Monthly Archive: December 2020

New 800-Mile Midwestern Power Line Expands U.S. Wind Market

first_img FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Midwest Energy News:Finished in late September after more than a decade of planning and construction, the 800-mile-long CapX2020 transmission project has prompted more than 3,600 megawatts of clean energy project proposals, according to Xcel Energy.While not all the proposals are likely to be approved by regulators, the flood of applications represents the tangible impact of CapX2020 in moving electrons from windier parts of the Midwest to dense population centers to the east.“There’s a high preponderance of generators in the interconnection queues which are wind developers, with some solar, too,” said Teresa Mogensen, senior vice president for transmission at Xcel Energy, the utility which, along with Great River Energy, led the development.A recently completed 70-mile stretch of CapX in South Dakota has resulted in proposals for nine wind projects and one natural gas plant together totaling more than 2,000 MW. One of those is the largest wind project in South Dakota’s history, Xcel Energy’s 600 MW Crown Ridge.Developers have submitted plans for 10 wind projects totaling 1,900 MW on another segment from Brookings, South Dakota to Hampton, Minnesota. More projects are expected to come from North Dakota, too.The high level of interest does not surprise Wind on The Wires executive director Beth Soholt, an early supporter of CapX.“It’s a big deal,” she said. “It’s created a road to market for wind, allowed benefits to accrue to communities where wind can be developed.”The line allows greater flexibility to bring large volumes of wind energy onto the grid when it is available, a key to incorporating more renewable energy into the marketplace, she added.If the 3,600 MW of wind projects currently proposed get built, royalty payments to landowners will top $15 million annually, added Xcel Energy’s Tim Carlsgaard.The more than $2 billion project stands as one of the largest investments in energy infrastructure in Minnesota history, with 5,000 transmission structures on the six sections of the project.What started out as a project to improve the grid’s reliability and improve the Upper Midwest’s economic stability has created a clean energy superhighway, Mogensen said.It was one of the first “multi-value projects,” or MVPs, to receive approval from the Midcontinent Independent System Operator, or MISO. That designation allowed some of the costs of several CapX lines to be spread among MISO’s footprint, which extends throughout the Midwest, Manitoba, and parts of the South. MVPs in other states have similarly been credited for facilitating new wind development.“By adding these CapX lines we’ve multiplied the network capacity of what used to be there both because we have more lines and higher capacity,” Mogensen said. “It’s like putting in a highway where before you just had local roads. You can carry a lot more traffic a lot farther and a lot faster on that freeway structure … we can move a lot more power from west to east because of that.”As outlined in a University of Minnesota report sponsored by CapX and written by researchers at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs, the transmission project was jumpstarted by federal and state legislation.In 1999 the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission issued an order calling for states to create regional transmission plans.Second, new renewable energy projects began to come online, especially wind, to meet renewable portfolio standards of Minnesota and other Midwest states.Third, there was a sense among utility executives that the transmission grid, which had not been improved since the 1970s, was due for an expansion.More: Utilities say CapX2020 transmission project prompting wind energy growth New 800-Mile Midwestern Power Line Expands U.S. Wind Marketlast_img read more

Texas solar capacity could hit 5.8GW in 2020

first_imgTexas solar capacity could hit 5.8GW in 2020 FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享PV Magazine:Solar capacity in the ERCOT grid region has the “potential” to reach 5.8 GW this year, said ERCOT in its annual “State of the Grid” report. ERCOT serves nearly all of Texas.Solar capacity in ERCOT has room to grow, as it met less than 2% of the grid’s load last year. Wind power met 20% of the grid’s load, with wind capacity at 24 GW and potentially rising to 33 GW this year. Wind and solar generation developers submitted a “record number of interconnection requests” last year, the report said, and “with more solar projects coming online, wind and solar power have begun to complement each other.”Solar additions this year should also help serve peak load, which exceeded 74 GW last August 12, and which ERCOT expects to reach just under 77 GW this summer.ERCOT’s pricing structure, which allowed wholesale rates to briefly reach the maximum $9,000 per megawatt-hour last August, gives all retail providers “a significant incentive” to reduce the impact of wholesale price swings, by entering long-term supply arrangements such as power purchase agreements, in the view of Travis Kavulla, vice president of regulatory affairs for NRG Energy, a retail provider in ERCOT. Solar power purchase agreements, in turn, help solar developers gain the financing needed to build their solar projects.[William Driscoll]More: Texas could add 3.5 GW of solar this yearlast_img read more

Walk the Line: The Mason-Dixon Trail

first_imgThe Mason-Dixon line—the dotted line running along the border of Maryland and Pennsylvania—remains a symbol of a time when the division between North and South was as deep and wide as the Grand Canyon. These days, there is more to the Mason-Dixon line than territory disputes and regional dissection: there is a long-distance hiking trail.The Mason-Dixon Trail was conceived in the early 1980s by York County, Pennsylvania native Bob Yost and some friends. Their original aim was to connect eastern Pennsylvania’s Brandywine Trail with the banks of the Susquehanna River; thus it was called the Brandywine Susquehanna Trail. Through the work of area hiking club volunteers, the trail was eventually expanded and the Brandywine Susquehanna Trail deemed too much of a mouthful so it was renamed the Mason-Dixon Trail (MDT). Although the MDT does not share a direct path with the original Mason-Dixon line laid out in 1767, the two cross at several points and the MDT does not lack for historic markings along its way.The trail runs a total of 193 miles from its eastern terminus at the Brandywine Trail at Chadds Ford to its western terminus at its intersection with the Appalachian Trail at a small town called Whisky Springs. Heading west out of Chadds Ford, the trail dives south through the Delaware arc and Elk Neck State Forest toward the mouth of the Susquehanna where it crosses at Havre de Grace, Maryland. The trail then traces the west bank of the Susquehanna for about 65 miles to Wrightsville, Pa. before heading west toward the A.T. The 30 miles of this section of trail between Wrightsville and the Norman Wood Bridge was designated a National Recreation Trail in 2010, and is one of the finest sections according to Rick Maerker, treasurer of the Mason-Dixon Trail System.“Some parts of it would remind you of a national park if you didn’t know where you were,” he said.Maerker should know. The retired teacher was one of the first to thru-hike the MDT in the early 1990s. He actually made a large loop by taking the MDT to its western end, heading north on the A.T. to link up with the Horseshoe Trail, which brought him back east to the Brandywine Trail. He averaged 40 miles a day in preparation for not one, but two A.T. thru-hikes – one in each direction.“I can remember my very first hike I ever did,” he recalled. “I was substitute teaching and I had a day off, I think it was a Wednesday in October, and I said, ‘I’m going to check out that Mason Dixon Trail.’ So I went down to Chadds Ford and started following the sky blue blazes. It was a beautiful fall morning and I just thought, ‘Man, this is really cool.’”Even given its fairly robust history, the trail continues to be a work in progress. Maerker estimates that 30 percent of the trail is along roads, albeit mostly backcountry roads that see little traffic. Given that the trail is not very remote, gathering supplies during a thru-hike is no problem, but camping can be a challenge. There are designated camping areas, but they are limited to the state parks or forests and can be some distance apart. Maerker says that many MDT hikers stealth camp along the way.The MDT is just another piece of the long-distance trail puzzle linking different portions of the East Coast by footpath. Although it does not share much historical accuracy with its namesake, one can only hope the trail is around as long as the line has been.Day HikesDay hiking on the Mason-Dixon Trail is easy due to the accessibility of the trail system. Here are a few favorites:Pinchot State Park (8.5 miles)Take the loop around the lake for great views of this park located near the western end of the trail.Otter Creek Loop (5 miles)This loop beginning at the Otter Creek Campground affords stunning views of the river from the Urey Overlook.Eagles Nest (2.3 miles)Short hike to nesting bald eagles (March – June) and Lock 12 of the Susquehanna Canal.last_img read more

Secret Islands of the Chesapeake

first_imgMy friend Roland and I often lament that we live on opposite coasts. We both have the kind of rare jobs that let us set our own hours (I’m a freelance journalist, he runs a tech company), so we share the luxury of being able to travel in the middle of the week while most other grownups are confined to cubicles. So when Roland called me up one Tuesday night saying he was in town and in need of an adventure, I knew a spur-of-the-moment road trip was in order. We spent a few minutes weighing the standard options within a 100-mile radius: hike White Oak Canyon/Cedar Run? drive out to Blue Hole for a swim? rent out kayaks on Lake Anna? And then it came to me.“We could pick one of the random islands of the Chesapeake and try to get to it?” I phrased it as a question, not entirely sure the suggestion was worthy of practical consideration. But he was immediately on board. I dragged around Google Maps, marveling at the tiny specks of land I never knew existed. We eventually settled on Solomons Island. He recalled the area since many years ago, his parents, both biologists, worked on a boat off its coast.The next morning greeted us with 78-degree sunshine and clear blue skies. We headed east in Roland’s black Volkswagen Jetta, and in two short hours, we made it to the southern tip of the Calvert Peninsula on Maryland’s Western Shore. There, where the Patuxent River unites with the Chesapeake Bay, lies Solomons Island.We parked by the boardwalk and walked around, acquainting ourselves with the historic fishing village. We passed through a marina and saw a couple of boats that hailed from the same place we did, D.C. In the boatyard, two men were making repairs on an impressive sailboat. Wandering down the riverwalk, we came across a little hut with a sign saying “Solomons Boat Rental.” Upon closer inspection, the shop was closed, but another sign had a number to call if no one was around. The office only had a few powerboats available. Since I had never driven a powerboat in my life before, we decided to go for it. We had the owner meet us in a couple hours so we had a bit more time to explore the island.We couldn’t visit Maryland without eating crabs, so we looked for a place serving up genuine Chesapeake crab cakes. Unfortunately, most restaurants were closed. We finally came to a little retail strip home to the CD Café. It was open and full of locals; plus, the name was too good to pass up. Only after we were seated did we realize the menu was devoid of crab dishes. Our mission was a failure. When our server recited the day’s specials, though, a crab cake sandwich answered our prayers. It smelled amazing coming out of the kitchen. The gently pan-fried cake was bursting with sweet lump meat – no pesky additives to interfere with the fresh, succulent crab.After lunch, we headed back to the boat rental office and took out a 19-foot bow rider. We set off up the Patuxent, with practically the entire river to ourselves. I took the wheel and gave driving a try. Breathing in the delicious air, I was exhilarated by the feeling of speed on the water. As we headed north, we stumbled upon several tiny coves and creeks concealed by the picturesque landscape. Each one was more peaceful than the last. Surrounded by lush greenery, we passed by the appropriately named Greenwell State Park on the left. It was so beautiful out there, so quiet, so incredibly scenic, I couldn’t believe we were just 60 miles from the nation’s capital. I realized that in about the same amount of travel time from D.C., I could be exploring any number of islands hidden within the great expanse of the Chesapeake.A couple months after my Solomons excursion, I enlisted another friend on a mission to discover the wetland island of Eastern Neck National Wildlife Refuge. And a couple months after that, I vowed to learn about and eventually visit the many other treasures the bay has been keeping secret all this time.7658400548_1c493f4a20_kEastern Neck National Wildlife RefugeEastern Neck is a 2,285-acre island enjoying federal protection as part of the Chesapeake’s vast complex of national marshlands. The refuge is a birder’s paradise, providing habitat to dozens of species, including bald eagles, tundra swans, hawks, and various songbirds and waterfowl. Cradled by the converging waters of the Chester River and the Chesapeake Bay, its system of tidal marshes, upland forests, freshwater ponds, grasslands, and carefully managed croplands attract over 100,000 migratory and wintering birds seeking sustenance and sanctuary.Several hiking trails make it easy to explore this peaceful island on foot. Although swimming is not officially permitted in surrounding waters, passersby will likely encounter a few rule-breakers. Those who visit with boats in tow, however, can launch their kayaks or canoes from Bogles Wharf Landing, off the eastern edge of the refuge. Kayakers who’d rather rent can do so near the park’s entrance at the outfitter Eastern Neck Boat Rentals – just remember to bring cash, since this tiny shack of an operation does not accept credit cards or checks. The refuge itself also periodically hosts group kayaking nights for boat owners with a love of moonlight paddling.Solomons IslandFar less desolate than Eastern Neck, Solomons has a number of attractions in town, including waterside concerts, the Calvert Marine Museum, the Annmarie Sculpture Garden and Arts Center, the Harbor Island Marina, a few great seafood houses, and even a tiki bar (cleverly named Tiki Bar). By land, get your juices flowing with a self-guided bike tour of the island. By water, the Patuxent Adventure Center rents out (and sells) SUP boards in addition to leading kayaking expeditions that introduce tourists to the local marine life.St. George IslandAlthough I may be biased by my own introduction to the island, I would say the best way to experience St. George is by sleeping on its shores, under the stars, with the waves gently lapping nearby.Private campgrounds on the beaches of St. George Island, where the Potomac River flows into the bay, include the family-owned Camp Merryelande and Far East Beach. The latter site has kayaks and canoes that campers can rent. In addition to swimming and kayaking, many visitors also catch their own lunch or dinner – either right off the beach or at one of the nearby fishing piers.Smith IslandThe ferry to Smith Island leaves twice daily, at 12:30pm and 5:00pm, from the nearby town of Crisfield (adjacent to Janes Island State Park – itself worth a visit for its secluded beaches and saltmarsh water trails). Kayaks can be taken on the passenger ferry for a small additional fee.The heart of America’s soft shell crab industry, Smith Island is part of a remote archipelago of arteries that pump life into the seafood economy up the coast. During warm months, visitors can watch the crabbing and crab picking in action. The Smith Island Crabmeat Co-op invites curious tourists to watch the picking process, either via an observation window, or up-close inside for $3 (crabmeat samples included).After feasting on soft shell crabs or crab cakes at one of the island’s restaurants or seafood markets, be sure to try a slice of Smith’s signature dessert, Smith Island Cake – 8 to 15 layers of yellow cake divided by sheets of icing, cream, and/or crushed candy bars and iced with a cooked chocolate fudge frosting.Tangier IslandTangier Island, population 727, is so isolated that its people have their own distinct dialect. Encircled by Virginia’s portion of the bay, the island was founded in the late 1600s by Cornish settlers with their Elizabethan parlance. Over the centuries, this has combined with islander mannerisms to create the unique island accent.Most families on Tangier rely on crabbing and fishing for their livelihoods. Watermen wake up at 3am to begin harvesting soft shell crabs or oysters. The fruits of their labor can be unpredictable; last year’s erratic weather yielded a crab surplus in the spring, and then a crab shortage in the summer. Visitors can get a taste of what it’s like to be a Chesapeake waterman by riding with a local captain for a crabbing tour of Tangier. In addition to crabbing tours, the bed and breakfast Hilda Crockett’s Chesapeake House offers eco-tours, birding trips and sunset boat excursions.Watts IslandThere is something astoundingly romantic to me about the notion of a deserted island. An uninhabited land practically right in my backyard, just a couple hours outside a city swarming with four million people. The tiny island of Watts can be visited on a day trip from Tangier via kayak or canoe (or other small boat), as it lies just a few miles east of the larger landmass. Few settings in this world can make us feel like explorers, wandering and discovering a strange and unknown place. Watts is one of them.last_img read more

Appalachian Legends

first_imgMothman and the Flatwoods Monster. Bigfoot, Brown Mountain Lights, and the Bell Witch. Are these mysteries folklore or fact?It’s not surprising that a 480-million-year-old mountain range would inspire legends of unexplained animals darting through the darkened forest or strange and ghostly apparitions appearing in the night sky.For generations, myths and superstitions have been passed down through the oral traditions of native tribes and early settlers, gaining a foothold in our Appalachian culture. Some scholars believe that the danger and isolation of early mountain life gave birth to many of the legends that still exist today, banging around in our brains and compelling us to take an extra look over our shoulder should we find ourselves alone in a dusky forest or a creaky old cabin.Michael Rivers, lead investigator of the Smoky Mountain Ghost Trackers and an author who has written extensively about Appalachian folklore, says that the Appalachian Mountains are ripe with paranormal activity. Though it’s hard to say why stories of unexplained phenomena pop up in these mountains, Rivers says that fear can easily get the best of people. “Your psyche has a tendency to get away from you,” says Rivers. “If you hear things that go bump in the night and you swear you don’t have a pipe rattling or anything like that, you think it’s a spirit,” he says. “Or you happen to catch something out of the corner of your eye and you swear it’s a ghost. It’s not that you’re crazy. It’s just that your imagination and your emotions can fool you.”Whether our collective imaginations are running wild or we’re really sensing something otherworldly, stories of ghosts, UFOs, terrifying man-sized animals, and other hair-raising tales abound in these Blue Ridge Mountains. We took a look at six of the most popular legends in our region. Dive deeper at your own risk.Illustration by Craig Snodgrass. @snodgrassartBigfootImagine you’re deep in the woods when you spot a sudden movement through the trees. The animal—or whatever it is—is large and covered in dark fur. Is it a bear? You stand frozen in place, eyes locked to that shadowy spot in the woods, waiting for the animal to move. Your heart pounds in your chest and you realize, jarringly, that the sounds of the forest have died. On the ground, there’s an imprint—like a human foot but much larger, nearly two feet long and eight inches wide. Suddenly, you’re certain of what you saw, and it definitely wasn’t a black bear.Known around the world as Sasquatch or Yeti and locally as Wood Booger or Boojum, Bigfoot is an ape-like creature that conceals itself in the deep, dark forest, leaving behind footprints so large they could not belong to any man.The tale of Bigfoot has been traced back to the European Wild Man, a mythical figure that had hair all over his body and lived like a beast. The Wild Man can be found in literature as early as the second century BC. Stories of Bigfoot also abound in Native American oral tradition, and the unexplained ape has been studied by scientists and scrutinized on the Internet. Jane Goodall has even weighed in on Bigfoot’s existence, telling reporters that she wants to believe that Bigfoot is real.There’s no doubt about Bigfoot’s existence in Phil Smith’s eyes. Smith of Gate City, Virginia, is co-founder of the Blue Ridge Monsters and Legends Facebook Group where members come to share their stories of unexplained encounters with the hairy bi-pedal. When Smith was a boy, he says he had his own run-in with Bigfoot.Smith says that one cold November night he was riding his bike home after dark when he heard a friend run up behind him. “He was out of breath and anxious,” remembers Smith. “He said, something is following me. When I move, it moves. When I stop, it stops.” Spooked, Smith took a shortcut home through his grandparent’s backyard. As he rode past the grapevines, he heard something moving through the brush behind him. He turned to look. “I had to,” he says, and there beside the grapevines was a seven-foot creature. “It was leaning forward making a hump where its neck and back join,” says Smith. “The moonlight was shining through its hair. It didn’t make a sound. Needless to say, I made a hasty departure home.”Illustration by Craig Snodgrass. @snodgrassartThe Brown Mountain LightsIn the dark skies above Brown Mountain, North Carolina, eerie ghost lights have been spotted in the night sky for over a century. To many eyewitnesses, the lights appear as glowing orbs that hover in the sky above the mountain before suddenly disappearing or soundlessly exploding. The first reported sighting of the Brown Mountain Lights was in 1913 by a fisherman who claimed to see odd red lights dancing above the horizon. Sightings continued, and in 1922 the U.S. Geological Society investigated, determining that the Brown Mountain Lights were really just the headlights of cars or passing trains. But a major flood in 1916 changed that theory. The raging waters washed out roads and bridges and took out power for several weeks—but the Brown Mountain Lights were still spotted in the night sky.Bluegrass songs claim that the lights are the ghost of a slave searching for his lost master. An episode of the X Files reasons that the lights are caused by UFOs. Popular Native American folklore says that a bloody battle between the Cherokee and Catawba tribes took place on the mountain. Many lives were lost. The lights, claim the legend, are the ghosts of grieving women still searching the mountainside for the bodies of fallen warriors.But not every story of the Brown Mountain Lights is steeped in superstition. In July 2016 the Charlotte Observer reported that Forest Service officers had reported close-up encounters on the mountain with beach ball sized orbs that floated by and then vanished. And in August 2016, local TV station WLOS reported that scientists from Appalachian State University believed to have captured images of the Brown Mountain Lights on two digital video cameras. Though scientists have not been able to determine what causes the lights, ball lightning and naturally occurring mountain gases are two widely accepted theories.If you want to find out for yourself, the best time to see the Brown Mountain Lights is September through early November. The lights can be observed on the Blue Ridge Parkway at the Brown Mountain Light Overlook located at milepost 310 or the Green Mountain Overlook at milepost 301. The City of Morganton, North Carolina even recently helped to improve the Brown Mountain Overlook on North Carolina Highway 181 for the purpose of attracting curious visitors hoping to catch a glimpse of the ghost lights.Illustration by Craig Snodgrass. @snodgrassartMothmanBack in 1966, Point Pleasant, West Virginia—located at the confluence of the Ohio and Kanawha Rivers—was a sleepy town of a couple thousand people. But it was rocked by an unidentifiable visitor on November 12, 1966, when gravediggers at a cemetery in Clendenin, West Virginia, about 80 miles from Point Pleasant, claimed to see a man with wings lift off from a tree and fly over their heads. Three days later, two young couples were driving together near an abandoned World War II TNT plant about five miles north of Point Pleasant when they saw a “large flying man with 10-foot wings,” and eyes that “glowed red.” They tried to flee the unidentified animal, speeding down the road at a reported 100 miles per hour, but the creature followed them back to Point Pleasant city limits. They were so spooked by their experience that they went directly to the police. Newspapers dubbed the creature Mothman. The national press picked up the story, and Mothman became a sensation.Over the following week, there were at least 8 more reported sightings in and around Point Pleasant of a man-like bird with large wings. One such account came from volunteer firefighters Captain Paul Yoder and Benjamin Enochs. According to the Gettysburg Times, Yoder and Enochs claimed to have seen a “very large bird with large red eyes.”Others refuted the sightings, believing that residents of Point Pleasant were actually seeing a sandhill crane that had wandered out of its normal migration route. “There were hundreds of eyewitnesses,” says Jeff Wamsley, owner of Point Pleasant’s Mothman Museum. Born and raised in town, Wamsley was only five years old when the Mothman showed up and began terrorizing his neighbors.Over the following year, the oddities continued. Reports of UFOs and suspicious men in black began streaming in to the Point Pleasant authorities. And the Mothman sightings continued.Then, ten days before Christmas in 1967, tragedy struck. While the Silver Bridge that connected Point Pleasant to Gallipolis, Ohio was teeming with rush-hour traffic, the bridge collapsed, killing 46 people. Reportedly, some claimed to have seen the Mothman at the bridge shortly before its collapse and believed its presence was a harbinger of doom.“The fact that the UFO sightings, men in black presence, and the Silver Bridge disaster all happened during the Mothman sightings intrigues many people,” says Wamsley. “It’s a fascinating turn of events for a small town like Point Pleasant.”For his part, Wamsley does believe that the people of Point Pleasant encountered something out of the ordinary. “I just don’t believe that many people could have made up the same story,” says Wamsley, “but what it was they saw, I don’t believe will ever be truly explained or solved.”Illustration by Craig Snodgrass. @snodgrassartThe Moon-Eyed PeopleAccording to Cherokee legend, long ago, before the Cherokee moved into the Smokies, there was a race of small, bearded white men who lived in the mountains. According to author Julia Montgomery Street, whose tale of this mysterious race is displayed in the Cherokee County Historical Museum, the men “possessed all the land from the Little Tennessee River to Kentucky, with a line of fortification from one end of their domain to the other.” The men, who lived in rounded log cabins, had large blue eyes and fair white skin and were sun-blind during the day, emerging from their homes only at night to hunt, fish, wage war and build their fortifications. Because they could only see in the dark, the Cherokee called them the Moon-Eyed People. Some believe they were descendants of a small group of Welshmen who came to America long before the Spanish and settled in the Smoky Mountains around 1170. As the legend goes, the Moon-Eyed People eventually abandoned their home—or were driven from it—and traveled west, never to be seen again.Wanda Stalcup is the Director of the Cherokee County Historical Museum in Murphy, N.C. The museum is home to a statue that was found at the confluence of the Valley and Hiwassee Rivers in the early 1800’s. The soapstone statue is 37-inches tall and weighs 300 pounds. Many believe it is a depiction of the Moon-Eyed People.“Everyone has their own opinion,” about the statue, says Stalcup. “[The statue depicts] twins, but they’re short like the Moon-Eyed People with little round flat faces.” Some believe that the statue represents the two rivers and others believe it is a man and a woman. “When the archaeologists came and looked at [the statue] they said they’d never seen anything to compare it to,” says Stalcup. “One reason is because they are standing, not sitting or kneeling. They think it might even be pre-Cherokee.”Whether a small, blue-eyed race of sun-blind white men once inhabited the Blue Ridge long before the Europeans are known to have discovered America remains unknown, but the legend continues to live on.Illustration by Craig Snodgrass. @snodgrassartThe Bell Witch HauntingJohn and Lucy Bell were farmers who settled in Adams, Tennessee around 1803. They lived peacefully on their land until 1817, when the family began experiencing odd and unexplainable occurrences in their home. “They began hearing noises such as scratching, knocks on the walls, and chains being dragged across the floor,” says Pat Fitzhugh, an author and historian who has written two books about the events that occurred on the Bell farm. Over time, the noises became more intense and more frequent. Then, the Bell’s two daughters began complaining of something trying to pull at their bedcovers and pinch them while they slept.For over a year, the Bells remained silent about the strange events taking place in their home, worried about what the members of their church might think. But the harassment wouldn’t stop, and John Bell finally confided to one of his neighbors about the strange incidents in his home. His neighbor came over and experienced the same kind of disturbances. “Before long, people all over the east and southeast knew about it,” says Fitzhugh.People soon began traveling to the Bell farm to experience the supernatural phenomenon for themselves. Some came as curiosity seekers and some as skeptics trying to debunk what the Bells were experiencing. “Over time it seems this thing, whatever it was, fed off of attention and people’s fears,” says Fitzhugh. It eventually developed a whispering voice and within a year it could speak. “People have written down and passed through the generations accounts of what this thing allegedly said,” says Fitzhugh. “It liked to argue religion and make fun of people, except for Mrs. Bell. It stated its purpose was to kill John Bell.”The poltergeist received the name Kate after it claimed to be the witch of a local lady named Kate Batts. When John Bell died on December 20, 1980, Kate took credit, insisting she had poisoned him because he was a bad man. After John Bell’s death, things began to return to normal on the Bell farm until Betsy Bell, the Bell’s youngest daughter, became engaged to a local man named Joshua Gardner. “Kate re-avowed her scorn and disapproval about Betsy Bell’s upcoming marriage,” says Fitzhugh. “She talked Betsy into breaking off the engagement with Joshua.” A short time later, the poltergeist said she was going to leave but promised to return in seven years.Seven years later Kate did return, visiting John Bell Jr. who was not living at the Bell farm at the time. “They allegedly talked for three nights about the past, the present, and the future,” explains Fitzhugh. After that, the Bell Witch bid farewell and promised to return in 107 years. “That would have been in 1935. Some said she returned and some said she didn’t,” says Fitzhugh.The real story behind the tale of the Bell Witch has never been uncovered. “Some thought it was an act of the supernatural,” says Fitzhugh. “Skeptics accused the Bell family of doing it by knowing how to act and using ventriloquism. Some thought they did it for money, but the Bell family never charged a cent to anyone staying over in their home.”Though Fitzhugh has considered many theories, he says he can’t say one way or another what the Bell Witch truly was. “When you look at how long the story has endured and how many people have put forth theories—doctors, lawyers and preachers back in the day signed eyewitness manuscripts saying they witnessed these things,” says Fitzhugh. “It makes it more than just your standard folktale.”Illustration by Craig Snodgrass. @snodgrassartThe Flatwoods MonsterIn the late days of summer, 1952, two brothers named Edward and Fred May of Flatwoods, West Virginia, rushed home to tell their mother, Cathleen May, that they’d seen something unexplainable. While playing football at the playground of the Flatwoods school, they’d witnessed a bright UFO streak across the sky and land on the property of a local farmer.Intrigued, May, her sons, and some other local boys, headed out to the farm. It was nearing dusk when they saw an unidentified object in the woods. “They saw an odd-shaped thing that appeared to be glowing red with smoke and steam coming off of it,” says Andrew Smith, Executive Director of the Braxton County CVB and curator of the Flatwoods Monster Museum. 17-year-old Eugene Lemon, a National Guardsman who’d also tagged along on the adventure, said he saw a pulsing light and pointed his flashlight toward it, revealing a pair of bright eyes in a tree and a “10-foot monster with a blood-red face and a green body that seemed to glow.” The monster then hissed and floated towards the group, causing Lemon to scream and drop his flashlight. According to newspaper reports, “several of the party fainted and vomited for several hours after returning to town.” Later, Mrs. May was quoted as saying that the monster “looked worse than Frankenstein.”The group turned and ran down the hill, immediately reporting what they saw to the local sheriff.  An hour later, several men armed with shotguns returned to the scene with Lemon. They were met with a horrible smell and, according to local reports, saw “slight heat waves in the air.” “Authorities didn’t find much,” says Smith. “What was found was gathered and sent to Washington D.C. and never seen again.”Smith says that what makes the Flatwoods Monster so interesting is that there weren’t many UFO sightings back in the 1950s. The Flatwoods incident was only the second or third of its kind—and probably the first with so many witnesses. “It made national headlines,” says Smith.Today, on the main road into town, there is a sign that reads “Welcome to Flatwoods: Home of the Green Monster.” The UFO sighting—or whatever that was—is in the past but not forgotten. “There’s not a consensus,” on what happened in Flatwoods that evening, says Smith. “You have your UFO true believers and skeptics who think it was a misidentified barn owl,” Smith explains. “If I had to pick one I’d say that the most commonly held thought is that the monster is a fun and interesting bit of folklore,” says Smith. “Having to decide whether it’s real or fake takes all the fun out of it.”last_img read more

Outdoor Updates: Gigantic Meteor Exploded in Earth’s Atmosphere

first_imgAt the beginning of March, a bill that would have allowed off-road vehicle use in state parks and forests in West Virginia was dismantled. The measure would have required the Department of Natural Resources to develop a comprehensive plan for public roads suitable for off-road vehicle recreation. The bill would have also created a fund for off-road vehicle recreation. Opponents of the bill worried that it would allow ATV and UTV use in sensitive wildlife areas. West Virginia Senators Beach and Hardesty offered an amendment to the bill, gutting the majority of it. The amendment passed with the only remaining directive calling for the Department of Highways to map roads on state property. The title of the bill was also changed so that it cannot include off road vehicle recreation again. Bill that would have allowed off-road vehicles in WV state parks and forests has been dismantled Unbeknownst to us, while we were going about our lives last December 18, a meteor exploded in the Earth’s atmosphere with 10 times the energy of the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima. NASA calls the event a “fireball,” and the fireball in December was the second most powerful to enter Earth’s atmosphere in the last 30 years. The most powerful fireball was captured by numerous cell phone videos in Russia back in 2013. The most recent fireball exploded in a very remote area over the Bering Sea and, because of the location, scientists have just now noticed it. Powerful fireball events happen only a handful of times every 100 years but less-intensive events happen frequently. In 2019, there have already been five fireball events that reached earth. center_img Scientists just noticed a gigantic meteor exploded in the Earth’s atmosphere last Decemberlast_img read more

ARS Gloria, Colombia’s Flagship, Pays Visit to Alexandria, Virginia

first_img During the five-month tour, which began May 13 in Cartagena, the Gloria will visit 10 countries. Besides the United States, these include Ireland, Scotland, Denmark, Sweden, Germany, Netherlands, England, Spain and Morocco. Commanded by Capt. Gabriel Pérez, the Gloria is one of the biggest tall ships still afloat. “This vessel was built in 1968 at the request of the Colombian government,” said Pérez, who at 46 is three years older than the vessel he commands. Interviewed following an impromptu news conference onboard the Gloria, Pérez noted that “this is my second time at this pier. I was last here in 1995 during my cadetship. Now, nearly 27 years later, I come back as commander of this ship.” Pérez supervises a crew of 163 people, including 81 cadets, six of which are women; 13 officers, of which two are women; 60 sub-officers, three invited officers from the Colombian Army, Police and Air Force, and six foreign officers from the Dominican Republic, Mexico, Peru, Chile, Honduras and Ecuador. “These ports of call are meant to show our friendship, and to support the Colombian Embassy’s mission in anything they want to do,” said Pérez, as cadets served hot cups of Colombian coffee and mingled with the visitors. “We talk about our culture and bring friendly messages from the people of Colombia to the United States.” Other U.S. cities visited by the Gloria on previous tours include San Diego, San Francisco, New York and Tampa. In its 42 years of service, the Gloria has voyaged to 165 ports in more than 60 countries and traveled around 727,000 nautical miles. Everywhere it docks, says Pérez, “people ask us lots of questions about Colombia. They ask us about the government, the armed forces, business, and about our careers as sailors. And of course they ask about drug trafficking too.” At precisely 3 p.m. on May 24, the Colombian Navy’s four-masted training ship, the ARC Gloria, sailed into the port of Alexandria, Virginia — as enthusiastic cadets onboard fired a 19-gun salute and heartily belted out Colombia’s national anthem. “Oh gloria inmarcesible! Oh júbilo inmortal! En surcos de dolores, el bien germina ya!” sang the sailors, as 160 spectators and dignitaries waited to board the colorful vessel, including Adm. Guillermo Enrique Barrera, Colombia’s defense attaché to the United States; Colombian Ambassador Gabriel Silva and Alexandria Mayor William D. Euille. The Colombian Navy’s flagship sailed up the Potomac River before docking in Alexandria; from there the ship continues to Boston — where it will remain from June 3 to 6 — before crossing the Atlantic Ocean to the Irish port of Waterford as part of its 2011 international tour. By Dialogo June 03, 2011center_img The visit marked the Gloria’s second appearance in Alexandria in three years. During its July 2007 port of call, the Colombian tall ship made history when its passage under the Woodrow Wilson Bridge marked the first time both spans of the new bridge spanning the Potomac River between Maryland and Virginia were opened for river traffic. The Gloria measures more than 56 meters (257 feet) long. Its tallest mast is 42 meters high and the ship weighs 1,300 tons. The Gloria’s figurehead, coated in gold leaf, is named Maria Salud after the sculptor’s daughter. Despite its relative youth, the Gloria’s wood-polished appearance and 23 sails make it seem like a relic of the 19th century. The glass display cabinets in the bar feature pre-Columbian gold and ceramic artifacts, and the vessel seems steeped in history. Yet it’s propelled by a diesel engine and guided by both computer monitors and electronic navigation instruments in the steering room. “All cadets in the last year of the Naval Academy have to do one semester of practice, or six months of their academic career, on board this ship. It’s part of the program,” said Pérez. “Normally, the quantity of cadets is lower than the capacity of the ship. During the last semester, you can find only 35 or 40 cadets. When this happens, the Naval Academy sends cadets in their third year to do their onboard practice.” He said the cadets practice the principles of sailing — which means everything from navigating by the stars to the latest in GPS navigation technology. They also learn to maneuver sails, ropes and all other nautical equipment. “And they have to study military matters as well as engine systems,” he said. When the Gloria isn’t sailing around the world, it’s docked in Cartagena — a major Caribbean shipping port and cruise-ship destination. Este mensaje es para el cadete Daniel Julian Velasco Ochoa y sus compañeros de viaje,Dios los acompañe en el recorrido a Irlanda, un feliz viaje que sigan conocido lugares lindos y lleven el nombre de nuestro país a todos esos paises hermanos, mostrando nuestra hermandad, feliz viaje para todos y todas, mi dios los acompañe siempres y la virgen los proteja. feliz viaje I think it was excellent, specially the story about the vessel. Everything that parents can do for the kids is very little compared to what they can be and be able to do in the future. With the Admiral Padilla Naval School our kids can reach the world. I greet all you lovers of the sea and of sailboats, and I want you to know that we have a blog about the Spanish ship “Galatea” where you can see the sailing, anecdotes, documents, whistles and sailors’ comments who sailed on board. I can give you the name of the blog and its link. “Buque escuela de maniobra Galatea” Merry Christmas to all.last_img read more

Costa Rica Responds to Accusations by Head of Nicaraguan Army

first_imgBy Dialogo October 24, 2011 Costa Rica denied that it plans to detain Nicaraguan young people who frequent a border area in dispute between the two countries, as the head of the Nicaraguan Army, Julio Avilés, affirmed. “The Costa Rican Government denies the statements (…) by Avilés about a supposed Costa Rican plan to arrest Nicaraguan young people who periodically stay on Portillos Island,” the foreign ministry in San José declared in a statement. “Any affirmation to the effect that the Costa Rican Government aims to create a fait accompli to Nicaragua’s detriment in order to obtain an advantage in the international lawsuit being heard at the International Court of Justice is unfounded, fictitious, and baseless,” it added. Avilés declared on October 18 that Costa Rica aims to detain “environmentalist young people” who care for the environment along the San Juan River (on the border), in order to stage a supposed Nicaraguan incursion into Costa Rican territory. They want “to seize them and make it appear that they made an incursion into Costa Rican territory,” Avilés affirmed, saying that this would be a “serious provocation.” Separately, the Nuevo Diario newspaper in Managua, citing “high-level” diplomatic sources, affirmed that Costa Rica has violated Nicaraguan territory by means of aerial incursions in that sector at least 48 times. Nicaraguan Army spokesperson Colonel Juan Morales confirmed to Nuevo Diario the existence of what he defined as “incursions,” but he did not specify numbers. For its part, the Costa Rican foreign ministry neither confirmed nor denied the reports of these aerial incursions in its statement. Preliminary injunctions by the International Court of Justice prohibit both countries from having a civilian or military presence on Calero (or Portillo) Island, a miniscule island located at the mouth of the San Juan River, where it enters the Caribbean, which has motivated the worst diplomatic crisis between the two nations.last_img read more

Chilean Marine Corps to Receive Colt M4 Rifles from U.S.

first_img The final shortlist from the CIM’s selection process also included the HK416 made by German manufacturer Heckler & Koch, and the Belgian SCAR-L produced by FN Herstal. By Dialogo April 03, 2013 The M4 version made by U.S. manufacturer DPMS Panther Arms was also evaluated, but it was rejected due to flaws that occurred when used by the Army’s Special Forces Brigade. The first order is intended to equip the combat units of the Amphibious Expeditionary Brigade (BAE); a 1,400-member seaborne rapid deployment structure created in 2012, and the deliveries are expected to be completed in 2014. The rest of the BAE members and the other CIM units will continue to use the 5.56-mm HK33A2 rifles, acquired in the early 90s. While the CIM favored the rifles’ durability under extensive and prolonged use in inhospitable environments, as well as the chance to incorporate a variety of weapon accessories, the Army gave prominence to the prospect of assembling rifles in Chile, with the ability to integrate a percentage of locally manufactured parts and components. center_img The decision to acquire the M4 rifles was made after a lengthy assessment and negotiation process, initially conducted jointly with the Chilean Army, which was also looking for a new assault weapon for its infantry units. The Chilean Marine Corps (CIM) made its first request to obtain 2,000 of the 5.56-mm M4 assault rifles from U.S. manufacturer Colt on March 29 in Santiago, Chile, under a contract for an undisclosed amount that includes an option for a second request of similar volume to be finalized shortly. They may buy all the weapons during the next war, which will be in Santiago de Chile (THEATER OF OPERATIONS), all predictions point out at the REPUBLIC OF BOLIVIA as the winner, in any case, the operation will last 24 hours PACHACUTEClast_img read more

VIP Close Protection Course Ends in Uruguay

first_imgBy Nastasia Barceló/Diálogo June 22, 2017 A course on VIP Close Protection was held at the Uruguayan School for Peacekeeping Operations (ENOPU, per its Spanish acronym), in May. ENOPU instructors and personnel from the U.S. Embassy in Montevideo coordinated and executed the event with the purpose of providing personnel with the knowledge, skills, and abilities needed to successfully protect VIPs on the ground in peacekeeping missions and in high-risk areas, when the duties to be carried out in a peacekeeping operation demand it. A total of 47 students participated in the course: 32 from the Uruguayan Army, 14 civil servants from the president’s security detail and the Ministry of Interior, and one participant from Mexico. Each course at ENOPU has up to six slots reserved for foreign students. The class content was divided into theory and practice and focused on the deactivation of improvised explosive devices and car bombs, and on putting protective measures into practice for vehicles and buildings in high-risk areas. Uruguayan Army Lieutenant Colonel Alejandro Martínez, the assistant director of ENOPU, explained that the topics developed in this course are geared toward training teams to protect VIPs, and on unit organization, the roles of each staff member tasked with protection duties, and their responsibilities and equipment. “Topics related to assessing the terrain, protecting people and residences, tactical communications, protective equipment, field medicine, and evasive driving were also developed,” Lt. Col. Martínez explained. Among the activities, two hands-on exercises were performed under the supervision of instructors from the 14th Parachute Infantry Battalion of the Uruguayan Army, staff from the U.S. Embassy, and ENOPU instructors. The exercises consisted of performing operational procedures for protecting VIPs in high-risk areas. “This was the most important part for the students, as they were able to partially apply the skills they had learned throughout the course, such as some of the resources of field medicine,” Lt. Col. Martínez emphasized. Uruguayan Army Colonel Niver Pereira, the director of ENOPU, explained to Diálogo that they have been promoting the VIP Protection course since 2013, which is not taught in consecutive years. “For example, in the 2018 academic offering, it’s not planned to be held. It’s just as important to underscore that over the years, we have accumulated knowledge and experience to be able to continue improving and modernizing these practice exercises according to new trends,” he explained. ENOPU ENOPU’s chief predecessor, founded in 2008, is the National Peacekeeping Operations School of the Uruguayan Army, in existence since 1998. Following the creation of ENOPU, personnel from the three branches of the Uruguayan Armed Forces were brought in, thereby making the school a dependency of the Ministry of Defense. ENOPU has 288 instructors charged with organizing all of the activities. ENOPU has a fixed series of courses taught year after year. “Their duration varies from one to four weeks. They are short courses focused on the needs that the armed forces, and other state and non-state actors have when they find themselves operating in a peacekeeping mission,” Col. Pereira added. According to Col. Pereira, the most sought-after courses for the Uruguayan Armed Forces and those from abroad, are Protection of Civilians, Contingents in Peacekeeping Operations, Press Correspondent, and Close Protection. “In the coming years, we hope to expand the number of training courses, and it is with that objective in mind that we are working jointly with various international organizations, such as the United Nations and other state agencies, such as the ministries of Interior, of Foreign Affairs, and of Defense,” Col. Pereira added. In addition to the courses, ENOPU offers a series of conferences and lectures. “This year, more than 10 lectures are planned on issues such as gender, threat identification, logistics, intelligence, and protecting socially vulnerable populations, among others,” Col. Pereira concluded.last_img read more