Thanks a Million

On March 16, 2016 · 3 Comments

Longtime readers know that I check user statistics for Twelve Mile Circle daily. However, I don’t often examine figures that go all the way back to the earliest days of the blog. I did that recently, and to my surprise discovered that visitors had arrived from more than one million distinct sources since its inception. Google Analytics reported 1,012,891 users as of a few days ago. I adjusted some parameters and discovered that the site passed a million sometime early in the morning of Wednesday, February 10 — Ash Wednesday. Sure, there might have been a little double-counting, say when regular readers checked the site from home and then from work, although repeat customers were pretty small as a percentage when compared to all the one-and-done hits. I’m sure with the 12k buffer that at least a million different people have now stopped by, however briefly. Frankly, I’m completely humbled and astounded that I created something that reached so many people. If only I had a dollar for every visitor…

One Million Dollars
One Million Dollars by wbeem on Flick (cc)

Obviously my haul was considerably less although it did pay for a nice geo-oddity holiday to Saint Martin once. I supposed I should focus on more realistic celebrations such as finding places named a million. However there weren’t anywhere near a million such places. The US Geographic Names Information System listed only 47 and there were far fewer occurrences outside of the United States.

Million Acre Swamp

Winnie the Pooh overload
Winnie the Pooh overload by crabchick on Flickr (cc)

A Million Acre Swamp sure beat a Hundred Acre Wood although Winnipeg’s famous namesake warranted its own article. No, there wasn’t much noteworthy to say about the Million Acre Swamp in Wisconsin’s Pierce County (map) except perhaps to recognize its hyperbole. I found a reference to counting bears there — presumably other than Winnie — and that was about all of substance the Intertubes had to say about this swamp of an alleged million acres. I didn’t have anything further either.

Million Dollar Bridge

A million dollars used to be an amazing amount of money. It’s still meaningful to average folks and I’d be happy to take a donation of that size, however it doesn’t go a long way in government spending anymore. Back in the early 1900’s a million bucks was such an extravagance that it could bestow a nickname, like a Million Dollar Bridge in Alaska (map). "A million dollars for a bridge? — that must be one fancy bridge!" someone must have exclaimed a hundred years ago because the alternate name became more popular than its official name, the Miles Glacier Bridge. The bridge spanned the Copper River about fifty miles outside of Cordova, connecting the only town of significance in this part of Alaska to outlying communities.

It fared poorly in Alaska’s 1964 earthquake and the northern span collapsed. Did that stop people from using it? Of course not, this was Alaska. They constructed a ramp over the broken section and down to the riverbank. The Bridge Hunter website had some pretty terrifying photos of how it appeared in that condition, as did the video. As described in Alaska Dispatch News,

In the 1970’s, boards and eventually thick metal plates were put in place, somewhat precariously, creating a ramp from the bridge to its fallen span and the far side of the Copper. The span was lifted back into place in 2005, but braver locals still laugh about driving across those boards and the sound they would make as they rocked between spans under the weight of your car.

I’ll bet the repair cost more than a million dollars.

Million Dollar Pier

Night scene, Million Dollar Pier, Atlantic City, N. J.
Night scene, Million Dollar Pier, Atlantic City, N. J. by Boston Public Library on Flickr (cc)

Another million dollars, another early 20th Century structure, this time in the form of a pier in Atlantic City, New Jersey (map).

John Young’s Million Dollar Pier… included the world’s largest ballroom, named The Hippodrome, and a huge exhibit hall. The pier hosted movies, conventions, and exhibits of every description. Teddy Roosevelt gave a speech there in 1912. Some of the big bands played there including Glenn Miller, Jimmy Dorsey and Artie Shaw.

It also hosted the 5th Miss America Pageant in 1925, won by Fay Lanphier, Miss California. Sadly the Million Dollar Pier was torn down in 1983. A succession of new structures occupied the site, with the current incarnation known as Playground Pier.

Rio Frio e Milhão

Milhão, Portugal

I’d hoped to find some million-themed place names in languages other than English. That didn’t work so well because many of them used something very similar to million as their word for million. However I did learn that the Portuguese word for million was slightly different, milhão. That formed part of the name of a parish in the far northeast corner of Portugal known as Rio Frio e Milhão (Cold River and Million, roughly translated). There weren’t any associations between the river and the number other than the parish had been formed in 2013 by cobbling together two settlements into a single unit within the larger municipality of Bragança. The Milhão portion had 161 residents as of the latest census, falling well short of a million. I didn’t learn how Milhão got its name although I’m sure there must have been a million something within its vicinity.

On March 16, 2016 · 3 Comments

3 Responses to “Thanks a Million”

  1. January First-of-May says:

    There are streets basically named “million” both in Saint-Petersburg and in Moscow. (Apparently there used to be one in Tver too; I couldn’t figure out anything about that one.)
    The Saint-Petersburg one is apparently named after a “Million House” of some very rich 18th century noble; the Moscow one is named after an earlier street of the same name, which was named after yet another Million Bridge – today known as Rostokino Aqueduct.

    I couldn’t find any Russian populated places named Million (or anything similar), however.

  2. Congratulations on another huge milestone, Tom. It’s heartening to know that good work still gets appreciated. I love the weird tangents this site has taken us on over the years.

  3. Scott Surgent says:

    Don’t forget the million dollar courthouse in Pioche, Nevada:

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