Reader Mailbag

On September 5, 2013 · 3 Comments

This is a rather special edition in a long series of intermittent Odds and Ends articles that I will call Reader Mailbag. This one was inspired entirely by comments, emails and tweets from Twelve Mile Circle readers. These topics were all completely unknown to me previously. I’ve put a little context and perhaps some modest research around them, however, their true inspiration came directly from the 12MC audience.

German Rest stop on a Dutch Motorway

View Larger Map

Greg went to the TheReal12MC Twitter Account with news of a rest area on the German side of the border on a stretch of highway within the Netherlands. He sent further information to me by email:

The shoulder of the road here hugs the border with Germany, so travelers exit the Netherlands as soon as they pull off. Street View shows a change in pavement and road markings right where the border would be, so it looks like Germany maintains this rest area. The gas station in Germany is also a different company from the partner stop in the Netherlands.

He concluded, and I agree, that this must have been a border control station in the pre-Schengen era. The infrastructure was already in place so it could have become a rest area with minimal effort. I noticed, as I wandered around vicariously in Street View, that a pedestrian overpass crossed between the two rest areas (image). I wonder if other purely pedestrian overpasses span between nations?

As a bonus, Greg also found a canal that flowed above a river in Ontario in two separate places (here and here). I did some quick checking and believe that this was the old Welland Canal that connected Lake Erie to Lake Ontario, bypassing Niagara Falls. It included aqueducts just like the ones Greg discovered at various points. The Welland Canal made an earlier appearance in 12MC too for another reason.

A Water Sphere Fan Site

Union Water Tower
Union Water Tower by NJ Tech Teacher, on Flickr
via Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC 2.0) license

Peter pointed out an unusual fan site devoted to a single water tower in Union, New Jersey map. The 212 ft (65 m) structure received abundant adoration at It even spawned its own acronym on the site, WTWS!

…the old style water spheres are no longer built and are a dwindling piece of American history. Today water spheroids are the more popular water tower, and the old “sphere atop a mast” style are no longer built.

Can I confirm that this is truly the tallest water sphere? Of course not. However I certainly tip my hat to the author who has maintained an active site with regular updates on an incredibly specific topic since October 2005. That’s two years longer than I’ve been publishing 12MC! That’s devotion.

A Weird European Capital Crescent

Capitals Curve by Will T.

I’m not sure what to make of this interesting discovery made by Will T., who was kind enough to reproduce it on a map for us. Somehow the capital cities of six European nations line up in an unusually smooth curve, like they were positioned that way intentionally. Who can come up with the best conspiracy theory? I’ll throw out a couple of the more obvious ones: it’s a sign of extraterrestrial intelligence and confirmation of ancient alien encounters; or it’s an Islamic crescent that’s part of a secret plot to dominate the West. What else?

The Cincinnati Arm

Sayler-Park-Cincinnati-map on Wikimedia Commons
via Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license

Andy has been reading slowly through the 12MC archives and provided a number of comments by email for articles that I’ve closed. Unfortunately had to take that drastic step for articles more than a year old as a means to limit bot spam. I’d mentioned Denver’s freaky appendage back in 2010 and Andy countered with Cincinnati’s funky tendril (map).

The neighborhood is known as Sayler Park. There’s a lot of speculation that it became part of Cincinnati because it was an industrial center located conveniently along the Ohio River. The tendril apparently started as three separate communities: Delhi on the Ohio; Home City; and Fernbank, tracing back to the mid 1800’s. Cincinnati annexed the land in 1911. Look closely and one will see that there is still a Home City Avenue (map) and a Fernbank Avenue (map) in Sayler Park today.

Andy also noted that Sayler Park was hit by an F5 tornado during the Super Outbreak of April 3–4, 1974. The Saylor Park tornado was the only tornado of the bunch to cross into three states. The damage was extensive.

Thanks for the great discoveries, everyone. Keep them coming!

On September 5, 2013 · 3 Comments

3 Responses to “Reader Mailbag”

  1. Pfly says:

    The Welland Canal bit–I grew up nearish there and didn’t know about that. Funny how Google Maps labels the river that passes under the canal “Niagara River” ( ) when it obviously isn’t. It seems to be the Welland River. Wikipedia’s Welland River page mentions the two aqueducts. Topos of that area:

    Veddy interesting.

  2. Thias says:

    The German rest area sports a particular sign: “Bundespolizei”, in other words, German Police. I guess it’s the definitive clue that the area is totally controlled by Germany.

  3. Greg says:

    And if it had been a border control checkpoint before, that would have been a (probably) rare instance of a border checkpoint in Country B that makes people return to Country A again before they enter Country B for good.

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