Zig Zag

On September 11, 2012 · 5 Comments

What was that 1980’s song, "One Thing Leads to Another?" Right. You know the one. Put that on in the background and use that as our Twelve Mile Circle theme song for the day.

I mentioned my frantic search to resolve a Move the Road dilemma that was solved soon thereafter by the loyal 12MC audience. I attempted all kinds of crazy catch-phrases within various search engines during my initial attempts before I admitted failure and gave up. One was "Zig Zag" and that is where the theme song comes in. I didn’t solve any of my immediate needs however one thing led to another. It provided fodder for a completely different article.



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For example, it led me to the Zigzag Ranger District in Zigzag, Oregon, along the Zigzag River.

I came oh-so-close to Zigzag during my recent trip to Oregon. Had I remained on Route 26 heading towards Portland for another 15 miles instead of turning north towards Hood River I would have driven directly through Zigzag. I’ll have to add this to my ever-growing list of travel frustrations and lost opportunities.

The Ranger Station and District in the Mount Hood National Forest as well as the town of Zigzag are both named for the Zigzag River. One might be inclined to think that this must be one incredibly twisting, winding river, however it’s no more remarkable in that respect than other tributaries nearby. It is believed that it may have had more to do with a trail that led down to and across the river that was used by American pioneers who started moving through the area in the mid-Nineteenth Century.

Zigzag, Oregon was the only populated zigzag place that I could find. There were, however, many different roads carrying the same distinction. I marked several of them with particularly nice squiggles. I began to appreciate them as much from an aesthetic perspective as from a geographic one.



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I really liked Zig Zag Road in Blue Ash, Ohio. This one represented complete truth in advertising without any false pretenses. Notice all the different zigs and zags!

It also prompted me to wonder about Blue Ash more specifically (sing it again: one thing leads to another). What would cause blue ash? I had visions of burnt toxic waste. It turns out it’s a tree. Maybe you knew that. I didn’t. I’ve never claimed to be an arborist. As the town of Blue Ash explains:

The first building in Blue Ash, Carpenter’s Run Baptist Church, once located near where the Plainfield and Cooper Roads intersection is today, was constructed from the logs of Blue Ash trees. Blue Ash trees were also useful to the early settlers because a blue dye could be extracted from the bark.

I’m not sure I could identify an ash on my own, blue or otherwise.



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Then I jumped to Australia and found a Zig Zag Road in Calder, Tasmania. I featured this example because Tasmania doesn’t often make it into the Twelve Mile Circle and because it seemed to have the requisite curvy shape.

However I found another Zig Zag Road northwest of Melbourne, Victoria (map). It’s not very zig-zaggy although it does have the distinction of having its own vineyard, Zig Zag Rd. Wines.

Established in 1972, 540 metres above sea level, Zig Zag Wines is one of the earliest vineyards in the Macedon Ranges Region. The un-irrigated vines are grown in red volcanic clay soil, (local to the region) coupled with cold climate, produce grapes with intense, distinct flavours.

That’s pretty special. An entire line of wines named after the road.



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New Zealand? Sure, New Zealand has at least one Zig Zag Road. This one can be found west of Christchurch. I don’t know much more about it other than it looks like the curves come courtesy of switchbacks as the road climbs up from the Rakaia River gorge.



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I think my favorite Zig Zag Road must be the one in Surrey, England, and not because it’s located near a town named Dorking. I’m certainly familiar with Dork. Given that, what would be dorking exactly?

No, it’s because this Zig Zag Road just made a prominent guest appearance in the 2012 Olympics.

[Zig Zag Road]… has been popular with cyclists since the 1880s. The road is a steady climb of 120 metres (390 ft) over 2.5 kilometres (1.6 mi) and, although on a much smaller scale, has been likened to the Alpe d’Huez in the French Alps. The Zig Zag Road featured prominently in the 2012 Summer Olympics cycling road race events: in a mid-race circuit at Box Hill, the men climbed the road nine times and the women twice.

Zig Zag Road is quite a climb. It leads to the top of Box Hill, a National Trust property with plenty of trails and scenic panoramic views across the Surrey countryside.

I found other Zig Zag roads in various other places that you should feel free to explore on your own.

Some off them, paradoxically, don’t seem to zig or zag much at all.

On September 11, 2012 · 5 Comments

5 Responses to “Zig Zag”

  1. Craig says:

    I rather like that one in Eltham, Victoria. I can’t quite see from street view why they chose that little zigzag to get up the rise, but as noted elsewhere it’s otherwise amusingly straight.

  2. Brandon says:

    Just wanted to take a second to say hello! I’ve visited your site on and off for years, but recently, I’ve found myself sifting through the archive posts every day! Thanks for running a fantastic little site dedicated to the geo-oddities we all love so much here. I think I’ve officially become a regular reader, so I look forward to participating in the discussions more frequently 🙂

  3. Calgully says:

    There’s a more famous ZigZag in Australia. There’s even a passenger railway station there – and it the smallest actual real passenger railway station you’re likely to see

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zig_Zag_railway_station
    and http://goo.gl/maps/hTL9C

    Its the stopping off place for passengers from Sydney wanting to visit the tourist attraction called the Zig Zag railway. This is the ‘old’ railway line that descends the Blue Mountains west of Sydney. It does this by Zig Zagging down the hill (duh). There is now a newer and more direct line that just uses tunnels to go through the hills (the little station is on this new line) – but the old line is there. Unfortunately the tourist railway ceased operations earlier this year after decades of operation – because of legal indemnity issues. 🙁 Everything is still there, and the trains from Sydney still call at Zig Zag, so I suppose there’s still a chance that steam trains vould Zig and Zag their way down the back of the Blue Mountains once again if only we could banish the lawyers to a barren arid planet of their own.

    Note that Google Maps have got this area all wrong. They have a label called Zig Zag station, but in fact it’s Clarence station on the Zig Zag railway – at the other end of the tourist railway. They dont identify Zig Zag station at all. Pretty poor really – see here
    http://goo.gl/maps/hVQ8t

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