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  Merge a County (search mode)
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Author Topic: Merge a County  (Read 2872 times)
muon2
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« on: October 23, 2017, 08:16:58 am »
« edited: October 24, 2017, 08:46:47 am by muon2 »

This would make my hobby of visiting every county easier. Ideally I'd merge counties where one is off the main roads, so I wouldn't have to go so far out of my way to visit. Here are some from my travels in the Great Lakes states (2010 pop).

IL: Hardin (4320) and Pope (4470) are the two least populated counties in the state. Merging would allow a visit either by taking the ferry at Cave-in-Rock or by a short detour from I-24, but needing to do both.

IN: Ohio (6128) and Switzerland (10613) are the 1st and 6th least populated counties. Switzerland has a bridge over the Ohio river, but Ohio county is off the path for most travels. I'll be using the scenic river road to visit them next month, which is about the only choice if one crosses near Florence.

MI: Luce (6631) and Alger (9601) are the 2nd and 7th least populated counties. The UP is beautiful, but out of the way. When I drove across it in 2008 I had to pick either Luce or Delta and skip the other without a lot of extra miles. Even then I had to detour slightly to get Luce, which lacks a scenic road along Superior. It's tempting to merge tiny Keweenaw, but it has Isle Royale NP and one should have an excuse to visit it.

OH: Noble (14645) and Morgan (15054) are the 3rd and 4th least populated counties. Of the many underpopulated counties in SE OH, Morgan is really off the main highways and isn't on the Ohio river. At least Noble has I-77.

WI: Florence (4423) and Forest (9304) are the 2nd and 5th least populated counties. I went up to northern WI last month to complete the state, but Florence was just too much of a detour and is the only county in WI I haven't visited. It's better reached from the UP, so I'll have to hit Florence when I'm in Iron MI.

edited to color counties based on my personal visits (green=yes, red=not yet)
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muon2
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« Reply #1 on: October 23, 2017, 11:53:59 pm »
« Edited: October 24, 2017, 08:50:10 am by muon2 »

Here are my Plains recommendations based on ease to get to the counties as a traveler.

IA: Adams (4029) and Taylor (6317) are the 1st and 4th least populated counties. Adams has US-34 and Amtrak running through them and together they would be the southern equivalent of Kossuth in northern IA. They also happen to be the only counties along the southern tier of IA I'm missing.

KS: Greeley (1298) and Wallace (1517) are the two smallest counties in the state. They both are on the CO line and are in Mountain Time.

MN: Traverse (3588) and Big Stone (5269) are the 1st and 6th least populated counties. The north-south continental divide is marked near the western end of the border between the two, but if you aren't going to stand at the divide (an old flat river channel) then there's nothing convenient to take one to both.

MO: Knox (4131) and Scotland (4843) are the 3rd and 5th least populated counties. Knox is not particularly on the way from anywhere to anywhere (maybe Quincy to Kirkland, but that makes my point). It was created from Scotland two years after Scotland was created, so it could just have well stayed together.

NE: Arthur (460) and Grant (614) are the 1st and 5th least populated counties. Picking up counties in NE is mostly about going east-west and Arthur is at the western end of NE-92 so it doesn't help to link to anywhere else. I'd combine Arthur with McPherson but it's in a different time zone.

ND: Burke (1968) and Divide (2071) are the 6th and 9th least populated counties. Yes, they both have US highways, but they run north-south. So unless one want to make two separate trips across the Canadian border they represent a substantial detour to visit.

SD: Ziebach (2801) and Dewey (5301). They aren't nearly the smallest in SD and they do have US-212 running through them, but they are quite a bit out of the way. More importantly they together comprise the Cheyenne River Indian Reservation and merging them would match the IR to a single county.

edited to color counties based on my personal visits (green=yes, red=not yet)
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muon2
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« Reply #2 on: October 24, 2017, 10:04:28 am »

Here are my thoughts on New England. I've colored counties based on my personal visits (green=yes, red=not yet)

CT: Windham (118,428) and Tolland (152,691). Counties aren't used in CT except for judicial purposes and they are all fairly easy to visit, so I picked the two smallest population. In the case of CT I'd rather split Fairfield (3), Hartford (2), and New Haven (3) to match their judicial divisions then every county would correspond to a judicial division. Since counties in CT don't have any other purpose, I'm surprised the Census hasn't divided them to match.

ME: Piscataquis (17,535) and Somerset (52,228). Picataquis is the least populated county and isn't convenient. Piscataquis does have a way to Millinocket (in Penobscot), famous for the phrase "You can't there from here."

MA: Nantucket (10,172) and Dukes (16,535) are the two smallest counties by far. They are two separate islands and require two separate ferry rides to visit.

NH: Coos (33,055) and Carroll (47,818). Coos is the smallest and most out of the way county and Carroll is off the interstate, too.

RI: Bristol (49,875) and Newport (82,888) are the two smallest counties. There are only five counties and they don't have any county government in RI. The other three are all on I-95.

VT: Essex (6,306) and Orleans (27,231) are the 1st and 4th least populated counties. They are tucked in the NE corner next to Quebec and it takes some extra driving to get to both unless one is going to Canada.
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muon2
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« Reply #3 on: October 25, 2017, 07:50:56 pm »
« Edited: October 26, 2017, 04:03:02 am by muon2 »

Here's my merge list for the Mid-Atlantic states. I've colored counties based on my personal visits (green=yes, red=not yet).

DE: Kent (162,310) and Sussex (197,145). DE only has three counties and 60% of the population is in New Castle so merging the other two seems the only reasonable choice.

MD: Dorchester (32,618) and Caroline (33,066) are the 4th and 5th least populated counties. In fact 7 of the 8 least populated counties are on the Eastern Shore. Caroline lacks any US highways and with Dorchester fits between two rivers that flow into the Chesapeake.

NJ: Salem (66,083) and Cumberland (156,898) are the 1st and 6th least populated counties. If you travel out from NYC and cross NJ on I-80, I-78, the NJ Turnpike and the Garden State Parkway you'll visit every county except Cumberland. I rest my case.

NY: Hamilton (4,836) and Fulton (55,531). In many ways I'm tempted by the 2nd and 3rd smallest counties - Schuyler and Yates in the heart of the Finger Lakes. But Hamilton is a quarter of the population of Schuyler and tucked a ways into the Adirondacks. Even my intentional drive through the northern Adirondacks didn't get me into Hamilton.

PA: Cameron (5,085) and Elk (31,946) are the 1st and the 9th least populated counties. Cameron is small and lacks any major roads (I was there in 2016). It was partially formed from Elk and if merged would help many county chasers.
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muon2
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« Reply #4 on: October 26, 2017, 05:17:43 am »

I can work down the coast to some southern Atlantic states. Counties are colored based on my personal visits (green=yes, red=not yet).

GA: Quitman (2513) and Clay (3183) are the 2nd and 5th least populated counties. In a state with more counties than any but TX, any reduction would help someone trying to get to all of them. These two were the least populated that are adjacent.

NC: Tyrrell (4407) and Hyde (5810) are the two smallest counties. Tyrrell is easy to visit on the way to the Outer Banks, but Hyde is out of the way unless one is traveling to Ocracoke on the OBX. Hyde has had its borders changed more than any other county in NC, so why not go all the way and merge it.

SC: Allendale (10419) and Barnwell (22621). Allendale was the 2nd least populated county in 2010 and is now estimated to be the least populated. The Main Hwy (US-301) misses Barnwell, and much of Barnwell is the Savannah River Site which most people can't visit anyway.

VA: Highland (2321) and Bath (4731) are the two least populated counties. US-220 connects the two, but it's not a road that one would frequently travel. The Delmarva pair and some of the small Tidewater counties could do as well, but they aren't as out of the way from the major cities. It would be easy to pick an independent city to merge back into its county, but I'll leave that unique feature to be decided by the VA legislature.
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muon2
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« Reply #5 on: October 26, 2017, 06:49:01 pm »

I'll just keep moving along the coast to the Gulf states. Counties are colored based on my personal visits (green=yes, red=not yet) with populations from 2010. As seen by the lack of green, I need to spend more time in these states.

AL: Sumter (13763) and Choctaw (13859) are the 8th and 9th least populated counties. They aren't the smallest, but by merging them one takes Sumter on I-20/59 and merges it with Choctaw which is off the highway. That saves a side trip for anyone visiting all the AL counties.

FL: Liberty (8356) and Franklin (11549) are the 1st and 3rd least populated counties. Liberty is one of those small counties that aren't on the coast and are missed by the interstate. It doesn't have any big draw and one isn't likely to just pass through. Along with Franklin it makes up most of the western edge of the Eastern time zone on the Panhandle.

LA: East Carroll (7759) and West Carroll (11604) are the 3rd and 8th least populated parishes. The Great River Road goes through East Carroll which was split from West Carroll in 1877. If merged a trip on that route wouldn't need a detour to get West Carroll.

MS: Issaquena (1406) and Sharkey (4916) are the two smallest counties. Sure, they're both on the Great River Road, so there's no reason not to get them both that way. But the tiny size of Issaquena makes me fear the population will just get flooded out some year.
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muon2
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« Reply #6 on: October 26, 2017, 11:14:02 pm »

I can complete my merges in the east with the Appalachian/Ozark states. Counties are colored based on my personal visits (green=yes, red=not yet) with populations from 2010.

AR: Calhoun (5368) and Bradley (11508). Calhoun is the least populated county and Bradley is the least visited among county hunters.

KY: Owsley (4755) and Lee (7887) are the 2nd and 10th least population counties. The KY constitution requires new counties to be at least 400 sq mi and 12000 population. This merger would just satisfy that rule (12642, 408 sq mi) as well as take care of two counties without major highways.

TN: Clay (7861) and Jackson (11638) are the 6th and 10th least populated counties. TN has a number of small counties tucked along the KY border like Clay. Clay and Jackson both straddle the Cumberland river so travel between the two is easy, even if both are otherwise off main highways.

WV: Wirt (5717) and Calhoun (7627) are the 1st and 4th least populated counties. Last summer I did a bit of touring in WV with an intent to visit as many counties as was reasonable during the day. Even so I couldn't get to Wirt without a lot of extra time. I did go though Calhoun that day, so the merger would have worked for me.
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muon2
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« Reply #7 on: October 27, 2017, 09:25:13 am »

Here are my picks for some southwestern states. Counties are colored based on my personal visits (green=yes, red=not yet) with populations from 2010.

AZ: Greenlee (8437) and Graham (37220) are the 1st and 3rd least populated counties. Greenlee was created from Graham over its objections and is mostly home to a giant copper mine. I've visited much of AZ, but Greenlee will take some planning to visit.

NM: Harding (695) and Mora (4881) are the 1st and 6th least populated counties. Harding is out of the way of any main roads, but Mora is right on the interstate, so a merger would help.

OK: Roger Mills (3647) and Ellis (4151) are the 3rd and 5th least populated counties. They are large counties on either side of the Canadian river with a bridge that connects them.

TX: Kent (808) and Stonewall (1490). There are more counties in TX than in any other state and lots that are out of the way with few people. There are 18 counties with less than 2000. Of those there are 7 connected pairs of counties. Kent is one of the least visited of the small population counties, so its pair made my list.
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muon2
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« Reply #8 on: October 27, 2017, 09:13:48 pm »

AR: Calhoun (5368) and Bradley (11508). Calhoun is the least populated county and Bradley is the least visited among county hunters.
The only reference that I could find to "county hunters" was for hams trying to make two-way contact with each county. Is there another meaning?


That is the more conventional use of the term. County counters often share the same sites as the hams, so I was less precise than perhaps I should be.
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muon2
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« Reply #9 on: October 28, 2017, 05:05:33 am »

AR: Calhoun (5368) and Bradley (11508). Calhoun is the least populated county and Bradley is the least visited among county hunters.
The only reference that I could find to "county hunters" was for hams trying to make two-way contact with each county. Is there another meaning?


That is the more conventional use of the term. County counters often share the same sites as the hams, so I was less precise than perhaps I should be.
Is 1781 a current count?  And is the Liz in Somerville, MA a relative?


Yes to both. I'll be adding more along the Ohio river over Thanksgiving.
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muon2
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« Reply #10 on: October 28, 2017, 07:41:59 am »

The western mountain states don't have as many counties as the east, but there are some tiny ones tucked off the beaten path. Counties are colored based on my personal visits (green=yes, red=not yet) with populations from 2010.

CO: Mineral (712) and Hinsdale (843) are the 2nd and 3rd least populated counties. Both sit along the continental divide in the San Juan mountains. CO-149 connects the two counties.

ID: Butte (2891) and Custer (4368) are the 3rd and 7th least populated counties. They are well connected along US-93, but visitors are likely to either travel to Butte to see Craters of the Moon or to Custer along the Salmon river.

MT: Petroleum (494) and Garfield (1206) are the 1st and 7th least populated counties. There are no US highways other than a sliver of US-87 in a corner of Petroleum.

NV: Esmeralda (783) and Mineral (4772) are the 1st and 4th least populated counties. I really wanted to get to all the counties south of US-50 when I was in NV last winter, but Mineral was just too much of a detour while looping the federal lands around the Nevada Test Site (including Area 51). Now Mineral is the only NV county I have left to visit.

UT: Piute (1556) and Wayne (2778) are the 2nd and 4th least populated counties. Wayne was formed from Piute and could go back. That way whether one was passing through on US-89 or coming off I-70 to go to Capitol Reef NP the counties would count as one.

WY: Crook (7083) and Weston (7208) are the 3rd and 4th least populated counties. Devils Tower and I-80 are in Crook, but Weston is off the main path on the west side of the Black Hills.
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muon2
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« Reply #11 on: October 28, 2017, 07:36:21 pm »

The western mountain states don't have as many counties as the east, but there are some tiny ones tucked off the beaten path. Counties are colored based on my personal visits (green=yes, red=not yet) with populations from 2010.
CO: Mineral (712) and Hinsdale (843) are the 2nd and 3rd least populated counties. Both sit along the continental divide in the San Juan mountains. CO-149 connects the two counties.
The Continental Divide crosses Hinsdale County twice. A county commissioner from the southern part of the county has to travel through four counties (Mineral twice, since South Fork is in Del Norte) to attend commissioners meetings in Lake City. That is in summer. In winter it is six counties, through Durango and  Montrose. (it appears that C-149 is now open year round, so except for some closures the more circuitous route 6 hours, and 250 miles may not be needed).
Virtually no one lives in southern Hinsdale and no direct road from Lake city goes to any residences on the southern end. Both counties have most of their population in the northern parts along CO-149.

Quote
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From Devils Tower you can loop down through Weston to see Mount Rushmore and Crazy Horse before going back up to Sturgis. Is your son old enough to ride?
[/quote]

I've done the drive from Weston to Crazy Horse. It takes about an hour over the Black Hills.

When we visited Devils Tower it was after seeing Mt Rushmore on our way to an overnight in Buffalo before going on to Yellowstone the next day. That was 2011 when my son was in HS.

TX: Kent (808) and Stonewall (1490). There are more counties in TX than in any other state and lots that are out of the way with few people. There are 18 counties with less than 2000. Of those there are 7 connected pairs of counties. Kent is one of the least visited of the small population counties, so its pair made my list.
Dallam and Hartley, since Dalhart is already the county seat of one, and the largest city in both.

But I'd hate to break up the nice east-west lines of counties in that part of the state. Smiley
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muon2
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« Reply #12 on: October 29, 2017, 05:55:27 pm »

Here are the last of my picks for the Pacific states. Counties are colored based on my personal visits (green=yes, red=not yet) with populations from 2010.

AK: Prince of Wales-Hyder Census Area (5,559) and Ketchikan Gateway Borough (13,477). The Prince of Wales-Hyder Census Area is disconnected from the rest of the Unorganized Borough and in 2008 a big piece was added to Ketchikan to form the current borough. This merger would complete that process.

CA: Sierra (3,240) and Plumas (20,007) are the 2nd and 8th least populated counties. Both counties are small and losing population in a state with the largest population county. I-80 and US-395 cut through corners of Sierra, but no US highways go through Plumas.

HI: Kalawao (90) and Maui (154,834). Kalawao has no organized county government and is already just a judicial part of Maui. I do think taking the mule ride down the cliff to visit Kalawao is a cool way to get to it.

OR: Wallowa (7,008) and Union (25,748). Gilliam and Sherman are two of the three smallest by population and by area east of the Cascades, but they are both right on I-84, so if visiting one almost always gets both. Wallowa is a long way from Clarkston/Lewiston and from I-84 in Union. Unless one has the time to tour Hells Canyon, one isn't likely to get to Wallowa.

WA: Garfield (2,266) and Columbia (4,078) are the 1st and 3rd least populated counties. They are also among the 10 smallest by area. I suppose one could put them both with Asotin, but I'm only considering pairs.
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muon2
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« Reply #13 on: October 30, 2017, 07:22:27 pm »

Here are the last of my picks for the Pacific states. Counties are colored based on my personal visits (green=yes, red=not yet) with populations from 2010.

AK: Prince of Wales-Hyder Census Area (5,559) and Ketchikan Gateway Borough (13,477). The Prince of Wales-Hyder Census Area is disconnected from the rest of the Unorganized Borough and in 2008 a big piece was added to Ketchikan to form the current borough. This merger would complete that process.
The reason Hyder was/is excluded from KGB is because there is no way to get between Ketchikan and Hyder except via Prince Rupert, BC. It would make more sense to use the Unorganized Borough as a single county equivalent, or use all of the model boroughs.

I suppose one should say that you can only get to Hyder from Stewart, BC. One could get to Stewart from the Alaska Hwy without going through Prince Rupert. I see the situation as similar to Point Roberts WA with access only from Canada, but nonetheless is in Whatcom county.
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