Monthly Archives: January 2010

Noodle

Photo of the Highway near Noodle

Near Noodle. Photo by lolomattycakes on flickr

Noodle is a small town in Texas. Settled in 1882 by a shepherd named Anderson Criswell, Noodle, Texas grew and eventually had a Post Office, Store, blacksmith shop, garage, two churches, and a gin, (is that a bar? Let me know).

In Noodle, the children were taught that the name of the town came from a native scout who was looking for water. He found a dry creekbed just north of the townsite, and in his language Noodle meant dry, so Noodle, TX, translates to Dry, TX. We don’t know if he ever found any water.

Jonathan

Portrait Detail of Jonathan Swift

Detail of a portrait of Jonathan Swift by Charles Jervas

When I was writing about the name John I, not surprisingly, came across the name Jonathan. I had always thought that John and Jonathan came from the same root, but apparently they are actually quite different.

Jonathan, according to Wikipedia and BabyNamesWorld means “Gift of God” or “God has Given.” The English name Jonathan comes from the hebrew יְהוֹנָתָן/יוֹנָתָן‎, (Yonatan or Yəhonatan).

When I did a Google search for Jonathan, the first result for a person was Jonathan Swift, the writer of Gulliver’s Travels, (which I should finish reading).

Scuzzy Creek

When looking for information about Spuzzum, I ran across this photo of the sign for the Scuzzy Creek Forest Service Road in British Columbia.

The entrance to the Scuzzy Creek Forest Service Road

Photo by Robert Park

Scuzzy Creek is a creek in British Columbia that joins the Fraser River just upstream of Hell’s Gate. From some extensive Googling, and from its general location, it appears that Scuzzy Creek was panned for gold during the Fraser Canyon Gold Rush.

I have found two very different versions of the origins of the name Scuzzy Creek. This web page says that Scuzzy, (or the word it may come from, Scaucy – also the name of the Indian Reserve right beside Scuzzy Creek), means jump or jumping, so Scuzzy Creek is probably named after its waterfalls. However, it may also be that Scuzzy Creek was named after the sternwheeler Skuzzy, the first steamwheeler to successfully navigate through Hells Gate.

Update May 23, 2011: Jasmine asked for a map. This appears to be the mouth of Scuzzy Creek.

Chicken

The Welcome to Chicken sign, painted on the town's water tank.

Photo by J. Stephen Conn

You probably know what a chicken is, but did you know that there’s a town called Chicken in Alaska? The area was settled in the late 1800s by gold miners, and in 1902 a post office was established, so the town needed a name. The original plan was to call the town Ptarmigan, (after the bird that was plentiful in the area), but there were disagreements on how to spell it so the name Chicken was chosen instead.

In its heyday, there were around 400 people living in Chicken, but now the population is apparently as low as 6 during the winter months. Chicken was the home of Anne Hobbs Purdy, the author of the book Tisha. These days it appears that there is an annual music festival, Chickenstock in June.

Slapout

A photo of Slapout Service in Slapout, OK

Photo by John Curran. Slapout, OK.

There are at least two towns called Slapout in the United States, and it looks like they both got their name in pretty much the same way.

During the depression, highway three was built across Oklahoma. Where it passed his land, a fellow named Tom Lemons moved a chicken coop over to the highway and started a store. His sister worked in the store, and whenever the someone would come in looking for something that they didn’t have she would reply that they were “slap out” of the product. Despite Tom’s protestations, the name stuck, and the town became known as Slapout, Oklahoma.

Some other time, maybe about the same time but data is sketchy, there was a store called the Boys Store in a the community of Holtville, Alabama. If you went into the Boys Store and asked for something they were out of you would be told that they were “slap out of it.” Here too, the name stuck.

Two towns in the US, both with the same name, and the same story about how they got their name. Fascinating.

Lizard Lick

Photo by steevhead13 on flickr

Lizard Lick is a small town at a crossroads in North Carolina. Legend has it that in the 1800s there was a distillery near the crossroads. Near the still there was a fence, and lizards would come out by the thousands to catch the insects that fed on the discarded mash from the still. We’re not sure if the Lick part of the name comes from the word Liquor, (some people say the liquor store, which was not the officially-sanctioned government one, was called Lizard Liquor), or if it’s because it looked like the lizards were licking the insects, or if it’s because an old man who used to walk along the road were the fence was gave the lizards a lickin’ with his cane.

These days Lizard Lick is probably best known for having a fun name, and for Lizard Lick Towing & Recovery on the TV show All Worked Up. I also read somewhere that there used to be really great peanut brittle at the Town Hall, and maybe there still is.

Spuzzum

Alexandria Bridge in Spuzzum, BC

Photo by Janusz Leszczynski

I guy I know used to have a T-shirt that said “Where the heck is Spuzzum?” I think the lettering was done in brown velour. So, where is Spuzzum? What is Spuzzum? It is a small town in British Columbia, Canada, not far from the town of Hope.

So, what kind of a name is Spuzzum? Well, we’re not sure. We think that is’s a word in the language of one of the local First Nations, or at least a word in a very localized dialect of the language of one of the local First Nations. It either is a version of the word “spatsum,” which is the reed used to weave baskets in the area, or it means “little flat.”

Many years ago Spuzzum was a large-ish place. The railway goes through the town, and there used to be a ferry crossing the river there as well. Spuzzum is also on the Trans-Canada highway. Spuzzum is very small. I only drove through it once that I remember, sometime in the nineties. There was a sign saying that we were in Spuzzum, but I’m not sure if the gas station/general store/post office was still standing, (it burned down sometime in the nineties). The Spuzzum First Nation has its offices there, and there is a picturesque bridge there as well that appears to have once been part of the Trans-Canada, (now there’s a newer, larger, bridge).

La Tuque

The name of the town La Tuque, Québec is funny for Canadians because a Tuque is a very warm hat, so a town named after a hat is funny, (if you’ve ever heard of a place called “Top Hat” or something then let me know and I’ll write about it). So, there we have it, a town in Canada with a funny name.

But how did it get this name? According to Wikipedia, back in the day when we used canoes to get around these parts, there was, (maybe there still is), a portage there, and the coureurs des bois named the portage La Tuque because there was a mountain close by that looked like a tuque, (the hat). I have tried to find a photo of this tuque-shaped mountain to put here, but despite finding some photos of the La Tuque region, I’m not sure which one is the tuque. None of the mountains really look like tuques to me.

The town of La Tuque was created in 1911, so next year will be its centennial celebration, and they are planning already. There is a website up and an interesting photo album of life at the beginning of La Tuque.

Crapaud

Crapaud, (pronounced crap-o), is the French word for toad. It is also the name of a town in Prince Edward Island, Canada.

According to the Community Profile for the Municipality of Crapaud, (download from the PEI Government – PDF), the community was named in 1842 after a nearby river that is full of frogs, called, (at least at the time), Rivière aux Crapauds. In 1996 there were 378 people living in Crapaud, and from some Googling it appears that there is an Agricultural exhibition and Tractor Pull held there each year, (visit: http://www.crapaudexhibition.com).

Check out Crapaud on Google Maps.

John

Welcome to Fascinating Names, the website about names – not just names of people, but of places, things, and whatever else we might want to name. Since this is the first post ever on this site, I am going to start out with my name, which is fascinating to me, because it’s mine.

My name is John, which according to babynames.com, behindthename.com, Wikipedia, and the coaster that my mother sent me, means “God is Gracious.” It appears that John started out as יוֹחָנָן, (Yochanan), in Hebrew, which became Ιωαννης, (Ioannes), in Greek, which became lohannes in Latin, which finally became John in English.

Interestingly, John and Jonathan, although they’re similar and can both be abbreviated as Jon, are not the same name.

Some famous old-time Johns, (no, not like that), are John the Baptist, and the disciple John. Some new ones are John Lennon, (the he was the first result when I Googled “John” today), and John F. Kennedy.