Australia’s Penal Colony.

Let Me Remind You…
About Australia’s founding Penal Colony.

Captain Arthur Philips of the HMS Sirius landed the first boat at the shores of New South Wales (now, currently Sydney). It was a long time since his boots touched solid land, but now they crunched on the hot rocks of Botany Bay. Even though it was January 1788, the temperature was warm and sunny. It was a quick reminder he was now in the Southern Hemisphere, where seasons were in opposite months from his home in the UK.
It took two years to get here and if the passengers were restless and agitated before, the trip around the world didn’t help. Food was scarce, with almost 800 passengers spread out over 6 ships, it was no wonder tensions were high as everyone was crammed into a 200ft space, practically sleeping on one another and fighting over food. They wouldn’t be the first fleet to come either; there was already a plan for more ships to bring more “passengers”.
Disease was rampant. Cholera, dysentery, and typhoid ravaging bodies through the boats, killing some. The ones that survived did so on small rations of hardtack and mush.

The passengers ranged from nine years old, up to eighty-two. The men were the first to arrive to the island with a mission to establish an “agricultural work camp”. They would literally have to start from scratch; finding and building their own accommodations, and prison quarters. The “passengers” that had arrived, and would be arriving for the next century were convicts from the UK mostly, some from New Zealand and few other countries.

In the mid-eighteenth-century London, at the peak of the industrial revolution, people found themselves out of work because the new technologies that took over their jobs for them, including farmers. With the lack of work and loss of money, the already overcrowded London received hundreds, if not thousands of people from the surrounding country towns. The overpopulation, lack of jobs and food led to thousands of poor, hungry families and in-turn, skyrocketing crime rates. Eventually the jails became overcrowded, and officials grew tired of even the pettiest of crimes. No matter if a person robbed someone or murdered them; rioted or had a minor assault, they started shipping them off to America. But then the American revolution ended, they were no longer welcome there and the UK was forced to find somewhere else to ship their misbehaved. Insert Australia: the new prison. It was no matter to them that the large island was already inhabited by aboriginal peoples, they had “dealt with” that when they colonized America over 150 years earlier.

The aboriginal peoples knew the new settlers were there but left them alone for the most part; silently watching them from the bushes. Very rarely were there encounters, but Captain Philips was adamant that the aboriginal Australians were treated with kindness and respect—even when he was speared in the shoulder by one during an altercation.

Captain Philips

It took only 2 years for the settlement to become stable and about 5 for it to become fully established. Until then, the unfamiliar land and climate proved difficult to learn how to tend for food. For years, fleets bringing more prisoners also brought food. So when a ship of women convicts came, with the thought of boosting moral for the men, they were ill received at first; looked at as “more mouths to feed”. Not to mention that some of the women had given birth along the 10-month voyage. But, after time, the men relented, and the women were welcomed.
During the 5 years, Captain Philips had tried to return to England, but communication was lacking as they seemed to have been mostly forgotten. By the time the 3rd fleet arrived with 2000 passengers, they had to send a boat to Calcutta for supplies. Despite that though, he managed to incorporate his past job experience and create a whaling industry, bringing trade to the harbor. He also started tending sheep to breed and raise them for their wool. At this point, some of the convicts’ sentences were already running out, but they remained and started farming the land and tending to the sheep. Captain Philips managed to get off the colony about 10 years after he got there.

Though some of the prisoners were well behaved and served their time, some were so rotten they were unmanageable and had to be sent away to a smaller island off Australia, called Norfolk island. At the time it had been inhabited by the East Polynesians, but when the prisoners got there they left. No one would return for almost 100 years, when the descendants of the mutineers from The Bounty were taken there from Pitcairn island.

By 1868, over 160,000 convicts had been sent to Australia but they put an end to the penal colony. They had been dealing with protests against the penal colony for many years at this point since Australia had been established as free in the 1820’s. People were living there now, separate from the jail. They didn’t like the colony being there any longer.
Even though the convicts had been emancipated, many stayed and started a life in Australia. The last convict, Samuel Speed, died in 1938.
It’s said that 20% of the people in Australia are descendants of the penal colony. Even a former Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd.


New York City’s Historic Steam System

Let Me Remind You…
About New York City’s Steam System

Everyone knows what happens if you put a whistle-top kettle on the stove, half-full with water, and turn the heat up as high as it will go. When the water starts to boil rapidly, it produces steam, when that steam escapes through that whistle, you know it’s done and time to make tea.
But what if you boil water to 305-450 degrees Fahrenheit in a closed system with strategically placed vents, like radiators and other systems of pipes throughout a building? You now have heating, cooling, steaming and in some instances, even sanitization.

Harnessing and controlling the power of steam is not a new invention by any means. The ancient Romans were one of the first to use steam to heat up their homes and baths.
A few hundred years later, in 1882, some businessmen in New York City started the New York Steam Company, providing steam heating/cooling to over 300 buildings. The city gave them a contract and they built the first boiler plant at the site of the world trade center.

But in 1888, a blizzard blanketed the city in snow, knocking out power lines and forcing everyone inside, trying to stay warm. This tragedy was an eye opener for officials. They saw how efficient steam power was for the 300 buildings and they extended the contract to service over 1500 buildings in NYC, which happens to be the same number today. Some saying closer to 1800.

Using steam instead of coal reduces carbon emissions (though I’m not certain they were overly concerned about that at the time), and changed how we see NYC today. If it weren’t for the steam system, the skyline would be dotted by buildings covered in chimneys and the power grid would be far more extensive and less eco-friendly.

1888 blizzard leaves the city blanketed in snow

NYC has the largest steam system in the world, larger than the other major steam-using cities put together.
Some of the more notable buildings that have always used steam include the Empire State building, The Chrysler Building, Grand Central Station and Rockefeller. Apartment buildings in NYC still have steam heating/cooling systems.
Having steam used in these buildings allows for other buildings like hospitals to divert the use of electricity for modern machinery like MRI’s and Xrays  etc. and using the steam for heating/cooling, sanitizing and laundry.
Museums even use the steam technology to help regulate the humidity in the galleries in order to help preserve the artwork, restaurants use it to sanitize dishes and laundromats use it for pressing clothing.

The great part about the steam system is that it can be tapped into without requiring your own boiler. Kind of like just attaching a pipe under your sink to drain in more than one place.
Obviously, it would be efficient to have your own boiler system, especially if you’re not near one of the boiler plants, and even though the entire system is completely interconnected, some places do have their own system. NYU has the largest privately-owned facility. These smaller plants are called “co-generation plants”.

But with the massive power of steam being forced through the pipes comes disaster. A user on a forum* said that he was speaking with a ConEdison employee about why residents on a massive stretch of the city didn’t have water leading up to Hurricane Sandy. The employee said, “ they’re doing it so that floods won’t hit the steam pipes and cause explosive rupture, with flying manholes to boot.”
Despite being made from heavy metal and getting serviced monthly, there’s still room for error, or fluke accidents, usually caused by a compromised pipe that’s decades old, affected by something called “steam hammer” or “water hammer”, which can lead to a faulty steam trap and cause explosion. this usually occurs when the hot steam is traveling through the pipes and runs into something cold, like water. These have happened a few times in the past. A couple notable ones happened in 1989, and another in 2007.

1989 steam pipe explosion

So next time you’re in NYC, If you see one of the iconic orange and white stacks in the street, shooting steam out the top, that means they’re working on some pipes below. If you’re lucky, you might have seen an (illegal) art installment by an artist, Mark Reigleman II,  who makes small houses to put over the stacks and it looks like steam is coming out the chimney. Though the city is aware of him, they haven’t been able to catch him yet.  

Mark Reigelman art installation: “Smokers”

fun fact: 1 gallon of water will produce 8lbs of steam.

Sources: (photo only)

As always, thank you for taking the time to read! Have a great day!

Kristina Moore is the Author of The Pecan Trees, available on Amazon.

The Maritime Express

Let Me Remind You…
About The Maritime Express: The flagship train that united Eastern Canada.

Maritime Express Postcard taken by an unknown photographer for the ICR

It was only going to be a day’s travel, a far cry from the multiple days in a rickety box, trying to get comfortable in a small cabin with less than meager accommodations. The days it took always seemed longer than they were. Now, it would be like traveling in luxury; a personal cabin with sleeping quarters; a restaurant car adorned with varnished wood and polished silver. A menu to choose from and cocktails while you could look out your window, watching the land pass by. So much green whipping by so quickly it appeared the train was going backwards. When the dense tunnel of forest opened up, you would be surprised with a vast scape of rolling green hills and farm land, or even a mountainous range where the Appalachian trail poked it’s long limbs over the border into Canada.
Although the trains and speed may have changed over the years, the view from the windows going from Quebec to Nova Scotia has not changed much. You can still see what the passengers of one of the first Express trains would have seen as they travelled to see family, or vacation on the East coast.

The road to civilization and building a country is a long one. Or maybe it’s a short train track.
Before the Confederation in Canada, in 1867, Canada was 3 separate colonies. As the population started to grow,  and the government started to dig their claws into the land, a dirt road and carriages were starting to seem to be an outdated way to communicate and travel through the Eastern provinces. Especially during winter storms which could potentially bury the trails. Even train travel during snow storms would become difficult, and they ended up building stretches of snowsheds; long tunnels to protect the tracks from getting piled in multiple feet of snow.

It all started when the Lieutenant Governor of Nova Scotia wrote to William Gladstone (Prime Minister of the UK at the time) with a request to survey a train route through the colonies. Once he got the go-ahead, he started scouting the best places to set the tracks. It took many years and a death of the head surveyor before they finally established a route and could start building in 1868. Leg-by-leg, stop-by-stop, the railway was completed.
Even though it was completed after Canada joined the 3 colonies and became a country, It was still called Intercolonial Railway or ICR.

By the 1890’s people were using the trains to go see family on the east coast, or the reverse: going to Quebec. Being smart business men and knowing what the competition had, In 1891, The Maritime Express was added as the flagship for the ICR, in competition with other “Express trains”. This passenger car would make the 1000+mi trip from Quebec to the far corner of the East coast in 28 hours (If you’ve read Anne of Green Gables, or some of L.M Montgomery’s other books, this is the train frequently taken.)

The ICR recognized the active tourism that naturally occurred with this connection and started marketing it as such; toting the beautiful areas of Nova Scotia. This drove people to start vacationing there even more. Eventually, the combination of travel during the holidays and tourism led them to add more times and railway lines in the early 1900’s.
But even though the Maritime Express could have you at your destination by 3:30pm the following day, it still made many stops and was a longer trip than other express trains the competition had. That’s when the ICR added the Ocean Limited, which could make the same trip in 3-4 less hours.

Pamphlet for “The people’s railway”

The ICR’s direct competitor, The Canadian pacific Railway (CPR) had a train that was making the trip from Quebec to Nova Scotia in even less time. They also had “running rights” from the federal government, organically forcing business to them.
This drove the ICR to try a rebranding tactic. They petitioned the federal government to extend their own tracks and improve existing rails and cars. By 1912 the Maritime was a huge success and even made it on to the $5 bill. The ICR was now dubbed “The People’s railway”. In 1917, the Halifax Explosion took out a large section of the tracks, but this would not stop the momentum the ICR had been building.

Maritime Express on the $5 bill.

Going into the wars, the ICR had an influx of traffic. Afterwards, not so much. They had to cut back a lot and the express trains were starting erode with wear-and-tear that no one wanted to deal with apparently. By the 1960’s the Maritime Express was running local routes and eventually by 1964, the Maritime Express was retired. I imagine with the popularity and availability of cars it just wasn’t needed as much.

To this day, you can still take a train across Canada, or even just short trips. You can even take the same route that was traveled in the late 1800’s. But if you want to go from West coast to East coast, you may have to adjust your schedule and train tickets as the west and east have their own railroad companies and aren’t a fan of each other.
Check out some of the routes HERE.

I would love to hear if you’ve travelled any of these railways. Information was harder to find than I thought, and was conflicting in a lot of places. I would love to hear more personal accounts and fun facts about this.


University of Calgary

As always, please check out my novel The Pecan Trees, a fictional novel set in Hill Country, Texas. Available on Amazon or my website:

The Ogallala Aquifer

What if I told you that 300 feet beneath the surface of 8 states, in almost exactly the same place the dustbowl happened, there’s a 2.9 billion acre-feet, or 978 trillion gallons of water just sitting there, resting among the sand, gravel, silt and clay it’s mixed with.
That’s like laying an entire Lake Huron beneath the surface. The difference? It’s actually an aquifer.
So, real quick definition of an aquifer: “An aquifer is an underground layer of water-bearing permeable rock, rock fractures or unconsolidated materials (gravel, sand, or silt)” (wikipedia)

This specific aquifer is the largest in North America and one of the largest in the world.
It was discovered in 1898 by N.H. Darton, and named after the town it was discovered in, in Nebraska.
It’s been there for 3-6 million years, going all the way back to when it was an ancient river system. The material it saturates was part of that river system when the tectonic plates were still moving.

over 174,000 sq miles

It ranges anywhere from 1-1500 feet deep and covers 174,000 sq. miles from S. Dakota to the south of the Texas Panhandle. The kicker is that while many were struggling their way through the 10 year dustbowl in the 40’s, this gigantic body of water was laying right beneath their feet.
Eventually they learned how to tap into it, drilling 300ft down, creating wells and large “pumps and taps” that farmers could hook up their irrigation system to for their crops. This helped to end the dustbowl.

An aquifer well

The problem is that the Ogallala is not a replenishing aquifer. Rainwater in these areas either drains off the surface or evaporate from the ground and plants. Every year only ONE inch is added to the actual aquifer, while in the meantime farmers are using hundreds of gallons per day to water their crops or supply drinking water to over 2,000,000 people. At that rate, it would take 6000 years to replenish it.

Since the 1940’s, the aquifer has dropped 300 ft in volume. In some places it went from 240ft to just 80ft in fifty years. In Texas, it’s completely tapped out and many of the grain elevators in the panhandle have closed down because of the inability to grow and water their crops. If the aquifer keeps getting drained, eventually the farming land that depends on it will cease to grow anything as well.

20% of the corn grown in the US and overseas depends on this region. Farmers going back to the 1800’s have depended on this region. While it’s not too late, they are doing anything they can to conserve the aquifer, but even that’s not going to be enough to save it, as so many people depend on it.

In the 2000’s the Transcanada pipeline had planned to run across the aquifer and so many opponents to the TCPL said this wasn’t a smart move incase of a spill or a leak, which could get into and contaminate the aquifer. People who were all for the TCPL mentioned many other pipelines that are in the same area that don’t have any issues.
Either way, there are non-profits that help to save the aquifer, including the North Planes Groundwater Conservation District.

There’s many ways we can help the aquifer, including donations, but one of them is to remove dependence or need for corn products and byproducts. This creates a double-edged sword though, since that’s a main crop for farmers in the area. However, conservation of water in any capacity is always beneficial to human kind.

If interested in helping, there are many links that can be found, including the ones* below. (article by Megan Peddle & NBC learn)
*Support AGWT | American Ground Water Trust

As always, you can find my fictional novel, The Pecan Trees on Amazon, or in the home page of my website,

Thomas Crapper

Thomas Crapper

Let Me Remind You… about Thomas Crapper

When the American soldiers were serving in England during WWI, they came up with a clever new phrase we still use today: “I’m going to the crapper.” No need to delve into what it means, I’m sure we all know.
But how did this phrase come about?

In 1861, at about 29, Thomas Crapper, who was a journeyman plumber, inventor, and businessman started his first business as a sanitation expert and with his imagination, he invented the ballcock (It’s the round bulb part in the tank of your toilet that stops the water from filling too high). Though, this was used for syphon toilets (think the high wall-mounted tanks with a pull string), we still use them in the modern toilet.

syphon toilet

Eventually, he would open the very first bathroom showroom that showcased many of his items, which included not just toilets, but also bathtubs and sinks. While people were there, they could try them out, so-to-speak, and see just how they liked them. In a time where you could barely show your legs, actually trying the toilet out in public became a scandal. Eventually it would shut down, but his success was not tarnished by any means.
His wares were so high-end that word of mouth travelled and eventually he received his first royal warrant from Prince Edward for Sandringham palace. After that, he received many more royal warrants finishing the bathrooms for Westminster, Buckingham Palace and Windsor castle. Today, if you walk around London, you can still see his name on some of the manhole covers.

showroom advertisement

So why did Americans call it “the crapper”? Well, it was hard to miss the large

Valveless Waste Preventer
no[serial number]

On the front of all the toilet tanks, sinks, etc., emblazoned in large embossing. Thus leading to the calling of the toilet “the crapper”.

Eventually Thomas Crapper would give his business to his nephew, and business partner, which was sold to a rival company in 1966 until it was completely dissolved. After many years, a historian, who enjoyed antique bathroom fittings, started remaking the items as authentically as he could, and still sells them in a not-so-scandalous showroom today.

They are actually quite beautiful, and I would recommend checking them out here.

There is a couple myths that float around today:
1.”The word ‘crap’ came from him too.” It’s actually been around for many years before with some roots in French and Dutch.
2. “He invented the toilet.” The toilet itself was actually invented by a Game Of Thrones star’s distant relative: Sir John Harrington. Sir John invented a complex toilet system for Queen Elizabeth I using a cistern, a series of pipes and holding tank that would provide a flush of water to remove what was in the tank. 
We can also thank Sir John for the phrase, “I’m going to the John.”

youtubepedia on