Kenmare ND - Upside Down Under

Real People. Real Jobs. Real Adventures.

Upside Down Under

By Marvin Baker, a new weekly column in The Kenmare News


From Grafton to Grafton

Posted 4/25/17 (Tue)

Have you ever thought about two or more places that have the same name?

As many of us know, Aberdeen is the third-largest city in South Dakota. There is an Aberdeen in Washington and the most famous Aberdeen is in Scotland.

When I was a kid, comparing communities was a big thing. There are 10 communities called Hazelton in the United States.

They were all small towns, like Hazelton, N.D., population 235, but then we discovered the village of Hazelton, British Columbia, population 270.

Not a big deal, except there is also a Grand Forks in British Columbia. It just seemed like more than a coincidence.

There were numerous people in Hazelton who made contact with people in Hazleton, Penn., thinking that we are twins. The only thing is the Pennsylvania version is spelled different and has 24,000 people.

The fad got to a point where the local Farmers Union Oil Co., put its name, its phone number and “Hazleton” on the doors of its rolling stock. It didn’t take long for patrons to start complaining about the name spelled wrong.

That kind of ended the connection from one Hazelton to the other Hazleton.

Readers of The Kenmare News are well aware there is a Kenmare in Ireland. In fact, that community also has a newspaper called the Kenmare News, but it’s a monthly rather than a weekly like North Dakota’s Kenmare News.

A year ago some of us found out there’s another Kenmare, in Australia, but what once was a thriving little town, is nothing more now than some glorified farms.

Langdon is another interesting name for a community. There are 12 communities in the United States with the name Langdon, the most prominent being North Dakota, New Hampshire and Kansas.

Langdon is also noted in Alberta, basically a suburb of Calgary and we find the name twice in the United Kingdom, once in New Zealand and once in South Africa as well as Australia.

Langdon, North Dakota and Langdon, Alberta, are both named after Robert Bruce Langdon, a Canadian Pacific Railway man.

Grafton is another common community name throughout the United States, and perhaps, the rest of the world.

There are 37 communities throughout the world called Grafton and as we know, one of them is in northeastern North Dakota.

Seventeen of them are in the United States, 13 are in England,  three in Canada, one in Australia, one in New Zealand, and get this, one in Sierra Leone.

I’ve had the distinct privilege of visiting Grafton, New South Wales in Australia, which has a population of 18,000 as opposed to 3,500 in Grafton, North Dakota.

Grafton is home to the Jacaranda Festival, the oldest floral festival and the first folk festival in Australia.

Jacaranda is a flowering plant that grows all over the place in the Grafton area.

Unfortunately, I missed the Jacaranda Festival by about two months, but nonetheless, learned a lot about Grafton, New South Wales.

Since I know people in Grafton, North Dakota, I got this idea while in Grafton, NSW; send postcards from Grafton to Grafton.

So I did. I sent postcards to people I know in Grafton, N.D. just to say hi and let them know I was in Grafton...?

It’s interesting, but most place names aren’t unique. There are typically more than one or two places with the same name somewhere in the world.

With that said, you can look up just about any community and see for yourself: Lisbon, N.D., Lisbon, Portugal; Munich, N.D., Munich, Germany; Portland, N.D., Portland, Maine, Portland, Ore.; Strasburg, N.D., Strasbourg, France; Devils Lake, N.D., Devil’s Lake, Mich.; Jamestown, N.D., Jamestown, Va.

There are a lot of these place names that can be compared for similarities and it can be a lot of fun to visit more than one community with the same name.

In fact, Grafton, N.D., is much different than Grafton, NSW because of the size of the communities, the surrounding countryside and what people do to make a living.

If you ever get bored, this is something that could keep you busy for a long time.

After finding out about Kenmare, Australia, with the help of the local newspaper there, I interviewed a farmer named Peter Moyle. We still keep in contact.