The Lost Colony of Roanoke, The Dare Stones, and Georgia!

Most people know about the Lost Colony of Roanoke and the mystery surrounding it. But, did you know the story has a Georgia connection?

The Lost Colony of Roanoke Dare Stone

What we know about Roanoke

Let’s recap what we know. A group of English settlers landed at Roanoke Island North Carolina in 1587 in an attempt to establish the first permanent English settlement in North America. John White led the expedition.

In 1587, White returned to England to procure more supplies for the colony and planned to return in 1588. However, the Anglo-Spanish War delayed his return until 1590. When he returned, he found the fortified settlement abandoned and the word Croatoan carved into the palisade. He assumed that meant the colonists abandoned Roanoke for nearby Croatoan Island. However, as the ship attempted to visit Croatoan Island, a storm forced the vessel to return the England.

The Dare Stones

One of the few clues about the fate of the Lost Colony of Roanoke is tied to the Dare Stones. The Dare Stones are inscribed pieces of stone found in North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia. The first stone (known as the Chowan River Stone) was found by Louis Hammond in 1937. Hammond brought the stone to Emory University and asked for help interpreting words on the rock he claimed to find by the Chowan River in North Carolina. Thanks to our friends at Wikipedia, here are the inscriptions on the stone (both sides are inscribed):

ANANIAS DARE &
VIRGINIA WENT HENCE
VNTO HEAVEN 1591

ANYE ENGLISHMAN SHEW
JOHN WHITE GOVR VIA

The opposite side reads:

FATHER SOONE AFTER YOV
GOE FOR ENGLANDE WEE CAM 
HITHER ONLIE MISARIE & WARRE 
TOW YEERE ABOVE HALFE DEADE ERE TOW
YEERE MORE FROM SICKNES BEINE FOVRE & TWENTIE
SALVAGE WITH MESSAGE OF SHIPP VNTO US SMAL
SPACE OF TIME THEY AFFRITE OF REVENGE RANN
AL AWAYE WEE BLEEVE YT NOTT YOV SOONE AFTER
YE SALVAGES FAINE SPIRTS ANGRIE SVDDIANE 
MVRTHER AL SAVE SEAVEN MINE CHILDE
ANANIAS TO SLAINE WTH MVCH MISARIE
BVRIE AL NEERE FOVRE MYLES EASTE THIS RIVER
VPPON SMAL HILL NAMES WRIT AL THER 
ON ROCKE PVTT THIS THEIR ALSOE SALVAGE 
SHEW THIS VNTO YOV & HITHER WEE 
PROMISE YOV TO GIVE GREATE 
PLENTIE PRESENTS
EWD

While the authenticity of the Chowan River Stone has never been established, Hammond tried to sell it to Emory University. The institution declined, so Hammond sold it to Emory Porfessor Haywood Pearce, Jr. with backing from Brenau University (owned by Pearce’s father)

The Dare Stones and Georgia

The connection doesn’t stop with the Chowan River Stone, however. After Brenau acquired the stone, they offered a reward for additional stones. And they got them! Many of the stones were provided by a stonecutter named Bill Eberhardt. Eberhardt claimed to have found stones in Greenville County, SC (13 of them). With the Chowan River Stone regarded as Dare Stone #1, the Eberhardt stones were numbered 2-14. Isaac Turner of Atlanta found Stone #15 in Hall County, GA.

Eberhardt continued to uncover stones and added stones #16-24 in 1939. This group was allegedly found in Habersham County, GA. I could detail other finds in Fulton County, Ga (near Eberhardt’s home) but you get the drift. Stone #36 was found by William Bruce of Atlanta (also found near his home). All told, Haywood Pearce received 48 Dare Stones.

Scientific Consideration

In 1940, a conference looked into the stones’ authenticity. The conclusion seemed to support the claims, but the report also said that it was still under investigation.

Haywood Pearce sent an article to The Saturday Evening Post, but the article triggered an expose article challenging the Dare Stones’ authenticity. The expose uncovered the fact that Eberhardt, Isaac Turner (Stone #15), and William Bruce (Stone #36) had known each other for years. After these facts and many others surfaced, Dare Stones 2-48 were considered fakes.

The Dare Stones Today

All 48 Dare Stones remain in Brenau’s possession, though only Dare Stone #1 (Chowan River Stone) is on display. Louis Hammond remains an enigma since researchers couldn’t find any information on him.

The debate continues on the original Dare Stone. Scholars weigh in on both sides of the argument, so unless additional information surfaces, we’ll likely never know the truth. You can see the stone with permission from the President’s Office at Brenau University in Gainesville, GA, but as I understand it, Brenau owns all rights to any photos or videos of the stones.

So there you have it. The Lost Colony of Roanoke, the Dare Stones, and the Georgia connection. There is much more to the story, so I encourage you to do your own research. If you do, find me on Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, and Pinterest and let me know what you find out.

Laird of Dunans Castle? Me? Maybe or Maybe Not!

Laird of Dunans Castle?

I’ve been interested in my genealogy for some time now and have gotten pretty far back on part of the family. I’ve discovered I have deep roots in Virginia (perhaps as far back as Jamestown but I have to verify that story) and, according to my DNA test, my ancestors are mostly from England, Scotland, and Ireland (with just a touch of Scandinavian). Not much of a surprise there. One of the big mysteries in the family tree, though, is where my Stuart ancestors originated. That was one of the reasons why Lana and I went to Scotland in September 2018. I wanted to see the lands from which my ancestors may have hailed. I didn’t do any genealogy research while I was there but it was a little surreal to sit in Edinburgh Castle having tea with Lana while surrounded by the names of the Stuart Kings and Queens.

Am I a Laird?

This post is not about my genealogy, though. It is about a Christmas present Lana gave me. How she found it, I don’t know, but she purchased a square foot of the grounds of a castle in my name. According to my understanding, since I am now a Scottish landowner, I am entitled to be referred to as a Laird!

What? Me a Laird? Well, yes and no. The title is decorative, meaning that while I may use it, it holds no true legal recognition. A Laird (or Lord) recognized by the Court of Lord Lyon would legal have standing, but buying a square foot of land doesn’t make me a qualify me as a Laird (I’m not sure the Scottish Land Register would even recognize a square foot of land as property). Regardless, as noted in the photo below, if I’m ever in Scotland again, I’ll have to visit Dunans Castle and see my plot of land. I doubt I’ll ask them to use the title, though.

Laird of Dunans Certificate

Do I look the part?

I couldn’t leave this post without a picture of me taken while I was in Scotland (Inverness to be exact). Lana convinced me to rent a kilt and have my picture taken while in full regalia. While Lana was taking my picture, three women from Germany and two from Alabama wanted to have their picture made with me. From my picture below, I guess I look the part!

Dunans Castle

The purchase of the plot of land at Dunans Castle helps restore the property, which burned in a fire in 2001. Originally owned by Clan Fletcher, it now belongs to Charles and Sadie Dixon-Spain. This picture, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons, shows the castle. Pretty impressive!

What do you think? DoI look like a Scottish Laird? Leave me a comment and let me know!

Connect with me:

Want to talk about Dunans Castle or your own possible title? Find me on Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, Pinterest, or Tumblr. I look forward to hearing your comments!

 

 

Rosslyn Chapel – The Mysterious Church in Scotland!!

During our 30th anniversary trip to Scotland, Lana and I put Rosslyn Chapel as one of our “can’t miss” destinations. We visited it on the same day we visited St. Andrews and The Old Course and I’m so glad we did!

Rosslyn Chapel

Rosslyn Chapel and Dan Brown’s The Davinci Code:

What is Rosslyn Chapel? On the surface, it is an small old church in the Scottish countryside that belongs to the Sinclair family. Mysterious in its own right for the multitude of odd carvings that cover the inside and outside of the church, Rosslyn Chapel gained famed and a bit of notoriety as part of Dan Brown’s The DaVinci Code. Readers of the books and viewers of the movie will recall Rosslyn Chapel as the place where Sophie Neveu discovers she is the blood descendant of Jesus. Whether you subscribe to that version of things or not, Rosslyn Chapel still is a mysterious place.

The Apprentice Pillar:

What makes Rosslyn so fascinating are the carvings that cover the inside of the church. According to our guides at the site, Rosslyn Chapel was founded in 1446 and sits on land still owned by the Sinclair family. Stone masons and apprentices worked on the building and the carvings. One of the most interesting stories concerns the Apprentice Pillar near the altar of the church. As the story goes, the master mason wanted to travel abroad to see the pillar he had been commissioned to fashion at Rosslyn. His apprentice dreamed of the pillar and set to work on it while the master was away. When the master returned, he saw the finished pillar and asked who dared to do the work in his absence. When he discovered his apprentice carved the pillar, the enraged master mason stuck and killed him in the chapel. The master mason was executed for his crime.

Rosslyn Chapel Apprentice Pillar

Legend says that carved heads of the apprentice and master gaze over the chapel from opposite corners of the interior. To further the master’s punishment, his carved head faces the Apprentice Pillar and has to gaze upon the pillar for eternity! If you look closely at the picture below to the left and right corners, you can see the heads.

Rosslyn Chapel Apprentice and Master Heads

Unfortunately, photography isn’t permitted inside the chapel (though we didn’t know that when Lana snapped a picture of me standing near the Apprentice Pillar). Too bad, because the carvings inside are what makes Rosslyn Chapel such an enigma.

Rosslyn Chapel Beebop at the Apprentice Pillar

Carvings, Decorations, and The Knights Templar:

Virtually every surface has a carving of some kind on it. From pagan symbols like The Green Man, to gargoyles, roses, musical notes, bagpipers, and so much more, the carvings spawned books devoted to interpreting what it all means. Of course, such mysterious things lead to conspiracy theories and one of the most famous connects the Knights Templar to Rosslyn Chapel. Here are just a few of the carvings:

"<yoastmark

"<yoastmark

Rosslyn Chapel Carving

Rosslyn Chapel carving

"<yoastmark

Now to the Knights Templar. As I understand the theory, in 1307 King Phillip of France urged the Pope to declare the Templars heretics and confiscate their lands and property. Many believe Phillip owed the Templars much money and seizing their fortunes could relieve the debt. When the raid happened, the treasure ships had disappeared. Some believe that a high-ranking Templar official was a member of the St. Clair family (in English Sinclair) and had the treasure spirited away to Scotland. The Sinclairs finished Rosslyn around 1446 or almost 140 years after the raid, so the timeline doesn’t work. If the Templars hid the treasure in the Rosslyn area, where did they hide it for all those years?

Timeline issues aside, there is a vault beneath the chapel. The docent we spoke with confirmed the vault’s existence. However, she told us it is the Sinclair family burial vault and only contains the remains of Sinclair family members. Her assertions aside, others believe it is the hiding place of artifacts. Some believe the Holy Grail, The Spear of Destiny, the True Cross, and the Menorah stolen from Rome by the Visigoths (after the Romans stole it after sacking Jerusalem) rest at Rosslyn Chapel. To add to mystery and the conspiracy theory, the Sinclair family refuses to allow excavation under the chapel.

What do you think?

What do you think? Is Rosslyn Chapel simply a place where masons could come and practice and perfect their craft or is it the resting place of some of the greatest artifacts in human history? Either way, the place has an astounding number of mysterious carvings, and a history shrouded in mystery. If you get to Scotland, put this one on your list of places not-to-miss!

Connect with me: 

Find me on the socials and let’s connect. I’m on Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, Pinterest, Google+, and Tumblr. Since you’re here, let me know your thoughts on Rosslyn Chapel! Don’t miss a post either. Subscribe to the blog!

 

Gavrinis France and its Mysterious Megalithic Passage Tomb!!

I haven’t done a post on mysterious things or conspiracy theories in quite a while. I want to remedy that and tell you about Gavrinis, France!

Many of my readers may know about Gavrinis, but I’ll go on the assumption that it is new to everyone. Gavrinis is a small island off the coast of Brittany France. The island itself is uninhabited and is not remarkable in and of itself. However, the passage tomb that occupies a portion of the island is remarkable indeed. First, let’s look at where the island lies and how you can get to it if you want to visit.

Where is Gavrinis?

Here is the map showing Gavrinis and its proximity to Larmor-Baden. Visitors to the island travel by boat from Larmor-Baden.

Gavrinis

The passage tomb on the island is home to some of the most amazing megalithic art in the world. Twenty-nine slabs make up the sides of the passage with twenty-three of the slabs highly decorated. Below are pictures of the carvings on the slabs.

Gavrinis

Gavrinis

Experts estimate the site was built about 3500 BC and use stopped about 3000 BC. As an archaeological find, I think they are cool and to think about the people who inhabited the area and how they lived 5000 years ago is amazing. But, since we want to explore mysterious things, what do the carvings mean?

Wikipedia tells us there are common items like axes and staffs carved into the stones. They speculate a horn-like symbol might represent cattle. However, what do the lines and whorls mean? Conspiracy theorists claim they can find evidence of advanced mathematical knowledge in the carvings. Things like the number of days in a year, the circumference of the earth, and, perhaps most importantly, the constant Pi. If true, one has to wonder where such knowledge came from and why it was depicted in the carvings? Did aliens bring the knowledge? Was this an outpost of Atlantis? Of course, we won’t know the answer to these questions, but it is fun to speculate.

Thoughts?

What do you think? Are the carvings simply decorative or are they indicative of advanced knowledge lost over time? If the latter, where do you think it originated? I’m curious to know your thoughts, so leave a comment and let me know!

Connect with me:

If you want to connect with me on social media, I’m on Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, Google+, Tumblr, and Pinterest. I’d love to get to know new friends and maybe talk about Gavrinis!

 

 

Pigeon Mountain Revisited – Still Not a Volcano!!

If my readers recall, I did a post about Volcanoes in Georgia, specifically Pigeon Mountain. After a number of comments from geologists, I learned that it wasn’t a volcano. However, I still wanted to visit the mountain and see things for myself. Although I didn’t doubt the experts, it’s always good to verify information. I also like to learn!

Imagine my surprise when I received a comment from Tennessee Heartwood telling me that they planned an excursion with a geologist to visit Pigeon Mountain. What is Tennessee Heartwood? It’s a 501c3 organization dedicated to the preservation of Tennessee public lands heritage. Their efforts include the Cherokee National Forest and Land Between the Lakes NRA. The Cherokee National Forest is a huge forest tract in Tennessee that joins other national forests in Virginia, North Carolina, and Georgia (the Chattahoochee National Forest).

Anyway, I jumped at the chance to see the mountain and talked my brother into going with me. We got up early and hit the road since it’s about a 2 and a half hour drive to get there from our part of Georgia. We had a great time riding through the mountains and seeing the dawn break. Beautiful drive! I can truthfully say there are some wide open spaces between Gainesville, GA and the Pigeon Mountain Grill just outside of Lafayette, GA!

We joined the rest of the group and discovered we couldn’t actually go on the mountain since we didn’t have either a hunting or fishing license. it turns out that Pigeon Mountain is a Georgia Wildlife Management Area (WMA) and you can’t visit it without one of the licenses. Nonetheless, we went all around the mountain and thoroughly enjoyed our discussions with our geologist tour guide Jay. Jay grew up around Pigeon Mountain and was a wealth of knowledge about the different geologic periods. In addition, he explained in simple terms and how the formed. And yes, he confirmed that Pigeon Mountain isn’t volcanic.

Roadside Waterfall Pigeon Mountain

Roadside Waterfall Pigeon Mountain

Pigeon Mountain is part of the Cumberland Plateau and there is a ton of limestone up there. The limestone erosion caused the deep pits (like Ellison’s Cave and Petty John’s Cave) in the mountain. If you’re familiar with sinkholes in Florida, the process is similar.  All told, it was an entertaining and educational day. We found fossils, learned about chert (which can be fashioned into tools), sandstone, and limestone. We also got to see first hand evidence of the different geologic periods present in the area.

Fossils Pigeon Mountain

Pigeon Mountain Fossils

Although I confirmed first hand that Pigeon Mountain wasn’t volcanic, I was still disappointed. A bigger disappointment was that there weren’t any gemstones native to the area. Fun as it was to visit, I’ll stick to my Northeast Georgia Mountains and hunt gemstones and prospect for gold!

Connect with me: 

Find me on Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, Google+, Tumblr, or Pinterest and tell me what you think about Pigeon Mountain. You can leave a comment, too, or email me at bill@williamlstuart.com. I look forward to hearing from you!

Expedition Bigfoot Museum Near Blue Ridge Georgia

I had the opportunity to spend a recent Saturday in Talking Rock, Georgia (near Ellijay, GA) with my children and grandchildren (and the lovely and adorable Lana) at a nice mountain cabin. While there, we discovered a neat little museum near Blue Ridge (home of fairy crosses from The Gemstone Chronicles) devoted to Bigfoot! Called Expedition Bigfoot, it was a neat place! I had no idea Georgia was home to Sasquatch, but it certainly has it share of sightings.

If you read the blog, you’ll recall my post about Bigfoot from 2016. That post focused on the Pacific Northwest, where some of the most well-known sightings, photos, and video footage originates. As I found out, though, every state in the contiguous United States, Alaska, and Canada all have sightings. I can’t leave Hawaii out, either. The Hawaiian version, known as Menehune, are humanoid creatures about 3 feet tall. Even if they don’t measure up to the Bigfoot stature, it’s still an unknown creature and makes you wonder.

So, what did we find at Expedition Bigfoot? First, check out this map of Georgia with sightings marked on it. I cropped the bottom half of the state so I could zoom in to the more numerous sightings in North Georgia.

Expedition Bigfoot

 

Though it’s hard to see, if you look closely at the map, you can see green pins showing the sightings. Interestingly, a number of sightings occurred near Cleveland, GA, where we go gemstone hunting. I’ll have to keep an eye out when I’m up there!

Another famous sighting happened near Barnesville, GA (bottom middle of the map above, just to the left of the lowermost I75 symbol). The picture of the foot casting below was taken near Elkin Creek in Pike County, GA. If this is an accurate casting, the creature certainly has a big foot!

Expedition Bigfoot

 

If you watch The Travel Channel, you’ve probably seen shows featuring Josh Gates. In 2007, Josh cast a Yeti footprint. Below is the casting with Josh Gates in the background. That’s pretty cool!

Expedition Bigfoot

There are audio recordings at Expedition Bigfoot and you can don a set of headphones and hear cries, thumping on trees, and other sounds attributed to the creatures. Cool stuff!

I know none of this proves the existence of Bigfoot, but it sure makes for interesting speculation. I’ve not seen one, and skepticism runs deep. However, one of the people we spoke with at the museum declared herself not a believer, but a knower, and claims to have experienced many sightings over the years. Who knows? She might be correct!

Which are you? Are you a skeptic, a believer, or a knower? Leave me a comment and let me know! If you’ve seen one, give the details. I’d really like to know! Have you visited Expedition Bigfoot? Let us know and tell us about your own expedition to find Bigfoot!

If you want to email about your experience, send it to bill@williamlstuart.com. I also welcome new friends on social media. Find me on Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, Google+, Tumblr, and Pinterest, say hello, and let’s connect!

New Rock Polishing Toys – What Do You Think?

New Rock Polishing Toys!!

Gemstones fascinate me and are key elements in The Gemstone Chronicles fantasy adventure series I wrote. I’ve been looking for cabochon equipment for a while now and I lucked up upon a vintage Highland Park A-50 and a Rock Rascal Saw. The A-50 is mounted on a rolling cabinet and the saw is firmly installed on a nice little table. Check out the pictures below!

Rock Polishing Toys

Highland Park A-50

 

Rock Polishing Toys

Rock Rascal

 

Given the equipment hadn’t operated in a while, I had a bit of work to do on the machine. First thing I did was to replace the power cord to the A-50 motor. Once I finished that little repair, the motor ran perfectly. I discovered the water pump bucket was rusted through, but that didn’t stop me. I cut a 5 gallon plastic bucket down to size and it fit like a glove inside the original bucket. The pump discharge fitting was cracked and the hose wouldn’t fit properly, so I engineered a fix and it works amazingly well!

The Rock Rascal, as you can see from the picture above, needed a new power cord, too. Luckily, I learned a bit about electrical and electronic stuff back in my Navy days, so, like the cord for the A-50, it was an easy fix. Doesn’t make me want to be an electrician again (like I was right after I left the Navy), but it’s satisfying to make it work. Once complete, I op tested it and everything ran smoothly.

Rock Polishing Toys

I think I might modify the A-50 to add more wheels, but that will be down the road. For now, I’ll pick up various grit belts to use on the expanding drums and use a 6 inch wheel I received for Christmas on the Rock Rascal. Now, I just need a water source and return for the wheel.

The equipment package included a new 6 inch diamond blade for the Rock Rascal, a dopping pot, dopping wax, and cabochon templates. I’m all set now (or will be as soon as the new belts come in)!

What do you think about my new rock polishing toys? Personally, I can’t wait to see if I can make a cab or two and do something with all the rocks I found during my gemstone hunting trips. I might even be able to polish a sapphire or ruby once I get diamond belts for the expanding drums.

Connect with me: Like my new toys? Have advice for a novice rock polisher? I appreciate any comments and emails with tips and hints. I’m on social media, too. Find me at Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, Google+, Tumblr, and Pinterest, so don’t be shy! Say hello!

 

The Franklin-Creighton Gold Mine in Ball Ground, Georgia!

Some time ago, I wrote blog posts about the Georgia Gold Rush, the 1832 Gold Lottery, and The Calhoun Mine. While researching those posts, I ran across the story of the Franklin-Creighton Mine and found it fascinating. I’d like to share it with you!

First, a little background. In 1832, Georgia held a land lottery and a gold lottery. As noted in the Gold Lottery post, the lottery parcels included Cherokee lands confiscated by the government. Wikipedia tells us the eligible lottery participants included the following:

  • bachelors over 18 who were 3 years residents of Georgia and US citizen
  • widows who were 3 year residents of Georgia
  • families of orphans who were 3 year residents of Georgia and US citizens.
  • married men (or male heads of family) who were 3 year residents of Georgia and US citizens. The residency requirement for the last category was waived for officers of the navy or army.

Similarly, the ineligible list kept many out of the lottery. Ineligible persons included:

  • anyone who had previously been successful in a land lottery (the 1832 Lottery was the 7th land lottery)
  • a resident of Cherokee territory
  • anyone convicted of a felony in a Georgia court
  • anyone who mined or caused to be mined gold, silver, or any metal in Cherokee territory since 1830.

The lottery excluded a very specific group. Members of the band of thieves known as the Pony Club couldn’t participate. I may have to do a post on the Pony Club…

Whoever won the lottery paid a grant fee of $10 per lot for a 40 acre parcel. That works out to be about $270 today. Among the many winners was Mary Franklin, a widow. According to www.cherokeega.com, Mrs. Franklin received over a dozen offers for her lot in the first week after the lottery. The interest intrigued her and she went to the property. There she found about 20 men shoveling dirt and panning. She had the men removed and she and her family worked the claim. Mrs. Franklin proved to have excellent business sense and she became quite wealthy. She built a large home, bought additional lots, and made sure her children were well-educated. Mary Franklin died in 1858 and a group of northern investors bought the property.

While there isn’t any definite record of the mine’s yield, estimates run as high as $1,000,000 after 1880. That’s about $23M in today’s dollars. In 1883, the mine became known as the Creighton-Franklin (or just Creighton) Mine after J.M. Creighton bought out the other investors. It continued production until 1913 when a shaft collapsed and flooded the mine. Today only 1 building (the Shingle House) remains standing at the site.

Franklin-Creighton Shingle House

In keeping with the theme of The Gemstone Chronicles, I had to see what gemstones might be around the site, too. The best information I found indicated quartz, pyrite, and a few others, though no mention of rubies, emeralds, or sapphires. Still, it would be fun to look around!

Since the property is privately owned, chances are I won’t get to dig on it. I plan on taking a drive up that way (it’s only about 25 miles from my house) and at least snap pictures of the Shingle House. If I’m lucky, I’ll see the owner, strike up a conversation, and get invited to dig around on the property!

Do you have gold mines near your home? If so, have you ever tried to mine there? In Georgia, there were once 600 or so gold mines, so if you live in North Georgia chances are there’s one near you! Do some research and, if you need someone to go panning with you, let me know!

Connect with me:

If you want to talk more about this or my books (or submarines, writing, gemstones, etc.), drop me an email at bill@williamlstuart.com or leave me a comment. If you want to connect on social media, I’m on Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, Google+, Tumblr, and Pinterest. I love meeting new friends!

 

 

Super Secret Submarines and the Jolly Roger Flag!!

I recently read a story about the submarine USS Jimmy Carter (SSN 23) returning to its home port in Bremerton, Washington flying the Jolly Roger. Being a former submarine sailor, I took a measure of pride in seeing the picture, and it made me wonder about a couple of things. First, what did the boat do to fly that flag, and, secondly, what happened to its clandestine predecessor USS Parche (SSN 683). Before I go into that, here’s the picture of the Jimmy Carter flying the flag (courtesy of Lt. Cmdr. Michael Smith via DVIDS):

 

What did USS Jimmy Carter do to fly the pirate flag? We probably won’t know for years (if ever). We can speculate based on some of the submarine capabilities. For instance, we know the Seawolf class submarine is incredibly quiet (by some estimates 70 times quieter than the Los Angeles class). We know it has an extra hundred foot section in the hull (called the Multi Mission Platform) and can dive deeper than the Los Angeles or Sturgeon class boats. It can allegedly transport Seal teams and their equipment, tap into underwater communication cables, and much more – none of which can be confirmed.

How does that help us guess at the boat’s mission. Given that the Jimmy Carter is a West Coast submarine, we can speculate that its successful mission involved North Korea.What exactly, we will likely never know as it will be shrouded in secrecy for decades to come. They could have landed SEAL teams for intelligence gathering, retrieved missile fragments from North Korea’s recent launches, or any number of other operations. Whatever they did, in keeping with the submarine force’s legendary silence, we won’t know.

Why the Jolly Roger, though? The practice of flying the pirate flag is a navy tradition signifying a successful mission. According to the Washington Post, the practice began in WWII with the Royal Navy. The article tells us symbols often adorn the flags to reflect what the mission accomplished. Jimmy Carter‘s flag had one or possibly two unidentified symbols on it, which only adds to the mystery. Whatever the mission, Bravo Zulu to the crew for a job well done!

Now for USS Parche (SSN 683), the super secret Sturgeon class submarine whose mantle USS Jimmy Carter inherited. According to Wikipedia, the Parche is, as of 2007, the most decorated ship in the history of the US Navy. Recipient of 9 Presidential Unit Citations (PUC), 10 Navy Unit Commendations (NUC), and 13 Navy Expeditionary Medals, Parche remains a mystery. Decommissioned in 2004, her sail resides in Bremerton Washington. Note the interesting hull appendage. I wonder what purpose it served…

Flag

040920-N-6497N-014
Naval Base Kitsap, Wash. (Sept. 20, 2004) Ð The attack submarine USS Parche (SSN 683) returns to port for the final time at the Marginal pier at Naval Base Kitsap, Wash. Parche, the last active Sturgeon-class attack submarine, is due to be decommissioned on October 19, 2004 after serving the fleet since 1973. Parche was configured for research and development from 1987-1991 and was used primary for intelligence gathering and underwater salvage. U.S. Navy photo by Brian Nokell (RELEASED)

The Parche‘s preserved sail in Bremerton:

Again, according to Wikipedia, Parche recovered Soviet missile fragments and was thought of as a key component of the National Underwater Reconnaissance Office. The book Blind Man’s Bluff claims the submarine tapped into Soviet communications cables during Operation Ivy Bells. Because most of USS Parche‘s missions remain highly classified, these claims remain unsubstantiated. One of my instructors at prototype in Idaho Falls, Idaho, served on Parche. He wore a few of the PUCs and NUCs, but claimed he didn’t know why the boat received the awards.

Based on her decorations alone, Parche deserved to fly the pirate flag, although I don’t know if she did. Regardless, I think it’s only fitting to give USS Parche (SSN 683) a Bravo Zulu as well!

Connect with me:

What do you think earned USS Jimmy Carter (SSN 23) the right to fly the Jolly Roger? Leave me a comment and let me know your thoughts. If you’d rather, drop me an email at bill@williamlstuart.com. Connect with me on social media, too! I’m on Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, Google+, Tumblr, and Pinterest. Say hi and let’s talk submarines (or books, nuclear power, writing, etc.)! I always enjoy meeting new friends!

Meteor Crater and Winslow Arizona – Vacation 2017!!

June often means vacation time for Lana, the grandchildren, and me. This year, we decided to do something different and go west for Vacation 2017. Not all the way to the West Coast, but to Arizona and the Grand Canyon! We started at Meteor Crater and Winslow Arizona!

For those who don’t know, I was born in New Mexico and spent my first 13 years in New Mexico and Colorado before moving to South Georgia. Thus, I had some experience with the Southwestern US. Lana, Aidan, and Maggie didn’t, and they didn’t know what to expect from the different landscape and climate. When we landed in Phoenix, it was 113F and went up to 118F. Now, I know what you’re thinking – it was dry heat. True enough, but it was still HOT. Think of the humid southern climate as a sauna. Phoenix was like an oven! So, we got our rental car and headed to Flagstaff (our base of operations) and started our adventures. Thank goodness it was only in the mid-80’s and low 90’s in Flagstaff!

In upcoming posts, I’ll tell you more of what we saw and visited, but today, I wanted to talk about Meteor Crater. You all know I’m a big geek about space stuff, so this was right in my wheelhouse.

Scientists call the impact site the Barringer Crater (named for John Barringer who was the first to suggest it was made by a meteor), according to what we learned at the site. Canyon Diablo Crater is another name (the nearby town of Canyon Diablo inspired the name though it is a ghost town now). Scientists estimate the meteor that struck was moving somewhere between 28,000 mph and 42,300 mph. The crater formed in about 10 seconds and was ~700 feet deep initially. It’s now about 550 feet deep due to sediment buildup over the last 50,000 years.

Here is a picture of the crater!

 

Meteor Crater

I know the picture can’t do justice to the actual site, but maybe it gives an idea of how big the crater is. One of the other things I found on display during our visit was tektite! If readers of The Gemstone Chronicles recall, tektite was one of the stones in the books. In Book Two: The Amethyst, Beebop buys a tektite necklace that turns out to be a telepathy stone. Now, I didn’t intercept any communications, but to see pieces of tektite up close was very cool! You can read the tektite post here! Sorry the picture isn’t so good…

Meteor Crater Tektites

In case you can’t read the text in the photo, the samples shown are Indochinites. If you look at the map, you can see the Georgia strewnfield mentioned in my book.

We also learned the astronauts trained here for the moon missions in the 1960’s and 1970’s. Maybe that was the beginning of the conspiracy theory of the fake moon landing. Maybe I’ll explore that in another post!

We left the Meteor Crater and continued on to the Petrified Forest and Painted Desert (that will be another post), but stopped in Winslow Arizona. And yes, we took a picture standin’ on a corner in Winslow, Arizona!

Meteor Winslow AZ

Just in case you missed it, in the window behind us is a girl in a flatbed Ford! We also had some great hot dogs and milk shakes at Sipp Shoppe before pushing on to the Petrified Forest.

There you have a small taste of our Arizona adventures. More to come!

Have you been to Arizona? Took a picture in Winslow? Leave me a comment and let me know. Connect with me on the socials, too! I love meeting new friends! I’m on Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, Google+, Tumblr, and Pinterest! As always, I appreciate any and all shares and subscribers to the blog!!