Monthly Archives: May 2022

The Great Salt Lake

As I stood looking out across The Great Salt Lake last November, I could not help thinking about other salty lakes. I wondered where it ranked among them. I have swum in the Great Salt Lake. Its salt contest makes it hard to dive and swim. This lake that the Mormons settled near and used for recreation seems unique, but is it? It actually ranks about 8th in the world for salt content. This lake is so salty because it is fed by 3 rivers that have no outlet other than it, so when their waters evaporate, salt is left.

So where are the 7 saltier lakes? My research began and was full of surprises. The 2 saltiest lakes on Planet Earth are both in the same place, Antarctica. Don Juan Pond is the saltier of the 2, so it ranks as the saltiest lake anywhere on this planet. Lake Vanda, also in Antarctica, is saltier than seawater and ranks #2 for salt content.

The 3rd saltiest body of water on this planet might be Lake Assal. Its in the African country of Djibouti and is in a dormant volcanic crater. Its water is way below sea level and fed by hot springs.

The 4th saltiest lake is Lake Baskunchak in Russia. It is so salty that it provides 80% of this country’s salt production. It has been a salt factory since the 8th century. Lake Baskunchak is in southern Russia.

Among the saltiest lakes, the Dead Sea is the 5th saltiest and miscalled a sea. This biblical lake shares its borders with the countries Jordan and Israel. It is way below sea level. It is, in fact, the lowest spot on the planet. Its water level is dropping.

The Garabogazkol Aylagy is among the world’s saltiest lakes. It is in the country of Turkmenistan and forms a lagoon on the Caspian Sea. This so-called sea really isn’t a sea at all. It’s classified on many lists as the world’s largest lake for several reasons. It is close to 34% saltier than the Caspian and has no marine vegetation. Garabogaz is a city.

The Qarhan Lake in China is among the world’s saltiest places. It is actually not now a lake but a plain that is mined for its salt that is rich in potassium and other minerals.

This is not an exact science. There are many lists of the world’s saltiest lakes and they differ. Let’s just say that The Great Salt Lake is about #8 among the world’s saltiest bodies of water.


Towns Named Jackson

This should have been easy but proved to be one of the more difficult towns named. The problem began with a book. I decided to reread the current one by Susan Orlean called On Animals because I liked it so much the first time. It surprised me because it has not been the success I expected since most people have a pet or 2 nowadays. Ruth and I listen to dogs bark all day since all of our neighbors have them. The newest animal addition has been the way cute but increasingly large dog next door.

The real problem began last evening as I was reading “The Lady and the Tigers” for the 2nd time. This tiger tale took place in Jackson, NJ. Orlean reports that, “Jackson is not a bad place to be a tiger.” She repeats the name of this town often as she tells about Jackson’s local Six Flags Amusement Park, its popularity as a place to live, and animal hoarders, persons who engage in the pathological collecting of animals. Orlean documents the fact that 2/3 of animal hoarders are female and that the average hoarder owns 39 animals but that some women collect up to 100 of them, mostly cats and dogs, before authorities step in and attempt to control the situation. When some of the cats are large ones like tigers social problems become overwhelming.

Andrew Jackson was the 7th US President. He was controversial. A very successful politician, this frontier lawyer won the popular vote 3 times and became the first President not from the original 13 colonies. He founded the Democratic Party, owned slaves, killed a man in a duel, and was the first President almost assassinated. Nicknamed Old Hickory, he preferred his home in Tennessee to Washington, DC and signed the Indian Removal Act that led to the Trail of Tears and the relocating of entire Indian tribes to Oklahoma. Most of the Jackson towns were named for him.

Most of the towns name Jackson or Jacksonville, and there are lots of them, were named for Andrew but not all of them. The town of Jackson, WY, for example, was named for David Edward Jackson, who gave his name to this Teton Mountain Valley city of more than 10,000 people that has now become a huge tourist magnet. There are 2 towns in New Zealand named Jackson River and Jacksons, one Jackson in Africa, several Jackson geographic place names in Australia, and there are at least 3 Jacksons in Canada. It is bizarre to think that all of these were named after an American President.

However, there are 32 places in the USA named Jackson or Jacksonville, and it is not a stretch to think that most of them were named for President Andrew Jackson. There are large towns named Jackson like the capital of Mississippi, the city of Jackson, TN, and the fairly large population center called Jackson in Michigan. There are also 23 counties in the US named Jackson and one Parish in Louisiana. I even found Jackson, New Jersey! It really does exist even though most map makers do not acknowledge it.


Towns Named Ottawa

There are 14 population centers known as Ottawa in the USA. Some of them are counties only. There are actual towns named Ottawa in only about 6 states. Most of them are not too far from Canada. The largest Ottawa is in Illinois. It’s a substantial town on the Illinois River not too far from Chicago and the scene of a Lincoln-Douglas debate in the 19th century. Its only competition for size is the Ottawa in Kansas south of Lawrence. It has a population of about 13,000 people and a university. We went through it last year on our way to Wichita.

I spotted the Ottawa in Ohio, a town of about 5,000 people, while doing research about all of the towns in America that have Greek roots. There are a surprising number of them, and Ottawa, OH is near one of the few towns named Pandora. Pandora is a Greek name and an unincorporated Ohio town on Highway 12 north of big Lima not too far from yet another town with the Greek name of Delphos.

Of course, the largest town name Ottawa is the capital city of Canada. A city of 883,000 people, Ottawa is a great city on the Ottawa River north of Kingston. Wisely, Canada located its capital across the river from the French speaking city of Gatineau, Quebec. Ruth and I were there on Canada Day several years ago.

The only other towns named Ottawa are, strangely enough, in Africa. There is a suburb called Ottawa for the city of Durban, South Africa, and a tiny village in the country called Ivory Coast with this name.

There is a fairly substantial town named Ottawa in Wisconsin’s Waukesha County. Even though it contains 4,000 or so people, this Ottawa is not on maps perhaps because it is now considered a suburb of Milwaukee.


World’s Tallest Buildings

While we have been preoccupied with other global problems, the world has gone crazy building very tall buildings. This was dramatically brought to my attention when a couple in Florida, actually my son-in-law’s parents, sent me a Film Core listing of historically tall structures. It is fascinating! Because they are an avidly French couple, the source video was surely in the French language.

This video begins with the a cartoon-naked strongman demonstrating the tallness trend. He begins with the Philadelphia City Hall. When it was constructed in 1901, it was the tallest building in the world with 7 floors and soaring 548 feet into the sky. Now it’s a minor and not-very-tall building. The video goes on to document what has happened. Many of the world’s first really tall buildings were in New York City, including the destroyed World Trade Center buildings that are featured along with the Chrysler and the Empire State Buildings.

According to other sources, the 3 tallest buildings the world today are The Burj Khalifa, at 2,722 feet the world’s tallest structure and featured in the Film Core video, The Merdeka 118 that is 1,972 feet tall, and the Shanghai Tower that Ruth and I have seen and is 2,073 feet of soaring majesty. This tallest building assessment may no longer already be true.

The video sent to me by Stan’s parents includes The Jeddah Tower in Saudi Arabia that is currently on hold. With 167 floors and a height of 3,281 feet, this impressive high rise has been under construction for 7 years now and, when finished will become the tallest tower ever built that only Muslims will see. Its future remains uncertain.

Many of the world’s currently tallest buildings are in Asia. Its building boom began with the twin Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur, continued with the Taipei 101 in Taiwan that will surely be at risk if China invades this island, and the Ping An International Finance Centre in Shenzhen, China, near Hong Kong, already a city of high rise buildings. Completed in 2017, Ping An is Shenzhen’s tallest building and the 4th tallest building in the world. It is 115 stories and 1,965 feet tall.

The Emirate called Dubai is something of a tall building champ. The Burj Khalifa is, of course, there; but there are also already 72 other structures over 656 feet tall in this Emirate including the world’s 2nd tallest hotel. This is the Emirates largest city and the construction boom continues with the Dubai Creek Tower and other construction projects. Unfortunately, this Tower’s construction has been halted since foundation preparations were completed in 2018. Destined to be the tallest building in the world if completed, its future is very much in doubt.


Towns Named Union

There are said to be 37 towns in the United States with Union in their names. I quickly concludes that this had something to do with either our divided nation as the result of the Civil War or labor unrest. Neither is correct. A bit of research convinced me that the use of the word union in town names had nothing to do with either The Civil War or organized labor. This name was chosen in almost every case to explain people coming together in the 1800s when most of them were named.

I quickly came to the conclusion that the selection of these many town names had to do with political unity or some other factor rather than current events. Most of the towns with Union in their names had the word followed by Gap, Point, Park, or Grove. For example, the Union City in the state of Massachusetts is more commonly referred to as the town of Naugatuck. The town of Union Bay in Canada’s BC has to do with geography rather than Confederation.

I decided to divide Union towns into 2 categories. There are several towns in the USA called Union City. There are, in fact, 9 of them. There are also 6 towns with the name Union alone. Where are these Union Cities? There are towns with this name in the following states: Georgia, California, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, and New Jersey. The largest town called Union City is in the east San Francisco Bay area south of Oakland with a population of more than 66,500.

The 6 towns called Union are in Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri, Washington, West Virginia, and New Jersey. The state of New Jersey has both a Union and a Union City. Union, MO has a population of about 10,000 and a notable Six Flags Amusement Park. Ruth and I have been in this Union many times.

In addition there are also 17 counties in the USA with the name Union. This is probably the most common name selected to identify counties and has nothing to do with pressing political events.