Where the Stadium Once Stood

On February 12, 2017 · 11 Comments

I guess the recent Ghost Signs got me thinking about the way things used to be in an earlier age. My memory circled back to a time when professional baseball didn’t exist in Washington, DC and we used to travel to Baltimore to see the Orioles play. This happened a lot when I was a kid, long before the Orioles occupied the beautiful, iconic Camden Yards that so many other ball clubs copied. The Orioles took the field on a much less beautiful and nowhere nearly as iconic Memorial Stadium before that. I even think we saw the Baltimore Colts play (American) football a couple times there too. The Colts left Baltimore in 1983 just to show how far back my mind wandered. What happened to Memorial Stadium after its replacement, I wondered.

Memorial Stadium; Baltimore, Maryland, USA



I drilled into a satellite image and discovered that the old stadium still existed. Well, not really. The city tore it down in 2001. However many fragments remained, spread throughout Baltimore. Its basic shape also remained. A new residential neighborhood occupied much of the land originally part of the Memorial Stadium property. It included a ring-road that approximated the circumference of the stadium itself. Inside that asphalt oval, an open field covered the spot where professional sports teams once played. It offered configurations for baseball, football and soccer.

That made me consider other stadiums wiped from the earth. In many cases new stadiums simply covered the exact footprint occupied by their predecessors. In other instances not a single sign remained at all. However, I enjoyed the ones like Baltimore the most, where people kept their memories alive. Those stadiums continued to exist in an odd ethereal way. The roar of the crowd now silenced, the crack of the bat or the kick of the ball no longer felt, but the stories remained in the landscape.

Some quick searching found several more examples.


Atlanta–Fulton County Stadium; Atlanta, Georgia, USA


Atlanta - Turner Field: Gold Parking Lot - Hank Aaron 715th Home Run Monument
Hank Aaron 715th Home Run Monument. Photo by Wally Gobetz on Flickr (cc)

Atlanta–Fulton County Stadium hosted both the Atlanta Braves of baseball and the Atlanta Falcons of (American) football at various times before a controlled implosion finally took it down in 1997. The brand-new Turner Field rose on an adjacent parcel, and the spot once occupied by Atlanta–Fulton County Stadium became part of its parking lots. The old footprint occupied a large section of the Green Lot (it looked awesome on satellite view). Even more of a bonus, the spot where Hank Aaron hit his historic 715th Home Run continued to be commemorated. Aaron accomplished that feat in 1974, surpassing the lifetime record of Babe Ruth, when Aaron hit a ball over an outfield fence and into the Braves’ bullpen. The memorial in the parking lot replicated the fence and the bullpen at the exact spot where it happened.

I realized that marker made little sense to much of 12MC’s international audience. Just understand that a really great sporting event happened there and its preservation was a nice touch.


Yankee Stadium; The Bronx, New York, USA


Once a ballpark, now just a park.
Once a ballpark, now just a park. Photo by Benjamin Kabak on Flickr (cc)

The New York Yankees baseball team played at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx from 1923 until 2008 (map). The team left for a new Yankee Stadium on an adjacent lot. Then the city demolished the old stadium and created Heritage Field on the same footprint. As the New York Times described it,

… nearly every inch, from the pavement stones underfoot to the three natural grass ball fields, has been elaborately designed to pay homage to the Yankees and their celebrated former home. Even the sod is the same that the Yankees, professional baseball’s biggest spender, chose for their new stadium… Even the old diamond and outfield have been saved, delineated with five-foot-wide swaths of blue polymer fiber stitched into the sod by a Desso Grassmaster machine that had to be shipped over from the Netherlands.

Now amateur and high school baseball clubs from all over the city stand where some of the greatest professionals once played.


Milwaukee County Stadium; Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA


Helfaer Field
Helfaer Field. Photo by Rough Tough, Real Stuff on Flickr (cc)

Combine the idea of a parking lot and a small ball field on an original footprint, and that became the fate of Milwaukee County Stadium. Miller Park replaced it in 2000 on an adjacent parcel. Although large surface parking lots grew completely around Miller Park, the former spot of Milwaukee County Stadium became a baseball field. It took the name Helfaer Field with room for 500 spectators in its bleacher seats. People can rent it for "softball, youth baseball, kickball, tailgates, meetings and much more." It looked pretty good on Satellite view sitting there, surrounded by parking lots.


Memorial Stadium; University of Minnesota, USA


2009-0603-01-MN-McNamaraMemorial
McNamara Memorial on Wikimedia Commons (cc)

The Golden Gophers of the University of Minnesota played (American) football at Memorial Stadium in Minneapolis from 1924 to 1981. The stadium became totally obliterated. An alumni center filled its former spot (map). However one vital feature remained, its entry arch, inside of the alumni center. People could still walk through the old entryway, although its passage no longer led to a gridiron. Instead it opened into a large room called the Heritage Gallery, "a multimedia museum … [that] honors the accomplishments of University of Minnesota alumni, faculty, students and staff."


Waverley Park; Mulgrave, Victoria, Australia



I found faded stadium footprints outside of the United States too. A prime example existed in Australia. Waverley Park in Mulgrave, Victoria once hosted up to seventy thousand Australian rules football fans. Concentric ring roads circled the demolished stadium, part of a masterplanned community, with a grassy centerpiece remaining at the spot of the original stadium now serving as a practice facility,

Today, as Hawthorn football players train on the oval, the sound of boots striking balls evokes memories of a sporting past. For some, the ‘Hawks’ are simply part of the scenery, for others they bring new meaning to ‘backyard footy’, with star players running junior clinics for tomorrow’s footy legends. Residents of Oval Front Homes have box seats, cheering on from their balconies during practice matches and training.

The original stadium no longer existed although a grandstand at one end still held room for a couple of thousand spectators.


Cathkin Park; Glasgow, Scotland, UK


Cathkin Park
Cathkin Park. Photo by Tom Brogan on Flickr (cc)

I found a particularly early example in Scotland, a football (soccer) stadium called Cathkin Park in Glasgow. Professional football there dated back to 1884 when the Queen’s Park club called it home. Third Lanark took over in 1903 and remained there for more than sixty years until the team folded.

Sadly there are no fond memories for Third Lanark fans of that era. They were shattered to witness the Cathkin gates being closed for the final time on 30th June 1967.

Much of the stadium was removed as it fell into disrepair (map). However, terraces ringing three sides of the stadium remained in place, as did the old field. The area became a public park and a home field to various amateur and student teams.

Going in Circles

On July 13, 2016 · Comments Off on Going in Circles

For the obvious reason, any geographic feature related to circles will make it onto the pages of Twelve Mile Circle eventually. I collect examples as I encounter them until I have enough to write an entire article. This is the latest batch.

Circle, Montana


MappingMainStreet_CircleMT-7
MappingMainStreet_CircleMT-7 by Kara Oehler on Flickr (cc)

Circle, Montana proclaimed itself to be "A Great Place to be Around" although it lacked a circle. The town followed a typical grid pattern of squares and rectangles with its boundaries aligned to cardinal directions (map). It didn’t appear to represent a case of squaring the circle either. Did the circle represent something other than a geographic designation? Of course it did, as the town explained,

… inherited its name from the brand of the Mabry Cattle Corporation who came here in 1884. It was common at that time for a ranch to be known by its brand rather than the company or major owner’s name. In 1905 Peter Rorvik started a store and post office in the old ranch house and naturally name the Post Office "Circle". The little town catered to ranchers and farmers. When McCone County was formed in 1919 Circle won the county seat, an important factor in the towns growth.

The town grew until 1960 when its population peaked at a little more than eleven hundred residents. It hemorrhaged population every census afterwards and housed barely six hundred residents by the 2010 Census. It seemed to suffer from a lack of opportunity, a common fate for isolated villages located far away from the cities. Circle even gained some minor media attention for its remoteness. The website Quartz described it as "the spot that is the farthest from any Starbucks in the continental United States—more than 192 miles from the nearest green-aproned barista."


Atlanta’s Original 1-Mile Circle



Twelve Mile Circle once discussed the odd circular layout of numerous Georgia towns founded in the Nineteenth Century. The notion appeared in articles such as Shaped Like it Sounds and Georgia’s Enigma. I didn’t realize the same situation also applied to Georgia’s powerhouse capital, Atlanta. Multiple annexations and decades of sprawl obliterated all evidence of its original circle long before any of us lived. I credited reader "Bo" for bringing this curious footnote to my attention a few months ago. He found a tantalizing reference to its original one-mile radius in Wikipedia’s Atlanta Annexations and Wards page.

The roots of Atlanta extended back to a settlement called Terminus, so named because it marked the southeastern terminus of the Western & Atlantic Railroad in 1837. The railroad marked this spot with a stone Zero Mile Post bearing an appropriate inscription. Georgia also used the marker to anchor a transportation hub for railroads converging from multiple directions. Subsequent planning led to a slight realignment of the Zero Mile Post to its present location in 1842 (map) and the town became Atlanta. Indeed, Atlanta began with a radius of a single mile that later expanded to 1.5 miles in 1866, then 1.75 miles in 1889, then finally ignored the premise of a circle altogether and it grew wherever it wanted.

The marker still existed at its 1842 location although its placement became quite unusual. A modern building covered the geographic footprint of the Zero Mile Post so the city moved the marker underground, into the building’s basement. Various websites including one provided by the National Park Service described how to find it.

The Western and Atlantic Railroad Zero Milepost, within the Underground Atlanta Historic District, is located under the Central Ave. viaduct, between Alabama and Wall sts. It is inside a building that currently houses the Georgia State University Security Office. To reach this site, enter the parking garage at the corner of Central Ave. and Alabama St., take the elevator to the basement, and ask for directions to the Security Office.

A June 2016 article in the Atlanta Journal Constitution provided updated information and a dose of bad news. The Georgia Building Authority owned the now vacant building. That placed the marker off limits and closed to the public. Maybe that will change when tenants reoccupy the space.


Teapot Dome


Teapot WY 1
Teapot WY on Wikimedia Commons (cc)

I considered a dome somewhat circular so it seemed to fit the theme. I noticed a reference to the Teapot Dome Scandal and decided to find the alleged dome. A little context may be in order for the 12MC audience. I always considered Teapot Dome to be such a ridiculous name for a scandal, like it couldn’t have been all that serious given its silly title. However, it came to signify the single greatest act of political corruption in United States history when it happened in 1922. It was the Watergate of the early Twentieth Century.

The U.S. Navy began shifting fuel for its ships from coal to oil, making oil a strategic asset. The government set aside several reserves so it would always have enough oil for its vessels should a hostile nation ever cut-off the supply. It designated one of the reserves at Wyoming’s Teapot Dome (map) and commercial oil companies could not drill there.

Warren Harding then became President in 1921 and appointed a bunch of his cronies to powerful government jobs. This including Albert Fall who became Secretary of the Interior. Fall then convinced Harding to transfer responsibilities for the reserves from the Navy to the Department of the Interior. Fall also took bribes from a couple of his oil baron friends and allowed them to drill within the reserves. Wyoming officials blew the whistle on Fall and the story caught fire in the newspapers. Fall went to prison for accepting bribes, a first for a sitting Cabinet-level official. Harding also probably would have been impeached if he hadn’t died in office. Oddly, those who bribed Fall escaped convictions.

Teapot Dome used to look a lot more like a teapot before its "spout" broke off.

Sawtooth Elsewhere

On February 24, 2016 · 1 Comments

There may not have been a sawtooth in Rhode Island, however there were plenty of others sawtooths (sawteeth?) elsewhere throughout the English-speaking world. That provided me with a wonderful opportunity to continue on a theme while also giving me the option to choose advantageous locations. By that I meant I decided to fill empty spots on the Complete Index map that would benefit from a few more push-pins.

Idaho

I didn’t have much coverage in central Idaho, specifically in an area that coincided with — wait for it — the Sawtooth National Forest. That seemed amazingly appropriate. The government protected a massive space within the forest, more than two million acres. It was one of the older reserves in the Federal portfolio, designated by President Theodore Roosevelt more than a century ago and later expanded.


Sawtooth Range
Sawtooth Range by Nicholas D. on Flickr (cc)

The name derived from the Sawtooth Range, a part of the Rocky Mountains with many peaks jutting over 10,000 feet (3,048 metres). The range got its name, well just look at it, from its resemblance to the jagged teeth of a saw blade.

Near the mountains and within the forest stood the remains of an old town named Sawtooth City (map). It began like so many other settlements in this corner of Idaho as a mining camp in the latter part of the Nineteenth Century. Sawtooth City hugged Beaver Creek near a spot where it joined the Salmon River in a rugged and beautiful wilderness. The town flourished for awhile in the 1880’s and then miners moved on to the next big strike. Nature reclaimed much of Sawtooth City although what was left was added to the National Register of Historic Places in the 1970’s, "the only visible remains are the mill foundations, one old log cabin and the crumbling remains of many other buildings." What an ignoble ending to a settlement that once housed nearly six hundred residents.

I noticed another town nearby, not named sawtooth although something a little less obvious. Why did Idaho have an Atlanta (map)? It was neither near the Atlantic Ocean nor near the city of the same name in Georgia.


Atlanta,Idaho
Atlanta,Idaho by Christopher White on Flickr (cc)

Atlanta had an earlier origin than Sawtooth City although it was settled for a similar purpose.

Gold was discovered near Atlanta in 1863 and… there were Confederate sympathizers among the early miners. They eventually named Atlanta after the battle of Atlanta, which was fought in July of 1864 and, initially unbeknownst to the southern sympathizers, did not go well for the south… by the time they received clarification that the south had lost, they had already named the town and the name stayed the same.

I couldn’t tell if any of that was true or not although it sounded like a good story so I stuck with it.

This was a remote area. Even today the only way to reach Atlanta overland involved one of two unimproved US Forest Service roads. It was 40 miles (64 km) from the nearest paved road. Nonetheless it remained a populated settlement, now bringing in tourist dollars thanks to its superb location for numerous outdoor activities in the Sawtooth Range, aptly described as a sportsman’s paradise.


Nunavut


Sawtooth Range (04-08-97)
Sawtooth Range on Wikimedia Commons

Another rugged Sawtooth Range existed elsewhere, in the far northern reaches of Canada. The range crossed through the central part of the world’s tenth-largest island, Ellesmere Island. The mountains were a portion of the larger Arctic Cordillera range. Nunavut’s Sawtooth was so remote that few people ever got a chance to experience it firsthand. Fewer than a hundred and fifty people inhabited the island, living in its sole community Grise Fiord or at one of its two tiny High Arctic Weather Stations.



One of those two stations was located in proximity to the Sawtooth Range (map). It came to be known as Eureka when established in 1947 by Canada and the United States working together.

Although much of the land was rough, rising to 2,000 or 3,000 feet, the most satisfactory location appeared to be in Slidre Fiord on Ellesmere Island, centrally located at latitude 80 00′ 00" N., longitude 85 56’25"W. Within the fiord, the ice was quite smooth. Protected by hills from the prevailing north westerly winds, it is surrounded by low rolling country and is in the vicinity of two rivers, which promise fresh water in summer.

Only about ten people staffed the station throughout the long winter, in the coldest place in Canada. While many other Canadian locations have recorded lower absolute temperatures, Eureka took the prize for the lowest average yearlong temperature, a bone-chilling -19.7C (-3.5F).

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12 Mile Circle:
An Appreciation of Unusual Places
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