Odds and Ends 11

On February 25, 2014 · 0 Comments

The day I dreaded finally arrived. I was defaulted to the new version of Google Maps yesterday. I wasn’t favorably impressed when I first reviewed it last May and I always understood that the version I’ve used since the creation of Twelve Mile Circle would go away eventually. Sooner-or-later I was going to have to confront this issue.

Allow me to clear a backlog of some short topics with another installment of Odds and Ends while I try to figure out how to use the new version. Hopefully some of my earlier concerns have been addressed.

Mary Carson Breckinridge

Mary Breckinridge Park, Confluence, Kentucky

I noticed a little park in Kentucky as I searched for various places named Confluence while leading up to the Confluence of Confluences article. Mary Breckinridge Memorial Park, also known as the Confluence Recreation Area, caught my eye. Who was Mary Breckinridge and how did she earn a memorial park, I wondered?

It was a fascinating story that I’d hoped to turn into a full article, although I couldn’t figure out how to approach it. Mary Carson Breckinridge, as I learned was part of THE Breckinridge family:

the family has included six members of the United States House of Representatives, two United States Senators, a cabinet member, two Ambassadors, a Vice President of United States and an unsuccessful Presidential candidate. Breckinridges have served as college presidents, prominent ministers, soldiers, theologians and in important positions at state and local levels.

Breckenridge, Colorado and its famous ski resort? Yes, named for the same family, even if spelled slightly differently. The family name and its influence spread far-and-wide across the United States.

Mary Carson Breckinridge took a different path, leveraging her family prestige and pedigree towards public service. She grew up privileged. She was also educated by private tutors and in exclusive schools both in the United States and in Europe. After personal tragedies during her early adulthood, she turned to nursing, helping to comfort victims of the 1918 influenza pandemic and then

The following year she joined the American Committee for Devastated France and organized a visiting nurse program in France. The program was so successful that two years later her nurses and midwives were caring for children and pregnant women throughout France. When Breckinridge returned to the United States in 1921, she found that there were no schools of midwifery and planned to start one.

This evolved into the Frontier Nursing Service and the Frontier Nursing University, providing health care and educating nurse-midwives in an under-served corner of Appalachia. Hyden, Kentucky, the base of her operations and home of the current Mary Breckinridge Hospital, was just just down the road from Confluence and the little park named in her remembrance.

Tour de Odd

Woodrow Wilson Bridge

I’m thinking about organizing a casual bicycle ride between several Washington, DC area geo-oddities sometime this spring or summer. Sites would include stops at the American Meridian, various practical exclaves, an original boundary stone and the little chunk of Washington, DC crossed by the famous Beltway which is displayed in the photograph above (and see map).

Members of the 12MC audience who might be interested in joining me — the potential out and back is displayed above — should feel free to contact me offline. The route is nearly flat, almost at sea-level, and provides amazing panoramic views of the monuments. I’ll let anyone interested know more as I work out the details and the weather warms up.


Ontario, California, not Canada

Twitter user @colourcountry mentioned the interesting situation of Ontario, California which comes remarkably close (in name) to Ontario, Canada. The postal code for California is CA and the top-level Internet domain for Canada is ca. There’s all sort of potential for trouble or confusion going in either direction. He also noted a similar issue with Trinidad, Colorado (CO) and Trinidad, Colombia, Colombia (co). Are there other instances?

That also reminded me of how far I’ve fallen behind on user mail. My apologies to all of you who have sent story suggestions. I’ll try to get to them as soon as I can.

Accident, Maryland, USA

Speaking of user suggestions, reader Kevin mentioned his fascination with the town of Accident in Maryland. He noted that visitors would be accidental tourists, and that the town had a "South North street and a North South Street." It’s true!

How did Accident get its name? The Town of Accident said:

Mr. George Deakins was to receive 600 acres of land in Western Maryland as a payment of a debt from King George II of England. Mr. Deakins sent out two corps of engineers, each without knowledge of the other, to survey the best land in this area. Both crews returned and to their surprise, they had both marked the same Oak tree as their starting and returning points. Mr. Deakins chose this plot of ground and had it patented “The Accident Tract”. Now called, the Town of Accident!

Right. It sounds apocryphal to me too.


On January 30, 2014 · 0 Comments

All that talk of bowling greens in the previous article increased my curiosity about the sport of bowls (or lawn bowls) in general. It’s similar to a family of Continental lawn bowling games including Bocce and Pétanque and it spread wherever the British Empire extended. I’m not sure why I didn’t discover Bowls a couple of years ago when I tracked down Sports Facilities I Never Imagined because it would have fit in perfectly with that theme.

The Hong Kong Lawn Bowls Association provided a good concise explanation of the sport.

The game of Bowls is played on a 34 to 40M square of closely cut grass called the green. The green is divided into playing areas called rinks. The green is surrounded by a small ditch to catch bowls which leave the green, and a bank upon which markers indicate the corners and centrelines of each rink. Players deliver their bowls alternately from a mat at one end of the rink, towards a small white ball called the jack at the other end. The bowls are shaped so that they do not run in a straight line, but take a curved path towards the jack… the objective of the game is to get one or more bowls closer to the jack than those of the opposition – one point is scored for each counting bowl.


The World Bowls Board oversees the sport, setting laws and regulations for "55 member National Authorities in 51 Member Nations." The Board governs Bowls from its location in Rutland Square, Edinburgh, Scotland. I drilled-in to the address using satellite view and noticed a verdant lawn at the square. I thought that would be a wonderfully appropriate spot for a bowling green. Apparently the managers of the World Bowls Board thought the same because…

No Ball Games!
World Bowls Headquarters, Edinburgh, Scotland, UK
via Google Street View, March 2010

… someone had to erect a "No Ball Games" sign in the square. That was amusing. Imagine those hellions at the World Bowls Board running amok on Rutland Square during their lunchtime, with unsanctioned pickup matches, unruly ball rolling and bothering the pigeons and such. I bet they still sneak-in matches when the authorities look the other way.

Commonwealth Games

Bowls is a significant sport in several nations, and World Bowls is justifiably proud that Bowls is "a core sport in the Commonwealth Games." At the upcoming 2014 Games in Glasgow,

Athletes will compete for eight Gold medals across the men’s and women’s singles, pairs, triples and fours, beginning with a round robin format before knockout finals determine the medal winners. Set in one of Glasgow’s most famous parks, the Lawn Bowls competition will take place at the picturesque Kelvingrove Lawn Bowls Centre, adjacent to the renowned Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum.

Kelvingrove Lawn Bowls Centre, Glasgow, Scotland, UK

The Kelvingrove Lawn Bowls Centre has six, count them SIX, bowling greens, with at least five of them upgraded to international standard.

The Oldest Bowling Green

Southampton (Old) Bowling Green
Southampton (Old) Bowling Green, Southampton, England, UK
via Google Street View, June 2012

The oldest surviving bowling green is believed to be the Southampton (Old) Bowling Green in England. This green has been in continuous use since 1299. I guess I’ll have to take that on faith because "everybody" in the sport said it was true and the history page on the club’s website was down. Nonetheless I was more fortunate with I drilled down to Lower Canal Walk in Southampton using Google Street View. There I observed and captured an image of club members in action. It may not be possible for me to confirm that anyone played at Southampton in 1299, however Google proved that matches took place in June 2012.

Bowls in the United States

Bowls certainly had devoted fans in the United States even if it didn’t have quite the same recognition as found in the UK. Bowls USA governs the sport across an extensive list of Divisions and Clubs.

Leisure World, Silver Spring, Maryland, USA

I found the club closest to my residence. It turned out to be located at Leisure World of Maryland, "a private, age-restricted community." I guess I’ll have to defer my dreams of Bowls glory awhile longer. That seemed to be a recurring theme in the United States. Twelve clubs existed in Florida while none existed in huge swaths of the Midwest. Bowls seemed to skew towards an older demographic.

Most Isolated Green?

Murray Barracks Bowling Green, Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea

I examined the list of international member countries recognized by World Bowls to locate the most isolated bowling green. I probably could have selected any one of several South Pacific islands. Instead I chose to focus on Papua New Guinea for no particular reason other than it seemed improbable. Instead, I discovered that Bowls was apparently quite popular and worthy of television coverage.

Port Moresby has an international standard bowling green at Murray Barracks, the headquarters of the Papua New Guinea Defence Force.



On December 15, 2013 · 4 Comments

One of the sources I consulted for Follow the Letter referenced a town with an alphabetical street grid with one extra street. They named the street Ampersand instead of beginning a new sequence, although technically Ampersand did begin with an A as long as it wasn’t explicitly rendered as "&" on the street sign. I’ll never know because I couldn’t find it. The story may have been apocryphal.

However, during the search I did uncover several ampersand geographic features in the far northern reaches of New York State within the Adirondack Mountains.

Various Ampersands in New York, USA

These included Ampersand Lake, Ampersand Mountain (a very popular hiking destination), Ampersand Bay, Ampersand Brook, Little Ampersand Pond, and several roads. The town of Saranac Lake included an Ampersand Avenue, as an example. The map, above, displayed Ampersand Mountain (the arrow) and Ampersand Lake.

The whole amalgam sprang from Ampersand Brook which was alleged to resemble "&". I examined the maps and concluded that the name involved a bit of poetic license. It didn’t twist nearly as much as many other mountain streams I’ve observed. Even so I appreciated a creative description and wondered if places elsewhere took the form of punctuation marks.

Well of course they did

Comma Island, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada

I traveled vicariously to my favorite Canadian geo-oddity hotspot, Newfoundland and Labrador, where I discovered Comma Island. It seemed to be located pretty much in the middle of nowhere, and closest to the tiny Inuit town of Hopedale. I couldn’t determine any obvious reason for the name. It didn’t particularly resemble "," in my mind. It probably came closer to "/" so Slash Island might have been a better description. There were so many islands in the area that maybe early explorers simply ran out of choices. I’m sure Comma Island was easier to remember than its neighbor, Iglosoaktaligarsuk Island.

That was a typical story. Geographic features may or may not resemble the punctuation marks bearing their names. I thought Period might commonly represent something geographically small and round, however it turned out to be quite rare. Period Pond in Maryland was the only true example (map) and it certainly did not resemble the suggested shape. Hyphen Gulch (map) in Alaska’s Talkeetna Mountains came a little closer to the mark although one could argue that Dash Gulch or even Backslash Gulch might have been more appropriate. I’m such a nitpicker.

Percent was rather more common. I preferred One Hundred Percent Playground in Brooklyn, NY (map), which I’ll note was set within the Brooklyn Alphabet Avenues. As the City of New York Parks & Recreation explained,

Shakespeare once asked, “What’s in a name?” In the case of parks, a name often reflects the history of the place and the spirit of the time when the park was named. Some derive their name from a previous owner of the property, others from local streets. 100% Playground, received its name from its location on East 100th Street in Brooklyn.

An online review of 100% playground described it as, "Cool place its alarming at times but very chill atmosphere." Alarming and chill. I think I’d prefer simply chill.

The Worst Use of Punctuation

Colon, Georgia, USA

*** Immaturity warning — those in the audience with good sense and discerning tastes should probably stop reading right about now ***

Obviously a lot of mischief presented itself with Colon (punctuation) versus Colon (anatomy). The Geographic Names Information System didn’t disappoint either, with several Colons to select amongst, as represented by multiple populated Colons each with its own unique features. Many people built their homes in Colons.

  • Colon, Michigan (map): More than three thousand people live in Michigan’s Colon. It’s alleged the town was named for the shape of nearby Palmer Lake, which in my mind resembled the anatomical feature. There were two smaller ponds that resembled the punctuation mark so I’m hoping those were the actual inspiration. Colon also billed itself as a magical place. The Magic Capital News featured Colon Videos and Colon Services!
  • Colon, North Carolina (map): This didn’t appear to be much more than a crossroads although it offered an opportunity to stroll down Colon’s Memory Lane.
  • Colon, Nebraska (map): One can find a Colon Elevator here. Colon visitors can also grab a meal at a local Bar & Grill.
  • Colon, Pennsylvania (map): Only the Pennsylvania Colon showed any signs of dignity. The state seemed to have cleansed its Colon and effectively wiped it from the map; no signs of it existed.

My favorite had to be Georgia’s Colon because it was located in Clinch County. That made it a Clinch’ed Colon.

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