A Travellerspoint blog

Texarkana—One City, Two States


View Texarkana on countycollector's travel map.

When winter lingers in the northern part of the US, I like to head south for a bit of county collecting. Such was the case in mid-February when my travels took me to northwest Louisiana and southwest Arkansas, with a little foray into Texas for good measure.


My goal for this trip was to finish off the final parishes in Louisiana. In case anyone is wondering, Louisiana does not have counties. The governmental division below the state level and above the municipal (city) level is called a parish and serves the same function as counties elsewhere in the United States. The trip started with a Saturday morning flight to ATL connecting on to MLU. I ended up choosing Monroe, LA because the combination of fare and schedule worked out better than Shreveport or Texarkana. From there it took most of the afternoon to cover a couple hundred miles and half a dozen parishes/counties in Louisiana and Arkansas before arriving in Texarkana.

Perhaps the most curious fact about Texarkana is that the United States Courthouse and Post Office, located on State Line Avenue, is the only federal building in the country sited in two states. The state line bisects the building and runs right down the middle of State Line Avenue both north and south of the courthouse. Normally I don’t photograph federal courthouses, only county ones, but this time I didn’t mind making an exception.
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Throughout the weekend journey, there was ample evidence of recent heavy rainfall. Only once did I have to reroute due to road closures due to flooding. Here’s a city park in Camden, AR where the Ouachita River overflowed its banks.
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When I’m on the road, I always seem to find something odd or unusual. This trip was no exception. While driving through the town of Gurdon, I spied this strange monument dedicated to the creation of the International Concatenated Order of Hoo Hoo. After a little research, I learned the order was founded in Gurdon, AR in 1892 as a fraternal society of lumbermen. The order is still going and membership is open to people 18 and up who are of good moral character and engaged in the forestry industry.” You learn something new every day.
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Over the course of the trip, I covered just shy of 1300 miles and visited 21 county/parish seats. I was able to complete the state of Louisiana, which was a primary goal of this visit. Although I did cross over into Texas, I did not make it to any county seats. Interestingly, Texarkana may be the largest city in Bowie County, but it is not the county seat. For that reason, I’m not including Texas in the before and after maps this time. Still, 21 new counties are marked blue (completed) from this trip, bringing the number remaining below 600 (599 to be exact).
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At the moment I’m uncertain where my next county trip will be. I plan to visit Washington (state) in June, though depending on what travel restrictions are in place at the time, that is still questionable. Wherever I go, whenever I go, and whatever I find along the way, you can read about it here.

Until then…

Happy Travels
Brian

Posted by countycollector 11:58 Archived in USA Tagged arkansas louisiana county_collecting texarkana Comments (3)

Georgia on my Mind


View Georgia - Jan 2020 on countycollector's travel map.

It’s nice to get an early start for the year on county collecting trips when the opportunity presents. The trick is finding somewhere warm enough while also avoiding winter-related travel delays. I managed both with a weekend in southern Georgia to kick of my 2020 road trips in mid-January. One challenge in visiting all the county seats in the USA is that sometimes there isn’t much to see. This turned out to one of those times. When the scenery consists of swamps, cotton fields, and peanut farms, finding interesting spots along the way can be downright difficult.

When I first made the decision to visit Georgia for this trip, I seriously considered trying to visit the 48 ‘uncollected’ counties over a three-day weekend. While possible, it would have required some extremely long days on the road. As I delved deeper into the planning, I chose instead to limit this trip to 31 counties, all in the southern part of the state, leaving the remaining 17 for later. All the stops I planned on making were closer to Florida than they were to Atlanta, I opted to fly to Jacksonville and drive from there.


Getting to JAX turned out to be a bit of a nightmare. For reasons that were never fully explained, our inbound aircraft was over 2 hours late. Add to that another delay on the tarmac of about 45 minutes (allegedly due to problems related to the flight computer), by the time I reach ATL, my connecting flight to JAX was long gone. I was rebooked on a flight later that night giving me roughly 3 additional hours in the airport. Lucky for me, there was a flight due to depart in less than an hour, so I zipped over to the gate and snagged one of the last standby seats putting me in JAX at 9pm instead 11pm (My original flight was supposed to arrive around 6:30pm). No matter. I made it safely and picked up my car and headed to the Aloft near Jacksonville Airport. I’m really getting to like the Aloft brand.

Saturday morning I was up early and heading north along the Georgia coast. Well... visiting the counties that bordered the Atlantic Ocean. I didn't really see the ocean. About the closest I got to the beach was the turnoff to Jekyll Island just south of Brunswick. Speaking of Brunswick, this city in Georgia claims to be the home of Brunswick stew. I seem to recall the city of Brunswick, Virginia makes the same claim. Georgia has ‘proof’ of their claim in the form of the original stewpot from 1898, proudly displayed near the Brunswick farmers’ market a couple blocks from the county courthouse. That’s good enough for me. Brunswick, VA doesn’t have a pot to... cook in. At least not one on display like this.

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I love finding these sorts of odd monuments along the way, though sadly, this was the extent of curiosities for this trip. The rest of the journey consisted of more cotton fields, peanut farms, and the occasional swamp. I visited the relatively new SHS in Tifton, GA. Despite being right off I-75, it’s tucked behind a few restaurants so that navigating your way to the property is slightly challenging. One nice perk they offered me as a Titanium elite was a voucher for a free beer or glass of wine at the small hotel bar. In the words of BrightlyBob, “hic, don’t mind if I do.” My third night was at the FFI in Valdosta, an unremarkable, though comfortable hotel. I’d probably recommend the CY one exit up the freeway as there are far more restaurants in that area. Having stayed there last time I passed through this way, I figured I’d give the FFI a try.

By Monday afternoon, I was back at JAX for the flights home. Far better result than the inbound trip. On time departure, short layover, and on time arrival at CMH. One surprising thing that happened was the lead flight attendant stopped by my seat before takeoff to inquire how my flight delay on the way to JAX affected my trip. I had filled out a survey a day earlier indicating the lack of details on the delay were a sore point. Delta wants to make sure I’ll continue to fly with them and had the FA check that all was okay. I was duly impressed. I usually fill out those survey requests. This was the first time I got any sort of indication someone reads them. Good job, Delta.

So, how did I do with the counties? Over the course of the three days, I visited 31 county seats and added about 1,300 miles to my brand new rental car (the odometer only had 2,094 miles when I stared). I’m really glad I decided to scale back my ambition. The days were plenty long visiting roughly 10 counties a day. Trying for 16 per day would have been too much. Here are the before and after maps showing my progress.
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Up next is another three-day weekend trip to northwest Louisiana (Shreveport area) and into southwest Arkansas (Texarkana). I’ll be in the corner of Texas too as all of the Marriott properties in Texarkana are on the Texas side of the border. I have hope there will be more interesting sights that this last trip. Wish me luck.

Until then…

Happy Travels
Brian

Posted by countycollector 07:41 Archived in USA Tagged georgia county_collecting Comments (2)

County Collecting Basics

Some travelers keep track of all the states they visit. Others tally countries. I'm keeping track of every county I visit in the United States with the goal of eventually getting to all of them. County collecting is just keeping track of which counties you’ve visited. For most, merely crossing the county line is sufficient. My guidelines are a bit more restrictive.

My goal is not just to visit every county in the USA, but to stop in each county seat and mail a postcard home documenting when I was there. In this digital age that might seem a strange way to document one’s travels. There is, however, a reason. Between 1946 and 1973, my grandfather visited every county seat in the USA and mailed a postcard from each one. My uncle gave me this postcard collection which he has owned since my grandfather passed away almost 40 years ago. So the idea to visit each county seat and to document it with postcards has a significance in my family.

When I began this odd obsession back in 2007, I initially thought I would limit my county travels to my home state of Ohio. In fact, from 2008 through most of 2010, I didn’t add a single new county to my list. It was not until late in 2011 when this truly become a coast-to-coast project. One of the first things I did at that time was to go back over my travels prior to 2007 and mark which counties I had previously visited. Here’s a map showing where I had been up through the end of 2006.

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For reference, the light blue (cyan) represents counties I had been to without visiting the county seat. If you know your geography, you can see many of those counties follow along the major interstate highways. Since my goal is to eventually stop in each county seat, I chose green to represent counties when I’d been to the county seat. Once collecting began, I started marking the counties from where I had mailed (and received) postcards in blue. As an example, here’s how the map looked at the end of 2007 after completing Ohio.

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A couple more quick notes, and we’ll call this entry done. First, some states call their counties by another name. Louisiana uses the term parish. In Alaska, they are boroughs. They function the same—as administrative governmental entities below the state level and above the municipal level. Second, some counties have two county seats. This is more common in the South and Northeast, though there are a couple states in Midwest as well.

There are other oddities. Some states have independent cities that are separate entities from counties. Some states have eliminated all county level government, so those counties are essentially nothing more than lines on a map. A few counties don’t have any official county seat. And then there are the vast, sparsely populated parts of Alaska which are known as the Unorganized Borough. I’ve given careful consideration of how to handle all these ‘exceptions’ as I work toward visiting each county seat across the USA.

While travel is halted this spring, I’ll use that time to pull together a little historical perspective on where I’ve been over the last decade, ending with the two most recent county collecting trips from January and February of this year. If all goes well, by summer I can get back on the road and color a few more counties blue.

I hope you’ll come along for the ride.

Posted by countycollector 16:17 Archived in USA Comments (3)

Off into the Great Unknown

A new place for a continuing journey

For about the last 10 years, I've been gradually working on a long-term goal of stopping in every county seat in the United States and documenting my travels by mailing a postcard home from each town and city I visit. Some folks have been following my journey (on another forum) that is closing down. I plan to continue blogging about my travels here.

First a map, showing how much I've already completed.
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Everything in the darker blue represents counties where I have been to the county seat and documented my visit with a postcard. The green counties are the ones where I visited the county seat, but haven't documented that visit. Most of these were from travels prior to 2010 when I began this project. The lighter blue (cyan) is for counties I have visited by did not make it to the county seat. Enough about the map for now.

I will provide a bit more backstory later, but this should help orient folks who followed my previous blog (you know who you are). I hope many of you will continue the virtual ride-along when I get back on the road, hopefully over the summer of 2020. Over the next couple months, look for some history, maybe a bit of explanation of this odd hobby, and a probably few pictures along the way. That should be enough for now.

Let's get out and see the world.

Posted by countycollector 16:51 Archived in USA Tagged county_collecting Comments (3)

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