On March 15, 2012 · 13 Comments

We’re experiencing an unusually early springtime in the Mid-Atlantic, with temperatures more akin to May than March. I like warmer weather so that’s a wonderful development in my mind although my seasonal allergies tend to disagree. I’ve been able to hit the bike trails after work each evening aided by the switch to Daylight Saving Time a few days ago. That’s a good thing even though I’d prefer they’d just pick a time and stick with it.

This provided me with an opportunity to ponder spring-like place names, specifically towns designated spring or springs. I concede that "spring" in that context generally means a place where water bubbles from the earth rather than a particular season of the year. However I’m not going to let that dampen my springtime exuberance. It’s allowed me to go back through my notes and highlight a few of my earlier articles.

Peach Springs, Arizona

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Recently I posted the tantalizingly-titled article, Radioactive. It focused on Radium Springs, New Mexico. Many people once believed that radiation exposure was healthful and that’s how the town found a name. It was an attractive selling-point. However, that’s not the spring I wanted to feature. Rather, it was a discussion in the comments dealing with Radiator Springs from the Pixar Studios movie Cars.

I wondered if Radiator Springs was a riff on Radium Springs. Not so! Reader "kzimman" noted. Visual clues in the movie pointed to Peach Spring, Arizona instead: " All the writers did was substitute a car part for a fruit…" I love that quote from a loyal reader but I’m bummed by the lack of originality demonstrated by the screenwriters.

Coral Springs, Florida

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Coral Springs came up when I talked about Sports Facilities I Never Imagined. Why Coral Springs? Because that’s the location of a curling club. Curling is a sport that involves sliding of a large stone across ice while players sweep brooms madly in its path to affect the trajectory. Most of us see it once ever four years at obscure hours during the Winter Olympics. That last sentence demonstrates my complete lack of understanding or appreciation of that fine sport. I attribute it to my Southern upbringing. However that’s not the point, namely it’s really strange to find a curling club in sub-tropical Florida.

Taking another tangent, I also featured a cricket ground in Climax, North Carolina in that same article. The best part happened when Weekend Roady read my article and actually visited that same cricket ground in person! It’s oddly gratifying when readers incorporate my silly articles into their travel plans. Keep doing that everyone and let me know what you find.

Double Springs, Alabama

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Double Springs serves as the seat of local government in Winston County, Alabama. Winston gained fame as the sole county in Alabama that refused to join the Confederacy during the Civil War (until forced to do so under duress). This article goes all the way back to the very earliest days of 12MC. You can tell because of its brevity. My posts seem to grow longer-and-longer as the years go by. Some readers might argue that this isn’t a positive trend.

I did the flip-side of this topic much later when I focused on Town Line, New York in Confederate Yankees. It bills itself as the "last" Confederate town even though it’s located hundreds of miles deep within Union territory.

Other Stuff

I get to the slim-pickings when I mention Giant Springs, Montana. It’s not a town, it’s an actual spring that I featured in Shortest River… or Not The Row River runs 201 feet (61 metres) between Giant Springs and the Missouri River. It’s not even the shortest river, just a really short. Move along. Not much to see here.

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I’m also going to throw-in Silver Spring, Maryland just because I feel like it. I’ve never featured it on 12MC as far as I know but I can use it to highlight a pet peeve: Hollywood movies and television shows featuring Washington, DC area locations often identify what they consider Silver Spring. Invariably it looks something like the California desert. DOES THIS LOOK LIKE THE CALIFORNIA DESERT? Thank you. Also, I guess I have a second pet peeve: That’s Silver Spring (singular). Everyone wants to stick an "s" onto the end it.

There are some fairly large Spring cities in the United States. Colorado Springs is probably the greatest with 400 thousand residents. There are also three places named Springfield in the Top 250 largest cities, in Missouri, Massachusetts and Illinois. That’s my shout-out to the Simpsons, which I guess actually ties more closely to Portland, Oregon than to any of the Springfields.

I’m sure someone is going to want to mention Alice Springs in the Northern Territory of Australia so let’s get it over with. It’s not springtime there. The southern hemisphere is moving into autumn about now.

Totally Unrelated

I was excited when Street View on Google Maps came to Russia a few weeks ago. Call me disappointed. I wanted to see if it displaced either the farthest north or the farthest east Street View images. It should have been called Street View comes to Moscow and St. Petersburg. I want me some tundra!

On March 15, 2012 · 13 Comments

13 Responses to “Springtime”

  1. Peter says:

    Don’t bother looking for Hot Springs, New Mexico on a modern map. Back in the 1950’s the producers of the popular show Truth or Consequences offered a substantial sum of money to any town that changed its name to the show’s name. The residents of Hot Springs voted to accept the offer.

  2. If you’re looking for Street View in the tundra, the closest place is http://maps.yandex.ru/ which is the mapping service of Yandex, the top Russian search engine. They’ve got hi-res imagery for about 150 cities, including Murmansk and Arkhangelsk on the Arctic Ocean (click the ‘?????????’ tab).

  3. Thias says:

    Concerning the Google STreet View in Russia, it actually includes Moscow, St-Petersburg, the suburbs of these cities, … and a small stretch of road in the surroundings of Cherkasovo and Tolokonnikovo, two villages in the Vyborg, close to the border with Finland.

    Why would that be? Was it a test-drive before entering the “real” cities? If so, why did they do it there?

    Other fun thing: near that stretch of road stand a train station simply called “117 Km”. You’ve probably guessed it, it’s because it’s 117km of railroad tracks away from the train station in St-Peterburg, which is called “Finlyandskiy Vokzal”, or quite simply “Finland Station” in English.

    Just thought I’d share.

    • Here is the little section of road, just 6.2 kilometres standing alone all by itself.

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      How did you ever find it?!?

      • Thias says:

        I wanted to see if really, it was just Moscow and St-Petersburg. I spotted some of the blue marker for Google Street View on the wide map of Russia; it was quite big and I thought the whole Russian side of the border was covered.
        But as I zoomed I saw that it was just this little strip…

  4. Karl Z says:

    Don’t be too hard on the screenwriters here…as you know, there is nothing new in Hollywood anymore–“Cars” is essentially a remake of “Doc Hollywood”, after all, which itself wasn’t all that original. Also, considering that they locked themselves into northern Arizona early in the story process (historic Route 66 bypassed by the “big bad Interstate” out in the desert somewhere, and west of Oklahoma City I-40 sits on top of Route 66 much of the way), they didn’t do too bad a job with the name change. Besides, how do you modify “Segilman” (too close to I-40 anyway) or “Valentine” or “Truxton” or “Nelson” or “Hackberry” or “Kingman” (also too close to I-40) to make it “automotive”? I guess you could just make something up, but then you’d lose the sense of “place” that a real community has with its surroundings. (That’s a problem for model railroaders, too, by the way–making a convincing “freelanced” model with a fictional setting is very hard work.)

    Another curious thing about “Radiator Springs”: Peach Springs doesn’t have a gas station, apparently…so much for Flo’s V8 Diner…

    One big thing they left out was the railroad–they had to, so that “Radiator Springs” was effectively isolated from the rest of the world. However, the railroad is the reason Peach Springs exists at all. Otherwise, the community’s location makes very little sense. Back when steam locomotives ruled the rails, those thirsty machines needed lots of clean water, and the Santa Fe Railroad had to provide it somehow in the desert. (They also needed train order stations in the days before radio communications.) The presence of fresh water in the desert (almost certainly the source of “springs” in the name–“peach” came from some legendary Mormon settlers who planted peach trees in the area, and peach trees won’t grow without quite a bit of water) meant it was a desirable location for servicing facilities. The need for hundreds of thousands of gallons of water a day meant that the Santa Fe looked for anything to reduce the expense of providing water–and they found it with Diesel-electric locomotives, which only needed radiator water. This section of railroad was one of the first to be Dieselized primarily because of the water problems. The railroads typically found the “easy way” through someplace, and almost inevitably a highway popped up alongside the rail line wherever there was space for it–highways have a wider footprint than rail lines but don’t have the extreme grade restrictions that railroads do, which explains much of the divergence of their routes when they split up. There are lots of little towns and “places” like Peach Springs scattered across the American West, many of them dying or dead because the railroad no longer needs them and there’s nothing else there to support them. Some of them have really interesting or descriptive names, like Caliente, Nevada (means “HOT” in Spanish…wonder why?) or Summit, California (top of Cajon Pass near San Bernardino), or are just kind of interesting, like Kelso, California (what is that oasis doing out there, anyway?). This kind of thing should provide endless columns for you…even without all the other cartographic cool stuff out there…

    So, geography really does rule our lives, doesn’t it?

  5. Peter says:

    Speaking of Google Street View, the other day I came across a highly entertaining site called Map Crunch, which takes you to the Street View of some random location in the world. Press “Hide Location” if you want to guess where in the world you are. Guessing your location can be fairly easy if the site brings you to a populated area, but a lot more challenging if (as usually seems to be the case) you are in a rural area.

  6. Marc says:

    As an aficionado of hot springs, I think Hot Springs, Arkansas (10th most populous city in the state) probably deserves at least a mention here.

  7. Fritz Keppler says:

    And of course, Silver Spring MD was so named because of flecks of mica in the gushing water that resembled silver in sunlight.

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