More links to map resources

Historical and general reference

  • USGS TopoView – entry point for all current and historical topographic maps published the US government; can download maps or display them overlayed within the main viewer


Outdoors, off-roading, etc.

  • U.S. Forest Service – Interactive Visitor Map – shows national forest locations, forest service roads, trails; indicates if roads are paved, dirt, 4wd-only.
  • Forest Service Roads – Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forest – color coded by road status (open, seasonal, temporarily closed, permanently closed)
  • Georgia Wildlife Resources Division – Interactive Map – shows state Wildlife Management Area locations, hunting, fishing, camping, shooting ranges, roads. I have learned not to trust these maps to be up to date about road closures!
  • MyTopo – Online Maps – these are older USGS topo maps overlayed with some such as forest service road numbers. In spite of some maps being outdated, the simple interface makes for a quick reference.
  • Georgia DOT Maps – Index to county road maps, which are basically the only maps online that actually show the paved or dirt status of all roads outside of national/state forests! Reasonably up to date. Unfortunate interface requires downloading individual county maps one by one.
  • Trails Off-Road Map – detailed trail guides for individual roads, including photos, videos, reviews. Requires sign-up with email address, facebook, etc. Some features (including to view all trails on the map at the same time) require paid membership.
  • Georgia Trails/Offroad Registry – user contributed map, publicly editable; not sure how up to date
Example historical map (1895) in TopoView
Example of Fed. Railroad Admin map
Example US Forest Service Map
Example GA Dept. of Natural Resources Map
Example MyTopo map
example of GA DOT maps

Junker’s Rebellion

A comic that I drew during the 1992-1993 academic year, mostly during first period A.P. Spanish II, taught by “Señor Bryant”.

These strips were the first mention of “Fluxum Florum” (later spelled FLVXXVM FLORVM), some time before I thought to start using it as a musical alias.

This strip is probably a redrawn version of a lost original. You can tell by the late date (too late for that school year), the fact that it is inked, and the fact that it is not on 3-hole notebook paper. These very-evenly-sized panels were created on a computer, printed out, and inked-over so they looked drawn.

This is a genuine drawn-in-class one. It was the introduction of Junker’s nemesis, “Spearmint Sherry”. The “Franco-Prussian War Flying Ace” was a running gag, of which this was the first instance.

Another re-drawn one on printer paper, a tribute to Dr. Demento:

A roughly drawn two-parter that mentions Fluxum Florum and sees the introduction of “Kermit Grande”.

I’m pretty sure this Holodeck was not the only Trekkie reference in the strip. I distinctly recall one where Kermit Grande was a Ferengi.

A stand-alone drawing of “Kermit Grande”:

Three more genuine classroom productions. This one, the version I chose to scan was a photocopy made soon after drawing it. It is better preserved than the pencil version.

A really rough one. The “small people” here refers to, if I recall correctly, an internal parody of “Mr. Men and Little Miss” that may or may not have appeared in other strips.

The “Ben Gray” in this strip is not, as some have assumed, a parody of Ben “The Thing” Grimm. (He doesn’t even look like The Thing, ffs) He is rather a fairly accurate depiction of a classmate. “Junior” is an accurate rendering of the sign from a convenience store of that name close to the school.

Note the backstory of Junker’s parents was changed from that depicted in the first strip shown above. At some point I decided that they were not just generic “square middle aged people”, but very specifically they were “square middle aged people who used to listen to punk rock back in like 1977 or something”.

Here’s two more strips involving the “Franco Prussian War Flying Ace”. I did these in pencil with the intention of tracing in ink later, but never did. The fact that the letterhead and panels appear to be printed on something better than a dot matrix suggests these were much later than all the others here. (I have no memory of having any access to inkjet or laser printers at any time while in high school)


Shit My Kids Said – compilation #1

In no particular order. Culled from various posts and emails where I quoted them.

4/7/12, kid #2:

“I wish *I* was a nerd”

5/5/12, kid #2:

“no matter where you go, you’re on top of the world”

7/29/12, kid #1, on Martin Prince from the Simpsons:

“I think he _wants_ to get punched. I think he _enjoys_ it.”

7/8/12, kid #1 on college:

“Change my name, get contacts, start a whole new _punk_ style…”


me: do you like reggae?

kid #2: what?

Me: this kind of music (Bob Marley playing)

kid #2: no. why would you think I would? I’m a little girl.

4/8/12, kid #1:

“I don’t pick up pennies if I drop them.. they will make some little kid happy, because it might be their lucky penny”

8/17/12, kid #1:

“Dogs are like friends. Sort of. You don’t walk your friends. And don’t talk to your dogs in front of people, only in private”

10/16/11, kid #1:

“Shel Silverstein wrote some _weird_ poems!”

2/13/15, kid #1, context lost in the mists of time:

“Oh no no no, I forgot my eyes! I forgot my eyes!”

3/2/12, kid #2, watching “Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern”:

“I want it, I want it, I want it!”

7/1/12, kid #2:

“Almost nothing _men_ wear is fashionable.”

2/3/12, kid #1, on some “ninja warrior” type show:

“they don’t show the episodes where people die”

2/12/12, kid #1, on bluegrass:

“This music makes me want barbeque”

12/17/11, kid #1, on Reader’s Digest:

“Don’t tell anybody I was reading that. It’s a magazine that old people read to help them poop”

3/26/12, kid #2:

“The two words I hate most in the world? Funky and groovy”

4/27/12, kid #1:

“anything cute renders us helpless”


“I’m crying because I know someday I’ll have to be a crazy old lady”

5/5/12, kid #2:

“we’re never going to be in the eighties, Dad, so why are you telling us about them?”

8/17/13, kid #1:

“We are living through one of those times that people are going to look back on and say we had good cartoons”

8/2/13, kid #2:

“Maybe old people like margarine because it sounds like an old person’s name.”


kid #2: oh no.. it’s [boys’ name]. Do I have anything on my face?

Me: yes

kid #2: (wiping face) I’m gonna go annoy him, cuz I hate him.

9/22/13, kid #1:

“I don’t drink ‘normal’ coffee. I drink the expensive kind.”

1/31/15, kid #2:

“There’s a seed in this orange. I’m suing the company”

7/15/12, kid #1 to #2:

“That’s _not_ a vampire haircut”

1/9/12, kid #1:

“You can’t just say ‘I wish to be healthy’ when you make a wish, say something like ‘ward off illness’ or ‘summon great health'”

7/22/13, at the swimming pool:

kid #2: my arch enemy is in the shallow end.

Me: who?

kid #2: we do not speak of him. (quietly) lets get in the pool and ignore him.

9/2/12, kid #2:

“I don’t trust candy from little boys. I don’t trust little boys.”

12/23/11, kid #2:

“My life is awesome. Everybody thinks I’m so adorable that I get away with everything”


kid #2: “I want to be a vampire”.

kid #1: “you’ll be seven years old forever”.

kid #2: “I meant when I’m sixteen”.

7/27/11, kid #1, on a Pac-Man wedding cake:

“I just love that. I want that for my wedding. If he doesn’t agree to it, I’ll dump him”

9/2/13, kid #2:

“Being so awesome is tiring”

5/22/11, kid #2, a positive review of restaurant ramen:

“I couldn’t have cooked these noodles any better myself!”

7/19/11, kid #2, on “orange” cough syrup:

“It doesn’t taste like the fruit, it tastes like the color.”

6/24/11, kid #1 watching the “Man vs Food” guy cry in pain from spicy bbq:

“I wish I could have some of that”

6/19/11, kid #1:

“So few people know that ‘thrice’ is a word”

6/19/11, kid #1:

“The closest thing to winning is losing”

7/24/11, kid #1, when learning the US was founded by slave-owners:

“Oh God that’s ironic!”

“But I thought they were the Good Guys!”

“Ooh I hate the government”

4/28/12, kid #1, on reading history:

“The underdogs you root for always turn into bullies in the next chapter”

10/12/13, kid #1:

“You said you were going to drop the bass, you just sat it down carefully. You need to throw the bass down like you hate it, break it into a lot of little pieces..”

6/15/15, kid #1 watching “Golden Girls”:

“I hope I find friends like that. Otherwise I’ll have to live in a one room apartment with just a cat to keep me company.  I don’t want to wait until I’m *old* to live in a big house with all my friends. I want to do that in my 20s!”

3/26/15, kid #1 after learning about household budgets at school:

“I plan to be single and childless and live in a tiny apartment and eat ramen, so even if I don’t make much money I’ll be able to spend it on whatever the fuck I want”

10/18/13, kid #1:

“I found another idiot on the Internet!”

11/29/14, kid #1, on Ugg boots:

“these will go with my intense craving for Starbucks”

10/8/15 conversation after we saw a train carrying what look like giant pipes:

Me: “I bet those are sewer pipes. Someday they’ll be full of poop.”

Kid #1: (groans) “dad..”

Me: “Who knows, some of those pipes could end up carrying *our* poop.”

Kid #1: “dad, what the actual fuck?”

5/11/16: kid #1 got 2-weeks banned from miiverse for posting “you don’t have to be lonely at farmers only dot com” as a joke.


kid #1: what kind of person puts cream cheese on a croissant?

kid #2: you’re just jealous you don’t have a croissant.

#1: I don’t want a croissant!
#2: you’re just jealous you don’t have cream cheese.
#1: no, I hate cream cheese!
#2: you’re just jealous you don’t have a cream cheese croissant!
#1: just eat it, you freak of nature.
#2: here. You must try the cream cheese croissant
#1: [takes a bite] that’s quality!
#2: who’s the freak of nature now?!

1/30/14: kid #1 has read all about “bigots” and “allies” from tumblr or somewhere,  pronounces these words as “bye-gots” and “alleys”.

5/9/14, kid #1 assorted quotes:

“If you take yourself seriously as a shipper, you better get over homophobia, because everybody knows the most kawaii pairings are not straight”

“The boys that like me are the socially awkward ones that you feel sorry for. Don’t get me wrong, it’s great having guys that will do whatever I say..”

(Looking at drawings of women dressed like the anthropomorphic representations of foods) “this is what I’m gonna wear to the prom!”

5/12/18, kid #1 (be note this was said while my wife was in labor with kid #3):

“I’m legally changing my name to Mother Shabubu”

6/6/14, kid #1:

“When I go to college I’m gonna be that roommate everyone wants, because I’ll already know how to make ramen”

1/1/15, kid #1:

“The only reason anyone drinks Faygo anymore is because of Homestuck”

1/28/14, #1 on the state of “Invader Zim” fan fiction:

“Oh my god the Mary Sue’s have taken over”

5/2/14, kid #1:

“When I get in high school I’m gonna dye my hair teal, and people are gonna call me ‘that weirdo with the blue hair’, and I’m gonna be like, ‘it’s not blue, it’s teal!!'”

4/13/14, kid #1:

“let’s go out in ironically bad homestuck cosplay!”

3/11/15, kid #1:

“What if the characters on Regular Show aren’t actually anthropomorphic animals, what if they are just people in suits, and no one questions it?”

3/29/16, kid #1:

“When you’re a little girl everybody thinks you should love horses, but they’re terrible. They’re ugly and they smell and they are not anywhere as majestic as you see in the movies. I don’t mind My Little Pony, but that is the only exception”

12/15/15, kid #1:

“The internet was a mistake”


(TV ad about how if you buy some thing you won’t have to pay until 2020)

Me: that’s when you graduate high school
kid #1: it’s like there’s a giant number “2020” gently tapdancing towards me.
#2: breakdancing towards you
#1: yes, gently breakdancing towards me
#2: you can’t break dance gently. You have to go all the way.

1/27/16, kid #1:

“I hate this new trend of getting girls with soft, smooth, clear voices to do voiceovers for commercials. Her voice makes me want to punch somebody”

5/20/11, watching some movie where a child cusses in one scene:

kid #1: “how’s a kid know those words?!”
me: “from movies like this”
kid #1: “oh, yeah..”

7/7/17, kid #1:

“Taco Bell, Pizza Hut, and KFC – the Triple Entente”


kid #2: I’m gonna work at Hot Topic.
kid #1: hopefully by the time you’re old enough to get a job, Hot Topic will be outlawed.

11/21/13, kid #1 watching fractal zoom videos:

“It’s like I’m a drugged-out hippie!”

5/23/17, kid #1, working on a big project the night before it was due:

“You know Mozart finished one of his symphonies just minutes before they played it live!”

12/23/14, kid #1, while at Whole Foods:

“Every class always has that one kid who smells weird because their mom is a hippie that only shops at Whole Foods”

7/29/14, kid #1:

“Animal Crossing is my anti-drug”

7/3/15, kid #1, on “Cats”:

“When I see the poster for it I don’t think ‘that looks like a respectable Broadway musical’, I think ‘that’s just a bunch of furries'”


Me: why are you dressed up? We’re just going to the drive through, you’re not even going to get out of the car.. are you cosplaying!?

kid 2: no

kid #1: but you do kind of look like you could be a character from something

kid #2: then other people can cosplay as ME

2/6/14, kid #1:

“We can listen to some of your music as long as there’s no flutes involved”

(You make the kids listen to “Thick as a Brick” just once, and you never live it down)

1/7/16, kid #1:

“I have connections on the the Dark Web”

12/19/14, kid #1:

“Kids are terrible”

5/3/15, kid #1 on internet trolls, or something:

“Internet people are real live people. They’re out there somewhere. Just because they don’t live near you, doesn’t mean they don’t live near someone..”


Me: do you have homework?
kid #2: no
Me: then what are you working on ?
kid #2: I have a list of kids who are paying me to draw ponies for them.

3/30/11, kid #2 on those touch-screen soda fountains:

“It’s like an iPhone that gives you drinks”


Kid #2: “Can we go to one of those hipster areas?”

Kid #1: “They don’t have grumpy old people telling you to get off their lawn, they just have grumpy old goth chicks giving you disapproving side-eye looks”


Kid #2: …something something something… had to shut their twitter account down.

Kid #1: glad to hear Furry Twitter is still woke.

Kid #2: yeah furries are accepting of everybody, unless you’re a fuckboy.

Me: what?

Both: nothing!


(Listening to “don’t trust me” by 3OH!3, and the line “do the Helen Keller”)

#1: that’s so wrong, but it’s Helen Keller so I don’t care

#2: what did Helen Keller ever do to you?

#1: uh, I think she was racist or something… maybe she was one of those people that says they “don’t see color”…

7/18/15, kid #2:

“I don’t want to eat somewhere called ‘Pizza Den’. It sounds like eating pizza in some guy’s basement that he calls his ‘man cave’ but it’s really just where he keeps his figurines and watches anime all day”

6/12/14, kid #2:

“When I get a Homestuck shirt I’m gonna wear it to school and people will be like, ‘what is that shirt from?’, and I’ll be like, ‘oh it’s just a thing I like. You wouldn’t know about it'”

6/29/13, kid #2:

“I wish I had the power to snap my fingers and instantly make a baby stop crying”

7/16/15, kid #2:

“I would buy that place and open up a House of Witchcraft”

1/9/15, kid #2:

“Doraville: there’s more swiping here than we’d like”

1/7/14, kid #2:

“I wish it was like the 80s when there were arcades everywhere and you could just go to them anytime you wanted”

5/18/13, kid #2:

“The Harlem Shake is over three hundred years old”

10/5/14, kid #2, on Virginia Highland:

“Seems like the kind of neighborhood where everybody has a child named Caden who isn’t allowed to watch more than one hour of TV a day”

“This seems like the kind of neighborhood where the people all have stick figure families on their cars”

“..where the moms have all read ‘Eat, Pray, Love'”

11/17/15, kid #2:

“Remember when we thought the guy from AWOLNATION was Mr. Rogers?”

12/13/14, kid #2, mocking stereotypical geek fandom members:

“I’m not like other girls, I can read!!”

7/16/14, kid #2, wanting to be allowed to play “Cards Against Humanity”:

“I don’t have the mind of a natural nine year old, so I think I’m good”

10/10/13, kid #2:

“There’s a robot that can solve Rubik’s cube in 5.35 seconds and I want to watch it. Don’t crush my dreams.”

7/25/14, kid #2, unimpressed with “Sky Mall”:

“They expect you to put these in your home?!”

1/16/15, kid #2:

“Blame it on the fructose”

4/5/15, in Waycross, GA:

Kid #2: “What is that thing on the water tower?”

Me: “Looks like Pogo Possum”

Kid #2: “He doesn’t look like a possum he looks like a furry version of Squidward”

5/7/16, kid #2, watching an ad for goldfish crackers:

“This is just like Ouran High School Host Club..”

7/23/17, kid #1 seeing one of our dogs with a rawhide bone:

“She looks like she’s smoking a blunt!”

8/19/17, kid #1:

“the only way I’d be a cheerleader is if someone murdered me and turned my body into a marionette”


kid #1: “me and some of the other girls had fake gay weddings on the last day of school. I married <rattles of two or three names>”

Me: “that’s polygamy. Do you know what that means?”

kid #1: “It means I get all the bitches”.


kid #2: what’s the thing old people fear most?
kid #1: the gays
kid #2: what’s the second most thing?
kid #1: confident young people

9/2/17, kid #1:

“All the kids _like_ Broadway now.”

7/27/17, kid #1 eating some weird blue snack food:

“I feel like for every one of these you eat, that’s another month you have to spend in the underworld with Hades”

7/7/16, kid #1:

“Lisa Frank is true art”

4/21/16, kid #1:

“Why are all these anime set in middle school? *Nothing* happens in middle school!”

10/4/15, kid #1, disapproving of restaurant music:

“It sounds like the default desktop background image of Windows XP is yelling at me”

8/4/15, kid #1:

“I love YouTube channels full of nothing but lyrics videos with small spelling mistakes. You can tell those people haven’t been corrupted by the world yet. They’re just here for the music”

7/2/15, kid #1 (on further questioning she said she meant Ross):

“I can’t really remember what my elementary school science teacher looked like, so I just pretend he looked like the guy from ‘Friends'”

7/1/15, kid #1:

“Who needs to watch sports on TV when you can watch *anime about sports* instead?”

6/24/15, kid #1:

“They should call it *dumb* teens react”

8/5/15, kid #1:

“Isn’t it amazing how I started out as a baby but now I’m basically a fully functional human being who can do things for myself?”

4/23/15, kid #1:

“The only reason I’d want to be a parent is so I can make jokes. If my kid told me, ‘I’m gay’, I’d be like, ‘hi Gay, I’m mom'”

1/18/15, kid #1:

“I know I sound like a hipster, but new SpongeBob is crap”

1/17/15, kid #1:

“The only reason I’d ever sign up for Facebook is if I needed to ‘like’ something to get a discount”

1/16/15, kid #1, on Honey Nut Cheerios:

“I hate him! I hate that bee so much!”

12/24/15, kid #1:

“There’s a reason new stuff is popular: it’s better”


“We’re pretty sure John Egbert is going to die [soon], so we’re building a shrine”

10/9/14, kid #1:

“It tasted good but I couldn’t stop feeling like we might be eating Menudo the band cooked into a soup”

9/18/14, kid #1:

“So this is why iMovie calls that effect the ‘Ken Burns'”

8/16/14, kid #1:

“You’re literally telling me that every time you see aviators worn with a hoodie, you think of that bomber guy?”

6/28/14, kid  #1:

“Memes don’t belong on tv, they don’t belong on tshirts worn by kids too young to know what it is, they don’t belong in pop songs. They belong to the weirdos of the internet!”

6/5/14, kid #1, on “Sylvan Learning” and its ilk:

“Pay money to torture your child all summer”

11/12/15, kid #2:

“Justin Timberlake was in U2”

12/5/14, kid #2:

“Sometimes I think ‘this is a bad dub, I wish I was watching the sub’, and then I remember I’m not watching anime”

12/28/13, kid #2:

“Some people say vinaigrette, some people say vinaiGRAY”


kid #2: “Too bad I can’t marry this hamburger”

kid #1: “But you’d just end up eating it”

kid #2: “That’s the point!”

2/13/16, kid #2, observing a man change the moveable letters on a tall fast food sign using a telescoping tool to grab them and put them in place:

“I wonder if he enjoys his life. I wonder if he’s satisfied with this occupation”

5/28/15, watching some “true crime” show:

kid #1: that cop looks really gay. Sometimes you can just tell by looking at a guy’s face. It’s in the bone structure.

kid #2: no. he’s married and his wife bosses him around a lot. And he doesn’t understand his kids at all. And he is always barbecuing but he’s terrible at it.

12/29/13, kid #2:

“We are the government, we take your money and kill things..”

3/4/11, kid #1:

“No real boy wears nice clothes”

10/4/13, kid #1, watching “Back to the Future”:

“Who names a kid ‘Biff’? It’s like you _want_ him to punch his way through life.”

“You can tell they’re supposed to be dumb, because they have cows”

“This still doesn’t make her likable, it just makes her a hypocrite!” – on 1955 Lorraine compared to 1985

“No guy who isn’t *looking* to get punched in the face would act like that” – on poor George McFly

4/12/13, kid #1:

“Maybe *I* could be a street performer someday”

4/2/11, kid #1:

“Anime people wear _short_ shorts!”

1/17/11, kid #1:

Pizza doesn’t laugh. If it could make any noise, it would cry”


kid #1: “I don’t want to grow up!”

kid #2: “Well you’d have to get bitten by a vampire to stay 9 forever. Apparently vampires aren’t real

12/29/10, kid #1:

“I hate nice things”

12/27/10, kid #1:

“My favorite thing about the holidays is getting a Pez dispenser, filling it up, and eating all the Pez in one day”

12/18/10, kid #1, watching “Hell’s Kitchen”:

“Most of the people that have been on that show committed suicide”

11/15/10, kid #1:

“I love nerdfights”

10/29/10, kid #1, watching “Seinfeld” for the first time:

“This is a horrible, horrible show”

10/15/10, kid #1, on the Iron Giant:

“He’s so cute! I like metal guys.”

9/19/10, kid #1:

“Kids don’t get tired”

8/20/10, kid #1 on computer shopping:

“Get one that has access to Google”

5/30/10, kid #1:

“How many Justin Bieber haircuts do I have to see today? It’s kinda creepy.”

12/12/10, kid #2:

“People are staring at us, wondering ‘why is he letting those little girls drink coffee?'”

7/28/10, kid #2:

“I wonder what Canadian people look like”


Me: “How’s your steak?”

kid #2: “If I’m gobbling it down in one bite, that means it’s good”.

10/26/10, kid #2:

“There *is* such a thing as an upper-case ‘4’, you know”

10/6/10, kid #2:

“I’ve already told you, you should not mess with me”


kid #1: here dad put my DS in your pocket and walk around wherever you see a bunch of nerds, so it’ll pick up street passes

Me: I’m not going to creep on a bunch of teenagers for you

kid #1: you don’t have to talk to them, just kinda walk near them

10/19/12, kid #1:

“Don’t be such an eight year old, Dad”


kid #2: “how do you spell happiness?”

kid #1: “I don’t know, I’ve never experienced it”

9/28/12, adding two new goldfish to the aquarium:

kid #1: I wonder if the new ones have strange accents.

kid #2: Like British accents?

kid #2: They wouldn’t have British accents. All fish fear the British, because of Fish and Chips.

7/6/13, kid #1:

“You mean the government knows what I’ve been texting to my friends?! They know who I have a crush on!”

10/19/12, kid #1:

“I’m so high on pixie sticks I wont be surprised if I wake up on the curb”


kid #1: The cops in my school only do three things. Enforce dress codes, bust kids for skipping class, and yell at the autistic kids for flapping their arms in the hallway.

kid #2: could you make friends with the cops so they won’t arrest you ?

kid #1: that only works in movies, not in real life.


kid #1: some guy today gave me his watch and told me to fix it for him and then give it back to him on Monday.

Me: some guy? you mean like a kid your age?

kid #1: yeah, he’s in the same grade (fourth) as me but in a different class.

Me: why does he think you’ll fix his watch?

kid #1: he must have heard about me. I fix lots of stuff.

Me: at school?

kid #1: yes!

Me: like what?

kid #1: There was this really annoying sound in math class that you could only hear when things were quiet, but made it hard to think when you could hear it. It was coming from a little alarm that was connected to some electrical wires, and I saw there was a knob on it that said “turn to silence alarm”, so I started to turn it but you needed a screw driver to turn it with and I didn’t have one, so I started using a paperclip to turn it with. But the principal happened to be walking by and he thought us kids were trying to stick the paperclip in the electrical outlet, so he made a rule that kids were not allowed to touch that thing anymore, and now every day that alarm goes off and there’s nothing we can do about it. The principal didn’t give the teacher the chance to explain what I was doing..

Me: wait, your teacher knew you were messing with the “alarm”? Why did she let you?

kid #1: because I’m the teacher’s pet and she knows I know what I’m doing!

Me: well why didn’t she get you a screwdriver so you wouldn’t have to use a paperclip?

kid #1: for some reason there’s a rule against giving kids construction tools.

Me: I’d like to see this “alarm”. I don’t suppose you could take a picture of it? Do they allow cameras at school?

kid #1: I don’t know, but the other day some guy I didn’t know had his Nintendo DS at school and was taking pictures of me and the other girls with it without asking us.

Me: how old was he?

kid #1: about my age I guess. Why would a boy do that?

Me: I don’t know.. I think I’m going to walk you into your classroom tomorrow so I can see this alarm. I want to get there early so I can see it before anyone else is in the room.

kid #1: ok but don’t mess with it.


10/9/13, kid #1:

“So the New Testament is basically fan fiction.”

11/5/11, kid #1 looks at Hot Topic:

“no thanks, teenagers kind of scare me”

10/19/12, kid #1:

“Disney’s gone steam punk! It’s awesome!”


Me: So.. you didn’t stay up all night reading fan fiction, you stayed up all night writing it?

kid #1: .. yes

6/29/14, kid #1:

“It’s a good thing you have a beard, Dad. Just having mustache is creepy”

9/26/13, kid #1 watches “Pretty in Pink”:

“I’ve got advice for you Duckie: stop being so creepy.. stop hitting on every girl..”

“I’m not sure what kind of hat that is, but I’m sure it’s not a guy’s hat”

“I would not even be able to talk to a guy who was wearing leopard shorts”

“I don’t care how gay that guy is, dangly earrings are for girls”

“[Andi] is the only girl whose hair doesn’t make me want to punch someone”

“She’s got relatively nice clothes for the time she lives in”

“She’s got stalkers, she can’t be that unpopular”

“I didn’t know hair could have that many spikes! Wow, I’m genuinely impressed!”

“The only thing that guy has going for him is long flowing poofy hair”

“That suit is so floppy! It looks like a suit that a business man would wear but it’s all soft!”

“I wouldn’t let [Duckie] into my home, much less my room”

“This should be a vine!”

“Blane is one of those names like ‘Brad’, and ‘Ryan’, that are always names for popular guys. Girls could be like hey ‘who’s that dork’, but if he says ‘hi I’m Brad’, they’re like ‘oooh, Brad!'”

9/28/12, kid #2:

“Every second gets us closer to when we die”

12/31/13, kid #2, imaging how boys think:

“Oh look a girl! I’ve never seen a real live girl before!”

9/29/12, kid #2, eating devil’s food cake:

“I’m gonna taste some Satan!”

7/31/11, kid #2:

“Someday I’ll get myself a princess job.”


Bayou La Batre’s Own “Cannery Row”

When you grow up in Bayou La Batre, there are certain things long gone that you hear about from the older residents.

The railroad. The fine hotels destroyed by the 1906 and 1916 storms, never to return. The old bridge. (Twist: I remember that one, and the old Dauphin Island bridge too!)

When we would drive around the shore on Shell Belt Road, my Pawpaw would point out a location where the “Old Factory” used to be. There was not even a trace of anything that looked like a building remaining.

This map, dated 1918, shows a “Canning Factory” at the end of a railroad spur, located conveniently near to the “Oyster Beds”. I don’t remember anyone specifically saying that oysters were what was processed at the factory, but it would certainly make a lot of sense if it was.

Source: University of Alabama Map Library

The railroad here was the “Bay Shore” branch of the Mobile & Ohio Railroad, which operated from approximately 1899 to 1940. There is little to show of this line today, the rails having been physically removed soon after abandonment. It is memorialized by Railroad Street in the Bayou and Bay Shore Avenue in Mobile.

This (1926) map highlights the route from Mobile to Bayou La Batre:

Source: University of Alabama Map Library

The  Bay Shore Historical Society website says:

At the far western end of the wye at San Souci was the lead to the Alabama Canning Company, also known as the American Canning Company. Alabama Canning Company was located on the north end of Coffee Island, about a mile south of the junction at San Souci. It was on this track that the trains would head down first, then back up through the wye toward Bayou la Batre.

The 1918 map disagrees about the factory being on Coffee Island, and I’m inclined to side with the map. An island location would have required the railroad to build a mile-long trestle over the bay. This does not fit with any description of this railroad that I’ve ever heard of before, and would have been a literal “bridge to nowhere”.

It seems more reasonable that the factory was located on the mainland.

At the approximate location of where the “Old Factory” was said to be, there is still a dirt “road” off from Shell Belt Rd through the salt marsh, leading towards the shore of Portersville Bay. It goes to a point that naturally sticks out into the bay. It can clearly be seen on modern satellite images:

Source: Google Maps

This is what it looks like in Google Street View (and in real life too!):

It is most consistent with the old map if this “road” is actually the railroad right-of-way. Here is the satellite image with the guessed route of the railroad tracks highlighted in yellow:

The real revelation happened when I began searching for more info on the “Alabama Canning Company”.

It turns out there are a lot of pictures of this place, located in the National Archives and the Library of Congress!

This photo shows oysters being unloaded onto the dock. It looks like they had a large pier running out into the bay, with railroad tracks utilized for wheeled oyster baskets. The factory in the background looks like a sizeable operation. It must have been the biggest industry in town at the time.

Source: Mediawiki Commons

Here we see the whole thing as it looked from out on a boat in the bay:

Source: Library of Congress

Many of the photos show very young workers in the factory and on the boats. This was the early 20th century, the era of child labor.

Original caption: “Alfred and Willie, two young oyster fishers in Mobile Bay. A few, but not many of these youngsters are found on the oyster boats. Bayou La Batre, Ala.” (National Archives)

“Fred, a young oyster fisher; working on an oyster boat in Mobile Bay, the Reef, near Bayou La Batre, said he was fourteen, but not likely. ” (Library of Congress)

“Shucking oysters in the Alabama Canning Company (Dunbar Lopez, Dukate Co.) Small boy on left end is Mike Murphy, ten years old, and from Baltimore” (LOC)

“On right-hand end is Marie —, eight years old, who shucks 6 or 7 pots of oysters a day (30 or 35 cents) at a canning company. At left end of photo is Johnnie —, eight years old, who earns 45 cents a day. Been shucking for three years. ” (LOC)

“Little Nettie [?], a regular oyster-shucker in Alabama Canning Co. She speaks no English. Note the condition of her shoes, caused by standing on the rough shells so much, a common sight”. (Other versions identify the subject as “Lottie”)
These photos were taken about 1912-1913. The children would have been born in the first decade of the 20th century. This is about the age of my great-grandparents. If you are from Bayou La Batre, some of them could be your great-grandparents, if not great-great-grandparents.

The work was seasonal, with many families coming to town only during the cooler months when oysters were in season. You can see in the photos almost everyone is dressed for cooler weather. Many of the workers were also immigrants, as the captions mention some children being unable to speak English. From the Mississippi Gulf Coast Museum of Museum of Historical Photography website:

The [labor shortage] problem was resolved initially by bringing in Eastern European immigrants known as ‘Bohemians’ from the Baltimore, Maryland canneries.  The Baltimore people traveled in special railroad cars from their homes in Baltimore to work the canneries during the winter oyster season along the coast.   They lived in factory-owned camps near the canneries, and the children rarely attended local schools. Some of the Baltimore families stayed on after the oyster season.

We can assume the hiring practices established in Biloxi were also followed in Bayou La Batre.

It turns out the reason all of these 100-year old pictures from Bayou La Batre are part of the national historical record, is because they were part of a famous series taken by Lewis Wickes Hine. Lewis Hine is an unsung hero of American labor relations, risking his own safety to end the practice of child labor in this country.

Lewis W. Hine

In 1908 Hine became the photographer for the National Child Labor Committee (NCLC), leaving his teaching position. Over the next decade, Hine documented child labor, with focus on the use of child labor in the Carolina Piedmont,[3] to aid the NCLC’s lobbying efforts to end the practice.[4] In 1913, he documented child laborers among cotton mill workers with a series of Francis Galton‘s composite portraits.

Hine’s work for the NCLC was often dangerous. As a photographer, he was frequently threatened with violence or even death by factory police and foremen. At the time, the immorality of child labor was meant to be hidden from the public. Photography was not only prohibited but also posed a serious threat to the industry. To gain entry to the mills, mines and factories, Hine was forced to assume many guises. At times he was a fire inspector, postcard vendor, bible salesman, or even an industrial photographer making a record of factory machinery.[5]

So here we have a connection to historical events of national importance, right there in Bayou La Batre, and all that’s left of it is a dirt path through the marsh grass and scattered recollections of an “Old Factory”.

Hine is also the photographer of a very well known series on the construction of the Empire State Building.

Source: CUNY

So when was this factory built, and whatever happened to it? The Bay Shore website says:

Below is a photograph taken before the hurricane of 1906, showing the company tracks on the west side of the building. The photographer is facing south, toward Portersville Bay.

The buildings seen in this image were either heavily damaged, or destroyed, in the 1906 hurricane, and the company either elected not to rebuild, or was financially unable to. At a later date (unknown) this location became the Dunbar & Ducate Factory. Dunbar & Ducate was later destroyed by a boiler explosion which claimed the lives of several employees.

“Dunbar & Ducate”, (or DuKate) had already taken over by the time of Hines’ photos in 1912-1913 (and indeed some of his captions refer to it as such).

W.K.M. DuKate

The Biloxi Historical Society lists a number factories owned by several firms involving the DuKate family, including “Dunbars, Lopez, & Dukate Company“, in Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana. It appears that it was often called the “Alabama Canning Company” even when it was owned by DuKate.

Julian Lee Rayford, writing in 1956, describes a world already long gone, including a “Big Factory” owned by “Dunn, Barr, and Ducate”.

GEORGE BRYANT told me about the factories
in Bayou la Batre.

The factories fall into two classes. First, the
factories of 1915, and a few years later. And,
second, the factories of today. There is little con-
nection between the two. True, the factories have
always canned shrimp and oysters, but there is a
distinct contrast between the periods.

Pure Food Laws have cleaned them up, and
now, everything is peaceful and quiet in the fac-
tories. Government inspectors stand on constant vi-
gil making the pickers maintain purity and quality
in the products.

After 1906, the factories lined the Bayou.
There was the Union factory, operated by the
Union. There was the finest and largest, the one
run by Daughdrille. On the coast, was the “Big
Factory,” controlled by Dun, Barr and Ducate. And
there was the “Green Factory,” so called because of
the color used on the outside of the building. All
along the Bayou were the picking sheds, which sent
their products to the larger establishments to be
packed, or, canned.

An article in the New Orleans Times-Democrat, April 7 1910, mentions a factory being constructed by this company in Bayou La Batre:

The John F. Wentzell mentioned here is probably related to Wintzell’s Oyster House founder J. Oliver Wintzell, as well as the Wintzell family of Bayou La Batre.

The factory is described as packing shrimp. It is not clear if this was the same facility as the oyster plant shown in the photos, or a different plant also located in Bayou La Batre.

I cannot find any information about the existence of the Alabama Canning Company earlier than this. It is possible it operated under a different name before DuKate took it over, if it actually existed before 1910.

The plant survived and was repaired after the 1916 storm:

I can only find one other page about an explosion, the Find-A-Grave page for Robert Walter Cox who died on August 16, 1923 when an ammonia tank exploded in the ice plant of the cannery. It reads like a newspaper article, but there’s no citation and I cannot find the same story anywhere else.


Ammonia Tank Blows Up At Bayou La Batre, Killing Robert Cox and Wrecking Plant

Death injury and heavy property damage resulted form a violent explosion at the ice pant of the Alabama Canning Company at Bayou la Batre Thursday night. Robert Cox, 40 years old, frieman at the plant was almost instantly killed and two other persons, Willie and Aime Castello, father and son, recieved serious injuries. The disaster occurred when an ammonia generator exploded, wrecking the one-story structure. The loud noise which accompanied the explosion attracted the attention of people throughout the community, many of whom hurried to the scene.

Cox was discovered in a dying condition outside the boiler room a few minutes after the generator exploded. The younger Castello was huried to the roof of the building from which he was rescued by persons who rushed to the plant. Willie Castello, the father, is an engineer at the plant according to information received in Mobile. His son is tankman at the ice plant.

Shortly after the accident a Mobile physicain was summoned to treat the injured. The small casualty list was apprently attributable to the fact that only a few employees were on duty whe the explosion occurred.

Perhaps this explosion was too much for the Big Factory to come back from, and put them out of business. Perhaps the Pure Food and Child Labor laws had made the business unprofitable. Or maybe decreasing supply due to overfishing. Or a combination of all these things.

By the time of this 1943 map, the railroad is abandoned, the spur track for the factory is already just a dirt road, and the there is no indication building where the factory would have been.

Source: USGS

It is also gone on this aerial photograph from the 1940s, where things do not look terribly different from today:

Source: Bay Shore Historical Society

In the 20 years from 1923 to 1943, all trace of the Old Factory has vanished into the sea and sand.

Tunnel Springs, Alabama

Near the town of Tunnel Springs in southwest Alabama is a feature normally reserved for more mountainous areas: a railroad tunnel, abandoned for years, and relatively easy to find.

The tunnel is located up the abandoned line past the north end of what is now the Alabama Railroad. Wikipedia gives us the date of construction of the tunnel as 1899:

The route of the Alabama Railroad was originally constructed over several years (between 1880–1901) as the Pensacola & Selma Railroad and quickly became a part of the Louisville & Nashville Railroad network. The original line proceeded north from Corduroy, Alabama to Selma, Alabama. That portion of the line was abandoned by the Seaboard System prior to the merger with CSX in 1986. There was also a L&N branch that went to Camden from a junction just northeast of Corduroy that was abandoned prior to the merger into the Seaboard System in 1986. The remainder of the line north of Peterman, Alabama was abandoned approximately 1994 to include an 800+ foot tunnel built in 1899 located at Tunnel Springs, Alabama.

This should not be confused with the similarly-named and situated Alabama and Gulf Coast Railway, the former Frisco line only a few miles to the west.

As I’m always looking for things to do on that long stretch of Nowhere, Al, between Mobile and Montgomery, I decided to go find it. After looking at some topo maps, I got a pretty good idea of where it was.

This link in Google Maps gets you to a location where a trail that used to be the tracks crosses the road:’19.7%22N+87%C2%B013’21.4%22W/@31.672144,-87.222623,18z/data=!4m2!3m1!1s0x0:0x0

From there, I walked south along the railroad. There were no ties or rails left on this part of the railroad, making a smooth walk.


Obviously by the ruts in the ground, people drive off-road here a lot, so if you have a 4×4 you could just drive right to the tunnel.

Getting close to the tunnel:


Nearing the tunnel entrance, the trail gets pretty muddy. You have been warned.


This picture, you can kind of see how much water is right in front of the tunnel.


It’s actually drier inside the tunnel itself.



I walked far enough to see daylight from the other end, and then turned around.

The ceiling is home to a large number of bats. The sound of them chirping is quite loud, and the whole place smells like guano.


Atlanta railfanning locations, part 1: Spring

Those of you who remember me as a foamer in college would be surprised at this, but I’ve been quite lax in the train watching hobby for a while. The last time, until recently, that I regularly out with a scanner looking for trains was in the early 2000s when I worked in midtown. With basically no economic development west of the Connector back then to create traffic, I would use my lunch break to zip over to Inman and Tilford yards, Howell junction, the Marietta artery, sometimes all the way downtown. Or all the way west to the Chattahoochee.

I moved locations, I got busy with other stuff, I gave my last scanner away to some wacky college kids (ahem).

Only in 2014, when I started to make the trek to public outdoor shooting ranges (a subject for a different post) and subsequently started exploring the lesser known rural highways of Georgia did I feel the rails calling again.

So in 2015 I have purchased a new scanner and am refamiliarizing myself with where one can get close to the tracks. This is not always easy in a city that grows as rapidly as Atlanta.

Locations where you can get a good view of trains, with nearby parking, and without having to trespass (much) are not as common as one would like. So this is a series of posts describing places to see trains.

If anything below is incorrect, please someone point it out.

Before beginning, here is a general overview of the Atlanta area so I don’t have to write one myself.

Spring Street Norfolk Southern Building and surroundings

The former Southern Railway building (actually collection of interconnected buildings) downtown on Spring Street has been vacated since the mid-2000s, when Norfolk Southern moved their Atlanta offices to midtown on Peachtree Street. As far as I am aware it has not been sold and is still owned by the railroad, although one of the entrances I saw has the Atlanta police logo on it, I do not believe it is actually owned by the city.

The building has been used as a filming location for The Walking Dead. The bridge that crosses the tracks here is the bridge that Rick rode over on horseback in the first (or a very early) episode. The roof of one of the buildings was the setting for some important scenes early in the first season. I have not watched the show past the 2nd season so I do not know if they returned here or not. There is a nearby tour bus business called “Atlanta movie tours” that I think is focused on TWD fandom.

The nominal location for at least one NS building is “125 Spring Street Southwest, 30303“.

There are parking spaces in front of the building itself, but they bear prominent “you gonna get towed” signs. I am not sure how long you could get away with ignoring them. There is pay parking across Spring Street,  but it is probably not worth it.

Nelson Street passes through the buildings, and crosses the railroad tracks behind on an elevated overpass. This overpass has been relegated to pedestrian only traffic, and when you walk on it you will immediately see why, the pavement is in bad shape and there are cracks that you can see through all the way down. You should probably be able to find free on-street parking on the other side of the bridge.. unless there is a major event going on at Phillips Arena or the Georgia Dome, in which case you are just screwed for parking and you should go watch trains someplace else.

A good location to plug into Apple/Google mapping apps to get directions to a street you might actually be able park on is Smoke Ring BBQ, at 309 Nelson St SW, 30313.

Three MARTA stations are nearby, as seen on the map. The Garnett Station formerly announced “Norfolk Southern” was one of the destinations at that stop.

Both NS and CSX trains pass by here. This location is marked as “Spring” in both the NS and CSX employee timetables. Atlanta is too complex to have a single bottleneck point for all trains, but this spot sees a lot of them. Here is a sloppily annotated and somewhat inaccurate map that I made showing the major rail lines in the immediate vicinity:

The first photo here is a view of the “back” of the building from across the railroad tracks. The bridge shown is the pedestrian Nelson Street.

The area between is the southernmost extremity of Atlanta’s infamous Railroad Gulch. The portion shown here may be the only part of the gulch that is not paved, the rest being mostly parking lots. (There will be a post in the near future focusing on the gulch and Underground Atlanta area from a rail perspective)

The small building down in the gulch next to the tracks is the Spring Interlocking Tower. This is one of very few remaining such towers anywhere, and almost certainly the only one in the metro area.

I think the two tracks nearest the camera here are Norfolk Southern and two beyond are used by both NS and CSX (I believe owned by NS).



This is the front entrance to 125 Spring Street, showing both the “Southern Railway” name and the aforementioned “Atlanta Police”.


This is taken from the Mitchell Street bridge which runs just north of the complex, which unlike Nelson is open to vehicular traffic. This train was idling here the entire time I was there. The cars are from the Federal Railway Agency.

The structure behind the train that looks like a passenger platform is exactly that, a reminder of the long-demolished Terminal Station. Here, not the current Amtrak station on Peachtree, is where Southern operated its intercity passenger trains.


This was a CSX power move of two locos that came down from the direction of Hulsey Yard (the bridge it is emerging from under is Mitchell Street) and then sat idling the rest of the time I was there.

The tall white building on the right is the Richard B. Russell Federal Building. In the parking deck under it there are spaces marked “FBI Parking Only”, and a scary number of vehicles labelled with various other three-letter government agencies.




These photos show a soundbound CSX train as it passes under the Nelson Street bridge. The first is looking north, the second looking south. Note the two locos sitting to the right in the 2nd photo.



This is an NS train, seen from the other side of the gulch.




These next photos are taken down in the gulch. I was able to get down there by driving through the Phillips Arena parking lot. The first photo shows the crossing of a CSX line (the same line that the two locomotives were on) that is inside the parking area, which I found notable because of the lack of “railroad crossing” signs (even the normal “private railroad crossing” usually seen). The other two are of the tower.