Smells have a way of sticking with people. Everyone knows when they drive past a petrochemical factory, a paper mill, a landfill or a sewage treatment plant. The geographic location becomes lodged in one’s mind with a full set of highly-charged negative associations. I’m going to toss all of those aside. Instead I’m flipping the equation by recalling my favorite spots along the roadways that actually smell nice.
Smell is highly subjective so places that invoke a strong positive reaction with me might annoy or even offend others. Enjoy the scents I mention or plug your nose. Either is fine. I don’t mind. Then feel free to mention your favorite roadside olfactory memories and their locations.
SOURCE: Flickr by “Scott Beale/Laughing Squid”
via Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0) license
I used to attend an annual event each summer in Hershey, Pennsylvania (map) which is indeed the corporate headquarters location of the Hershey Company, the maker of those famous chocolates of the same name. Milton Hershey founded the company in the early 20th Century and built a chocolate factory in his hometown, Derry Church. The town changed its name to Hershey later as the chocolate company became so successful it literally put the settlement on the map.
Factory tours are not readily available to the general public. The closest an average tourist such as I could get to that cocoa nirvana was visiting Chocolate World, a simulated factory tour. Nonetheless, tiny chocolate-scented molecules escaped and permeated the town, and one could get a wonderful Hershey whiff if one were lucky.
Freshly Cured Tobacco
SOURCE: Flickr by bankbrian via Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0) license
I am NOT a smoker. I’d really rather not breathe someone else’s secondhand cigarette smoke either and I’ve become increasingly sensitive to the odor as fewer and fewer places allow public smoking. Freshly cured tobacco, however, is a completely different story. I described my olfactory enjoyment in a previous 12MC article about a Virginia Smoking Ban, encountered outside of the Philip Morris – Altria plant (map):
I used to drive the length of Interstate 95 through Virginia frequently. I recall the smell of tobacco as I drove through the area south of Richmond. This wasn’t burning tobacco or cigarette smoke, but rather the sweet smell of tobacco going through the manufacturing process. It’s a smell I suppose one either loves or hates — I rather enjoyed it — but it’s difficult to miss as one passes through this section of the Interstate. The smell can be detected before one actually sees the cigarette logo spire in front of the massive Richmond Manufacturing Center of the Philip Morris company.
I does seem strange that I enjoy the odor of an unburned product while completely disliking its smoke. I can’t begin to reconcile it.
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I’m with Homer Simpson on this one. A doughnut smell will start a drool reflex with me. Remember the Krispy Kreme craze that was all the rage a few years ago? That one seemed strange to me at the time. Krispy Kreme had been a fixture for my entire life because I’ve always been a resident of a southern state.
It was a pleasure to drive by the Krispy Kreme on Richmond Highway in northern Virginia, then notice the Hot Light turned on (meaning fresh donuts) and catch a whiff from the roadside. It was practically a right of passage to stop by after a night on the town and finish the evening with a deep-fried sugary treat.
For example, my visit to the Harpoon Brewery in Windsor, Vermont (map)
Now I’m really getting excited. Have you ever driven past a brewery or brewpub when brewing was in progress? Aromas do manage to escape into the atmosphere in sufficient quantities to detect during the boiling process. It’s like a siren song compelling me to stop for a sampler, or more.
I guess that says a lot about me. My most memorable drive-by odors seem to be chocolate, tobacco, doughnuts and beer.
Green River Island is one of those places that seems to belong to the wrong state. In this instance it feels like it should be part of Indiana but it’s actually part of Kentucky instead. It hardly seems like an island either although vestiges of its old topography continue to remain visible. Rather, the "island" has attached rather firmly to Indiana with no physical connectivity to Kentucky. It’s an exclave, albeit an accessible one for Kentuckians via the Route 41 bridge over the Ohio River.
Green River Island is also a bit of a misnomer. It’s definitely within the Ohio River, however the Green River confluence occurs on the opposite riverbank near its southeastern tip (map). That provides the name.
View Green River Island in a larger map
Big deal, an astute 12MC reader might conclude and with good reason. The major rivers of the vast North American interior — the Mississippi, Missouri and Ohio — are known to change course in various places along their routes from time-to-time. Early leaders established state boundaries along those mighty watercourses and now we have to live with the consequences, a bunch of residual chunks of land on the "wrong" sides of the rivers. It’s completely commonplace after the passage of two centuries. Why even mention Green River Island?
I agree. It’s happened in dozens if not hundreds of spots. However, few instances have led to a precedence-setting Supreme Court decision like Green River Island did in 1890. The Supreme Court has original jurisdiction in disputes that cannot be resolved between individual states (Article III. Section 2.: "In all Cases affecting Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls, and those in which a State shall be Party, the Supreme Court shall have original Jurisdiction.") so it got involved directly in this mess and reached a definitive conclusion. The court ruled that Green River Island was part of Kentucky.
My interests are odd, I know, and I rather enjoy reading through geography-related Supreme Court decisions such as Indiana v. Kentucky. Let me see if I can summarize the logic behind the Court’s decision and put it into easy-to-understand English:
- This entire area was part of Virginia’s original colonial charter.
- Virginia relinquished its colonial claim to all land northwest of the Ohio River to the nascent United States government, which accepted it in 1784. However, the Ohio River was not part of the bargain. Virginia retained the river and ceded only the land northwest of it.
- Virginia ceded even more of its territory in 1789 to from the new state of Kentucky which entered the Union in 1792. The adjacent Ohio River conveyed to Kentucky since it was Virginia territory prior to that. The Kentucky border was set at the low-water mark on the far side of the river.
- Green River Island was indeed an island when Kentucky became a state. Surveys conducted at the time confirmed this condition and fixed the border accordingly.
- Indiana became a state in 1816. Its southern border was set at the Kentucky border.
- Indiana started to question Kentucky’s ownership of Green River Island in the 1870′s. It compiled anecdotal evidence to suggest that the so-called Island had been connected to mainland Indiana for at least parts of the year when Indiana became a state. Thus, it must be part of Indiana.
- The Court disagreed with Indiana. Green River Island was originally part of Kentucky. That remained the case even thought the channel silted-up over time. And by the way, Indiana shouldn’t have waited several decades to start complaining either.
As the Supreme Court said in 1890:
Our conclusion is, that the waters of the Ohio River, when Kentucky became a State, flowed in a channel north of the tract known as Green River Island, and that the jurisdiction of Kentucky at that time extended, and ever since has extended, to what was then low-water mark on the north side of that channel, and the boundary between Kentucky and Indiana must run on that line, as nearly as it can now be ascertained, after the channel has been filled.
"Indiana v Kentucky" continues to be cited as precedence for an entire class of internal U.S. border disputes up to the present. It also resulted in some interesting implications on the ground over time. Green River Island, Kentucky is situated directly outside of Evansville, the largest city in southern Indiana.
We’ve seen before what can happen at a border between jurisdictions with different levels of taxation or permissiveness. Green River Island caters to a couple of different vices.
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Indiana didn’t have any horse racing tracks or parimutuel betting until a couple of decades ago and Kentucky, well, Kentucky had its famous Derby and a huge entrenched horse racing industry. It didn’t take a genius to sense a business opportunity. Sure enough, the Ellis Park horse track sprouted on Green River Island in 1922 where it remains to this day. The island sits at the doorstep of a metropolitan area with upwards of 350,000 residents.
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Gambling wasn’t the only vice-based business opportunity on Green River Island. I zoomed-in on the northern tip and found another: Marina Pointe Tobacco Outlet. It maintains an Indiana address according to its website (1827 Waterworks Road, Evansville, IN) BUT it also advertises "Kentucky Prices." It appears that the smoke shop actually sits on the Kentucky side of the border. I checked a USGS topographic map and it appears the border drawn by Google Maps is essentially correct in spite of the oddly-placed road. As the website explains, "Ed knew way too many people who were making a weekly pilgrimage across the Ohio River to save a few dollars on tobacco, and he decided to do something about it."
Indeed, cigarette excise taxes vary greatly by state. A carton of cigarettes in Kentucky will cost almost $4 less than an identical carton in Indiana due solely to tax rate differences.
I found one other interesting feature on Green River Island where the state border cuts through its present-day tip. This has absolutely nothing to do with vices or business opportunities. Rather, it’s a museum, the USS LST Ship Memorial: "The LST (Landing Ship, Tank) is an amphibious vessel designed to land battle-ready tanks, troops and supplies directly onto enemy shores." The ship moored at the museum is the LST-325 and it served in World War II, Arctic operations and the Greek Navy before coming to the museum in 2000.
Thus, the museum is in Indiana while the ship itself is in Kentucky!
I’m going to have to add Green River Island to the list of places I hope to visit someday.
A smoking ban in Virginia restaurants will begin in a few days, on December 1, 2009. Virginia does not allow standalone bars — an establishment must attribute a significant percentage of sales to food in order to maintain a liquor license — so the ban extends broadly and deeply across the state. It includes several exemptions so it’s not the most stringent of bans possible, as an example it allows smoking in separately ventilated spaces, but the mere fact that it exists is itself remarkable. Think of Virginia and tobacco often comes to mind. The two are completely intertwined historically and culturally.
SOURCE: Virginia Places
Virginia is a tobacco state. This reaches back to the earliest days of its history when John Rolfe first cultivated tobacco in Jamestown, Virginia in 1612. That was just a few years after the initial English settlement of the North America colonies began and probably saved Jamestown itself. Thereafter tobacco dominated Virginia agricultural for more than three centuries.
Farmers still harvest tobacco in Virginia today primarily in the southern and southwestern parts of the state. Notice the two distinct yellow blobs on the map. The Blue Ridge Mountains, a part of the Appalachians, separate the two primary tobacco growing regions. Bright or flue-cured tobacco dominates the region east of the Blue Ridge while burley grows to the west. There are two other types grown in Virginia, fire-cured and sun-cured, but in much smaller quantities. The crop came in at greater than 45 million pounds in 2008.
What is less visible perhaps, and what makes the smoking ban a little more understandable, is the waning influence of tobacco in Virginia. Production has eroded steadily. The crop was nearly 90 million pounds ten years ago, or roughly double what it is today. Tobacco accounts for less than six percent of agricultural cash receipts in the state currently, and five other commodities produce greater revenue.
Naturally the Virginia economy is much larger than agriculture alone. The northern part of the state in particular continuess to boom in population, and those new residents are not farmers. Tobacco, once emblematic and iconic of Virginia, now fades into the background.
However, tobacco isn’t dead in Virginia and the industry does continue to maintain a degree of power and influence. Of the several exceptions contained in the ban, I found one particularly quirky: "any restaurant located on the premises of any manufacturer of tobacco products" is specifically exempted. So any smoker fortunate enough to work for a tobacco manufacturer can continue to puff away in the company cafeteria.
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I wondered how often that might actually happen so I went to the maps. I used to drive the length of Interstate 95 through Virginia frequently. I recall the smell of tobacco as I drove through the area south of Richmond. This wasn’t burning tobacco or cigarette smoke, but rather the sweet smell of tobacco going through the manufacturing process. It’s a smell I suppose one either loves or hates — I rather enjoyed it — but it’s difficult to miss as one passes through this section of the Interstate. The smell can be detected before one actually sees the cigarette logo spire in front of the massive Richmond Manufacturing Center of the Philip Morris company.
Every day they produce 600 million cigarettes on their two-hundred acre site. They also have facilities in nearby Chester adjacent to the historic Bermuda Hundred, and in York near Williamsburg. I am going to guess that each of those is probably large enough to have an on-site dining facility that’s exempt from the ban.
I figured Philip Morris was the main beneficiary of the exception but I wondered if there might be others. I’m not a smoker so I’d never delved into this world before, but I found that there are actually a fair number of resources available to try to determine an answer. I looked at the U.S. Tobacco Cooperative website. I also found a great page on Google Answers dealing with small, independent U.S. Cigarette Manufacturers. There are probably a number of places in Virginia where the exception applies.
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S&M Brands Inc., a small family-owned company, produces cigarettes under the Bailey’s name just outside of Keysville, Virginia. I managed to find it on a map without too much difficulty and produced the Street View image displayed above. This facility looks large enough to possibly have on-site dining. I don’t know — maybe someone from Bailey’s will find this article someday and set the record straight.
Bailey’s is a boutique brand of high-quality cigarettes. Until I started researching this post I never knew such a thing existed, and I’d always just thought of monolithic Big Tobacco. I guess it’s not that much different from the microbrewery movement I’ve been following closely for a number of years, or the small-batch bourbon whiskey revolution for that matter. I’m not going to get all judgmental as to whether someone should partake or not. Frankly I don’t care as long as I don’t have to breath-in someone else’s second hand smoke. We all make our own choices and select our own vices, and in that context perhaps a certain level of quality makes sense.
I found another possible candidate where the exception might exist. Cherokee Tobacco is located at the South Boston Industrial Park in Halifax County, Virginia. I tried to find it on Street View, and hunted all through that industrial park, but I’ll be darned if I could see it. Maybe you’ll have more luck.
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It’s somewhere in here
Before I close this out I wanted to mention one other thing. We’ve all heard of and used Wikipedia. However I’d imagine few of us have encountered a wiki known as Cigarettespedia. I mention it primarily because I liked its logo. Rather than a globe as a jigsaw puzzle it’s a cigarette box.