On March 25, 2015 · 1 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 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.

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?


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.


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.


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.

Nestling Newark

On March 8, 2015 · 4 Comments

It began as a simple enough proposition once I noticed Newark, Ohio on a map. Was it related somehow to the Newark in New Jersey, and what about the Newark in Delaware? Did they all intertwine in a way? It sounded like a mystery that needed to be solved.

Newark, New Jersey

Newark, New Jersey USA

I noticed Newark, Ohio because Newark, New Jersey was still fresh on my mind after appearing in the recent Small Change, Big Difference article. Honestly I didn’t know much about the appearance in New Jersey except that it seemed to be overshadowed by nearby New York City and it had a lousy airport (map). I think all of us who have traveled in the northeast corridor of the United States have at least one Newark Airport horror story, and probably many more. It placed perennially at or near the bottom for on-time performance. Twelve Mile Circle readers from Newark should feel free to defend the honor of their fair city in the comments. I’m sure there must be wonderful attributes that could rebut my negative travel associations.

The name had biblical roots. A group of Puritans lost power when the colonies of Connecticut and New Haven united. They migrated to New Jersey, founding Newark in 1666. However it wasn’t Newark at the very beginning, it was New Ark. This referenced the "New Ark of the Covenant." The Bible described the Ark of the Covenant as holding the stone tablets of the Ten Commandments as well as perhaps other sacred objects depending on the citation referenced. By proclaiming a New Ark, these offshoot Puritans put their stake in the ground, a foundation based upon their specific biblical interpretations.

Newark, Delaware

University of Delaware
University of Delaware by Prehensile Eye, on Flickr (cc)

Alternately, even the City of Newark, Delaware didn’t know much about its origin.

Little is known of Newark’s initial settlements. It appears our community’s early growth, like most villages of Colonial America, owed much to natural features and location. In Newark’s case, historians tell us that in the early 1700s a small English, Scots-Irish and Welsh hamlet grew along two old Indian trails and the fall line where the Christina and White Clay Creeks turn sharply eastward toward the Delaware River. In time, the area began to serve travelers on route from the Chesapeake Bay, Virginia and Maryland and colonial Philadelphia.

Many have speculated on the origin of the name as it appeared in Delaware. There it’s pronounced New-Ark and might lead one to think it also had a connection to the New Ark of the Covenant. However, the New Jersey pronunciation is Newerk so that didn’t necessarily mean anything at all. Delaware Online attempted to find an explanation and came up short.

The name: Historical evidence suggests that Newark was nameless prior to 1758. It was most likely named for a town in England, such as "Newark-on-Trent." It also may be related to the New Wark or Newark Quaker meeting held north of Wilmington, according to a 1960 "Know Your Newark" government survey published by The League of Women Voters of Newark. It is also suggested that the three Bond sisters from Cecil County’s "Nottingham Lotts" came up with the name for the city.

Newark, Delaware was notable for a couple of things. First, and most importantly, it had the good fortune to be located within the Twelve Mile Circle for which this website was named. Second, it was the home of the University of Delaware (map) whose Fightin’ Blue Hen is a rare example of a team mascot named for the female of an animal species.

Newark-on-Trent, Nottinghamshire, England

Newark Castle, Newark-on-Trent, Nottinghamshire.
Newark Castle, Newark-on-Trent, Nottinghamshire by Roland Turner, on Flickr (cc)

Various references mentioned Newark-on-Trent as a possible inspiration for New Jersey or Delaware. Newark-on-Trent was an ancient town, perhaps extending back to the Roman era. The name came from nearby Newark Castle (map), constructed in the Twelfth Century. The original castle spelling was Niwerc as noted in its royal charter granted by King Henry I in 1135.

I couldn’t trace the etymology of Niwerc. When I typed "etymology Niwerc" into Google it asked, "Did you mean: etymology Twerk?" No, I definitely didn’t mean that. The etymology of Twerk, by the way, was "probably an alteration of work." None of that really mattered however because it was unlikely that either the Newark in New Jersey or Delaware were named for Newark-on-Trent directly.

There was also a Newark Castle in Port Glasgow, Scotland (map), and the Newark in California was named for it. That’s not really pertinent although I thought I should reference it anyway.

Newark, Ohio

Longaberger Basket Company, Newark, OH
Longaberger Basket Company, Newark, OH by Joseph, on Flickr (cc)

I mentioned finding Newark, Ohio at the beginning of this article and now I can finally return to that place. This one was actually the second-largest Newark with nearly 50,000 residents, coming behind only the one in New Jersey. According to the History of Licking County, Ohio (1881),

In 1802 however immigrants came in greater numbers and from this time forward there was a steady stream of immigration. The most important arrival in this year was that General William C. Schenck who laid out the town of Newark calling it after his native place Newark, New Jersey.

The most fascinating feature of Newark, Ohio had to be the giant basket (map) featured in 12MC’s Weird Ohio Explorations in 2009. It was the home location of the Longaberger Basket company, an office building constructed of stucco over steel.

Newark, Indiana

Newark, Indiana USA

Finally, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention tiny Newark, Indiana. The History of Greene and Sullivan Counties, State of Indiana (1884) noted, "Newark is a village of over 100 inhabitants and is situated west of the central part of the township. John Edwards had its site surveyed by Thomas Axtell who named the village after Newark Ohio."

Thus, the Newark in Indiana was named for the Newark in Ohio, which was named for the Newark in New Jersey, which was named for the Ark of the Covenant from the Bible.

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