What's In a Name


Seventy, or so, years ago, The Wyoming Game and Fish Department did a study, trying to identify all bodies of water in the state. They found 38 Spring Creeks, 30 Cottonwood Creeks, 29 Beaver Creeks, 25 Bear Creeks, 23 Dry Creeks, 21 Horse Creeks, 18 Sand Creeks, 17 Sheep Creeks and 17 Lost Creeks. Makes me wonder if they didn’t have much imagination or if they only had a short book entitled, Best Names for Rivers and Streams, I would have named one after myself, Old Guy River, now that has a ring to it!

 How anyone found their way through the state, or all of the American West, before roads and railroads might be one of the great mysteries of American history. Hope they didn’t tell people to hurry along Spring Creek, turn left when they reached Sand Creek and follow it to Lost Creek, seems they could have ended up about anywhere in the state with directions like that. But the state did have some names for streams that were unusual enough to remember. Dry Donkey, Robbers Gulch, and Nameit are my favorites.

But then again we name towns mostly after people, or maybe people named towns after themselves. Guess that’s why we have towns like Bill, Aladdin, Patrick, Elwood, Merna, and Rosie’s Ridge in Wyoming.

Oh, we also have Jackass Pass up in Fremont and Sublette County, (yep, named after explorer John C. Fremont and trapper William Sublette) but that is another story for another time. Early trappers said the ancient Indian trail was so steep that only a Jackass could make its way on it.
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