What’s in a name?

  • Random Factor/ cc via flickr
  • Sign in Utah.

    Dan Sorenson
  • Random Factor/ cc via flickr
 

The West of yore must have been a miserable, filthy place, with lonesome settlers teetering precariously atop a stack of long odds. Or so you might conclude after surfing the U.S. Geological Survey's database of place and landform names. The region certainly has a corner on Disappointments, with 46 of the nation's 53 references falling in the 11 Western states and Alaska. And we have just a third of the 903 places dubbed Happy, despite all the Sheep we possess - over 1,500 out of the total 1,943. Unfortunately, counting sheep helps insomnia, not low spirits, and this land is harsh: Over 2,800 Western place names contain the word Dry, while 1,343 others are Lost. And Death lies around every corner, literally, with 122 of 159 falling here (Starve to Death, Froze to Death, Death Valley). Skulls and Bones are rampant (193 out of 293 and 212 out of 577 respectively), as are Rifles (61 of 135) and Knifes (72 of 136; 22 of the Butcher variety). Not surprising then, that we also have all five Cannibals (plenty of company for Hinsdale County, Colo.'s infamous Alferd Packer). Or that Devils (969 of 1,856) haunt the landscape as though this were Hell itself (571 of 987). To top it off, the West is pretty Dirty, with 60 of 88 so-named spots, perhaps explaining our unusual preoccupation with Bathtubs (39 of 46). Amid all this gloom, where does one turn for solace? To lecherous thoughts, of course (86 of 99 Nipples can be found here, often attached to a Molly or Nellie or Clara), and also, even more enthusiastically, to Whiskey (339 of 476). But such comforts are fleeting when you're at the mercy of Chance (with 359 of 558 references), and though sometimes it's First Chance or Lucky Chance or Fighting Chance, usually it's Last Chance. Maybe it's no coincidence that Oregon and Washington have six features named  Jump Off Joe.

Data Source: The USGS Geographic Names Information System

High Country News Classifieds
  • ELLIE SAYS IT'S SAFE! A GUIDE DOG'S JOURNEY THROUGH LIFE
    by Don Hagedorn. A story of how lives of the visually impaired are improved through the love and courage of guide dogs. Available on Amazon.
  • COMING TO TUCSON?
    Popular vacation house, furnished, 2 bed/1 bath, yard, dog-friendly. Lee at [email protected] or 520-791-9246.
  • NORTHEASTERN UNIVERSITY
    All positions available: Sales Representative, Accountant and Administrative Assistant. As part of our expansion program, our University is looking for part time work from home...
  • COMMUNICATIONS ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR
    Position Title: Communications Associate Director Location: Flexible within the Western U.S., Durango, CO preferred Position reports to: Senior Communications Director The Conservation Lands Foundation (CLF)...
  • HISTORIC HOTEL & CAFE
    For Sale, 600k, Centennial Wyoming, 6 suites plus 2 bed, 2 bath apartment. www.themountainviewhotel.com Make this your home or buy a turn key hotel [email protected]
  • MAJOR GIFTS OFFICER
    High Country News, an award-winning news organization covering the communities and environment of the Western United States, seeks a Major Gifts Officer to join our...
  • RUBY, ARIZONA CARETAKER
    S. Az ghost town seeking full-time caretaker. Contact [email protected] for details.
  • VICE PRESIDENT, LANDSCAPE CONSERVATION
    Basic Summary: The Vice President for Landscape Conservation is based in the Washington, D.C., headquarters and oversees Defenders' work to promote landscape-scale wildlife conservation, focusing...
  • BRISTOL BAY PROGRAM DIRECTOR
    Seeking a program director responsible for developing and implementing all aspects of the Alaska Chapter's priority strategy for conservation in the Bristol Bay region of...
  • EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
    The National Bighorn Sheep Center is looking for an Executive Director to take us forward into the new decade with continued strong leadership and vision:...
  • EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
    The Powder Basin Watershed Council, based in Baker City, Oregon, seeks a new Executive Director with a passion for rural communities, water, and working lands....
  • EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
    Powder River Basin Resource Council, a progressive non-profit conservation organization based in Sheridan, Wyoming, seeks an Executive Director, preferably with grassroots organizing experience, excellent communication...
  • ADOBE HOME
    Passive solar adobe home in high desert of central New Mexico. Located on a 10,000 acre cattle ranch.
  • EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
    Eastern Nevada Landscape Coalition, based in Ely, Nevada is looking for a new executive director to replace the long-time executive director who is retiring at...
  • STEVE HARRIS, EXPERIENCED PUBLIC LANDS/ENVIRONMENTAL ATTORNEY
    Comment Letters - Admin Appeals - Federal & State Litigation - FOIA -
  • LISA MACKEY PHOTOGRAPHY
    Fine Art Gicle Printing. Photo papers, fine art papers, canvas. Widths up to 44". Art printing by an artist.
  • LOG HOME IN THE GILA WILDERNESS
    Beautiful hand built log home in the heart of the Gila Wilderness on five acres. Please email for PDF of pictures and a full description.
  • SEEKING PROPERTY FOR BISON HERD
    Seeking additional properties for a herd of 1,000 AUM minimum. Interested in partnering with landowners looking to engage in commercial and/or conservation bison ranching. Location...
  • COPPER STAIN: ASARCO'S LEGACY IN EL PASO
    Tales from scores of ex-employees unearth the human costs of an economy that runs on copper.
  • EXPERT LAND STEWART
    Available for site conservator, property manager. View resume at http://skills.ojadigital.net.