A random Twelve Mile Circle reader became an unwitting inspiration for this article simply because of where he or she lived. The little dot within Idaho on my Google Analytics dashboard mentioned State Line. That seemed too good to be true. I’ve done plenty of articles about border towns although I’d never noticed that one before. It sounded like a good excuse to peel things back a layer and take a closer look.
State Line didn’t cover much area and only 38 people lived there (map). It seemed an odd situation until I uncovered a bit of history in an old newspaper article. This creation sprang to life in 1947 and existed for a very specific reason. Quite simply, "the town was incorporated so it could sell liquor and have slot machines." End of story.
Those who incorporated the town leveraged the adjacent state border, just enough over the line to fall outside of the laws of Washington State. Residents of the region’s dominant city — Spokane, Washington — needed only a short drive to take advantage of the more liberal alcohol and gambling rules of Idaho. Apparently incorporated towns in Idaho had some legal leeway to provide these services so State Line filled that niche. The town didn’t have to worry about do-gooders interfering with its business either; it carefully corralled a sympathetic population. I’ve explored similar themes before, e.g., in Right Up to the Line.
A lot of separate sins packed into that tiny package, too. I drove down Seltice Way, the main road through State Line, vicariously using Google Street View. From the border heading into Idaho I noticed a smokeshop, a liquor store, several taverns including a biker bar, and a building with no windows advertising "Show Girls." I wonder what could possibly be going on inside there? This is a family-friendly website so I’ll leave it at that. I also found the residential area consisting of a small trailer park. Maybe the show girls lived there? If so then one of them visited 12MC and landed on the Thelma and Louise Route Map. Maybe someone was planning a weekend getaway?
Idaho didn’t contain the only town with that familiar name. Stateline existed in Nevada, too. I talked about that one briefly in the Loneliest Road in the USA and it appeared in reader comments from time-to-time as well. South Lake Tahoe, on the California side, seemed like the average ski resort town. A gondola led up to the slopes, part of the Heavenly Mountain Resort. Just down the street, however, marked Nevada. Five humongous casinos rose starkly from the pavement barely inches onto the Nevada side of the border. This grouping represented the same basic premise as its Idaho counterpart, bringing convenient "sinful" businesses closer to the masses.
A morbid geo-oddity of sorts existed in Stateline. The ski resort included trails on both sides of the border. Skiers crossed the state border on several of the runs. That was a worthwhile oddity by itself of course, although that wasn’t the morbid part. Something awful happened there in 1998. That’s when Sonny Bono, the lesser-known half of Sonny and Cher, slammed into a tree on the Orion slope (map). Bono died in Stateline on a border-crossing trail.
Stateline existed as one of thirteen townships in Sherman County, Kansas. The name went back historically to the 19th Century and simply represented its geographic placement next to Colorado. Stateline didn’t exist to entice people across the border and only 344 people lived there in the most recent Census. The township contained only one settlement of any size, Kanorado (map), the home of about half of Stateline’s residents. That still made it large enough to serve as Sherman County’s second largest town. My attention automatically focused on that spot because, as longtime readers know, I love a good portmanteau. The name combined and shortened Kansas and Colorado into Kanorado. It’s website noted that someone originally named it Lamborn. I preferred Kanorado. Excellent choice.
This one also existed in a bit of a geo-oddity. Only four counties recognized Kansas Mountain Time, including Sherman County. Of course that also included Stateline Township and the village of Kanorado. From my experience driving directly through there on Interstate 70 several years ago, I couldn’t determine why the area felt more aligned to Mountain Time. It seemed really remote, regardless. Either one should be fine. Nonetheless residents apparently felt otherwise and aligned chronologically with Colorado. Actually, as I thought about it more, Stateline should probably exist on the Colorado side instead. Colorado seemed to feature more sins than Kansas, particularly cannabis and perhaps alcohol too. The current Stateline alignment represented lost economic opportunities.
I found other State Lines and Statelines. For instance, check out State Line Pond in Connecticut. It also had its own website, believe it or not. From its description,
State Line Pond is an approximately 75 acre lake in Stafford Springs, Connecticut on the Massachusetts border at Monson, MA. The lake was formed when a stream running through a meadow was intentionally flooded approximately 150 years ago. For many years, the Stafford Ice House "harvested" ice by horse from the lake during the winter and delivered it to restaurants, homes and businesses as far away as Boston.
Even more obscure places existed in the form of State Line, Mississippi and State Line, Indiana. I couldn’t find much about either place other than their existence.
Then I went down a little tangent wondering about that particular expression. Fortunately there were sources such as the late William Safire who explored That’s/It’s a Wrap in 2005. It did refer to the movie industry as I believed although of more recent vintage than I imagined, perhaps dating back only as far as the 1950’s. Some sources considered it an acronym for "Wind, Reel and Print" the film; others considered that explanation a contrivance created after the fact.
Either way, with the year so recently concluded, it seemed like a good opportunity to take stock of my most recent efforts. The Twelve Mile Circle put another year in the books. How did 2016 perform?
I’ve posted 1,320 articles so far, which is crazy. I didn’t really think about that total much, considering it a testament to small actions taken over long periods. The drip-drip of my incremental efforts eventually filled a large bucket. Articles served two very distinct audiences actually, regular readers like you and the ephemeral search engine crowd. It pleased me that the main 12MC page registered the most views again this year. The freshest content rolled through there, the logical place where regular readers naturally congregated.
The one-and-done readers would land, so I figured, directly atop a specific article page as directed by Google or whatever. This naturally skewed page views to older articles that the algorithms already knew about. Sure enough, Chesapeake Bay Car Ferries from 2010 continued its historic domination. It got steady hits all year long, many from people who wanted to ride the ferry. Too bad the last one sailed across the Bay more than a half century ago.
If I looked solely at articles posted in 2016, the award for most readers went to Residual Braniff posted fairly recently in October. That caught me by surprise. I didn’t think many people would care about an extinct airline that couldn’t survive deregulation. I’ll repeat the old mantra once again — I have no idea what interests the 12MC audience. It always seemed to be the most unexpected articles that attracted the most eyeballs.
WordPress powers 12MC and I couldn’t find an easy way to generate statistics about comments so I followed a bit of a manual method. I wasn’t about to go through all 5,245 of them, that’s for sure. The previously-mentioned Chesapeake Bay Car Ferries probably still retained the all-time lead with 27. I turned my attention solely to articles published in 2016.
Interstate Highway Counties grabbed the lead with 13 comments. That one took some effort. I had to create a map and everything. What a pain. A lot of the comments said something like, "you missed such-and-such." Even so, I appreciated the input because of the time I put into it. Second place went to Odds and Ends 12, my occasional series where I talk about topics that don’t seem to fit anywhere else. It’s been awhile. I think I may be due for another one soon.
Next came a bunch of articles with 9 comments each.
Most Viewed Map
I created a map on Google Maps in 2014 that generated more than 1.3 million page views. It continues to grow at a healthy clip. The map illustrated an article about Interstate Highway Time Zone Crossings.
To be completely candid, I designed the map for my own selfish purposes. I drive long distances on some of my county counting adventures and I like to know when I need to change my watch. It didn’t bother me one way or the other if anyone else found it useful. Apparently no other utility quite like this existed elsewhere on the Intertubes. As of this morning Google ranked it as the #1 search result for interstate highway time zone map. It gets steady hits with spikes clustered near 3-day weekends and during holidays periods such as Thanksgiving and Christmas. You know, popular times for road trips.
Eventually I added a little note on the map hoping to persuade viewers to jump over to 12MC and give it a try. Maybe 20-30 people per day do that, just a tiny fraction of those who view the map on Google. Perhaps one or two may have become regular readers as a result? Who knows. It’s a bit frustrating that something like twice as many people view this single map I created on Google on any given day than every single page on my humble 12MC combined.
Push Pin Progress
Everyone knows that I’ve mapped every location ever mentioned in a Twelve Mile Circle article, right? Sometimes I wonder. They’re all included in the Complete Index. I mention that because the tally now stands at 3,350 places. I always check it when I plan my routes. That’s how I remembered to go to the Fairfax Stone on a trip to West Virginia last October.
Maybe I should include some real content today instead of just rehashing all of my old material?
I found quite a number of geographic places in the United States and beyond named for the New Year. This included various foreign language equivalents like Año Nuevo. However only a single place on the planet — as far as I could tell — bore the name Happy New Year. The US Geological Survey listed a Happy New Year Creek in Alaska:
Prospectors’ name shown on a 1902 manuscript map by E. J. Chamberlain, U.S. Deputy Surveyor… flows N to Slate Creek, 40 mi. SW of Eagle, Yukon-Tanana High. 5 miles long.
Hopefully that will be considered geo-odd enough to jump-start another successful year of Twelve Mile Circle exploration. I have big plans. Thanks for riding along.
I revisited an old concept from a much earlier version of Twelve Mile Circle, the simple pleasure of wandering aimlessly through Google Street View. That’s something I used to enjoy regularly. However, life got busier and other priorities mostly prevented that luxury in recent years. They still do, although I needed to clear my mind of a million other things as the holidays approached. A couple of hours traveling vicariously online did the trick. Plus I found some interesting places.
Google Street View covered territory in many nations albeit with notable exceptions. I wanted a closer look at mysterious Myanmar (Burma) as an example, because it remained under tight control until only recently. However Street View hadn’t arrived there yet. Then I wondered if I could peer across the border from its neighbors. I began with Bangladesh. It shared a brief border with Myanmar although only a single road featured Street View coverage along the way. The road extended to the end of the Teknaf Peninsula. Naturally I lost all interest in Myanmar and fixated on that little road running to the farthest southern point of the Bangladeshi mainland.
What a road! It turned out to be a perfect place to meander, a great place for people watching. Humanity seemed to be everywhere as I followed along the Street View path. People gathered in every small patch of open space. Impossibly small roadside shops sold necessities. Animals wandered freely. I compared that with the average Western town where people hid in their homes, where public appearances limited themselves to automobiles.
In this corner of Bangladesh, the vehicle of choice seemed to be a 3-wheeled motorized rickshaw. Others made do with motorcycles, bicycles or even their own feet. A hive of activity hugged both sides of the narrow path. The Street View car must have created quite a commotion as it passed. Even so, the modern world extended all the way down here to the end of the line. A mobile phone tower in the background implied Internet connectivity. I can always hope for a 12MC visitor from Bangladesh’s Chittagong Division someday. I’ll need to think of a suitable prize.
The terrain seemed extremely flat too, and perilously close to the Bay of Bengal. I wouldn’t want to be around there during Monsoon Season.
Where would people go when the water rose? That wasn’t idle speculation. Historically floods bedeviled Bangladesh. A 1998 deluge submerged 100,000 square kilometres (38,000 square miles), forcing 25 million people from their homes. I wondered, did Bangladesh even have land high enough to avoid rising waters? Obviously it had a highpoint. Was it good enough?
The nation actually contained a mountainous region along it border with Myanmar, much to my surprise. The hills didn’t encompass a lot of Bangladesh although they certainly existed. Oddly, Bangladesh didn’t have a recognized highpoint because nobody ever bothered to measure it officially. Many geographers believed the honor went to Saka Haphong in the Mowdok range (map). It reached 1,052 metres (3,451 feet) unofficially. After I got over the shock of learning that nobody really knew the highpoint of an entire nation, I figured I’d head towards Saka Haphong should I ever find myself in Bangladesh during a monsoon.
Dirt Road Super-Highway
China didn’t have Street View either although neighboring Mongolia had a little. I followed the same process and got the same result: interesting views of Mongolia sidetracked my attempts to peer into China.
I meant "interesting" as an appreciation of its scenery completely wide-open and devoid of any features whatsoever. It reminded me of the Big Sky of eastern Montana in the United States, although amplified by an order of magnitude or two. I could almost imagine Genghis Khan galloping across the steppe on horseback with his hordes.
Looking to the horizon in any direction I saw nothing, simply nothing. Just two sets of dirt tracks across grassy fields in Mongolia’s Dornogovi province. I’ve experienced many dirt roads in my life. However, I’ve never seen one with TWO tracks. That implied sufficient traffic and speed to justify separate lanes. That seemed crazy. With vehicles stirring up easily-visible dust storms as they drove, with lines of sight across an endless horizon, with almost zero population or vehicles, with plenty of room to pull over and let occasional traffic pass, who would ever need to worry about a driver coming in the opposite direction? Yet, apparently it was necessary.