Crow Creek Crossing (Cheyenne, WY)
General Grenville M. Dodge platted a site on July 5, 1867, in the Dakota Territory where the Union Pacific Railroad crossed Crow Creek. Dodge called this area Crow Creek Crossing. Others who were with Gen. Dodge decided to name the site Cheyenne after the Cheyenne Nation.
Montana City (Denver, CO)
Montana City was established in the summer of 1858 as a mining and supply settlement by a group of gold-seekers from Lawrence, Kansas. The Russell group from Georgia at the same time established a settlement named Auraria. That winter Montana City was abandoned and the group created the St. Charles townsite on the east bank of Cherry Creek. However, in November 1858, General William Larimer staked out a claim at the confluence of the South Platte River and Cherry Creek. This claim was across the creek from Auraria. He and others of the Denver City Land Company sold parcels of the land. They chose the name of their town to garner favor of the Kansas territorial governor, James W. Denver in hopes that their town would become the county seat of Arapaho County.
Little London (Colorado Springs, CO)
General William Jackson Palmer came to the area in 1870 from Pennsylvania. He envisioned the site as a resort area. A year later, he formed the Denver and Rio Grande Railroad and founded the city of Colorado Springs. Because of the number of visitors to the resorts who came from England, the city was nicknamed “Little London.”
Last Chance (Helena, MT)
The Four Georgians were a group of gold prospectors that opened the Last Chance Placer in 1864. They called it Last Chance because they had been prospecting in Montana without success and this was going to be their last attempt. Having been successful at finding gold, they saw the population grow to 200 by fall. A group of men met on October 20, 1864 to name the town and build a city. Tomah, Pumpkinville, Squashtown and Winona or Rochester, cities in Minnesota. John Summerville proposed Helena after Helena in Scott County, Minnesota.
Great Salt Lake City (Salt Lake City, UT)
Situated near the Great Salt Lake, when the site was organized as a city on January 6, 1851, it was called the City of the Great Salt Lake. When the territorial capital was moved from Fillmore to Salt Lake City in 1856, the name of the city was officially changed.
Stonewall (Phoenix, AZ)
Jack Swilling visited the area in 1867 and saw the vestiges of canals built by an earlier civilization. He believed that the land could be cultivated with the availability of water. He organized the Swilling Irrigation Canal Company and moved into the Salt River Valley. The company built canals and diverted water from the Salt River. In 1868, a small settlement had formed. It was first known as Swilling’s Mill, then Helling Mill and Mill City. As a former Confederate soldier, Swilling wanted to name the settlement Stonewall after the Confederate general, Stonewall Jackson. Darrell Duppa suggested the name Phoenix since he saw the new city raising from the ruins of a previous civilization. On May 4, 1868, Phoenix was organized.
San Augustin (Tucson, AZ)
The Spanish built a walled fortress on August 20, 1775, Presidio San Augustin de Tucson. Mexico gained independence from Spain in 1821 and the town was called Tucson and the small garrison was called Fort Tucson.
Lake's Crossing (Reno, NV)
Charles William Fuller came to the Truckee Meadows in 1859 and occupied land on the south bank of the Truckee River. He constructed a bridge and a small hotel. The site was known at Fuller’s Crossing. In 1861, he sold the bridge and hotel to Myron C. Lake, who renamed the area Lake’s Crossing and made the bridge a toll bridge. In 1868, the Central Pacific Railroad crossed the Sierra Nevada Mountains from California into the Truckee Meadows. By a joint agreement a town was laid out and was named Reno in honor of General Jesse Lee Reno.
New Helvetia (Sacramento, CA)
In 1808, Gabriel Moraga explored the area and saw a very large river that he named Rio de los Sacramentos. Johann (John) Augustus Sutter arrived in Alta California in August 1839 and was given land by the Mexican governor Juan Bautista Alvarado. He established a trading and farming colony and a stockade (Sutter’s Fort) in 1840 named Nueva Helvetia or New Helvetia (New Switzerland). With the discovery of gold at his mill in Coloma causing hundreds of prospectors and miners to arrive, his New Helvetia was ruined. The wharf that he built at the confluence of the American and Sacramento Rivers prospered. Sutter put his son, John, in charge of constructing a city at the wharf that he intended to be named Sutterville. The city instead was named after the larger of the two rivers. Flooding and fires were persistent problems. These were overcome and the city of Sacramento was selected at the state capital in 1854.
Encinal (Oakland, CA)
Luís María Peralta was given a land grant for his Rancho San Antonio by the Spanish government on August 3, 1820. The grant of 44,800 acres encompassed the current cities of San Leandro, Oakland, Alameda, Emeryville, Piedmont, Berkeley and Albany. An area of the ranch contained a “woodland of oak trees.” This part of the ranch was called encinal, which in Spanish mean “oakland.” The town of Oakland was incorporated on May 4, 1852.
Porciuncula (Los Angeles, CA)
El Pueblo de Nuestra Señora la Reina de Los Angeles de Porciúncula was founded September 4, 1781. This translates to The City of Our Lady the Queen of the Angels of Small Portion. Porciúncula is derived from the Italian word, porziuncola, which means very small parcel of land.
Fresno Station (Fresno, CA)
In the 1860s a few people settled in a cluster in this site but the area was not considered a town or a village. In 1872, the Central Pacific Railroad laid track through the San Joaquin Valley and called this cluster of dwellings Fresno Station from the name of the county. The railroad builders laid out a town by the station. Millerton, a town 25 miles south was the Fresno County Seat. The inhabitants voted to move the county seat and themselves to Fresno Station. Fresno was incorporated in 1885.
The Clearing (Portland, OR)
Traders and trappers who traveled between Oregon City and Vancouver in the 1830s and the early 1840s had found a small stopping place on the west bank of the Willamette River. They called it “The Clearing.” William Overton and Asa Lovejoy filed a 640-acre claim in 1843 that encompassed “The Clearing.” Lovejoy sold his half of the claim to Francis W. Pettygrove in 1845. Pettygrove wanted to name their new town after his home town of Portland, Maine.
Dewamps (Seattle, WA)
David Denny, John Low and Lee Terry were at the mouth of the Duwamish River in Washington on September 25, 1851 to scout the area. The remainder of the Denny party who had stayed in Portland arrived at Alki Beach (West Seattle) that November. The Denny party settled at Elliott Bay and called their village Dewamps or Duwamps. Dr. David S. Maynard by October 1852 convinced the others to call their village Seattle after the chief of that name. The Duwamish Indians (Duwamish.inhabited this area for generations. I haven’t found any proof but I wonder if Dewamps was not derived from
Daniel Geduld, the creator of the map, admits that he took some license when he selected some of the names he included on his map. In some cases, the original name and the current name are so similar that there was little challenge in recognizing it. However, reading the history of the city and something about the early settlers or explorers of the area was interesting.
If Mr. Geduld had included the full name for the city of Los Angeles on his map, the name would have covered all of Southern California. As a former resident of Los Angeles, I am not sure why he shortened the name to Porciuncula. No Angeleno uses that word to identify Los Angeles. LA is often called the City of the Angels or Our Lady Queen of the Angels.
Cahokia (St. Louis) was so interesting that I included a link on to one of the sources of the information I found about Cahokia. Finding source information about Dewamps (Seattle) was most difficult until I viewed a map of Washington and found the Duwamish River near Seattle.
If I listed the sources I used in writing this 4-part entry, I would need to add a fifth part. These are the types of resources I used for this article.
- Wikipedia and links to the sources used
- National Parks Service Website
- Historical Societies Websites
- Official and and City Websites
- Museum Websites
- Google Books