Oregon Trivia: Interesting Place Names
Most of the following information is derived from Oregon Geographic Names, 7th Edition, by Lewis A. McArthur, Revised and enlarged by Lewis L. McArthur, Published by Oregon Historical Society Press, 2003.
This locality and post office in Jackson County was named for the deposits of fireproofing material found nearby.
This Jefferson County area got its name from the broken axe handle that local wood haulers found near a water hole.
This Lane County rock derived its name from an Indian legend about animals that left the footprints of a baby.
This Wasco County area got its name in the 1800s after a trader started from The Dalles with a pack train of flour for gold miners in Canyon City. Along the way, Indians drove off his horses but the trader made the best of it by constructing a rough clay and rock bake oven that he used to make bread to sell to miners heading to the gold country.
One story says that this Marion County mountain was named after a brand of chewing tobacco popular in the 1890s that an old woodsman chewed in great quantities while exploring the area.
Beggars Tick Wildlife Refuge
This Multnomah County wetland is named for a native plant species commonly called the tickseed or sticktight.
Big Noise Creek
This Clatsop County stream is named because of a loud sluice gate that was used to control water for floating logs.
Bloody Run Creek
By one account, this Josephine County stream was named because of a skirmish in the 1850s Rogue River Indian War. A white man stooped over a stream to get a drink and was shot, leaving blood running in the creek.
Boo Boo Lake
This Lane County lake was stocked with trout accidentally, thus creating a "boo boo" that resulted in the name.
Bruces Bones Creek
Bruce Schilling was working on a 1950s road survey crew in Curry County when he got lost in heavy brush. One of his fellow survey workers remarked that "they would find Bruce's parched bones next spring." The comment stuck and became the name of the creek.
This descriptive name was derived from a military camp in Coos County where soldiers and sailors managed to get ashore from a shipwreck in 1852. It was used for about four months before the men made their way to Port Orford after considerable adventure.
After postal and railroad officials balked at other proposed names, local residents of this Lane County place settled on the name Canary even though it had absolutely no local significance.
The derivation of the name of this Lincoln County peak is mysterious. One unsupported story claims that during a snowstorm a pioneer trapper ate his Indian wife to avoid starvation.
It's likely that the name of this Douglas County stream is a mutation of the name of a local settler, Joseph Champaign. The more elegant champagne version conjures up visions of bubbly wine flowing downstream.
Chicken Whistle Creek
A local described this small Lane County stream as "nearly as big as a chicken whistle," a real or fanciful musical instrument.
This Deschutes County butte was said to be shaped like a hat worn by Chinese in 1800s Oregon.
This Coos County station on the Southern Pacific Coos Bay Line got its name during World War II because of nearby chome mining and processing.
A coffee pot fell off a pioneer wagon and was run over by a wheel and smashed leaving the name of this Lane County stream.
In the 1880s a hunter in Wallowa County looked down into a canyon and saw a man who was acting "as if demented, cavorting and jumping about." It turned out that the antics came because the man was so surprised at seeing another man in the apparently isolated area.
This Wallowa County stream was named after the "curious" branch of an alder tree. Apparently, the branch looked like a jug handle because it grew back into the tree.
Most of the pioneer gold miners in this Josephine County place must have shared the same political views.
This Hood River County geologic feature got its name in relation to the nearby Preachers Peak. A remark was made that "if the preacher was there, the Devil wouldn't be far away."
Dipping Vat Creek
Crook County shares the name of this stream with others in eastern Oregon after a 1907 law set the requirement that sheep be dipped annually in huge vats of chemicals to combat diseases. Large flocks with thousands of sheep required lots of water for the process and hence the connection with streams.