Offbeat and Unusual Places

Things I find interesting might be a bore to someone else but here are places that I find interesting and offbeat from the tourist destinations.

Continental Divides 

I love Great Water Divides, something awesome to me about water on one side flows to one body of water and another side goes to another. There a few triple peaks out there where the water goes to three different watersheds. I’ve been to the main ones.

View of Triple Divide Peak in the distance, showing the upper end of St. Mary Lake and Wild Goose Island, Glacier National Park, Montana.

Triple Divide Peak marks the division of three major watersheds. If you poured out your water on top of Triple Divide, it would flow into the Columbia River watershed, and eventually the Pacific Ocean; it would flow into the Nelson River watershed, and eventually Hudson Bay and the Arctic Ocean or the Atlantic Ocean which is an ongoing debate to what Hudson Bay belongs too; and it would flow into the Mississippi River watershed, and eventually the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean. This is the intersection of the Great Divide and the Laurentian aka the Northern Divide.

Yellowstone Continental Divide on the Rocky Mountain Range separates water from the Pacific Ocean on the one side and the other flows to the Mississippi River. I have probably crossed the Great Continental Divide at least 20 times.

North/South Continental Divide aka St. Lawrence Seaway Continental Divide near South Bend, Indiana. It goes from Minnesota all the way through Maine and separates the Great Lakes drainage system from the Mississippi River’s drainage system. For instance, where I grew up in Northwest Ohio where rivers flowed to Lake Erie. About 40 minutes south from me the rivers flow to the Ohio River which goes to the Mississippi River watershed where I currently reside.

Eastern Continental Divide or Appalachian Divide

A monument in Duluth, Georgia says that water flows to the Atlantic Ocean and the other side the Gulf of Mexico

Snow Dome and Dome Glacier covered by June snow clouds in Jasper National Park on right with Athabasca Glacier to the left. Snow Dome in Canada is where the Great Divide and the Arctic Divide meet.  Water falling on Snow Dome’s summit may flow into streams that drain into the Pacific Ocean (via Bryce Creek, the Bush River and the Columbia River), the Arctic Ocean (via the Sunwapta and Athabasca Rivers), and Hudson Bay (via the North Saskatchewan River). The Dome Glacier flows to the north-east, the Stutfield Glacier to the north-west, the Columbia Glacier to the west and Athabasca Glacier flows to the east of the mountain.

Sunwapta Pass at the border of Jasper and Banff National Parks in Alberta. This marks the watershed divide between the Athabasca River drainage to the north and the North Saskatchewan system to the south. Waters flowing north from this summit eventually reach the Arctic Ocean via the Mackenzie River, while those flowing south cross the prairies via the Saskatchewan and Nelson Rivers to Hudson Bay and the Atlantic Ocean.

Zero Mile Marker

Zero mile markers were markers where early drivers could set their odometers to follow directions in early guidebooks. Also known as control stations or control points, the markers or landmarks were locations that allowed travelers to have a precise point to start the travel using directions in early guide books.

Washington, DC. Zero Mile Marker. There is some interesting history to this which can be read here. Intended as the initial milestone from which all road distances on the highway system in the United States should be measured when it was built as the nation was seeing the need for better roads. At present, only roads in the Washington, D.C. area have distances measured from it. Zero Milestone monument was conceived by Good Roads Movement advocate Dr. S. M. Johnson, formally proposed on June 7, 1919. He was inspired by ancient Rome ’s Golden Milestone located in the Forum. On July 7, 1919, a temporary marker for the Zero Milestone was dedicated on the Ellipse south of the White House during ceremonies launching the Army’s first attempt to send a convoy of military vehicles across the country to San Francisco, California.

When this marker was dedicated on June 4, 1923, it was expected that it would be the milestone from which all road distances in the U.S. would be reckoned. Obviously, people in places like Oregon and California didn’t like the idea that their road markers would begin and end in the 3,000s, and the idea was scrapped. Now the Zero Milestone only anchors roads distances in Washington, DC.

The Washington Zero Milestone monument has the following written on it.

  • North: ZERO MILESTONE
  • East: STARTING POINT OF SECOND TRANSCONTINENTAL MOTOR CONVOY OVER THE BANKHEAD HIGHWAY, JUNE 14, 1920
  • South: POINT FOR THE MEASUREMENT OF DISTANCES FROM WASHINGTON ON HIGHWAYS OF THE UNITED STATES
  • West: STARTING POINT OF FIRST TRANSCONTINENTAL MOTOR CONVOY OVER THE LINCOLN HIGHWAY, JULY 7, 1919

In addition, a “brass plate placed on the ground at the north base” shown below, contains the following inscription.[4]

  • THE U.S. COAST AND GEODETIC SURVEY DETERMINED THE LATITUDE, LONGITUDE AND ELEVATION OF THE ZERO MILESTONE AUTHORIZED BY ACT OF CONGRESS JUNE 5, 1920 DEDICATED JUNE 4, 1923

Currently, there are three Zero Mile Markers, the main one in D.C., Richmond, Virginia and Nashville , Tennessee.

Richmond, Virginia Zero Mile Marker

Just east of the intersection of Grace and 9th streets at the northwestern corner of Virginia State Capitol Square, downtown Richmond, Va. If you have a GPS, look around this area: 37.539762, -77.434215

The three-foot tall stone and bronze marker is the official Virginia highway point of measurement of distances from Richmond for Virginia.

Nashville, Tennessee Zero Mile Marker

Located in Nashville at the edge of Bicentennial Capitol Mall State Park and James Robertson Parkway. If you have a GPS, look around this area: 36.168524, -86.785993

It replaces the original 1924 milestone, which was placed as part of the Lee Highway Association and AAA push to have zero milestones in each city.

A collection of Time Zone Road Signs

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