Ten Years of 12MC

On November 5, 2017 · 24 Comments

Ten years is a long time to do anything. I knew this day would finally come and I’ve watched it looming on the horizon for the last several months, with decidedly mixed feelings.



Scenes from Within the Twelve Mile Circle

The very first article on Twelve Mile Circle appeared on November 6, 2007. I never suspected this site would last another decade. I’ll bet it probably survived longer than 99% of blogs, a steady stream of articles as the years quickly passed. I watched my older son go from kindergarten to high school during that period, and my younger son from diapers to middle school. Somehow the list of potential topics in the hopper always hovered around a hundred and I never suffered from writer’s block.


That’s a Wrap


Irish Tripoint
Irish Tripoint

Every good thing must come to an end eventually and the tenth anniversary seemed like a nice place to pull the plug. Originally I planned to take this thing out to twelve years so I could say 12MC went "full circle." However, last summer when I repeated an article, it flipped a mental switch within me. I knew I needed to wrap this thing up. The details for this decision don’t really matter. My life is a lot more complicated now than it was ten years ago and it’s become increasingly difficult to find enough time to put the necessary quality into each article. I’ll leave it at that. I probably should have done it sooner.


12MC Won’t Disappear Completely


Center of the Nation
Center of the Nation

Twelve Mile Circle won’t be updated twice a week anymore. I’m going to take a break for awhile and when I’m ready I’ll start publishing again. That may not happen until after the holidays. I’m not sure. Maybe something really interesting will come up before then and I’ll want to share it.

It won’t be the same site, though. Future articles will cover things like my travel adventures and my county counting efforts. They will include periodic updates on my numerous obsessive-compulsive lists (like ferries, lighthouses, breweries, fortresses, and waterfalls). Also, be assured that anytime I personally visit a notable geo-oddity I’ll want to rush to the keyboard to tell everyone about it. Even so, I won’t be posting regularly. Articles will appear on their own schedule, when I feel like it.

What readers won’t see, however, are the types of articles that served as the backbone of this site for all these years. That’s what most people came here to see so I apologize in advance because I’m sure I’ll disappoint a lot of you with the new direction. I’ll always have that back catalog of 1,409 articles in the Complete Index though. Hopefully that will ease the pain a bit.


Keeping in Touch


Jerimoth Hill
Rhode Island Elevation Highpoint

Some of you may still want to follow along. It probably won’t make sense to check the front page looking for new articles. Updates won’t happen that often. I’ll suggest some ways to follow along, though. New articles links will always be posted on the world’s lamest twitter account, TheReal12MC. You can also use an old school News Reader to subscribe to the RSS feed. Or we can part ways amicably with no hard feelings.


A Big Thank You


Four Corners
Four Corners AZ, CO, NM, UT

Twelve Mile Circle was always my own thing. I wrote it specifically as a way to get away from the stress of the outside world while pursuing a few natural curiosities. This never became a popularity contest, of trying to attract the greatest number of eyeballs. It always amazed me that anyone else would ever want to read it at all, much less follow it faithfully. I appreciated all of the thoughtful and respectful comments too. In all of those years I had to block only a single troll from the site.

I’m glad many of you enjoyed the last decade and maybe a few of you will even stick around for what’s to follow. I wish each of you the best and hope your personal pursuit of geo-oddities brings a lifetime of joy.

On November 5, 2017 · 24 Comments

24 Responses to “Ten Years of 12MC”

  1. Nooooooo! I’m glad to hear that you won’t be stopping completely, but I’ll definitely miss the twice-weekly posts. Post when you can and know that you have readers waiting when you do!

  2. The Basement Geographer says:

    Thanks for an awesome decade of 12MC, Tom. Best of luck in the future. I’ll still be keeping one eye open in my RSS feeds for sure.

  3. Ben says:

    Thank you for putting countless hours into the site and sharing years of geographic nerddom. Your work has helped turn my general love of geography into a full-on county counting obsession. Would love to buy you a beer any time you make it to Dallas.

  4. January First-of-May says:

    …I’m not even sure what to say. That’s really sad.
    (The slowing-down and especially the topic change, I mean. The hiatus is sad too, but I understand the reason for it.)
    (Were you by any chance inspired by Times Like This? That webcomic did a similar thing recently. Though even they didn’t do the “changing the topic” thing.)

    Twelve Mile Circle had been a regular feature in my life for the last several years.
    I know I hadn’t seen all the articles, and unless I randomly end up on all of them separately I probably never will now – there’s just no reason for me to go on a binge any more. But even so, I tried my best to check out every new one.
    (I’ll try to continue following the remnant 12MC, but I’ve never been that interested in breweries, and my US county count is zero and likely to stay there for the foreseeable future, so it’s very possible that even what you do post will be a lot more boring for me than it used to be earlier.)

    …I’ve been working on a possible 12MC guest article occasionally over the last few years as well. I’m fairly sure it will never be finished now, because it is completely out of tune with the new direction (not unless you end up visiting me in Russia, anyway).

    (And, “world’s lamest Twitter account”? Seriously? Believe me, there’s a lot of competition on that front.)

    (P.S. I still like you, incidentally. Hopefully you will get back to your old geo-oddity theme eventually. But I still like you anyway.)

  5. Ewan says:

    As soon as I started reading this I feared the worst. All I can think to say is “So long, and thanks for all the fish”… you’ll stay on my RSS feed, I’ll still delve randomly into the archives, and I look forward to the occasional post. With appreciation from London (actually, technically, from Köln Airport at this minute in time)

  6. Steve Drake says:

    Thanks for all the great posts! I’ll miss the regular articles, but will enjoy what I can in the future. Good luck with your future endeavors!

  7. David F-H says:

    Mixed feelings indeed.

    Thank you for sharing your passion, for making it clear geo-oddies could be a passion…

    Now when I tell someone what my favorite geography blog is… I’ll have to come up with a new one.

    Best of luck with county counting, with fathering, and with wherever your travels take you. I look forward to seeing parts of that all too.

    Good luck and thanks.

  8. Peter says:

    Congratulations on this milestone. Thanks for creating this great blog; it’s had some of my favorite posts on the ‘net. Wishing you well in whatever comes next for you! 🙂

  9. Joe says:

    Way to ruin my Sunday! (just kidding…kind of). On a more serious note, I can completely understand the decision and am thankful that you took the time to put out all of the articles that you did. So many of us are sad that you have reached https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roads_End,_California, but we wish you success and happiness in your non-12MC life.

  10. Mike Lowe says:

    Thank you for my favorite geography blog. I believe I have been reading since late 2007 or early 2008. I started reading with an infant son. Now he is a 4th grader.

    I guess I will check in occasionally to look for new stories. I don’t do Twitter.

    Good luck and have fun getting more counties.

  11. Rhodent says:

    Well, damn.

    I discovered this site somewhere around five or six years. At first I found a couple of interesting old articles and read them, and then I just took the plunge and started going through everything until I was caught up. Since then I’ve been following it fairly closely…not necessarily checking in every week, but rarely going more than a couple of weeks without doing so. For the past year or so, I’ve been checking it daily because I could never remember which days were update days and it was just easier to look every day.

    I’m gonna miss having this blog to check out every few days. Thanks for all the great posts, and best of luck with future endeavors.

  12. Count George says:

    I’m genuinely saddened to read this, but I understand. I will keep looking forward to seeing future posts – they’ll be rarer, but we’ll know you’ve posted them out of sheer joy for the subject.

    You’ve inspired me, by going places just cause you’ve never been, by taking routes just cause there’s a curiosity on the way and by counting your counties, just to fill the map.
    I’ve started counting too: countries and borders and cities and provinces – I’m European. I’ve actually got a daughter on the way, and ever since we started planning a family, I’ve been looking forward to taking her on roadtrips, adding little detours and stops just cause there’s a story waiting at the end of the road. If she ever complains, I’ll be sure to tell her who’s the culprit.

    And whenever I’ll see a covered bridge, I’ll think of your website.

  13. Scott Surgent says:

    Yours was and is a unique, informative and brilliantly-rendered website, an air-conditioned room in the hot, muggy thing called the internet these days. I enjoyed very much all of your articles, happy to know that others share a fascination with geo-political boundaries and the oddities they cause. I could say “I thought I was the only one”, and I think everyone else would have said that, too.

    You have earned the right to go out on a high note, and rest assured that your site was an important stop for me, and for many others. Have fun, and I will check in periodically to see what new interesting stuff you have posted.

  14. Cary says:

    All good things must come to an end. I’m sad for the decision but happy for your next step. I imagine it must take a toll to feel the pressure of publishing a quality blog post several times a week.

    May you enjoy the break and hope you found the copyright trap I put in the map!

  15. Aaron O'Neill says:

    I discovered your blog 7 years ago, as a sophomore in high school. Now, I’m in grad school and I can genuinely say that this blog has had a huge impact on my life. Without it, I wouldn’t have developed the passion for collecting counties that has become one of my main hobbies. I wouldn’t have realized that there was a community out there with such similar interests to mine in the Extra-Miler Club, which one of your articles introduced me to. Heck, even the brewery articles gave me something new to count when I turned twenty-one!

    I’ll truly miss reading your content twice a week. You answered questions I never knew I had, and even wrote articles about questions I sent you a couple of times! I’ll never forget how happy I was to see a whole article on Newton and Jasper after posing what I thought was a pretty mundane question. Really, I can’t thank you enough for everything.

    Now that I can’t waste time at work reading your articles, I’ll have to find something else to do. Maybe I’ll try my hand at writing my own geography blog; something has to scratch that itch! If you’re up for it, I’d love to know what your most common sources were when figuring out the origins of geographical oddities in your articles.

    Best of luck in your future travels and endeavors! I’m sure that I’m one of many readers that you’ve affected so deeply throughout the years. If you’re ever in the New Orleans area, feel free to shoot me an e-mail! I’d love to buy you a beer for the many years of fun.

    • Aaron, the hard part was always coming up with topics. I trained myself to write down promising topics in a spreadsheet anytime I encountered them. I tried to stay away from things already in the news, too. I wanted to be unique. Relentless Internet searching took care of the rest; I became very adept at learning how to use Google’s specialized search settings to dig down deep into hidden corners. I’d start by collecting links in the draft before I ever started writing. This would help me gain a general understanding of the topic and organize my approach. Good sources often included the websites of towns I might be targeting (most of them had a “history” tab), local historical society pages, and specialized genealogy sites. Wikipedia could also provide an overview or help organize my thoughts although I usually strayed far beyond its reach. It was funny how often I came across sites that cut-and-pasted directly from Wikipedia. I wanted my work to be original. Usually a theme began to emerge as I collected links, sometimes in completely unexpected directions. Maybe one of the sites mentioned some weird, completely obscure fact and that could lead me to scrap the original premise entirely and move in a new direction. I’m not sure there were any secrets other than being genuinely curious and persistent. Let me know if you do try it out — I’ll become your first follower.

  16. Fritz Keppler says:

    Thank you so much for all your work and interesting articles, and for having been kind enough to do the interview back in 2011. I’ll miss the blog a lot, but I understand that all good things…. etc. Really appreciate all you have done.

  17. Ken Saldi says:

    I used to not know that I had an interest in maps and one day I stumbled upon the concept of the 12 Mile Circle and your site soon followed. It opened my eyes to how much I truly enjoyed cartography and the unique lines that shape this world.

    From your site, I found county counting sites, other blogs and so much more. The 12 mile circle was the start of a beautiful journey for me.

    I remember the few times that I was mentioned in your articles like a badge of honor. I would be happy for days simply on that little bit of fame.

    Often times we don’t realize how our actions affect others, you truly inspired a love of maps in me that now takes up quite a bit of my free time. Thank you so much for that.

    I wish you all the best in everything that you do and I hope that you and everyone here finds more geo oddities.

    Again, thanks!!

  18. Dan Sachs says:

    Long time reader, first time poster. Thanks for all the good times; you’ll be missed.

  19. Katy says:

    Thank you for 10 years of interesting and thought-provoking posts! I can’t recall a more enjoyable blog and insight into the little geographic idiosyncrasies that we hadn’t realized before! As many readers have already expressed, your regular posts will be missed but I’m looking forward to what’s ahead for you and your blog.

  20. Matt says:

    I’ve been reading your site for the majority of the 10 years. And I understand the importance of the milestone – my oldest child is exactly one week younger than this blog and celebrates her 10th birthday on November 13. You’ve been in my RSS reader for years (and one of my Twitter follows too) and will continue to be. As I tell co-workers whom I particularly appreciate when they announce they’re taking a new job, “I’m not happy you’re leaving, but I am happy for you.” Thanks!

  21. Joel says:

    Thank you for 10 years of a wonderful, consistently enjoyable blog. You’ve certainly earned a break after all you’ve given us. Please take all the time you need.

    I expect I’ll enjoy the new stuff just as much – and I also expect I’m not alone!

    Joel
    Somerville MA USA
    (the densest city in New England!)

  22. James D says:

    Wow, we’ve been enjoying geo-oddities for how long? Congrats on the ten years and hope the next decade is just as interesting.

  23. Ethan W. says:

    I’m sorry to hear the news, but I do understand. I came here tonight actually to see if you had ever written an article on the Tuli Circle in Zimbabwe. It’s fitting that it is actual 10 Mile Circle and you are finishing after 10 years. Best of luck and keep counting those counties. Remember, why else would they call them counties if they didn’t want us to count them?

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