Ramble On

On November 27, 2016 · 3 Comments

It’s the Thanksgiving weekend and I’m feeling a bit lazy. I think I’ll just ramble on for awhile instead of writing a real article. Those of you reading from countries without a similar holday may not understand much about Thanksgiving. In the United States it involves several days of overeating to the point of immobility, and sitting on a couch watching (American) football games all day. I’m not motivated to put the necessary research into writing something mentally stimulating. You might want to skip today and come back next time.

Turkey Trot

A slightly more athletic Thanksgiving activity formed in recent years, a "traditional" running race known as the Turkey Trot. Races tended to start early on Thanksgiving morning before culinary indulgences could sideline potential participants. They covered short distances, like maybe 5 kilometres or 5 miles. That way people could pretend they were behaving in a healthy manner when, in fact, they were simply getting ready to stuff themselves silly in a few hours.


Arlington Turkey Trot 2014
My local Turkey Trot a couple years ago. I didn’t take any photos this year.

Our local neighborhood began its Turkey Trot about a decade ago. My wife took great pride in signing me up the last couple years. I think she enjoyed tormenting me. There I stood on the start line once again this year at precisely 8:00 am, ready to hit the pavement with 3,000 of my closest friends. Imagine my surprise when I discovered that I finished in first place for my age bracket. That should never happen. I’m not that fast. Then I noticed that she’d accidentally signed me up as a woman. For a few brief moments I claimed to be the fastest middle-aged woman in town. Once corrected however, I fell down to fourth place for my age bracket. That still sounded impressive although it also included participants dressed as pilgrims, or with plastic turkeys on their heads, or in full Santa Clause outfits, or walking dogs. My effort wasn’t all that notable in that context. Then I spent the rest of the day eating, as expected and customary.


Mainly Marathons



That reminded me. I’ve just started planning for the next marathon race series. Longtime readers probably remembered several previous trips. I don’t run those distances, I simply drive my favorite runner from state-to-state for each event in sequence and count counties. We’re looking at the Heartland Series for 2017. That event will arrive before I know it even though it won’t happen until late May. Races will be held in Bryan, Ohio; Niles, Michigan; Portage, Indiana; Fulton, Illinois; Clinton, Iowa; Sparta, Wisconsin and Albert Lea, Minnesota. Seven races, seven days, seven states, beginning May 28, 2017. We probably won’t do the last two races. I can only take a week off from work and it would put us too far from home to get back in time.

Anyone knowing about interesting things to see along the way can let me know in the comments. I’d also love to meet anyone who wants to race one or more races (they do have shorter options all the way down to 5K). I’ve noticed there doesn’t seem to be much of an intersection between the 12MC audience and this activity, though. Nobody took me up on similar offers in previous years, and that’s fine too. I’ll put it out there just in case.


Music Break



Since I’ve called this article Ramble On, feel free to take a break and listen to Ramble On.


Finish West Virginia



When last I left West Virginia, only six counties remained on my county counting list before I could finish the state. I spent a few moments sketching out what it would take. The result, above, demonstrated that I should be able to complete West Virginia during a long weekend. Inauguration Day falls on a Friday in 2017. I’m thinking that might be an ideal time to get away from the Washington, DC area if the weather cooperates. It will happen sometime in the next few months if it doesn’t happen then.


Blog Spam

Blog spam largely disappeared when Google changed its algorithms to penalize websites referenced by spam links. However, it seemed to make a bit of a resurgence in the last couple of months. That meant I could start tweeting the best examples again on the 12MC Twitter account: "I such a lot indisputably will make sure to don’t put out of your mind this website and give it a look on a relentless basis."


The Political Graveyard


Michigan Civil War Era Graves - Pic 13
Grave of US Senator Zachariah Chandler –
Elmwood Cemetery – Detroit, Michigan. Photo by Michael Noirot on Flickr (cc)

I’ve enjoyed a slightly morbid site called The Political Graveyard lately. Want to know the final resting place of practically any politician in the history of the United States? The Political Graveyard probably catalogued it. As an example, for my recent article on Winfield Scott (who ran as the Whig candidate for President in addition to his long military career), could have noted his burial at the United States Military Academy Cemetery (map). I’m not sure what that would have added although I still found it addictive.

How about somebody completely obscure. I selected Zachariah Chandler (1813-1879) somewhat randomly. He served as mayor of Detroit, U.S. Secretary of the Interior, and U.S. Senator, amongst other offices. He "Died, from a brain hemorrhage, in his room at the Grand Pacific Hotel, Chicago, Cook County, Ill., November 1, 1879 (age 65 years, 326 days). Interment at Elmwood Cemetery, Detroit, Mich." (map). See what I mean by addictive? It served no practical purpose. Maybe that’s why I liked it.


Stuff from Readers

Reader Joe sent a couple of interesting article links. One in particular might apply to the 12MC audience: The Sun Has Set on Barrow, Alaska for the Final Time… Ever. Barrow, the northernmost town in Alaska went dark on November 18. The sun will rise again on January 22. However, its name will change to Utqiaġvik on December 1. They’ve ditched their English name for an Inupiat Eskimo name to better align with their culture. Native speakers pronounced it something like "Oot KHAH’-ghah veek." It reminded me of the recent change of the Wade Hampton Census Area to Kusilvak in another area of Alaska a few months ago.

Reader Rowland wondered what the U.S. map would look like if states were redrawn with equal populations. I’m still pondering that one. What would be the best way to do that? Would we also have to change boundaries, I wondered, after every decennial census?

On November 27, 2016 · 3 Comments

Great Scott

On November 24, 2016 · 1 Comments

It occurred to me that a great general like Winfield Scott probably influenced place names beyond the recently-featured Scott’s Addition in Richmond, Virginia. Citizens considered him a national hero during his lifetime even if we don’t hear much about him today. This period also coincided with a rapid expansion of population and migration. They needed names for all of those settlements they built on the frontier during the first half of the 19th century.


General Winfield Scott
General Winfield Scott. Photo by David on Flickr (cc).

I wanted to use a better image of Winfield Scott than the unattractive photo of the elderly, bloated man near the end of his life from the previous article. The equestrian statue at Scott Circle in Washington, DC (map) seemed appropriate. Certainly I could uncover more significant geographic designations than a roundabout. How about five Scott counties named for him? They sprouted in Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Tennessee and Virginia


Scott County, Iowa


Blackhawk Hotel, Davenport, IA
Blackhawk Hotel, Davenport, IA. Photo by Alan Light on Flickr (cc)

The Iowa county named for Scott probably measured as the most significant. It’s primary city, Davenport (map), held nearly 170 thousand residents.

Winfield Scott’s legendary career covered half a century. He served as a general in the War of 1812, the Black Hawk War, the Mexican–American War, and the Civil War. His wide ranging exploits inspired place names throughout his lifetime. Scott County, Iowa traced its named to the Black Hawk War that broke out in 1832. He commanded troops during the brief campaign (losing many more men to cholera than warfare) and helped negotiate the treaty that ended it. Much of the fighting unfolded in the vicinity of future Scott County, in neighboring Illinois and Wisconsin. Scott seemed an appropriate figure to honor when Iowa formed the county in 1837, just five years after the war ended.


The Independent State of Scott


Historical Marker: Independent State of Scott
Independent State of Scott. Photo by J. Stephen Conn on Flickr (cc)

An entire Independent State named itself for Scott. It wasn’t really independent though. Nothing official. Scott County, Tennessee traced its beginning to 1814, named for Winfield Scott because of his War of 1812 activities. Geographically, much of it fell within the Appalachian Mountains. People living there farmed small plots on rocky hillsides on the far side of the frontier. They held little in common with people across the mountains and their culture of plantations and slavery. Scott County refused to join the rest of Tennessee when it seceded from the Union during the Civil War. It’s been called the The Switzerland of America both for its mountains and its neutrality.

Scott became a Union enclave, proclaiming itself an Independent State no longer beholden to Tennessee. The county had little strategic importance to either side so the Confederacy never tried to force it back into the fold. Scott did not officially rescind its "independence" from Tennessee until 1986.

The county also founded a town of Winfield (map), so a handful of residents now live in Winfield, Scott. It straddled U.S. Route 27 — Scott Highway.


Named for That Other Winfield Scott


Scottsdale Waterfront
Scottsdale Waterfront. Photo by D. Patrick Lewis on Flickr (cc)

There couldn’t be too many 19th century U.S. Army officers named Winfield Scott, or so I figured. Yet, inexplicably, there was one more. Winfield Scott — the other Winfield Scott — came into this world in 1837. I assumed his parents named him for the more famous Winfield, and the time period seemed to fit. However I didn’t find any evidence to prove it. He became a minister, later accepting a commission as an Army captain and serving as a chaplain during the Civil War. His legacy did not come from his military service.

In mid February of 1888, Winfield Scott was invited to the Salt River Valley in Arizona. Some residents of Phoenix had heard of Scott’s reputation as a promoter and wanted him to help promote Phoenix and the surrounding area. Scott was impressed with the valley and on July 2, 1888 made a down payment of 50 cents an acre for a section of land… His brother, George Washington Scott, came at Winfield Scott’s request to clear the land. He planted 80 acres of barley, 20 acres of vineyards and a 7-acre orchard.

The land he settled became Scottsdale, Arizona (map). Recently Scottsdale erected a statue in his honor (photo).

A quarter-million people live in Scottsdale now and it continues to grow rapidly. Ironically, the most famous place named for Winfield Scott recognized the man who was practically insignificant to American history. They named Winfield, Kansas after him too.

On November 24, 2016 · 1 Comments

Scott’s Addition

On November 20, 2016 · 0 Comments - won't you be the first?

I never mentioned my reason for being stuck on Interstate 95 the other day except for a brief reference to an overnight trip to Richmond, Virginia. My younger son participates on a travel soccer team and they played in a tournament over the Veterans Day weekend. We don’t get 3-day weekends anymore. They’re all consumed by tournaments. My older son has no interest in any of this whatsoever and sometimes he gets a reprieve. That explained why the two of us went county counting in West Virginia over the Columbus Day weekend. However, this time all four of us went to Richmond.

Anyway, let’s switch directions and talk about General Winfield Scott for awhile because he figured into this too.

Winfield Scott


Winfield Scott by Fredricks, 1862
Winfield Scott by Fredricks, 1862
Photo on Wikimedia Commons, in the public domain

Scott served in the United States Army longer than just about anyone else, ever. His career stretched all the way from the War of 1812 to the Civil War, some 53 years. "Old Fuss and Feathers" — as his troops called him — spent most of that time at the rank of General including two decades as Commanding General. He achieved his greatest victories in the Mexican–American War. He also took a shot at becoming President as the Whig Party candidate in 1852. Many historians considered him the greatest American military commander of his generation.

Setting all those momentous achievements aside, one tangential factor set the stage for my weekend sojourn: Winfield Scott married Maria DeHart Mayo in 1817. Her father, Colonel John Mayo, happened to be one of the wealthiest men in Virginia as well as a former mayor of Richmond. Thus, Col. Mayo provided quite a nice dowry when Maria and Winfield married, a 600-acre estate on the northwestern edge of Richmond. It remained in the family until the early 20th Century when developers purchased it and the City of Richmond annexed it. At that time it got its name, Scott’s Addition, for the obvious reasons.

Scott’s Addition Historic District

Originally envisioned as a residential area, it flourished instead as an industrial park due to its proximity to rail lines and highways. According to the National Park Service’s description of the Scott’s Addition Historic District,

The area remained largely undeveloped until the early 1900s, when it saw the construction of modest dwellings and businesses. A second wave of development occurred between the 1930s and 1950s with the building of large industrial plants, commercial buildings, and warehouses amongst the existing dwellings. The second phase of development largely defines the types of buildings located at present in the district.

Business included a factory for the National Biscuit Company (Nabisco), a Coca-Cola bottling plant, and a Chevrolet parts depot and warehouse. Smaller businesses like plumbers, auto body shops, and light industrial manufacturers also found it attractive. However, the area began to atrophy towards the end of the 20th Century. Spaces were cramped. Buildings were old and fell into disrepair. Businesses began to relocate farther out from the city.


The Turnaround



A confluence of events sparked the resurgence of Scott’s Addition in recent years. First, this emptying warehouse and industrial district sat conveniently close to downtown Richmond. Second, the government provided tax incentives. Developers could get tax credits for rehabilitating vintage structures in the historic district. The city also offered a tax abatement program on improvements for a period of up to 10 years.

Development began to explode by 2010 and never looked back. Hundreds of new apartments blossomed in Scott’s Addition. Businesses catering to younger clientele with abundant disposable income quickly followed. "Gentrification" might not be quite the right word because the area didn’t have much of an original resident population to push out, although it contained some of the same trappings. It went from a decaying warehouse district to Richmond’s hottest spot in about five years.

I went there for the breweries. They fell into a tight cluster, all within easy walking distance.


Breweries

A few Twelve Mile Circle readers probably already knew about my visit. They subscribed to my Twitter feed. Yes, I continue to maintain the world’s lamest Twitter account. I post links to new articles, occasional photos of geo-oddities, and lots of pictures from breweries. The beer pictures scare away the geo-geeks while the geography stuff scares away the beer crowd. I’ll gain a few new subscribers and then the total will drop again when I launch into a breweriana Twitter storm. Anyway I’m not sure where I’m going with this. I’d behave differently, I supposed, if I cared about chasing numbers.

Isley


Isley Brewing Company
Isley Brewing Company. My own photo.

Isley Brewing became the first brewery to open for business in Scott’s Addition. That happened in ancient times, all the way back in 2013. That amazed me. Seriously, the neighborhood changed that quickly. Now, some call it Richmond’s booziest neighborhood.

The Veil


The Veil Brewing Co.
The Veil Brewing Co. My own photo.

However, the real reason I found myself in Scott’s Addition was because I wanted to visit The Veil. Its brewer spent time at two of the best breweries in the US, The Alchmeist and Hill Farmstead. He also apprenticing at Cantillon in Belgium. I’d heard the buzz and I wanted to check it out in person. Our Richmond friends suggested the walking tour of Scott’s Addition to experience some of the other breweries. We were already there so it made sense. I’m glad we did. The Veil had only two beers on tap during our visit. They were nice although I need to return and try some others before I can form an overall impression of its brewing range.

Ardent


Ardent Craft Ales
Ardent Craft Ales. My own photo.

On a beautiful, crisp Autumn day, we enjoyed a sampler at Ardent on their outdoor patio. It attracted a large crowd, as did all of the breweries. Business seemed to be booming everywhere. Also, I was amused by the "loft" apartments next door. They were only 1-story high. Who ever heard of a 1-story loft apartment building?

Three Notch’d


Three Notch'd Brewing Company
Three Notch'd Brewing Company. My own photo.

We finished at Three Notch’d. This brewery based in Charlottesville recently opened an outpost in Scott’s Addition, a place specializing in collaboration beers. 12MC readers may remember an earlier article called Three Notches. The brewery took its name from the Central Virginia road described in that article.

I’ll conclude by saying, as I often do when I talk about brewery tours, that this represented responsible behavior. We consumed only small samples at each site to better appreciate the breadth and depth of each location. I’m way too old to go on a serious pub crawl anymore.

I put Scott’s Addition on my list of places I need to see again. Certainly it will only continue to grow and improve.

On November 20, 2016 · 0 Comments - won't you be the first?
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