Upstart Eclipses Namesake

On January 9, 2014 · 10 Comments

When I think of "New" places I tend to fuse together the full placenames mentally into a single phrase and begin to overlook the separate elements. I don’t forget completely that earlier entities inspired newer ones, although I mostly overlook the original namesake within the larger string. For example, if I considered Orléans in France it would have meaning to me and conjure a specific image, as would the city of New Orleans in Louisiana. However, France’s Orléans wouldn’t come to mind particularly when I thought of New Orleans USA, even it it provided the bulk of the latter’s placename.

Oftentimes settlers tacked New onto very significant placenames, bestowing a little piece from their homeland onto frontier backwaters. London was and continues to be an extremely important city. Nobody would try to argue rationally that London in the UK doesn’t dwarf in size, reputation and importance the city of New London in Connecticut, USA. That’s not intended to disparage New London, of course. It merely points out the obvious, that New London, well, it doesn’t have the worldwide recognition or relevance of London. Other times, however, the New location managed to grow in significance over decades or centuries to a point where it actually began to overshadow and eventually surpassed its namesake.

I recognize that this so-called eclipsing might be culturally, geographically or individually bound. Going back to the New Orleans example I mentioned a moment ago, in my mind New Orleans has eclipsed Orléans. However I’ve spent a lifetime in the United States, I’ve been to New Orleans numerous times both for family and business reasons, and Hurricane Katrina had a direct impact on some of my immediate family. Thus, New Orleans figures quite prominently in my consciousness. Would a Frenchman concede that La Nouvelle-Orléans had eclipsed Orléans? Probably not. Let’s bear that in mind as I offer a few examples. All of them are subjective. Some may even seem ridiculous to those with different perspectives.

New Zealand

Zeeland, The Netherlands

New Zealand derived its name from Zeeland in the Netherlands. Dutch explorer Abel Tasman received credit as the first European to spot the islands in the 1640’s. Dutch cartographers later applied the name Nova Zeelandia / Nieuw Zeeland. This was later anglicized to New Zealand and became the name of a nation to its English-speaking inhabitants.

Zeeland is a province in the southwest corner of The Netherlands with fewer than four hundred thousand residents. New Zealand, on the other hand, became a well-known sovereign state with more than ten times that population. This, to me, seemed to fit the definition of an upstart eclipsing its namesake.

As an aside, sometimes Zeeland in The Netherlands gets confused with Zealand in Denmark, which is the well-populated island that includes Copenhagen. New Zealand was named for the former, not the latter.

New South Wales

South Wales, UK

One should credit Captain James Cook with naming what eventually became the Australian state of New South Wales. That seemed only fair since 12MC discussed places that were named for Capt. Cook previously. The Preface to "Captain Cook’s Journal during his first voyage round the world made in H.M. Bark ‘Endeavour’ 1768-71," which was a literal transcription of his original journal, noted:

The name, “New South Wales,” was not bestowed without much consideration, and apparently at one stage New Wales was the appellation fixed upon, for in Mr. Corner’s copy it is so called throughout, whereas the Admiralty copy has “New South Wales.”

Had the New Wales label stuck instead of New South Wales, I’d have a hard time concluding that it had eclipsed Wales, even with Sydney included as part of the upstart state. I think I’d probably give the nod to Wales in that instance. However, because the upstart referenced only one portion of Wales (albeit the one including Cardiff, Swansea and Newport) I’d have to say in my mind that New South Wales had trumped South Wales.

Nobody was quite sure why Cook recognized South Wales specifically from what I could find in my limited research.

New Guinea

Gulf of Guinea

This one will take some explanation. I began with the original Guinea, that derived "directly from the Portuguese word Guiné, which emerged in the mid-15th century to refer to the lands inhabited by the Guineus, a generic term for the black African peoples below the Senegal River." New Guinea on the other hand is the second largest island after Greenland, shared by the nation of Papua New Guinea and a portion of Indonesia.

Certainly there are many other places and things named for ancient Guinea: the African nations of Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Equatorial Guinea came to mind, along with the Bay of Guinea and all of them within proximity of the original Guinea. There are even Guineafowl and Guinea Pigs named for the same place (even though Guinea Pigs were native to South America). I wouldn’t suggest that New Guinea should eclipse the collective set of current Guineas, only that it eclipsed ancient Guinea since the original place was a general, amorphous 15th Century geographic construct anyway. Many of the other Guineas mentioned may have eclipsed that older place as well. Well, maybe not Guineafowl. Guinea Pig probably has, though.

How about going back to the USA for some other examples?

Sure. Here are my thoughts:

  • New York has eclipsed York
  • New Jersey has eclipsed Jersey
  • New Hampshire and Hampshire are probably a toss-up with people on respective sides of the Atlantic likely viewing it differently
  • New Mexico has NOT eclipsed Mexico
  • New England has NOT eclipsed England

Agreements, dissenting opinions and additional examples are all welcome.


On January 2, 2014 · 1 Comments

The trails and breadcrumbs left behind by random one-time electronic visitors sometimes remind me of interesting things I’ve discussed previously and forgotten. Witness the recent query "boomerang" that led one anonymous reader to Fraser Island in Australia, the world’s largest sand island, and its amazing perched dune lakes. As I noted when I drafted the article back in the earliest days of 12MC,

A perched dune lake forms when wind blows an indentation in the sand that then gradually fills with decaying vegetation. Over time the decaying organic matter creates a watertight mat that eventually permeates the sand to form something similar to concrete, almost like a swimming pool… on Frasier Island can be found Boomerang Lake, the world’s highest perched dune lake at 130m above sea level.

The person wanted a boomerang and 12MC delivered a boomerang. Now it was time for a bit of fun and a little boomerang overkill. Were there other boomerangs, I wondered?

In Australia, yes of course, there was a stupendous overindulgence of boomerang hills, streams, islands, lagoons, lakes and anything else geographic that one could possibly imagine. The device was a hunting tool and weapon for many Australian Aboriginal groups so of course occurrences there should be expected. The most significant, or at least most populous example, might very well be Boomerang Beach in the Mid North Coast of New South Wales. Even one of its primary roads, Boomerang Drive, displayed a roughly boomerang shape.

Boomerang Beach, New South Wales, Australia

Boomerang Beach bordered on Booti Booti, an Australian national park. So many awful puns came to mind at that moment although I promised myself that I would behave. It became even more difficult when I learned that the "name comes from ‘butibuti,’ the local Worimi Aboriginal word meaning ‘plenty of honey.’" Must… resist… Booty… jokes.

Setting aside Australia — where boomerangs were entirely too pedestrian — I focused my attention farther away in order to see if the theme had spread elsewhere. Well of course it had or I would have stopped typing right here.

Some Reasons Were Obvious

Boomerang Lake, Runnymede, Saskatchewan, Canada

Plenty of features actually resembled boomerangs. I spotted this great example, Boomerang Lake, on the far eastern edge of Saskatchewan. Actually I was hoping the provincial border might split through the lake as I zoomed-in. That was not the case once I looked closer. Nonetheless, it was a nicely representative instance of boomerang-shaped geography.

Other Reasons Were Enigmatic

Boomerang Hotel
Hotel Boomerang, Bagni di Tabiano, Parma, Italy
via Google Street View, November 2010

I scratched my head as I pondered Hotel Boomerang in Parma, Italy. They certainly seemed enamored of their boomerangs. I figured maybe they hoped to focus attention on the physics of a properly-thrown boomerang. Perhaps, using that logic, guests would enjoy their lodging and someday "return" to the hotel?

And I Filled In a Hole

Boomerang Run, Red Lodge Mountain, Montana, USA

I saw plenty of boomerangs in the United States. This one was a little different, a black diamond ski run at the Red Lodge Mountain Resort and roughly boomerang-shaped I guess although maybe they were talking about bouncing off trees or something. I didn’t realize Google Maps included ski trails. That reminded me — I also noticed traffic lights on one map I saw recently (for example). Maybe they’re rolling out some new features?

The primary reason for including this boomerang instead of other instnaces in the United States was to fill an empty space on my Complete Index map. There, I admit it. I need to spread the geo-oddity love around.

Three Letter Oddities

On December 22, 2013 · 10 Comments

I mentioned OGG as the three-letter airport code for Kahului Airport on the Hawaiian island of Maui in the Middling article for no greater significance than I found it amusing and it sounded like something a caveman might say. A little Intertubes sleuthing led me to an easy explanation at Airport ABCs, an article reprinted from the December 1994 edition of Air Line Pilot. Why OGG? The designation was created "in honor of aviation legend, and Lihue native, Capt. Bertram J. Hogg (pronounced Hoag)."

The International Air Transport Association a trade group of "240 members comprise 84% of the total air traffic" and known more commonly by its acronym IATA, assigned these codes. Most visible to the average airline traveler, those are the sometimes cryptic three-letter combinations one sees printed on baggage tags that route them to their proper destinations. Usually. Unique codes identify hundreds of distinct airports everywhere around the world, large and small, served by commercial airlines.

Codes ranged from AAA (Anaa Airport, French Polynesia) to ZZV (Zanesville Airport, Ohio, USA), and offered a dizzying array of entertaining combinations. It would border on negligence if I failed to mention the best of the lot even though it’s already well known. I just couldn’t help myself. You knew what was coming — Sioux Gateway Airport serving Sioux City, Iowa.

This Airport SUX

The SUX designation had been applied in an earlier time before "sucks" became so closely synonymous with lousy situations and things. Sioux City politicians began lobbying for a new code in the 1990’s. They abandoned their effort a few years later and decided to stick with SUX after being offered nothing better. They later came to embrace SUX as a marketing tool. Now the airport website proudly proclaims and sells merchandise.

Twelve Mile Circle reviewed every three-letter code to gather the best of the rest. I got about halfway through my task and discovered I’d collected primarily a list of obscenities. Being a family-friendly site, or at least a family-tolerant site, I felt an obligation to start anew and shift my focus away from the profane and tack back towards odd. Sorry Fukuoka Airport and your ilk, I discarded you. Actually a couple of codes were even more explicit — enough to make 12MC blush — and I won’t even hint at those.

I gathered some of the vast array of remaining options and placed them in a few logical groupings. Readers can play this game at home with other groupings. Options are practically endless.

Bumpy Landings

D’OH!: Doha, Qatar

Several codes might be completely harmless in their home languages while failing to instill a level of confidence through a prism of English language and popular culture. To wit, Doha, Qatar’s DOH came perilously close to Homer Simpson’s D’OH!

Other difficult transits might be inferred by,

  • BAD – Barksdale Air Force Base, Bossier City, Louisiana, United States
  • BOO – Bodø Airport, Bodø, Norway
  • EEK – Eek Airport, Eek, Alaska, United States
  • LIE – Libenge Airport, Libenge, Democratic Republic of the Congo
  • MUD – Mueda Airport, Mueda, Mozambique
  • SAD – Safford Regional Airport, Safford, Arizona, United States
  • WAA – Wales Airport (FAA: IWK), Wales, Alaska, United States

Airport Confidence

FLY to Finley, NSW, Australia

Other airports seemed to imply vastly superior experiences. I don’t know how tiny Finley, NSW, Australia managed to snag FLY, though. I would have thought airports around the world would have fought hard for that one. Any city in Florida or Finland might have also put that code to good use.

A few other attractive options,

  • ACE – Lanzarote Airport, Arrecife, Canary Islands, Spain
  • EZE – Ministro Pistarini International Airport Ezeiza, Argentina
  • SKY – Griffing Sandusky Airport, Sandusky, Ohio, United States
  • TLC – Lic. Adolfo López Mateos International Airport, Toluca, Estado de México, México
  • WOW – Willow Airport, Willow, Alaska, United States

Barnyard Theme

Have a COW; Coquimbo, Chile

I needed to come up with something innocuous and family-appropriate after my earlier thematic failure. An "Old MacDonald" farmyard motif arose from the lengthy list, although admittedly UDR for udder might have been stretching things a bit too far (no pun intended).

  • ARF – Acaricuara Airport, Acaricuara, Colombia
  • BAA – Bialla Airport, Bialla, Papua New Guinea
  • CAT – New Bight Airport, Cat Island, Bahamas
  • COW – Coquimbo Airport, Coquimbo, Coquimbo Region, Chile
  • DOG – Dongola Airport, Dongola, Sudan
  • MOO – Moomba Airport, Moomba, South Australia, Australia
  • PIG – Pitinga Airport, Pitinga, Brazil
  • RAT – Raduzhny Airport, Raduzhny, Khanty-Mansi Autonomous Okrug, Russia
  • UDR – Udaipur Airport, Udaipur, India

My Airport

Airport in Timbuktu by James Joel on Flickr
via Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic (CC BY-ND 2.0) license

Then I got selfish. Which airports, I wondered, had three-letter codes that mattered to me personally. Obviously TOM would rank high on that list, although Timbuktu, Mali might not be the best place to visit at the moment due to civil unrest and rebellion. The code TOM derived from it French language spelling, Aéroport International de Tombouctou, a remnant of French colonial rule that lasted into the 1960’s.

TOM in Timbuktu, Mali

In recognition of my given name, my immense EGO, my fondness for food and fermented beverage, and my geo-oddity proclivities, I selected,

  • EGO – Belgorod Airport, Belgorod, Russia
  • TOM – Timbuktu Airport, Timbuktu, Mali
  • BBQ – Codrington Airport, Codrington, Barbuda, Antigua and Barbuda
  • HAM – Hamburg Airport, Hamburg / Fuhlsbüttel, Germany
  • PIE – St. Petersburg-Clearwater International Airport, Pinellas Co., Florida, United States
  • ALE – Alpine-Casparis Municipal Airport, Alpine, Texas, United States
  • IPA – Ipota Airport, Ipota, Erromango, Vanuatu
  • RUM – Rumjatar Airport, Rumjatar, Nepal
  • GEO – Cheddi Jagan International Airport (Timehri Int’l), Georgetown, Guyana
  • LOL – Derby Field, Lovelock, Nevada, United States
  • USA – Concord Regional Airport, Concord, North Carolina, United States

That would be an interesting world tour.

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