Savages

On March 25, 2015 · 2 Comments

I continue to make progress with the logistics supporting my recently-revealed 2015 Travel Plans. First on the docket will be a 150 mile (240 kilometre) bicycle adventure on the Great Allegheny Passage trail between Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and Cumberland, Maryland. I’ve been scoping the route and noticed a peculiarly-named town on the Maryland side of the border, Mount Savage (map). It seemed as if it would have fit within the theme of an earlier 12MC article from 2012, "Carnage, Slaughter and Mayhem." Too bad I didn’t discover the town until now.


Mount Savage
Mount Savage by Joseph, on Flickr (cc)

Hopefully in a few short weeks, and assuming all goes well, I will be able to substitute my own photograph for the one I borrowed above. I figured Mount Savage must have been named for someone with the not completely uncommon Savage surname. Did the surname have its roots in people who were wild, primitive, barbaric or possessing other seemingly impolite behaviors? Well yes, and no, and sort-of.

In the British Isles, Savage appeared to trace from the Latin silva (forest) then to Old French then to Middle English. Source material was scarce although a cluster of consensus implied that the word meant something similar to courageous and unconquerable during the Sixteenth Century and would have been a compliment. It shifted to its current uncouth definition later.

In Eastern Europe, Savitch and variations existed independently and were frequently associated with Jewish populations. Savitch often became Savage when immigrants bearing the name settled in the United States. The etymology was even more obscure. It may have derived from the Sava River (map), a tributary of the Danube flowing through current Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Serbia. Alternately, it may have derived from the first-name Sava, possibly a Slavic form of Saul. No source seemed definitive.

Mount Savage was named for "a land surveyor, Thomas Savage, who happened to be traveling through the area in 1736." There was an even larger town elsewhere in Maryland called simply Savage (map). Its name derived from "John Savage Williams, a Philadelphia merchant with interest in a mill on the falls of the Little Patuxent." Both of these Savage surname usages appeared to tie back to the British Isles derivation as did other examples I discovered.


Neen Savage, Shropshire, England


Ford
Ford at Neen Savage by Ollie Brown, on Flickr (cc)

I expected to find at least one Savage in the United Kingdom given the surname’s ancient pedigree. Neen Savage in Shropshire came to the forefront as the leading example (map). I teased its history from an old book, Shropshire: Its Early History and Antiquities (1864)

Neen Savage. The Celtic nene signifies a river and the word nan a brook is said to be a remnant of a primitive language. Certain it is that two of the Shropshire Neens are intersected by a stream. Neen Savage is the subject of the following entry in Domesday Book: — "The same Ralph holds Nene, and Ingelrann [holds] of him. Huni held it [in Saxon times] and was free"… Neen and Neen Savage were held by two several feoffees of Ralph de Mortemer who himself held of the king. The family of Le Savage descended from the Domesday Ingelrann hence the latter place acquired the name Neen Savage its present title.

It seemed appropriate to select an image of the ford over the body of water that inspired the Nene of Nene Savage for this part of the article.

I also learned a new word, feoffee ("a trustee who holds a fief (or ‘fee), that is to say an estate in land, for the use of a beneficial owner.") I don’t imagine I’ll get to use that one much in casual conversation.


Savage River, Tasmania, Australia.


Untitled
Savage River by caspar s, on Flickr (cc)

Savage River (map) defined a body of water, a town and a national park in Tasmania. Of the name, "Although it is tempting to think that ‘savage’ was a description of the river, it is equally likely that the river was named after Job Savage, a storeman at the Pieman River sometime before 1881."

I was actually more fascinated by legends of the aforementioned Pieman River (map). Rumor had it,

The Pieman River gained its name from the notorious convict Alexander ‘The Pieman’ Pearce who was responsible for one of the few recorded instances of cannibalism in Australia. In a bizarre footnote to the history of the region Pearce and seven other convicts attempted to cross the island to Hobart where they hoped they could catch a merchant ship and escape to some ill-defined freedom. They lost their way and in the ensuing weeks all of the escapees disappeared except for Pearce. When he was recaptured unproven accusations of cannibalism were made against him. The following year Pearce escaped again accompanied by another convict, Thomas Cox. Once again Pearce found himself without food and, to solve the problem, he killed and ate Cox.

That was amazing stuff. In a land known for its characters the Pieman took the, um, cake. He was even more extreme than Captain Thunderbolt. Too bad the Pieman River wasn’t actually named for him. Never let facts get in the way of a good story.

Alexander "The Pieman" Pearce really was executed for cannibalism though.


Other Travel Plans

Some travel plans go well. Others change. The Thousand Islands trip is off. Apparently we waited too long to start looking for places to stay so maybe we’ll try that again next year although search a little earlier. Instead we will travel to Asheville, North Carolina (something may have piqued my interest there). Does anyone have any Asheville suggestions?

Cornfield

On March 18, 2015 · 0 Comments

I wouldn’t quite call it a groundswell, however more than one hundred different people searched for "cornfield" on Twelve Mile Circle over the last five years. Readers wanted an article based on cornfields and I shall oblige. Never say that 12MC doesn’t respond to its loyal fans. I interpreted cornfield to mean Corn Maze because I couldn’t comprehend of any other reason to consider a cornfield even remotely interesting. Actually I think I preferred the British term for Corn Maze in this instance, Maize Maze. It sounded so much more a-MAZE-ing. Sorry, I couldn’t resist.


Corn Maze
Corn Maze by Anthony Easton, on Flickr (cc)

The Corn/Maize Maze concept probably didn’t merit much explanation. A farmer would drag a mower through virgin cornfields, cutting passageways into intricate, confusing patterns, forming a maze. Oftentimes patterns unfolded into elaborate works of art viewed best from above. Visitors explored the maze, got lost, found surprises and generally had a great time. The concept wasn’t new. Hedge mazes dated back several centuries as noted in an earlier article, Hazy Hedge Maze Memories. The difference here, however, was impermanence. Hedges took decades to reach maturity and their labyrinths remained fixed in place. A corn/maize maze could change radically every growing season.

While mazes constructed of crops inherited an ancient pedigree, I was surprised to learn that this adaptation was distinctly modern. I’d thought that corn/maize mazes had been around for a long time, guessing they probably traced back to the late 19th Century. That was completely wrong. They’ve only been around since 1993. Lebanon Valley College in Annville, Pennsylvania (map) claimed the first example:

In the early 1990s, Midwest farmers were struggling to recover from severe flooding, which ruined many crops, including corn. LVC alumnus and Disney World producer Don Frantz ’73, and then-student Joanne Marx ’94, had a plan to do something about it: build a corn maze, charge admission, and contribute the proceeds to the Red Cross to aid the disaster victims. Frantz had read about Europe’s small hedge mazes… "If there was an American adaptation of the European art, it would be a maze in a cornfield," said Frantz in a 1993 interview.

The concept took off from there and not just in the United States. An organization called The MAiZE included affiliates in more than 250 locations, primarily in North America. Another group, the Maize Maze Association did much the same focused primarily in the United Kingdom.

I picked a few random examples from around the world.


Canada



The Deer Meadow Farms Corn Maze in Winnipeg, Manitoba (map) was featured in a nice YouTube video taken from an ultralight airplane. This maze could be enjoyed from high above or down at ground level. Deer Meadow Farms used Global Positioning System equipment to sculpt its field with a new design each year, offering four levels of challenge:

• Try just wandering through and finding your way out. (Easy)
• Try to find the picture stations and take a photo. (Medium)
• Try to find all the hidden Trivia Stations and answer the questions…correctly. (Difficult)
• Try # 3 during the Maze by Dark nights. (Very Difficult)

It should take about 45 minutes to complete the maze pursuing the easier scenarios.


United Kingdom


Spitfire Maze
Spitfire Maze by Geoff Collins, on Flickr (cc)

I liked looking at the Milton Maize Maze in Milton, East Anglia, England. The design in the Flickr image represented a Spitfire airplane in commemoration of the 70th Anniversary of The Battle of Britain. The version found on Google Maps (map) was a more recent vintage and featured a large ear of corn rendered as a cartoon character.

The Milton Maize Maze website said,

We normally recommend that you allow yourself 1 hour 30 minutes to navigate the maze and allow yourself another two + hours to enjoy the other activities on site… The maze is a multi-maze with two completely different mazes in one… There is a good chance you may get lost; it is a seven acre field with several miles of paths! Never fear if you don’t soon get your bearings there are maze marshals on hand to point you in the right direction.

Several miles of wandering might be a bit much for me.


Poland



Pałac Kurozwęki Maze, Poland

Why did I focus on a maze at Pałac Kurozwęki (map) in Poland? Quite simply because it was farther away from the birthplace of temporary agricultural mazes than any other I found. Sure there might be others in existence although I didn’t feel like spending a lot of time searching. Please feel free to offer better examples in the comments if you’re so inclined. Kurozwęki actually described itself as a Hemp/Maize Maze.

By walking in our maze, you can test your sense of direction, resourcefulness and other abilities. Every year we organise games and competitions by placing on the maze paths questions or riddles to answer. The task is additionally exciting because cell phones are blocked on the premises so you must rely only yourself.

I wasn’t sure how the hemp reference figured into the formula. I assumed it was the type of hemp used to make rope and twine. Further research demonstrated that there were a number of mazes that combined maize, hemp, sunflowers and other tall stalky plants to add variety to the experience or color to the designs. However, I wouldn’t be surprised if some visitors used a certain other hemp-based product to enhance the experience even further.


Completely Unrelated

I mentioned in the previously-referenced five years of searching that Iowa moved ahead of Minnesota in frequency, 47 to 31. A clever reader searched on Minnesota eight times the following day. It wasn’t enough to push Minnesota into the lead although it edged it a bit closer. The reader, naturally, came from Minnesota.

Lake Neusiedl

On March 4, 2015 · 0 Comments

All that talk of endorheic basins in County Divided got me wondering about similar conditions in other unexpected places. It seemed farfetched to find an area lacking natural drainage to the sea on the Great Plains of North America. So did a similar condition in central Europe. I searched around and the largest place in that general vicinity appeared to be Lake Neusiedl on the border between Austria and Hungary (map), where it was called Neusiedler See in German and Fertő in Hungarian.

Lake Neusiedl


Neusiedler See
Neusiedler See by Jonathan Spence, on Flickr (cc)

The basin wasn’t huge although I took what I could get for purposes of this topic.

The lake covers 315 km², of which 240 km² is on the Austrian side and 75 km² on the Hungarian side. The lake’s drainage basin has an area of about 1,120 km². From north to south, the lake is about 36 km long, and it is between 6 km and 12 km wide from east to west. On average, the lake’s surface is 115.45 m above the Adriatic Sea and the lake is no more than 1.8 m deep.

To put that in perspective, the entire drainage basin was about six times the size of Washington, DC or about one-third the size of Rhode Island. The Lake itself was somewhere about twice the size of Washington, DC. Nonetheless, although lacking in size, Lake Neusiedl packed a lot of beauty into its enclosed basin and national park that protected it.

This region around the steppe lake, with over 2 000 hours of sunshine annually, is one of the most popular holiday areas in Austria… With its unique flora and fauna, the transborder National Park offers rare plant and bird species as well as Asinara White donkeys, Grey Hungarian cattle and Mangalitza pigs, the appropriate protection and a natural habitat.

I learned soon enough that Neusiedl wasn’t completely endorheic.


Einserkanal / Hansági-főcsatorna


Sarrod #2
Sarrod #2 by Thomas Lieser, on Flickr (cc)

A basin without a natural outlet had one major drawback: it could fill up, overflow and flood adjacent countryside. That natural cycle happened many times over the centuries. Peasants simply dealt with it, dried off and went about their normal lives. Officials finally tired of intermittent flooding at the end of the Nineteenth Century during a time when the Empire of Austria and the Kingdom of Hungary were united under the banner of the Austria-Hungary Empire. Thus came the construction of the Einserkanal (German) / Hansági-főcsatorna (Hungarian) in 1895, a canal "approximately 30 km long and 4.8 m deep on average and 7-15 m wide." It served like an overflow drain on a bathtub. The canal safely diverted excess water to the Danube River whenever the basin hit a desired capacity.

Nonetheless, the vast preponderance of outflow from Lake Neusiedl happened because of natural evaporation. Perhaps only 10% of outflow went through the artificial channel of the Einserkanal. I guess that would still make the watershed endorheic.


Brücke von Andau / Andaui-híd



The canal’s route never mattered much as long as Austria-Hungary endured. That situation changed after the First World War. Austria-Hungary found itself on the losing side and the empire split. That canal then became a portion of an international border albeit completely on the Hungarian side by a few metres. It created an effective barrier, a moat, to separate Austria from Hungary for many kilometres. That condition remained unchanged after the Second World War when Hungary fell under the Communist domination of the Soviet Union.

Then came the Hungarian Revolution of 1956, crushed by Soviet forces. Hungarians supporting the revolution or those simply fleeing violence escaped towards the border, running up against the canal. They found a single modest wooden footbridge, the Brücke von Andau (German) / Andaui-híd (Hungarian) as a passageway to freedom. About 200,000 refugees fled from Hungary and perhaps 70,000 of them used the Bridge at Andau (map) until the Soviets destroyed it. The bridge wasn’t replaced until decades later, reconstructed in commemoration of its historical importance on the 40th anniversary of the revolution.

The Town of Andau, Austria recalled those days (Google Translate):

In the local chronicle of Andau we read of these events: On Sunday, November 5, was heard the roar of tank engines and the rattling of chains of armored vehicles approached the border. The population held his breath, wondering what would happen. Our firemen moved to the border and marked them with red-white-red flags … In the next few days the first refugees arrived. From day to day the stream of refugees swelled. Thousands of them came from all over Hungary on the Einserkanal after Andau, in the freedom of the West.

The author James Michener was living in Austria at the time of the Hungarian Revolution. He interviewed witnesses and chronicled events in a nonfiction book he titled "The Bridge at Andau."

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12 Mile Circle:
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