A Landing a Day

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Posts Tagged ‘Heaven’s Gate’

Spur, Texas

Posted by graywacke on July 29, 2019

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

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

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

Landing number 2452; A Landing A Day blog post number 888.

Dan:  Today’s lat/long (N33o 15.151’, W101o 6.155’) puts me in Cen-NW Texas:

My local landing map shows that I landed some distance from my titular Spur (actually about 20 miles).  Post is much closer, but as I’ll discuss in a bit, I already posted a Post post. 

My streams-only map:

I landed in the watershed of the Salt Fork of the Brazos River (just north of the drainage divided between the Salt Fork and the Double Mountain Fork; in fact, at first I assumed the wrong watershed.  This was my fifth landing in this watershed, making the Salt Fork the 173rd river on my list of rivers with 5 or more hits.  And then, of course, to the Brazos (34th hit).

I landed way out in the boonies, with no worthwhile Google Earth (GE) Street View coverage of my landing.  But I did manage to get the Orange Dude on a bridge over the Salt Fork:

And before showing you the Salt Fork proper, here’s a look at the sign that the ever-vigilant Texas DOT put at the end of the bridge:

And here’s the Fork itself:

So, I landed near Post a while back (June 2017).  My Post post is a great post, and I encourage you to enter “Post Texas” in the search block to check it out.

But today, I’m stuck with Spur.  A quick look through the internet confirms two hooks:  the Heaven’s gate cult and tiny houses.  We’ll start on the dark side with Heaven’s Gate.  From Wiki, about Marshall Applewhite:

Marshall Applewhite Jr. (1931 – 1997) was an American cult leader who founded what became known as the Heaven’s Gate religious group and organized their mass suicide in 1997, claiming the lives of 39 people.

A native of Spur, Texas, Applewhite attended several universities, and as a young man, served in the United States Army. After finishing school at Austin College, he taught music at the University of Alabama. He later returned to Texas, where he led choruses and served as the chair of the music department at the University of St. Thomas in Houston.

[Sounds pretty normal so far.]

He left the school in 1970, citing emotional turmoil. His father’s death a year later brought on severe depression. In 1972, he developed a close friendship with Bonnie Nettles, a nurse; together, they discussed mysticism at length and concluded that they were called as divine messengers.


They operated a bookstore and teaching center for a short while, and then began to travel around the U.S. in 1973 to spread their views. They only gained one convert.

[Too bad it didn’t end there . . . ]

In 1975, Applewhite was arrested for failing to return a rental car and was jailed for 6 months. In jail, he further developed his theology.

After Applewhite’s release, he traveled to California and Oregon with Nettles, eventually gaining a group of committed followers. Applewhite and Nettles told their followers that they would be visited by extraterrestrials who would provide them with new bodies.

[It’s hard to imagine followers who actually bought into this.]

Applewhite initially stated that his followers and he would physically ascend to a spaceship, where their bodies would be transformed, but later, he came to believe that their bodies were the mere containers of their souls, which would later be placed into new bodies.

[whatever . . .]

The group received an influx of funds in the late 1970s, which it used to pay housing and other expenses. In 1985, Nettles died, leaving Applewhite distraught and challenging his views on physical ascension. In the early 1990s, the group took more steps to publicize their theology.

In 1996, they learned of the approach of Comet Hale–Bopp and rumors of an accompanying spaceship. They concluded that this spaceship was the vessel that would take their spirits on board for a journey to another planet. Believing that their souls would ascend to the spaceship and be given new bodies, the group members committed mass suicide in their mansion.

I remember this, but mistakenly thought it involved the comet that hit Jupiter.  (That would be Shoemaker-Levy in 1994; just a couple of years before Hale Bopp.)

Here’s a cool shot of Hale Bopp from Sky & Telescope (photo by Dr. John Goldsmith):

There’s a cool story about the discovery of Hale Bopp.  From Wiki:

The comet was discovered independently on July 23, 1995, by two observers, Alan Hale and Thomas Bopp, both in the United States.

Hale had spent many hundreds of hours searching for comets without success, and was tracking known comets from his driveway in New Mexico when he chanced upon what appeared to be an unknown comet just after midnight. The comet lay near the globular cluster M70.  Hale first established that there was no other deep-sky object near M70, and then consulted a directory of known comets, finding that none were known to be in this area of the sky.

Once he had established that the object was moving relative to the background stars, he emailed the Central Bureau for Astronomical Telegrams, the clearing house for astronomical discoveries.

Bopp did not own a telescope. He was out with friends near Stanfield, Arizona, observing star clusters and galaxies when he chanced across the comet while at the eyepiece of his friend’s telescope. He realized he might have spotted something new when, like Hale, he checked his star maps to determine if any other deep-sky objects were known to be near M70, and found that there were none.

He alerted the Central Bureau for Astronomical Telegrams through a Western Union telegram. Brian G. Marsden, who had run the bureau since 1968, laughed, “Nobody sends telegrams anymore. I mean, by the time that telegram got here, Alan Hale had already e-mailed us three times with updated coordinates.”

The following morning, it was confirmed that this was a new comet.

So.  It’s time for tiny houses.  Wow.  There are 20+ web sites that discuss tiny houses in Spur! And here they are now:


I’ll do it the easy way.  Check out this video:


Then I ran across an article entitled:  “‘No anarchists or nudists’ welcome in Texas ‘Tiny House’ community.”  From the article (RT.com):

Hard-boiled Texans in the tiny city of Spur have begun to re-think their initial embrace of the Tiny House movement since too many “anarchists and nudists” started moving to the town.

Two years ago, residents signed a proclamation declaring Spur to be “America’s first ‘tiny’ house friendly town.” Nearly all building restrictions were removed in the hope of reversing a population decline and attracting “eco-conscious, do-it-yourself builders who like to live in very small houses,” reported the Wall Street Journal.

Dickens County commissioner Charlie Morris said the recent influx of new inhabitants has brought residents that are “educated, professional, and seem like they really have something to bring to the community,” but then added, “What we don’t want are anarchists or nudists.”

The town’s loose building codes, low prices, and ultra-high-speed fiber internet have allowed residents to work from home rather than farm for a living.

However, Spur soon realized that they needed a few more rules and regulations.  New restrictions specify that all tiny houses have to be connected to the power grid, water supply, and sewer system – and they can’t be on wheels.

And, anarchists and nudists aren’t welcome . . .

I’ll close with a couple of GE shots from Spur.  First this, from just north of town (by Jeremiah Anzaldua):

And then there’s this cool spur & arrow sculpture right in Spur.  The sculptures were built by local welder John Grusendorf; the photographer is Eric Viklund:

That’ll do it . . .




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