On December 17, 2013 · 3 Comments

Some of the recent articles included places in the New York City area, an odd coincidence. I also happened to spot an interesting name on Long Island during the process, a place called Middle Island. It appeared to be pretty close to the middle of Long Island, which indeed is a long island. I drove from LaGuardia Airport to Montauk (map) once and I experienced that firsthand. I thought the journey would never end so it made sense to me that someone would mark a spot about halfway across the expanse and call it Middle Island.

Middle Island, Long Island, New York, USA

That’s how it went as I searched for other Middles. I found many names that seemed to make sense while others, well, sometimes they remained an inexplicable mystery. I ignored the scores of Middleburg, Middleton, and Middletown occurrences though. Those were entirely too common and pedestrian. Other locations like Middle Place, GA (map), Middlepoint, IL (map) and Middleground, GA (map) had slightly more unusual names although they still seemed logical in what they hoped to portray even if a bit unimaginative.

Historical Locations

Middle Village Three, Maui, Hawaii, USA

Historical locations provided better entertainment. Those were minor settlements that didn’t necessarily exist anymore even though they continued to be recognized within official files. The Geographic Names Information System included these places as part of the collective national heritage and they were noted as such.

For instance, the former Middle Village Three once sat on the grounds of Kahului Airport on the Hawaiian island of Maui. Set aside that the airport code was OGG — 12MC will need to explore that another day — I wondered whether there were ever any companion Middle Villages One and Two and if they were similarly obliterated by airport construction (there were other numerical villages nearby). I never found an explanation because of the hundreds of ad-choked clickbait sites that created separate pages for every entry in GNIS. A Middle Village Three dating site? Really? People are looking for romance on an airport runway?

Hamlets, now ghost towns, near streams and rivers provided further entertainment. Middle Squabble in Kentucky (map) seemed to be an odd choice as did its namesake Squabble Creek, just around the corner from Loose Angel Cemetery. I’ll bet that was a wild, lawless town when those first coal miners came through. A similar curiosity existed with Middle Fabius in Missouri (map) which was nestled along the middle fork of the Fabius River. Its variant names perplexed me even more: Greasy Village, Pull Tight and Slab Town. I’d select Middle Fabius too if those were my only choices.

Middling Curiosities Weren’t Confined to the United States

West, Middle and East Taphouse, Cornwall, England, UK

The Canadian Geographical Names Data Base (CGNDB) offered Middle Ohio, Nova Scotia. It appeared to be more "middle of nowhere" (map) than middle of Ohio. The Ohio Country never extended into Nova Soctia although Algonquian-speaking peoples did cover a broad territory so perhaps there may have be an ancient connection. That, or some dude from Ohio immigrated to Canada.

I also pondered Middle Taphouse in Cornwall, England, sandwiched between West and East Taphouse. I went into Street View and searched extensively for the aforementioned taphouse, failed miserably and left thirsty.

How Did That Get Here!?!

Middle Earth discovered — in Maryland, USA

Followers of J. R. R. Tolkien’s "Lord of the Rings" wonder about the existence of Middle-earth. I can’t speak to the fictional location, however the US Geological Survey did recognize Middle Earth as a place in Maryland. The coordinates corresponded to what seemed to be a random person’s driveway. I’ll note for the record that the mailing address was HOLLYWOOD, Maryland so anything might be possible.

GNIS provided additional information so I examined it a little closer: "Citation: Alexandria Drafting Co. County Street Maps Series. Alexandria, Virginia: Dates Vary. Coded as MD-M1/Name/Year. Saint Marys/1987."

I remembered the name of that company from an earlier article, the one about trap streets. They’d been involved in a precedence-setting court case, Alexandria Drafting Co. v. Andrew H. Amsterdam dba Franklin Maps. Alexandria Drafting noted during that case that they’d creating fictional map entries to serve as copyright traps. Perhaps the placement of Middle Earth was one such trap, and was later replicated erroneously by the Geological Survey? Either that or someone at Alexandria Drafting was a Tolkien fan, labeled his home creatively and slipped it past the editors.

On December 17, 2013 · 3 Comments

3 Responses to “Middling”

  1. John of Sydney says:

    Melbourne (Australia) has Footscray, Middle Footscray and West Footscray suburban railway stations as well as North Brighton, Middle Brighton and Brighton Beach stations.
    As well there are four stations called Richmond … R, North R, West R, and East R.
    For some reason not known to me Melbourne stations are commonly much closer that I’m used to so that the trains seem to start stoppings as soon as they leave a station.
    Thanks for all the interesting stuff over the year!

  2. Peter says:

    I’m not far from Middle Island. Not a particularly nice community, I’m afraid. There are some decent subdivisions, but the main road through town is rather depressing and rundown. There’s a downscale Wal-Mart, an unrenovated smaller store whose interior is always a bit of a shambles, and whose customers tend to be more, ahem, teratological than your typical Wally World clientele. Just past it is the rotting hulk of an abandoned K-Mart, empty for more than a decade. And that’s not to mention the strip malls with more than their fair share of “For Rent” signs.

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