What does Google say about small towns?Published 10:27am Monday, July 4, 2011
Using a computer to do a Google search for various topics can evolve into some mighty interesting results.
With this concept as a challenge, I decided to do Google searches for several small and nearly obscure localities in this area, plus a community out in Oregon that has one of the oddest results in the nation.
One of my first choices was the nearby locality of Alma City. This really obscure place on the map was selected for several reasons. The first was based on meeting someone from this place as a new Minnesotan attending the college in Mankato. Also, the use of the word city for this community is still really misleading.
I typed in Alma City Minn for my search. Google indicated Alma City MN was more correct. One of the search results said, “The former village of Alma City is now an unincorporated community in Alton and Freedom Townships, Waseca County …” To be more specific, Alma City is on Waseca County Road 9 and south of Janesville, north of Waldorf and east of Pemberton.
The initial Google page of results had these topics: a map of Alma City, community profile, moving trucks, locksmiths, home mortgages, jobs, closest airport, webcams in the area and notary public.
At this point I decided to try a Google search for a place in this country. For this I selected Mansfield MN and not just plain Mansfield which could result in the place out in Ohio popping up on the screen.
The initial Google page for the nearby Mansfield had a map for this crossroads location southwest of Albert Lea. All that’s shown is a symbol and the words ”Mansfield Meat Market & Locker.” According to what I and other folks can see at this crossroads, there’s also a place called the Mansfield Store and several homes.
Other results on the first page had the community profile, a listing for the Mansfield, Tunick and Cohen law firm, Mansfield Township, closest airport, moving facilities, jobs, a site for Mansfield Oil Co. of Minneapolis, and the Foley and Mansfield law firm, also of Minneapolis.
Just for the heck of it, I decided to see where the nearest airport is to Mansfield, according to Google. The listing said this place is Mason City, Iowa, 32 miles away. Other airports listed are Forest City, Iowa, Austin, Fairmont, Owatonna and Mankato. Albert Lea’s airport isn’t listed at all. Somehow, this helps to prove that not everything on Google is correct.
I did a search for Maple Island MN and found out there’s a community with this name in Freeborn County, plus another place with the same name up in Washington County north of Hastings.
Next on the list was London MN. Google confirmed there’s a place with this name in this county, then the site went nuts for New London up in Kandiyohi County.
Now before I run out of space, here’s my candidate for one of the oddest town listings on Google. It’s Robinette, Ore.
This town was located on the east side of Baker County, Ore., near the place where the Powder River flows into the Snake River. Across the Snake River is Idaho. The Google site gives a good history of Robinette which started in 1909 and had a population of 46 by 1940.
In 1957, the Idaho Power Co. purchased the entire townsite and the following year the place was permanently flooded by the reservoir created by the Brownlee Dam on the Snake River.
Yet, the Google entry says, “As of 2010 (the) U.S. Geological Survey still classified Robinette as a populated place.”
Is this an example of our tax dollars at work?
Here’s a special salute to those folks who take their dogs for walks, especially on days when the weather is nice. They’re both getting health benefits.
Ed Shannon’s column has been appearing in the Tribune every Friday since December 1984.