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From the BBC:

Argleton appears on Google Maps as a small town furnished with amenities, but it does not actually exist, apart from a field and a few trees.
Some people have described the place, nestled between Aughton and Ormskirk, as a "phantom town" that only ever appears on the online search engine.
Google said: "While [most information] is correct there are... errors."
Roy Bayfield from nearby Edge Hill University became so intrigued by the description that he decided to walk there.
He was greeted by a gate, a field and cluster of trees but no houses, businesses, pubs or even a phone box.
"It is strange," Mr Bayfield said, "especially because chiropractors, nurseries and even dating agencies are listed under Argleton.

Hmm. I wonder if it's a copyright trap (or Mountweazel). It reminds me of Agloe, New York. (Thanks, Bob!)
Categories: Places
Posted by Alex on Tue Nov 03, 2009
Comments (3)
A fake seagull perched on a billboard outside the town of Grand Marais, Minnesota recently went missing. Residents suspect it was stolen, and they want it back. So the town has organized a "give us the bird" campaign, in which they're offering a free vacation in Grand Marais in return for information leading to the safe return of the seagull. The best story wins. A strict adherence to the truth, in this case, would seem to be irrelevant. [upi.com]
Categories: Folklore/Tall Tales, Places
Posted by Alex on Thu Sep 10, 2009
Comments (2)
Loch Ness is a finalist in a campaign to name the New 7 Wonders of Nature. Other finalists include the Amazon River, the Grand Canyon, the Great Barrier Reef, and Mount Kilimanjaro.

Loch Ness is very scenic and geologically very interesting, but Willie Cameron of Loch Ness Marketing thinks that the Loch should have a leg-up on the competition because, "None of the other nominees has a legacy we know as the Loch Ness Monster. Whatever it is, it is unexplainable and that is unique."

By that reasoning, shouldn't the North Pole also be a contender, since it's the home of Santa Claus? [Highland News]
Categories: Cryptozoology, Places
Posted by Alex on Thu Jul 16, 2009
Comments (11)
Pranksters in Inverness have made it even more difficult to find Nessie by moving the road signs for Loch Ness so that they point in the wrong direction. The leading suspects are concert-goers attending the RockNess music festival.

But here's the part of the article I found interesting. One resident "likened the alterations to World War II, when the authorities removed signs to prevent German soldiers from navigating their way round the country if they invaded."

I didn't know that had been done during WWII. I can't imagine that a lack of road signs would have significantly slowed down a German invasion. [Press and Journal]
Categories: Places, Pranks
Posted by Alex on Fri Jun 26, 2009
Comments (12)
If you visit Loch Ness, you probably won't see Nessie, but you will see a lot of confused tourists, thanks to confusing road signs that local businesses have been putting up.

For instance, many tourists who are looking for Urquhart Castle wind up in the Loch Ness Monster Visitor Centre because of a large road sign for "Glen Urquhart Castle" that points toward the Visitor Centre. The word "Glen" is in tiny, small letters, and most people probably wouldn't realize that Glen Urquhart Castle is different than Urquhart Castle.

Urquhart Castle is a real castle (and definitely worth seeing). Glen Urquhart Castle is just a wooden building attached to the Loch Ness Monster Visitor Centre.

Link: Inverness Courier.
Categories: Places
Posted by Alex on Fri May 29, 2009
Comments (2)
The mystery of why someone has been leaving white stones with cryptic black markings on them around Orleans, Massachusetts has been solved. The creator of the stones sent an explanatory letter to the local paper:
The writer said the backward “R” and an “R” separated by three slashes on one line and an “X” book ended by two vertical lines underneath means “Remember 9-11.” He (most believe the writer is a male) said he came up with the design about two years ago “When I became disheartened from our straying from our Afghanistan objective of going after and getting Osama bin Laden in order to bring closure to 9-11,” he wrote.

If someone can figure out how you get "Remember 9-11" out of those symbols, let me know. [Wicked Local Orleans via Professor Hex]
Categories: Art, Hate Crimes/Terror, Places
Posted by Alex on Fri Apr 17, 2009
Comments (11)
German politicians are upset by all the fake soldiers hanging around the Brandenburg Gate. The fake soldiers are there trying to make a buck from the tourists, who want their picture taken with someone in a Cold War-era uniform. But the politicians are worried that the Brandenburg gate is deteriorating into a miniature Disneyland and may go the route of Checkpoint Charlie which has become "a tacky tourist trap unworthy of its historical significance." I was in Berlin just a few months ago, and I can definitely confirm that appraisal of Checkpoint Charlie. [Spiegel]
Categories: Military, Places
Posted by Alex on Thu Apr 16, 2009
Comments (2)
A case of a fake that became real. In this case, a fictitious town that, for a while, achieved actual existence.

The town of Agloe, New York was a "copyright trap" placed on Esso Maps during the 1930s. (That is, it was a nonexistent town whose purpose was to reveal if rival mapmakers were blindly copying the information on Esso maps.) The name was a scramble of the initials of Otto G. Lindberg (the company founder) and his assistant Ernest Alpers. They located the town at a dirt-road intersection north of Roscoe, NY.

So when the town of Agloe later appeared on a Rand McNally map, Esso accused Rand McNally of copying their map. But it turned out that Rand McNally was innocent. The town of Agloe actually had been registered with the county administration, because someone had built a general store at that dirt intersection and had named it the Agloe General Store (because that's the name they saw on the Esso map), thus bringing the town into existence.

Eventually the store went out of business, and the town of Agloe is no longer on maps. Here's the Google Map location for Roscoe, New York.

Other cases of fakes that became real:

Kremvax was a 1984 Usenet April Fool's Day hoax, alleging that the Soviet Union was joining Usenet. The announcement purported to come from Konstantin Chernenko, who used the email address chernenko@kremvax.UUCP. Six years later, when the Soviet Union really did link up to the internet, it adopted the domain name Kremvax in honor of the hoax.

The Annual Virginia City Camel Race. Began as a hoax in 1959, perpetrated by the Nevada Territorial Enterprise, but other newspapers decided to take it seriously and actually began racing camels every year in the city.

I'm sure there are other examples, but I can't think of them right now. (I'm not counting instances of names inspired by fiction, such as the space shuttle Enterprise being named after the USS Enterprise in Star Trek.)
Categories: Places
Posted by Alex on Thu Mar 26, 2009
Comments (20)
This may be of interest only to Californians, but so be it...

On February 18 the Patterson Irrigator posted a picture that appeared to show the Half Dome in Yosemite, visible from Patterson. (It's a little hard to see, but if you look closely it's there.)



The thing is, Patterson is in the Central Valley, about 100 miles from Yosemite. So the photo met with a very skeptical reaction. A lot of people simply refused to believe that Half Dome could be seen from that far away.

There was discussion of it on the yosemite blog, and on fredmiranda.com. People contacted the photographer, who insisted the photo was real. And finally, photographer Tony Immoos decided to see for himself if Half Dome could be viewed from the Central Valley. He discovered that it could, and he posted the pictures on Flickr.

So that settles that question. On a clear day, you can see Half Dome from the Central Valley. (Thanks to Jack for the link)
Categories: Photos/Videos, Places
Posted by Alex on Mon Mar 23, 2009
Comments (19)
First there was Shoe Corner (the place in New Jersey where shoes kept mysteriously getting dumped); next there was Pantyhose Corner in Massachusetts. Now we have Dildo Boulevard. That's the name that's been given to the street in Darwin, Australia where 30 sex toys were inexplicably found lying in the road. Where did they come from? Nobody knows:

One theory is that it is an elaborate - and expensive - practical joke. Another school of thought is that they fell off the back of a delivery truck. Some said the sex toys could have been inside somebody's rubbish bin, and fell onto the street on Thursday night when the garbage was collected.
Categories: Places, Sex/Romance
Posted by Alex on Mon Feb 09, 2009
Comments (4)
Dani Garavelli, writing for Scotsman.com, examines the psychology of urban legends. The article doesn't offer any new insights into urban legends. There's the standard observation: urban legends "hold a mirror up to our culture, giving us an often unflattering reflection of our preoccupations and prejudices." But what I found interesting is that the article listed some urban legends specific to Scotland:
  • For several days, [north-east Scotland] was gripped by a rumour that pop star and convicted paedophile Gary Glitter – who was recently deported from Vietnam – was staying at the Findhorn Foundation, a new age spiritual community. Suddenly, Glitter was being spotted across the North-east, from the Asda cafe in Elgin, where he was said to be tucking into egg and chips, to the streets of Forres. Sightings of the sex offender began to outnumber sightings of Elvis, until the authorities were forced to reassure the local community, he was not, in fact, in the area.
  • Red Road flats are the highest in Europe.
  • Deep-fried Mars Bar originated in Glasgow.
  • The tale about the maths Higher which was so hard pupils all over Scotland staged a walk-out played on another major childhood fear: that of failure. Pupils and even teachers were said to have been reduced to tears by the very sight of the examination in 2000, although the SQA strenuously denied there had been any protest and the pass rate was said to be slightly up on the year before.
  • The rumour that Jimmy Chung's restaurant in Dundee was serving seagull affected trade so adversely the restaurant was forced to issue a formal denial.
  • One of the most common post-9/11 stories involved the shopper who, noticing a Muslim man dropping his wallet, picks it up and hands it back to him. "Thank you," the Muslim says. "And now I am going to return the favour. Do not go to Braehead/Silverburn/Princes Street in the week before Christmas." This anecdote gained such currency in Inverness in 2006, that Northern Constabulary Police had to reassure the public shopping arcades such as the Eastgate Centre were safe. [Same legend as we had here in America, but with different place names.]
  • There are those... who are convinced traffic police play "speed snooker", targeting particular colours of car in a particular order, but interspersing each with a red one. This, they insist, explains why drivers of red cars are more likely to receive a fine or prosecution than others. [I doubt this is specific to Scotland.]
Categories: Places, Urban Legends
Posted by Alex on Mon Dec 15, 2008
Comments (9)
A film director in Bangladesh has announced plans to build an exact replica of the Taj Mahal. He's going to use the same marble and stone as the original, but to save time he's using machinery (rather than thousands of peasant workers) to construct it. His reason for building it: "Everyone dreams about seeing the Taj Mahal but very few Bangladeshis can make the trip because it's too expensive for them."

All of this has upset officials in India who have threatened to sue for copyright infringement because "You can't just go and copy historical monuments."

Personally, I think I'd find the fake Taj Mahal more interesting than the real thing. Link: Times Online
Categories: Places
Posted by Alex on Mon Dec 15, 2008
Comments (6)
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