Western Surname

On February 9, 2012 · 3 Comments

I have a small disconnect with the Twelve Mile Circle audience. I’m not much of a puzzle fan, and yet, my articles with challenges embedded within them often create the greatest amount of reader interest, page views and comments. I’m not beyond giving people what they want even though I profess to write 12MC primarily for myself, so I created a contest in the spirit of that sentiment. I’m not sure if it’s fiendishly clever, horribly difficult, overly simple or totally stupid. Enjoy this, or don’t enjoy this, or come back later in the week when I focus on an actual geo-oddity. Any of those is fine with me.

It’s map-based and the title of the article provides a clue. Provide the names of four people suggested by these distinct place names: Blackbutt Reserve; Ghana; Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park and the block of S. San Pedro Street located between W. San Fernando and Post Sts., in San Jose, California. Another clue: each of them relates to a person with a surname that’s also a cardinal direction, West. You’ll need to figure out the names of those four individuals named West.

Don’t scroll any further if you want to try to figure it out on your own. I’ll begin to offer additional clues and walk you through the solutions as we proceed. All but maybe two or three of you probably don’t care anymore so feel free to blow directly past this line and keep reading if you like.

Blackbutt Reserve

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Let’s start with a simple example to show how the puzzle works. Blackbutt Reserve can be found north of Sydney in New South Wales, Australia. That’s not important. However, the map image I’ve provided does reveal the key. Notice a town called Adamstown. Blackbutt Reserve is WEST of Adamstown.

Adam West played Batman on the popular 1960’s television show of the same name.

Is everyone clear on the concept? The geographic place name provided as a clue will be (somewhat) west of the location that provides the person’s first name. Each of them will have West as their surname, and to make this easier they are all listed on Wikipedia’s West Surname page.


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This one should be easy now that you know how to solve the riddle. Ghana is west of what place? Right, the country of Togo. You already learned that every answer will be found on the Wikipedia page. Check the list and you’ll see that Togo West was the Secretary of the Army or the Secretary of Veterans Affairs during the Clinton administration.

This one may have been a bit unfair. I didn’t know much about Togo West either. I selected him solely because he shared a first name with a country.

Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park

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It will be helpful to understand that Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park is labeled on the Google map as Kalahari Gemsbok National Park. Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park crosses international boundaries between South Africa and Botswana. The two components are South Africa’s Kalahari Gemsbok National Park and Botswana’s Gemsbok National Park. Google chooses to use the South African name rather than the combined name.

This one should be solvable now. There aren’t very many places named on the map. Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park is west of… the administrative center of the Southern District of Botswana… population 40,000… wait for it… Kanye. You’ve got the hang of it now. Right, controversial rapper/singer Kanye West.

You don’t know how pleased I was to find a town named Kanye.

S. San Pedro Street between W. San Fernando and Post Sts., in San Jose, California

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Promise me you won’t hate me for this one. Several geek factors will need to click together simultaneously on all cylinders. I will absolutely buy you a beer when we meet in person if you’re able to solve this puzzle without cheating. You’ll also be my geeky hero.

This stretch of S. San Pedro Street runs along the western edge of the building pictured above at 55 S Market Street. It’s known as the Market Post Tower or the Gold Building. It also serves as the location of a major U.S. Internet exchange point, a place where Internet providers physically switch traffic between their networks. This particular building is one of two places in the western United States that comprises the Metropolitan Area Exchange, West. That means that much of the Internet traffic flowing to and through the western United States travels directly through this building. There’s a reasonable chance that any 12MC viewers reading this page from Asia passed packets through here.

Metropolitan Area Exchange, West is abbreviated MAE-West. Mae West (1893-1980) was also an actress and sex symbol from the 1930’s.

Feel free to use the West Surname page to create your own puzzling questions.

On February 9, 2012 · 3 Comments

3 Responses to “Western Surname”

  1. Jerrod says:

    Kgalagadi is also west of the city of Nigel, S.A.

  2. Steve says:

    I saw that Mole is west of Tamale in Ghana. I like mole sauce with my tamales.

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