Odds and Ends 10

I have an abundance of half-formed story ideas, an overflowing mailbag and a cornucopia of reader suggestions. That means it must be time once again for Odds and Ends, my recurring series of features and topics not quite large enough to fill an entire article on their own.

A couple of interesting items came to my attention via the @TheReal12MC Twitter account, undoubtedly an increasingly important way to share geo-oddities. The first one was a tweet from @wikitravel that linked to an article in Travel and Leisure,

New Zipline Connects Spain and Portugal

International Zip-Line

This one struck a lot of my interests simultaneously. First, it was a zip-line. Need I say more?

The company Límite Zero made the adventure so much more interesting though. The line crosses the Guadiana River, the international border between Spain and Portugal. Even better, the two nations are located in different time zones. Adventurers go back in time by an hour as they zip from east to west. At the far end in Portugal, riders then take a ferry for the return trip to Spain.

A zip line, an international border, a time zone anomaly and a ferry? I need to include this adventure near the top of my international travel plans.

@Clarker sent a tweet with a photo that he found from Twelve Mile, Indiana. I’ve simulated the approximate scene in Google Street View.

Twelve Mile, Indiana

That brought back some great memories. Twelve Mile, Indiana, made an appearance in the very early days of 12MC. It’s the renowned location of the annual Twelve Mile 500 lawnmower race.

I also received input from a more traditional route, the 12MC email box. Case in point, "Joe" sent an article link, The Forgotten Giant Arrows that Guide you Across America

Go Thata Way

It was a fascinating story focused at the intersection of the U.S. Postal Service and the early days of flight in the 1920’s. As the article explained, "… the federal government funded enormous concrete arrows to be built every 10 miles or so along established airmail routes to help the pilots trace their way across America in bad weather conditions and particularly at night, which was a more efficient time to fly." Some of those arrows continued to exist nearly a century later, as confirmed by the Google Satellite Image provided in the article, and reproduced above.

I can never predict when an article will become popular. I’m almost certain that I noticed these same arrows in another article from a different source several years ago. This time however it seemed to catch-on with the public. I’ve now seen several other people reference the giant arrows although Joe was the first to tell me about it so I’m giving him credit for passing it along.

Reader "Nigel" had a question and it confounded me as well. I would have created an entire article around it if I could have solved the mystery. Reluctantly, I’ll turn it over to the 12MC community to see if anyone out there may be able to provide an explanation for the mysterious and repeated appearance of Heterodox View Avenue.

Heterodox View Ave., Houston, TX

Nigel asked, "I noticed this odd street name first as what appears to be a driveway behind a hospital in Houston. But when typing it into Google Maps, I see others all over the country. Any guesses what this could be a reference to?"

I found the same thing. Heterodox View Avenue — and it was always Heterodox View Avenue; not street, not drive, not boulevard, only avenue — appeared in various random places throughout the United States. Only rarely did it run through a residential neighborhood. Generally it led either to a park or to a shopping center. Often it seemed to be cloaked, not necessarily appearing as a named street in Google and seemingly more an access road. Nigel’s example followed a similar pattern. The avenue ran along the edge of the hospital parking lot and next to a helicopter pad.

Heterodoxy refers to beliefs that are out of alignment with prevailing opinions or interpretations, often religious. The term also turns up in the vocabulary of economists. Thus, a heterodox view would be considered unorthodox or unconventional, although not so extreme as to be heresy. I considered this an odd choice for a street name at the very least. In addition, the use of Heterodox View Avenue (and only avenue) seemed too coincidental; a single individual or organization must have had a hand in it. However I could not find any logical connection between the occurrences. That disappointed me because I think there could be an interesting story hidden behind those heterodox views.

Thank you everyone for the great suggestions. Please keep them coming by tweet, by email, or even by by carrier pigeon if you like.

4 Replies to “Odds and Ends 10”

  1. I suspect that “Heterodox View Ave” is a mapmaker’s fake. In Google:

    * The one in Williamsburg, VA on Google marks a non-existent street.
    * The one in Lenexa, KS appears to show 112th Ter on the sign and is listed as W 112th Terrace in Bing.
    * The one in Portland, OR is a lane in the middle of a parking lot.
    * The one in Baltimore, OH appears to be a small one-lane alley.
    * The one in Nashville, TN appears to really be a driveway for Music View BMX whose real location is 2901 Bell St.
    * The one in Houston, TX is the unmarked lane across the back of the Spring Branch Hospital.

    In Bing:
    * The one in Bel Air, MD is listed as Sunswept Dr in Google.
    * The one in Coquitlam, BC is a spur of Pipeline Rd and unmarked in Google.

    I don’t believe a single one of these is real, even though someone was fooled sufficiently by the Nashville one to name it in their blog.

  2. My first thought regarding “Heterodox View Avenue” is that it sounds like a copyright trap, or at least a name assigned to the streets by Google Maps for some reason other than actually being the name of the street. It’s perhaps worth noting that in Street View, there was only one case where I could see a street sign on “Heterodox View Avenue” (the one in Lenexa KS), and in that case the street sign clearly did NOT say “Heterodox View Avenue”. Instead, it said it was a numbered street (I couldn’t quite make out whether it was 112th or 113th).

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