Ominous Sounding Frontier Town Names

Total Wreck, Arizona – Source:

As part of our Frontier Towns series, the following list of town names might make you want to think twice before moving there or living there. Some of the names are famous, while others are infamous. All of them are certainly memorable. Enjoy!

  • Bachelor City, Colorado
  • Back City, Texas (Ghost Town)
  • Bitter Creek, Texas (Ghost Town)
  • Bitter Springs, Arizona
  • Boring, Oregon
  • Bucksnout, Texas (Ghost Town)
  • Bummerville, California
  • Burns Flat, Oklahoma
  • Burnt Ranch, California
  • Cannon Ball, North Dakota
  • Challenge, California
  • Cheapside, Texas (Ghost Town)
  • Chickenfeather, Texas
  • Contention City, Arizona (Ghost Town)
  • Cripple Creek, Colorado
  • Cut and Shoot, Texas
  • Cuthand, Texas
  • Cyanide, South Dakota (Ghost Town)
  • Deadwood, California (Ghost Town), Oregon, and South Dakota
  • Devil’s Den, California
  • Devil’s River, Texas (Ghost Town)
  • Dodge City, Kansas
  • Dull, Texas (Ghost Town)
  • Fort Phantom Hill, Texas ( Ghost Town)
  • Gun Barrel City, Texas
  • Gun Sight, Texas
  • Hellhole Palms, California
  • Hideout, Utah
  • Horse Heaven, Oregon (Ghost Town)
  • Hungry Horse, Montana
  • Lame Deer, Montana
  • Last Chance, Colorado (Ghost Town)
  • Little Hope, Texas ( Ghost Town)
  • Loco, Oklahoma
  • Lost Cabin, Wyoming
  • Lost Camp, South Dakota (Ghost Town)
  • Mule Lick, Nevada (Ghost Town)
  • Needmore, Texas
  • Non, Oklahoma
  • No Name, Colorado
  • Poorman’s Gulch, South Dakota (Ghost Town)
  • Quicksand, Texas (Ghost Town)
  • Remote, Oregon
  • Rescue, California
  • Rock Crusher, Texas (Ghost Town)
  • Rough and Ready, California
  • Scarface, California
  • Scratchout, Oklahoma (Ghost Town)
  • Slapout, Oklahoma
  • Slaughterville, Oklahoma
  • Starkweather, North Dakota
  • Sucker Flat, California
  • Swastika, New Mexico and Texas (Ghost Town)
  • Tombstone, Arizona
  • Total Wreck, Arizona (Ghost Town)
  • Truth or Consequences, New Mexico
  • Two Bit, South Dakota (Ghost Town)
  • Vulture City, Arizona (Ghost Town)
  • Weeping Mary, Texas
  • Who’d Thought It, Texas (Ghost Town)
  • Wimp, California
  • Wounded Knee, South Dakota



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The Town That Was Moved Four Times!


The first of our new “Frontier Towns” series is about the historic Great Plains town of Julesburg, Colorado.

Pony Express Monument – Source:

At the crossroads of multiple important and historic transcontinental routes lies the quaint Great Plains town of Julesburg, Colorado. This classic western community, that sits astride the South Platte River, and is just a hair’s breadth south of the Colorado-Nebraska state line, has seen its fair share of historic intrigue and events. The Pony Express Trail; the Central Overland, California, and Pike’s Peak Express stage; the transcontinental railroad; the Overland Trail; the Lincoln Highway’s Colorado Loop; Interstates 76 and 80; and other important routes converge or pass very close by here.

  • Red icon – 1st Julesburg townsite
  • Orange icon – 2nd Julesburg townsite
  • Green icon – 3rd Julesburg townsite
  • Blue icon – 4th and current Julesburg townsite

But, in this particular post, it’s not the movement of people, pioneers, freight, or mail that is of interest – it is the movement of the entire town. In fact, at four moves, Julesburg may be the most-often relocated community in the entire United States. Here are the details:

  • The original Julesburg townsite was established by Jules Beni in 1852 below (south of) the South Platte River across from the mouth of Lodgepole Creek. It was burned to the ground on February 2, 1865, by warriors from several of the area’s Native American tribes.
  • The second Julesburg townsite (also south of the river) was established in 1866 east of the original location to be close to the Fort Sedgwick Military Reservation.
  • The third town site (now north of the river) was established when the railroad line was moved several miles to the northwest west of townsite #2 – this period was when the town earned the nickname and reputation as “The Wickedest City in the West.” During this time, the town’s population soared to approximately 5,000 folks due to the construction of the transcontinental railroad.
  • Lastly, the townsite for Julesburg was moved east from the third Julesburg townsite to the junction of the transcontinental railroad and the Denver Branch of the Union Pacific Railroad. The town has remained in this location ever since.

Julesburg’s Hippodrome Art Centre – Source:

While being known temporarily by several other names (Upper California Crossing, Overland City, Weir, and Denver Junction), the name Julesburg has always stuck and remains in place today.


The Town of Julesburg is now home to approximately 1,300 residents and is nicknamed “The Gateway to Colorado.” For those of us who have traveled to Colorado by way of Nebraska, Julesburg should be familiar, as it is the home of a state Welcome Center with a very impressive Pony Express Monument. The area’s storied history, cultural significance, and prairie landscapes are presented as part of the 19 mile long South Platte River Trail – Scenic and Historic Byway.



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Pendulum Urban Planning – The Wild Ride Between Pro and Anti-development


As with nearly every other topic these days, there are strongly held viewpoints in planning circles over development. It seems like either you must be pro-development in all cases, or anti-development in all cases, with no room for middle ground. Unfortunately for the professional planners amongst us, the middle ground is where we are largely supposed to be in our attempts to foster consensus. As a result, I would say there are a fair number of long-term planners, like myself, who are growing weary from the unyielding rancor.

This is not to say that urban planning was ever mellow, easygoing, and carefree. But, the big difference between now and three decades ago is the complete unwillingness of many stakeholders to listen, respect one another, consider other opinions, or compromise. Sound familiar? All one has to do is turn on the television or surf the net to see/read these entrenched partisans in practice every day and all sorts of issues.

A key problem with this becoming endemic to urban planning is it can have multi-generational consequences. Most master plans are in effect for two decades or more and most development projects are built with anticipated five to ten decade lifespans. Decisions made today likely won’t be reversed or undone for a considerable length of time.

Secondarily, the acrimony generated from what is deemed to be an unpopular decision can quickly whiplash planning efforts into the opposite direction with the next election. That wild pendulum swing between pro-development and anti-development hardly makes for consistent application of laws, rules, standards, or regulations…a particularly important quality when facing potential litigation. It also makes for haphazard development pressures that range from mild to intense depending on who is in office and the then-current political hierarchy.

Given the fluctuating nature of the development pressure of such pendulum swings, another issue becomes the lack of  a coordinated development pattern on the ground. This in turns leads to issues related to congestion, incompatible land uses, gentrification, or sprawl.

This leaves us with the question – what to do?  Here are a few ideas:

  • Require one year of civics classes in high school and college regardless of degree.
  • Rely on your master plan as your guide through all ups and downs.
  • Be inclusive, inclusive, inclusive! Never let certain groups control the agenda through political, monetary, length of residency, or other forms of pressure.
  • Enforce speaker time limits and rules of order.
  • Require respectful discussion among all parties at public meetings, including and especially among elected or appointed officials.
  • Demonstrate the four styles of listening (appreciative, critical, relationship, and discriminative) – hopefully, by doing so, it will spread to others.
  • Always…always be open to new ideas. Change is often the scariest notion for the public to accept and its perception often overwhelms reality.
Posted in Advocacy, cities, civics, civility, Communications, culture, diversity, education, gentrification, history, land use, planning, social equity, spatial design, sprawl, urban planning | Leave a comment

Airlines Need to Respect Small and Mid-sized Markets, Too


Over the past weekend (Feb.17/18), my wife and I went through airline/airport hell during the latter half of our trip home from a wonderful vacation in Arizona. While we didn’t mind the extra four hours in the sunny Southwest due to weather-related flight delays in and out of Chicago, the second half of the trip was quite the nightmare. Trying to sleep on cots in O’Hare Airport while announcements blared all night long, cancellation of our morning flight to home from Chicago, even though weather was fine at our destination, and the lack of alternative flight options for two days, left us with no other choice than to rent a vehicle and drive home. As it turned out, another snowstorm would end up causing those Wednesday flights that the airline wanted to rebook us on, to be cancelled, as well.

Frankly, how a mere 3-4 inches of snow can throw one of the nation’s busiest airports into disarray is beyond me. It’s not like snow is unheard of in Chicago. But stats don’t lie. According to, for the ten-year period between September 2008 and August 2018, Chicago O’Hare had more weather-related delays than any other airport in the country – a whopping 303,526 flights in a decade! These numbers beg the obvious question – why should airlines continue to use O’Hare as such a major hub? If weather patterns cause so many delays and/or cancellations, why not use Detroit, Indianapolis, St. Louis, or Minneapolis-St. Paul as your airline’s hub instead of consistently weather impacted Chicago O’Hare?

Personally, I don’t buy the argument that snow alone causes so many cancellations. Delays, yes, but not cancellations. If that were the case, then how come Alaska Airlines can fly in all kinds of messy weather and to/from snow-covered airports throughout their long winter? Same is true with Air Canada and other northern airlines.

So, what’s the rub with cancelling our flight when numerous other flights are leaving (perhaps later than planned) and when the weather was perfectly fine with dry runways at our destination? It almost seems like the small snowfall is being used as a convenient excuse to cancel the flight because our market doesn’t produce enough value (money) for the airline. If that’s the case, then shame on them, especially when during the summer tourist season, our hometown (which is a very popular summer tourist destination) makes the airlines a crap-ton of money.

For the hub and spoke system to work, both parts of the system need to operate effectively, not just the hub. Where the hell do the airlines think many, if not most, of the passengers come from? It’s the small and mid-sized air travel markets (a.k.a. the spokes) that feed into the hub, not vice-versa. If such a network is to be successful, both parts must be served effectively. A robust and equitable air traffic system shouldn’t expect passengers in small and mid-sized markets to drive multitudes of hours in lieu of reliable air service, nor to wait for days to get home by air.

For small and mid-sized markets, this issue of cancelled flights is not just an inconvenience, it is also a potential economic disaster. What corporate executive in their right mind is going to recommend a business relocation or expansion to/in a market with unreliable air service? For small and mid-sized markets to remain competitive, economically vibrant, and thrive; consistent, reliable, and regular air service is necessary. Unfortunately, the pool of potential airline candidates to serve a given airport has become more and more limited by mergers and acquisitions. In addition, there are few, if any new start-ups. This leaves communities begging for air service or attempting incentivize the service through various forms of corporate welfare.

Maybe I’m old-fashioned, but I miss the days when there were dozens of airlines competing for my business and passengers were not treated like cattle. The graveyard of former airline banners sounds like a who’s who of aviation (partial list):

American West
Braniff International
Hughes Air West
Lake Central
Midwest Express
North Central
Northwest/Northwest Orient
Pacific Southwest
Pan Am
People Express
Texas International
US. Air/Allegheny
Virgin America

Hopefully, some enterprising folks with solid financial backing will start new and successful air carriers as those folks did who began Southwest and Jet Blue. But, even more important is that any carrier (existing or future) must remember to treat the passenger and the markets they serve, with respect. Is that really too much to ask?

Posted in aerospace, air travel, airport planning, airports, aviation, business, cities, commerce, deregulation, economic development, environment, geography, history, infrastructure, land use, planning, shipping, Statistics, tourism, transportation, Travel, urban planning, weather | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Snoring and Buttcracks: A Snowstorm Sleepover at O’Hare

It’s been a long day…night…day. At the conclusion of our trip to Tucson, Old Man Winter decided to play havoc with airline schedules. A few inches of snow delayed or cancelled many flights in and out of O’Hare International Airport in Chicago.

Fortunately, our flight was only delayed…but nearly four hours. As a result, we arrived at 12:30 a.m.

Upon arrival we learned some cots were being made available for marooned passengers at the airport. We we’re lucky enough to eventually find two of them, but many folks did not. As a result there were people sleeping in all kinds of places, all over the airport. And yes, there were some buttcracks that were clearly visible.

The cot was helpful, but the never-ending recorded announcements on illegal parking, security (which was closed at this hour), smoking, and health made it very difficult to sleep – my health would have been much better without the announcements. Throw in the professional snorers and a bright bank of overhead lights and it was next to impossible unless you were narcoleptic.

To top it all offer were all awakened by security at 4:00 a.m. which is apparently wake-up hour in airport world. Ugh.

Not everything was bad – the cots were there, most with a pillow and blanket, and airport staff kindly handed out a free personal care bag with toothpaste, mouthwash, soap, and a toothbrush – very nice. We also got a firsthand glimpse at life in airport world in wee hours of the night.

My suggestions for improving the experience for those marooned at airports, include:

  • Turn off the damn announcements – they aren’t pertinent in the middle of the night, especially when TSA isn’t even operating.
  • Dim the lights on those corridors where the cots are being set up or establish a separate room for guests who are stuck in airport world.
  • Consider heated runways and tarmacs – sure that’s expensive, but given the costs in delays, cancellations, snow removal, etc, it could pay for itself fairly quickly.
Posted in aerospace, air travel, airport planning, airports, aviation, Cities, commerce, infrastructure, planning, product design, tourism, Transportation, Travel | Tagged | Leave a comment

Sonoran Desert Scenery

Mt. Lemmon in Tucson

Sweetwater area of Tucson

Flora on Picacho Peak

Mt. Lemmon north of Oracle Junction.

Picacho Peak from I-10

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Phoenix at Sunset

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Groundhog Day Special: You survived a polar vortex, when…


With Groundhog Day tomorrow, here are a few light-hearted, post-polar vortex thoughts from Northwest Lower Michigan. Please feel free to pass along your fun quips too and they will be added.

…20 degrees fahrenheit feels like a frigging heat wave.

…you regain your appetite for ice cream.

…you no longer have to wear gloves to get the mail.

…sitting near the window in the warm sunlight is no longer a religious experience.

…schools are open for the first time in a week…or more.

…you no longer have to wear thermal pants or long winter underwear.

…you can sweat again.

…you’re sick of eating soup or chili.

…you see your driveway or the street pavement for the first time in weeks.

…you see people wearing shorts outside even though it is not quite 20 F.

…you can actually enjoy the snow.

…your power bill has four digits…all to the left of the decimal point.

…your snow shovel and snowblower demand a vacation.

…Billings, Montana sounds like a warm place to escape the cold.

…you promise to boil, bake, stir-fry, or fricassee eff’ing groundhogs to eat, for the rest of the damn season, if Punxsutawney Phil predicts six more weeks of more winter tomorrow!




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Icy Wonders of Nature

Ice Disk in the Cedar River in Gladwin, Michigan – Source

Living “Up North” in Michigan can present some challenges during the winter months. But, it can also often instill a complete sense of awe and wonder. The beauty of freshly fallen snow, the reflective subtleties created by moonlight on the frozen landscape, and the unique artistic formations created by ice and snow, each help one transcend the season. Below, are some of the most fascinating artistic displayed created by nature using ice during the winter months:

Ice Disks (a.k.a. Ice Circles) – personally, these are my favorite natural ice wonders, though I have not seen one to date in person. Their uncommon formation and subtle counter-clockwise rotation are quite mesmerizing. At the beginning of this post is a photo of an ice disk that formed just this past week in Gladwin, Michigan and below is the well-known 300 foot wide monster that developed several weeks ago in Westbrook, Maine.

Ice Disk in the Presumpscot River in Westbrook, Maine (2019) – Source:

Ice Pancakes – a smaller scale version of Ice Disks, these almost look like scales or frozen lily pads on the water. Sometimes they cover a small area of water as shown below, while at other times they can span a much greater surface area. According to, ice pancakes range between one (1) and ten (10) feet in diameter.

Ice pancakes – Source:

Ice Balls/Boulders – most often formed by wave action, these spherical orbs bounce around in frigid waters, sometimes freezing in place and other times melting away with the arrival warmer temperatures.

Ice balls in Lake Michigan – Source:

Ice Caves – Ice caves do not form every year, though the further north one travels here in the Great Lakes Region, the more likely they are to occur. Development of ice caves largely depends on temperatures, snowfall, and the extent of ice coverage on the lake’s surface. Visiting ice caves can be a daunting and dangerous endeavor, especially when they are situated offshore. All due caution should be used if one intends to visit an ice cave, regardless of where it is located.

Ice cave on Lake Michigan – Source:

Icicles – the most commonly recognizable form of ice formation, icicles often harken us back to childhood with their smooth and crystalline appearance. As the weather warms, they will lengthen and grow from the dripping water only to eventually break or fall to the ground. Some caution is also due, as icicles can be harmful if you are below them when they fall.

Icicles from the rooftop (2019)

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The Flint You Don’t Hear About

Hilton Hotel Buckham Square – Source:

Flint, Michigan has had a tough couple of decades. If the auto plant closings and shutdowns weren’t enough, terrible decisions by the state legislature and officials under the Snyder administration put its residents in jeopardy. Those same residents will be dealing with the aftereffects of the water crisis for the rest of their lives. Becoming the poster child for urban decay (and bad state politics) is no community’s economic development end goal.

Mott Culinary Institute – Source:

While the news out of Flint has often been troubling, there are some signs of a resurgence…a recovery…a renewed sense of hope. Unfortunately, these are too often lost in established public and media perceptions that are hard to break.

Is everything hunky dory? Absolutely not! But there are some signs of a turnaround, particularly in the downtown area. Here are some examples, including nearly $200 million in current development due to be completed in 2019.

  • Mott Community College Culinary Institute = $13 million
  • Coolidge Park Apartments = $16.5 million
  • Clark Commons = $16.9 million
  • The Marketplace = $19.6 million
  • Cultural Center Academy = $35 million
  • Flint River Restoration = $37 million
  • Hilton Hotel Buckham Square = $37.9 million
  • U of M Flint Science Building = $39 million
  • Perry Drugs renovation to a credit union = $1.4 million
  • The Eberson Bar Arcade (to be completed in 2019)
  • Lear Manufacturing (completed 2018) = $33.7 million
  • Sylvester Broome Empowerment Village (completed 2018)
  • The Dryden Building renovation (completed 2018) = $6.8 million
  • Educare Flint (completed 2018) = $11 million
  • Kettering University Research Center and Proving Grounds (completed 2018) = $4 million
  • Capitol Theatre renovation (completed 2017) = $37 million
  • Ferris Building (The Ferris Wheel) renovation (completed 2017) = $7.5 million
  • Flint Development Center (completed 2017)
  • Factory Two (completed 2017)

A couple of other positive aspects about Flint that are not publicized often enough are the following:

In this age of climate change and global warming, restoring our industrial legacy cities, such as Flint, may be one of our best and most cost-effective options for reducing our collective carbon footprint and greenhouse gases. The infrastructure is already there and doesn’t have to be recreated by building anew elsewhere.

A city is not a disposable object, but a living entity that should be nurtured. A society that tosses aside some places and people in the hellbent decadence of turbo-capitalism, will never truly thrive. Instead, it will languish is a cesspool of economic and social divisiveness.

Interior of Capitol Theatre – Source:

My wish is that the seeds of hope will continue to sprout and germinate throughout Flint and help bring about a complete urban resurgence. That would be a great story to tell, indeed. For now though, all of us should strive to never let a similar series of events happen again. The elitism, racism, social inequity, and economic injustices associated with how the City of Flint was simply left for dead were/are despicable. As a society, we cannot attain complete and true equity and inclusiveness, if some of us are constantly being left behind.


Posted in cities, civics, downtown, economic development, economic gardening, geography, health, Health care, historic preservation, history, Housing, human rights, humanity, inclusiveness, infrastructure, land use, placemaking, planning, pollution, poverty, racism, revitalization, Statistics, third places, tourism, Travel, urban planning, zoning | Tagged , , | 2 Comments