Wednesday, January 29, 2014

St. Mary's Canal Celebration

St. Mary's Canal celebration; excursion steamer Fortune in Weitzel Lock, Sault Sainte Marie, Michigan (1905).

"The St. Marys River is the only water connection between Lake Superior and the other Great Lakes. Near the upper end of the river the water drops 21 feet over hard sandstone in a short ¾ mile long stretch. This rapids, or “sault” to use the original old French term, made it impossible for trade vessels to pass. Vessels had to be unloaded and their contents portaged around. In 1797 the first lock on the St. Marys River was constructed on the north shore to provide passage for trade canoes. This lock was destroyed by American forces during the War of 1812 and cargoes once again had to be unloaded, hauled overland, and reloaded until a new lock opened in 1855" (US Army Corps Of Engineers)

Excerpt from a photo found on

next episode: a pope

Sunday, January 26, 2014

The lost country of Circassia

Circassia (green) late 18th century (source: Wikipedia)

Circassia is a historical country in the North Caucasus and along the shore of the Black Sea. It is the ancestral homeland of the Circassians. One of the main cities is Sochi, host of the 2014 Olympic Winter Games.

In the 19th century, in the course of the Russian conquest of the Caucasus during and after the Russian–Circassian War (1763–1864), 95% of the Circassians were forcefully relocated from their native lands (the Circassian Diaspora). More than half of the people in exile died of hunger or illness within a year. The Circassians consider this the Circassian Genocide.

Russian conquest of the Caucasus (found on

In 1838, during the Russian–Circassian War, the Russians founded a fort at the mouth of the Sochi River, as part of a chain of seventeen fortifications along the Black Sea coastal line, set up to protect the area from recurring Circassian resistance. This fort would eventually evolve into the city of Sochi. The Olympic skiing will take place at at the site of the last major battle in this war.

Sochi with some of the 2014 Olympic Winter Games facilities 

next episode: St. Mary

Friday, January 24, 2014

A Zepplin Over Breslau

A zeppelin flying over the Kaisersbrucke (present name: Most Grunwaldzki) in Breslau (present name: Wrocław).

next episode: sochi

Monday, January 20, 2014

Barbara Stanwyck

Barbara Stanwyck (July 16, 1907 – January 20, 1990)

next episode: zepplin

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Colonel Wortley & Dog, Horse and Cat

John Stewart Wood, Henry Stuart Wortley & (possibly) Francis Colborne pose outside a stone hut. A blurred dog is visible in front of them, a horse stands in the background. A map tube hangs on the door (Roger Fenton, 1855).

During the Crimean War colonel Stuart Wortley's cat visited the doctor's hut to get a bayonet wound in the foot examined and bandaged. The colonel found her wounded after the battle of Malakoff and took her daily for a time to the regimental surgeon for treatment. But when he himself became ill she continued the visits of her own accord and sat quietly down for her usual treatment (from 'The Tiger in the House, A Cultural History of the Cat' by Carl Van Vechten).

After the war colonel Stuart Wortley (1832-1890) became a skilled and innovative photographer in his own right.

Lt. Colonel Henry Stuart Wortley 'Beached by the Tide' (about 1869), albumen print from a wet collodion negative.

next episode: barbara

Friday, January 10, 2014

Maria Buturlina

Maria Sergeyevna Buturlina (1815—1902), née Gagarin, by Christina Robertson, 1841 (Regional Art Museum,  Voronezh, Russia)

next episode: dog, horse and cat

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Redrawn Map of Syria & Iraq linguistically/culturely closer to each other than to Arabs

The New York Times proposes to redrawn the map of the Middle East. In fact this isn't such a bad idea, and the map (adjusted by me) makes the current problems more insightful.
  • Shia: 2nd largest denomination of Islam, connected with Iran. The current PM of Iraq is a Shia.
  • Sunni: largest branch of Islam, connected with Al-Qaeda and Saudi-Arabia. Saddam Hussein was a Sunni.
  • Alawite: branch (sekt) of the Shia Islam. The Syrian president is an Alawite.
  • The Kurds are linguistically/culturally closer related to the Iranian people than to Arabs.
This explains the recent uprisings west of Baghdad where Sunni forces took control of several cities. They want a separate state with the Sunnis in Syria. And it also explains the heave fights near the city of Homs north of Damascus, since it is located in the narrow corridor between the northern and southern parts of the Alawite heartland.

To make matters more complicated there is a large minority of Turks living in northern Iraq.

The cause of many problems is the artificial Syria-Iraq border splitting the green Sunni area in half, the result of the division of the Middle East between France and England after WW1 (Treaty of Sykes–Picot).

next episode: Maria Buturlina

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Train Wreck Girl

Train Wreck Girl

next episode: Syria & Iraq

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Happy New Year !

The Fall of New Amsterdam by J.L.G. Ferris (1863-1930)

A happy new 1664 2014 to all my readers!

next episode: train girl


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