Twelve Mile Circle picks a different state for its vacation each summer, and concentrates on an aspect of it intensely. Previous examples have included Alaska, Utah, and Oregon. The ultimate purpose of these holidays is to focus on unusual or oft-overlooked sites within the United States while sprinkling-in a few of the more famous sites as well.
The state selected for the 12MC treatment in 2013 is KENTUCKY, specifically the far southeastern corner.
View Kentucky Thoughts in a larger map
Diverse factors went into this decision. Key amongst them was my lack of county counting coverage. I’ve driven Interstate 75 through the target area and I’ve also nibbled on its western edge. As a whole, however, my time on the ground there was minimal and my county count has been decidedly lacking.
Southeastern Kentucky also offers the ability to avoid airline travel. I am completely fed-up with the airlines. I am annoyed by overly-abundant airport security hassles, I am disgusted by a complete lack of customer service and I am tired of being nickel-and-dimed with an endless parade of airline fees, each one more outrageous than its predecessors. This summer, 12MC will give the airlines the old One Finger Salute by selecting an automotive destination. It should take about nine hours — a long but manageable single-day drive — which compares favorably to dealing with an airport, flying cross-country, grabbing a rental car, and driving to a hotel.
The target area I’m anticipating includes a 20-ish county area that avoids major cities as represented on my crudely-drawn map: Adair; Barren; Bell; Casey; Clay; Clinton; Cumberland; Edmonson; Green; Hart; Knox; Laurel; Lincoln; McCreary; Metcalfe; Pulaski; Rockcastle; Russell; Taylor; Wayne; Whitley. I won’t hit every one of those counties, and I’ll probably stray outside of those boundaries for the right opportunities (including into Virginia or Tennessee). I’m still early in the research process so it’s in flux. I’m using it focus my concentration for the moment and using it as a starting point, primarily.
The map presents several possibilities even in its embryonic stage. My attention has already been drawn to all things Cumberland (e.g., Cumberland Gap, Cumberland Falls, Lake Cumberland), as well as to the Daniel Boone National Forest and to Mammoth Cave National Park. I visited Mammoth as a kid and I want to return as an adult to see if my pint-sized memories hold true. Plus, my kids love going on cave tours and Mammoth is the king-of-kings for the eastern United States.
My 12MC Complete Index didn’t present an abundance of geo-oddities within the target area, although there are a couple. I’ve shaded the map in yellow and blue to split the target between Central Time and the Eastern Time. We’ll be bouncing between time zones like on the Dust Bowl trip and that always provides a level of amusement. Plus, a time zone anomaly exists within the target area with a chunk of central time farther east than a chunk of eastern time. I probably wouldn’t go out of my way to experience the anomaly although I’d probably do it for grins if I happened to be nearby for some other purpose.
Here is the part where I consult with the wise and all-knowing audience. You’ve come through for me several times in the past, suggesting great places to visit that I never would have learned about without your input. Some of those included Capulin Volcano in New Mexico, gas stations in Oregon where I could pump my own gas, Timpanogos Cave National Monument and the ATK Rocket Park in Utah. I am certain that there must be people in the 12MC universe who have either lived in or who have vacationed in southeastern Kentucky.
What "can’t miss" spots have I overlooked? You may see your recommendation mentioned in a 12MC article in July.
The day has arrived. Google finally added United States county lines (and more!) to its maps. I’ve been hoping for this development for the last two years. I first pushed for readers to express their interest in Let’s Get County Lines Drawn on Google in February 2010. I’d mention it periodically (OK, whined), usually within the context of "wouldn’t it be a nice" if they ever got around to it. I thought it was right around the corner last May when lines began appearing in ordinary Google searches. Then it seemed to progress into a testing phase when I considered Google Maps County Lines Imminent about a month ago. The feature disappeared completely within a few hours so this time I waited several days. I’ve not seen an official announcement by Google, however, I feel fairly confident that it’s become a permanent feature.
I’m going to drill down to demonstrate a few examples. We’ll probably find other geographic units marked similarly as we play with this some more. Please feel free to mention what you discover in the comments.
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Go to the Google Maps search bar and type in the name of any U.S. state to see the efect. I selected Georgia. Already I’ve noticed one of the limitations of this feature: it doesn’t seem to work with maps embedded in a personal webpage. Go ahead and open the link (the one that says "View Larger Map") in another tab if that’s the way it displays for you too. Either the edge or the entire state of should appear shaded in a light-pink hue. It seems to depend on browser. I’ve tried it in Safari, Chrome, Firefox and Camino and each one has its nuances.
I’ve noticed previously that what appears on Google Maps and what appears when one copies the embedding code for the exact same map can differ slightly. Apparently Google uses different layers for these purposes. Hopefully the function will roll out to all of the layers. For now it appears in map view and terrain view, but not in satellite or embed. Individual results may vary.
Georgia was named for King George II of Great Britain (not to be confused with that other Georgia) in case anyone was wondering.
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This is the level that really means something to me as a confirmed county counter. It’s the reason I wanted Google Maps to add county lines in the first place. I have one minor quibble with the feature as it’s been rolled out: the lines disappear as one begins to drill-down for a closeup view. That may cause an issue as one tries to figure out whether a certain road clips a county border or not. On the other hand, we’ve seen many times that borders drawn by Google Maps can be misplaced by several to even a hundred feet or more. Perhaps this is their subtle way of telling us that we shouldn’t rely on the rendering too literally. I’m not complaining. It’s certainly better than no county lines at all.
Sumter County, Georgia was established in 1831 just a few years after the Creek Indians ceded it to the state and relocated west of the Mississippi River after the Treaty of Indian Springs. Its namesake was Thomas Sumter, a South Carolina war hero and the last living general from the American Revolution era at the time of the county’s origin. His name lives on in a couple of different ways: the famous Fort Sumter where the Civil War began was named for him; and his nickname, "The Carolina Gamecock" was shortened down to Gamecocks to represent the University of South Carolina sports teams. One often hears obnoxious fans shorten it down even further but I’m not going there. Now I know that it all ties back to Thomas Sumter and that makes me feel better somehow.
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Towns — and townships in some instances I’ve checked — now show up with boundaries. This is a welcome, unexpected feature. Towns appeared previously but with very light gray shading. One had to really squint to discern town lines. Now the area snaps to attention. I selected Plains, GA because it’s one of those odd Georgia towns with a circular shape. Very few places feature arcs or circles as part of their boundaries, and everyone knows from the title of the blog that they fascinate me. It takes a skilled surveyor to mark an arc accurately.
Plains is named for a biblical reference, "The Plains of Dura." where "The book of Daniel states that Nebuchadnezzar set up a golden image…"
Observe that Plains isn’t a perfect circle. It has a distinct nob on its western boundary. That’s the "Carter Compound." Plains, of course, is most closely associated with Jimmy Carter, the 39th President of the United States. He still lives there and I guess Plains decided to move its borders to cement a claim to his legacy. The Carter Compound is closed to the public although visitors can tour other sites in the Jimmy Carter National Historic Site
I’ve tried a few other options:
- It works great for towns with crazy borders.
- U.S. Postal Service ZIP codes seem to work (e.g., 31780 for Plains, GA).
- U.S. telephone area codes and exchanges do NOT seem to work; nor do Congressional districts.
- Canada seems to have been provided broad coverage as well, although it differentiates Flin Flon, Manitoba from Flin Flon, Saskatchewan even though they have a single municipal government. I guess maybe that would be expecting too much in this first pass.
- An astute 12MC reader observed that the United Kingdom’s Royal Mail postcodes seem to be working too.
Have readers found any other applications yet?
Totally Unrelated — Don’t forget the 12MC Happy Hour!
Just a reminder that the Twelve Mile Circle happy hour will be happening in the Washington DC area (Crystal City specifically) on Tuesday, January 24, 2012. Check out the original announcement for all the details. Don’t make me feel like a loser!
I noticed yesterday evening that the Mob Rule County Counting website added Canadian provinces as of December 29, 2011. That means that all loyal 12MC readers from Canada, or those from South of the Border who have traveled extensively in Canada, can now expand their county counting fun considerably.
I’ve already added my pathetic results, an embarrassment that will hopefully motivate me to travel more extensively in Canada in the future. My travel is the embodiment of the "almost everyone in Canada lives near the border" phenomenon. I’ve driven from the United States to each of the three largest Canadian cities: Toronto; Montréal and Vancouver. That’s great from an urban point of view but not so encouraging from the perspective of geographic coverage. It amounts to three tiny specks.
Google Earth seems to have a decent overlay of Canadian counties. Does anyone know if any of the online map sites provide an overlay either directly or as part of a mashup?