A Landing a Day

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Posts Tagged ‘Crawfordsville Indiana’

A Plethora of Small Towns in West-Central Indiana

Posted by graywacke on November 13, 2017

First timer?  In this formerly once-a-day blog (and now pretty much a once-every-four-or-five days blog), I use an app that provides a random latitude and longitude that puts me somewhere in the continental United States (the lower 48).  I call this “landing.”

I keep track of the watersheds I land in, as well as the town or towns I land near.  I do some internet research to hopefully find something of interest about my landing location. 

To find out more about A Landing A Day (like who “Dan” is) please see “About Landing” above.  To check out some recent changes in how I do things, check out “About Landing (Revisited).”

Landing number 2376; A Landing A Day blog post number 810.

Dan:  Today’s lat/long (39o 48.501’N, 86o 58.142’W) puts me in West Central Indiana:

Here’s my local landing map with so many towns highlighted, I couldn’t make them all titular!

My local streams-only map shows that I landed in the watershed of the Big Raccoon Creek; on to the Wabash River (28th hit):

You probably know this, but here’s the rest of the story:

The Wabash (after serving as the boundary between Indiana and Illinois), discharges to the Ohio (148th hit).  The Ohio (after serving as the boundary between Indiana and Kentucky, then Illinois and Kentucky) discharges to the Mississippi (925th hit), at the point where Illinois, Kentucky and Missouri come together.

Here’s a Google Earth (GE) close-up of my landing:

Zooming back, we can see GE Street View coverage for Raccoon Creek (at the upstream edge of Raccoon Lake):

And here’s what the Orange Dude sees:

Let me show you (once again) my local landing map:

As you can see, my work is cut out for me.  I’ll group these towns a little:

Group 1:  Greencastle & Crawfordsville

Group 2 (alphabetically):  Alamo, Ladoga, Mecca, Montezuma, Tangier and Yeddo.

Group 3:  Waveland and Roachdale.

I’ll start, appropriately enough, with Group 1.  While ploughing through some uninspirational Wiki material, I noted that Greencastle was the home of DePauw University, which rang a bell.  I immediately texted my buddy Bob Prewitt:

So Prewitt, did you go to DePauw or DePaul?

Prewitt:  Don’t insult me with talk of DePaul.  I graduated from DePauw, class of 69.

Me:  Geez.  I forgot how old you are.  Anyway, I just landed a few miles north of Greencastle.  (Prewitt follows this blog and knows full well what I mean by “I landed.”)

Prewitt:  Very cool.  Get this:  besides me, my brother, mother and father all went to DePauw.  I’ll be free for an interview in the morning.  Were you close to Crawfordsville?  That’s the home to our archrival, Wabash College.

Me:  I landed in between the two.

Prewitt:  Check out the Monon Bell.  Big deal.  For over a hundred years, the winner of the DePauw/Wabash game gets to take the Monon Bell home.  It’s an old bell off a railroad locomotive.

Me:  I just checked it out.  Cool.

Prewitt:  I graduated with Jim Ibbotson from the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band.  He was the lead singer for their biggest hit, Mr. Bojangles.  But get this – he sang ‘The Ballad of the Molon Bell.’  Check it out on You Tube.

With that, I’ll jump to a 1985 live version of Mr. Bojangles, featuring Jim Ibbotson.  Note that the band is introduced by none other than Willie Nelson.


Here’s a little about the Monon Bell, from Wiki:

The Monon Bell (pronounced MOE-non) is the trophy awarded to the victor of the annual college football matchup between the Wabash College Little Giants (in Crawfordsville, Indiana) and the DePauw University Tigers (in Greencastle, Indiana) in the United States. The Bell is a 300-pound locomotive bell from the Monon Railroad. As of the end of the 2015 season, the two teams have played against each other 123 times. Wabash leads the all-time series, 60-54-9, and also has the advantage since the Bell was introduced as the victor’s trophy in 1932, 41-39-6.

And then, here’s a very recent video clip from Indianapolis TV (and yes, it’s must-see TV).  Just click on the link.


So Jim Ibbotson (maybe with the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band) recorded a song about that very bell:

Back to Prewitt.  He told me a story about a time about 40 years ago when students from DePauw were trying to steal the Monon Bell from Wabash (who had obviously won the game the previous year).  The students realized that the bell was hidden somewhere on the Wabash campus, but no one knew where it was. 

So they came up with a scheme, whereby a DePauw student, who could look and speak convincingly like a Saudi Prince, was dressed up in full prince regalia  The fake prince showed up on the Wabash campus, and received a campus tour.  He mentioned that he had heard a wonderful story about some bell, and wondered if he’d be able to see it.  And yes, he was shown the bell.

The faux prince went back to De Pauw and joined up with some students who successfully managed to steal the bell . . .

I must jump in here and give some street cred to my alma mater, Lafayette College.  Do you think the fact that 125 games have been played between DePauw & Wabash is impressive?  The number one most-played rivalry in college football is Lafayette – Lehigh.  From Wiki, about “The Rivalry:”

“The Rivalry” is an American college football game played between Lafayette College and Lehigh University. It is the most-played football rivalry in the nation and the longest uninterrupted annual rivalry series.

As of 2016, “The Rivalry” has been played 152 times since 1884 with only a single interruption in 1896. The colleges’ football teams met twice annually (except 1891, when they played three games, and 1896, when they did not play at all) until 1901. The two institutions are located seventeen miles apart in the Lehigh Valley in eastern Pennsylvania.

What the heck happened in 1896?  Wiki to the rescue!

The 1896 Lafayette college football team was declared National Champion of college football, in one of the most surprising and dramatic championships in the early history of college football.

[Cool bunch of studs, eh?  And there aren’t very many players on the team (like 15).  Obviously, nearly all (if not all) of the starters played both offense and defense.]

Lafayette began its season by tying Princeton 0–0, and defeated West Virginia University three times in three days by a combined score of 56–0.

[AYKM?  The same two teams played three games in three days?]

At 4–0–1, Lafayette was set to meet the University of Pennsylvania on October 24 at Franklin Field in Philadelphia. Penn was the current national champion and was in the midst of a 34-game winning streak and was only guaranteeing Lafayette $150 for a game that would net $10,000.

As an intense media war surrounded the game, Lafayette enrolled Fielding Yost, a tackle from West Virginia, whom Lafayette had defeated those three games in a row.

Along with Yost were College Football Hall of Famer Charles “Babe” Rinehart, and the inventor of the football helmet George “Rose” Barclay, as Lafayette squeaked out a 6-4 victory.

[6-4???  OK, I had to check out the 1896 scoring rules.  A touchdown was 4 points, and the after touchdown conversion kick was two points.  So it looks like each team scored a TD; Lafayette made the kick and Penn didn’t.]

It was the first victory of a ‘small school’ over one of the Big Four (Harvard-Yale-Penn-Princeton). Penn would win its next 31 games.

[Wow.  If not for Lafayette, Penn would have won 66 game in a row!  The landscape of college football has changed a little, eh?]

Lafayette closed its season with an 18–6 win over Navy. Following the season, Lafayette was recognized as co-national champions along with Princeton (11–0–1) and was the first national champion outside the Harvard-Yale-Princeton-Penn rotation prevalent during that era.

[So what about no Lehigh game?]

However, absent from their 1896 record book was the annual rivalry with Lehigh, which cancelled two games scheduled for November in protest over the eligibility and amateur status of Rose Barclay who had played professional baseball the previous summer.

There you have it.  It’s time to move to Group 2:  Alamo, Ladoga, Mecca, Montezuma, Tangier and Yeddo.  What do they have in common?  They’re all named after a distance locale.

Alamo – Obviously named after the Texas Alamo (Alamo IN is the only town in the group without an international connection).

Forgoing the usual Alamo shot, here’s a photo of some cool arches in the back:

Ladoga – Named after a Russian lake.  From Wiki:

Ladoga was platted in 1836 by John Myers. Myers invited his friends to help him find a name. He required that the name not end in -burg or -ville and that it would not be named after another town. He chose Ladoga after finding Lake Ladoga on a map of Russia.

Here’s a picture of an ancient fortress on the shores of the lake (GE Panoramio by © Bear:

Mecca – After Mecca in Saudi Arabia (maybe).  Wiki was silent on the issue, so I rolled up my sleeves a little.  And I found an obscure source that actually addressed the naming of the town.

From Inventing America’s ‘Worst’ Family:  Eugenics, Islam, and the Fall and Rise of the Tribe of Ishmael, by Nathanial Deutsch:

In the case of Mecca, Indiana, [the name suggests] a possible connection to Islam.  According to one local story, in the 1890s a tile plant was built in the vicinity of the town, “and they needed cheap workers, so they sent over to the Near East and got these Moslems . . . When they got paid, they’d come to town and say it was almost like coming to Mecca, and so they called the town Mecca.”

Another local tradition traced the genesis of the town’s name to the 1880s, when Arab workers from the Middle East were supposedly brought to train Arabian horses.

From CNN.com, this, of the Hajj in Mecca:

Montezuma – After a ruler of Mexico.  From Wiki: 

Montezuma was laid out in about 1824.  The town was named for Moctezuma II, ruler of Mexico from 1502 – 1520.

Also from Wiki:

The first contact between indigenous civilizations of Mesoamerica and Europeans took place during his reign, and he was killed during the initial stages of the Spanish conquest of Mexico, when conquistador Hernán Cortés and his men fought to escape from the Aztec capital Tenochtitlan.

Tangier – After the city in Morocco, located on the southern shore of the Strait of Gibraltar.   

Here’s a picture from Tangier (hotelmapper.com) looking across the Strait.  You can the Rock of Gibraltar to the far right:

And another Tangier shot, from GQ.com:

Yeddo – After an old name for what is currently Tokyo.  Oh my!  I just realized that I featured Yeddo in an earlier post (November 2014).  From that post:

Googling Yeddo (without Indiana) got me to Wiki, which redirects Yeddo to Edo:

Edo (江戸), literally “bay-entrance” or “estuary”), also romanized as Yedo or Yeddo, is the former name of Tokyo.  It was the seat of power from 1603 to 1868. During this period, it grew to become one of the largest cities in the world.

It looks like it’s time to roll up my sleeves and see if there’s some interesting Yeddo history I can write about.  First, a little nuts and bolts history.  From Wiki:

By 1590, when the shogun leader Tokugawa Ieyasu selected Edo as his military headquarters, the settlement boasted a mere hundred thatch-roofed cottages.

[So, in 1590, we had a hundred thatched-roofed cottages.]

Ieyasu assembled warriors and craftsmen, fortified the Edojuku castle with moats and bridges, and built up the town. By 1603, Ieyasu was the de facto ruler of Japan, and his Edo became a powerful and flourishing city as the effective national capital.  Japan’s imperial seat and official capital remained in Kyoto, but the Emperor was virtually powerless.

[So, somehow, this Shogun Ieyasu totally out-maneuvered the Emperor in Kyoto.]

The outer enclosures of Edo Castle were completed in 1606.and it continues to remain at the core of the city.

Continuous growth ensued, only interrupted by natural disasters, including fires, earthquakes and floods. Fires were so commonplace that they came to be called the “blossoms of Edo”.  In 1657, the Great Fire of Meireki destroyed two-thirds of the city and killed 100,000; and another disastrous fire in 1668 lasted for 45 days.

In spite of the disasters, by 1721, over a million people lived in Edo (Yeddo), making it (by far) the largest city in the world.

Here’s a picture of the most spectacular part of Edo Castle (from Wiki):

Back to now.  And (finally), it’s time for Group 3, which are towns with an independent hook in each.  I’ll start with Roachdale, which was named after Judge Roach, a late 19th century railroad official.  From Wiki:

An annual tradition of roach races began in the town in 1981, as “a gimmick for the Fourth of July carnival.”  Contestants put their insects in a plastic container that is placed in the center of a circular board.  The container is lifted at the start of the race and whichever roach reaches the perimeter of the board first is declared the winner of each heat.

The popularity of the race resulted in its appearing on the television programs regionally on Across Indiana and nationally on Good Morning America.

Many contestants dress their roaches by gluing paper top hats, saddles, or other apparel to their backs. At the end of racing the roaches are collected, sprayed with insecticide, and disposed of.

Ouch.  “Used and abused” isn’t strong enough . . .

Here’s a June 2013 race picture from the Greencastle Banner Graphic:

So what about Waveland?   Wiki tells us that Waveland was the boyhood home of American Impressionist artist T. C. Steele (1847 – 1926).  I checked out his work, and really like it.

Interestingly, his art reminds me of another Indiana artist that I recently featured, Daniel Garber (1880 – 1958), from North Manchester, Indiana (featured in my August 14, 2017 post, with an October 10th “revisited” post).

By the way, Steele studied art at Asbury College – now DePauw University.  I’ll just go right to some of his art:


Want a Steele on your living room wall?  A cursory internet search reveals you’ll spend from $10,000 – $50,000.

And I’ll close with this GE pano shot by Ed Allen, taken about 4 miles west of my landing:

That’ll do it . . .




© 2017 A Landing A Day



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