I’ve been following Every County lately while the author winds his way virtually through, well, every county. He was at the northern end of Michigan’s Lower Peninsula at the time of publication, typing his was down from the Straits of Mackinac. The name Schoolcraft(¹) kept recurring as I read through new installments, a frequent geographic designation in Michigan.
Schoolcraft, for those unfamiliar with Michigan’s history, was Henry Rowe Schoolcraft (1793-1864), a jack-of-all-trades, a geologist, explorer, geographer, politician, ethnologist, writer, publisher, you name it. He wandered within and around many parts of the American Frontier as it was defined in early 19th Century, particularly the Upper-Midwest in Michigan and Minnesota. Consequently, a lot of places in both states bear the Schoolcraft name.
Schoolcraft County, Michigan
Schoolcraft County, Michigan, USA
Schoolcraft County was the largest geographic namesake, an area familiar to Henry Schoolcraft during his lifetime. Michigan established the original Schoolcraft County in 1843, reorganized it in 1871 and established the current boundaries in 1885 as noted in the Newberry Library’s Atlas of Historical County Boundaries for Michigan. The Schoolcraft Chamber of Commerce explained,
In 1832, the "Snowshoe Bishop" Frederic Baraga established a Catholic mission on the eastern shore of Indian Lake. It was also during this time that Henry Rowe Schoolcraft, Michigan’s first Indian Agent and the county’s namesake, was mapping the area, documenting the lives of tribal residence and negotiate treaties. Schoolcraft County was officially organized in 1871, with Manistique designated as the county seat.
I drove through this area a number of years ago on a trip around and across Lake Michigan. I’d love to return someday.
Village of Schoolcraft, Michigan
L S & M S Station, Schoolcraft, Michigan, rppc. postmarked August 31, 1908. by Wystan, on Flickr
via Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0) license
Paradoxically the Village of Schoolcraft wasn’t founded in Schoolcraft County, rather it appeared on Michigan’s Lower Peninsula south of Kalamazoo (map).
The Village of Schoolcraft was the first settlement established in Kalamazoo County. In fact, the original Village was platted in 1831, six years before Michigan became a state… Lucius Lyon, who had settled in the area and who had… been a member of the Cass expedition, as well as a friend of Schoolcraft, decided to name to Village in his honor.
Schoolcraft had also been a member of the 1820 Cass Expedition, named for its leader Lewis Cass who was the Territorial Governor of Michigan. Schoolcraft served as the expedition’s geologist. Think about that for a moment. The governor led an expedition through the wilderness. Imagine the governor of any state today with enough courage and leadership to do something physically demanding, dirty, and even a little dangerous.
Schoolcraft Lake and River
Schoolcraft Lake and River
The Cass Expedition focused on several objectives and motivations, including some scientific. One involved a search for the true source of the Mississippi River in Minnesota. The explorers trekked as far inland as Cass Lake then turned back because water levels were too low for their canoes to paddle any farther in July. The expedition named the lake for its leader, declared Lake Cass the Mississippi source and called it a day.
However that differs from what people understand today, that Lake Itasca was the source. Indeed Cass Lake was many miles downstream from Itasca (map). Schoolcraft suspected the true source laid beyond Lake Cass so he returned in 1832 to finish the job, and then identified Lake Itasca as the headwaters of the mighty river.
There was a tiny Schoolcraft Island on Lake Itasca named in his honor (map)
12MC Walked Across the Mississippi River
It wasn’t very far away from the spot where one could Walk Across the Mississippi River as Twelve Mile Circle did a few years ago. However there was a more significant accolade nearby than the tiny island within Itasca, namely Schoolcraft Lake and River, the first significant tributary of the Mississippi River.
Kite Over Schoolcraft College  by Juan N Only, on Flickr
via Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0) license
There were several more Schoolcraft tributes although I’ll feature only one more. Schoolcraft College was established in Livonia, Michigan, a suburb of Detroit. I thought it was creative of them to name their dining hall "Henry’s Food Court," a fitting memorial to Henry Schoolcraft.
(¹) I think the name grabbed my attention because it sounded like a version of Minecraft that might be created by an educational institution. Minecraft has become frequent and ubiquitous in our household with our two young boys. It’s all Minecraft all the time in our home.
It began as I discovered Beery Reservoir in northeastern Montana appearing from my laptop screen (map). For once I decided to avoid overthinking the reference and have fun with it while wondering how awesome it would be to have a reservoir of beer. Don’t expect a lot of intellectual curiosity or historical background today, just beer-themed places that sounded funny and maybe a pun or two.
I was surprised by the number of beery entries listed in the US Geographical Names Information System. I selected a few of the best.
Beer Run, Eldred, Pennsylvania, USA
In my earlier years, a beer run was what we used to do when we thought we might finish the beer before the party ended and had to dash to the nearest convenience store before it closed. This activity needed to be well considered because Virginia didn’t allow off-premise beer sales after midnight. Fortunately that hasn’t been a problem in a long time for me. I can’t imagine being awake after midnight today and certainly not drinking. The Urban Dictionary included other definitions too like going into a store, grabbing a six-pack and running out without paying. Don’t do that.
Geographically the term "run" was used interchangeably with stream or creek in certain pockets of the United States including Virginia. An example familiar to many readers might include Bull Run, the site of two famous Civil War battles fought in the Commonwealth. The Union army often named battles after a nearby body of water.
Beer Run flowed past Frozen Toe Road. I’m sure there was a joke in there somewhere.
Beer Airport, Hudson, Wisconsin, USA
A pilot could be fired for consuming alcohol anytime close to flight time so Beer Airport sounded like a disaster waiting to happen. The "airport" — and I used that term loosely here — was a thin grass strip set between two plowed fields in rural Wisconsin.
The Federal Aviation Administration maintained records on every airport including this one, which was listed by AirNav.com. Beer Airport was a private field, 2200 x 60 ft. (671 x 18 m) with a 40 foot high powerline at the end of the runway (clearly visible on Street View). Richard Beer was listed as owner and Dan Beer was manager, thus explaining the name they selected for the facility. The Beers operated two single engine airplanes and an ultralight from their personal airport.
I’m impressed by the things one finds on the Intertubes. Richard Beer was also listed in TruckCompaniesIn.com.
Richard L Beer is a Carrier truck company located in Hudson, WI. Richard L Beer’s United States DOT (Department of Transportation) number is 560700. Richard L Beer employs 3 truck drivers as owner operators or company drivers. Leasing opportunities may be available. Richard L Beer’s commercial over-the-road transportation services may include specialized, flatbed, or heavy haul driving. 3 of Richard L Beer’s trucks include auxiliary power units.
The Beer family had a fascination with machines.
Beer Can Pond
Beer Can Pond, Tallahassee, Florida, USA
I found no additional information on Beer Can Pond. I enjoyed the name and the Street View image was nice. That was all.
In heaven there is no beer.
That’s why we drink it here
When we’re gone from here,
all our friends will be drinking all our beer
On the surface it seemed that the Beer Cemetery in Fulton Co., Illinois (map) might have been an attempt to deliver a few creature comforts into the afterlife. It wasn’t of course. The cemetery was actually the final resting place for an extended family of about forty people, many named Beer. A gravestone listing suggested that it was active in the second half of the 19th Century and into the early 20th Century. The site later fell into neglect, judging by individual grave markers.
Root Beer Falls
I figured I’d also throw a bone at the teetotalers who suffered through the rest of this article, bless their hearts. GNIS recorded Root Beer Falls in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, in Gogebic Co. (map).
Upper Tahquamenon Falls (Paradise, Michigan) by Corey Seeman via Flickr
via Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0) license
This is Tahquamenon Falls, also located on Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, however on the opposite side nearly five hours away by car. I found next to nothing about Root Beer Falls, however I found tons of information about Tahquamenon Falls which was known informally as Root Beer Falls.
The Tahquamenon River flows 94 miles from the Tahquamenon Lakes into Lake Superior, and its falls are sometimes affectionately called “Root Beer Falls” because of the water’s distinctive color. The flowing water has a rich, deep brown color, which is the result of tannic acid produced by decaying hemlocks, cedars, and spruces along the river’s banks.
Got that? Root Beer Falls was completely unknown except to the US Geological Survey, while a much better Root Beer Falls was officially Tahquamenon Falls.
We snagged tickets to SAVOR 2014 during the American Homebrewers Association pre-sale period today. Rumor has it they sold out in two minutes. Life is good. Any other 12MC-ers attending?
I’ve discussed the port at Duluth, Minnesota before and even created a travel page for it. I was particularly fascinated with the bit of trivia that Duluth was a significant seaport even though it was located 2,342 miles (3,770 kilometres) from its eventual outlet to the Atlantic Ocean.
Port of Duluth
My Own Photo
The Duluth Seaway Port Authority described itself as "the largest, farthest-inland freshwater port." Maybe that was the case and maybe that was hyperbole. Claims are cheap. Either way I though I should check into this a little further and see what other candidates might exist. I discovered a very useful website in the process, the World Port Source, which provided interactive maps by inland waterway.
Like all my geo-oddity searches, I establish some ground rules. I was looking for a port, most importantly. That was far different than the longest navigable river. Anyone could take a canoe farther upstream. I was looking for recognized port facilities that supported commercial shipping. That was also different than the farthest point upriver negotiable by an oceangoing deep-draft ship. One simply won’t be able to get a large oil tanker hundreds of miles upstream. So those were the general parameters.
Duluth, Minnesota, USA
Duluth would be tough to beat. It definitely held the record for North America. Canada did well also with the Port of Thunder Bay — like Duluth, on Lake Superior — although Duluth was at the farthest extreme of the lake so that increased its distance from the Atlantic.
Port of Lewiston, Idaho, USA
The Port of Lewiston, Idaho was the farthest U.S. inland port from the Pacific Ocean via the Columbia and Snake Rivers, some 465 river miles (750 km) upstream. It also had the distinction of being the only port city in the state of Idaho, which was an interesting bit of trivia worth filing away and retrieving at a strategic time. Maybe I’ll use that one on my wife some day just to watch her eyes roll.
For the Mississippi River watershed and the Gulf of Mexico though, the farthest inland port was either Minneapolis or St. Paul. The Port of Minneapolis might not exist anymore because city officials were eager to get rid of it as recently as 2012. That would hand the honor over to the nearby Port of St. Paul about 1,670 miles (2,690 km) upriver from the Gulf.
I then turned to the aforementioned World Port Source to examine additional extremities outside of North America.
Amazon River – Iquitos, Peru
Port of Iquitos, Peru
The vastness of the Amazon River truly amazed me. Notice the placement of Iquitos, Peru, and specifically how far west it fell on the South American continent. Ponder for a moment that the waterway it sits upon drains to the east.
Belèn, Iquitos. Stilted burrow by Stefe on Flickr
via Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0) license
The Port of Iquitos, Peru can be accessed after traveling upriver some 2,300 miles (3,700 km) which put it in the same ballpark as Duluth. One location might be slightly farther inland than the other, or not, although either way they were essentially analogous for practical purposes. World Port Source noted:
The Port of Iquitos became important to the country in the late 19th Century with the rubber boom. The Port of Iquitos is the biggest city in Peru’s rainforest and the capital of the large Department of Loreto. Many think that the Port of Iquitos is the biggest city in the world that roads do not reach. In 2005, almost 154 thousand people lived in the Port of Iquitos
"The biggest city in the world that roads do not reach!" — more fascinating trivia. Is someone writing these down?
Yangtze River – Yibin, Sichuan, China
Yibin, Sichuan, China
Once again, ponder the distance the Yangtze River penetrates inland to the Port of Yibin. It was hard for me to find an exact figure on the river miles between Yibin and the East China Sea. By extrapolation it seemed to be about 1,750 miles (2,800 km).
huge cities, huge rivers by joan vila on flickr
via Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC 2.0) license
Certainly one could travel much farther upriver although Yibin seemed to be the final commercial port, and it’s become quite active. I found a recent article in SeaNews that described how train locomotives made in Sichuan were being shipped internationally from the Yibin port. The article also said that as of January 2014, "Cargo vessels of 1,000 tonnes can sail between the port and the sea year round."
I didn’t have time to consider every possibility for farthest inland port. Additional candidates could include the Port of Tver, Russia on the Volga River system or the Port of Kelheim, Germany on the Danube River system. Still it satisfied my curiosity. It confirmed that freighters could sail mighty far inland on multiple continents.