A Landing a Day

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Posts Tagged ‘Richland Oregon’

Halfway, Oregon

Posted by graywacke on April 19, 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 2339; A Landing A Day blog post number 770.

Dan:  Today’s lat/long 44o 51.893’N, 117o 5.874’W) puts me in far Northeast Oregon:

My local landing map puts me about halfway between Halfway & Pine:

I’ll head straight over to my streams-only map:

As you can see, I landed in the watershed of Sag Creek, on to Pine Creek.

Backing up a little:

Pine Creek does not pass Go, does not collect $200, but rather goes directly to the Snake River (81st hit).  As 93 out of 100 of my readers know, the Snake makes its way to the Columbia (168th hit).  The 7 remaining readers just learned something.

It’s time for my Google Earth (GE) spaceflight, starting with an unusual perspective.  Click HERE to check it out.

Here’s an oblique GE shot looking north past my landing, across the Pine Creek valley, towards the Wallowa Mountains:

And another, looking up the Pine Creek Valley from the Snake River and the town of Oxbow towards my landing:

Speaking of Oxbow, I found Street View coverage of Pine Creek near Oxbow, just before it loses itself in the belly of the Snake:

I think it’s time to check out Halfway.  From the town’s website:

The town is located “halfway” between the communities of Pine and Cornucopia.

Good thing the word “halfway” is in quotes!  I mean, really!   Look at the map:

AYKM??  In what universe does “halfway” mean really close to Pine (less than 2 miles) and really far from Cornucopia (about 9.5 miles)?  There must be a story behind the story.  Wiki gives us a clue:

This town took its name from the location of its post office, on the Alexander Stalker ranch, halfway between Pine and Cornucopia.  While a post office was established in 1887, in 1907 the town was platted in another location [way further south, evidently]; the post office moved there in 1908.

OK, I guess.  I did a search for the Alexander Stalker ranch, but only found circular references to the town of Halfway.  But look at this GE shot:

Hmmm.  Carson pops up on GE, but is nowhere to be found on StreetAtlas.  Interesting that Carson is just a little north of halfway between Cornucopia & Pine.  So, it seems like the mysterious Alexander Stalker ranch might have been a little south of Carson. 

Wiki on Carson:

In 1870 Tom Corson settled in the area on a tributary of Pine Creek.  His neighbors pronounced his name “Carson” and named the tributary and a sawmill on the creek after him.  When a post office was established here in 1893, it was named “Carson” as well.  The town was platted in 1900, the first in Pine Valley.

Let’s sort this out.  Here’s the timeline:

1887:  a post office was established somewhere between Pine & Cornucopia – rumored to be halfway between Pine & Cornucopia, perhaps at the Alexander Stalker ranch.

1893:  a post office was established in Carson, which just happens to be about halfway between Pine & Cornucopia.

Now wait a second.  It’s hard to imagine that there was a Post Office within a few miles of Carson, and then a separate post office was established in Carson!  In fact, this goes beyond “hard to image,” bumping into “ain’t no way!”

ALAD will make it official:  This whole thing about “halfway between Pine & Cornucopia” is bunk.  We all need another, more plausible story.  Let me roll up my sleeves . . .

I’ll start with Pine:  The “town” of Pine is nothing.  Nada.  Isn’t now, never has been.  Of course, I Googled Pine Oregon, and the only – I repeat the only – Pine Oregon reference I could find anywhere is Wiki.  Here is the entire entry:

Pine is an unincorporated community in Baker County, Oregon, United States.  It lies along Oregon Route 86 about 2.3 miles southeast of the city of Halfway, and beside Pine Creek, a tributary of the Snake River.

That’s it!  And let me say again – there’s nothing else on the internet about this so-called town.

Let’s take a closer GE look (and don’t be distracted that GE strangely misplaced the “Pine” label). 

It is likely that Pine was never platted, never had a post office and was never anything much more substantial than what you see in the above GE shot.  So why would Pine be used as the southern anchor of the expression, “halfway between Pine and Cornucopia?” 

I get Cornucopia.  It was a thriving mining boom town back in the 1890s (platted in 1886).  But Pine?  Fuhgettaboutit.

So, let’s look at a StreetAtlas map:

Well, well, well.  What about Richland?  From Wiki:

Richland was platted in 1897 and replaced New Bridge as the primary rural service center in the area.

Hmmm.  1897 doesn’t quite work, since the Halfway story starts in 1887.  But what about New Bridge?

New Bridge doesn’t show up on StreetAtlas, but once again, it does show up on GE:

So.  What does Wiki have to say about New Bridge? 

New Bridge was founded on the banks of Eagle Creek near an important bridge built across the stream in pioneer times (the “new bridge”).  Joseph Gale was the first postmaster of New Bridge post office, which ran from 1878 until 1967.  [So New Bridge was founded 9 years before Halfway.  Makes sense . . . ]

New Bridge had a fruit and vegetable cannery, a box factory, and a packing shed for apples.  New Bridge was platted in 1908, only after irreversible decline had set in, due in part to nearby Richland being platted in 1897.

Good enough for ALAD (and way better than that Pine nonsense). Here’s my version of the story (and I’m stickin’ to it):

The Halfway post office (while apparently not actually in the current town location) wasn’t far north (certainly not at all close to Carson).  The Post Office was named Halfway, because of its location approximately halfway between Cornucopia and that bustling little town to the south, New Bridge.

When the post office moved to the newly platted town a little to the south, the town, of course, became Halfway.

Just for the record:  I could find no “deep” source that discusses the Halfway name origin.  The oldest source I could find (footnoted in Wiki) is a 1958 book by Winifred and Armond Moyer entitled “The Origins of Unusual Placenames.”  Here’s the entirety of the text about Halfway:  “The town was midway between Pine and the Cornucopia gold mine in pioneer days.”  That’s not enough to change my mind.  I’m not budging! Pine Schmine . . .

Phew.  And guess what?  There’s another Halfway hook (from Wiki):

Halfway earned a place in the history of the dot-com era in December 1999.  The town received and accepted an offer from Half.com to rename itself as Half.com for one year in exchange for $110,000; 20 computers for the school; and other financial subsidies.

[Quick aside:  Half.com (bought by eBay in 2001) was founded in 1999 as an on-line shopping site.  Products are limited to books (including textbooks), music, movies, video games and video game consoles).  The website pits commercial sellers against one another; they undercut each other so that they’re the lowest price on the site.  Actually, it’s pretty cool.] 

Back to Wiki:

It became the first city in the world to rename itself as a dot com. Among the less obvious reasons the town was chosen were its small population size (and thus its likelihood to accept such an offer) and the city’s location, which fit perfectly into Half.com’s marketing scheme:  “They’re within four miles of the 45th parallel which makes it halfway between the equator and the North Pole”.  [More on this in a moment.]

The proclamation did not legally change its name.  The city created and posted two signs at its borders that greeted visitors with “Welcome to Half.com, Oregon – America’s First Dot-com City”.

I had to search far and wide before finally finding a picture of the sign (from SeattleTimes.com):

The city auctioned one of these off in September 2007 for $1000; the winner was Half.com’s founder Josh Kopelman.

Here’s a GE shot showing the location of the 45th parallel (about a half mile south of Cornucopia):

Digressing a bit here . . . there are a number of very-cool road signs across America that inform motorists that they are crossing the 45th parallel.  Here’s one from MNMuseumOfThems.org (with the caption underneath):

I also read (somewhere) that Half Moon, California was considered for the name change (but it never happened).  I happen to know that Half Moon Bay is the location of “The Mavericks,” a wave-break well known to big-wave surfers.  I’ll use this opportunity to gratuitously post some pictures of some of these waves.

Here’s on from Wiki (by Shalom Jacobovitz):

And this on SurfTweeters.com by Frank Quirarte:

And what the heck, here’s a YouTube video by u2bheavenbound:

 

These guys are truly amazing.  Whatever you may think of the surfing culture, these guys are world-class athletes . . .

It’s time for some local GE Pano shots (most taken in the Pine Creek valley).  I’ll start with this by DonWadkins:

Here are three by long-time ALAD contributor Ralph Maughan:

I’ll close with this, by Tony Immoos:

That’ll do it . . .

KS

Greg

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