Monday, August 5, 2013

North Dakota

North Dakota.  The Peace Garden State.  The Peace Garden State?  Wait a minute …  What the heck is a peace garden?  And why would anyone want to name a state after it?

10. Kindred

I thought this was just an old-timey way to refer to “one’s family and relations.”  Not an obvious candidate for the name of a town, but hey …

Well, wouldn’t you know?  “Kindred” is also a surname.  In our case, we’re talking in particular about the surname of one William S. Kindred, a local “realtor” (i.e., the guy who bought the land from the railroad) and later mayor.
This town of about 700 is in the eastern part of the state, and serves basically as a bedroom community for Fargo.  (Seriously?  Fargo has its own “bedroom communities”?) 
The homepage of the town’s website states that Kindred “has a lot to offer.”  In fact, it repeats that statement no less than eight times.  And the last one of these ends with this priceless typo:
We have a lot to offer! Come see for yourselft!
You really have to check out that site.  Between the typos and the over-the-top prose, it’s a real beaut.
Probably the main thing Kindred has to offer, though, is pie
(“hero shot” – i.e., main pic – on the site’s homepage)
9. Cannon Ball

It’s an odd one, but at least it’s changed from what the Arikara Indians used to call it – načiiʾuuháwi sananaapíkat.
It’s named after the Cannon Ball River.  The river gets its name from the concretions of sand, silt, and calcite that occur in it and that resemble cannonballs.
Cannon Ball the town is in south North Dakota, right on the border with north South Dakota.  It’s on the Standing Rock Indian Reservation.  The main drag in town appears to be called Weasel Street.
Make sense now?
8. Maxbass

Named after a particularly loud stereo system?  As a lure for fishermen?  After some dude?
Yup, it’s the third one.  Max Bass was the North Dakota land commissioner and also the General Immigration Agent for the Great Northern Railway, around the turn of the 20th Century. 
Maxbass is another border town – this time, up north, on the border with Canada.  We’re talking some 80 people here.  It dates back only to 1905.

7. Starkweather

Well, the winters are cold.  And the summers can get surprisingly hot and dry.  And that’s not to mention the tornados …
Starkweather is actually another surname. isn’t too sure where this one comes from, but thinks it might be a nickname for a “stormy person.”
Well, that certainly was the case for Charlie Starkweather.  Pardon the diversion, but Charlie Starkweather was one of the great spree killers of all time.  In 1958, he and his 14-year-old girlfriend Caril Ann Fugate, killed eleven people in a bloody road trip around Nebraska.  He inspired several films (including Badlands and Natural Born Killers), a couple of books, Bruce Springsteen’s song Nebraska, and a young Stephen King (who kept a scrapbook on the guy).
Oh, the town?  I figure there must be some Mr. Starkweather out there somewhere who it was named after (and who may even have been some relation to Charlie).  This place dates back to 1902, is in the northeast part of the state, and has a little over 100 people.
Charlie and Caril Ann
6. Donnybrook

According to the dictionary, this place is “a scene of uproar and disorder.”  Hmm, could that really be what the founding fathers meant?
Well, the etymology for this term does mention a town in Ireland of the same name (and whose fairs were famous for much drinking and mayhem).  Maybe the founding fathers were from there.
Another small town in the middle of nowhere with not a whole lotta information on it.  60 people, northwest part of the state.  Someone did have a little fun with it, though, on a parody news site:
T-shirt probably printed
before they lost 25% of their population

5. Overly

Overly what?  Overly cautious?  Confident?  Critical?  Complicated?  Sensitive?
Ah, it’s another surname.  Early settler Hans Overlie gets the credit for this one.  One possibility for that surname is the Old English ofer, meaning “shore,” or “bank.”  So, Overly would most likely apply to someone who lived in a field or meadow on the shore or bank of some body of water.
Wow, these places just get tinier and tinier.  Overly is barely there.  18 people in total. 
At one time, though, Overly was much more.  Not too much more, mind you, but ... 
Overly was once a big railroad town.  Unfortunately, the railroad giveth and the railroad taketh away.  Today, Overly has 14 blocks, but there’s absolutely nothing in four of them. 
4. Concrete

Yes, everything in this town is made of concrete.  All the houses, all the fences.  The roadways, the yards, the cars …
Actually, the real story is almost as crazy.  Would you believe the town was named after one William M. Concrete, an early settler? 
Ha!  Got you again.  This place was actually named after the final product of the many clay mines in the area.
Okay.  So, the actual town …  Well, I’m afraid all we’ve got is 25 people and one business (Hank’s Corner Bar).  There is, however, some sort of Cold War anti-missile radar thingee installation nearby (officially, the Cavalier Air Force Station, Perimeter Acquisition Radar Attack Characterization System).
That Air Force thingee
(and, yes, it does appear to be made out of concrete)
3. Hoople

This one’s a beaut, but what I really like is how comedian P.D.Q. Bach (Peter Schickele) singled this place out in his album Report from Hoople, P.D.Q. Bach on the Air.  In case you’ve never heard of him, Schickele was a very funny comedian whose specialty was classical music.  The Hoople album purported to come from the radio station at the University of Southern North Dakota at Hoople, and contained things like Beethoven’s Revenge and the Schleptet in E Flat Major, all performed by I Virtuosi di Hoople.
Oh, the town?  240 people.  Founding date: 1889.  Source of name: probably some dude name Hoople (surname is English and a corruption for someone who lived the “up the hill”).  Nickname: “Tatertown.”  Location: northeast North Dakota (???).
Just 8 more miles, kids!
2. Flasher

Named during the flasher craze of the 1970s …
Well, actually, that’s not totally true.  The town dates back to 1902, so I guess there must have been a previous craze in the early 1900s. 
Okay, okay, it’s probably named after some dude.  Actually, as it turns out, it was named by some dude but after some babe.  In particular, the founder of the town, William H. Brown, named it after his niece, Mabel Flasher Vrooman.  I’m assuming Mabel was already taken.  Though even Vrooman seems like an improvement.  I dunno.
Flasher is part of the Bismarck, ND Metropolitan Statistical Area.  It’s got 230 people.  I was surprised to learn that such a small town actually has its own history, Flasher, ND Centennial: 1902 – 2002 ($58, from the ND State Univ. website).  One of the chapters in that book is the absolutely priceless “Flasher at a Glance.”
Early Flashers, Mr. & Mrs. Hudsonbehler
1. Zap

Well, the Internets are telling me that this was named after a coal mining town in Scotland called Zapp.  I’m having a hard time believing that one though.  My guess is we’re back to surnames again – in this particular instance, probably the German Zapf.  That means “bung,” or “stopper,” and signals someone who owned a tavern, or perhaps was just a big boozer.
Coal is big here though.  This town of 240, a little northwest of Bismarck, has coal mines, a coal power plant, and a coal gasification plant. 
What Zap is famous for, however, is the Zip to Zap.  This was basically a student happening in 1969, where long-haired hippie freak types were encouraged to converge on this tiny town in the middle of nowhere.  The 2,500 or so students / trouble-makers soon got out of control, and the National Guard was called in to settle things down – the only time that ever happened in sleepy and law-abiding North Dakota.
Run, here they come!
Honorable Mention:

  • B-o-r-i-n-g – Valley City, Woods, New Town
  • Short & sweet – Mott, Kief, Kulm, Ayr, Jud
  • Just a little out of place – Nome, Grand Rapids, Ypsilanti, Michigan, Cleveland, Erie, Niagara, Buffalo, Cooperstown, Scranton, Trenton, New England, Jamestown (world's largest buffalo), Raleigh, Palm Beach, Alamo, Havana, Cuba, Lisbon, Wales, Wimbledon, Glasgow, Hague, Hannover, Strasburg (Lawrence Welk birthplace), Munich, Bremen, Berlin, Dresden, New Leipzig, Warsaw, Petersburg, Palermo, Verona, Crete, Perth, Brisbane, Sydney, Walhalla (oldest building in ND)
  • Orthographically challenged – Hamberg, Tokio, Pekin, Mylo, Mantador, Gardena, Dazey, Sawdwood, Skaar
  • Just a little off color – Buttzville
  • Numerically oriented – Four Bears Village, Four K’s Estate
  • Atypical adjectives – Cavalier, Fried
  • Unconventional verbs – Huff
  • Abnormal nouns – Price, Page, Portal, Plaza, Beach, Bluegrass, Crocus, Crystal, Regent, Rugby (geographical center of North America), Wing, Antler (world's largest historical quilt), Towner, Trotters
  • Fun to say – Tuttle, Gackle, Fingal, Fargo, Pingree, Pembina, Grenora, Gwinner, Guelph, Golva, Velva, Backoo, Alkabo, Anamoose, Marmarth
  • Hard to say – New Hradec, Omemee
  • Just plain weird – Fryburg, Spiritwood, Pick City, Town and Country, Inkster, Devils Lake, White Shield, Wild Rice, Scenic East (it's on the border with Montana), South Heart, Bonetrail
  • I’d like to introduce you to – Alice, Olga, Norma, Ray, Leroy, Leonard, Max, Burt, Barney, Clyde, Calvin, Arthur, Alfred, Milton, Horace (ND's largest tree), Hamlet, Voltaire, Bismarck, Glen Ullin, Raymond Lee
  • Ghost towns – Lark, Lostwood, Turtle, Expansion, Deep, Kidville

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