H.L. Mencken (18801956). The American Language. 1921.
name, and not after the Lord God directly. There are four Trinities, to say nothing of the inherited Trinidads.
Names wholly or partly descriptive of localities are very numerous throughout the country, and among the Grundwörter embodied in them are terms highly characteristic of American and almost unknown to the English vocabulary. Bald Knob would puzzle an Englishman, but the name is so common in the United States that the Geographic Board has had to take measures against it. Others of that sort are Council Bluffs, Patapsco Neck, Delaware Water Gap, Curtis Creek, Walden Pond, Sandy Hook, Key West, Bull Run, Portage, French Lick, Jones Gulch, Watkins Gully, Cedar Bayou, Keams Canyon, Parker Notch, Sucker Branch, Fraziers Bottom and Eagle Pass. Butte Creek, in Montana, is a name made up of two Americanisms. There are thirty-five postoffices whose names embody the word prairie, several of them, e. g., Prairie du Chien, Wis., inherited from the French. There are seven Divides, eight Buttes, eight town-names embodying the word burnt, innumerable names embodying grove, barren, plain, fork, center, cross-roads, courthouse, cove and ferry, and a great swarm of Cold Springs, Coldwaters, Summits, Middletowns and Highlands. The flora and fauna of the land are enormously represented. There are twenty-two Buffalos beside the city in New York, and scores of Buffalo Creeks, Ridges, Springs and Wallows. The Elks, in various forms, are still more numerous, and there are dozens of towns, mountains, lakes, creeks and country districts named after the beaver, martin, coyote, moose and otter, and as many more named after such characteristic flora as the paw-paw, the sycamore, the cottonwood, the locust and the sunflower. There is an Alligator in Mississippi, a Crawfish in Kentucky and a Rat Lake on the Canadian border of Minnesota. The endless search for mineral wealth has besprinkled the map with such names as Bromide, Oil City, Anthracite, Chrome, Chloride, Coal Run, Goldfield, Telluride, Leadville and Cement.
There was a time, particularly during the gold rush to California, when the rough humor of the country showed itself in the invention of extravagant and often highly felicitous place-names, but with the growth of population and the rise of civic spirit they have tended to be replaced by more seemly coinages. Catfish creek, in Wisconsin,