The Twelve Mile Circle is all about geo-oddities although the author of the site also has other interests. Sometimes those topics collide. I’ve made no bones about my interest in craft beer and it creeps into 12MC from time to time. Today is one of those days.
I noticed a passing reference to Vulcan Beer in a brewery publications I follow. It’s apparently the first in a series of officially licensed beers with a Star Trek theme that will be produced by Delancey Direct. Their site includes a copy of the bottle label with slogans like "Mind Melding Good" and "A logical choice for a palate pleasing libation." I guess anything can be licensed today.
According to a press release, Vulcan Beer is described as a 5.4% ABV Irish Red Ale contract-brewed by Harvest Moon Brewing Company of Belmont, Montana. Each year Delancey Direct will issue another beer to represent a different season in the television series… Vulcan, then Klingon, and so on. Labeling has been designed with collectors in mind of course.
What could this development possibly have to do with geography? Vulcan is a town in Alberta.
Vulcan, Alberta, Canada
Vulcan Beer was brewed to coincide with the centennial of Vulcan — the one in Canada — and timed for a May 2013 release. That would place it on liquor store shelves right before Vulcan’s 21st annual Spock Days celebration.
SOURCE: Flickr by fracture via Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic license
The Vulcan of Alberta’s prairie existed long before any notions of Star Trek ever crossed Gene Roddenberry’s mind, or before he was even born for that matter. The town of Vulcan, in a county of the same name, began as a stop on the Kipp-Aldersyde line of the Canadian Pacific Railroad:
The founders envisioned Roman Gods rather than paying homage to intergalactic science fiction locales. Their choice became rather fortuitous for town residents several decades later. Imagine if they’d selected Vesta or Ceres or one of the other Dii Consentes (the 12 major deities in the Roman pantheon) instead of Vulcan. That allowed their descendants to playing-up a tenuous Star Trek connection and earn a descent living in the process. Why not? Other rural towns have claimed fictional sons. It’s no different than Metropolis in the United States claiming Superman. Vulcan can select Mister Spock.
Vulcan wouldn’t have anything other than agriculture if it wasn’t for the Trekkies. That’s why a welcoming replica of the Starship Enterprise stands outside of Vulcan’s tourism station…
SOURCE: Flickr by nicodeemus1 via Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic license
… complete with greetings in Vulcan calligraphy (pictured) and Klingon.
Unfortunately the 2013 Spock Days happened last weekend so I missed my opportunity. Too bad I found out about this four days too late — pretending for a moment that I might actually have been able to travel to Alberta for a bottle of beer. No, I’m not the Weekend Roady.
Other Vulcan towns exist on Planet Earth.
Vulcan, Michigan, USA
I found one example in Michigan, USA. Consulting GNIS, I discovered another dozen-or-so, including a couple of historical sites that no longer exist. I couldn’t uncover anything special about any of those poseur Vulcan settlements other than their physical locations. Residents have done little to attract Trekkie tourism as far as I could tell. They’re missing out on some solid business opportunities as Alberta can attest.
Vulcan, Hunedoara, Romania
I also discovered the city of Vulcan in Hunedoara, Romania. Wikipedia says, "The city is named after the Vulcan Pass that connects the Jiu Valley to Oltenia, itself being derived from Slavic ‘vlk’, meaning ‘wolf’ (even if ‘vulcan’ means ‘volcano’ in Romanian)." This Vulcan is by far the largest example, with a population of 23,000. An additional, smaller Romanian Vulcan is located near Brașov. Could Romania become the next Star Trek center of the universe?
I’d drink a Vulcan beer if I could get my hands on one. Are there any 12MC readers in Alberta that might be able to snag me a bottle? I’d even take an empty just to put it on a shelf.
I stumbled across an article in the Washington Business Journal a few days ago, Over the river: Reagan National runway to be shifted into the Potomac. This probably wouldn’t mean much to most people. One of DCA’s notoriously short runways will be adjusted slightly. That’s a good thing from a public safety perspective, however geo-geeks may wonder what that has to do with them. Plenty. The Potomac River defines a border between the District of Columbia and the Commonwealth of Virginia.
View New Arlington Territory in a larger map
Virginia and Maryland began as English colonies long before there was a United States or a District of Columbia. Maryland gained control of the Potomac River through a 1632 Royal Charter from King Charles I to Cecil Calvert, Lord Baltimore. The river was not shared between the two states; it was completely part of Maryland. The Potomac passed through the new District of Columbia after Virginia and Maryland ceded land for its creation in 1790, and that segment of the river became part of the District. It remained within the territorial boundaries of District even when its former Virginia lands returned to Virginia in the retrocession completed in 1847. Only the former Maryland territory remained within the District, and Maryland’s prior ownership of the river was not in dispute. Maryland’s previously-established ownership of the Potomac within the area conveyed to the District.
Logically one might conclude that land created within DC’s stretch of the Potomac River should become part of the District automatically. That would undoubtedly be true if the District was a State. Article III, Section 2 of the U.S. Constitution placed interstate disputes directly with the original jurisdiction of the Supreme Court. Cases will go straight to the top if two states disagree on a resolution. There have been numerous territorial quarrels over the years, and the Court has ruled repeatedly on matters involving water boundaries. Generally, boundary lines remain the same even when water shifts or new land is created, naturally or artificially, assuming sovereignty has been asserted in a timely manner.
Ellis Island and its weird state boundary
State of New Jersey v. State of New York, 118 S.Ct. 1726 (1998) seemed particularly apropos. The two states agreed in 1834 that Ellis Island would be part of New York and all of the water surrounding the island would become part of New Jersey. That was great when Ellis Island was a speck. New York began to expand the size of the island as it evolved as a processing center for new immigrants arriving in the United States in the late 19th Century. Eventually Ellis Island grew to 27 acres. New Jersey argued that everything except the original plot should belong to New Jersey.
The Supreme Court agreed.
SOURCE: Wikimedia Commons in the public domain.
However the District is not a state and it lacks voting representation in the U.S. Congress needed to press its interests. For years, DC license plates have protested this inequity of "taxation without representation." With that, I wondered, would DC get the new land or would Virginia? Loyal 12MC reader "Greg" (known to baristas everywhere as Gerg) researched the statutory underpinnings, and I’m sad to report to my friends in the District that they will get shortchanged again. Actually, a different word came to mind although I like to keep 12MC family friendly so feel free to fill in the blank yourself.
The boundary between the District of Columbia and Virginia was last clarified by an Act of Congress in 1945, 59 Stat. 552 (included within a very large document I don’t recommend you necessarily download). The pertinent section said:
This was the Act that also placed what was then called simply National Airport within the boundaries of the Commonwealth of Virginia. The future runway shift at the current Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport — since it will be created "by artificial fills and excavations made by the United States" — would seemingly become part of Virginia. That’s they way I interpret it, bearing in mind I’m a purveyor of geo-oddities and not an attorney or legal expert by any stretch of the imagination. Arlington County, Virginia will likely grow in land area by 4.51 acres and the District of Columbia will decrease in water area correspondingly sometime in late 2015.
This will not jeopardize Arlington’s standing as the smallest completely self-governing county in the United States. Mathematically, it takes 640 acres to cover one square mile so a growth of 4.51 acres is only .007 square miles. Currently Arlington stands at 25.97 square miles and the next contender, Broomfield County, Colorado, is at 33.03. They’d have to fill in a hundred times more river to get into Broomfield’s range.
The District of Columbia can take some small solace in knowing that the newly-created land will still have a tenuous connection to DC: the entire airport has a Washington, DC mailing address, even though it’s in Virginia.
I’m completely humbled by the response to the recent "How Many Islands in the USA Require Ferry Travel" article. I found 64 islands matching the criteria and stood back smugly until user-after-user uncovered additional instances that I’d overlooked. The number of islands currently stands at 77 and I wouldn’t be surprised if it continued to grow. You know where I made my mistake — in addition to my failure to notice extremely obvious examples (Nantucket? How could I forget Nantucket?) — I probably should have limited the list to islands with permanent civilian populations in order to eliminate park shuttles, excursion boats and water taxis. Live and learn. Thank you for the opportunity to demonstrate the folly of my hubris. I shall better appreciate the wisdom of the crowd from now on.
A couple of comments stood-out even during the height of the feedback deluge. I’d expressed a fascination with islands so remote that travelers could get to them by ferry only after arriving on another island accessible only by ferry (ignoring of course that someone could always take their own boat or a helicopter or something). I called those double-disconnected islands. Then, two 12MC readers identified triple-disconnected islands. I found an additional example myself, later.
Vancouver Island to Denman Island to Hornby Island
Mark Sundstrom got credit for mentioning Hornby Island in British Columbia, Canada. Ignoring some more efficient options, one would need to take a ferry to Vancouver Island, then a ferry to Denman Island, and finally a ferry to Hornby Island. Each leg would require a separate ferry with distinct points of embarkation and debarkation.
Hornby Island was notable for its population of US draft dodgers that fled to Canada to escape conscription during the Vietnam War. "For decades the island has been a refuge for artists, activists, draft dodgers and vacationers alike." It offered a logical hiding place: a location so remote that authorities would need to take multiple ferry routes if they wanted to deport a gang of aging hippies who weren’t causing anyone any trouble anyway. It probably wasn’t worth the effort.
Outer Islands, Norway
View Larger Map
The third ferry should be found somewhere in that little swarm of islands that I marked (I think). Available maps didn’t provide very good coverage of minor outlying ferry routes in Norway and I didn’t have sufficient Norwegian proficiency (i.e., none) to begin to search for a ferry even with translation software. Fredrik said the triple-disconnected island was out there though, and I have no reason to doubt it.
Unst or Fetlar, UK
Great Britain to Shetland to Yell to Unst or Fetlar
I remembered that my Ferries of the British Islands and the Republic of Ireland map included batches of different ferries twisting between and amongst islands. I discovered two great triple-disconnected examples with Unst and Fetlar in Shetland. Starting on Great Britain:
A ferry route also connected Unst and Fetlar so it would should be possible to travel in a nice triangular manner from Yell to Unst to Fetlar (or reverse) and capture both of the triple-disconnected islands in one easy shot. Additionally, these islands would have been quadruple-disconnected if only it wasn’t for the Chunnel connecting Great Britain to continental Europe.
There might be additional triples and perhaps even legitimate quadruples in other heavily populated island groups and archipelagos such as those found in Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines or Japan. I’ll leave those areas of the world for others to explore.