Odds and Ends 11

On February 25, 2014 · 0 Comments

The day I dreaded finally arrived. I was defaulted to the new version of Google Maps yesterday. I wasn’t favorably impressed when I first reviewed it last May and I always understood that the version I’ve used since the creation of Twelve Mile Circle would go away eventually. Sooner-or-later I was going to have to confront this issue.

Allow me to clear a backlog of some short topics with another installment of Odds and Ends while I try to figure out how to use the new version. Hopefully some of my earlier concerns have been addressed.

Mary Carson Breckinridge

Mary Breckinridge Park, Confluence, Kentucky

I noticed a little park in Kentucky as I searched for various places named Confluence while leading up to the Confluence of Confluences article. Mary Breckinridge Memorial Park, also known as the Confluence Recreation Area, caught my eye. Who was Mary Breckinridge and how did she earn a memorial park, I wondered?

It was a fascinating story that I’d hoped to turn into a full article, although I couldn’t figure out how to approach it. Mary Carson Breckinridge, as I learned was part of THE Breckinridge family:

the family has included six members of the United States House of Representatives, two United States Senators, a cabinet member, two Ambassadors, a Vice President of United States and an unsuccessful Presidential candidate. Breckinridges have served as college presidents, prominent ministers, soldiers, theologians and in important positions at state and local levels.

Breckenridge, Colorado and its famous ski resort? Yes, named for the same family, even if spelled slightly differently. The family name and its influence spread far-and-wide across the United States.

Mary Carson Breckinridge took a different path, leveraging her family prestige and pedigree towards public service. She grew up privileged. She was also educated by private tutors and in exclusive schools both in the United States and in Europe. After personal tragedies during her early adulthood, she turned to nursing, helping to comfort victims of the 1918 influenza pandemic and then

The following year she joined the American Committee for Devastated France and organized a visiting nurse program in France. The program was so successful that two years later her nurses and midwives were caring for children and pregnant women throughout France. When Breckinridge returned to the United States in 1921, she found that there were no schools of midwifery and planned to start one.

This evolved into the Frontier Nursing Service and the Frontier Nursing University, providing health care and educating nurse-midwives in an under-served corner of Appalachia. Hyden, Kentucky, the base of her operations and home of the current Mary Breckinridge Hospital, was just just down the road from Confluence and the little park named in her remembrance.

Tour de Odd

Woodrow Wilson Bridge

I’m thinking about organizing a casual bicycle ride between several Washington, DC area geo-oddities sometime this spring or summer. Sites would include stops at the American Meridian, various practical exclaves, an original boundary stone and the little chunk of Washington, DC crossed by the famous Beltway which is displayed in the photograph above (and see map).

Members of the 12MC audience who might be interested in joining me — the potential out and back is displayed above — should feel free to contact me offline. The route is nearly flat, almost at sea-level, and provides amazing panoramic views of the monuments. I’ll let anyone interested know more as I work out the details and the weather warms up.


Ontario, California, not Canada

Twitter user @colourcountry mentioned the interesting situation of Ontario, California which comes remarkably close (in name) to Ontario, Canada. The postal code for California is CA and the top-level Internet domain for Canada is ca. There’s all sort of potential for trouble or confusion going in either direction. He also noted a similar issue with Trinidad, Colorado (CO) and Trinidad, Colombia, Colombia (co). Are there other instances?

That also reminded me of how far I’ve fallen behind on user mail. My apologies to all of you who have sent story suggestions. I’ll try to get to them as soon as I can.

Accident, Maryland, USA

Speaking of user suggestions, reader Kevin mentioned his fascination with the town of Accident in Maryland. He noted that visitors would be accidental tourists, and that the town had a "South North street and a North South Street." It’s true!

How did Accident get its name? The Town of Accident said:

Mr. George Deakins was to receive 600 acres of land in Western Maryland as a payment of a debt from King George II of England. Mr. Deakins sent out two corps of engineers, each without knowledge of the other, to survey the best land in this area. Both crews returned and to their surprise, they had both marked the same Oak tree as their starting and returning points. Mr. Deakins chose this plot of ground and had it patented “The Accident Tract”. Now called, the Town of Accident!

Right. It sounds apocryphal to me too.

Black Gold

On February 13, 2014 · 0 Comments

I noticed an interesting road at the Oklahoma State Fair Park called Black Gold Drive. I thought it was interesting how they’d intertwined their state history into the fairgrounds, with Black Gold of course representing that natural resource found abundantly within the state. Other avenues included Land Rush Street and the less-than-politically-correct Red Mans Path.

Black Gold Dr., Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

This was going to be a riff on streets called Black Gold to see if I could correlate them with places important to the petroleum industry. Problem was, I kept finding ties to thoroughbred horse racing and famous equine champions instead, like a themed neighborhood in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

I guess maybe if I’d been more interested in horses as a child I might have known about the 1957 Black Gold book by Marguerite Henry who also wrote "Misty of Chincoteague" (12MC visit to Chincoteague), or maybe the 1947 Black Gold movie starring Anthony Quinn. I’d heard of neither.

Black Gold
Black Gold at the Fair Grounds Race Course
SOURCE: Wikipedia, in the public domain

Black Gold was a horse. I ditched the oil angle. This Hall-of-Fame thoroughbred was much more interesting.

There were many great summaries of the Black Gold story including a nice one on the Colin’s Ghost site. I decided to focus on the beginning and the end while mentioning a few sprinkles in the middle, like how Black Gold won the 50th Kentucky Derby in 1924. Other sites already describe those events in detail so I didn’t really need to repeat them.

St. Paul (Osage Mission), Kansas

Black Gold was owned by Rosa Hoots. She was born of mixed French and Osage ancestry in Osage Mission (now St. Paul), Kansas, a daughter of Peter Augustus Captain (his Osage name was "Ogeese" Captain) and America Jane Moore. Osage Mission was literally just that, a Jesuit mission that had been established in 1847 to bring the Catholic religion, culture and eduction to native inhabitants of the plains. As described by the Osage Mission – Neosho County Museum:

The Mission schools and the influence of Fr. Schoenmakers provided the Osage with the education and political savvy to deal with the white man. In 1869, after an intense political struggle with the L.L. & G. Railroad, the Osage ceded their Kansas lands to the government for $1.25/acre. They moved to their reservation in northern Oklahoma… with $8,536,000 (1869 $) [and] the U.S. Treasury paying interest to all members of the tribe.

The Captain family moved along with their Osage brethren to Oklahoma, to the current Osage County that is coterminous with the Osage Indian Reservation. The Osage Nation noted that Rosa was recorded in their rolls as Original Allottee #1356.

Hominy Falls & Captain Cemetery, Skiatook, Oklahoma

The Oklahoma Historical Society’s Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History & Culture included an article on the Hoots Ranch. The property came from Rosa’s side of the family through their Osage allotments. This was where her father Augustus had constructed a trading post "at Hominy Falls on Hominy Creek" and where he built "the first stone house on the Osage Reservation." The original trading post was located where the Captain Cemetery now exists.

The Indian Pioneer History Project for Oklahoma interviewed Rosa Hoots in 1937. The Indian Territory was still the "Old West" when she was a child.

… there was located on the spot, where now is the cemetery, a thriving little store which was the trading post for the Osage Indians and some Quapaws, and early white settlers who lived in the vicinity… Often when the Osages came with their buffalo hides to trade with “Ogeese” Captain, they made camp for several days, and often he allowed them to hold council in his home.

Rosa Captain married Al Hoots in 1886 and they began to breed racehorses on Hoots Ranch as the years passed. Eventually they raised the filly Useeit (aka "U-See-It"), a fast horse that was only beaten consistently by her rival and nemesis, a Hall-of-Fame quality horse named Pan Zareta. Useeit bred to Black Toney, resulting in Black Gold in 1921. Black Gold was often referred to as the "Indian Horse" because of the Osage connection.

There were many more tragic twists and turns to the story already covered ad nauseam elsewhere so feel free to consult the book or the movie or the dozens of accounts on the Intertubes if you’d like the details. Essentially: Al died before Useeit was bred and Black Gold born; Rosa managed the horse to phenomenal racing and financial success to fulfill Al’s dream including the Kentucky Derby victory; and Hoots Ranch was renamed Black Gold Ranch and and still exists (albeit subsequently owned by a different family). And so on.

Please realize I skipped past some of the best part of the story using very few words. I’m interested in the more obscure facets. Let’s fast-forward to the end.

Black Gold & Pan Zareta Monuments, New Orleans, Louisiana

Does the 12MC audience remember the horse Barbaro from a few years ago, specifically the media frenzy when Barbara was injured in the 2006 Preakness Stakes and then had to be euthanized in 2007? The death of Black Gold struck a similar cord with the public and also ignited a media firestorm although about three-quarters of a century earlier.

Black Gold should have earned any easy, rewarding life as a stud after his Kentucky Derby victory. Except he was sterile. With stud fees impossible, Rosa decided to salvage whatever revenue should could by placing Black Gold back on the racing circuit. However he was not nearly the same horse as he was before, and raced poorly. Rosa then entered Black Gold in the 1928 Salome Purse in New Orleans, Louisiana — now the Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots which mentioned Black Gold in its historical timeline — and he broke his leg during the race. He was euthanized on the track.

Visitors to the Fair Grounds Race Course sometimes wonder about two white markers on the infield. Those are the graves of Black Gold, buried near where were he was put down, and ironically Pan Zareta, the horse that bested his mother.


On January 30, 2014 · 0 Comments

All that talk of bowling greens in the previous article increased my curiosity about the sport of bowls (or lawn bowls) in general. It’s similar to a family of Continental lawn bowling games including Bocce and Pétanque and it spread wherever the British Empire extended. I’m not sure why I didn’t discover Bowls a couple of years ago when I tracked down Sports Facilities I Never Imagined because it would have fit in perfectly with that theme.

The Hong Kong Lawn Bowls Association provided a good concise explanation of the sport.

The game of Bowls is played on a 34 to 40M square of closely cut grass called the green. The green is divided into playing areas called rinks. The green is surrounded by a small ditch to catch bowls which leave the green, and a bank upon which markers indicate the corners and centrelines of each rink. Players deliver their bowls alternately from a mat at one end of the rink, towards a small white ball called the jack at the other end. The bowls are shaped so that they do not run in a straight line, but take a curved path towards the jack… the objective of the game is to get one or more bowls closer to the jack than those of the opposition – one point is scored for each counting bowl.


The World Bowls Board oversees the sport, setting laws and regulations for "55 member National Authorities in 51 Member Nations." The Board governs Bowls from its location in Rutland Square, Edinburgh, Scotland. I drilled-in to the address using satellite view and noticed a verdant lawn at the square. I thought that would be a wonderfully appropriate spot for a bowling green. Apparently the managers of the World Bowls Board thought the same because…

No Ball Games!
World Bowls Headquarters, Edinburgh, Scotland, UK
via Google Street View, March 2010

… someone had to erect a "No Ball Games" sign in the square. That was amusing. Imagine those hellions at the World Bowls Board running amok on Rutland Square during their lunchtime, with unsanctioned pickup matches, unruly ball rolling and bothering the pigeons and such. I bet they still sneak-in matches when the authorities look the other way.

Commonwealth Games

Bowls is a significant sport in several nations, and World Bowls is justifiably proud that Bowls is "a core sport in the Commonwealth Games." At the upcoming 2014 Games in Glasgow,

Athletes will compete for eight Gold medals across the men’s and women’s singles, pairs, triples and fours, beginning with a round robin format before knockout finals determine the medal winners. Set in one of Glasgow’s most famous parks, the Lawn Bowls competition will take place at the picturesque Kelvingrove Lawn Bowls Centre, adjacent to the renowned Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum.

Kelvingrove Lawn Bowls Centre, Glasgow, Scotland, UK

The Kelvingrove Lawn Bowls Centre has six, count them SIX, bowling greens, with at least five of them upgraded to international standard.

The Oldest Bowling Green

Southampton (Old) Bowling Green
Southampton (Old) Bowling Green, Southampton, England, UK
via Google Street View, June 2012

The oldest surviving bowling green is believed to be the Southampton (Old) Bowling Green in England. This green has been in continuous use since 1299. I guess I’ll have to take that on faith because "everybody" in the sport said it was true and the history page on the club’s website was down. Nonetheless I was more fortunate with I drilled down to Lower Canal Walk in Southampton using Google Street View. There I observed and captured an image of club members in action. It may not be possible for me to confirm that anyone played at Southampton in 1299, however Google proved that matches took place in June 2012.

Bowls in the United States

Bowls certainly had devoted fans in the United States even if it didn’t have quite the same recognition as found in the UK. Bowls USA governs the sport across an extensive list of Divisions and Clubs.

Leisure World, Silver Spring, Maryland, USA

I found the club closest to my residence. It turned out to be located at Leisure World of Maryland, "a private, age-restricted community." I guess I’ll have to defer my dreams of Bowls glory awhile longer. That seemed to be a recurring theme in the United States. Twelve clubs existed in Florida while none existed in huge swaths of the Midwest. Bowls seemed to skew towards an older demographic.

Most Isolated Green?

Murray Barracks Bowling Green, Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea

I examined the list of international member countries recognized by World Bowls to locate the most isolated bowling green. I probably could have selected any one of several South Pacific islands. Instead I chose to focus on Papua New Guinea for no particular reason other than it seemed improbable. Instead, I discovered that Bowls was apparently quite popular and worthy of television coverage.

Port Moresby has an international standard bowling green at Murray Barracks, the headquarters of the Papua New Guinea Defence Force.


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