snopes.com  

Go Back   snopes.com > Urban Legends > Language

Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
  #1  
Old 22 October 2017, 02:00 AM
ejmeier ejmeier is offline
 
 
Join Date: 17 July 2016
Location: Toledo, OH
Posts: 45
Default Legends on how places in your area got named

Is there any legends on how the city you live in or near where you live got its name? Is there any roads that have weird names and even weirder reasons for being named that?
There is a road near where I live that is named Devils Hole Rd. I kind of wondered why it was called that. From what I saw, during the War of 1812, General (later president) William Henry Harrison was marching troops from Sandusky to Perrysburg. There was only one problem, a swamp. How was he going to get through? He sent some scouts out. They got lost for a period of time, but were eventually able to get back to where the General was. General Harrison asked where they had been. The scouts said that they had been in the devil's hole.
http://www.ghostsource.com/hauntings...ampofsatan.php

What are the legends from your area?
Reply With Quote
  #2  
Old 22 October 2017, 04:40 PM
UEL's Avatar
UEL UEL is offline
 
Join Date: 01 August 2004
Location: Fredericton, Canada
Posts: 9,259
Baseball

Good question.

There are plenty of legends around here. New Brunswick has almost 4 hundred years of history so there are decades upon decades to build the stories.

Saint John is so named, supposedly, because Champlain sailed into they bay on St Jean Baptiste day. This one could be true. I can't find it from a reliable source.

Even Canada's name has a bit of legend about it. The French explorers allegedly asked the Algonquin people when they arrived where they were. The Algonquin replied "Kanata" meaning "the village". The explorers thought they were referring to the land. Thus, we ended up with a country named the village.

I'll revisit this thread when I have more time.
Reply With Quote
  #3  
Old 22 October 2017, 10:12 PM
WildaBeast's Avatar
WildaBeast WildaBeast is offline
 
Join Date: 18 July 2002
Location: Folsom, CA
Posts: 15,594
Default

I grew up in a tiny community in North Carolina called Mount Mourne. The myth I heard when I was a kid was that the name came from the slaves at a plantation in the area mourning the stuff that was done to slaves back then. The actual origin is much more mundane; it was named for a mountain of the same name in Ireland.

Here in California, Drake's Bay is named for Sir Francis Drake, because supposedly he landed there in 1579. Although it's considered one of the most likely spots, no one really knows exactly where he landed.

There are some small places in California that have some interesting names, like Cool, Rescue, and Fair Play. They probably have some interesting stories behind their names, but I don't know what they are. But if anyone knows I would be interested to hear them. I'd heard that Rescue was named because someone was literally rescued there, but I don't know the details of the story.
Reply With Quote
  #4  
Old 22 October 2017, 11:33 PM
thorny locust's Avatar
thorny locust thorny locust is offline
 
Join Date: 27 April 2007
Location: Upstate NY
Posts: 9,388
Default

The village of Penn Yan, New York is said to have taken its name from having been settled by people from Pennsylvania and people from what was then claimed*by Connecticut but is now part of New York, who were called Yankees (a word which at various times and places has covered quite a few additional people, but at the time AIUI was applied pretty much to people from New York and New England.)

This wasn't all that long after the Pennamite–Yankee Wars; so basically the same town was being settled by two groups of people often considered to be hostile to each other, but who in this case wanted to live together amicably. The name's supposed to have been chosen to indicate this.

I'm not sure whether that last part is true; but I like the story.
Reply With Quote
  #5  
Old 23 October 2017, 02:53 AM
ganzfeld's Avatar
ganzfeld ganzfeld is offline
 
Join Date: 05 September 2005
Location: Kyoto, Japan
Posts: 23,603
Japan

You'd think with such a rich and ancient history there would be some stories but, looking at names around town, it's very literal for the most part. The city's name just means capital city, which it was for many centuries. The names of the streets and towns are numbered or named after what used to be sold there. The interesting names probably have cool stories but they are mostly lost to time. There's Karasuma, which I would take to mean crow-circle or bird-wheel or something that sounds like a neat story but no one really knows why. Uzumasa is a nice name but the most common legend of its origin is not extremely fascinating: In the fifth century a learned man brought many technologies, etc, to Kyoto from the Korean peninsula. Arashiyama is storm mountain but none of its origin stories involve any stormy legends.

There was once a place called skull town - Dokuro-cho. That's was said to be the place where they would leave skulls to the scavengers rather than let them fill up the river (Kamogawa - duck river, probably because, well, ducks, although by way of something slightly more interesting - not really). For better or worse, over a hundred years ago, it's name was changed to Rokuro-cho (pottery wheel town) because, well, I guess they wanted tourists to come there for something other than overcoming the spooky name. It's a rather believable if macabre origins story and the only one that comes to mind from the OP.
Reply With Quote
  #6  
Old 23 October 2017, 11:06 AM
Richard W's Avatar
Richard W Richard W is offline
 
Join Date: 19 February 2000
Location: High Wycombe, UK
Posts: 26,206
Default

I like this question too, and there must be loads of good ones in the UK, but I can't think of any that spring to mind round here.

We do have a false etymology for the name of the river (Wye) - it's a back-formation from the early 19th century because map-makers naturally took "Wycombe" to mean "wooded valley (combe) of the Wye". (This isn't uncommon for rivers - the Cam in Cambridge is a back-formation from the name of the town too; the river was originally the Granta). But it actually derives from "Wiecumun" which was first recorded in 970 and means either "place at the settlements" (according to the Oxford Dictionary of English Place-Names) or "place in the valley with the stream" (according to a local history of High Wycombe). I prefer the ODEPN's etymology because it explains that "wicum" is a plural form of "wic". It's in the Domesday Book as "Wicumbe". (60 ploughs, 6 mills and 500 pigs apparently). The river had no recorded name before an 1810 map.

That's probably a bit more academic than you meant, though...!
Reply With Quote
  #7  
Old 23 October 2017, 11:25 AM
Richard W's Avatar
Richard W Richard W is offline
 
Join Date: 19 February 2000
Location: High Wycombe, UK
Posts: 26,206
Default

D'oh! How could I overlook the Hellfire Caves in West Wycombe?

They're actually a chalk-mine that was dug out around 1750 on the orders of Sir Francis Dashwood, to supply chalk for a road-building programme that was set up to provide employment. But rather than digging a straightforward mine or quarry, he had them dig out a series of tunnels and chambers that are supposedly laid out with occult significance. They have a chamber in the middle with tunnels surrounding it, and at the far end there's a "river" (more of a trench full of water really) symbolising the Styx with an altar beyond it.

He and his "Hell-fire club" used to have mysterious gatherings down there, with all sorts of supposed occult and satanic overtones. Nobody really knows what they got up to, other than that it involved lots of wine and "loose women". Benjamin Franklin may have gone along to one or two of them. Apparently the big hollow golden globe on the top of the nearby church was also used for similar purposes at times, although those would have to have been more exclusive "parties" as there's not room in there for more than four people, and even that would be tight.

The club was called The Knights of St Francis, or the Medmenham Friars - a Hell-fire club is the generic name for this sort of organisation from the 18th Century, but these days it tends to be used as the specific name because this one is the most famous. So in that sense, the name of the caves is based on the more lurid end of the speculation, and the legends about what went on are probably more interesting than the reality. (Although we don't know, of course).

There's a lot more on the history in the link above, which you might be interested in. They're worth a look round if you're in the area, although it's a bit cheesy, with plastic skeletons and witches and so on stuck around the place to amuse children. I find it a bit ironic that they've managed to turn it into a child-friendly family outing, given what probably went on in there!
Reply With Quote
  #8  
Old 23 October 2017, 02:22 PM
Seaboe Muffinchucker's Avatar
Seaboe Muffinchucker Seaboe Muffinchucker is offline
 
Join Date: 30 June 2005
Location: Seattle, WA
Posts: 18,643
Glasses

Nice boring explanation for an interesting name. The Bel-Red road is named that because it goes from Bellevue to Redmond.

I loved the name Sedro-Wooley when I was growing up, only to be disappointed to discover that it came about because two towns grew together. Sedro was a misspelling of Cedar, and Wooley was the town founder. Thus Sedro-Wooley.

Seaboe
Reply With Quote
  #9  
Old 23 October 2017, 02:51 PM
ejmeier ejmeier is offline
 
 
Join Date: 17 July 2016
Location: Toledo, OH
Posts: 45
Default

@Seaboe- there are a few roads that have similar names like that where I live. There is the Providence Neapolis Swanton Rd, the Holland- Sylvania, the Holland- Perrysburg, and probably others.
And a lot of places (cities, rivers, roads) in my area are bad translations of Native American words, and maybe some French words. Like supposedly how the Maumee River was named. When I was little, there was a story of how Maumee got its name. A Native American boy had somehow fallen into the river, and as he was falling, he was yelling “mommy”. And somehow that ended up being turned into Maumee. I know this story is not true (or most likely not true). From what I have read, Maumee is the anglicized word that the Ottawa tribe had for the Miami tribe that use to live in this area.
Reply With Quote
  #10  
Old 23 October 2017, 03:27 PM
dfresh dfresh is offline
 
Join Date: 11 November 2005
Location: Oxford, PA
Posts: 4,208
Default

The best name around here is the Murderkill River. The legend is that a group of early settlers were killed by the natives there. The truth is that Murder is from the Dutch for either mother (moeder) or muddy (modder) and Kill is from the Dutch for stream, so it was Mother (or Muddy) River, and then got River added on when the British took over.
Reply With Quote
  #11  
Old 23 October 2017, 04:25 PM
Beachlife!'s Avatar
Beachlife! Beachlife! is offline
 
Join Date: 22 June 2001
Location: Lansing, MI
Posts: 28,534
Default

There's a town out near Detroit, Novi. The story goes that it used to be the sixth stop on a train line leading from the city, so it was listed as No VI. From all the 'research' I have done this appears to be true.
Reply With Quote
  #12  
Old 23 October 2017, 04:55 PM
WildaBeast's Avatar
WildaBeast WildaBeast is offline
 
Join Date: 18 July 2002
Location: Folsom, CA
Posts: 15,594
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by WildaBeast View Post
There are some small places in California that have some interesting names, like Cool, Rescue, and Fair Play. They probably have some interesting stories behind their names, but I don't know what they are. But if anyone knows I would be interested to hear them. I'd heard that Rescue was named because someone was literally rescued there, but I don't know the details of the story.
Here's what Wikipedia has to say about Rescue and Cool:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rescue,_California

Quote:
The town of Rescue[2] was established in 1895. The story goes that Andrew Hare was "rescued" from poverty by his mining, and named the town Rescue.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cool,_California

Quote:
There is no clear record of how the town came to be called Cool. Some locals believe that a beatnik named Todd Hausman coined the name in early 1947 on a cross country road trip, and appended it to the town. However, some local historians claim that the town was named during the days of the Gold Rush after a man named Aaron Cool, though no records exist about him.
I couldn't find anything about how Fair Play got its name, although some pages about it are blocked at work.

Last edited by WildaBeast; 23 October 2017 at 05:02 PM.
Reply With Quote
  #13  
Old 23 October 2017, 05:15 PM
Brad from Georgia's Avatar
Brad from Georgia Brad from Georgia is offline
 
Join Date: 21 June 2000
Location: Snellvile, GA
Posts: 13,171
Default

We have a Ball Ground, supposedly because the Cherokees played a form of stickball there, and a Plum Nelly, because it's plum out of Tennessee and "nelly" out of Georgia.

My favorite name origin tale, though, was told by Tim Conway about his home town, Chagrin Falls, Ohio. Two Native Americans were paddling a canoe along an unfamiliar river, and then they realized they were trapped in a current that would sweep them over a waterfall. The one in the bow looked back at the other one and said, "I don't know about you, but man, I am chagrined!"
Reply With Quote
  #14  
Old 23 October 2017, 05:23 PM
Lainie's Avatar
Lainie Lainie is offline
 
Join Date: 29 August 2005
Location: Suburban Columbus, OH
Posts: 74,430
Default

I'd forgotten that one. Unhijackably, Chagrin Falls is a very pretty little town, and I recommend Conway's memoir, if you haven't already read it.

I can't think of any legends about place names anywhere I've lived. Maybe I'm forgetting something. My hometown has the same name as a county in England, and people often think that's what it's named for; in fact, it was (re)named for an eminent resident of the town, in gratitude for his successful efforts to get the railroad to run through town.
Reply With Quote
  #15  
Old 23 October 2017, 05:41 PM
WildaBeast's Avatar
WildaBeast WildaBeast is offline
 
Join Date: 18 July 2002
Location: Folsom, CA
Posts: 15,594
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Brad from Georgia View Post
We have a Ball Ground, supposedly because the Cherokees played a form of stickball there,
Similarly, La Crosse, Wisconsin apparently got its name because the Native Americans played that game there.
Reply With Quote
  #16  
Old 23 October 2017, 06:21 PM
UEL's Avatar
UEL UEL is offline
 
Join Date: 01 August 2004
Location: Fredericton, Canada
Posts: 9,259
Baseball

There is one down by where I volunteer with a youth group. It is called Devil's Back Hill.

There are four stories about how it achieved that name:

1. Hill is so steep that it would break the Devil's Back to climb it.
2. It is a very Christian area, and the first automobiles were not very welcome by the communities along the river. First car to try to climb the horse track trail broke. So the Devil's car broke its back.
3. Some claim that if you look at the hill from just the right spot, the road climbing the hill looks like the spine on a sleeping Devil's Back.
4. In the old days, to do some sort of penance, people used to carry a cross up the hill, to get the Devil off their back.

Google Maps, unfortunately, does not call it that. They call the whole area Greenwich Hill. Greenwich Hill is just to the south of the Devil's Back.

https://www.google.ca/maps/@45.44984...1645004,15.35z

But the provincial topographic maps have it so named. I'll get a photo of that later.
Reply With Quote
  #17  
Old 23 October 2017, 07:01 PM
thorny locust's Avatar
thorny locust thorny locust is offline
 
Join Date: 27 April 2007
Location: Upstate NY
Posts: 9,388
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by dfresh View Post
The best name around here is the Murderkill River. The legend is that a group of early settlers were killed by the natives there. The truth is that Murder is from the Dutch for either mother (moeder) or muddy (modder) and Kill is from the Dutch for stream, so it was Mother (or Muddy) River, and then got River added on when the British took over.
A while back, there was a commotion being made about the name Fishkill, New York, by people apparently under the impression that the name had to do with killing fish. While I'm sure that over the years people did kill some of the fish from the relevant creek, the name dates back to the Dutch, and means only 'there's a stream here with fish in it'.

-- the aforementioned Penn Yan has a street (as do some other places) named Maiden Lane. Maiden Lane is, um, very narrow. I strongly suspect that people in the 1800's weren't as shy of making sexual references as many modern people think they were.
Reply With Quote
  #18  
Old 23 October 2017, 07:52 PM
Lainie's Avatar
Lainie Lainie is offline
 
Join Date: 29 August 2005
Location: Suburban Columbus, OH
Posts: 74,430
Default

There are "kill" names like that all over eastern NY, aren't there? I remember seeing them on the way to visit my FIL, who lived near Saratoga Springs.
Reply With Quote
  #19  
Old 24 October 2017, 02:12 PM
ChasFink's Avatar
ChasFink ChasFink is offline
 
Join Date: 09 December 2015
Location: Mineola, NY
Posts: 840
Dog

There's a small park I know that the locals call "Spooky Park" - not the real name, but everyone calls it that. It IS spooky, and has several Addams-Family-esque Victorian houses nearby. One local legend, however, says the name comes from a dog called Spooky, who liked to hang out there.
Reply With Quote
  #20  
Old 24 October 2017, 02:17 PM
Seaboe Muffinchucker's Avatar
Seaboe Muffinchucker Seaboe Muffinchucker is offline
 
Join Date: 30 June 2005
Location: Seattle, WA
Posts: 18,643
Glasses

Once upon a time, in Stockholm's Gamla Stan (Old Town), there was a street whose name translated to "skinny stair street" because it was, well, skinny (you could touch both sides with your outstretched arms) and had stairs.

There's also a street there named Svartsmangata (I've probably mangled the spelling) which means Black Man Street. Named for the monks whose monastery was nearby.

Seaboe
Reply With Quote
Reply

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is On

Forum Jump

Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Selfies at Serious Places Little Pink Pill Fun House 13 24 July 2014 02:00 PM
Are there places more British than the UK? Andrew of Ware Social Studies 78 19 March 2013 02:13 PM
Facebook Places snopes Inboxer Rebellion 15 03 September 2010 08:45 AM
Some area legends live longer than others snopes Urban Legends 1 16 June 2010 08:15 PM
Most haunted places revealed snopes Spook Central 0 10 May 2008 04:25 AM


All times are GMT. The time now is 01:12 PM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7
Copyright ©2000 - 2018, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.