Thursday, July 26, 2012

Crescent Junction Wireless Deserts Brendel, Relocating Fourteen Miles Closer to Moab


The American Tower (NYSE: AMT) "Crescent Junction" site, near Canyonlands Field, Moab, Utah - Click for larger image (http://jamesmcgillis.com)

Crescent Junction Wireless Deserts Brendel, Relocating Fourteen Miles Closer to Moab

Several times each year, I drive the thirty-one miles south on U.S. Highway 191 from Crescent Junction to Moab, Utah. Other than the industrial-sized natural gas drilling rig hiding off to the left, the first half of the drive features an unremarkable desert environment. About four miles north of Canyonlands Field there is finally something interesting to look at. A closer view of the American Tower wireless colocation site between Crescent Junction and Moab, Utah - Click for larger image (http://jamesmcgillis.com)To the southwest, atop a bluff is a lattice-steel communications tower. With its heavy structure, the tower looks more like an old-energy oilrig than a communications tower. By its shape and size, the tower appears designed to support heavy loads and to withstand high winds.

During my April 2012 transit to Moab, I decided to investigate what purpose this unusual tower might serve. Since the tower access road intersects with Highway 191 on a straight stretch of four-lane road, I planned early for my exit. Speeding and tailgating are common along this stretch of highway, so I slowed and waited patiently for traffic to clear. As I approached the intersection, I braked hard. In a cloud of desert dust, my truck and travel trailer soon came to rest in a run-off area just beyond the intersection.

Although I had hoped to take the access road up to the top of the bluff, not Site information for American Tower's Crescent Junction colocation tower and site - Click for larger image (http://jamesmcgillis.com)far from the highway I encountered a locked gate. Not wanting to trespass into a secure location, I took the time to read the only available informational sign. From that mandated steel sign, I soon had enough information to research what I call the Moab Tower.

Owned by American Tower (NYSE: AMT), the site name for the structure is “Crescent Junction”. The real Crescent Junction is almost fourteen miles north of the site. With over 47,000 owned or managed tower sites around the world, the Crescent Junction tower is one AMT’s wireless network colocation towers. With its one hundred eighty-five foot height, I could imagine the tower having a clear line of sight to another AMT tower at Green River, Utah. Looking southeast toward Moab, I could not determine if another energy tower above Moab U.S. Highway 191 South, where the Moab Fault (foreground) and the Moab Rim (background) intersect - Click for larger image (http://jamesmcgillis.com)might facilitate communications there.

After my ten-minute visit to the “Moab Tower”, I decided to get back on the road. As I returned to my rig, I noticed that the stop sign at the highway intersection had torn loose from its mounts. There it hung head down, with a view of the Klondike Bluffs in the background. After waiting for traffic to clear, another cloud of dust followed me as I swung back on the highway to Moab.





Thursday, July 19, 2012

Ancient and Original Twin Towers Stand at Hovenweep National Monument, Utah



Ancient and original Twin Towers stand at Little Ruin Canyon, Hovenweep National Monument, Utah - Click for larger image (http://jamesmcgillis.com)

Ancient and Original Twin Towers Stand at Hovenweep National Monument, Utah

In May 2008, I traveled the 121 miles from Moab to Hovenweep National Monument. After my two and one half hour trip, I arrived at Hovenweep National Monument, in Southeastern Utah.  On my afternoon journey from Aztec, New Mexico, it had rained intermittently and clouds now hid the setting sun.
 
With the visitor center already closed, I proceeded to the small but orderly campground about a quarter mile away.  Since that Friday marked the start of Memorial Day Weekend, I hoped that there would be at least one RV-sized campsite available.  To my surprise, there were two, including one that had no neighboring site and featured an unbroken view to the southeast. 
 
Ancient and original Twin Towers standing in morning sunlight, Hovenweep National Monument, Utah - Click for larger image (http://jamesmcgillis.com)After some four-wheel-drive action in the mud, I was able to situate my nineteen-foot Pioneer travel trailer to take advantage of that spectacular view.  As if on cue from an unseen source, the cold rains came in earnest just as I finished my chores.  Cozy and contented, I settled in and listened to the rain as it refreshed the healthy Pinion Pine and Juniper forest around me.
 
In the morning, I walked to the visitor center, paid my user fees and returned to my campsite.  From there, I began my 1.5-mile hike into and around Little Ruin Canyon.  Before I departed, I observed the fresh rainwater in the nearby slickrock potholes and the red bloom of a nearby cactus.Cactus flower, Hovenweep National Monument, Utah (http://jamesmcgillis.com)
 
Since almost all Hovenweep visitors start at the visitor center and walk counterclockwise around the canyon, I started out in the opposite direction, hoping for some quiet time before the weekend tourists crowded these spectacular ruins.  Apparently having done something inexplicably right in a former life, I received my reward – I neither saw nor heard another living soul for the first half of my hike.
 
Close-up of ancient Twin Towers, Little Ruin Canyon, Hovenweep National Monument, Utah - Click for larger image (http://jamesmcgillis.com)Ancestral Puebloan Indians built the characteristic tower ruins of Hovenweep in the period just before their final and complete withdrawal or disappearance from the Colorado Plateau and the Four Corners area.  The zenith of their construction here was between 1230 and 1275 CE.  At that time, an elder of their tribe could have witnessed or participated in the planning and building of all the ruins visible in Little Ruin Canyon.  Uniquely, these ruins include circular, square and D-shaped freestanding towers, all within shouting (and in some cases), whispering distance of each other.
 
The author, James McGillis, with Hovenweep Castle in background - Click for larger image (http://jamesmcgillis.com)Conventional wisdom, supported by relevant archeological facts indicates that Hovenweep, along with Mesa Verde in Colorado were among the final redoubts of this far-reaching culture.  Supposedly, chaos reined, as drought, overpopulation, deforestation and internecine warfare gripped their culture.  To me, that sounds like hogwash.  If the culture was in collapse and marauders roamed the land, how did the residents of Hovenweep have time to shape and radius stones for the exterior of their unique freestanding “Round Tower” and flat-faced stones for their unique freestanding “Square Tower”? 
 
My belief, supported only by my observations and the feel of the place is that Hovenweep represented the ancestral Puebloan’s high point of both architecture and civilization.  These towers stood out as their rock-solid achievements and their gift to those of us who come to visit this place over seven hundred years later. 
 
At the peak of Pharaonic Egypt, the high priests and elite of their cultureAncient ruins of Hovenweep Castle, Little Ruin Canyon, Hovenweep National Monument, Utah Click for larger image (http://jamesmcgillis.com) endeavored to reach immortality, exemplified by their process of mummification, but also through their funerary architecture, masks and vessels.  After personally viewing several Egyptian museum road shows in my current lifetime, I would say that they “made it” to eternal life, or at least thus far.
 
I believe that the ancestral Puebloan of Hovenweep, who built a pantheon of sturdy, yet highly aesthetic granaries, ceremonial kivas and everyday houses, had something similar in mind.  Not having technology beyond what we call “stone age”, the ancestral Puebloan focused much of their energy on creating architecture that would outlive them and send those of us who follow a clear message.
 
The naturally occurring "Spirit" of Little Ruin Canyon, Hovenweep National Monument, Utah - Click for larger image (http://jamesmcgillis.com)The message that they left for us was, “Judge us not by anything other than by what you see here.  Walk with us past our gardens; enjoy with us the solid nature of our former existence.  Then ask yourselves, did we abandon this place and travel south in search of water and peace?  Or did we simply do all that we could do in our many lifetimes here, then withdraw to be with Spirit, to rest, relax and plan our return, long after you, the current visitor are gone from this place?  If you stand quietly and stare at what your culture calls ruins, you may indeed see one or more of our spirits still inhabiting the temples in this canyon.”

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Brendel, Utah - Still Moving Around on the Map



Papa Joe's Stop & Go at Crescent Junction, Grand County, Utah on a cloudy afternoon - Click for larger image (http://jamesmcgillis.com)

Brendel, Utah - Still Moving Around on the Map

In April 2012, I visited Crescent Junction (pop. 0), and Brendel, Utah (pop. 0). Although the derivation of the name Crescent Junction requires some research, today it designates the intersection of Interstate I-70 (Dinosaur Diamond Highway) and U.S. Highway 191. Although there is no obvious crescent at Crescent Junction, it is the main I-70 exit to Moab, Utah, which lies thirty-one miles to the south.

Since my previous visit in 2010, not much has changed in Crescent Junction. The big transformation in “town” since then is a fresh paint job on Papa Joe’s Stop & Go gas station and convenience store. I have never met Papa Joe, but his name appears on the only business at Crescent Junction. Unless someone is living in the back of the gas station, the permanent population of Crescent Junction remains zero. In my 2010 photo of the place, regular gas was a nostalgic $2.95 per gallon. According to another source, in 1946, a service station opened at that site. Based on the architecture of the Stop & Go, it appears that little has changed there except for signage and the price of fuel.

Moab UMTRA Project Crescent Junction Disposal Site directional signage - Click for larger image (http://jamesmcgillis.com)By convention, most people assume that Crescent Junction and Brendel are one-in-the-same. Many sources, including some official government documents use Crescent Junction and Brendel interchangeably. In December 2010, I first wrote about this case of conflated identity.

Running east and west, and parallel to I-70 at that location is the current Union Pacific Railroad (UPRR) Central Corridor between Grand Junction, Colorado and Ogden, Utah. Once owned by the Denver and Rio Grande Western Railway (D&RGWR), many current maps still identify that now defunct railroad as owning the tracks. Without its long association with the railroad, the nearby place called Brendel would have disappeared into history.

In 2010, I challenged the editors at Wikipedia to do their due diligence and identify Brendel and Crescent Junction as two different places. The Wikipedia 2012 entry for Crescent Junction uses the phrase “or Brendel” to identify the place. In Wikipedia, there is no separate entry for Brendel, itself. Wikipedia now indicates that Brendel appears on most railroad maps and that Crescent Junction appears on most highway maps. However, a Wikipedia reader might assume that both places are indeed the same.

Union Pacific Railroad "Central Corridor" rail line looking east from Brendel toward the Book Cliffs - Click for larger image (http://jamesmcgillis.com)Geographically, Brendel can be difficult to pin down. Wikipedia says that “Brendel is the name of the rail siding and junction at the same location” as Crescent Junction. Different mapping authorities place Brendel in slightly different places, none of which physically overlaps with Crescent Junction. Both Bing.com Maps and MapQuest.com places Brendel where the UPRR Potash Branch line crosses the Old Cisco Highway (Frontage Road). Google Maps places "Brendel, Thompson, Grand, UT" on what they call “Railroad Road”, about two hundred feet north of the UPRR Central Corridor. In my DeLorme Utah Atlas, that same road is designated Floy Canyon Road. MapQuest.com erroneously calls the road "Foy Canyon" and Google Maps designates only the first hundred yards of Floy Canyon Road as “Railroad Road”, which seems dubious, at best.

In the early days, the railroads gave names only to landmarks or facilities that had something to do with railroad operations. In the D&RGWR route maps dating from 1899 to 1904, only “Little Grand” and “Solitude” stood between Thompson Springs and Green River. A 1930 route map deleted Little Grand and Solitude, replacing them with “Crescent” and “Floy”. From other sources, we know that the former construction camp of Little Grand later became Floy (Floy Station). Solitude, as it has in so many places, disappeared completely from later maps.

UPRR grade crossing at Brendel, Utah. Crescent-shaped Book Cliffs in the background gave nearby Crescent Junction its name - Click for larger image (http://jamesmcgillis.com)Prior to 1930, U.S. Highway 50 followed a more southerly, crescent shaped route between Green River and Thompson Springs. Around 1930, realignment of U.S. 50 relocated the Moab turn-off farther north, at the current Crescent Junction. With the disappearance of Valley City, the longer route through there was no longer necessary. Although that crescent shaped route disappeared, the new intersection received the name, Crescent Junction. According to a 1990 book of Utah place names, "the name comes from the crescent-shaped configuration of the Book Cliffs near the junction".

Also in 1930, D&RGWR mapmakers put “Crescent” on an updated railroad route map. The main function of railroad route maps was to help passengers identify whistle stops and stations. With the advent of Crescent Junction, it was logical for the railroad to use “Crescent” for its whistle stop near there. The 1930 D&RGWR route map is the latest one published on the internet. After that, I do not know what happened to the railroad’s “Crescent” designation. The town of Crescent, Utah (near Salt Lake City), had appeared in a 1908 national directory of railroad stations. To avoid confusion between identical place names, it is likely that the D&RGWR later dropped the “Crescent” in Grand County, Utah. Perhaps it was then that the railroad designated the place as Brendel.
Downtown Brendel on a busy afternoon - Several tank cars stand idle on the railroad spur named Brendel, Utah - Click for larger image (http://jamesmcgillis.com)
A 1940 U.S. Department of the Interior book lists “Brendel (Crescent), D. & R. G. W. R. R.” at an elevation of 4908 feet. A 1964 Interstate Commerce Commission Report indicates that the Texas-Zinc Minerals Corporation planned to ship copper ore concentrates in bulk from Mexican Hat to “Brendel, Utah, the railhead at or near Crescent Junction, Utah”. Apparently, Texas-Zinc prevailed, since a railroad spur still stands near the consensus location for Brendel, Utah.

From the scant documentary evidence above, we see that Crescent Junction was not an official place name until about 1930. By 1940, we see Brendel having its own place name, but with reference made to “Crescent”. By 1964, we see the clear distinction between Brendel, as the railhead and Crescent Junction as the highway intersection. With its “at or near” designation for Brendel, even the Interstate Commerce Commission equivocated. Union Pacific Railroad "Main Corridor" rail line, looking west from Brendel, toward Floy Station and a now vanished place called Solitude - Click for larger image (http://jamesmcgillis.com)

Who was Brendel? In all of my research about this, I found no historical reference to any such person in twentieth century Utah. The person or circumstances that inspired “Brendel” as the place name for this lonely railroad spur remain unknown. Unless someone can bring the mysterious “Brendel” into the light, that place shall remain an historical footnote to Crescent Junction. If any reader knows who Brendel was, please comment below or send an email. I would be happy to set the record straight, giving Brendel a firmer place in Utah history.




Friday, July 13, 2012

A Mysterious C.Proietto Original Oil Painting


A painting of Rome, including the Tiber River, St. Peter's Basilica, Ponte Sant'Angelo and Castel Sant'Angelo, by the artist Costantino Proietto - Click for larger image (http://jamesmcgillis.com)

The Author Purchases a Mysterious C.Proietto Original Oil Painting

In June 2012, I acquired a previously unknown oil painting by the Italian artist, Costantino Proietto (1910–1979). As soon as my new painting arrived, I shared pictures and descriptions of it on this website. The painting is of the Tiber River and St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome, Italy. Angled gracefully into the scene are the Castel Sant’Angelo and its attendant bridge, the Ponte Sant’Angelo. In addition, a statue of Archangel Michael unsheathes his mighty sword atop the castle.

Original Oil painting of Gandria Village on Lake Lugano, Switzerland, by Costantino Proietto - Click for larger image (http;//jamesmcgillis.com)Soon after publishing that article, I received an email from yet another owner of a C.Proietto painting. Mr. Craig Casey of San Diego had acquired his painting at a friend's moving sale. From images of both the front and back, I was able to study the Casey painting. Although the age of the painting soon became apparent, I could not determine the scene’s geographical location. Knowing that the artist painted real scenes, I searched both my C.Proietto archives and internet photos of Swiss and Italian lakeside villages.

During my search, I found only one C.Proietto image similar to the Casey painting. Both paintings featured large, wide-angle views of lakeside villages. The archive painting has a handwritten label, perhaps by the artist. It reads, “Lago di Lugano Gandria”, which translates in English to, “Gandria Village, Lake Lugano”, Switzerland.
Original oil painting of a Swiss or Italian lakeside scene by the artist Costantino Proietto - Click for larger image (http://jamesmcgillis.com)
After viewing hundreds of Gandria Village photos on the internet, I found that the Casey painting was not a match. Although the artist had painted scenes of Lago di Como, Lago Maggiore and Lago di Lugano, I could not place the Casey painting at any such location. Here, I ask for help from any reader who recognizes this lakeside scene. Please comment below or send an email with geographical candidates for this C.Proietto painting. I will be happy to credit whoever first helps to solve my C. Proietto location mystery.

The Casey C.Proietto is a moderately large example of the artist’s work. Most C.Proietto paintings have an aspect ratio of 4:3. Not surprisingly, that ratio is close to that of 35-mm film (4.11:3), from which the artist worked. Originally, the Casey painting was 40” x 20”. During an earlier reconditioning Close up view of a Costantino Proietto lakeside scene, with mountains in the background - Click for larger image (http://jamesmcgillis.com)of the piece, someone used shorter, 38” Grumbacher stretcher bars. That action reduced the visible width of the painting by almost two inches, partially obscuring the “C” in the artist’s “C.Proietto” signature.

This wide aspect ratio is a clue to the age of the Casey C.Proietto. By 1956, Cinemascope and Panavision lenses, with aspect ratios of almost 2:1 had influenced all the visual arts. Instead of tall, boxy layouts, new paintings, live stages and movies began retooling toward wider, horizontal formats. During his 1957 visit to Southern California, the artist may have viewed wide-screen movies and other examples of this trend. In addition to its wide angle view, the entire composition has a left-standing perspective. Rather than a vanishing point in the center of the scene, we look from left to right and then to the far shore to see the painting as the artist intended.

Detail of buildings in the C.Proietto lakeside scene, featuring the artist's impasto technique - Click for larger image (http://jamesmcgillis.com)By mid-century, C.Proietto had painted hundreds, if not thousands of original compositions. Thanks to Mr. Casey’s clear photography, we can see many details of the artist’s work. As testament to the Proietto’s technique, many flourishes of his palette knife still stand in raised relief. Over one half century after creation, small waves of paint still curl and shine. After World War II, the reintroduction of foreign trade brought brighter, more durable paints to Proietto’s studio in Stuttgart, Germany. The high quality paint in this piece again indicates a late 1950’s date of origin.

On the back of the canvas is another clue to the age of this painting. Still showing traces of the artist’s wax seal, a printed tag adheres to the back of the canvas. First utilized by the artist in the 1950’s, printed tags, seals and the occasional “Certificate of Authenticity” point again to a date of 1957 or later.

Printed Tag with a brief biography of the artist Costantino Proietto (1910-1979) - Click for larger image (http://jamesmcgillis.com)Translated from German to English, the printed tag reads: “Proietto, Costantino, born in Catania, Sicily, was pupil of Prof. Fernando Cappuccio of the Academy of Florence, has had exhibitions in Palermo, Naples, Rome, Lugano, Stockholm, Stuttgart, Dresden, Los Angeles, Hollywood and New York.”

In 1957, Costantino Proietto visited the U.S., spending time with American cousins on either coast. During that trip, he completed his U.S. gallery representation, including exhibitions in New York, Los Angeles and Hollywood. With its mention of Los Angeles and Hollywood, this tag points to a date of origin in 1957, or later.

A left-to-right angled view of the Costantino Proietto lakeside scene, with mountains in the background - Click for larger image (http://jamesmcgillis.com)On all of his printed tags, Proietto gave credit to “Prof. Fernando Cappuccio” of the Academy of Art, in Florence, Italy. Until now, the only mention of “Prof. Fernando Cappuccio” on the internet was from a 2006 C.Proietto auction. Born in Catania, Sicily in 1910, Proietto began his apprenticeship to Prof. Cappuccio in 1924. Their long association left little time for either man to teach or study at the academy. Perhaps the professor left the academy in 1924, at which time he accepted a commission to restore the Basilica of Saint Mary, in Randazzo, Sicily. During that restoration, young Tino Proietto learned the craft of “spaddle work”, as he later referred to his impasto technique.

Soon after seeing pictures of it, I offered to purchase the Casey Family C.Proietto. Three days later, the brilliantly mysterious “C.Proietto” arrived at my door. The late Will Rogers said, “I never met a man I didn’t like”. After studying the work of Costantino Proietto for the past year, I can safely say, I never saw a C.Proietto in person that I did not love. After less than one week of enjoying this lakeside village scene, I believe it to be yet another Costantino Proietto masterpiece.




Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Santa Monica Bay - Now At Higher Risk of a "Stealth Tsunami"



The author, Jim McGillis in 1960, riding an inflatable raft in the surf at Sorrento Beach, Santa Monica, California - Click for larger image (http://jamesmcgillis.com)

Santa Monica Bay - Now At Higher Risk of a "Stealth Tsunami"

In the 1950’s, prior to the California surfing craze, riding an inflatable raft in Pacific Ocean surf was more fun than anything else I could imagine. However, growing up in Burbank, California at that time implied a landlocked existence. Luckily, our own natural water park, at Sorrento Beach in Santa Monica was only an hour away by car. Several times each week of summer vacation, my mother drove us to the shore of that crescent shaped bay.

The Jonathan Club, with Sorrento Beach and Santa Monica Bay in the background, as seen from the top of the Wilshire Blvd. Incline - Click for larger Image (http://jamesmcgillis.com)In later years, polluted runoff entering Santa Monica Bay contributed to rising cancer rates among L.A. County Lifeguards. The statistics were enough to deter swimming at Southern California beaches. Even though my visits to the shore were rare, I often dreamed about Santa Monica Bay. In those dreams, I stood ashore as an unseen tsunami approached from the west. After the Indian Ocean Tsunami in December 2004, I wondered about the tsunami threat in Santa Monica Bay. When the March 2011 tsunami hit the east coast of Japan, some of the heaviest damage occurred in and near Sendai.

Sendai, Japan stands at the head of a crescent shaped bay similar to Santa Monica Bay. While reviewing maps and pictures, I could see a tsunamical signature in the creation of Matsushima Bay, just north of Sendai. That “bay within a bay” is an archipelago of small, but towering islands, most having little or no beach. Wave action in an aerial view of the harbor at Crescent City, California - Click for larger image (http://jamesmcgillis.com)Lost in prehistory, a cataclysmic tsunami struck the coast at Matsushima. That huge series of waves quickly inundated and eroded the land, sweeping most of it out to sea. Today, those small, towering islands are all that remains of headlands that once overlooked the Pacific Ocean.

Earth scientists have long known that crescent shaped bays amplify wave action by focusing it at the head of such landforms. Within the city limits of Crescent City, California, Crescent Bay is one of half a dozen crescent shaped inlets. From the Great Alaskan Earthquake of 1964 to the Japanese Earthquake and Tsunami of 2011, Crescent City often takes the brunt of Northern California tsunami activity. According to researchers at nearby Humboldt State University, the city experienced tsunami conditions more than thirty times between 1933 and 2011.

Steel-hulled cruising sailboat stands unfinished at Crescent City, California - Click for larger image (http://jamesmcgillis.com)With the help of satellite mapping and paleo-flood surveys, there is sufficient data to prove that crescent shaped bays do more than amplify tsunami. It is my thesis that tsunami help to create crescent shaped bays, both large and small. As sea levels rise annually at a rate between 1.7 mm and 3.3 mm, the threat of destructive tsunami also rises. Each cubic foot of water weighs over sixty-two pounds. Even a small rise in sea level places staggering extra inertia behind waves concentrated by a crescent bay. In Japanese, tsunami means, “harbor wave”.

Reflecting on my dreams of Santa Monica Bay tsunami, I now pay closer attention to crescent shaped bays that I visit. Three of my favorite Pacific Ocean bays are Natewa Bay, Catalina Harbor and Hanalei Bay. Each of the three bays is unique and beautiful. Their common heritage includes both tsunamical creation and vulnerability to future tsunami.

Afternoon sun shines through the coconut palms on the head of Natewa Bay at Lomalagi Resort, Vanua Levu, Fiji - Click for larger image (http://jamesmcgillis.com)In 2001, I visited Natewa Bay, Vanua Levu, Fiji. Immediately, I was struck by its size. Throughout the South Pacific, it is second in size only to Subic Bay in the Philippines. Our buree at Lomalagi Resort overlooked the head of Natewa Bay. Each day, we watched as the tides emptied and then refilled the bay. Stripped down to old coral and bedrock, the long, narrowing bay magnifies any tidal action. If not actually created by tsunami, Natewa Bay appears to have hosted many such events. Around 2005, some development wags proposed building human made islands in the upper reaches of Natewa Bay. Although the development website still exists, we see no sign of actual development. With high tsunami risk at Natewa Bay, near shore development makes no sense.

The ancient "tsunami sweep" at Catalina Harbor, Isthmus - Click for larger image of Catalina Harbor (http://jamesmcgillis.com)The small town of Two Harbors is located at Isthmus Cove, Santa Catalina Island, California. Facing the Southern California coast, Isthmus Cove is a reliable anchorage for pleasure craft. On the far side of the isthmus is Catalina Harbor. Similar to Natewa Bay, “Cat Harbor”, features a south facing underwater canyon. The isthmus, a gently tapered mound of earth, rises only sixty-two at its high point. If a thirty-foot tsunami arrived from the south, the isthmus at Two Harbors could easily become a “tsunami sweep”. It is easy to visualize a tsunami-induced flood topping the low isthmus and spilling into Isthmus Cove, on the far side.

Aerial View of Hanalei Bay, Kauai, Hawaii shows vulnerability of low-lying coast to the threat of tsunami - Click for larger image (http://jamesmcgillis.com)Hanalei Bay, on Kauai, Hawaii is a classic tsunamical bay. Lying at the foot of the Hanalei River Valley, there is no deep canyon beneath the bay. The mouth of the almost circular bay opens to the northwest. Rather than sediment from the river extending into the Pacific Ocean as a delta, exposure to tsunami and other extreme wave action has carved out a semicircular bay. Within the gentle sloping river valley, great tracts of farmland remain vulnerable to future tsunami.

In my recurring tsunami dream about Santa Monica Bay, I stand onshore. As I look out to sea, the ocean water recedes. Then, with no warning, I see a large tsunami racing toward me. I turn, as if to run from the approaching wave. As the towering tsunami overwhelms me, I find that it is made of cloudy foam. At the time of my inundation, the great wave evaporates and Tsunami hazard zone warning sign - Click for map of tsunami propagation speeds in the Pacific Ocean (http://jamesmcgillis.com)whisks away like a fog. In my dreams, the Great Tsunami of Santa Monica Bay causes no harm. In our real world of rising seas and continued earthquake activity, we may not be so lucky.