Odds and Ends 13

On June 4, 2017 · 0 Comments

Twelve Mile Circle occasionally features topics that don’t warrant an entire article. I collect these items in a spreadsheet and present them all together every once in awhile. However I hadn’t done one of those in awhile and the topics began to pile-up on my list. Odds and Ends 12 appeared all the way back in March 2016! That surprised me a little. I needed to do some spring cleaning so I hopped to it.


An Island Apart


Malabo
Malabo. Photo by Embassy of Equatorial Guinea on Flickr (cc)

The small African nation of Equatorial Guinea featured an odd geographic arrangement. Most of the nation occupied a rectangle of land bordering the western continental coastline. As well, it included an island quite a bit removed towards the northwest, directly off of the coast of Cameroon. Yet, Equatorial Guinea placed its capital on that island and not on the mainland. The island went by the name of Bioko and the city Malabo (map).

That arrangement existed as a relic of colonialism. Europeans first encountered this corner of Africa when Portuguese navigator Fernão do Pó landed on Bioko in 1472. That effort didn’t stick so Portugal traded the island to Spain in 1777. Spain didn’t do much with it either so the British came along and squatted on it in the 1820’s when they found nobody from Spain occupying it. Spain got around to reasserting sovereignty in 1844 and the island remained in Spanish control until Equatorial Guinea gained its independence in 1968. Malabo became the capital by default because it was the oldest and most developed city in the new nation.

Malobo won’t be the capital much longer, however. Equatorial Guinea plans a new capital deep within its mainland jungle interior. Construction began several years ago and government function started moving to the new city, Oyala (map), in February 2017. This completely planned community may someday hold up to two hundred thousand residents, nearly a quarter of the nation’s population. The BBC explained at least one motivation. President Teodoro Obiang Nguema survived several coup attempts and he wanted a more secure location. Oil revenues fund its construction.


What a Mistake


2007-09-10-16-08-59
Rainy Lake. Photo by d Wang on Flickr (cc)

An oddly named geographic feature appeared as I researched the Pub with No Beer. There, just to the northwest of Taylors Arm, I spotted Mistake State Forest (map). I never did find the mistake that led to its name. However, I did learn that it covered 5,638 hectares (~14,000 acres) managed by the Forestry Corporation of New South Wales. I think I made a mistake when I tried to investigate Mistake State Forest.

Fortunately I ran across something completely unexpected and infinitely more interesting. Minnesota’s Star Tribune covered a situation where an 80-year-old error in land records wiped out a popular state trail. Minnesota sold some surplus acreage to a private landowner near International Falls in 1935 and forgot to record its sale. "And the buyer, a prominent International Falls businessman, apparently lost track of the purchase amid all his wheeling and dealing." The spot subsequently became a popular recreational area (map) on Rainy Lake. It might have a generally happy ending though. The heirs seemed willing to gift much of the land back to the state, although retaining acreage with prime views.


A Literal Name


Colstrip Montana
Colstrip Montana. Photo by Spot Us on Flickr (cc)

I noticed that a user landed on 12MC from a remote corner of Montana, so I took a closer look. The spot said Colstrip (map), which I considered a rather strange name. Wouldn’t it be funny, I though, if the name came from an actual strip of coal. Well it did actually, as the city confirmed.

Colstrip was established by the Northern Pacific Railway in 1924 as a company town to provide coal for their steam locomotives. The mining is open pit strip mining, where draglines remove soil above the layer of bituminous coal from the Fort Union Formation.

The coal mining tradition continued to the present day, with the nearby Rosebud mine being one of the largest in the state. Later, a large power plant opened up nearby to generate electricity for a huge territory surrounding it. However, Colstrip residents face an uncertain future as pressures build on coal. Nearly everyone in town worked either at the mine or at the power plant. Meanwhile coal begins to fall out of favor. It probably won’t be worth renovating the plant to make it more efficient. It’s too outdated. The plant was built forty years ago and is now considered "the nation’s 15th-largest producer of greenhouse gases."


First Name, Last Name


Welcome to Clinton, Iowa
Welcome to Clinton, Iowa. Photo by J. Stephen Conn on Flickr (cc)

I discovered an additional example of First Name, Surname Symmetry recently. This one involved an historical figure named DeWitt Clinton. He dominated New York politics during the early part of the Nineteenth Century. His service included mayor of New York City and multiple terms as Governor. He nearly became President of the United States with a respectable showing against the eventual winner, James Madison. Clinton’s crowning achievement may have been his pivotal role in promoting and building the Erie Canal. This opened a vitally important trade route to the growing interior of the nation. This singular achievement led to dozens of places named in his honor throughout the American Midwest.

They must have really loved DeWitt Clinton in Iowa, though. The state (then a territory) named one of its counties Clinton in 1837 (map). However the county took it one step further. Two of the towns that formed within its boundaries became DeWitt and Clinton, located about 20 miles (32 kilometres) apart (map). That formed an excellent First Name, Surname Symmetry.

Some astute readers may have already figured out how I discovered this happy confluence, especially the people who follow my 12MC Twitter account. I was in Clinton, Iowa three days ago although I’m back home now. Take that as a little foreshadowing of articles soon to come.

Gibraltaresque

On May 21, 2017 · 2 Comments

I didn’t intent to feature Gibraltar, the British Overseas Territory on the southern tip of the Iberian Peninsula. I talked about that one before. For example, a major road crossed its airport runway. Fun stuff!


The Rock of Gibraltar
The Rock of Gibraltar. Photo by Stian Olsen on Flickr (cc)

One other little tidbit interested me too, its etymology. Gibraltar came from the name of an Arab or Berber military leader, a Muslim, who crossed the straight and invaded Visigothic Hispania sometime around the year 710. They called him Tariq ibn Ziyad and the place where he crossed into Europe became Jebel el Tarik, the mountain of Tarik. Somehow Spanish speakers converted Jebel el Tarik into Gibraltar.

Interesting tangent aside, I actually wanted to focus on places named Gibraltar other than the famous Gibraltar. Longtime Twelve Mile Circle readers probably noticed how one article often led to additional articles. That happened here too. Remember Borders of Lago de Maracaibo? Well, I noticed that the Sucre exclave in Venezuela’s Zulia state also contained a town called Gibraltar.


Gibraltar in Venezuela


Cristo Negro
Cristo Negro on Wikimedia Commons (cc)

Once this smallish town of 4,000 residents held an exalted position in Spain’s colonial dominion. The empire needed a trade route into the continental interior from the north. Lake Maracaibo provided a means to penetrate deep into South America from the proper direction. The southern tip of the lake offered the nearest access to the settlement of Mérida in the Andes Mountains. A harbor would be really useful right there, and that led to the founding of San Antonio de Gibraltar in 1592 (map). Spain sent Gonzalo Piña Ludueña to the New World to make it happen and he came from Gibraltar. Thus, he provided a name for the new port. Agricultural products could now be extracted from the area to help feed the rest of Spain’s Caribbean possessions.

That didn’t mean Gibraltar existed peacefully. Pirates attacked incessantly for much of the Seventeenth Century. They sacked and looted Gibraltar at least a half dozen times between 1642 and 1678.

Native inhabitants also took their toll on Gibraltar. They attacked several times, the worst occurring in 1600. In that raid they tried to burn a large crucifix hanging in the local church. It would not burn and it became a revered object, the Cristo Negro (Black Christ) of Gibraltar. Officials moved their relic to Maracaibo for safekeeping until Gibraltar could be rebuilt. Unfortunately for Gibraltar, the residents of Maracaibo took a liking to the Cristo Negro and didn’t want to return it. Then the local council decided on a solution. They placed the crucifix on a boat without a crew and let God’s will determine where it should go. The wind blew it back to Maracaibo where it remains in its cathedral to this day, now called the Cristo Negro de Maracaibo.


Gibraltar in Australia


Gibraltar Rocks
Gibraltar Rocks. Photo by jennofarc on Flickr (cc)

I saw Gibraltar in Australia too. First I noticed Gibraltar Peak near Canberra (map). I liked that it fell within the confines of the Australian Capital Territory. Nothing more. Lots of peaks in the ACT towered above its 1,038 metre (3,406 ft) summit. Given that, I wondered why they named it Gibraltar. It did include some cliffs and a geological feature called the "Gibraltar Rocks" near its summit. Maybe it had a slight resemblance to the original. I couldn’t tell. It seemed like a nice area to visit either way. Gibraltar and other parts of the Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve hosted tons of hiking and climbing trails.

Australia also contained an entire Gibraltar Range of mountains (map) in New South Wales within a national park of the same name. However none of the individual peaks appeared to be named Gibraltar, just the collective. The Gibraltar Range summit reached 1,106 metres (3,600 feet).

Other Gibraltar promontories existed elsewhere in Australia.


Gibraltar in Canada



The Geographic Board of Canada said that Alberta’s Gibraltar Mountain got its name because of its "fancied resemblance to the famous rock." It reached an altitude of 2,665 meters (8,743 feet), a part of the Canadian Rockies. The bivouac.com website included a photograph and offered additional information,

It was named in 1928 because some thought it resembled the Rock of Gibraltar in the Mediterranean Sea. In the summer of 1918 three young men working at the Burns coal mine ascended the mountain. While on the summit one of them was near the edge of the cliff when wind gusts pushed one of them over the edge and the body was never found. 40 years later when the buildings of the old Burns mine were about to be razed, a trunk with some of the victims belongings was found.

I agreed, I could see a passing resemblance between the mountain in Alberta and the actual Gibraltar. Also, people should stay away from the edges of cliffs. Wind gusts and such.


Gibraltar in the United States


Gibraltar, Michigan
Gibraltar, Michigan. Photo by Ken Lund on Flickr (cc)

Lots of Gibraltar places and geographic features existed within the United States too. I chose to focus on the City of Gibraltar mostly because it seemed to have the best online presence (map). The name clearly referred to the original in Europe, however it didn’t have any meaningful promontories. No rock towered above the rest. In fact it looked basically featureless, almost completely flat. I guessed the name referred to the city’s geographic position on the Detroit River instead. At Gibraltar the river flowed into Lake Erie, directly across from Canada. It seemed to be something akin to the strategic placement of the more famous Gibraltar.

Too bad I didn’t notice this place when I posted Venice of Whatever. A book written for the Gibraltar Historical Museum described Gibraltar as the "Venice of Michigan." Several canals ringed the islands forming much of the eastern side of town. Many of its five thousand residents lived on those islands with instant access to lake Erie. Clearly the inhabitants of Michigan’s Gibraltar loved their European analogies.

An Arm and a Leg

On May 7, 2017 · 2 Comments

I stumbled upon Joe Batt’s Arm again. I first became acquainted with Joe Batt and his arm when Twelve Mile Circle investigated Mundane First Name Places about a year ago. The settlement grew along an inlet, colloquially called an arm, that formed a part of its name. It still amused me all these months later when I came across it once again. However, I couldn’t repeat what I’d reported before so I decided to find additional appendages.

Arm


The pub with no beer
The pub with no beer. Photo by Jules Hawk on Flickr (cc)

Towns featuring Arms appeared all along Canada’s North Atlantic coastline, although particularly in Newfoundland and Labrador. Joe Batt’s Arm fell within that category, of course. Sporadic instances of Arms could be seen in other parts of the world although not nearly enough to create a trend except in Australia. There, another concentration of Arms appeared on the eastern edge of New South Wales and Queensland so I decided to concentrate my efforts there. I could have selected any number of Australian locations, however I focused on Taylors Arm for a particular reason. It featured The Pub with No Beer. Paradoxically, the Pub with No Beer (map) not only served beer, it even brewed its own beer.

The Sydney Morning Herald explained the odd designation.

The history of The Pub With No Beer dates back to 1943, when farmer Dan Sheahan went to the Day Dawn Hotel in Ingham, north of Queensland, only to find American soldiers had drunk the pub dry of beer. With a glass of wine in hand instead, he penned A Pub Without Beer. Country singer Gordon Parsons adapted the song to A Pub With No Beer, basing it on his own local at Taylors Arm, then called the Cosmopolitan Hotel. When his friend Slim Dusty recorded the song in 1957, it became an Australian chart-topper.



It’s lonesome away, from your kindred and all
By the campfire at night, where the wild dingoes call
But there’s nothing so lonesome, so morbid or drear
Than to stand in a bar, of a pub with no beer

Slim Dusty, Australia’s "Father of Country Music" passed away in 2003 although the Pub with No Beer continued to live on in Taylors Arm.


Leg


DWÓR W ŁĘGU TARNOWSKIM, fot. M. Klag (MIK, 2009)
DWÓR W ŁĘGU TARNOWSKIM. Photo by mik Krakow on Flickr (cc)

Done with Arms, I switched to Legs. However Legs didn’t appear nearly as frequently as Arms. I found only a single nation with lots of Legs. Poland contained several villages simply called Łęg. It also had several instances of Łęg combined with other identifiers (e.g., Łęg Ręczyński, Łęg Starościński, Brzozowo Łęg). I tried to find what Łęg meant, even turning to Polish-English dictionaries. I figured it must be a noun although I couldn’t determine if it represented some sort of geographic feature or something completely unrelated. Also it appeared to be pronounced something like "wenk" not leg. Still, Łęg looked close enough to Leg so I went with it.

I found only one Łęg photograph with a creative commons license, a place called Łęg Tarnowski (map). That prompted me to turn to the Polish version of Wikipedia for more information. Polish differed from English so completely that I couldn’t even find cognates. Nonetheless, assuming the accuracy of Google Translate, it seemed the town along the Dunajec River dated back to the 16th Century.


Hand


Fingerpost at B2102/Warren Lane, Cross-in-Hand
Fingerpost at B2102/Warren Lane, Cross-in-Hand. Photo by Matt Davis on Flickr (cc)

Thank goodness for England. I didn’t think I would find a decent Hand or Foot. England provided both.

Hand came in the form of Cross in Hand (map). You know, the village just down the road from Blackboys and Uckfield? Cross in Hand seemed to be quite the Christian name. What religious source, I wondered, led to such an explicit reference? I found a number of references although they all seemed to begin with the infamous "legend says" qualifier. With that in mind, and with the proper asterisk in place, I decided to repeat the supposed explanation. There was a general belief that Crusaders met there as they began their journey to the Holy Land during the Middle Ages. There didn’t seem to be much of a compelling reason to meet at that particular spot although maybe it seemed more conducive a few centuries ago.

In fairness, I did find a Hand in the United States too. It came in the form of Hand County, South Dakota (map). As explained,

Hand County was created in 1873 and organized in 1888. It was named for George W. Hand, a native of Akron, Ohio, and a Civil War Veteran. He came to Yankton in 1865. In 1860 he was appointed United States Attorney for Dakota Territory, serving until 1869. From 1874 to 1883, he was Register of the Yankton Land Office and Secretary of Dakota Territory.

That occurrence seemed considerably less dramatic than the legend of Cross in Hand. Just about anybody, it seemed, could get a South Dakota county named for them in the late Nineteenth Century.


Foot


Luddendenfoot
Luddendenfoot. Photo by Tim Green on Flickr (cc)

I also found a foot, specifically Luddenden Foot (map). Sometimes this appeared without the space between the two as in Luddendenfoot. To understand Luddenden Foot, one must first understand Luddenden.

The name means Ludd valley, or valley of the loud stream and refers to the Luddenden Brook. An alternative meaning refers to the Celtic water god Lud, who gave his name to many water-related features. This was a Brythonic area, speaking a form of primitive Welsh, until perhaps the 9th century as a relict of the kingdom of Elmet.

Luddenden Foot was situated adjacent to and downhill from Luddenden. In other words, it grew at the foot of Luddenden. I guess that made it the town at the foot of the town in the valley of the loud stream, at least by one interpretation. I loved that name.

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