Oregon Trivia: Interesting Place Names
Do Little Flat
This area of Wheeler County gained its name because local homesteaders simply managed a minimum existence on the land to satisfy the federal law and gain a land patent that they would sell immediately to much larger ranchers in the area.
Dog Thief Point
Two men traveling along a military road in Clatsop County stopped for the night at the home of Joe Lynch. The next morning Lynch found his dog missing and gave chase. He later tracked down the "dognappers" at a lean-to camp in the area and reclaimed his animal.
Donner und Blitzen River
This Harney County waterway got its name in 1864 when troops crossed it during a thunderstorm. Donner und Blitzen are the German words for thunder and lightning.
While a challenging name for a town (with "going down the" references), this Douglas County community simply got its name from pioneer settler Charles Drain.
Dutch Oven Camp
This Lane County camp got its name after an accident on a fishing trip. A burro packed with supplies fell off a cliff to its death. A broken dutch oven sat amid the wreckage for years. Miraculously, a large container of whiskey was the only pack item to survive the crash unscathed.
Eight Dollar Mountain
Several stories attempt to account for the naming of this Josephine County peak. One said that a gold nugget worth eight dollars was found nearby. Another claimed that a man wore out a pair of eight dollar shoes walking around the base of the mountain. You decide.
This Columbia River feature in Multnomah County probably got its name from something unrelated to style. Instead, its name likely came from a river steamer named Fashion. The vessel, under a different name, sank on what is now known as Fashion Reef in 1852. It was raised the next year and renamed the Fashion.
This steep bluff in Douglas County apparently is named in relation to smokejumping paratroopers provided by the Army in World War II to combat forest fires that could have resulted from Japanese fire bombs. While fighting a lightning-caused fire, one person was killed and several were injured after they jumped into very dangerous terrain. The feature appears to be named for this incident.
Funny Bug Basin Spring
A Jerusalem Cricket, apparently a "funny bug," showed up at a picnic by the spring and later found its way into the name of this Grant County feature.
Ten summits in Oregon are called Gobblers Knob. While the specifics of each are unknown, a dictionary says that Gobblers Knob is an expression often referring to a backwater community or remote feature. All ten Oregon Gobblers Knobs indeed qualify as remote features.
Abner Robbins set up a store in this Harney County place in 1883 and called it Gouge Eye, apparently referring to a frontier method of settling disputes that had been used locally. Postal authorities took a dim view of the name and the community later became Drewsey.
One story claims that the name for this Benton County stream resulted from a local slaughterhouse dumping waste products into the creek. Not a swimmer's paradise by any definition.
One explanation of the name of this Gilliam County post office is that it had sticky soil also known as "gumbo." The term is derived from the African Congo expression for okra, which is used to thicken soups. The soil can be very difficult to traverse if it is wet.
This mountain on the Curry County coast probably got its name after an error caused an exploring party to become lost in 1851. This resulted in the name Tichenors Humbug apparently because the mistake was brought about by deceptive or false talk, or humbug. It later changed to Humbug Mountain.
This short-lived Gilliam County post office originally was intended in 1886 to have the name Ida after a relative of the first postmaster. A misspelling led to the name Idea. Apparently, Idea's time had not yet come since it closed a few years later.
Disappointing to some fans of animation, this Lane County railroad station was not named for the futuristic Hanna-Barbera cartoon family led by the bumbling patriarch George Jetson. Instead, it got its name from J.J. Jetson, a more earth-bound local property owner.
Johnny Cake Mountain
This flat-topped mountain in Grant County looked like...you guessed it, a stack of cakes to a local teenager named John Westfall in circa 1910 who replied to surveyors asking for a name. They apparently agreed and added his first name to Johnny Cake Mountain. Maybe he was hungry at the time.
This part of Douglas County was named after the nickname of an old Indian in the area with an injured leg that resulted in a limp.
This aptly named post office was located in Lake County's remote Warner Valley for a few years in the early 1890s.
The name of this Josephine County mine betrayed the gambling optimism of at least one of the miners working it in the 1800s. A Lucky Queen post office also operated for 20 years in the late 1800s.