In summer 1971, I took a cross-country road trip, from New York to golden California – every East Coast college student’s dream. There were many highlights, but two turned out to be the seeds of GeoGems.
Stopping to eat a sandwich under some trees in Polo, Missouri, two things struck me. First, a town named Polo – how odd! Second, the trees surrounded a park consisting of a square grassy space bounded by sidewalks with square stones on the corners. Inscribed on one of the squares was “172 triples”. The sidewalks were base paths, and I was looking at third base! Rounding the bases backwards (476 doubles, 2104 singles), at home plate (132 homers) I learned that this was a memorial park in honor of Zach Wheat, a Brooklyn Dodger great in the early 1900s who was born nearby. The Dodgers, my team! Zach Wheat, an obscure but mythical star whose name I remembered! All in the middle of nowhere -- cool!
Then, 2000 miles later, driving down the California coast, I saw a billboard advertising “Castroville – Artichoke Capital of the World.” And then a few miles further on, another sign announcing simply “Artichoke Capital of the World.” Wow, dueling artichoke capitals, or maybe one town split between warring artichoke factions!
With that, GeoGems was born. I’ve been collecting them ever since.
I hope you enjoy this growing and evolving collection of geographic trivia – for planning a road trip, for modifying a road trip en route, or just for browsing. And as you find your own GeoGems, please consider adding them to this site.