Posted by ESC on September 03, 2003
"Before arriving at the museum, Route 66 winds around 'Hell's Half Acre.' Now a sparse, bland expanse, the former mine was one of the richest in the world. Route 66 then passes through Galena's main street, dotted by mostly empty storefronts dating to the early 1900s." From an Associated Press story posted on CNN on Sept. 3, 2003 -- "Kansas: Route 66 a trip back in time." http://www.cnn.com/2003/TRAVEL/DESTINATIONS/09/03/kansas.route66.ap/index.html Accessed September 3, 2003.
: : : Wondering if anyone has more origin information for this phrase.
: : : : I've traced it to:
: : : : A red-light district in Ft. Worth, Texas, named roughly in the 1850s or 1860s.
: : : : Also in 1912 a half-acre size bunker on 7th hole of the Pine Valley Golf Club.
: : : It's a popular phrase. A search on Google found this site http://www.geocities.com/amazingidioms/expressions.htm
: : : Hell's half acre: Meaning any long frustrating trip or experience.
: : : Origin: Hell's half acre is a lava flow about 15 miles west of Idaho Falls, Idaho. It is 4.5 miles of rough, irregular terrain that is very difficult to navigate. It is so named because its cracks, holes, and crags give the area an otherworldly, surreal, and perhaps hellish appearance. A search of hell's half acre would indeed be a long and difficult task.
: : Possibly the phrase existed long ago and it was adopted to name all three places mentioned so far.
: HELL'S HALF ACRE - "n. a wild, desolate, or dangerous place. 1864 'E. Kirke' 'Down in Tenn.' 130 'I come ter de place whar dey fit so two days arterwuds - dey call it 'Hell's-half-acre.'." Also "all over hell's half acre - everywhere. 1930 Sage 'Last Rustler' 251 'The cattle was.scatter all over hell's half acre.'." From the "Random House Historical Dictionary of American Slang, Volume 2, H-O, by J.E. Lighter, Random House, New York, 1997."
HELL'S HALF ACRE -- "A small tree-covered segment of the Stones River, Tennessee, battlefield. Before it became the focus of a furious struggle during the battle, nearby residents knew the site as the Round Forest." From "The Encyclopedia of Civil War Usage: An Illustrated Compendium of the Everyday Language of Soldiers and Civilians" by Webb Garrison with Cheryl Garrison. Cumberland House Publishing Inc., Nashville, Tenn., 2001.