Fun with Highways: Livingston (?)

Every so often we like to have fun with the cities and towns that appear in our Facebook Insights and Google Analytics. One town that has been appearing prominently in our Facebook page stats recently is Livingston. However, we have no idea which place called “Livingston” this actually is, so we will explore a few possibilities.

Based on the demographics of our readers and Facebook fans, it’s probably in the U.S., and it is most likely Livingston, NJ, a town east of Newark along I-280, not far from New York City.

Livingston is a medium-sized suburban town. Though its history dates back a long time (about 300 years), it was relatively sparse until automobiles and highways arrived in the 1920s. Notably, it is named for William Livingston, the first Governor of New Jersey. It is also near the Riker Hill fossil site, also known as Walter Kidde Dinosaur Park, a major paleontological site – I remember hearing about the “major dinosaur fossil site in New Jersey” a few times while growing up across the river in New York.

It could be Livingston, California, a town along the Highway 99 corridor in the Central Valley, between Modesto and Merced.

Like much of this part of the Central Valley, it is primarily an agricultural town.

It could also be Livingston, Montana, a picturesque town along I-90 and US 191 north of Yellowstone National Park.

[Image by Jonathan Haeber ( via Wikimedia CommonsClick image to enlarge.]

It has that classic “old US downtown” look with mountain ranges in the background. It also seems like a relatively prosperous town (much of its economy is related to tourism). As of this writing, however, it sounds like they are at the edge of this year’s intense flooding along rivers in the U.S. and the Yellowstone River is again above flood stage as of the writing of this article. We hope they stay safe and dry! In late May, flooding on the Yellowstone River closed parts of I-90 near Livingston.

Livingston, NY is in the Hudson Valley and quite a ways north of New York City. It is considerably smaller than its counterparts in New Jersey, California and Montana.

In the strange way that I remember such things, I am pretty sure I have been through the junction of US 9, NY 9H and NY 82 (and NY 23).

Smaller yet is Livingston, Louisiana.

It is along I-12 east of Baton Rouge. I mention it because it has a gravitational wave observatory. That is cool. Gravitational waves are theoretical ripples in the curvature of spacetime that propagate as a wave – a phenomenon predicted by Einstein’s theory of general relativity but never directly detected.

Primary Highways: Wyoming

Even though we're already on to Mississippi today, I did not want to forget the state of Wyoming, which caucused this weekend.

Wyoming is the least populous state in the U.S. The capital and largest city, Cheyenne, is about the same size as my previous hometown, Santa Cruz, CA. The entire state is significantly smaller than my current hometown, San Francisco. But Wyoming is large, and open, something I experienced years ago when driving out from New York to California on I-80. We have gotten to visit a lot of states along I-80 that I remember as part of this series. But coming west, the almost desert-like conditions, wind and brush and emptiness, were a welcome change from largely flat farmland of the previous thousand miles.

We did actually take a detour from I-80 south on US 191 through the Flaming Gorge] area down to Dinosaur National Monument in Utah. The two highways split in a remote area, with mountains and canyons to the south:

One thing I remember quite strikingly was how 191 curled up into the hills heading south from the freeway. Unfortunately, I don't have any of the photographs from the trip available, but this photo from illustrates it quite well:

It turns out I had encounted US 191 in Wyoming on a previous trip as well, as it enters Yellostone National Park via the south entrance:

Yellowstone is of course spectacular, and quite a different experience from the starkness of southern Wyoming. It also is the oldest and one of the largest national parks. Although mostly in Wyoming it does extend into Montana and Idaho as well. I leave you with this image from the northern entrance to Yellowstone, in Montana:

The inscription reads “For the Benefit and Enjoyment of the People,” with the dual purpose of preserving this natural land and making it accessible to “the people.” It seems like a sentiment that is sadly lost in contemporary politics, but that is a topic for another day…