If you build a dam here…

Lake Union 1

While kayaking on Parr Shoals Reservoir last Saturday, Alan and I started discussing lakes in general. Specifically we were talking about the placement of dams and the hydrology of water backing up to fill in the space. We laughed at one of the last scenes of “O Brother, Where Art Thou“, where the lake comes flooding in as a torrent, rather than rising gently as it should. As far as movies go, “Deliverance” was a more realistic view of how lakes are created.

As the conversation proceeded, I reminisced about the time I participated in the SC-MAPS project when I was a teacher. This was a three-day workshop where we learned how to use topographic maps and satellite imagery in the classroom. This was long before the days of Google Earth, so the ability to look at overhead images of where you live was still a novelty.

One of the activities they had us do was to draw a line across a river connecting contour lines at the same height. This line would represent a dam. Then we were to trace the contour line at that level all the way around, outlining the area that would be inundated by the new lake. It was a tedious process, but the results were fascinating. The lakes always turned out much larger than we expected.

As Alan and I talked, we wondered if there was some automated way to do this using Google Earth, so when I got home I started searching for a method. The automated systems I found were complex, requiring advanced knowledge of ArcGIS, hydrology, and GIS techniques in general. Even so, I think I’ve found a simple way in Google Earth. Here’s how… Continue reading “If you build a dam here…”

Rambling through Greenwood

Dino Cafe Sign

I got a note from fellow explorer Mark Elbrecht the other day mentioning that they were offering tours of Cokesbury College as part of Greenwood’s Festival of Flowers. Mark was able to do the tour on Saturday, but I was off paddling Parr Shoals. My brother Houston was in town, so we stopped by to pick up my sister Glynda and headed down toward Greenwood.

The route from Gray Court to Greenwood cuts across the Laurens County countryside. Southwest of Hickory Tavern we found ourselves at Boyds Mill Pond, an impoundment on the Reed River with a small hydroelectric plant. We stopped to take a few photos.

Boyds Mill Pond Jun 24, 2012 11-039Boyds Mill Pond Jun 24, 2012 11-036

The river below the dam has several fishing access spots. One point looked like it would be an excellent place to launch a kayak, but it was very trashy. There were several folks fly-fishing downstream. Continue reading “Rambling through Greenwood”

Paddling Parr Shoals

Parr Shoals

Saturday Laura had to meet with new advisees at Furman, so Alan and I decided to do some paddling. We wanted to find a place that was fairly close to Greenville, and that we hadn’t paddled before. I’ve had my eye on Parr Shoals, just east of Prosperity, for some time now and that’s where we decided to go.

Parr Shoals is on the Broad River, and is just north of where we put in on our marathon paddle from Peak to Harbison State Forest. Parr Shoals, along with its sister reservoir, Monticello, are often overlooked. While Parr Shoals is fed by the Broad River, water is pumped from the river into Monticello, then returned to Parr Shoals via tailrace. Both reservoirs serve as impoundments for the V. C. Summer nuclear power plant, one of the first nuclear power plants in the Southeast. Construction is currently underway for additional reactors.

We were joined by Alan’s son, Joshua, a recent Furman graduate himself. We met early Saturday and Alan and Josh followed me down I-26 to the Pomaria exit, then on across country to the Cannon Creek Landing on Parr Shoals.

Alan with kayakJosh with Boats Continue reading “Paddling Parr Shoals”

Social Marketing Gone Awry

Screen Shot 2012-06-18 at 2.17.15 PM

So, Shell Oil decided that they would embark on a new marketing campaign to promote drilling in the Arctic. The campaign, entitled “Let’s Go”, let’s users create their own marketing slogans using a series of photo templates.

We at Shell want everyone to feel as “pumped” as we do about freeing much-needed Arctic resources. After all, the Arctic is the common heritage of all humanity, and what we do there matters to everyone.

That’s why Shell is inviting you to create your very own Let’s Go! ad for our Arctic campaign. We’ll feature it on our website, and you can show all your Facebook friends how pumped you are to seize the day’s opportunities too. The best submissions will win exciting prizes—including an all-expenses-paid trip to see the Kulluk in action!

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What could possibly go wrong? Continue reading “Social Marketing Gone Awry”

Yard Portal

I was out in our backyard cutting grass when I spotted this enormous hole in the bank leading down to the lowest level of our yard. The hole is about 40 feet from our lake, but about four feet above lake level in the bank. Its about 10 inches across, and depth is hard to … Continue reading Yard Portal

Searching for Coopersville

Cherokee Ford on the Broad River

About a month ago SCETV was airing an episode of Palmetto Places on Gaffney, South Carolina. I caught the tail end of a segment about the Coopersville Iron Works. I didn’t catch much of the segment, but heard enough to know that it should be a target for one of my ghost town hunts. It sounded like it would be a perfect rambling trip for this week’s Friday off.

Coopersville was one of a series of Civil War era iron furnace operations in Cherokee County. In addition to this complex, there were furnaces near Cowpens and Thicketty Mountain. Coopersville was the largest, with several factories, a post office and some stores. All of these historic iron works are on private property, and finding information about the actual location proved to be a challenge. The National Register nomination form for Coopersville was severely redacted so that no addresses were visible. Even beyond that, the name “Coopersville” didn’t show up on any GNIS listings, or on any other lists of towns that I had, historic or otherwise.

After several conversations on Google+ with my history exploring friends, Mark Elbrecht pointed me in the direction of an archeological survey done in the 1980s prior to the construction of electrical transmission lines. It contained several maps which were not redacted. I used that map as basis for my ramblings.

Predictive Modeling: An Archeolgical Assessment of Duke Power Company's Proposed Cherokee Transmission Lines Continue reading “Searching for Coopersville”

UTC12 Retrospective

This past week I participated in the Upstate Technology Conference, put on by the Greenville County School District.  UTC has been going on for many years now, but this is the first time I’ve participated.  This is time of year I’m either taking a vacation, or heading to the ISTE conference, or I’m swamped with computer upgrades.  This year I made a point of attending by submitting several proposals for presentations.

Actually, I submitted proposals for four topics – Google Earth, Aviary.com, Google Apps, and one on Making Music on Your iPad.  I figured they would select one or two.  They picked all four, and even had me doing the music session twice.  I was a bit surprised.  I would be presenting in five out of the eight available concurrent sessions – one on Tuesday and four on Wednesday.  I wasn’t going to have time to visit any of the other sessions.

The conference was held at Wade Hampton High School, just a hop and a skip from my house.  I arrived early Tuesday to check in and scout out my room.  I had the first session open, so I sat in on Cathy Jo Nelson’s presentation on using and manipulating images.  She had some great ideas, as usual. Continue reading “UTC12 Retrospective”

Research Tools in Google Docs

I really miss Google Notebook. Combined with the Firefox plugin, it was one of the most useful tools for online research. I was very disappointed when Google decided to discontinue the service. At least they copied all of my notes into my Google Docs account when they ended the service.

So, I’ve been trying to use Google Docs when I do research for this blog. It’s not quite as elegant, but it gets the job done. Now Google has released a new tool for Google Docs. While it doesn’t completely replace Notebook, it does have potential as a great research tool. Continue reading “Research Tools in Google Docs”

Local Paddling Venues

After a spring full of multiple paddling trips, some on consecutive Saturdays, we finally had a weekend to ourselves with no paddling trips planned. Well, actually, I could have gone with my Lowcountry Unfiltered friends to Little Tybee Island on Saturday, but Laura and I really needed a weekend to ourselves at home. Even so, … Continue reading Local Paddling Venues

There’s a little black spot on the sun today…

Transit of Venus Jun 5, 2012 7-33 PM.16 PM

Yesterday evening Laura and I headed to to Furman to observe the transit of Venus, as the planet made its way across the surface of the sun.  This astronomical event happens every 120 years, and occurs in pairs, separated by 8 years.  The last transit was in 2004, and the next one won’t be until 2117.

It didn’t look like the weather was going to cooperate.  Heavy clouds obscured the sun, but there were enough breaks to make at least a momentary observation a possibility. So, we made our way down to the central quad area of the Townes Science Center at Furman, where Dr. David Moffat had two telescopes set up, and where others were gathering.

Transit of Venus Jun 5, 2012 6-54 PMTransit of Venus Jun 5, 2012 6-055Transit of Venus

Continue reading “There’s a little black spot on the sun today…”