Friday, January 31, 2014

A Brief Description of the Territorial Evolution of the Southwestern States of the US

by Steve Reiss (Dalmdad Landscape Photography - and

Except where otherwise attributed, maps used under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license, courtesy of "Golbez".  This article is adapted from multiple Wikipedia articles, including Territorial Evolution of the United States.

NOTE: Territorial changes in areas outside the southwestern United States are ignored for purposes of this article. 


1.  The territorial growth of the southwestern United States begins in 1819, with the signing of the Adams-Onis Treaty.  That treaty, besides including the terms under which the US purchased Spanish Florida, defined the borders between the Viceroyalty of New Spain (later Mexico) and the United States. Pre-treaty borders were highly irregular and the treaty simplified the borders.  The new US-Mexico boundary was to be the Sabine River (western border of Louisiana) and north from the Gulf of Mexico to the 32nd parallel north, then due north to the Red River, west along the Red River to the 100th meridian west, due north to the Arkansas River, west to its headwaters, north to the 42nd parallel north, and finally west along that parallel to the Pacific Ocean.

2.   On September 27, 1821, the Viceroyalty of New Spain declared independence as Mexico.

3,   On March 2, 1836, the Republic of Texas declared its independence from Mexico.  Texas' boundaries with Mexico were disputed at the time of Texas' claim of independence.  As shown on the map below, the actual territory of the Republic of Texas was much smaller than the disputed territories between the Republic of Texas and Mexico.

4.  On December 29, 1845, the Republic of Texas was admitted to the US as the state of Texas by the Texas Annexation.  The boundaries of Texas, though not set out in the Joint Annexation Resolution, included much of the territory that had been disputed between the Republic of Texas and Mexico.

5.  From 1846-48, the Mexican-American War was fought.  The Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo (1848), which marked the end of the war, redefined the US/Mexico border.  From east to west, the new border consisted of the Rio Grande northwest from its mouth to the point Santa Fe de Nuevo Mexico (roughly 32 degrees north), then due west from this point to the 110th meridian west, then north along the 110th Meridian to the Gila River and down the river to its mouth.  In the US, the area north of this new national border was known as the Mexican Cession, and was unorganized US territory.

6.  In 1850, the California Republic was admitted to the US under the Compromise of 1850 as the state of California.  The changes in governance of Alta California to the California Republic to the State of California is worthy of a separate post to come soon. 

Additionally, the unorganized Mexican Cession territory was divided into the Utah and New Mexico Territories.  Much of what had been claimed as western Texas was given to the New Mexico Territory by Texas in exchange for forgiveness of Texas debt by the US government.

7.  In 1854, The Gadsden Purchase was signed by President Franklin Pierce.  The Purchase gave the US all Mexican territory south of the Gila River and west of the Rio Grande.  This strip was purchased for its perceived value in the US for constructing a transcontinental railroad.  

At this point, all territory that would become the lower 48 contiguous states was acquired by the government of the United States.


8.  On February 28, 1861, portions of New Mexico, Utah, and Nebraska Territories were formed into Utah and Colorado Territories.  The borders of Colorado Territory corresponded to the current borders of the state of Colorado.


9.  On March 2, 1961, Utah Territory was divided into Utah and Nevada Territories.  The Nevada Territory was smaller in area than the current state of Nevada and the Utah Territory was larger in area than the current state of Utah.


10.  1861- ; The US Civil War created conflicting territorial claims to/on the New Mexico Territory. 

The Confederate States of America claimed to split New Mexico Territory into New Mexico Territory (North) and Arizona Territory (South).  

On the other hand, the USA, split New Mexico Territory into New Mexico Territory (east) and Arizona Territory (west).  Furthermore, the eastern border the Nevada Territory was moved further east, increasing the size of the Nevada Territory at the expense of the size of the Utah Territory.

11.  On October 31, 1864, Nevada Territory was admitted to the US as the state of Nevada.  At the time of admission, Nevada did not have its distinctive south-eastern triangular portion, which would become Clark County and give Nevada access to the Colorado River.

12.  1865-66: With the end of the Civil War, Confederate States of America claims on Arizona and New Mexico Territories were dropped.  The state of Nevada was also given more Utah Territory land (eastern Nevada-Utah Territory border moved further east).


13.  On January 18, 1867, Nevada was given its south-eastern triangular portion, giving Nevada access to the Colorado River.  This land was from territory taken away from Arizona Territory.  This territorial swap finalized Nevada's current borders. 


14.  On August 1, 1876, Colorado Territory was admitted to the US as the state of Colorado.

15.  On January 4, 1896, Utah Territory was admitted to the US as the state of Utah.


16.  On January 6, 1812, New Mexico Territory was admitted to the US as the state of New Mexico. In 1907, Oklahoma Territory and Indian Lands were combined and entered into the Union as the state of Oklahoma.

17.  On February 14, 1912, Arizona Territory was admitted to the US as the state of Arizona; the last of the contiguous states to be admitted.

Order and years of Admission for the Southwestern States of the US

Texas (28th) (1841)
California (31st) (1850) 
Nevada (36th) (1864)
Colorado (38th) (1876)
Utah (45th) (1896)
Oklahoma (46th) (1907)
New Mexico (47th) (1912)
Arizona (48th) (1912)


Saturday, January 25, 2014

California Lighthouses

by Steve Reiss (Dalmdad Landscape Photography - and

Some of California's Lighthouses

Over the last few weeks we have been introducing our followers to some of California's lighthouses, especially the: Point Sur Light, Pigeon Point Light, Santa Cruz Breakwater Light, Santa Cruz Light (Surfing Museum), Point Bonita Light, Point Loma Light, Point Pinos Light, Point Arena Light, Cabrillo Point Light, Cape Mendocino Light, Fort Point Light, and Alcatraz Light.

According to the Inventory of Historical Light Stations (California Lighthouses), California has had around 34 lighthouses (some being replacements for earlier lighthouses).

From the official inventory of lighthouses, some of the lights with interesting backgrounds are: 
  • generally out of public view
    • Point Hueneme - (Inventory Site/Official Site) - Open to the public on the 3rd Saturday of the month February thru October 10 am to 3 pm; closed November thru January.
    • Point Vicente(Inventory Site/Official Site) - Open to the public one Saturday a month.
    • Point Conception - (Inventory Site/No Official Site) - This light is surrounded by private land and only accessible with permission of the land owners.  The light is five miles down a dirt road that starts behind a padlocked gate.
    • Farallon Island - (Inventory Site/No Official Site) - Viewable only by boat rides offered in summer/fall).
    •  Punta Gorda - (Inventory Site/Official Site)  - After long back road driving to reach the Mendocino Coast of Northern California, the light's ruins are accessible by 3 mile each-way beach hike.
  • out on a pylon or island off the coast 
    • East Brothers - (Inventory Site/Official Site) This light is out in the middle of San Francisco and San Pablo Bays off of San Pablo.  The light is barely visible in the distance from the rightmost, westbound lane of the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge.  The light is an active Bed & Breakfast.  Due to limited fresh water availability on the island, only guests staying more than 1 night may shower!
    • St. George Reef Light - (Inventory Site/Official Site) This light is 6 miles off of Crescent City, CA.  Seasonal helicopter tours out to the light are/were available. 
    • Los Angeles Harbor Light (f/k/a San Pedro Harbor Light) - (Inventory Site/No Official Site) Not accessible to the public; viewable by boat.
  • converted to restaurants or marinas
  • just generally not what they used to be
    • Old Cape Mendocino - (Inventory Site/No Official Site) - The lantern room, the only surviving portion of the light is in a park in beautiful Shelter Cove.
    • Piedras Blancas - (Inventory Site/Official Site)  Lantern Room Removed.  Light very close to California Elephant Seal breeding area.  Tours of the light are available, but seeing beaches full of elephant seals are much more a sight to see than the light.
    • Fort Point Light - (Inventory Site/No Official Site) - Inventory says light not accessible to public due to lead paint chips falling from Golden Gate Bridge.  However, we visited the light in 2005.
Next up, a trip to the Point Reyes Light.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Head-butting Among Bighorn Sheep

by Steve Reiss (Dalmdad Landscape Photography - and

At no time do bighorn sheep exhibit any sort of aggressive behavior, such as territoriality, that might result in limiting the population level.  The head-butting bouts among rams is not an expression of intolerance to crowding as is the case with aggressive behavior among males in some avian populations.  Actually most of the battles may be in the "high school" class of younger rams.  It is a less-usual sight to see a big ram asserting his superiority.  Fighting does not result in breeding being accomplished by solely by a few of the most virile rams.  The aggressive behavior probably probably ensures a flow of good genes throughout the population, but it seems to have no bearing on limiting population density.
From The Bighorn Sheep in the United States by Helmut Buechner (1960).

 Big Ram Rumble from NatGeo.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Promiscuity Among Bighorn Sheep

by Steve Reiss (Dalmdad Landscape Photography - and
Bighorn sheep are the most highly promiscuous of any native big game animal.  
Ewes will accept more than one ram in rapid succession and the rams from 3 1/2 years of age and older are eager to breed as many ewes as possible.
From The Bighorn Sheep in the United States by Helmut Buechner (1960).
 A promiscuous couple?

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Saturday, January 18, 2014

Not All Our Trips Are Worthy of Envy! Or: A Visit to a Roadside Trash-Heap!

by Steve Reiss (Dalmdad Landscape Photography - and

When you often write about having visited exciting spots like Hawaii, Australia, and Paris, its a good idea to be remind everyone that those are the exceptions rather than the rule.  Most of our time is often spent driving from city to city in the American west through the waste lands of the Mojave and Colorado deserts.  These drives can either be at speeds where nothing is noticable, such as on the I-15 and I-40, or at speeds where everything is noticeable as you bump your way along a non-graded road or snow plow your way through loose sand.


Where do we find the incredible "archeological treasure" shown below?  

Cal-Nev-Ari, Nevada.  Yep, that is what they named this 278 resident, truck-stop, and small casino town, on the pretty empty 90 mile stretch of US 95 between the Nevada gambling meccas of Laughlin and Las Vegas.  I'm not being sarcastic about Laughlin; we like Laughlin.  Nice, clean, resort-style rooms in Laughlin are reasonably priced, have nice views of the Colorado River, decent food, and one of the few bars having my elixir of choice, La Fin Du Monde.  It was at the Aquarius, in Laughlin, that Joanie and I spent the night after my three-day torture session called the California Bar Exam (passed of course), and the last place and time we got drunk (July, 2010).  

The Aquarius Resort at Sunrise

Just keep in mind that back in April 2002, Laughlin was the scene of a deadly fight between two rival California motorcycle gangs, the Hells Angels and the Mongols. The fight broke out inside Harrah's Laughlin during the annual Laughlin River Run. Mongol Anthony Barrera, 43, was stabbed to death, and two Hells Angels, Jeramie Bell, 27, and Robert Tumelty, 50, were shot to death. Six members of the Hells Angels, as well as six members of the Mongols were sent to prison as a result of the event, and 36 other people had their charges dismissed.

We have written about this general area on several occasions before (Christmas Tree Pass; Willow Beach Big Horns.)


Well, enough of the small talk...

This "dump" is apparently the ruins of a mine and the mine's support buildings.  We zoomed passed it one day on US93, thinking it was pure junk, but decided to come back the next day and check it out.  As can be seen by the position of the sun, this was late afternoon.

Looking Up Towards US93

Taken with a 10.5 mm
I like the barrel distortion produced by a 10.5 lens, though not enough to spend the $700 or so on the lens.  I tend to rent the lens from Samys Camera.

Sun Behind Ruins

Stairway to Nowhere

Sun Blocked

Wood Frame Construction

Call the Roofer Please

Nice Coloring...I mean rust!

A Photo With Flare!


Friday, January 17, 2014

Pyramid Lake, Nevada and The Cat in the Hat

by Steve Reiss (Dalmdad Landscape Photography - and

(The events described here happened over 7 years ago and it is now hard to recall where certain roads or gas stations were.  Please check your maps before heading out into this remote area, where only the barest minimum of services available).


I will never attend Burning Man

I did not even know what Burning Man was until 2000, when there was a fuss made about whether pictures on the internet of a nude girl running around BM was Brittany Petros, a contestant on Big Brother One.

Against this background, a long time ago, someone commented on my Pyramid Lake picture. The commentator said that when she saw the photo, it reminded her that when she saw Pyramid Lake's tufa formations in real life, it meant she was getting close to the Black Rock Desert, where Burning Man is held. 


In November, 2007, we were driving from Watsonville, CA to Salt Lake City, to visit friends for Thanksgiving.  Looking at the map, I saw what looked like an interesting back road route between Reno-Sparks and Winnemucca, Nevada, bypassing a portion of boring I-80.  We figured, "Why not?"

We exited I-80 at Reno-Sparks and headed north.  The further north we went, the more remote the terrain became.  Against, this remoteness, Pyramid Lake and its blue/green water, suddenly appear.





After exploring the lake area, we became low on gas, and despite being "Nowhere", we found that "Nowhere" is really the former company town of "Empire".  Empire was a company town for US Gypsum, but is now a staging area for people on their way to Burning Man.

"Nowhere" = Empire, Nevada

The Cat in the Hat in Empire, Nevada

The restroom is not in the desert, it is around the side of the building.
For a picture of the entire "Cat in the Hat" area, see this trip report.

In Gerlach, the next, and last, town for many miles, we filled up our tank in some tiny, lonely and antiquated gas station near not much else of anything.  I asked the attendant, if he knew where the bypass road we were looking for was.  When he told us we passed it, I did not have a good feeling, because we had seen no turn-offs, signs, or signs of a road.  

We backtracked and found the road.  The dirt road was not very well maintained, poorly graded, and therefore super bumpy.  Again, we were starting to not have a very good feeling about things.  We stopped, stepped out of the truck and looked around.  We saw the weather was disintegrating.  The dark clouds starting to pour in made us decide that taking this back-way for an unknown number of hours was not a good idea.

Disintegrating Weather
Disintegrating Weather
So, we bumped our way back to the paved road and headed south the 40 or so miles back to I-80, losing a couple of hours on our trip.  Still, the side trip was an interesting experience and Pyramid Lake is certainly worth seeing with your own eyes.


Saturday, January 11, 2014

Sail Boat Christening: Rockland, Maine

by Steve Reiss (Dalmdad Landscape Photography - and

I doubt many (I don't say 'all') of our readers has attended the christening of a boat.  Yes, sounds like something that would be neat to attend, even if it also sounds kind of high-brow and snobbish.  However, given the choice between attending the boat christening or some other activity, it in not likely that the christening will be the higher priority (well, maybe if your other activity is a trip to the dentist!).

Anyway, best I can recall, it was sometime in June, 2001, that Joanie and I were able to convert part of a dull business trip to Manchester, New Hampshire, into an exciting weekend at Boothbay Harbor, Maine.   For me, this trip to Maine was a re-living of my early '86-'87 trip to Bowdoin College,in Brunswick, Freeport, and ultimately Boothbay Harbor, Maine with my then sophomore class RPI-roommate, Chris Sadala.


During this 2001 trip. we drove as for north as Rockland Maine, where we roamed around the Journey's End Marina.

RFP = Rockland Fire & Police

On Land Marina
These two lonely pictures, conveniently taken at just the very moment (did the boat owner see us spying him and pose?) the champagne bottle was smashed on the hull bow, document the christening of this sail boat in the parking lot of a the Journey's End Marina.

After more than 10 years of these photos being confined to the archives of a lonely back-up hard-drive and having never being seen, they make their debut now.

Rockland is also known for sculptures.

Finally, our last stop was the Maine state prison showroom in Thomaston, Maine

There we purchased an incredibly well made cutting board that we still regularly use.


Saturday, January 4, 2014

Seeing Dolphins...Lots of Dolphins, Off Newport, California

by Steve Reiss (Dalmdad Landscape Photography - and

I mentioned that back on December 22, 2013 we were going whale watching off of Newport.  We did not have high expectations for actually seeing whales, but it would be a gorgeous day out on the bay and at least an opportunity for me and Joanie to spend some time together.

A sign outside the office of the Davey Jone's Whale Watching Company mentioned having seen thousands of dolphins in the last few days.  I took that as some overly bragging false advertising.  How can you see, yet count, thousands, of dolphins?  It just seemed like a ridiculous claim.  

So, we waited with the other passengers for the boat to pick us up and leave.

First, we passed the holiday decorations in the harbor, 

Then we passed a lazy sea lion hanging out on the dock.

Then we passed some fisherman hanging out on the end of the jetty.

Finally, a throng of sea lions taking in the sun.

We then entered the open sea and just could not believe all the white caps, which were not waves; they were dolphins blowing their holes and flipping and jumping.  For as far as you can see and in all directions.  They were so spread out, my telephoto lens could not properly give an impression of the size of the pod.

As an example, here are two shots of separate dolphin families, aka pods.  I previously posted these two pictures to Face Book.

 We are now glad to add those two shots and around 10 more to our web store.