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