I keep a close eye on the geographic characteristics of Twelve Mile Circle visitors, which seems natural for a geo-oddity website. I also generate article topics from viewer anomalies. For example, I never knew that Mars could be found in Pennsylvania until a Martian visitor, one from a spot north of Pittsburgh as it turned out, hopped onto the site to explore a few pages.
Take Me to Your Leader
Mars, I noticed, included a Mars Picnic Shelter, a Mars Skating Rink, a Mars Athletic Field and a Mars Cemetery, so insert your preferred joke here. I kind of enjoyed the though of a burial on Mars although Martian ice skating seemed promising too.
Naturally if there’s a Mars then there must be a Venus. Colonies of Venusians lived in many places including Texas.
I wondered if I could find a town named for each planet. I managed to get about halfway through my research when I discovered that someone already beat me to it. He turned to the same U.S. Geological Survey database I would have used and completed the effort a year before 12MC even existed. View that website if you’d like a comprehensive list of planetary towns within the United States. Keep reading if you’d like the usual 12MC treatment: examining places in more detail; sprinkling in a few international locations; and lame attempts at entertainment.
Starting closest to the sun (Sun City?) and working outward, the 12MC spaceship landed first on…
Crazy ’bout a Mercury
Notice the grey coloring on the background of this map of Mercury, Nevada. Google Maps uses that particular shade to designate restricted government facilities. Indeed, Mercury is a closed town. You cannot go there. You might be able to go there if you’re a nuclear engineer working for the U.S. Department of Energy although I think it’s still safe to say that "YOU" cannot go there in a general sense.
The government built Mercury to house it workers at its Nevada Test Site, where nuclear weapons were detonated in a controlled manner. DOE provided a fact sheet (pdf) with much more detail if that interests you.
My favorite trivial moments:
- Mercury, being closest to the sun, can be very hot. So can a nuclear explosion. Mercury is an appropriate name for a town at a nuclear test site even though its naming appeared to be coincidental.
- Notice Jackass Flats Road. I don’t have anything more to add; just found it funny. It reminded me of Jackass Junction.
A View from the Surface of Venus (Bay)
I mentioned the Venus located in Texas already. One can also find a Venus, in this case Venus Bay, in Victoria, Australia. It’s a nice weekend getaway for people from Melbourne ("let’s travel to Venus for a little holiday")
Flickr by J. Stephen Conn via Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC 2.0) license
Doesn’t Earth as a placename seem redundant? Apparently that’s not a problem for the residents of Earth City, Missouri (map) or Earth, Texas (map). The Handbook of Texas provided a common excuse, the "name already taken" dilemma, when settlers required a post office. There are three distinct apocryphal explanations. I liked the sandstorm story so let’s use that one.
Originally Halsell called the place Fairlawn or Fairleen, but it was renamed Earth, supposedly for a sandstorm blowing when storekeeper and first postmaster C. H. Reeves had to come up with a name acceptable to postal authorities in Washington.
We already mentioned MARS and there’s a well-known JUPITER with 50,000+ residents exists in Florida, so let’s blast farther into the solar system.
Canadian Mini Solar System
I found several Saturn opportunities although the best choice seemed to be Saturn Lake in Ontario. I didn’t find anything particularly remarkable about the lake itself, however it’s placed within a mini-solar system when paired with Pluto Lake. Another nearby feature was called Juniper Lake, which sounds a lot like Jupiter. I gave this cluster two-and-a-half points even understanding that Pluto was dropped from the planet list in 2006. I won’t mention Pluto again.
*** DANGER: Skip to the next section if you are offended by deliberate mispronunciations and juvenile humor ***
Mianus View Requires No Explanation
I couldn’t find Uranus but I found Mianus. Steve from CTMQ pointed to Mianus during our epic Connecticut Extremes Adventure last summer. In all fairness, we were several hours into the trip and I think fatigue had begun to degrade our conversation. We were amused by Mianus for the next several miles. Yes, I am aware that no less a paragon of wit and sophisticated humor than Jackass (speaking of Jackass) featured Mianus during one of its episodes.
I hereby nominate "Mianus View Terrace" as the most unfortunate street name in the United States.
There is a Neptune Township in New Jersey, however I think I’ll feature the Neptune Island Group in South Australia instead for a couple of reasons:
- It’s supposed to be teeming with Great White Sharks, and that piqued my interest; and
- Wikipedia said there was a ship named Venus that wrecked on Neptune in 1946
I’m sure I could have searched for various other features of our solar system. I’ll leave those for the 12MC audience.