I’ve certainly noticed Florida’s northeastern bump above Jacksonville, and then the Georgia dip just to the west, both of which contrast with their generally straight remaining border. Sure, we’ve all seen it before and taken note of it. The meandering border through that segment followed the St. Marys River that rose from the depths of the Okefenokee Swamp and flowed to the sea.
Florida-Georgia Border, St. Marys River
I didn’t know about all of the other St. Marys Rivers in North America. Most strikingly they had very little in common with each other besides their shared name including a lack of an apostrophe, as consciously removed by the U.S. Board on Geographic Names and the Geographical Names Board of Canada.
These differences may be appreciated best photographically.
Florida / Georgia
Inhabitant of the Salt Marsh by Jon Dawson, on Flickr
via Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic (CC BY-ND 2.0) license
Some sources claimed that the name of the river along the Florida-Georgia border derived from Spanish control of the territory, and their nearby mission, Santa María de Guadalupe. Others associated the river with an Irish St. Mary. Evidence seemed lacking for either assertion. More fascinating was its Native American name, Thlathlothlaguphka, or "Rotten Fish." I wasn’t completely comfortable with that particular etymology either, in fact I’m pretty sure it was bogus, however it amused me so we’ll go with it.
Ontario, Canada / Michigan, USA
Katmai Bay breaks ice in St. Marys River by Coast Guard News, on Flickr
via Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)
Far to the north and in a much colder climate (map), the St. Marys River allowed water to flow from Lake Superior into Lake Huron, forming a natural border between Canada and the United States. French explorers first traveled up to its rapids, thus explaining the shared names of two cross-boarder cities, Sault Ste. Marie, after the river’s French name rivière Sainte-Marie.
Some of the earliest explorers included Jesuit missionaries such as Isaac Jogues who arrived at the rapids in 1641. Explorations by men seeking to spread their faith as much as open new lands left an impression on the geographic names that were bestowed during those early years. St. Isaac Jogues was later killed by Mohawks Indians in New York and was canonized in 1930, one of the eight North American Martyrs.
Maryland Dove by Alyson Hurt, on Flickr
via Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC 2.0) license
Right around the same time that Isaac Jogues explored the Great Lakes, another group focused on the mid-Atlantic coastline. Cecil Calvert, 2nd Baron Baltimore, arranged for two ships — the Ark and the Dove — and about three hundred settlers to depart from England for Maryland. The colonists arrived in 1634 and established St. Mary’s at the mouth of a river they gave the same name (map). The Maryland colony was established as a tolerant home for Roman Catholics and the initial settlement was named for Mary the Blessed Virgin.
A replica ship, the Maryland Dove, serves as a floating museum on the St. Marys River adjacent to St. Marys City.
Thus the derivation of the first three St. Marys discussed were related to three separate European nations: Spain (maybe), France and England.
Indiana / Ohio
The "Old" Wells Street Bridge by Samuraijohnny, on Flickr
via Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0) license
I couldn’t find anything about the early history of the St. Marys River in Ohio and Indiana. The St. Marys and the St. Joseph joined in Ft. Wayne, Indiana to form the Maumee (map). I had better luck with Maumee. It appeared to be an anglicized name for a group of Native Americans known as the Myaamiaki. Readers are probably more familiar with another word that derived from the same tribe of Algonquian peoples, Miami.
I discovered additional St. Mary(s) Rivers including one in Virginia, one in Nova Scotia and one in British Columbia. The US Geographic Names Information System also listed a variety of St. Marys branches, runs, creeks and even a ditch.
My favorite might have been St. Mary’s Sugar Brook (map), in St. Mary’s-The Capes, Newfoundland and Labrador (yes, with an apostrophe). That was quite a name. It sounded poetic. It drained from a nearby hill, St. Mary’s Sugarloaf, allegedly the "428th highest mountain in Newfoundland and Labrador" at 242 metres / 793 feet.
It began as I discovered Beery Reservoir in northeastern Montana appearing from my laptop screen (map). For once I decided to avoid overthinking the reference and have fun with it while wondering how awesome it would be to have a reservoir of beer. Don’t expect a lot of intellectual curiosity or historical background today, just beer-themed places that sounded funny and maybe a pun or two.
I was surprised by the number of beery entries listed in the US Geographical Names Information System. I selected a few of the best.
Beer Run, Eldred, Pennsylvania, USA
In my earlier years, a beer run was what we used to do when we thought we might finish the beer before the party ended and had to dash to the nearest convenience store before it closed. This activity needed to be well considered because Virginia didn’t allow off-premise beer sales after midnight. Fortunately that hasn’t been a problem in a long time for me. I can’t imagine being awake after midnight today and certainly not drinking. The Urban Dictionary included other definitions too like going into a store, grabbing a six-pack and running out without paying. Don’t do that.
Geographically the term "run" was used interchangeably with stream or creek in certain pockets of the United States including Virginia. An example familiar to many readers might include Bull Run, the site of two famous Civil War battles fought in the Commonwealth. The Union army often named battles after a nearby body of water.
Beer Run flowed past Frozen Toe Road. I’m sure there was a joke in there somewhere.
Beer Airport, Hudson, Wisconsin, USA
A pilot could be fired for consuming alcohol anytime close to flight time so Beer Airport sounded like a disaster waiting to happen. The "airport" — and I used that term loosely here — was a thin grass strip set between two plowed fields in rural Wisconsin.
The Federal Aviation Administration maintained records on every airport including this one, which was listed by AirNav.com. Beer Airport was a private field, 2200 x 60 ft. (671 x 18 m) with a 40 foot high powerline at the end of the runway (clearly visible on Street View). Richard Beer was listed as owner and Dan Beer was manager, thus explaining the name they selected for the facility. The Beers operated two single engine airplanes and an ultralight from their personal airport.
I’m impressed by the things one finds on the Intertubes. Richard Beer was also listed in TruckCompaniesIn.com.
Richard L Beer is a Carrier truck company located in Hudson, WI. Richard L Beer’s United States DOT (Department of Transportation) number is 560700. Richard L Beer employs 3 truck drivers as owner operators or company drivers. Leasing opportunities may be available. Richard L Beer’s commercial over-the-road transportation services may include specialized, flatbed, or heavy haul driving. 3 of Richard L Beer’s trucks include auxiliary power units.
The Beer family had a fascination with machines.
Beer Can Pond
Beer Can Pond, Tallahassee, Florida, USA
I found no additional information on Beer Can Pond. I enjoyed the name and the Street View image was nice. That was all.
In heaven there is no beer.
That’s why we drink it here
When we’re gone from here,
all our friends will be drinking all our beer
On the surface it seemed that the Beer Cemetery in Fulton Co., Illinois (map) might have been an attempt to deliver a few creature comforts into the afterlife. It wasn’t of course. The cemetery was actually the final resting place for an extended family of about forty people, many named Beer. A gravestone listing suggested that it was active in the second half of the 19th Century and into the early 20th Century. The site later fell into neglect, judging by individual grave markers.
Root Beer Falls
I figured I’d also throw a bone at the teetotalers who suffered through the rest of this article, bless their hearts. GNIS recorded Root Beer Falls in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, in Gogebic Co. (map).
Upper Tahquamenon Falls (Paradise, Michigan) by Corey Seeman via Flickr
via Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0) license
This is Tahquamenon Falls, also located on Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, however on the opposite side nearly five hours away by car. I found next to nothing about Root Beer Falls, however I found tons of information about Tahquamenon Falls which was known informally as Root Beer Falls.
The Tahquamenon River flows 94 miles from the Tahquamenon Lakes into Lake Superior, and its falls are sometimes affectionately called “Root Beer Falls” because of the water’s distinctive color. The flowing water has a rich, deep brown color, which is the result of tannic acid produced by decaying hemlocks, cedars, and spruces along the river’s banks.
Got that? Root Beer Falls was completely unknown except to the US Geological Survey, while a much better Root Beer Falls was officially Tahquamenon Falls.
We snagged tickets to SAVOR 2014 during the American Homebrewers Association pre-sale period today. Rumor has it they sold out in two minutes. Life is good. Any other 12MC-ers attending?
Sweepin’ the clouds away
On my way to where the air is sweet
Can you tell me how to get,
How to get to Sesame Street
How many people in the 12MC audience remember that infectious little theme song from Sesame Street? I guess you’d have to be of a certain age and location although there were and have been variations found around the world including Vila Sésamo (Brazil), Plaza Sésamo (México), Sesamstraße (Germany), Sesamstraat (Netherlands), Rue Sésame (France), Barrio Sésamo (Spain), Svenska Sesam (Sweden) and Rechov Sumsum (Israel).
WCVE on Sesame Street
Why would Sesame Street come to mind after multiple decades removed from my childhood? Even my children are too old for Sesame Street now. It happened when I noticed that WCVE — the Public Broadcasting Service television and radio station for Central Virginia — was located at 23 Sesame St, Richmond, VA. That’s right, at PBS station on Sesame Street. Perfect. Sesame Street, the show, has been associated with public television since its debut in 1969. It remains a staple of educational programming for preschoolers even today. WCVE chose to honor that history by naming the access road leading up to its broadcast facility after Sesame Street. It’s not the only one, either. WLVT, the PBS station for Pennsylvania’s Lehigh Valley can be found at 839 Sesame St, Bethlehem, PA (map).
Sesame Street and Hemp Court
One can safely assume that any PBS television found on Sesame Street happened deliberately. Are there other instances of intentional homage? I discovered a handful of possibilities although it was more likely to be coincidental. I also found a few unrelated oddities amongst the numerous standalone Sesame Streets.
- Middleburg, Florida: Sesame Street intersects with Hemp Court. What?!? Talk about a mixed message combining children’s television with a drug reference. Just say no, Cookie Monster! It all suddenly made sense, didn’t it?
- Skowhegan, Maine (map): This naming was intentional. Sesame Street and Big Bird Street served as paths through a trailer park. 12MC loves trailer parks. They are never afraid to apply street names that would be completely unacceptable in more uppity neighborhoods.
- Palm Beach Gardens, Florida (map): This was a more typical example of a genre of subdivisions named for herbs and spices. I found several instances scattered around the nation. This one included peppercorn, tarragon, nutmeg, curry, thyme, marjoram, parsley, celery, paprika, cayenne, and of course sesame, with a neighborhood bisected by Spice Drive. It was a veritable spice rack combined within a single, compact housing development.
- Opa-lacka, Florida (map): I found an unusual neighborhood with an Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves / Arabian Nights kind-of theme. I’ll assume that Sesame in this context referred to "Open Sesame."
Sesame Street, Ernie Street and Oscar Crescent
via Google Street View, November 2009
None of those were my favorite example, though. For that, I had to cast my eyes towards Australia. Apparently Sesame Street had run for decades on Australian television in an undiluted form, with Americanized Muppet characters rather than something customized specifically for the Australian market. I think they may have even used original voices rather than dubbing them with an Australian accent. Can any 12MC readers from Australia think back to their childhoods and confirm that? I based my guess one one of the comments from the article I linked ("A generation of Australian children have grown up unsure if z is pronounced zee or zed").
Check out the wonderful Street View image I captured at the intersection of Sesame Street, Ernie Street and Oscar Crescent! There can be no mistake. Those streets were named intentionally for characters on the television program. I simply never expected to find that in Australia.