Monday, September 17, 2012

Unusual Place Names

Jean C. Gordon here to talk about unusual place names. When we travel, I like to note unusual place names. That’s how I came up with the Paradox Lake setting for my Love Inspired books, Small-Town Sweethearts (January 2012) and Small-Town Dad (January 2013). In the first book, Emily Hazard faces a paradox when she comes home to Paradox Lake in the Adirondack Mountains of Upstate New York to stay with her teenage niece while Emily’s brother is deployed to Afghanistan with his Reserve unit.  

Paradox Lake gets its name from a unique occurrence which happens every spring. Melting snow in the eastern Adirondack Mountains flows into the Schroon (not Loon) River. Paradox Lake's outlet also flows into the Schroon River, but due to the sudden increase in water, the outflow is forced back, causing it to flow in reverse.  In addition to the Schroon River, there’s also a Schroon Lake. From what I could find, the origin of that name is unknown. But it’s stuck in my mind because, on one vacation in the Adirondacks, our then-small daughter kept looking for “schroons” after hearing me mention the name of the lake to my husband.

The Village of Ticonderoga is also near Paradox Lake. Home of Fort Ticonderoga, which played a role in the French and Indian War and the American Revolution, Ticonderoga comes from the Iroquois word tekontaró:ken, meaning "it is at the junction of two waterways" (Lake Champlain and Lake George, joined by the La Chute River).

Closer to home, we have Hannicroix, Coxsackie, and Catskill. Hannicroix takes its name from the nearby Hannicroix Creek. According to an old story, early Dutch settlers saw a rooster floating down the creek on a block of ice, so the creek became known as the Hannekraai, meaning "cock-crowing" creek.

From what I could find, Coxsackie (pronounced coke-sah-key) is from a native word mak-kachs-hack-ing, which Dutch settlers wrote as Koxhackung. It is generally translated as "Hoot-owl place” or "place of many owls.” As for Catskill (the village and mountain range), the name has nothing to do with killing cats or, most likely. cats at all. The actual origin is murky, but “kill” is Dutch for creek. We have numerous “kills” in the area. A 1656 map of New Netherland located the 'Landt van Kats Kill' at the mouth of the Kats Kill. 


Finally, we come to my township, Coeymans. I’m going to randomly give away a copy of Small-Town Sweethearts to one person who posts how they think my town is pronounced — I had it totally wrong when we moved here — and one person who posts an unusual place name. I’ll stop back tomorrow with the pronunciation and the winners.

With the help of God and the love of Drew Stacey, a down-sized Wall Street analyst turned church camp manager, NYC assistant art director and former town misfit Emily, ne Jinx, Hazard finds the thing she wants most in the place she least wants to be Paradox Lake. Through having to be responsible for her niece, interaction with the town's people, and falling in love with Drew, she learns the meaning of Christian fellowship. 

www.JeanCGordon.com
www.Facebook.com/JeanCGordon.Author
@JeanCGordon on Twitter

13 comments:

Ausjenny said...

Mum and dad use to live at
Duchembegarra in victoria when they first married. Its a tiny place. I haven't been there but know roughly where it is.
Close to home we have Kybybolite which is pronounced kI be bo light but every calls it Kyby (kI be)

Missy Tippens said...

Those are some crazy names, Jean! Some of the ones around here (Georgia) that I've always thought interesting are Ball Ground, Between, and Social Circle. :)

As for you how to pronounce your town name...

Koh-man??

PamelaTracy said...

I actually do an activity with my students where they have to find AZ town names. I give them clues, like "taking your allowance from dad." The AZ town is Payson.

We have a Why, Arizona.

Merrillee said...

Jean, what a fun post! There are lots of unusual names out there. I lived in Washington State when I was in high school. I always got a kick out of Walla Walla, Washington. When hubby and I got married we had our reception in Loveland, OH.

Lyn Cote said...

Well, let's hear you pronounce Minocqua! Or Kewagsauga! Or Wausau! Or Oconomowoc!

Ausjenny said...

In Perth The capital of Western australia they have a suburb called Innaloo, always have to laugh at that one.

In New South Wales they have a Woy Woy and a Wagga Wagga, Also and Orange, Hay, and other interesting names.

Unknown said...

Ko ee mans - I know it's wrong :P - I couldn't wait to see how it is pronounced so went to look it up - so interesting :).

Some unusual names: Cut and Shoot, Texas; Unalaska, Alaska.

Jes
jswaks at gmail dot com

Unknown said...

Ko ee mans - I know it's wrong :P - I couldn't wait to see how it is pronounced so went to look it up - so interesting :).

Some unusual names: Cut and Shoot, Texas; Unalaska, Alaska.

Jes
jswaks at gmail dot com

Jean C. Gordon said...

Finally popping in to see all the comments. At my day job, IT has most blog access blocked. Love all the unusual names.

LOL,Lyn.Pronunciation is not my forte.

Debby Giusti said...

We have lots of Indian names in Georgia. A nearby small town is Senoia, but it's pronounced without the A.

Cynthia A. Lovely said...

Quee-mans.
Try pronouncing Schenectady : )
cllyrics@gmail.com

Jean C. Gordon said...

Ah, ha, a local. Cynthia has it right. Please email me your address for one copy of Small-Town Sweethearts. Jes, you're the other winner.

jeancgordon@yahoo.com

Unknown said...

Thank you!

Jes