Oregon Trivia: Interesting Place Names
This Jefferson County place and post office name probably was tied to the Oregon Trunk Railway running through the difficult Deschutes River Canyon. By making it to Mecca, railroad workers had built the line through the worst part of the canyon and reached one of their main objectives. In a larger sense, traveling to Mecca, Saudi Arabia is a main objective for adherents of the Islamic faith, thus the reference.
This cheerfully named post office operated in Lane County for 12 years beginning in 1898.
M & M Creek
This stream was not the site where someone accidentally dropped a bag of the delicious candy covered chocolate treats that "melt in your mouth, not in your hand." Instead, the Linn County feature got its name from the M & M Lumber Company that logged the area.
Rather than being a place populated with robed, tonsured men living in a monastery, this Sherman County community boasted several people hailing from Monkland, Ontario in Canada.
While people going to this Wasco County post office may have shifted quickly from happy to sad depending on the mail they got, the post office itself simply was named after Malcolm Moody, a prominent pioneer.
This beautiful peak in Union County is named in honor of Mrs. Fanny (actually Fannie) McDaniels, an early settler. No mention is made of whether or not the name is also honoring a particular part of her anatomy.
This Lake County pond is known for its less than pleasant appearance and odor.
This Clackamas County place was also known as Hardscrabble for "the unfortunate condition of some pioneer settlers who lived there."
Negro Ben Mountain
In a sign of the often racist terms used in naming places, this Jackson County peak was called Nigger Ben Mountain until the name was officially changed in 1964. It referred to a blacksmith who sharpened picks and other tools for miners in the area.
Nip and Tuck Lakes
These Klamath County lakes are named for two hunting dogs owned by a local hunting and fishing guide. Neither of the dogs was confirmed to have had any plastic surgery.
This Douglas County post office got its name to boast the claim to more blue sky than surrounding areas that presumably were stuck in the fog much of the time.
Old Maids Canyon
This Jefferson County area was named for a 1911 homesteader named Miss Cecily Beasley, "a woman of strong religious bent."
A saddle is the low part of a ridge between two higher points geographically. Peepover Saddle in Wallowa County got its name because it is very narrow and its summit is very sharp, thus one could "peep over" it.
This stream in Wallowa County earned its moniker when "Ed Maskin lost 400 sheep when they piled up coming down a steep hill to the creek."
Poker Bill Spring
A cowboy named William Tibbetts lost all of his money except a dollar in a Wallowa County poker game. Then while napping his last dollar fell out of his pocket and he was penniless. Luckily the coin was found and he was able to try to recoup his losses.
This Jackson County bluff is shaped like the hairdo of the Marquise de Pompadour or more recently Elvis Presley. It may have been named in the 1890s when Jim Corbett wore the style as heavyweight boxing champion.
This Polk County school has some intimidation in its past. In the 1870s a teacher who was small of stature with the unfortunate name of Napoleon Nelson was set upon by several of his demanding students, some of whom were larger than he. When he failed to produce the treat they wanted, "the boys took their teacher to the ravine behind the school and held him upside down over the creek. The unfortunate pedagogue capitulated and was set back on dry ground. He returned to the school and produced a bag of popping corn, which was duly popped and eaten." Students: don't get any bright ideas!
This Harney County place gained its name out of tragedy. An Army bomber on a 1945 training flight crashed into a rocky outcrop killing all 11 crew members. The engines and propellers were scattered in the meadows and the bulk of the wreckage was buried.
Two peculiar rocks rise up in the mountains of Douglas County, apparently mimicking their namesakes.
The story of this place could fill many books. This Wasco County city and commune was named for the Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh, a cult leader from India. In the early 1980s, his followers bought him dozens of Rolls Royce cars; took over the city of Antelope and changed its name to Rajneesh in 1984 (changed back the next year); and poisoned salad bars in The Dalles, leading to 750 sick people. The cult quickly fell apart under federal prosecution and Rajneesh died in 1990.
This Jackson County eminence or geographical rise apparently is named after a local resident with the surname of Roper. It also must have looked like a bunion to someone, but the record is mute on the specifics.
Sheet Iron Jack Creek
This stream in Wheeler County got its name from an early settler named Jack who built a nearby cabin covered with - any guesses? - sheet iron!
The loggers and mill workers in this Washington County community were big users of "snoose," a soft chewing tobacco. According to one source, they could not use pipes or cigars and instead resorted to the small, round can of chewing tobacco that fit easily into the hip pocket.
This Jackson County post office started in 1909 and closed in 1912, long before Hitler and the Nazis adopted the symbol for their fascist goals. The entirely benign use of it as a name of a post office was based on a local livestock brand.
This Clackamas County locality got its name from two men who built a rough shelter made of cedar shakes in the 1880s. The building was low-slung and had no windows, leading to their description of it as The Dungeon. The structure later disappeared but the area kept the name.
Three Fingered Jack
This notable peak in Jefferson and Linn counties got its name from a trapper who lived nearby. Logically, his name was Jack and he was missing two fingers.
This Washington County spot was named during the 1940s when timber was being salvaged after the devastating Tillamook Burn fires in the Coast Range. One of the more isolated timber camps got the name Timbuktu (a reference originally from the difficult to reach African city) because it was "way off in the back of the beyond."
Tom Dick & Harry Mountain
This ridge in Clackamas County forms a cirque that is now called Ski Bowl. The name apparently comes from the three distinct summits on the ridge, which presumably each get a name.
This remote Harney County post office got its name in 1908 because its first postmaster had an interest in electricity and thought that the nearby Donner und Blitzen River could provide enough "voltage" for all of the Harney Valley.
This Harney County area got its name from "female entrepreneurs" who would set up shop in this meadow to cater to the romantic needs of nearby men tending cattle and sheep. According to Oregon Geographic Names, the Bureau of Land Management issued a recreation map of the area in the 1960s and "in deference to the moralists, substituted a namby-pamby name, Naughty Girl Meadow." The change was later reversed and the old name was restored.