Monday, April 18, 2011

Noted Review: Altered States

Trinklein, Michael J. Lost States: True Stories of Texlahoma, Transylvania, and Other States That Never Made It. Philadelphia: Quirk Books, 2010. 160 Pages. Cloth with Map Dust Cover. $24.95. (N)

About five years ago, our District President was addressing our Fall Pastoral Conference with his official report. He referred to the "panhandle of Wyoming." It made perfect sense to us. 

The 1969 convention of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod, created the Wyoming District and gave it a panhandle. (Since the end of the dominance of passenger railroads in the region, a Wyoming District makes more sense than a "Southern Nebraska District" running all the way to Evanston, Wyoming and a "Northern Nebraska District" extending to Jackson Hole.)

Thus, our "header" art has much in common with Trinklein's Lost States.

Please have a sense of humor when reading this book. The author most certainly does. 

And Trinklein has a flair for creative (re)constructions of period maps from when the "State" in question could/would/should(n't) have been formed. Clear enough?

Wyoming could have been in Pennsylvania (153). 

Eastern Ohio could have been the state of Washington (146, including a political reference to preventing the election of GWB). 

A State of Panama (98) would have made good long-term sense.

If proposal number 10 had come true, I would be writing this review in the state of Absaroka (pronounced as Ab SAR ka by us locals). This could have set up an interesting mail abbreviation conflict with Alaska (AK), Alberta, Canada (AB), or Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), leaving poor Absaroka with the USPS abbreviation of AS.   :) 

Could a state of Absaroka have been viable long-term? Sure. We'd have plenty of tourism with the Black Hills, Mount Rushmore, Crazy Horse monument (still under construction), Sheridan, (possibly) Billings, and most certainly the Custer Battlefield. Several reservations would be included. This is a historical gold mine of western, cowboy, Native American Indian, and military history! We would be close to Yellowstone, and Gillette would still become a major energy hub that it is today. We have plenty of oil, natural gas, methane, and coal. People wouldn't have to make fun of the Crow name. Absaroka would/could be an economically intimidating "child of the large-beaked bird."  :)

Some state proposals are still supposedly "serious." They include: 
  • Acadia (13, northern Maine)
  • Alberta, British Columbia (18), Newfoundland (90) and potentially other non-Quebec parts of Canada, if Quebec goes solo
  • Long Island (64) or New York City (89, plus the "what to name the other state" problem)
  • North Slope (97, north Alaska)
  • Potomac (105, DC)
  • Puerto Rico (106)
  • South Florida (125)
  • South Jersey (126)
  • South Texas (129, plus four other Texases)
  • Superior (133)
  • West Kansas (150)
 Other histories are just plain fascinating:
  • Lost Dakota (67, just outside Yellowstone)
  • Minnesota and Dakota (72)
  • Sonora (121)
  • The "other" Colorado (122, southern California)
  • Slyvania, Pelisipi, Saratoga, Polypotamia, Illinois, Assenisipia, Michigania, Metropotamia, and Cherronesus (134, Just Blame Jefferson)
Let me go out on a limb: There will be more than 50 states someday. Puerto Rico is a real possibility, more probable than DC statehood. I could envision a split in California or even a State of Long Island. Perhaps long-held U.S. Territories will someday add stars to Old Glory. (I personally talked to a gentleman in the Nebraska panhandle who proposed adding that panhandle to the State of Wyoming just like our LCMS Wyoming District. The discussion made it to the Wyoming capitol, but apparently, Nebraska Cornhusker football won the day.)

Lost States is an ideal companion to How the States Got Their Shapes by Mark Stein. HtSGTS whet my thirst for the strange history behind state borders and shapes, especially by telling the story of Franklin (LS, 45) and the proposal for the State of Jefferson (not the northern California proposal of LS (61) which would have given us a "rotated" Colorado that included Santa Fe, Denver, and Cheyenne, setting up a very different state puzzle for the Inter-mountain West. 
Lost States is an essential addition to libraries, and would be a fun and quirky addition to school geography classrooms. 

If you love maps, history, alternate history, or geography, Lost States is a must have for you and your coffee table. 

And when was the last time you heard "fun" and "geography" in the same sentence?
The Rev. Paul J Cain is Pastor of Immanuel Lutheran Church, Sheridan, Wyoming, Headmaster of Martin Luther Grammar School, a member of the Board of Directors of The Consortium for Classical and Lutheran Education, Wyoming District Worship Chairman, and Editor of QBR.