From Camp to Town

On January 12, 2014 · 0 Comments

When I mentioned The Bloodshot Eye recently I hadn’t realized that I’d stumbled upon a "thing," a long history of annual Camp Meetings held by the Methodist Church.



Pitman Grove, New Jersey, USA

I featured the unusual circle-and-spokes streets of Pitman Grove, New Jersey, and the tiny Victorian-era cottages that lined them. Further research uncovered Pitman Grove’s origins as a Camp Meeting spot first used in the 1870′s that had since evolved into a distinct neighborhood listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

A "long time reader, first time caller" who preferred to remain anonymous brought a similar place to my attention in North Merrick, New York. It was known colloquially as Tiny Town.



Tiny Town, Merrick, New York, USA

As described by Long Island Newsday,

The neighborhood, known as Campgrounds or Tiny Town, arose from Methodist summer revival camp meetings held by the Long Island Camp Meeting Association beginning in 1869… There was a large population of Methodists in Brooklyn and Queens, but not a lot of land there… During the first summers, the campground consisted of the tabernacle in the open field in the center encircled by two rows where tents were pitched and carriages parked for 10 days of services.

Camp Meetings were popularized by several Protestant denominations in the nascent United States beginning in the late 18th and early 19th Centuries. People on the frontier didn’t cluster close enough together in the early years to justify enough physical churches to meet the religious needs of a widely scattered population. Itinerant preachers migrated across the countryside, erecting tents in convenient places and holding camp for a week or more at a time as the seasons permitted. Local residents didn’t live close enough to attend these services in a single day so they brought their wagons and tents and camped for awhile. This might be their only contact with friends and family for an entire year so camp meetings met social needs as well as spiritual. There were hundreds of such campgrounds. Dozens have survived into the modern era where people continue to gather each year as they’ve done for a century and a half or longer.

The Methodist variation — the one I’d stumbled upon — entrenched solidly within the Mid-Atlantic region of the United States. The Methodist church and its camps were based upon the teachings of John Wesley. Invariably one will find a road or a street named Wesley near many of the campgrounds mentioned in this article.

The Mid-Atlantic wasn’t quite as "frontier" as the expanding areas of the nation. Campgrounds tended to cluster near the seashore. They provided respite from city living, a means to separate oneself from the daily hassles of densely-packed tenements and allowed oneself to immerse and rejuvenate spiritually in an attractive holiday-like setting.

I found way too many examples of Methodist campgrounds that later became towns to attempt to discuss them all. Instead I selected a few representative places to show the transition from camp to town as well as to highlight the geographic spread within and beyond the periphery of the Mid-Atlantic.


Denver, North Carolina, USA



Rock Springs, Denver, North Carolina, USA

The Rock Springs Campmeeting has gathered at the same spot outside of Denver, NC since at least 1830, and at earlier incarnations as far back as 1794.

For over two centuries, God has called the people together in worship and community under the Rock Springs’ arbor… People would travel many miles to attend the annual event, camping in tents, covered wagons, and makeshift shelters of brush. They’d cook over open fires and attend the religious services throughout the morning, afternoon and evening… The camp is incorporated after the style of a town, and governed much the same way. There is a central meeting pavilion, called the Arbor, which is surrounded by some 258+ “tents”. The tents, as they are called, are small; roughly built cabins… Most all of the tents have been passed down from one generation to the next.


Rock Springs Methodist Campground
Rock Springs Campground, Denver, NC, USA
via Google Street View, May 2013

Rock Springs is the sole surviving Methodist Camp Meeting in North Carolina. It represented a good example of the initial step from camp to town with its rough, weather-beaten structures. They are permanent structures, however, probably suitable only for seasonal use.


Lancaster, Ohio, USA



Lancaster, Ohio, USA

The Lancaster Camp Ground traced back to 1878 at its current location, and first began in 1872.

For its first twenty years or so, the Camp Ground stressed a strictly evangelism oriented “Camp Meeting”. Around 1892, however, the Chautauqua Movement was introduced into the program… thousands of people came by way of the railroad and horses and buggies to the Lancaster Camp Ground. They came to hear speakers like Billy Sunday, William Jennings Bryan, and President William McKinley…

To accommodate crowds, an auditorium followed, then a hotel, then a grocery, then streets, then cottages, and then year-round residents. Today approximately 240 cottages remain within the National Historic District. Many structures house permanent residents and many others can be purchased or rented for seasonal use.

The Lancaster Camp Ground continues to remain very active in pursuit of its original purpose. The "town" that formed around it focuses clearly on religion and learning.


Oak Bluffs, Massachusetts, USA



Oak Bluffs, Massachusetts, USA

The Martha’s Vineyard Camp Meeting Association was "created in 1835, to conduct religious meetings on Martha’s Vineyard, during the summer." Today "there are just over 300" cottages in Oak Bluffs in an area known as Cottage City.



The tiny Gingerbread Houses of Oak Bluffs by vbecker on Flickr
via Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0) license

Many of these buildings are elaborate albeit diminutive structures often described as "gingerbread cottages." The Camp Meeting Association remains active although the surrounding area has become rather more secular. The neighborhood of dollhouse cottages has also become somewhat of a tourist attraction.

Along with the hordes of people making the pilgrimage to Cottage City, as the town was then called, came commerce. Though attracted by the spectacle of the campmeeting, the beauty of the area soon became a draw on its own and developers started buying up the area around the campground. Businesses sprouted and the resort town of Oak Bluffs was born.

The final step of the evolution would be those Methodist Camp Meetings that evolved into completely secular towns with little meaningful connection to their original religious purpose. Pitman Grove might be close to that point even though events are still held in its tabernacle. Tiny Town in New York may have also reached that point. I found occasional if minor contemporary references to the Long Island Camp Meeting Association. Other places completed the transition. For instance, I go to Rehoboth Beach, Delaware regularly. I had no idea until I researched this article that the town originated from the Rehoboth Beach Camp Meeting Association.


What Might the Future Bring?



Black Rock City, Nevada, USA

I couldn’t help thinking, as I continued to research the Camp Meeting phenomenon further, of certain similarities to the Burning Man festival. While not a Christian religious gathering, Burning Man also occurs annually, creates a sense of community, and demonstrates a level of devotion and fervor through its participants. It seemed to be a modern incarnation of the Camp Meeting phenomenon. While Black Rock City follows the precepts of "leave no trace" each year, what will the playa look like after another 150 years of gatherings? Will we ever witness the germination of a Tiny Town on the Black Rock Desert?

Comedy Duos

On August 18, 2013 · 4 Comments

It may be reasonable to assume that most people have at least a passing familiarity with Abbott and Costello’s signature Who’s-on-First comedy routine, developed in the late 1930′s. I referenced a possible Who’s-on-First scenario recently in No Way! Way! thinking that most readers would understand the reference. It came from an era long before I was born — hey, I’m not that old! Nonetheless, it’s a timeless classic whether one has never heard of it before or is listening to it all again for the hundredth time.



N Abbott St & W Costello St, Washington, Kansas

That made me wonder, made me hope anyway, could there possibly be an intersection of Abbott and Costello streets? Someone would be able to say, "I live at the corner of Abbott and Costello," and of course everyone would get a little chuckle out of it. Sure enough, I found an occurrence (map) in Washington, Kansas.

What about other comedy duos from the classic age of Hollywood when color films were still a novelty, when married couples couldn’t be shown in the same bed and nobody ever dreamed of dropping the F-Bomb in a movie? There were plenty of successful duos or "double acts" that followed the familiar straight-man / funny-man precept. One person took a somewhat normal persona and the other acted like a fool. The straight-man served as a foil to the funny-man’s antics which heighten comedic tension and make it even funnier. It’s a somewhat faded formula although elements of it still exist (e.g., Chumlee as funny-man to Rick and other cast members as straight-men on Pawn Stars).

I knew my search for street intersections would be daunting. The odds of matching comedy duos randomly had to be low considering the endless variety of street names available. Sure, I’d find an odd housing development with a Hollywood theme with forced associations here-and-there, so I considered they would not count as much as places where matches happened naturally.


Laurel and Hardy



Laurel St & Hardy St, Macomb, Michigan

Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy might have been the most memorable of all the double acts, and one of the few teams to transition easily from silent movies to the talkies. Their successful pairing lasted for more than a hundred films and their short movie "The Music Box" won an Academy Award in 1932. That’s the film where they spent the entire time pushing a piano up a flight of long stairs.

There had to be a Laurel and a Hardy street intersecting somewhere. Both sounded like feasible street names individually so I hoped for a coincidental paring, and finally located Laurel St. & Hardy St. in Macomb, Michigan (Street View)


Hope and Crosby


Intersection of Hope and Crosby
SOURCE: Screen grab from Google Street View image, Garden Grove, California, March 2011

Bob Hope and Bing Crosby paired-up repeatedly for the "Road to…" series, beginning with Road to Singapore in 1940 and lasting through Road to Hong Kong in 1962.

I found great success with the intersection of Hope and Crosby. Hope seemed to be an extremely common street name. That greatly increasing the odds of a random Crosby crossing. I found several.

  • Hope St & Crosby Ave, Altamont, Oregon (maps)
  • Hope St & Crosby Ave, Garden Grove, California (map)
  • Hope Ln & Crosby Ln, Redding, California (map)
  • Hope Cir & Crosby Dr, Fort Washington, Pennsylvania (map)
  • Hope Way and Crosby Dr, Knoxville, Tennessee (map)

The instance from Knoxville came from one of those Hollywood-themed subdivisions I mentioned. I granted it partial credit anyway because Lamour Street ran parallel to Crosby Drive and interested with Hope Way, reuniting Dorothy Lamour’s supporting role to Hope and Crosby for a final road trip. It seemed fitting that the trio from the Road pictures would be intertwined by roads, even if created artificially.


Burns and Allen



Burns St & Allen St., New Bedford, Massachusetts

George Burns and his wife Gracie Allen intersected in New Bedford, Massachusetts (map). They also served as namesakes for a major intersection on the campus of the Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. In the latter case, their names were applied to streets explicitly. The intersection’s full name was N George Burns Road and Gracie Allen Drive. Burns and Allen were major benefactors of the hospital according to The Hollywood Reporter. Cedars-Sinai additionally includes a Burns and Allen Research Institute.


And the Rest

I tried to find other classic comedy duos without much luck. That’s fine. I got the big names. My only true disappointment was failing to discover an intersection for Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis. The best I could do was Marty Ln and S Lewis St, in Garden Grove, California (map).

I broadened the scope to include more recent decades. There wasn’t a Cheech and Chong, and in fact, not even a single Cheech. We might also have to wait another generation or two for a Harold and Kumar too.


Completely Unrelated

"Ross" sent me an email about the “Saatse Boot” (map), a place where travelers can legally enter Russia from the Schengen Area without a passport check and without going through any border controls at all. Estonian Route 178 includes a brief segment that clips Russian territory between two Estonian villages, Lutepää and Sesniki, providing direct access between them. There’s a catch: one can travel through the boot in a motorized vehicle only — no pedestrians — and drivers cannot stop. Still, this might be an easy way to "visit" Russia without any paperwork.

Ross mentioned that the source topic came up in Reddit’s MapPorn subreddit and he forwarded a link. I’m not going to post it because I’m still angry with MapPorn for stealing peoples’ work (although let me emphasize – I have no issue with Reddit in general, just its MapPorn subreddit). I’ll leave it at that. All credit to Ross and none to MapPorn.

Thanks Ross! I love little geo-oddities like that.

No Way! Way!

On August 4, 2013 · 11 Comments

I noticed high-quality reader input on the recent He Went Thata Way article. I never imagined that there were so many creative Ways to approach the situation and it proved to me that I might be able to mine additional road name gold. I’d have said "No Way" while the 12MC audience responded "Way" and all that irrelevant quote from Wayne’s World accomplished was to make me feel old when I noticed that the movie was released in 1992, and of course based on a recurring theme from Saturday Night Live even earlier. Great. That was a fine way to start the week.(¹) Confronting my own mortality.

Let’s recap a few comments since I realize most viewers don’t go back once they’ve read the original article. It also gave me an opportunity to credit a few people for their excellent discoveries.



Throwita Way

  • Greg flagged Anchorsa Way in Saint Inigoes, MD (a waterfront community near a U.S. naval facility, not surprisingly)
  • Jbapo mentioned a garbage disposal company located on Throwita Way in Placerville, CA
  • Glenn noticed an abundance of Milky Way. I hoped to find one inspired by the candy bar. Alas, they all seemed to observe astronomical themes.

That got me thinking about the possible existence of No Way. Wouldn’t that be cool? Sadly I couldn’t find one. I did uncover North Way in Oceanside, California. One could abbreviate that as No. Way with a little twisted logic. Does that count? How about Know Place in New Bloomfield, Missouri?



Know Place, in Particular

"Where do you live? Know Place." I could see that creating a wonderful Who’s-on-First scenario without too much effort.

Then I decided to use Scrabble Finder to review every word ending in Way or Away. I don’t play much Scrabble and I spend Sunday morning writing Twelve Mile Circle instead of solving the New York Times’ crossword puzzle so I don’t normally have much use for this kind of tool. It felt a bit like cheating although it worked effectively enough for my purposes.

That allowed me to uncover numerous additional gems. I’ll highlight only a few:

  • LOTS of examples, too many to mention, for Drive Way, Express Way, High Way, Free Way, and Road Way. I did discover that the faster the implied speed of the name, the more rural and remote the location of the street in question (e.g., does this road look like a freeway?) It also amused me that Maps abbreviated Road Way as Rd Way.
  • Cara Way — as in the caraway seed used as a food seasoning — made frequent appearances. I don’t think residents consciously intended to be clever or funny. Cara has become a somewhat common given name for women (albeit waning in the last decade) and I’ve noticed that housing developers seem to have a penchant for naming streets after family members when they run out of other ideas.
  • Any Way? Everywhere.
  • I found Stowa Way in Daly City, CA; Cottonwood, CA; and Garden Valley, ID.
  • And Sea Way in Bodega Bay, CA; San Rafael, CA; and Harwich, MA.



Nor Way isn’t Norway

My favorite instance, however, did not appear on the list. That was Nor Way. I couldn’t tell if its usage implied Norwegian heritage or whether residents simply considered it amusing. Either way(²), I found Nor Way locations in Ithaca, NY; Barnstable, MA; and Harwich, MA.

Are we done with WAY or will the great 12MC audience continue to find even better examples?


Other Oddities

I would be remiss if I didn’t highlight additional recent input not directly related to today’s topic, although noteworthy as standalone curiosities.

  • Longtime reader Peter mentioned what he considered the "best street name anywhere." I concur for obvious reasons.
  • Finally, Doug sent an email to Twelve Mile Circle. It wasn’t about a street, rather a town. Take a look at the peculiar boundaries of Round Mountain, Texas including its spindly legs and a divot at its primary intersection.

I enjoy these little discoveries so kindly keep them coming!


(¹) Please forgive me if I sound a little surly. I’m still trying to ease back into normal 12MC production after my recent holiday. I appreciate everyone bearing with me as I posted a long series of travel articles. I know from reader statistics that those are not audience favorites, however I enjoy them so that’s what you got. I did try to sprinkle in a few genuine anomalies like the KYTNVA Tripoint and the Time Zone thingy in between Turtleman and the Interstate rest stop. The usual geo-oddities will now take center stage going forward until the next vacation.
(²) Either Way is in Boulder Creek, California, by the way.(³)
(³) Bytha Way is in Shelby, North Carolina.

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