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Upside Down Under

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


What do the names mean?...

Posted 5/10/16 (Tue)

If you think the name of your community is lame or weird, you might want to stop complaining. We found some really odd place names and would like to list them for you to show you that the name of your community isn’t so unusual after all.

Medicine Hat is a city of 65,000 in southeastern Alberta. It’s name is derived from a Blackfoot word for the eagle feather headdress worn by medicine men.

Dixville Notch, N.H., is best known for being the first place to cast ballots in an election. It is named for Dixville Pass on the nearby White Mountains.

Coober Pedy is a community in South Australia, near Adelaide, that is known as the opal capital of the world. It is named for an aboriginal term “kupa-piti,” which mean’s boy’s watering hole.

Moose Jaw, in Saskatchewan, is Minot’s sister city. There are three theories on how it got its name, but the most credible came from a Cree name meaning “a warm place by the river.”

Kotzebue, Alaska got its name from the Kotzebue Sound which was named for the German explorer named Otto Von Kotzebue.

Slippery Rock: In Colonial times, Soldiers were being chased by the Seneca Indians. They had boots and were able to cross a creek. The Indians had moccasins and slipped on the rocks in the creek bed near this Pennsylvania community.

Swastika, Ontario was named after the Swastika Gold Mine in 1907, but records don’t indicate how the gold mine got its name, 32 years before Adolph Hitler made it an evil symbol of Germany.

Cannonball is a small town on the Standing Rock Reservation, directly west of Hazelton. It got its name from sandstone spheres that are dotted all around the area.

St. Pete Beach is a community on Florida’s gulf coast immediately south of St. Petersburg. It was once part of St. Petersburg, but in 1956, broke away to form its own community, using the St. Pete reference to declare itself unique from St. Petersburg proper.

If you like insects, you would like Grasshopper Junction, Ariz. There isn’t a solid reason why it is named as it is, but we can only imagine a serious problem with grasshoppers around the founding of this unincorporated community.

Resolute, in Canada’s far north, is named after the British ship HMS Resolute, which docked in its bay in 1850. It also has an Inuit name, Qausuittuq, which means “place with no dawn.”

Anaconda, Mont., has nothing to do with snakes. It was named after a company that worked in nearby copper mines from 1910-20.

Idiotville, Ore., is a ghost town now, but at one time there was a logging camp nearby and the loggers said the place was so remote, only an idiot would work there.

Much like Anaconda, Bread Loaf, Vermont has nothing to do with baking. Instead, it is named after nearby Bread Loaf Mountain that kind of looks like a loaf of bread. It is also the place where the Middlebury College’s Bread Loaf College of English holds an annual writer’s conference.

Founded in 1791, the reason for the name Malignant Cove, Nova Scotia, has been lost over the years. People today say it might have something to do with the nearby Antigonish Diocese.

Jackson Hole, Wyo., is named after Davey Jackson, a trapper in the area in the 1800s. “Hole” was a term of the day to describe a high mountain valley.

In 1818, fur traders from the Northwest Company, bartered with the Walla Walla Indians in the area that became Walla Walla, in the southeastern corner of Washington.

Shortly after the Civil War the postmaster general wrote about a hamlet in Missouri looking for a name. “My conclusion is that in all the land it would be difficult to imagine a more distinctive, a more peculiar name than Peculiar.’

You’d think that Hoppers Crossing, Australia would be named after kangaroos, but that’s not the case. It was named for the Hopper family that lived on a farm that was near a rail crossing. It is now a suburb of Melbourne.

The name Yellowknife comes from a Dene Inuit band, the Yellowknives, now long gone, who once lived on the islands in the East Arm of Great Slave Lake and carried knives with yellow copper blades. Yellowknife is a territorial capital city in Canada’s far north.

Osk Kosh, Wis., was named for a Menominee chief Osk Kosh, whose name meant claw.

Once called Hot Springs, Truth or Consequences, N.M., got its name from Ralph Edwards, host of the popular game show, who called for any town in the U.S. to rename to celebrate the show’s 10th anniversary.