BOSTON-The Secret of the Wooden
Lady (OT 1950) has Nancy and her chums take off from the airfield in River Heights and arrive a few hours later
in Boston. A few hours then are very possible when you might consider
that the aeroplanes back in 1950 were much slower than the airplanes of the 1960s, when commercial jetliners became more prolific.
Most likely, they were traveling in a twin-engine aircraft. These engines were expectedly internal combustion
or reciprocating engines and operated on gasoline and not jet fuel.
Airspeeds of these general aviation aircraft vary between 100 to 350 miles per hour. The introduction
of reliable jet planes, such as the Boeing 707 and the Douglas DC-8, in the late 1950s ushered in a new era in commercial
aviation-the jet era. (8) Jet planes or subsonic airplanes have speeds that vary from 350 to 750 miles per hour. (9)
With the above information, it completely
makes sense not to place River Heights in East Orange on this basis, because a flight in a twin-engine would be a shorter
ride to Boston, Massachusetts from that location. The longer an aircraft is flying,
the more it becomes efficient and actually flies at a faster rate of speed. This
again would make the possibility of River Heights being in the west somewhere in Ohio, given that this information is from
an original text volume, and that top airspeeds very well could have reached 300 mph or more! This allows a little over two
hours of flight time from that location.
Awkwardly, a trip by twin-engine
from Iowa or Illinois would surely be more than a "few" hours, and possibly would require a stopover somewhere, as this type
air engine essentially uses larger quantities of fuel! Unfortunately, this clue is invalid since we cannot determine what
a few hours later could possibly mean! Future updates on this section will have
information concerning the revised text of this book.
CAPE CANAVERAL (MELBOURNE)- Unable
to determine at this time for need of The Mystery of the Moss-Covered Mansion revised text. Future updates will have
comprehensive data concerning this book. The original text of this title, first written as a completely different story, does
not warrant research; in view of the fact that it is not readily apparent to the reader, whether Nancy leaves her home state
on an outing to the fictional city of Ashley.
after breakfast, Mr. Drew drove the girls to the airport in River Heights and they had a smooth flight to Richmond, Virginia
(The Hidden Window Mystery pages 27& 28-RT.) After visiting Nancys
cousin Susan Carr at the Johnston Willis Hospital, they spent the rest of the afternoon and evening viewing the old city.
Notice the absence of a time, and
only the sense of time in the words "shortly after breakfast." Nothing here gives us a clue to times traveled so these clues
are unacceptable besides, from first when we try to introduce many excessive variables into this unusual quest to solve this
one equation, we will not succeed! There is also the substance of the original text of The Hidden Window Mystery, which
unfortunately at this time, the author does not have a copy to use for comparison. Future
updates will include this information as well.
CHICAGO-Nancy does not voyage to
Chicago as many times as a sleuth would think. In The Secret at Shadow Ranch
(OT 1931) Nancy and her friends take a train to Chicago and the only description is that the "afternoon dragged slowly" as
the reference of time. Nevertheless, this allows us to understand that it simply
takes a small portion of an afternoon to reach that city. This permits us to place River Heights near Chicago in Illinois,
and then possibly Iowa or Ohio. The revised text has the girls already in Phoenix,
AZ so there is no necessity to expound on this book.
COOPERSTOWN-In, The Secret of
Mirror Bay (1972) we know it is morning, as stated on page 4 and further, that the girls stopped for lunch at a wayside
snake bar. They were also "confronted with a long detour" and arrived in Cooperstown
20 minutes late! Here again, we have allurements to precise times but it is apparent
that this is designed to make us only believe we might be able to discern a proper point in time. Morning, lunch, long detour,
and twenty minutes late, does not mean a thing if trying to find River Heights. However,
clearly there is a prearranged notion that they are traveling from the Midwest to Cooperstown, New York since this gives at
the very least, five or six hours time by automobile to get there! In passing,
this one extract does relate to us, that the young sleuth is urging her car along with "all the speed the law allowed."
LANCASTER-The Witch Tree Symbol
RT (1959) is lacking clarity as well in trying to conclude accurate times of travel.
"Several hours later the girls reached the area where the first hex signs appeared on barns." How indistinct
can authors get without obviously including in the text, "You will never find River Heights this way!" Future updates will
take account of data from the original text, first printed a mere four years earlier, in 1955.
NEW ORLEANS-Nancy and company take
a flight to this southern city in The Ghost of Blackwood Hall (1967) revised text. This book explains that the girls
leave River Heights in the morning, have lunch on the plane, and make a stopover to pick up more passengers somewhere, before
finally landing in New Orleans. This book does not bother to explain the landing
in that city, just that "When they reached their hotel George scolded her cousin" as usual! Since there are no precise times,
there is no way to even make estimations. We will discuss the original text later.
In The Haunted Showboat (1957)
Nancy and her friends drive to New Orleans and decide to take back roads to as far as Tartanville, which presumably is in
the same state as River Heights. There are allusions of time, although so much
transpires during this one trip that it is impracticable to find any correlations to match with accurate times traveled. This is the most eventful journey the young sleuths ever embarks and with all the
occurrencesbomb scares, detours, and numerous stops all along the way, including stops at hotels, a snow storm, mechanical
failure of the car, etc. -- it took them a little more than two days to travel to New Orleans!
However, as an indication to a substantial
clue, we will notice on page 38 that they reached Alabama, with its "blooming plants, green grass, and beautiful trees." If
the three girls were traveling from Iowa or Illinois this would not make any sense.
This makes one want to question why they would veer off course to the east many miles, while it does make more sense
to consider that they would have drove on a more southerly route to reach New Orleans from those locations and more
than likely not pass through Alabama!
Not outdone we have added support,
especially when the author is hospitable enough to offer us one more supplementary clue. We will discover the evidence on
page 39 "as the girls drove through the Mobile area... " indicating they were driving in a more southwesterly direction,
as New Orleans is hitherto farther southwest! This sign is even more striking if one appreciates the fact that Harriet Stratemeyer
wrote this never-revised manuscript, and takes note that this outwardly treacherous route could just as effortlessly apply
to New Jersey! Let us also not forget Table 2 "Cities Located near River Heights" where Wrightsville (Pg 20) has a
match in Ohio and New Jersey. This book merits additional investigation in future
updates; as it appears there may be other hidden pointers in the descriptions, then presented here.
NEW YORK CITY- The Spider Sapphire
Mystery pg. 54 tells us that it takes Nancy and her friends just one hour to arrive at Kennedy Airport in New York City,
flying from the River Heights Airport. A jet plane with passengers on board flew 500 miles per hour average, even back
in 1968 when this book was printed. When taking off from the airport in River
Heights, there must have been some time for the plane to taxi and to get to the runway, but while not mentioned, we will presuppose
it just took one whole hour for the girls to get to New York. Now for this to
work using the flight formula above, we need to trace back from New York City only 500 miles for that one hour to find where
River Heights is!
Five hundred miles to the west of
New York City will place us approximately in the state of, you guessed it, Ohio, right near Columbus! If correlating it with our special cities this will put River Heights near Toledo, Ohio. By looking in
Table 6, we see that Toledo is 507 miles from New York City. However, at top
airspeeds (750 mph), we are within reach of Illinois with 719 miles, thus allowing River Heights to be in close proximity
to Chicago! At least this extraordinary transcript is consistent in keeping River Heights in the Mid-west region.
The Clue of the Leaning
Chimney OT (1949) does give us a little more enlightenment as to times traveled but is just as obscure in giving precise
details. "In a few hours, the air liner circled for a landing at New Yorks big airport then came down." This book, written
by ghostwriter George Waller, Jr.outline by Harriet Stratemeyer (10) has River Heights correlating with the Mid-west as well. Not established at this time is where Mr. Waller lived while writing this book, therefore
there is no real actual city to use for comparison. Nevertheless, it is engrossing how earlier noted in this essay; this volume
interrelated with Mildred Bensons Iowa!
Actually, the revised text just about
discloses the same identical information as the original text. Sneaking a look at The Clue of the Leaning Chimney RT
(1967), we notice that revisionist/author Pricilla Baker-Carr (11) practically uses the same wording as the original, though
slightly displaced. How clever the first author of this book was to deposit a time, before the time of departure, as
this alludes to some appearance of an actual time, almost causing the reader to think there is a fact of time. This
particular passage says, "Two hours later Nancy boarded a plane to New York."(Pg 72) Before or after this segment there is
no mention of time of day, only that "luncheon was made particularly exciting by the young detectives tales of stolen potteries!" "Two hours later"--before, and "luncheon"--after, tells us absolutely nothing that
we can use to find River Heights in this case.
The Mystery at the
Ski Jump OT (1952) gives more evidence to precise times, but again is a little less ambiguous than before. Nancy takes an 8 oclock flight from River Heights to New York (Pg 59) and by noontime, rings the bell of
her aunt Eloises apartment. This is four hours and if we take one hour off for
taxi rides and such, and as well time zone changes, we have left, approximately two hours.
We additionally notice the previous expected pattern here, somewhere in the Middle West! Revised text has the
equivalent information available.
The Mystery of the
Fire Dragon (1961) is extremely vague parting to us any details about the trip to New York. "The girls waved as they boarded
the airliner, then settled down for the flight to New York. When they reached
the terminal in the city... " Let us not even go there in this case, as this demonstrates the expertise in disguise and
fondness for elusive time descriptions! The same also applies to The Message in the Hollow Oak RT (1972) with the mention
of "noon" and once at the River Heights airport to catch a plane to New York; Nancy is "By mid-afternoon entering her aunts
We can observe drastically, the same
configuration here in a more revised form! The Thirteenth Pearl (1979) on page 37; "When Nancy and her father reached
the airport in New York on Thursday... " However let us not forgo the clue found on page 23 which insinuates that they
are in Ohio with; "Even in Ohio... skeletons with pearls in their mouths were found... " where right before
this segment Virginia is used only as an instance, and prior to that, there is a general statement about American Indians
prizing pearls! This clue virtually gives the indication that the ghostwriter Harriet Stratemeyer, --along with other evidence
established in the later text of the classic series; i.e. The Spider Sapphire Mystery-The Phantom of Pine Hill-The
Thirteenth Pearl --made several attempts in keeping Ohio as the home state of River Heights! The brilliant sleuth/author Karen Plunkett-Powell Scott (1954-2003) demonstrated this as well by the descriptions
given in her book regarding the location of River Heights in The Nancy Drew Scrapbook, St. Martins Press, 1993!
SAINT LOUIS-The Message in the
Hollow Oak RT (1972) clearly does not have Nancy living in Illinois. She
is excited about taking a trip to that state as acknowledged by reading this book. In
this instance, Bess and George, drive Nancy to an airport out of town that has a direct flight to St. Louis. This is one case
in point where Nancy is in another city and not in River Heights; therefore, no slapdash guess as to where she might be. Nevertheless, not to be passed-up are the clues that this flight must have taken some
time when it is stated that Nancy was impatient to arrive in St. Louis with the duration, --(seeing as some passengers even
had time to sleep,) but also allowed the sleuth enough time to take lunch in the planes galley! This only leaves us with a more than likely Ohio and a very possible New Jersey scenario yet again, since
Iowa City is too near to St. Louis to take that long of a stretch into account.
As is noted, there are excessive
improbabilities about the location of River Heights, if one attempts to accord times and distances, traveled by Nancy. The examples above obviously show that there is a marked pattern using indistinguishable
plot devices to determine times traveled in these series. At least all of our
cities have been touched in one way or another, showing a connection by means of various methods. Also, realize that these examples are not all inclusive of every single trip Nancy takes to other cities. Most striking is the round about way that all the authors of the Nancy Drew books
have kept River Heights somewhere in the Midwest, and reserved the fair city in a more central location to other true cities
In the last leg of our journey
to River Heights, we will look at a few of the books that seem to cause the booklover distress. In the final segment Where is River Heights, part 6 we will see how some of those books changed the setting
of River Heights all about and transport curious confusion as to the location of Nancys city!
We will also summarize the data presented here and tie up a few loose ends, and explicate which of our special cities
most match River Heights.
A special recognition to TheNancyDrewSleuths, on behalf of their remarkable assistance
and support, in locating and pointing out data, which has been very helpful in the preparation for this article!
A special gratitude expressly to Lea
Shangraw Fox for the utilization of her wonderful website Around the World with Nancy Drew www.nancydrewworld.com/ Copyright © 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Lea Shangraw Fox
(8.) Courtesy of the U. S. Centennial of Flight Commission www.centennialofflight.gov/essay/Commercial_Aviation/Jet_Era/Tran7.htm
Courtesy of NASA Ultra-Efficient Engine Technology (UEET)-Glenn Research Center
(10-11.) By Courtesy and used with permission, by Jenn Fisher. "The Nancy Drew Sleuth Unofficial Website" www.nancydrewsleuth.com/