Monday, November 5, 2012


The Grand Canyon State.  The Copper State.  The Extremely Hot State.  The But-It’s-a-Dry-Heat State.

10. Ak-Chin

Ak-Chin is from the O'odham word meaning "mouth of the arroyo.”  Which is also a good description of how I feel the morning after too many bottles of red wine and cheap cigars.

Ak-Chin is a Native American community of 700-some people near Phoenix.  And, yes, they do have their own casino.

The iCandy Dancers, at Harah’s Ak-Chin Casino

9. Wikieup

“Wikieup” is Mojave Indian for “shelter” or “home.”  It’s got about 300 people.  Wikieup is famous for Snoopy Rock, which looks “unmistakably like the head of Charlie Brown's famous mutt,” according to the site.  

Ohmigod that’s scary!

8. Mexican Water

Formerly known as Montezuma’s Revenge, Mexican Water changed its name to appeal to the tourist crowds that had previously passed it by.  Unfortunately, that didn’t seem to work either.

The story on this one was that some Mexican dudes dug up some wells here once.  Exciting!  The town’s on a Navajo reservation, in the very northeast corner of the state, and has a population of 3,500.  

Googling “mexican water” brings up stuff like:
  • Water supply and sanitation in Mexico (Wikipedia)
  • Don't drink the water: staying healthy in Mexico
  • Pirates shoot U.S. man in Mexican waters (MSNBC)
  • Mexican Boy Falls in Water (YouTube)
  • Mexican water monster (Wikipedia)

The Mexican Water Monster, Ambystoma mexicanum

7. Cowlic

It is a weird thing to name you’re town after.  Even so, you’d think they could at least get the spelling right.

“Cowlic” is actually Tohono O’odham for “hill.”  Dang.  That’s kinda boring.

Cowlic is in the very southern part of the state.  Population: 135.

6. Many Farms

This is a direct translation from the Navajo Da”ak”e Halani.  For which, I am extremely glad.

Many Farms has a population over 1,500.  It’s in the northeast of the state, on a Navajo reservation (see #8).

But it's a dry heat

5. Happy Jack

Happy Jack was not named after a song by The Who.  Actually, the name comes from its originally being a logging camp.  A logging camp – you know, with lumber jacks.  Get it? 

Happy Jack’s got about 600 people, and is in the mountains just south of Flagstaff.

I have no idea

4. Show Low

There are a number of stories about the origin of this name, all having to do with a poker game.  My guess – totally unsubstantiated – is that it had to have been named after a local ranch or mine.  These are things individuals could name, and they could pretty much come up with whatever they want.  Towns usually involve some consensus, which means a little decorum, which means very few named after poker hands.

Compared to the rest of the towns here, Show Low is practically a metropolis, with a population of over 11,000.  “Famous” native sons include George Takei (Star Trek), Dan Dueblein (Beverly Hills, 90210), Doug Mathis (Texas Rangers and Chibba Lotte Marines), and Mike Furyk (golfer Jim Furyk’s dad).

How it all started (maybe)

3. Tuba City

Tuba Town, Brassburg, Horn Hamlet, The Villages at Tuba Green – the town fathers just couldn’t decide what to call their little burg.  So they named it after some Indian chief, some guy named Tuuvi.  And, heck, they couldn’t even be bothered to spell it right.

Tuba City’s another big-time player.  They’ve got almost 9,000 people, a history of uranium mining, and some dinosaur tracks.

By the way, Arizona also features a Horn and an Octave.

Local Tubans piping in the dawn.

2. Why

I dunno.

I do actually.  This one’s literally from a Y in the road.  Population: 116.  Location: southwest corner of the state. 

Why indeed?

1. Tombstone

Everyone’s heard of this one.  That said, it still is an absolute gem.  Can you think of any name more likely to scare off potential settlers?  Grim Reaper?  Cadaver?  Death?

There actually is a great story on this one.  Seems some prospector by the name of Ed Schieffelin was planning to scout out the area.  Commenting on the dangers of the locale, one of his buddies told him the only thing he would find there would be his own tombstone.  After Schieffelin struck it rich, he waggishly named his mine “Tombstone.”

Yup, Tombstone is where the famous Gunfight at the OK Corral actually happened.  It’s also home to the Boot Hill Cemetery.  And lots of tourists.

I’m always a sucker for an old postcard.

Honorable Mention:

  • B-o-r-i-n-g – Arizona City, Plantsite, Center, Hard Rocks
  • Short & sweet – Ajo, Eloy, Naco
  • Orthographically challenged – Eagar, Peeples Valley
  • Native American mouthfuls (or, Who put their elbow on the keyboard?) – Hon Dah, Kaka, Gu Vo, Ko Vaya, Ali Ak Chin, Teec Nos Pos, Sikul Himatk, Sivili Chuchg, Gurli Put Vo, Tsintaa Yiti Ii, Vainom Kug, Vopolo Havoka, Wahak Hotrontk, Chuwut Murk
  • Numerically oriented – Secon Mesa, Double Adobe, Three Way
  • Just a little out of place – Colorado City, Peoria, Buckeye, Arlington, Vicksburg, Miami, Patagonia, Florence, Bagdad, Paradise
  • Aytpical adjectives – Mammoth, Superior (world's smallest museum), Continental, Blue, Carefree (world's largest sundial)
  • Abnormal nouns – Portal, Chlroide, Oracle, Cherry, Strawberry, Roll, Moccasin, Anthem, Organ Pipe (yeah, yeah, I know it’s a kind of cactus), Camel, Coffeepot, Surprise, Highjinks, Gripe, Nothing
  • Fun to say – Fredonia, Bapchule, Pirtleville, Copperopolis, Winkleman
  • Just plain weird – Cornville (John McCain has a home here), Bullhead City, Turkey Flat, Grasshopper Junction, Wide Ruin, Paul Spur, Pirtleville, Greaterville, Ft. Misery, Skull Valley, Robbers Roost, Tortilla Flat, Catfish Paradise, Pink Arrow, Burnt Water, Peach Pu, Big Bug
  • Just plain weird, crossing division – Apron Crossing, Booze Crossing, Chair Crossing
  • It’s too hot here for that – Snowflake (founded by Erasmus Snow and William Flake - I kid you not), Christmas, Santa Clau

Special Note: Ghost Towns!

These are all from this great site, which I highly recommend:
  • B-o-r-i-n-g – Arizona City
  • Numerically oriented – Two Guns, Twin Buttes
  • Just a little out of place – Brooklyn Basin
  • Native American mouthfuls – Tuweep, Harqua Hala
  • Atypical adjectives - Stark, Silent, Tip Top, Cyclopic
  • Abnormal nouns – Signal, Gunsight, Silverbell, Planet, Clip, Humbug
  • Just plain weird – Brenda, Bundyville, Polhamus Landing, Pacific City (nowhere near any water), American Flag, Old Glory, Old Trails, Grand Gulch, Fools Gulch, Lost Basin, Angel Camp, Bumble Bee, Wolf Hole, Germa, Copperopolis, Snowball, Red Rover, Contention City, Vulture City, Owl Station, Pick Em Up, Total Wreck

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