A Landing a Day

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Posts Tagged ‘Mount Vernon Alabama’

Mount Vernon and Citronelle, Alabama

Posted by graywacke on July 9, 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 2355; A Landing A Day blog post number 786.

Dan:  Today’s lat/long (31o 4.169’N, 88o 3.825’W) puts me in SE Alabama, just upstream from Mobile Bay (make sure you’re pronouncing it “moe-beel”):

Here’s my local landing map:

My very local streams-only map shows that I landed in the watershed of Bull Branch, on to Cedar Creek; on to the Mobile River (21st hit):

Zooming back a little, you can see the Mobile River making its way to Mobile Bay:

Let’s hop on board a yellow push-pin and head on in to the precise (yet random) location of landing 2355.  Click HERE for the trip.

As you can see, I landed in the middle of a big patch of woods, so I won’t bother with a Street View landing shot.  But I can get a view of Bull Branch:

And here’s what the Orange Dude sees:

And then there’s Cedar Creek:

Et voilà:


From Wiki, about Mt. Vernon:

Mt. Vernon (pop 1,600), is home to a historic psychiatric hospital, Searcy Hospital.  A land marker used for surveying land known as “Ellicott’s Stone” lies south of the town.

Ellicott’s Stone???  I featured Ellicott’s Mound not long ago – my January 1, 2017 Moniac & St. George, Georgia post.  From that post:

So a surveyor (Andrew Ellicott) built a mound marking the east end of the straight-line border between the US and Spanish Florida.  According to a treaty between the US & Spain, the line was to run from the confluence of the Flint & Chattahoochee Rivers, extending east southeast to a point marking the headwaters of the St. Mary’s River (which is where Mr. Ellicott placed his famous mound).

Here’s a GE shot showing the Mound’s location:

And a map showing the very straight line that Ellicott surveyed (the Mound is at the “Survey End Point:”

Back to now.  It turns out that the boundary between Florida and Georgia wasn’t the only straight line Mr. Ellicott surveyed. 

From Wiki, about Ellicott’s Stone:

Ellicott’s Stone is a boundary marker in northern Mobile County, Alabama. It was placed on April 10, 1799 by a joint U.S.-Spanish survey party headed by Andrew Ellicott and was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1973.

The line stretched along the 31st parallel from the Mississippi River in the west to the Chattahoochee River in the east, and served as the boundary line between the Mississippi Territory in the United States and Spanish West Florida.

Here’s a map (note that I connected the MS/LA border to the AL/FL border with a black line):

And a Flickr shot by JimmyWayne:

Back to my earlier post:

Imagine doing this in 1800!  Dense forests everywhere; no roads, no modern surveying instruments (let alone GPS!).  He really knew his astronomy, and used the stars to determine his location.  But I can imagine starting at one end, and then being a few thousand feet too far north when you reached the other!  But no.  He nailed it.

On to the Searcy Hospital (located about 2.5 NE of my landing).  From Alabama Living:

In 1902, mental health officials in Alabama were concerned about the “increasing insanity among the negroes,” according to J.T. Searcy, superintendent of Alabama’s mental health facilities in the late 1800s and early 1900s. The doctor reported that the number of state patients had increased from 33 in 1870 to 71 in 1881, then to 241 in 1890 and 451 in 1900.

Soon, the growing numbers led to overcrowding at the state’s only asylum, the Alabama Hospital for the Insane.  Responding to the overcrowding, Searcy opened the Mount Vernon Insane Hospital, later renamed the Searcy Hospital.

And this little tidbit, from Wiki:

In 1906, 57 patients died due to an outbreak of a disease at the hospital. Initially the disease was a mystery, but it was later identified as one of the first major outbreaks of pellagra in the United States. The cause of pellagra was a mystery at the time, but one of the key observations was that it only struck the patients, not the staff.  The cause of pellagra was discovered to be the result of a vitamin deficiency, caused by the poor diet at the Hospital.

Here’s a picture of one of the buildings from Alabama Living:

And this GE Panoramio shot by Leigh Harrell:

Back to Wiki (and moving on to Citronelle):

On May 4, 1865, one of the last significant Confederate armies was surrendered by Lieutenant General Richard Taylor under the “Surrender Oak” in Citronelle.   This was the third in a series of surrenders that ended the war. Two previous surrenders occurred at Appomattox Court House, Virginia between General Robert E. Lee and General Ulysses S. Grant (the most famous, the one generally recognized as the end of the war); and the second and largest at Bennett Place near Durham, North Carolina between General William T. Sherman and General Joseph E. Johnston.

I didn’t realize that there were multiple “surrenders.”  Back to Wiki:

A living history/reenactment of the surrender occurs each year in Citronelle. The historic “Surrender Oak” no longer stands as it was destroyed by a hurricane in 1902.

Here’s the track of the 1902 “Hurricane 4” (from Wiki).  You can see its landfall just east of Mobile Bay:

By the way, they didn’t start naming hurricanes until 1953 . . .

Back to Wiki:

Citronelle sits atop the Citronelle Dome, a salt dome that is still rising, as shown by the centrifugal drainage of streams away from the center.

“Centrifugal drainage??”  Peculiar term, but I assume it means that drainage flows away from the dome; ergo, the dome has formed a hill.  How about a simple topographic map?  I stepped up and made the following:

OK, so why is Wiki talking about the dome?  Here’s some more:

In 1955 oil was discovered in this geologic structure at a greater depth than had previously been considered as feasible, and so the Citronelle Dome was among the first of many “deep” oil fields. The discovery well produced from the Glen Rose Formation at a depth of 10,879 ft.

I remember a post where I featured salt domes (my Newgulf and Boling Texas post from June 2013).  I’ll lift some of that excellent post:

So, what (you may ask) is a salt dome?  Well, I checked out Geology.com to freshen up my stale knowledge.  Since pictures are worth many words, let me start with a north-south geologic cross-section across Texas (from OK to the Gulf):

The purple layer is salt, formed by evaporating inland seas back during the Jurassic Period (thus the “J”).  FYI, the Jurassic was about 150 – 200 million years ago (the age of the dinosaurs).  After the salt was deposited, various thickness of sand, silt and clay were laid down on top of the salt.  Those are the green and orange layers shown on the cross section.

 Note that the salt layer is pretty deep, ranging from 5 km to 10 km  (aka 3 to 6 miles).

 It turns out that the salt layer is much less dense (lighter) than the overlying sands and clays, and that the salt (if given enough time), can flow, albeit very slowly.  Because the salt is less dense, it wants to rise (just like something less dense than water wants to float).

 See those purple spikes sticking up?  Those are salt domes – essentially large fingers of salt that have pushed up through the sand & clay.  Note that the ones near the coast have pushed up six miles!

 So, what does this have to do with oil?  Well, here goes:  Some of the rock layers are petroleum-producing – they were laid down with lots of organic material that under pressure & temperature (and enough time) – presto chango!  Crude!

 So, crude oil seeps out of the source rock, and tends to flow upward through the interconnected  nooks and crannies in the rock (keeping in mind that the rock is water saturated and the crude is lighter than water).

 So, the crude oil is creeping its way up, as long as the interconnected nooks and crannies give it a pathway.  The crude is particularly inclined to move through sandstone, because of all of the pore spaces between the sand grains.  So, maybe the oil is flowing up through a sandstone, and boom, it hits a real tight shale (made of clay).  No more nooks and crannies, no more movement.  The oil tends to accumulate at the top of the sand unit.

 Now it’s time to get back to salt domes.  Here’s another picture from Geology.com.

As the salt dome punches up, it deforms the surrounding rock layers (note how the layers bow upward around the salt).  See the speckled yellow unit?  It’s a sand (or sandstone).  The overlying gray is clay (or shale).  Thanks to the salt dome, the oil gets concentrated (or “trapped”) where the sand is pinched by the salt.

 So, now we’re drilling for oil, and we have smart geologists who know about salt domes and know about oil migration and how traps are formed.  So, they poke around (with a drill rig) until they run into one of the traps in the sand, and bingo, we now have a producing oil well.

Returning to the here and now, I’ll close with this artsy shot of Searcy Hospital (once again, a Pano shot by Leigh Harrell:

That’ll do it . . .




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