Nimby Lane

On May 13, 2015 · 2 Comments

Twelve Mile Circle has an international audience so I’m never sure whether a term that’s part of my lexicon translates geographically. Many readers probably know the term NIMBY. For the rest of you, and particularly the foreign-language readers, NIMBY is an acronym for "Not In My Back Yard." As defined by NIMBY is…

…used to express opposition by local citizens to the locating in their neighborhood of a civic project, as a jail, garbage dump, or drug rehabilitation center, that, though needed by the larger community, is considered unsightly, dangerous, or likely to lead to decreased property values.

The term has become somewhat of a personal inside joke during my formulation of articles for 12MC. I’ve attempted to write a NIMBY story for years and I always get about fifteen minutes into it before dropping it. I can never seem to make it flow well. Maybe I’ll write that article someday although for today I’m going to punt once again and take a slightly different twist on the topic.

Nimby Lane

Nimby Lane, Jackson, Pennsylvania, USA

Instead of providing examples of NIMBY behavior I thought I’d focus on a few people who live on streets named Nimby. These had to be some rather special residents as I thought about it, who acknowledged their passive-aggressive behavior with a healthy dose of irony. Good for them! What’s the expression? — something about the first step in solving a problem is accepting that one has a problem?

First I discovered Nimby Lane in Pennsylvania. It was funny because a humongous 4-lane highway was in the figurative backyard. I wondered if the residents had fought the battle and lost or were collectively thumbing their noses at other nearby people who had fought and lost. It was quite the paradox, and of course 12MC loves a good paradox.

I noticed an odd little map symbol just to the west; I wasn’t sure if it was a person kneeling in prayer or a tabletop microscope. Was it a place of worship or a laboratory? It took some digging on OpenStreetMap to confirm that it was indeed a place of worship. Some additional searching determined that this was the site of the Chickaree Union Church, "The Jesus Saves Church" That led me to wonder when one would use a Christian cross symbol versus a person kneeling in prayer. I know we have some OpenStreetMap contributors in the audience. Perhaps one of them could enlighten us.

The name of the highway also provided a tantalizing point of trivia since we’ve already veered along an unrelated tangent once again. It’s not difficult to derail me. It was labeled US Route 22, the Admiral Peary Highway. That seemed like an odd choice.

Robert Edwin Peary
Robert Edwin Peary via Wikimedia Commons in the public domain

Admiral Robert Edwin Peary was an Arctic explorer who was credited with leading the first expedition to the North Pole in 1909. Later research showed that he probably missed it by quite a few miles although he certainly garnered significant fame during his lifetime for his achievement. He was born in Cresson, Pennsylvania. That was less than 20 miles away from Nimby Lane. Clearly a lot more had happened in Nimby Lane’s back yard than met the eye.

Nimby Drive

Nimby Dr., Savannah, Georgia, USA

Nimby Drive in Georgia seemed less clear-cut. It was located within a nascent golf course community at The Club at Savannah Harbor. Actually I wondered if it might have been nothing more than a cute placeholder name. The residential area, at least on the most recent satellite view, seemed to be in the early stages of development with a street grid and very few houses. It was funny because the back yard was a golf course and usually people like golf courses in their back yard. In fact I think that houses in golf course communities commanded premium prices? Maybe it referred to golf balls, as in it might be nice to live near a course except for the places where a wicked slice could send something crashing through a window.

Sam Snead hanging out in Savannah
Sam Snead hanging out in Savannah by Jesse Hirsh, on Flickr (cc)

The Club at Savannah included a bust commemorating golfer Sam Snead. I wondered if there might have been a local connection like I’d observed with Admiral Peary in Pennsylvania. Nope. Snead was born in Virginia and died in Virginia. Apparently it was simply a tribute to a legendary golfer instead of a local connection. Snead was not in their back yard.


Nimby Place, Cooma, NSW, Australia

I found a couple of Nimby Roads in New South Wales, Australia. I’ll have to defer to the Australian readers to determine if NIMBY is actually a thing there or not. I got the distinct feeling that neither road referred to the acronym, though. They were found in areas where roads carried aboriginal terms so it probably meant something innocuous in a native language like "pleasant view". I could be completely wrong though. I made that up.

The Nimby Road in Cooma actually had a rather lovely backyard, the Cooma North Ridge Reserve:

The North Ridge Reserve area on the edge of Cooma comprises approximately 80 hectares which was a consolidation of a Crown Land Reserve and land purchased by the Council from the Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Authority in 1996. The area is home to many native animals and flora and is a favourite area for the many people who enjoy bushwalking.

I would think that just about anyone would want that in their backyard.

There was another Nimby Road near Harden (map). The two Nimby spots were only about a three hour drive apart via Canberra. That might make a nice weekend trip for readers in New South Wales.

On May 13, 2015 · 2 Comments

All In a Name

On May 10, 2015 · 3 Comments

I continued to comb through my long backlog of article ideas and I found a few more possibilities, dusted off the cobwebs, and tried to assemble them into themes. One seemed to be a twist on a topic I’ve covered several times before, of towns with names more commonly associated with completely different places. Iowa proved to be a connection between two in particular. Prepare for me to wander around a bit and watch out for some light profanity. I’ll try avoid crossing too many lines and keep things no worse than PG rated by strategically placing some asterisks.

Key West

Old Barn
Old Barn by DMichael Burns, on Flickr (cc)

I love Key West! Twelve Mile Circle reported from down that way back in 2009 (e.g., Florida’s Southern Keys Part I and Part II. How could I ever forget US Route 1’s Mile Zero, or the fake southernmost point, or my trip to the Dry Tortugas, or the attractive lighthouses? I sure won’t. That’s why I had to smile when I noticed a 12MC visitor arriving from Key West. Except it wasn’t Key West, Florida it was Key West, IOWA.

Key West, Iowa?!? Yes, indeed there was such a place. It really exists even if it’s been largely subsumed by Dubuque (map).

I half-expected to learn that Key West, the one in Iowa, must have been founded by some Floridian expatriate or at least an escapee from a Jimmy Buffett tour. What else could account for the tropical name so completely misplaced in the Midwest? There was a major flaw in my reasoning. Key West in Iowa was founded in 1854 by Robert C. Waples. Although the Key West in Florida predated it, Jimmy Buffett probably wasn’t alive at the time. I’m not sure.

There wasn’t much located in Key West, Iowa although there was a large Catholic community, church and cemetery. The History of Dubuque County (1911) included a pertinent anecdote.

One of the old citizens related many interesting incidents to the writer. He took special delight in telling the following: "One day while conducting an examination in geography I asked a boy, ‘Where is Key West and for what noted?’ The boy replied: ‘Key West is near Dubuque and noted as the burial place for dead Catholics.’ I gave him lo; how would you have marked him?" "lo plus."

See, it’s funny because even in 1911 most people would have associated Key West with Florida, I guess. I don’t understand why "lo plus" was the punchline though. Maybe that was 1911 humor.

None of that answered why Key West, Iowa was called Key West. I found only a single source, a Wikipedia entry that did not include any attribution for the claim: "The town was named because it was considered the main egress from Dubuque westward." That might make more sense if Key West was actually west of Dubuque. It was not. It was south. Maybe we’ll never know the answer so we should not discount the time-traveling Jimmy Buffett theory either.

Des Moines

Breakwater DesMoines WA Marina
Breakwater DesMoines WA Marina by vikisuzan, on Flickr (cc)

If Key West could show up unexpectedly in Iowa, then Des Moines could do likewise in the state of Washington. Indeed, a little piece of Iowa’s capital city settled south of Seattle on Puget Sound (map). This time, however, the connection was much cleaner. This town of thirty thousand residents actually had a direct link to its Iowa namesake. According to the Des Moines [Washington] Historical Society,

… Des Moines’ history dates from about 1867. The City was named after the Des Moines City Improvement Company that was named after Des Moines, Iowa and is pronounced de moin’.

The Tacoma Public Library’s Washington Place Names Search offered additional perspective:

Des Moines is a city on the eastern shore of Puget Sound in southwest King County. The name was given by F. A. Blasher when he founded the town in 1887. He persuaded friends in his former home city, Des Moines, Iowa, to finance the some of the developments and operated under the name of Des Moines Improvement Company. noted that Blasher had acquired the land that comprised Des Moines from Fountain O. Chezum which might have been a pseudonym because it’s hard to believe someone would be named Fountain of Cheese although I’d still love to see a fountain of cheese. Mr. Chezum — if that was really his name — got the land from John Moore who was an original pioneer.

In 1867, John Moore acquired a claim for 154 acres along the water and built a cabin. Little is known of Moore, except that he later went insane and in 1879 was committed to an asylum.

That was an impressive pedigree. I probably should have stopped right there. Quit while you’re ahead, right? For some reason I wondered about the derivation of the name Des Moines. It sounded French. The Online Etymology Dictionary provided quite an answer. It repeated the most common explanation, that it was named for the Des Moines River which in turn was named by French explorers (des moines = "of the monks") for early French missionaries who came to the area. More recently, however, an alternate explanation began to gain traction.

The place appears in a 1673 text as Moinguena, and historians believe this represents Miami-Illinois mooyiinkweena, literally "s***face," from mooy "excrement" + iinkwee "face;" a name given by the Peoria Indians (whose name has itself become a sort of insult) to their western neighbors. It is not unusual for Indian peoples to have hostile or derogatory names for others, but this seems an extreme case.

The theory caused quite a stir when first proposed several years ago. The Des Moines Register even got in on the action in 2007, Is ‘Des Moines’ just some dirty joke?

The tribe’s name, McCafferty noted, was first recorded by Father Jacques Marquette at the village of the Peoria near the mouth of the Des Moines River and was, no doubt, supplied to him by the Peoria. Like most western tribes at the time, the Peoria were competing to control as much trade with the French as they could and prized their "middle-man" status, McCafferty said. So when Marquette got around on that late June day in 1673 to asking the Peoria chief who else lived in the area, the chief wasn’t inclined to play up the neighboring tribe’s virtues. Instead, McCafferty theorizes, he shrewdly chose a name -mooyiinkweena or Moingoana -that he hoped would put Marquette off.

So now the capital of Iowa and a seaside town in Washington might be more properly called S***face City.

On May 10, 2015 · 3 Comments

Reader Mailbag 2

On May 6, 2015 · 7 Comments

Every once in awhile I receive an overwhelming number of excellent finds from the Twelve Mile Circle community. Last time I called the collection "Reader Mailbag." I simply tacked the number 2 onto that older title in a nod to my lack of creativity for the current installment. To be considered for the Reader Mailbag an item had to be unknown to me previously and it had to be able to stand on its own. Actually the bar wasn’t that high — as you will see soon enough with some of them, well, one in particular — so keep your suggestions heading towards me because I love getting them. Maybe you’ll become a 12MC star!

I might add a little text to add context although all credit should go to the site’s loyal contributors with my sincere appreciation.

Consecutive Highway Numbering

I-70 to I-170 to I-270 to Rt. 370

First I heard from "Glenn" who recounted an unusual numerical arrangement along a sequence of roads he took recently in and around St. Louis, Missouri. He drove in progression numerically: Interstate 70 –> Interstate 170 –> Interstate 270 –> Missouri Route 370. Glenn didn’t stop there, however. He then tried to determine the longest numerically progressing route anywhere.

Van Buren, Maine
Van Buren, Maine by Doug Kerr, on Flickr (cc)

I’ll shamelessly steal Glenn’s findings verbatim because I couldn’t find any better way to portray it.

US 1: Van Buren, Maine at the Canadian border, to Houlton, ME (77 miles)
US 2: Houlton, ME to Lancaster, NH (300 miles)
US 3: Lancaster, NH to Boscawen, NH (113 miles)
US 4: Boscawen, NH to White River Junction, NH (56 miles)
US 5: WRJ to Hartford, CT (155 miles)
US 6: Hartford to near Danbury, CT (60 miles)
US 7: Danbury to Norwalk, CT (23 miles)

The comprised an astounding seven consecutively-numbered roads stretching almost 800 miles! I invite anyone to improve upon that result. Well sure, someone could start with Route 1 in Key West, take that up to Van Buren, Maine and follow the rest of the sequence. Let’s try to be a little more original though. I’d be more impressed with the greatest number of consecutive roads (something more than seven) rather than the total distance covered.

Another United States Practical Exclave

Goodness knows I’ve explored all manner of oddities along the border between the Canada and the United States (e.g., Canada-USA Border Segment Extremes) as well as any number of practical exlaves (e.g., Practical Exclaves of Andorra). I thought I’d plumbed the depths of both topics a long time ago, and yet apparently there’s always something more to be found. Someone could probably write a blog with nothing but oddities along the border between Canada and the United States.

Check what "Gerard" found on Lake Metigoshe on the border between North Dakota and Manitoba. Indeed, it appeared that the backyards of several Canadian citizens included boat docks on the U.S. side of the border. I checked this anomaly on several mapping sites and it appeared to be accurate, not just another Google Maps error. I’m not even sure how this would work in practicality. The border seemed downright porous at that point. Here was a sizable community without any border controls whatsoever? Did the residents have to notify the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Customs and Border Protection every time they wanted to walk to the back of their yard and use their boats? Did they have to pay taxes to North Dakota each year for the sliver of property they owned there? So many questions came to mind.

Geographic Tongue

Landkartenzunge 005
Source: Wikimedia Commons (cc)

I’m fine with weird somewhat tangentially-related topics. Reader "Jonathan" brought a medical condition to my attention called Geographic Tongue. Don’t worry, it won’t kill anyone. The Mayo Clinic described it thus:

Geographic tongue is a harmless condition affecting the surface of your tongue. The tongue is normally covered with tiny, pinkish-white bumps (papillae), which are actually short, fine, hair-like projections. With geographic tongue, patches on the surface of the tongue are missing papillae and appear as smooth, red "islands," often with slightly raised borders. These patches (lesions) give the tongue a map-like, or geographic, appearance.

A more scientific name was Benign Migratory Glossitis. Feel free to drop that into your next cocktail party conversation and get some tongues wagging. Several versions of the Rolling Stones logo appeared to suffer from Geographic Tongue. Maybe that explained something.

And Last…

There comes a time every once-in-awhile when Twelve Mile Circle feels it’s necessary to provide abundant advanced warning to readers who happen to have good taste and refined manners. This would be one of those times. The red lights are flashing. That’s why I saved this entry for last. Now might be an excellent opportunity to stop reading and move on to a different article because we’re about to have a Beavis and Butthead moment.

Weiner Cuttoff Road; Weiner, Arkansas, USA

Courtesy of reader "John," 12MC presents the stupendous Weiner Cuttof Road in Weiner, Arkansas. Thirteen year old boys nationwide rejoiced.

On May 6, 2015 · 7 Comments
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