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Wanting a stroll through the library leads to an internet rabbit hole

Neil Garrison
Neil Garrison

What’s a person to do? The COVID-19 shelter-at-home restrictions have shuttered my usual haunts such as the public library. One impact of all of this is that I have had little recourse but to spend more time surfing the internet.

My wife recently asked me if I had ever heard of an Oklahoma community named Square Top. I had not, of course. That query, however, did spur my search for other unusual city names, and I eventually accessed a list of 590 town names in our state. The names were not arranged alphabetically but, rather, it was ranked from most populous to those towns with the least number of residents. As you might guess, I read the list from the bottom up so I would get the best “bang for the buck” on discovering names to which I had least likely been exposed.

I found some surprises.

For example, it became apparent that some Oklahomans suffer from an alarming lack of imagination. These three Oklahoma counties — Kingfisher, LeFlore and Pittsburg — have municipalities of the same name. But, then again, what’s the explanation for the town named McCurtain that is located in Haskell County, not McCurtain County? Go figure!

I also came across some name change histories of which I was not previously aware. One noteworthy instance is the town that goes by the moniker of Loyal. Come to find out, its original name was Kiel (in commemoration of a town in Germany ... which is not a surprising name pick for those German immigrants who originally established the town). After the U.S. entry into World War I, anti-German sentiment caused the city fathers to rethink their name choice, and it led to the scramble to choose a more-patriotic town name.

There is the town of Pink, Oklahoma. Wikipedia claims that no other town in the United States goes by this colorful name.

I kind of had an inkling that my often-crazy proclivities might just be a good fit for the likes of Loco, Oklahoma.

Only 23 people reside in Friendship, Oklahoma. Wouldn’t you think that a town with that name would have been more of a magnet for a greater number of people with a desire to seek bliss and contentment?

Hoot Owl? Only four people? Really? It kind of begs the question as to whether the place is populated more with feathered denizens as compared with the human being kinds.

You’ll please excuse me. I need to quit writing and, instead, jump back into my exploration of Oklahoma place names.

Neil Garrison was the longtime naturalist at a central Oklahoma nature center. His email is atlatlgarrison@hotmail.com.

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