By happenstance, and following the normal progression of articles as they post on Twelve Mile Circle, I felt somewhat obligated to publish an article even though it fell on New Years Eve. Readers in Europe and places farther east won’t see this until 2014 because they’ve already flipped the page to the next calendar. The rest of the audience probably won’t see this in 2013 either because everyone will likely be with friends and family celebrating, not reading a screen necessarily.
I’m having a nice dinner out with my wife right now. I wrote this article a couple of days ago and set WordPress to post it automatically at the appointed time. You didn’t really think I’d be concerned about geo-oddities with New Years right around the corner, did you?
Let the countdown to midnight begin with this final 12MC article to round out the waning moments of 2013.
Midnight Torrent, Harihari, New Zealand
I researched geographic features named "midnight" to see which ones would complete their countdowns to midnight first and last.
I felt pretty confident that the first midnight to reach midnight, and thus the first midnight to cross into 2014, would be Midnight Torrent. That’s a stream on the South Island of New Zealand, almost due west of Christchurch albeit with imposing peaks of the Southern Alps mountain range blocking the way. Technically, I suppose, any midnight location within the same Time Zone would hit midnight simultaneously. Let’s ignore that inconvenient fact for this exercise and follow solar time by tracking the progress of the sun (or other celestial bodies since it would be nighttime) through the sky instead.
Midnight Torrent seemed to be suitably named. Notice the satellite image above. The stream could more properly be classified as a waterfall while it crashes down the ridge and tumbles into the Wanganui River. Impressive, certainly, although perhaps an impractical location for a New Years celebration. This would require a several miles hike from the nearest point on the Harihari Highway through the rugged Wanganui River valley just to reach the Midnight Torrent confluence.
Midnight Hill, Renews, NL, Canada
Surprisingly few midnights existed as I progressed farther across the globe after a few more spots in New Zealand then Australia, with none in Asia, Europe or Africa — although I can’t guarantee there aren’t other midnight places in different languages. I continued searching west. I encountered the first midnight of the Americas in Canada, in Newfoundland and Labrador: Midnight Hill.
The name of the village adjacent to Midnight Hill, Renews, also seemed appropriate. A new year provides an opportunity to renew. The settlement had an interesting etymology too,
The closest harbour to the fishing grounds of the Grand Banks, Renews was one of the very first harbors in the North America to be frequented by Europeans… As a well known fishing port, Renews was often visited by vessels making the transatlantic crossing in order to “refresh” (taking on drinking water) and obtain supplies.
Midnight Hill was a holy place that dated back to the earliest days of European settlement. It was a spot where "local residents celebrated mass secretly at night when Roman Catholicism was suppressed in Newfoundland."
Renews joined with nearby Cappahayden in the 1960’s. Now the whole conglomeration is known as the Town of Renews–Cappahayden.
Midnight Mountain, Nome Borough, Alaska
The very last midnight to hit midnight, and thus the final midnight to cross into the New Year would appear to be Midnight Mountain in Alaska’s Nome Borough. Compare its location on the map above to the placement of the International Date Line which runs between the United States and Russia. While Midnight Mountain would be difficult to reach, it would have one significant value according to mindat.org, "the mineral and locality database":
Midnight Mountain Prospect, Kougarok District, Nome Borough, Alaska, USA: …is a prominent upland reaching an elevation of 2,720 feet in the southeast part of the Bendeleben D-6 quadrangle. It is located on the continental divide which separates the drainages of the Serpentine River (Schlitz Creek) and Kougarok River (Taylor Creek) in this area… This gold-bearing area seems to be mostly in altered and quartz-veined polydeformed metapelitic schist on the south side of Midnight Mountain.
That’s right, there’s gold in them thar hills!