Lanark and Mount Carroll, Illinois

12-02-2019 16:02

First timer?  In this formerly once-a-day blog (and now pretty much a once-a-week blog), I use an app that provides a random latitude and longitude that puts me somewhere in the continental United States (the lower 48).  I call this “landing.”

I keep track of the watersheds I land in, as well as the town or towns I land near.  I do some internet research to hopefully find something of interest about my landing location. 

To find out more about A Landing A Day (like who “Dan” is) please see “About Landing” above.  To check out some relatively recent changes in how I do things, check out “About Landing (Revisited).”

Landing number 2431; A Landing A Day blog post number 866.

Dan:  Today’s lat/long (N42o 8.892’, W89o 50.485’) puts me in in the NW corner of Illinois:

Here’s my local landing map:

My streams-only map shows the entire story:

I landed in the watershed of Lake Carroll, which is drained by “Principal Stream Perennial,” aka unnamed tributary; on to the East Plum River (first hit ever!); to the Plum River (2nd hit); to the MM (944th hit).

Moving over to Google Earth, you can see that I have good Street View coverage of my landing:

And here ‘tis:

And the OD was able to get a look at my very local watershed drainage, upstream from Lake Carroll:

Here it is in all of its scum-covered glory:

Not far downstream is Lake Carroll.  Here’s a GE shot of the lake by Kileen Casey:

As I’m working on this draft blog post (which is a Word doc), I just checked the temperature in Lanark.  It’s -30o .  Ouch. 

And then, in the middle of the next night (likely after getting up to go to the bathroom), I was mindlessly looking at my cell phone when I saw this:

So – it was 2:50 am, my iPhone was plugged in, and I had my wits about me enough to take a screen shot of what I saw on Google News:  that it was -38o in Mount Carroll.  Note that Illinois didn’t make the headline and would be unknown to the general public. . .

The geologist in me took notice at a striking feature (to me) while looking at a regional Google Earth shot:

See how different the landscape looks to the northwest of my landing?  Just in case you need some help, here’s a yellow demarcation line:

The landscape to the southeast is flat as can be, while the landscape to the northwest has been dissected by stream erosion.  What’s going on?  Well, the dissected area is part of the famous (to me) “Driftless Area.”  “Drift” is a geologic term for any soil, rocks and/or sediments deposited by glaciers.  So, the Driftless Area has no drift and was therefore never glaciated.  Here’s a map:

And check out how the landscape affects the layout of roads.  Here’s a map of the glaciated (and therefore flat) area east of my landing:

How about that.  Very straight roads.  And in contrast, here’s a map of the driftless area west of my landing:

For a more robust treatment of the driftless area, check out my Lansing, Iowa post.

Let’s leave the cold weather and glacial geology behind, and take a look at Lanark.  From the town website:

The next item to be settled was the naming of this new place. The capitalist looking to develop this new railhead at first chose Glasgow most likely because of his Scottish heritage. However, it was soon learned that Glasgow was already in use in southern IL, so Lanark, the county/shire of the ancient city of Scotland, was suggested by some of the men holding considerable monetary investment in the project.

Lanark, Scotland is an ancient town (1140 A.D.) which was once an ancient capital of Scotland where William Wallace lived and became an outlaw to the English in the late 1290’s (the basis of the Oscar winning film ‘Braveheart’).

True confessions.  I never saw Braveheart.  I know that many people absolutely love the movie.  So, who was this William Wallace guy?  From

In 1296, England’s King Edward I forced Scottish king John de Balliol to abdicate the throne, jailed him, and declared himself ruler of Scotland. In May 1297, Wallace (in his late 20s) and some 30 other men burned the Scottish town of Lanark and killed its English sheriff. Wallace then organized a local army and attacked the English strongholds between the Forth and Tay rivers.

On September 11, 1297, an English army confronted Wallace and his men at the Forth River near Stirling. Wallace’s forces were vastly outnumbered, but the English had to cross a narrow bridge over the Forth before they could reach Wallace and his growing army. With strategic positioning on their side, Wallace’s forces massacred the English as they crossed the river, and Wallace gained an unlikely and crushing victory.

[I read that Braveheart’s version of the battle didn’t even have a bridge!]

He went on to capture Stirling Castle, and Scotland was briefly nearly free of occupying English forces. In October, Wallace invaded northern England and ravaged Northumberland and Cumberland counties, but his unconventionally brutal battle tactics only served to antagonize the English even more.

When Wallace returned to Scotland in December 1297, he was knighted and proclaimed guardian of the kingdom, ruling in the deposed king’s name. But in June 1298, Edward invaded Scotland again.

On July 22, Wallace’s troops suffered defeat in the Battle of Falkirk, and as quickly as that, his military reputation was ruined and he resigned his guardianship. Eventually, Scottish leaders capitulated to the English and recognized Edward as their king in 1304.

Unwilling to compromise, William Wallace refused to submit to English rule, and Edward’s men pursued him until August 5, 1305, when they captured and arrested him near Glasgow. He was taken to London and condemned as a traitor to the king and was hanged, disemboweled, beheaded and quartered.

[Geez.  Take that, William!]

He was seen by the Scots as a martyr and as a symbol of the struggle for independence, and his efforts continued after his death.

Scotland gained its independence some 23 years after William Wallace’s execution, with the Treaty of Edinburgh in 1328, and Wallace has since been remembered as one of Scotland’s greatest heroes.

It turns out that one of the Lanark Illinois’ native son is poet Glenn Ward Dresbach.  I checked out many of his poems, and found what I thought was his best:

Ouch.  I suspect that this tells the story common to many in the Midwest.  Moving to Mount Carroll.  It turns out that the first paragraph of their Wiki entry is all about cold weather:

Due to its elevation and northwesterly location, Mount Carroll is subject to unusually cold winter weather. From 1930 to 1999, Mount Carroll held the record for the lowest temperature ever recorded in Illinois, −35 °F, recorded on January 22, 1930.

[And check out the next paragraph!]

The record was beaten by Congerville in 1999, by one degree. 20 years later on Thursday, January 31st, 2019, Mount Carroll regained the title of coldest city in Illinois when a new Illinois state record low temperature of -38 degrees Fahrenheit was officially recorded.

Man.  Wiki is on it!

So, two notable persons caught my eye:  Neta Snook and Phoebe Snow. 

Wiki, on Neta Snook:

After purchasing a wrecked Canuck [Snook’s Canuck], Snook had it shipped back to Ames, Iowa, and spent two years rebuilding the aircraft in her parents’ backyard. In 1920, Snook soloed in her rebuilt Canuck, flying from a nearby pasture and received her pilot’s license.

Barnstorming throughout the Midwest in her Canuck, she made a living furtively hauling sightseers and “passengers” although her license did not allow it. With the onset of a bitter Iowa winter [maybe not as bitter as this one], Snook decided to head out to California where she could fly year-round. She disassembled the Canuck for shipping [aw, come on – why not fly it to California?] and ended up in balmy Los Angeles.

In 1920, Snook approached Bert Kinner for a job as an instructor in his newly constructed airport, Kinner Field in Los Angeles.  After a brief trial period, she became the first woman to run a commercial airfield.

On January 3, 1921, Amelia Earhart walked onto the airfield and aid to Neta, “I want to fly. Will you teach me?”  Amelia and her parents had agreed that only a woman pilot would teach her to fly.

“For $1 in Liberty bonds per minute in the air, Neta Snook taught Amelia Earhart to fly, but above that, they became friends.”

Amelia paid for the first 5 hours [$60/hr x 5 = $300].  Neta gave Amelia the next 15 hours for free.

At first, her pupil was not the best flyer. Earhart stalled while trying to clear a grove of eucalyptus trees on takeoff; although she not seriously hurt in the ensuing crash. Snook thought to herself, “Perhaps I had misjudged her abilities.”

However, their friendship held sway and that crash was soon forgotten. They flew together for over a year. Snook became close with the entire Earhart family, and often spent time at the family home.

Moving to the next Notable Person.  Mount Carroll is the home of Shimer University and a student from Teaneck NJ – Phoebe Ann Laub – enrolled there in 1968.  She was a heck of a musician and singer, and withdrew from school to head to NYC and pursue her musical dreams.

She felt like she needed a stage name.  From Wiki:

Her stage name came from a fictional advertising character created in the early 1900s for the Delaware, Lackawanna and Western Railroad, in which Phoebe Snow was a young woman dressed all in white, emphasizing the cleanliness of Lackawanna passenger trains whose locomotives burned anthracite coal, which created less soot than bituminous coal.

Here’s a post card featuring Phoebe Snow:


Her only big hit was “Poetry Man”:

Her life followed a tough path.  From Wiki:

Between 1975 and 1978 Snow was married to Phil Kearns and on December 10, 1975, her daughter, Valerie Rose, was born with severe brain damage.

Snow resolved not to institutionalize Valerie, and cared for her at home until Valerie died on March 19, 2007, at the age of 31 (when Phoebe was 57). Snow’s efforts to care for Valerie significantly curtailed her musical career.

Phoebe Snow suffered a cerebral hemorrhage on January 19, 2010 and slipped into a coma.   She died on April 26, 2011 at age 60 in Edison, New Jersey.

I’ll close with this GE shot by Tom Kubik, taken about 10 miles west of my landing:


That’ll do it . . .




© 2019 A Landing A Day