Webby Finds

On September 17, 2013 · Comments Off on Webby Finds

I can’t seem to make a dent in my list of potential Twelve Mile Circle articles. I keep writing steadily and in the process I run into several more morsels that go onto a never-ending pile. It’s become a perpetual motion machine.

I’m going to do something I haven’t done in a very long time. I’ll featuring some obscure and beloved websites. The last time I devoted an entire article to something like this was all the way back in March 2010 and even then I did it with some trepidation. Websites tend to come-and-go, and those recommended by 12MC don’t seem to fare well after I mention them. In fact, I’m pretty sure a 12MC endorsement is pretty much a death knell. Nonetheless, the sites I’ll feature are very well established with prospects of solid longevity. Maybe we’ll break the curse. Either way, at least I can place check marks next to three entries on my overflowing topic list in a single shot and call them done.

Odd Wisconsin

Wisconsin State Capitol
Wisconsin State Capitol by howderfamily.com
"not fit for any civilized nation of people to inhabit."

The Wisconsin Historical Society publishes Odd Wisconsin in blog format about once a week, beginning about a year ago. It hits on three of my interests: geography; history and weirdness. As they note, their mission is to "Amuse, surprise, perplex, astonish, and otherwise connect you with your past." They "lower a bucket into the depths of Wisconsin history and bring to light curious fragments of forgotten lives."

That bucket has been lowered into some rather interesting places. I’ve learned:

  • The Madison area — the site of the state capital since 1836 — was once described as "not fit for any civilized nation of people to inhabit."
  • Wisconsin and beer are practically synonymous, and several American brewing empires traced their origin to the state. Nonetheless beer almost became illegal during the early years of statehood. Voters passed a prohibition referendum in 1853 and it failed only because the state legislature didn’t endorse it.
  • One area could have become Petersylvania; no, not Pennsylvania, Petersylvania after Rev. Samuel Peters.
  • The town of Dekorra was poised by geographic happenstance to become a major settlement like Madison or Milwaukee. Never heard of it? Exactly.

Bridge Hunter

trestle looking down
Trestle looking down by ken ratcliff, on Flickr
via Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0) license
Niobrara River Cowboy Trail Bridge

I could get lost on bridgehunter.com for days, just drilling down randomly on the 30,000+ bridges contained on its pages. Contributors add bunches of new ones to the site every day. Almost three hundred vertical lift bridges? Simply mind-blowing. I could also feast on 600+ tunnels or nearly a hundred ferries listings if I ever grew tired of bridges, too.

Let’s try it out. Say, I want to see only Nebraska bridges and then select Cherry County from the clickable map. The Niobrara River Cowboy Trail Bridge looks promising, and there it is with four photographs, a Google Street View image, lat/long coordinates and various vital statistics. Just like that, I learned about an old Chicago & Northwestern railroad trestle (map) that was converted to pedestrian use as part of the Cowboy Trail, which is a Rails-to-Trails project. Now I’ll have something interesting to do when I visit Nebraska’s largest county. There are thousands of possibilities like that simply waiting to be discovered on the site.

I wonder if the website attracts the wrong crowd sometimes. The URL is only a single letter away from Bride Hunter. Lonely-hearts with bad typing skills in search of mail order brides might arrive on the site only to leave disappointed.

Virginia Places

Veramar Vineyard Berryville

Veramar Vineyard
12MC Visits Lots of Virginia Places

I’ve used Virginia Places as a reference for years. It is copyright © 1998-2013 so I guess the owner continues to maintain its content even thought the formatting seems to be stuck in 1998. Virginia Places serves as a reference for a geography class at George Mason University (Geography of Virginia – GGS380) so signs look promising for it to stick around for awhile.

The index page includes that annoying, anonymous Virginia quote that one sees scattered throughout the Commonwealth: "To be a Virginian either by Birth, Marriage, Adoption, or even on one’s Mother’s side is an Introduction to any State in the Union, a Passport to any Foreign Country, and a Benediction from Above." Whatever. I’ll forgive Virginia Places for that brief transgression because I like leafing through the rest of its pages.

Completely Unrelated

Remember last year when I served as a chauffeur for someone participating in the Dust Bowl Marathon Series? My participant selected the half-marathon option, so only half-crazy.

We’re doing it again. This time it will be the Riverboat Marathon Series (Kentucky, Tennessee, Arkansas, Mississippi, Louisiana), April 12-16, 2014. That gives all of you plenty of time to get in shape and join us for one or more of the races. I’m already salivating over the number of counties I’ll capture.

On September 17, 2013 · Comments Off on Webby Finds

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An Appreciation of Unusual Places
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