321’) puts me in far southwestern Alabama:

Here’s my local landing map:

I need to stop right here.  This landing represents one of my gray areas.  I had a choice:  1)  I could toss out this landing, call it a water landing, and try again; or 2) I could deem this intrinsically part of a given state, and get on with it.

Obviously, I have selected option 2.  I always toss aside Great Lakes landings, Chesapeake and Delaware Bay landings, and Long Island Sound landings.  But I’ve kept single-state landings that aren’t out in the open ocean, like Puget Sound and Barnegat Bay NJ.  I think I’m being consistent, here . . . 

Anyway, I’ll zoom back to put my landing in a slightly more regional context:

Obviously, there’s no need for a watershed analysis . . .

I went over to Google Earth (GE) and had a little trouble finding a clear view of the Bay, but I (with the Orange Dude’s help, I managed):

And here’s what the OD sees:

I love water and beaches and boats and seaside landscapes, so I figured I’d be good just poking around the southern end of Mobile Bay. 

I’ll start with two old forts perched on either side of the entrance to Mobile Bay:

And GE close-ups, first Fort Gaines on Dauphin Island to the west:

And then Fort Morgan, to the east:

These would be cool spots to visit.  Both forts were built in the pre-Civil war 1830s era, with the intent of protecting Mobile Bay (and the city of Mobile) from invasion from foreign forces.  There wasn’t any big news at the forts until the Civil War, when the Yanks under Admiral Farragut thought they’d run through the narrow 3-mile opening into Mobile Bay.  From Wiki:

The Battle of Mobile Bay of August 5, 1864, was an engagement of the American Civil War in which a Union fleet commanded by Rear Admiral David G. Farragut, assisted by a contingent of soldiers, attacked a smaller Confederate fleet led by Admiral Franklin Buchanan and three forts that guarded the entrance to Mobile Bay.

Here’s a historic sketch of the run-up to the battle (from Wiki).  We’re looking out to sea, with the Confederate Navy in the foreground, and the approaching Union vessels in the rear:

And here’s a painting after the engagement (once again looking out to sea, with Fort Morgan on the left):

Farragut decided that he need to simply rush the defense. His order, “Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead!” became famous.

[More about the famous quote in a bit.]

The battle was marked by Farragut’s seemingly rash but successful run through a minefield that had just claimed one of his ironclad monitors, enabling his fleet to get beyond the range of the shore-based guns.

Here’s a Wiki picture of the ironclad monitor that was sunk, the USS Tecumseh:

This was followed by a reduction of the Confederate fleet to a single vessel, ironclad CSS Tennessee.

CSS Tennessee did not then retire, but engaged the entire Northern fleet.

Here’s a shot of the Tennessee taking on the entire northern fleet (dark boat, black smoke):

Tennessee’s armor enabled her to inflict more injury than she received, but she could not overcome the imbalance in numbers. She was eventually reduced to a motionless hulk and surrendered, ending the battle.

A photograph of the Tennessee, dead in the water:

With no Navy to support them, the three forts also surrendered within days. Complete control of lower Mobile Bay thus passed to the Union forces.

About the famous quote:  “Damn the torpedoes!  Full speed ahead!”  I asked my wife Jody about her thoughts on the origin of the phrase (which she had heard of).  She said that she assumed it was from WW II, in the Pacific theater.  I probably would’ve said the same thing.  I mean, when were torpedoes invented, anyway?  (Answer:  self-propelled torpedoes were invented in the early 1900s, and used extensively in WW I.)

Well, it turns out that back in the day, there were naval mines that floated on or just below the surface of the water that would explode upon contact.  The entrance to Mobile Bay was so mined back in 1864.  And yes, these were called torpedoes.

Before leaving history class, here’s a World War I recruitment poster featuring David Farragut at Mobile Bay:

Here’s a shot from the Fort Morgan website:

And this shot posted on GE by Bonny Folkestad, of Fort Gaines:

Moving right along . . . I idly Googled “Mobile Bay,” but perked up when I found this in Wiki:

Annually, and often several times during the summer months, the fish and crustaceans will swarm the shallow coastline and shore of the bay. This event, appropriately named a jubilee, draws a large crowd because of the abundance of fresh, easily caught seafood. Mobile Bay is the only place on earth where jubilees are a common occurrence.

What the heck?  “Jubilee” was Wiki-clickable:

During a jubilee many species of crab and shrimp, as well as flounder, eels, and other demersal fish will leave deeper waters and swarm—in large numbers and very high density—in a specific, shallower coastal area of the bay.  A jubilee is a celebrated event in Mobile Bay, and it attracts large crowds, many drawn by the promise of abundant and easy-to-catch seafood.

Although similar events have been reported in other bodies of water, Mobile Bay is the only place where the regular appearance of this phenomenon has been documented

The Mobile Bay jubilee typically takes place at least annually, and sometimes several times per year; years without a jubilee have been recorded, but they are exceedingly rare. Many accounts of the jubilee exist, the oldest dating back to the 1860s.

The size, scope, and duration of the jubilee can vary greatly. Sometimes a 15-mile  stretch of coast representing most of the eastern shore can be affected, and at other times the extent can be limited to as little as 500 feet (150 m) of coastline. Most jubilees happen in the pre-dawn hours.

Author Archie Carr comments, “At a good jubilee you can quickly fill a washtub with shrimp. You can gig a hundred flounders and fill the back of your pickup truck a foot deep in crabs.”

In addition, harvesting them is made considerably easier by the effect that the oxygen deprivation has on the animals. Their behavior has been described as “depressed and moribund”, or “unnatural”; crabs are observed “climbing tree stumps to escape the water” and flounder “slither up the banks.”

While the occurrence of jubilees in Mobile Bay predates European settlement in the region, it is unknown exactly when or how these events came to be known by this name. The first recorded printed use of the term “jubilee” in this context was in the Mobile Daily Register (now the Mobile Press-Register) on July 29, 1912:

… Hundreds of live sea crabs and fish … completely covered the beach at Point Clear and Zundels Sunday morning. A fisherman of experience in explaining the unusual occurrence stated that it was a “jubilee”… People who saw the wild scramble of fish and crabs on the sandy beach say they won’t soon forget the sight.

This was not, however, the first time the newspaper had covered the phenomenon; in his research, oceanographer Edwin B. May found several dozen mentions of similar events, the earliest dated back to July 17, 1867 and alludes to the fact that the phenomenon was known to have happened earlier:

EXCITEMENT AMONG THE FISH—Yesterday all the fish in the bay seemed to be making for the Eastern shore. Large numbers of crabs, flounders and other fish were found at the water’s edge, and taken in out of the wet. They were counted by the bushel. Annually this phenomenon occurs with the fish along the Eastern shore. They all appear to forsake the deep water, and swim and cluster in immense numbers to the shore.

— Mobile Daily Register, July 17, 1867

It was not until 1960 that the phenomenon was explored in-depth by marine biologist Harold Loesch for the journal Ecology.

After researching the oral histories and journalistic records of past jubilees, measuring physical and meteorologic conditions, and taking biological and chemical measurements, Loesch concluded that accumulated organic material on the bay floor could, under a certain set of conditions, result in a rapid depletion of oxygen in parts of the bay, driving fish to the surface seeking oxygenated water.

Additional research confirmed Loesch’s conclusions.  Here are some random pictures I lifted from Google images:

Heading back down towards my landing, I wondered how long it would take to drive from Dauphin Island to Fort Morgan.  Google Maps has the answer:

It’s closer to 2½ hours if you hug the coastline.  But how about taking the ferry?  It’s only about 3.5 miles:

And winter fares aren’t bad:

Here’s a beach shot taken on the south shore of the barrier island just south of my landing:

I’ll close with this Mobile Bay shot posted on GE by Thomas Myers:

That’ll do it . . .




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Americus and Emporia, Kansas

Posted by graywacke on April 24, 2020

 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 2480 ; A Landing A Day blog post number 920

Dan:  Today’s lat/long (N38o 26.095’, W96o 12.050’) puts me in east central Kansas:

Here’s my local landing map:

My streams-only map shows that I don’t have much choice: 

I landed in the Neosho River! Neosho River! Neosho River! Neosho River! watershed (8th 8th 8th 8th hit)! 

Zooming back:

The Neosho discharges to the Arkansas (146th hit); on to the MM (959th hit).

Heading on over to Google Earth, I have a nice clear look at my landing:

And here’s what my old friend the Orange Dude sees:

I sent him a couple of hundred yards north to get a look at the Neosho, and here’s his view:


Whoa, very nice!  I have to zoom in for a better look at the dam:

OK, it’s time to check out Americus.  Wiki (and the internet in general) has essentially nothing to say about Americus except that it was named after Amerigo Vespucci.

What do I know about Sig. Vespucci?  Hmmmm, not much.  Without cheating (much), here’s what I knew before a little research:  he was an early Italian explorer who made it over here to the Americas and somehow got his name affixed to a map.

What a legacy!  How about having two continents and a country named after you?  Not bad.  But I soon learned (from Wiki) that there’s more to the story . . .

Between 1497 and 1504, Vespucci participated in at least two voyages exploring the coast of the New World, first on behalf of Spain (1499-1500) and then for Portugal (1501-1502). In 1503 and 1505, two booklets were published under his name, containing colorful descriptions of these explorations and other alleged voyages. Both publications were extremely popular and widely read across much of Europe. Although historians still dispute the authorship and veracity of these accounts, at the time they were instrumental in raising awareness of the New World and enhancing the reputation of Vespucci as an explorer and navigator.

So, anyway, he took a “first voyage,” supposedly in 1497-98.  The voyage was documented in a 1504 letter by some Italian dude.  It is generally agreed that this voyage never happened (and that maybe Amerigo promoted it so he could claim to have beaten Columbus to what would be named mainland South America).

But he really did take his “second voyage.”  Back to Wiki:

In 1499 Vespucci joined an expedition licensed by Spain and led by Alonso de Ojeda as fleet commander and Juan de la Cosa as chief navigator. Their intention was to explore the coast of a new landmass found by Columbus on his third voyage and in particular investigate a rich source of pearls that Columbus had reported.

South Alonso?  North Juan?  The United States of Ojeda?  It all makes more sense than what we ended up with.  Back to Wiki:

Vespucci’s role on the voyage is not clear. Writing later about his experience, Vespucci gave the impression that he had a leadership role but that is unlikely because of his inexperience. Instead, he may have served as a commercial representative on behalf of the fleet’s investors. Years later, Ojeda recalled that “Morigo Vespuche” was one of his pilots on the expedition.

Geez.  Even the Captain could hardly remember him (let alone how to spell hi name).  It’s becoming clear.  Amerigo knows how to write, how to capture the public’s attention; how to promote himself.  So how about the Third Voyage?  From Wiki:

In 1501 Manuel I of Portugal commissioned an expedition to investigate a landmass encountered unexpectedly by Pedro Álvares Cabral on his voyage to India. That land would eventually become present-day Brazil. Manuel saw an opportunity to claim vast lands for Portugal.  Vespucci’s reputation as an explorer and presumed navigator had already reached Portugal, and he was hired by the king to serve as pilot under the command of Gonçalo Coelho.

South Coelho?  North Pedro?  The United States of Alvares?

And the Fourth Voyage:

In 1503, Vespucci may have participated in a second expedition for the Portuguese crown, again exploring the east coast of Brazil. There is evidence that a voyage was led by Coelho at about this time but no independent confirmation that Vespucci took part. The only source for this last voyage is the Soderini Letter; but several modern scholars dispute Vespucci’s authorship of that letter and it is uncertain whether Vespucci undertook this trip.

So, in 1505 he wrote a letter to Piero di Tommaso Soderini, the leader of the Florentine Republic.  From Wiki:

This letter is more sensational in tone than the other letters and the only one to assert that Vespucci made four voyages of exploration. The authorship and the veracity of the letter have been widely questioned by modern historians. Nevertheless, this document was the original inspiration for naming the American continent in honor of Amerigo Vespucci.

OMG.  AYKM?  We’re named after a phony!  No changing it now . . . the name runs pretty deep in our pyche  . . .

From Wiki about “The Naming of America:”

Vespucci’s voyages became widely known in Europe after two accounts attributed to him were published between 1503 and 1505. In 1506 a group of French scholars (including mapmakers) obtained a French translation of the Soderini Letter as well as a Portuguese maritime map that detailed the coast of lands recently discovered in the western Atlantic.

They surmised that this was the “new world” hypothesized by classical writers. The Soderini Letter gave Vespucci credit for discovery of this new continent and implied that the Portuguese map was based on his explorations.

In April 1507, Ringmann and Waldseemüller [don’t sound French to me] published their Introduction to Cosmography with an accompanying world map. The Introduction was written in Latin and included a Latin translation of the Soderini Letter. In a preface to the Letter, Ringmann wrote

“I see no reason why anyone could properly disapprove of a name derived from that of Amerigo, the discoverer, a man of sagacious genius. A suitable form would be Amerige, meaning Land of Amerigo, or America, since Europe and Asia have received women’s names.”

No sissy girl stuff for America!  Back to Wiki:

A thousand copies of the world map were printed with the title Universal Geography According to the Tradition of Ptolemy and the Contributions of Amerigo Vespucci and Others. It was decorated with prominent portraits of Ptolemy and Vespucci and, for the first time, the name America was applied to a map of the New World.

Here’s the map:

And a close-up of the world’s first use of “America” on a map:

Let’s head on south (not all the way to South Coelho) but just to Emporia (pop 25,000).  First, about the name, Wiki says:

Located on upland prairie, Emporia was founded in 1857, drawing its name from ancient Carthage, a place known in history as a prosperous center of commerce.

The word “emporium” is Greek for a “trading place or market,” and it turns out that ancient Carthage (along the southern coast of the Mediterranean in what is today Tunusia) was the classic example of an emporium. 

This would be a perfect opportunity for me to feature Carthage, but wait a sec – in my recent (Feb 2020) post “Rea, New Hampton, Bethany, Conception (etc.), Missouri,” I in fact featured ancient Carthage . . .

So what else to say about Emporia?  I couldn’t really find much of interest, until I got to the “List of People from Emporia Kansas,” where I found this:

  • Kelley Hunt, blues pianist, singer-songwriter

Kelley is wiki-clickable:

Kelley Hunt is an American blues pianist, singer, and songwriter. Her 2004 album, New Shade of Blue, peaked at number 9 in the Billboard Top Blues Albums chart.

In 2006, Hunt was inducted into the Kansas Music Hall of Fame.  Her most recent album and sixth to date, The Beautiful Bones, was released on 88 Records in May 2014.  She is based in Lawrence, Kansas [although she graduated from Emporia High School and considers Emporia her home town.]

So off to YouTube I went, and found this.  The sound isn’t very good, but you can tell that she puts on a great show:


She has recently changed her look:

As far as I can tell, this is, in fact, the same person!

Anyway, I managed to find some decent local shots posted on GE.  I’ll start with this rolling hill landscape by Caleb Henderson:

And this shot of wide-open spaces by Timothy Weaver:

I’ll close with this proud old tree, by Bartlomiej Hanus:

That’ll do it . . .




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