That’s Tales from Dale, which should not be confused with Dale’s Pale Ale from Oskar Blues, a brewery that is credited with jump-starting the microbrewery canning revolution. I happened to visit Oskar Blues long before their cans ever reached the East Cost, a bit of zymurgy trivia that makes me happy. I’ve now gone completely down the rabbit hole on a tangent so let’s get this article back on track.
Dale Sanderson(1) of US Ends.com contacted me recently with a couple of unusual observations. Have you seen his site before? He explains its purpose as striving to "provide photos and descriptions of current and historic US highway endpoints, and to provide maps that show each US highway in the context of its ‘route family’." Thus, Dale has solid geo-oddity credentials and I’m inclined to take note when something catches his attention. My curiosity piqued when he mentioned the anomalies. I didn’t know about them ahead of time so his discoveries were new to me and much appreciated.
Flickr by paige_eliz via Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0) license
Recently 12MC focused on Oklahoma City and a pattern of growth that resulted in its borders sprawling across four counties. Dale drilled down and noticed that there were several smaller towns completely embedded within the boundaries of Oklahoma City. Upon further investigation he discovered that one of those embedded towns, Bethany, had an even smaller town, Woodlawn Park, completely embedded within it. Like a matryoshka — the famous Russian nesting doll — Woodlawn Park nests within Bethany which nests within Oklahoma City. It’s an enclave within an enclave.
View OKC, Bethany and Woodlawn Park in a larger map
How did this odd situation arise? Let’s start with Bethany, a town that incorporated in 1910. As described in the Oklahoma Historical Society "Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture, Bethany "continued as a small, rural town dependent upon support from surrounding farm lands" from its founding until the 1940’s. The historic Route 66 ran through Bethany so the town benefited from transient visitors to a degree although it didn’t start growing rapidly until the nation began to mobilize for the Second World War.
The Society’s Encyclopedia also discussed Woodlawn Park which incorporated in 1952. That happened specifically to avoid Bethany’s expansion and encroachment. Woodlawn Park is a tiny rectangle of about eighty-one acres. Nonetheless it’s an incorporated town run by an elected board of trustees. I went into Street View and saw houses and only houses within its boundaries. There didn’t appear to be a single businesses within the town (unless they’re home-based businesses and hidden from view). Clearly it’s a bedroom community. Woodlawn Park also doesn’t operate any of its own city services. The Encyclopedia notes that services are provided under arrangement either from Bethany or Oklahoma City.
Eventually Oklahoma City grew around Bethany, which had already grown around Woodlawn Park, resulting in the unusual situation Dale observed. I don’t know if this is a unique situation so I’ll turn it over to the 12MC audience. Is anyone aware of other matryoshka towns?
Dale also mentioned McKissick Island, Nebraska
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McKissick Island is one of those places where the Missouri River shifted and left part of a state on the "wrong" side of the river. There are lots of places just like that along the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers, however this one is a practical exlave with a twist. The island sits fairly close to the Iowa, Missouri, Nebraska (IAMONE) tripoint. If people want to drive to McKissick Island from the rest of Nebraska, they have to drive through two other states first, Iowa and Missouri.
Dale said he’d heard about the oddity from someone else. I hadn’t seen it before so I’ll still give him credit in my mind.
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I’m not sure how I missed McKissick Island’s practical exclave. I used to travel near there very frequently until a few years ago. I blame it on Carter Lake, which is just a little farther north next to Omaha. I used to take great delight when I picked family up at the airport simply so I could drive them through that little stranded neck of Iowa.
Thank you, Dale. Please keep the great oddities coming!
Mark your calendars: The much anticipated re-launching of Basement Geographer happens on June 1!