Natural Forces: Magnetism

On May 8, 2012 · 2 Comments

Twelve Mile Circle focused recently on gravity. That suggested a theme: the four forces of natures described by physics. Magnetism comes next on the list. It has more populated places named accordingly than any of the other forces. When I mention the plethora of magnetic place names however, I don’t mean to imply that they are major metropolitan areas. I doubt that more than a handful of people have ever heard of a single one of them.

Ohio, USA

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Case in point, Magnetic Springs in Ohio has barely 300 residents. That’s a dramatic decline from its peak of prosperity as a tourist resort. We discussed mysterious properties of water not too long ago. People living on either side of the split between the 19th and 20th Centuries sometimes believed waters with certain properties conferred a variety of healthful benefits. Magnetic Springs was no exception although it followed a slightly different theme for its magical waters. According to an Ohio historical marker:

Near this site in 1879, J.E. Newhouse discovered a magnetic spring in his park, Green Bend Gardens. It was found that a knife blade dipped in the water could pick up small metal objects like a magnet. The spring became known for its curative powers… Incorporated in 1883, Magnetic Springs became a resort town and was visited by up to 10,000 guests in the summer months.

Modern medical advances began to erode the quackery curative market as the 20th Century progressed. Fewer people flocked to Magnetic Springs for its "miraculous" mineral waters. The resorts folded, businesses and residents moved away, and the last hotel succumbed to the wrecking ball in the 1980’s. Magnetic Springs still exists but it holds on by a thread, having lost its tourist magnetism a long time ago.

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The name also lives on in the form of the Magnetic Springs Water Company, which once used the local spring waters. Even the company named for the springs has abandoned town however, having moved to Columbus, Ohio.

Nebraska, USA

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Magnet, Nebraska is even smaller with fewer than 60 residents. Nonetheless that’s still sixty times larger than Nebraska’s smallest town so don’t cry for them too much. No, if you want to show some sympathy, consider their history as provided by the University of Nebraska – Lincoln:

Magnet has had its share of disasters. In February 1925 a fire took an entire block of main street. The bank closed during the Depression. More buildings were lost to fire in 1930 and 1931, and the elevator burned in 1967. A tornado in 1937 and an even bigger one on May 6, 1975, struck our town. Many homes and several businesses were destroyed each time, but fortunately no lives were lost. Magnet marked its 95th birthday in 1988, and we hope to live up to our motto…’a town too tough to die.’

The site goes on to explain that Magnet followed a typical rural settlement pattern often observed in homesteading states, being platted intentionally along a railroad line. "B.E. Smith… named it ‘Magnet,’ hoping that the name would ‘attract people to the town,’" Any town that manages to survive longer than a century should be judged a success in a sense. B.E. Smith can be credited for providing a strong enough psychological magnet to attract a handful of people for a very long time. Unfortunately, Magnet today is facing the same slow population decay as many other agrarian communities throughout the Great Plains.

Manitoba, Canada

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Why should the United States have all the fun? Canada has a Magnet too, in Manitoba. I couldn’t find any information about it other than its name. It seems even smaller than the U.S. examples although that hardly seems conceivable. The only other item of interest I could find was that it’s located just east of another town with an interesting name: "Million" (map). I found nothing on Million either. It’s totally obliterated in search engine queries. I’d love to know how Magnet and Million, Manitoba got their names.

On May 8, 2012 · 2 Comments

2 Responses to “Natural Forces: Magnetism”

  1. Calgully says:

    No comments? We can’t have that now can we?

    So here’s another attractive (or repulsive) place

    As you can probably deduce from the oxidised colour of the landscape, this is an iron ore mining area, so it quite possibly actually is magnetic.

  2. Calgully says:

    And now one that is definitely attractive.

    Magnetic Island is in the tropical waters of the great Barrier Reef just off the north-east coast of Australia – a very easy day trip to paradise

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