Time Zone Dams

On March 5, 2017 · 1 Comments

Time continued to play on my mind. This time it came courtesy of a random search engine query that landed on 12MC for some unknown reason. However, the notion implied by this wayward message intrigued me much more than the average query. I’ve focused on structures split by borders before although this one had an unusual twist. The border in question also served as a Time Zone boundary. Theoretically, then, not only did the structure exist in two different states, it existed in two different times. It was also a really big structure.

Hoover Dam

Hoover Dam
Hoover Dam. Photo by Ralph Arvesen on Flickr (cc)

The question focused specifically on the Time Zone of the Hoover dam (map). I’d never considered that possibility before although it seemed obvious once it came to my attention. The Colorado River marked the boundary between Nevada and Arizona. Nevada fell within the Pacific Time Zone (except for the city of West Wendover, a place that I visited a few years ago). Time in Arizona followed its own unique beat. If fell within the Mountain Time Zone although it also did not observe Daylight Saving Time (plus the whole Navajo and Hopi conundrum).

I discarded the anomalies and focused on time as it might be observed along the Colorado River. No time difference existed during DST. However, in the winter months during Standard Time, those living on the Nevada side of the border set their watches an hour earlier than those in Arizona. That time difference split directly through the Hoover Dam. Do workers at the Hoover Dam have to adjust their watches several times a day based on location? No, actually they do not. The Bureau of Reclamation solved the problem for them. The facility followed Pacific Time for its hours of operation.

Elsewhere Along the Colorado River

Parker Dam, Colorado River
Parker Dam, Colorado River. Photo by Don Barrett on Flickr (cc)

This made me wonder whether Time Zones split any other dams. It seemed logical to look farther downstream along the Colorado River for other examples. A similar condition prevailed at the Parker Dam (map) that created Lake Havasu. This dam fell along the border between California and Arizona although the same basic condition existed. In this instance California fell within the Pacific Time Zone.

Farther East

Chattahoochee River (Lake Eufaula) sunset, Alabama
Chattahoochee River (Lake Eufaula) sunset, Alabama.
Photo by Mr Seb on Flickr (cc)

Something similar happened between Alabama in the Central Time Zone and Georgia in the Eastern Time Zone, albeit with its own twist. The Walter F. George Lock and Dam (map) stood on the Chattahoochee River, forming a large reservoir behind it. Georgia controlled the river which remained within the state up to the mean high water mark. However, water behind this dam spread beyond the original riverbank that formed the boundary, crossing onto Alabama land so part of the lake belonged to Alabama too. The name of the dam and the lake honored Walter F. George, who served as a distinguished Senator from Georgia for many years. George died in 1957 so it seemed like a good idea to name the dam for him when construction finished in 1962, at least to the citizens of Georgia. That still left the lake without an official name so politicians in Alabama made their move.

On June 25, 1963, both Houses of the Alabama Legislature signed off on Act No. 60 (sponsored by Senator Jimmy Clark of Eufaula) which endorsed the name, Lake Eufaula, in honor of the Creek Indians who once lived throughout the Chattahoochee Valley of Alabama and Georgia… Not to be outdone, House Resolution 268 was adopted by the Georgia House of Representatives on March 12, 1965 to designate the reservoir as "Lake Chattahoochee."

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, noting a lack of consensus, stuck with the simple name Walter F. George Lake. That also became its official name. The name Lake Chattahoochee fell by the wayside although usage of Lake Eufaula on the Alabama side of the border continues to be popular.

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 6, 2016 · 4 Comments

The first chill of autumn finally reached my home here in the northern hemisphere, signaling winter wouldn’t be too far away. It seemed odd to think about drifting snow when I didn’t even need a jacket until recently. I’d been banking a topic for just such an occasion, a place that invoked wintertime bliss. Snowflake seemed like such a lovely name. It appeared on a map of north central Arizona (map).


Arizona Snow
Arizona Snow. Photo by Julius Whittington on Flickr (cc)

I first spotted Snowflake while researching an earlier Twelve Mile Circle article, Playing Games. My mind wandered over to Snowflake when I noticed its proximity to Show Low, a town named for a card game. I placed a mental reminder that I should examine Snowflake later to see if climatic conditions matched its promising name. Quickly it became apparent that it did not. My eyeballing of a Köppen climate types map of Arizona seemed to place it in type BSk, designated for "cold semi-arid" climates. These areas tended to get quite hot in the summer despite its name, with considerably cooler although dryer conditions in the winter. That didn’t seem to bode well for potential snowflakes. In fact, the town of Snowflake admitted that it only received "modest amounts of quickly-melting winter snowfall."

It did note that visitors could try their hand at cross-country and downhill skiing at the nearby Sunrise Park Resort. However, that involved a 60 mile (100 km) drive into the White Mountains. Those snowflakes probably wouldn’t be related to any of the snowflakes in Snowflake.

The town name didn’t come from its climate.


The Snowflake Monument in Arizona
The Snowflake Monument in Arizona. Photo by Ken Lund on Flickr (cc)

Actually I learned right away that the origin came from a much more interesting source. The theme fit perfectly with the strange twists and turns that so interest the 12MC audience. Snowflake traced its founding to two Mormon pioneers, Erastus Snow and William Flake. They simply combined their names to create Snowflake. I could think of a lot of surnames that would produce much worse combinations. Maybe that will be a future topic. Anyone with entertaining fictional names should feel free to place them in the comments. Maybe we can start our own town.

About Those Founders

Erastus Snow
Erastus Snow. Photo by brewbooks on Flickr (cc)

So Snow + Flake = Snowflake. Now we know the secret and we can end this article, right? Not so fast. The two people involved, Snow and Flake, were pretty interesting too.

Erastus Snow probably made the greater contributions to the LDS Church. Snowflake represented only one of his many achievements. He became a missionary during the earliest days of the Church, including his outreach in search of converts in Scandinavia in 1849. Snow also held a number of Mormon leadership positions and served on the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. He led efforts to establish Mormon colonies all over the southwest including Colorado, New Mexico and Arizona, as well as founding the city of St. George in Utah. He also served as inspiration for the naming of Snow Canyon State Park and Snow College in his honor, and his bust stands outside of the St. George Tabernacle in St. George (map).

William Jordan Flake, while not quite as accomplished, still achieved a lot in his lifetime. His parents joined the LDS while he was a young child and he traveled across the continent as an overland pioneer when he was nine years old. Brigham Young called on him to establish a settlement in northern Arizona in 1877, so he set off on that mission, meeting up with Erastus Snow and founding Snowflake the following year. His renown came later, briefly serving time in the Arizona Territorial prison in Yuma for polygamy. Flake lived a long time, surviving into the 1930’s when he passed away in Snowflake, the town he inspired. He left numerous descendants including United States Senator Jeff Flake from Arizona, his great-great grandson.

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