Searching for the Towers

You would think that something that stands 100′ high would be easy to find.  Certainly, when you’re close enough they are very visible.  However, locating lookout tower sites on maps turns out to be harder than I had thought. I knew of several definite locations such as the Duncan Tower, Glassy Mountain, Paris Mountain, and … Continue reading Searching for the Towers

All Along the Watchtower

Duncan Lookout Tower Cab

This is going to be one of those multi-part posts. I’ve got tons of information on this subject, and it won’t be possible to put it all in one story.

I’ve always been fascinated by lookout towers. Near where I grew up in Laurens County there were two small monadnocks called the Little Knob and Big Knob. The Big Knob had a fire tower on it, and I longed to scale its steps and enjoy the view from the top. Some miles to the north is another prominent, larger monadnock with a fire tower – Paris Mountain. When I was around eight years old I did get to climb up the steps, but never made it into the cab at the top. I distinctly remember the trap door being padlocked when we got to the top.

I had forgotten all about the towers until just this past week. I had been looking for locations to do long-exposure photographs of I-85 for traffic trails when I spotted the Duncan lookout tower on the way home from work on Friday. At the intersection of Danzler and Victor Hill Roads it had a perfect view of the Interstate, so I went to explore. I found the tower in the front yard of a house on Victor Hill Road. The fence around its base now had a dog house within, and it was clear that the tower had not been used in years. I gave up on using this location as a photography platform, but now I wanted to learn more about the towers themselves, so a new quest was born. Continue reading “All Along the Watchtower”

Google Earth Plus PowerPoint Mash-up


In mid-March I will be heading to SCETV studios in Columbia for a week of workshops, teaching South Carolina teachers about Google Earth. I do this every year and thoroughly enjoy meeting educators from around the state. Each year I try to change things up a bit, and this year is no different.

I’m really tired of PowerPoint. Or, more specifically, I’m tired of the laziness of boring bullet points read to an audience. I try to keep these to a minimum in my presentations, preferring to demonstrate actual software rather than spend the entire presentation in PowerPoint. This time I think I’ve found a way to combine both PowerPoint and Google Earth for an effective presentation, and here’s how I’m going to do it. Continue reading “Google Earth Plus PowerPoint Mash-up”

Hope and Copyright

I’ve been following with interest the news about artist Shepherd Fairey and the controversy surrounding his iconic HOPE poster used by the Obama campaign. The Associated Press is arguing that Fairey’s poster represents an illegal use of copyrighted work. The poster is based on a 2006 photograph by Mannie Garcia, a photographer for the AP. … Continue reading Hope and Copyright

Google Releases Google Earth version 5

Today I found out from Frank Taylor’s Google Earth Blog that Google has released version 5 of Google Earth.  I had to run out and update my copies of the program right away.

At first glance there doesn’t appear to be much different.  The buttons are altered slightly but the overall user interface hasn’t changed.  However, there’s quite a bit new in this release, most of it under the surface (literally.)

The brand-new flashier bits in this version are as follows:

Google Ocean – greater details of the ocean floor had already worked their way into the last release of version 4.  However, now users can plunge beneath the water’s surface to explore.  A new folder of points of interest has been added to accompany the new feature.

Google Mars – Now users can switch between Earth, Sky, and Mars.  The imagery is quite impressive.  However, make sure that you de-select any of your terrestrial layers.  It was a bit disconcerting to see earth-bound geotagged Flickr images on Mars.

Historical Images – To me, this is one of the coolest new features.  When activated from a button on the tool bar, a slider appears.  If there are any historical images of that location, slide the bar to the left to view them.  It’s great for tracking changes over time.  For example, here’s a view of the Reedy Falls Park area from 1994, prior to construction of the Liberty Bridge and Falls Place… Continue reading “Google Releases Google Earth version 5”