Still towing the line…150 years later.

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Driving southward on Pennsylvania State Route 134, one encounters a run-of-the-mill rural intersection, indicated by the streetlight in the distance of the photo below.Doesn’t look like much, does it? If you get a little closer, it turns out it’s one of the most candid indicators of what may be the country’s most culturally significant interior …Read more…

An oasis and a bean-counter.

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The climate of the American high plains may not be completely desert-like, but the similarities are uncanny: relatively little rain or moisture in the air, a temperature that plunges at night throughout the year, considerable variation between summer and winter, but fiercely hot in the former. Many of these characteristics incidentally bespeak high altitudes more …Read more…

Still on the grid…just a little looser.

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My postings have been pretty sparse lately, though it’s not for a lack of new ideas. I’ve been traveling across the middle of the country, visiting friends and some of my favorite American landscapes: the vast prairies and buttes of the high plains. Driving along unpaved roads in some of the most sparsely populated countryside …Read more…

Boundary battles over sparklers and smokes?

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We always look for the better deal first. It goes without saying. When two neighboring jurisdictions apply different regulations to a specific good or service for which great demand exists, the industry that financially depends on that good/service will gravitate toward the less stringent side of the boundary line. I’ve pointed this out before when …Read more…

Electric neglected.

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On a serene stretch of Interstate 70 in western Maryland—west of Hagerstown but not yet to the point where the freeway veers sharply northward into Pennsylvania—it’s still possible in mid April to see some antiquated power lines that parallel the road, even as dusk approaches. The foliage isn’t yet thick enough, so there they are. …Read more…

A traveler’s guide to the penitentiary.

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Along any stretch of highway, it’s easy to imagine feeling at least a little unsettled if you drive past this sign:This is exactly what one encounters heading northward along I-75 in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, about 20 miles south of Sioux Sainte Marie and the Canadian border. In most respects, it’s a notice we all can …Read more…

Getting back from the groove.

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Sometimes the most well-intentioned and carefully planned initiatives still yield unexpected and undesirable results. I deliberately didn’t put too much thought into the above sentence; I wanted it to emerge as spontaneously and organically as possible, then to judge it afterward. In hindsight, I would only change one word: sometimes. Replace it with “usually”. (But …Read more…

And on the seventh day…He created a market.

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With this article I venture into what may prove one of my most overtly political topics ever, possibly against better judgment.  Yet I wade into these waters as a deliberate challenge to myself, since I strive to separate the intensive political controversy that this tourist attraction elicits from what I think is more interesting and …Read more…

Not all interstate highways are perpetuated equal.

While transportation infrastructure has long elicited a highly politicized debate in the US, particularly in regards to government funding of alternative methods (Amtrak and rail, supporting the persistently ailing airline industry), only in recent years have the discussions migrated more heavily toward inadequacies in road and highway infrastructure.  The collapse of the Interstate 35W bridge …Read more…