I began to think about counties with colors in their names as I investigated the etymology and history of Blue Earth County, Minnesota in further detail. My mind began to wander down this completely unrelated tangent. Soon enough I found myself hunting through a list of US counties for examples and plotting them on a map.
Feel free to open this image within another tab or window if you’d like to take a closer look. I’ve shrunk the map down to match size limitations of the blog template even though the underlying graphics file is considerably larger. I’ve also provided a public spreadsheet of my selections if you’re wondering what I discovered or if you’d like to check what I might have overlooked and offer any suggestions.
I made arbitrary decisions in some instances. Obviously something like Frederick County didn’t quality as red even if the letters r-e-d appeared sequentially within its name. How about Greenwood and Greenlee qualifying as Green? I decided to count Greenwood because green wood exists, while Greenlee, well some sources said it may have meant green field or green meadow once long ago. Nonetheless it didn’t resonate with me so I dropped it. I know! Completely unjustified. The arbitrator is a capricious jerk.
I bent protocols in the other direction, too. How about Cherry? That’s red. Vermilion? Also red. At that point I enjoyed my reacquaintance with the two counties bordering each other in adjacent states, one in Illinois (Vermilion with one "l") and one in Indiana (Vermillion with double "ll").
Finally, a big tip of the keyboard had to go to American patriot Nathanael Greene. He began the American Revolutionary War as a private and worked his way up to Major General, responsible for all Continental Army troops in the southern campaign. Historians credited him with wearing down British general Cornwallis in the Carolinas, driving the fight into Virginia where Cornwallis surrendered at Yorktown.
What does that have to do with anything? A grateful new nation named an astounding number of places for the famous patriot. Every one of the 14 Greene Counties in the United States honored Nathanael Greene, as did the Green Counties (inexplicably dropping the final "e") established in Kentucky and Wisconsin. The collective Green/e counties greened the map rather nicely, don’t you think?
View Colorful Roadtrip in Minnesota in a larger map
It still seemed I couldn’t dodge the specialness of Blue Earth County. I noticed that Blue Earth formed a solid anchor for an amazing sequence of colorful counties. Extending along the southern bank of the Minnesota River, physically attached like a string of precious jewels pulled upriver: Blue Earth, Brown, Redwood and Yellow Medicine. I thought that would be a fantastic premise for any prospective county counter, traveling from blue to brown to red to yellow. I’ve not captured any of them yet. I see a trip to southern Minnesota in my future.
I had to know the etymology of this colorful coincidental progression:
- Blue Earth: Named for the Blue Earth river, discussed previously.
- Brown: Named for Joseph Renshaw Brown, and early Minnesota legislator.
- Redwood: Named for a variety of juniper found locally, Juniperus virginiana, also known as Red Cedar.
- Yellow Medicine: Named for a plant, reputedly Menispermum canadense (Common Moonseed or Yellow Parilla), used by the Dakota tribe for medicinal purposes
There is one additional colorful county in Minnesota worth mentioning although it’s located in a completely different part of the state than the magnificent contiguous four: it’s called Red Lake. That county was featured in one of the very first 12MC articles (article #7! November 2007!). As far as I can tell, it’s the only landlocked county with only two neighboring counties, cradled by Polk County on three sides and Pennington County on the remaining side.
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…
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.
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, 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.
When I think of "New" places I tend to fuse together the full placenames mentally into a single phrase and begin to overlook the separate elements. I don’t forget completely that earlier entities inspired newer ones, although I mostly overlook the original namesake within the larger string. For example, if I considered Orléans in France it would have meaning to me and conjure a specific image, as would the city of New Orleans in Louisiana. However, France’s Orléans wouldn’t come to mind particularly when I thought of New Orleans USA, even it it provided the bulk of the latter’s placename.
Oftentimes settlers tacked New onto very significant placenames, bestowing a little piece from their homeland onto frontier backwaters. London was and continues to be an extremely important city. Nobody would try to argue rationally that London in the UK doesn’t dwarf in size, reputation and importance the city of New London in Connecticut, USA. That’s not intended to disparage New London, of course. It merely points out the obvious, that New London, well, it doesn’t have the worldwide recognition or relevance of London. Other times, however, the New location managed to grow in significance over decades or centuries to a point where it actually began to overshadow and eventually surpassed its namesake.
I recognize that this so-called eclipsing might be culturally, geographically or individually bound. Going back to the New Orleans example I mentioned a moment ago, in my mind New Orleans has eclipsed Orléans. However I’ve spent a lifetime in the United States, I’ve been to New Orleans numerous times both for family and business reasons, and Hurricane Katrina had a direct impact on some of my immediate family. Thus, New Orleans figures quite prominently in my consciousness. Would a Frenchman concede that La Nouvelle-Orléans had eclipsed Orléans? Probably not. Let’s bear that in mind as I offer a few examples. All of them are subjective. Some may even seem ridiculous to those with different perspectives.
Zeeland, The Netherlands
New Zealand derived its name from Zeeland in the Netherlands. Dutch explorer Abel Tasman received credit as the first European to spot the islands in the 1640′s. Dutch cartographers later applied the name Nova Zeelandia / Nieuw Zeeland. This was later anglicized to New Zealand and became the name of a nation to its English-speaking inhabitants.
Zeeland is a province in the southwest corner of The Netherlands with fewer than four hundred thousand residents. New Zealand, on the other hand, became a well-known sovereign state with more than ten times that population. This, to me, seemed to fit the definition of an upstart eclipsing its namesake.
As an aside, sometimes Zeeland in The Netherlands gets confused with Zealand in Denmark, which is the well-populated island that includes Copenhagen. New Zealand was named for the former, not the latter.
New South Wales
South Wales, UK
One should credit Captain James Cook with naming what eventually became the Australian state of New South Wales. That seemed only fair since 12MC discussed places that were named for Capt. Cook previously. The Preface to "Captain Cook’s Journal during his first voyage round the world made in H.M. Bark ‘Endeavour’ 1768-71," which was a literal transcription of his original journal, noted:
The name, “New South Wales,” was not bestowed without much consideration, and apparently at one stage New Wales was the appellation fixed upon, for in Mr. Corner’s copy it is so called throughout, whereas the Admiralty copy has “New South Wales.”
Had the New Wales label stuck instead of New South Wales, I’d have a hard time concluding that it had eclipsed Wales, even with Sydney included as part of the upstart state. I think I’d probably give the nod to Wales in that instance. However, because the upstart referenced only one portion of Wales (albeit the one including Cardiff, Swansea and Newport) I’d have to say in my mind that New South Wales had trumped South Wales.
Nobody was quite sure why Cook recognized South Wales specifically from what I could find in my limited research.
Gulf of Guinea
This one will take some explanation. I began with the original Guinea, that derived "directly from the Portuguese word Guiné, which emerged in the mid-15th century to refer to the lands inhabited by the Guineus, a generic term for the black African peoples below the Senegal River." New Guinea on the other hand is the second largest island after Greenland, shared by the nation of Papua New Guinea and a portion of Indonesia.
Certainly there are many other places and things named for ancient Guinea: the African nations of Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Equatorial Guinea came to mind, along with the Bay of Guinea and all of them within proximity of the original Guinea. There are even Guineafowl and Guinea Pigs named for the same place (even though Guinea Pigs were native to South America). I wouldn’t suggest that New Guinea should eclipse the collective set of current Guineas, only that it eclipsed ancient Guinea since the original place was a general, amorphous 15th Century geographic construct anyway. Many of the other Guineas mentioned may have eclipsed that older place as well. Well, maybe not Guineafowl. Guinea Pig probably has, though.
How about going back to the USA for some other examples?
Sure. Here are my thoughts:
- New York has eclipsed York
- New Jersey has eclipsed Jersey
- New Hampshire and Hampshire are probably a toss-up with people on respective sides of the Atlantic likely viewing it differently
- New Mexico has NOT eclipsed Mexico
- New England has NOT eclipsed England
Agreements, dissenting opinions and additional examples are all welcome.