Thoughts, ideas, photos, and stories.

What’s in a Name?


Dunkirk, Zurich, Malta, Glasgow, Cleveland, Devon, Rudyard, Harlem, Jordan, Belgrade, Amsterdam-Churchill, Havre, and Manhattan. These are names of places all over the world, but they are also names of places in Montana.

On our way home we stopped for the night in Zurich. Not Zurich, Switzerland, but Zurich, Montana. It’s a tiny farming community where the people drive their ATVs down the middle of  the road if they’re taking their trash to the local garbage dump. You just have to slow down and wait until they make their turn into the dumping station up ahead on the left.

Then you can continue on to the little gem of a community park where they kindly allow campers to stay the night for a mere  ten-dollar fee for electricity. Such a peaceful location.

The community hall was not in use the day we were there, camped in the corner.

The view from my trailer window is of black cottonwoods that whisper as they drop their last golden leaves. The only notably loud sound was made by the pheasant who cackled enthusiastically before taking wing out of the creek bed beside our trailer.

I thought it odd that Montana has so many names that duplicate other places in the world, but on looking more closely at the map, I saw names of a completely different sort:  Poplar, Wolf Point, Plentywood, Buffalo, Cat Creek, Musselshell, Rattlesnake, Lodgepole, Sleeping Buffalo, Whitewater, Crow Rock, Grass Range, Forest Grove, Roundup, Deer Lodge, Cut Bank, Sunburst, Sweetgrass, Fox Crossing, Chinook, Gold Butte.

Montana names are such fun!


Author: wordsfromanneli

Writing, travel, photography, nature, more writing....

30 thoughts on “What’s in a Name?

  1. Did a bit of traveling to the southern part of Montana in the summer of 2002. I know why they call it ‘big sky country’ as the sky at sunset was mind blowing.

    There are also some small town local cops that will shake down a visitor with out of state plates. My ex & I were stopped for doing 5 miles over the speed limit. The cop wrote a ticket & instead of saying “you will need to appear in court on such & such day”, he said, “I can give you a court date if you want or, you can just go ahead & pay me the fee.” The fee turned out to be $40 & he happily took our cash, offered no receipt and, folded the money into his pocket. “Have a nice day.” My ex & I looked at each other & he said “I think we have been had.”

    What were we gonna do? We were from Texas…

    Liked by 2 people

    • I suppose that could happen anywhere, but it hasn’t been our experience. Too bad it happened to you. We’ve always found Montana to be a great place to visit.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Oh, yeah. There used to be a small town in Georgia (probably not small anymore) @ the Florida line that was a known speed trap. It was how they funded the town. That was back in the 60s.

        I don’t fault all of Montana for one industrious cop 16 years ago. He was very, very nice and the whole thing was rather amusing. It’s not like he pulled a gun on us or strung us out across the hood of his patrol car. Of course, my ex is a Marine Corps Master Sergeant & bad behavior wouldn’t have gone over very well… It’s a fun memory, actually.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Thanks for sharing your photos, Anneli. Montana is a place I’d love to visit, but not in the winter!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Looks like a wonderful place. Someday a road trip might be in order. I’ve always wanted to go to Zurich. Ha ha ha…

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Those pioneers were creative!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I totally get it. I love looking at town names and at street names, too. In Florida we had Italy towns, Venice & Naples.


  6. It’s so interesting. You drove a “half of Europe,” not leaving Montana.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I haven’t been there but it’s on my list! Funny how they picked duplicate names. Nothing like in the Cotswolds where the name are fantastical!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. This was just delightful!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I like how observant and how you can make nature and towns seem vivid and names of cities in a whole other part of the country sound “cool” as in rivers, streams or animals!

    Liked by 1 person

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