Nevada certainly has its share of towns with unusual and historical names. Have you ever wondered about the origin behind some of them? Here are 15 towns in Nevada that most people don’t know the meanings behind.
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Historians Jan Petersen and Helen Carlson present two theories on the origin of the name of Wells. One holds that the name came from the various springs in the area that were called "wells" by the immigrants who came there to settle. The other possible story indicates that the name came from the loss of a nearby city called Humboldt Wells. This town was beset by a terrible fire in the 1800s and calls for help said "Wells is burning." When the town was eventually rebuilt on the land presently known as Wells, the shortened name stuck.
2. Boulder City
Boulder City was originally created to house the workers who built the Hoover Dam. The name of the city comes from the fact that the dam was originally called the Boulder Dam from 1933 to 1947. The name was officially changed by Congress in 1947 to the Hoover Dam.
Pahranagat is another town where there are multiple origin stories for the name. Some say it is a variation of the word Paraniguts, which comes from the Southern Paiute language. The term describes the area and "Pah" is believed t mean "water" but the rest of the word's meaning is unknown. An anthropologist named Frederick Hodge has claimed that he believes the word Parraniguts means "people of the marshy spring" whereas another Native American language expert, Albert Samuel Gatschet, claims the name comes from the term pa rangar, which is Paiute means "squash." Yet another expert on the Southern Paiutes, Isabel T. Kelly, claims the word means "put their feet in the water."
Ely, which at one point was a booming copper mining town, was named after Smith Ely. He was the president of the Copper Mining and Smelting Company in the late 1800's.
The name Owyhee comes fur trappers in the area in 1819. A trapping party in the area had several members who were from Hawaii. Eventually the party members became lost and some were killed, The stream they were found near was named Owyhee in their memory, which is a phonetic spelling of Hawaii.
Fernely's definitive origin for its name is unknown, but there are theories. One claims it comes from a Welsh man who ran a coal mine in the area although no one has been able to verify this story. It is, however, a name with a Welsh origin so it could be possibly true. Another theory holds that it is an entirely random name that was created by railroad executives to name stops along the railroad route for maps.
Lovelock's idyllic and romantic name actually comes from one of its first settlers, a man named George Lovelock.
Winnemucca was named in honor of a local Northern Paiute chief. His name means "one moccasin" in the Paiute language. His daughter, Sarah Winnemucca, became a very well known advocate for Native Americans, and was the author of the first published autobiography by a Native American woman.
Gerlach's name comes from the Gerlach Land and Livestock Company. The company, along with the Gerlach and Waltz Ranch, was owned by Louis Gerlach.
There are several different stories about how the name of Elko came to be. One suggested story is that Charles Crocker, a railroad executive, came up with the name because it sounds like something one would name a railroad. On the other hand, some have said Crocker came up with the name based on how much he liked elk, which could be found in the area. Still others claim the name comes from the Shoshone word for "white woman."
The story behind Jarbidge's name comes from a mispronunciation of a Shoshone Indian name. The tribe had a legend of a monster who lived in the area who was 30-feet tall and devoured men. The name of this creature was Tsawhawbitts.
12. Battle Mountain
Battle Mountain's name was fairly descriptive of the area. The Northern Paiute and Shoshone peoples had many conflicts and battles with European settlers in the mid to late 1800's. Hence the locals began to call the place, "Battle Mountain."
Panaca is the site of a silver mine claimed in 1864 by William Hamblin, a Mormon missionary to the Paiutes. Panaca comes from the word Pannukker, which in the Southern Paiute language means metal, money or wealth.
14. Mound House
Another descriptive name, Mound House gets its name from the large mounds of gypsite in the local area. The name was originally Mound Station.
Pahrump, which is located not far from Las Vegas, is another town with a Native American name origin. It comes from the word pah-rimpi, which means "water rock."
Do you know the story behind other unusual Nevada town names? Share in the comments if you do!