Another Town Roundup

On October 29, 2017 · 1 Comments

I’ve collected unusual town names for awhile. They often came up as I researched Twelve Mile Circle articles or when I checked the daily log files. Generally they didn’t make those "weird names" lists found elsewhere on the Intertubes. I find them endlessly fascinating for some unknown reason. Then I make a note of them and promise to return. Occasionally I’ll post an article after I collect enough of them and I want to cut down my pile of unwritten topics.

Capitol Hill, Seattle, Washington


Downtown Seattle from Capitol Hill
Downtown Seattle from Capitol Hill. Photo by Matthew Rutledge on Flickr (cc)

Already on the very first entry I broke my rules for this article. Seattle’s Capitol Hill was a neighborhood not a town (map). Nonetheless, I wondered why Capitol Hill even existed as a name there. The Capitol Hill in another Washington came to mind, however, that one had an actual capitol on its hill. Nobody could claim the same for the Seattle version. Rather, the state capitol sat about sixty miles (100 kilometres) farther south in Olympia.

According to History Link, "the Free Online Encyclopedia of Washington State History," the name probably came from one of two (or both) alternatives. It happened in 1901, courtesy of a local land developer, James Moore. That was certain. By one theory he hoped to persuade the state government "to move its business from Olympia onto Prospect Street." By another, his wife came from Colorado and the name referenced Capitol Hill in Denver. The one in Denver, by the way, actually contained the state capitol. Sadly, Seattle’s Capitol Hill remained capitol-less.


Future City, Illinois


Future City Illinois
Future City Illinois. Photo by Joe on Flickr (cc)

I wanted to make a crack about Future City (map) not looking like it had much of a future. It looked completely desolate. Irony seemed cruel after I researched its history. Future City sat near the southern tip of Illinois, just north of Cairo and the confluence of the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers. African Americans founded it around the turn of the last century as a refuge from racism and lynchings in nearby Cairo. They created their own self-contained settlement and named it optimistically. It promised a better future. Several hundred people lived there a century ago. Now, only a handful remained.

I visited that river confluence a few years ago. It floods, a lot. Naturally, Future City flooded regularly even as early as the disastrous floods of 1912 and 1913. Three times the town needed to be rebuilt from scratch. Meanwhile, nearby Cairo went into a long, slow economic decline. River traffic decreased as rails and roads rose, and its geographic placement became increasingly irrelevant. People in Future City depended on jobs in Cairo so their dream declined with it.


Layman, Ohio



Layman, Ohio

Little Layman, Ohio barely qualified as a settlement, much less a town. Even so I liked the name so it made the list. The dictionary definition explained why. A layman is a "a person who does not belong to a particular profession or who is not expert in some field." What a lousy name, I thought. It implied nobody in town could do much of anything. There sat Layman at Tick Ridge Road with nothing but laymen living there. Actually, it appeared to be named for a 19th Century local newspaper editor, Amos Layman. That wasn’t nearly as much fun.


Bowbells, North Dakota


St Mary le Bow
St Mary le Bow. Photo on Flickr in the Public Domain

Doesn’t Bowbells sound a lot like Cowbells? I thought it did. Some random visitor from Bowbells (map) landed on the pages of 12MC. That in itself might be remarkable. Barely 300 people lived there at the last census. Nonetheless, it served as the seat of local government in Burke County. I saw small towns just like Bowbells with important government functions in many North Dakota counties during my Center of the Nation tour. So many settlements throughout the Great Plains suffered population declines in recent decades. Burke County itself dropped from about ten thousand residents to maybe two thousand since 1930.

That didn’t explain the name, though. A common source for names in these open spaces, the railroad companies, took care of that. As the city explained,

The city of Bowbells was founded in 1898 along the main line of the Soo Line Railroad and incorporated in 1906. The city was named by railroad officials after the famed Bow bells at St Mary-le-Bow in London, England.

Naturally I needed to tug that thread a little harder. So the town got its name from the bells of the church, St. Mary-le-Bow (map). I didn’t know about the "fame" of the famed church bells so I dug deeper. As the Daily Mail noted, "tradition dictates that only those born within earshot of the ‘Bow Bells’ can claim to be Cockneys." That still seemed like an odd name for a town in the middle of North Dakota. I couldn’t imagine waves of Cockneys rolling over the endless prairie.

Heartland, Part 3 (Foiled by Memorial Day)

On June 15, 2017 · Comments Off on Heartland, Part 3 (Foiled by Memorial Day)

I figured I’d have to give this article a sneaky title or nobody would read it. Once again I decided to focus a portion of my journey on local breweries and brewpubs found along our route. These posts tend to underperform as some of the least popular items on Twelve Mile Circle. I know that because I review the access logs. Unfortunately this activity also tends to be one of my favorites. It’s my website so I write about what I enjoy. Feel free to come back in a few days if this doesn’t interest you. I won’t take it personally. There will be plenty of geographic goodies as the rest of the series unfolds.


Three Floyds Cases
It will have to do.

Now, back to the title. How could Memorial Day possibly mess things up? After all, it existed for such a noble purpose, to remember those who gave their lives during military service to the country. Lots of businesses closed for the holiday as a sign of respect.

I’d been planning to visit 3 Floyds Brewing for several years. It was one of those iconic names in brewing circles, a place of beery pilgrimage, renowned for its craftsmanship as well as for its famous Dark Lord Day. Finally my path brought me within striking distance of Munster, Indiana and the famous brewery. On Memorial Day. The only day that fit into our schedule. Of course it was closed. Our stop at a nearby liquor store so we could load up with a couple of cases of 3 Floyds’ signature beers to take back home served as a sorry substitute. I’ll make it back to Munster again someday, mark my words.


My 400th Brewery


Father John's Brewing Company

Longtime 12MC readers already knew many of my idiosyncrasies. Not only did I like breweries, I liked counting things. Naturally I’ve recorded all of my brewery visits both with a list and on a map. I’d been approaching my 400th visit for awhile and I finally crossed the threshold at the first brewery we visited during the trip. That honor went to Father John’s Brewing in Bryan, Ohio (map). I enjoyed the setting, in the basement of a former Methodist church built in 1895. We also glanced into the sanctuary on the main level. It looked pretty much like a typical church although with pews removed and a bandstand installed.

Bryan seemed like an unlikely destination, tucked away in the northwestern corner of Ohio. The first race in the series place there on a Sunday morning so that’s how we found ourselves in a decommissioned church on Saturday evening. However, Bryan did have a couple of tenuous claims to fame. Spangler Candy, known for its Dum Dums lollipops, ran a factory in town. Dum Dums brought back childhood memories of Halloween trick-or-treating. We didn’t take the factory tour because they closed on the weekend, though. I started to sense a theme.

Remember Etch A Sketch? Those came from Bryan too, as a reader who followed the 12MC Twitter account informed me. The Ohio Art company started making them in Bryan in 1960. However they sold their Etch a Sketch brand in 2016 to focus on their metal lithography business.


LaOtto Brewing


LaOtto Brewing Company

Many of our adventures offered at least one unexpected brewery surprise. LaOtto Brewing in LaOtto, Indiana (map) served that purpose on the Heartland trip. The town of LaOtto didn’t have much, just a few quiet blocks along Old State Road 3, bypassed to the east by a highway heading towards Fort Wayne. We’d been driving all day collecting previously unvisited Indiana counties and it seemed like a good time to stop for a break. Craftbeer.com said we could find a brewery in LaOtto so we pulled over. It turned out to be a nice place with a friendly, informative staff. We also got a suggestion to visit Shoreline Brewery in Michigan City, Indiana to try their Big Bella Heavy Scotch Ale. I’d already planned to visit Michigan City the next day so fate looked like it might work out for us for once.

I never uncovered the etymology of the town’s name so that remained a mystery. Apparently a local Lutheran minister suggested LaOtto in 1875 because nobody liked the previous name, Simonsville. Was it a biblical reference? I don’t know.


Shoreline Brewery


Shoreline Brewery

I wanted to visit the lighthouses in Michigan City, and I’ll talk about those in a future article. Shoreline Brewery sat practically within walking distance of both of them. Memorial Day didn’t stop Shoreline from opening, as I noted for the record, not that I’m bitter or anything. No, not me. I know, I need to put things in perspective and get over it.

We found our Big Bella Heavy Scotch Ale offered for sale in take-home bomber bottles. The brewers aged each batch in bourbon barrels for a year prior to bottling it. They also offered several vintages. I’ve maintained a cellaring program in my home for quite awhile so I thought this would be a fine addition to my collection. We asked about the years available and they listed bottles going all the way back to 2010. There wasn’t any price difference between vintages either. That was a no–brainer. Someone already aged it for me? Of course I went for the 2010. It will be fine some winter evening a few months from now.


And the Rest

We collected a total of eight breweries and brewpubs during this trip. I’m sure I could come up with stories about the remaining five although I’ve run out of space so I’ll simply list them here.

  • Mad Anthony Brewing; Ft. Wayne, Indiana
  • Byway Brewing; Hammond, Indiana
  • Tangled Roots Brewing / Lone Buffalo Restaurant; Ottawa, Illinois
  • Green Tree Brewery; Le Claire, Iowa
  • The Brew Kettle; Strongsville, Ohio

I’d call that another successful tasting adventure.


Articles in the Heartland Series:

  1. Why, oh Why?
  2. How Not to See a City
  3. Foiled by Memorial Day
  4. Beyond Covered
  5. Not Just Farmland
  6. Americana

See Also: The Complete Photo Album on Flickr

Any Excuse for a Road Trip, Part 1 (The Premise)

On April 23, 2017 · 3 Comments

People following Twelve Mile Circle’s Twitter account knew something must be happening. Suddenly tweets tagged to places like Ste. Genevieve and Cape Girardeau in Missouri began to appear on my feed just before Easter. I hadn’t announced the trip ahead of time although I’d been planning it for several weeks.

I’ve been aiding and abetting my wife’s scheme to run a race in all 50 states for quite awhile. Now she wanted to add Missouri, otherwise she’d face an alarmingly obvious Midwestern doughnut hole by the end of the summer. That seemed like a great excuse for me to do some exploring, and I hatched a crazy plan. I had to work most of the week so I’d fly to St. Louis on Friday morning to meet my wife who’d already be there, then we’d drive to Cape Girardeau to be ready for the race the following morning. After the race we’d drive as far as the middle of Ohio, stay overnight, then drive the rest of the way home to Virginia to celebrate Easter with family. A two-day road trip covering a thousand miles (1,600 km) plus a half-marathon, then dealing with dysfunctional relatives? What didn’t sound great about that?


Breaking it Down


Route from Missouri
The Route. New Counties in Dark Blue

All reservations melted away when I discovered that I could tweak the route and add 19 new counties on Saturday while driving only 20 minutes extra. I could also grab five new Missouri counties on Friday. My county counting list would jump by 24 over the course of a single weekend. I plotted a route on the special Mob Rule page that I use for experiments. Previously unvisited counties appeared on my map in dark blue while those I’d visited before appeared in light blue.

I didn’t have a lot of time to play around so the preponderance of new pickups would have to be Interstate Highway counties. That seemed a fair trade-off. I needed to capture them eventually so I might as well take advantage of the opportunity now. The basic route left Missouri, went over to Interstate 57 in Illinois, then to I-64 crossing Indiana, leading to I-71 in Kentucky and Ohio, then on to I-70 heading east out of Ohio, and finally home.

I also added a couple of new "overnight" counties; Cape Girardeau, Missouri and Muskingum County, Ohio . I considered those new members of the gold standard of county county visits. In my mind, staying overnight added a much higher level of prestige and credibility to a capture than simply crossing the border for literally a few seconds as happened with some of the others. I’ve now completed an overnight in 227 counties. I don’t think I could ever finish that odd quest though. It would take 8.6 years to spend the night in every county if I slept in a different one every night until completed. I’m not nearly that obsessive.


Jogging Not Racing


County Jogs
Jogging to Counties

The racing would take place on Saturday morning on foot. However, that still left plenty of time for jogging, and definitely not the kind on foot. Those involved little jogs that I took as we leveraged our proximity to snag a handful of additional counties. Two of those happened on Friday. With minor detours, really just a couple of miles out of the way, I captured Bollinger and Scott Counties in Missouri. The next day I took a similar short diversion and captured Hamilton County, Illinois. As I said to my son, "it would be a crime to come so close to (Bollinger/Scott/Hamilton) and not cross the border." The family collectively rolled their eyes even though I knew they’d appreciate it someday.

Oh, I guess I forgot to mention that the kids participated in this adventure too. They were on spring break from school so mom drove out with them to St. Louis. They took a nice, leisurely route getting there and then they went sightseeing for a few days. Their friends all went to Florida or the Caribbean or Europe, while they had to go county counting in the Heartland. I’m sure their therapist somewhere in the distant future will get an earful. Whatever.

My county counting total stood at 1,390 (or 44.2% of all counties in the United States) as the trip concluded.


Uh Oh, Doughnut Hole


County Left Behind
Pulaski County, Illinois – Doughnut Hole

Solving one problem can sometimes create other problems, and that happened here too. My frenzied pace and inability to deviate much from the most efficient route created a clearly visible doughnut hole. Someday, and I don’t know when, I will need to return to this area to cross the border into Pulaski County, Illinois. However, it will have to stand alone at least for the foreseeable future. Who knows? Maybe someday I’ll find myself unexpectedly near the confluence of the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers again. I never expected a second opportunity only three years after my original visit to the area. Lightning could strike a third time.


Any Excuse for a Road Trip articles:

Purpose
12 Mile Circle:
An Appreciation of Unusual Places
Subscribe
Don't miss an article -
Subscribe to the feed!

RSS G+ Twitter
RSS Twelve Mile Circle Google Plus Twitter
Categories
Monthly Archives
Days with Posts
November 2017
S M T W T F S
« Oct    
 1234
567891011
12131415161718
19202122232425
2627282930