North Dakota February 18, 2018
Most People Don’t Know The Meaning Behind These 7 North Dakota Town Names
How do towns get their names? Who decided that would be what they are called? Why are they named the things they are? Some North Dakota towns have very interesting stories and meanings behind their names that most people don’t know. There are even some that have changed names a few times since being founded. If you’ve ever wondered why some places in the Peace Garden State are called what they are, you’ll want to keep reading to find out a few:
Many people might assume this name comes from the famous city in Portugal, but it goes a step further than that. The name was given by the town's founder because his wife was from Lisbon — Lisbon, New York, that is.
That Lisbon is named after the one in Portugal. Maybe someday someone will found a new town named Lisbon after the one here in North Dakota? Then you'd have quite a chain of names!
The town of Beach, North Dakota might make you expect sunny, sandy shores, but the town isn't anywhere near any large bodies of water. The name actually comes from Captain Warren C. Beach, from the 11th Infantry of the U.S. Army in the 1880s.
Center is a pretty straightforward name in its meaning, but what exactly is it the center of? It's not the center of North Dakota, that title goes to the town of McClusky. The geographical center of North America is in North Dakota but not here in Center — it's claimed to be in Rugby but has some disputes with nearby towns, none of which are close to this Center. No, this Center is named as such for being the center of its county — Oliver County. It is also the only incorporated town in that county.
Fargo is North Dakota's largest city and arguably it's most famous. The name does share a reference with a well-known bank, as expected, being named after both it and the Northern Pacific Railroad's founder, William G. Fargo. But what you might not have known is that Fargo didn't start as Fargo at all. The city was originally named Centralia, and titled the "gateway to the west."
Wahpeton, North Dakota's 10th largest city, like Fargo was not originally called what it is today. Believe it or not, it actually went through two name changes. When it was founded, Wahpeton was called Richville. That name was later given to the county it is located in, which is now Richland County. The name was changed to Chahinkapa, the Lakota Sioux word meaning "edge of the woods." Today, that name only applies to the Chahinkapa Park and Chahinkapa Zoo on the edge of the town. At its third name change, it became Wahpeton. The meaning behind that name comes from what at the time was a nearby band of Dakota, called Wakhpetonwan.
The name of the charming town of Killdeer doesn't come from the bird, it comes from the nearby Killdeer Mountains. The name of that place doesn't come from the bird, either, but instead the use of it as a deer hunting ground of Native Americans.
7. Watford City
The name for Watford City originates from a man called Dr. Vaughan G. Morris when the town was incorporated in 1915. He named it after his hometown of Watford, Ontario. Originally, it was just Watford like its Canadian counterpart, but a year later it was decided to add "City" onto the end so it wouldn't be so close to the other North Dakota town of Wolford.
How many of these did you not know the story behind? Any we missed that have unusual names or meanings that should have been included? Let us know!
Ever wondered what the smallest towns in North Dakota are and some interesting tidbits about each? Follow this link for the
15 tiniest towns in the Peace Garden State.