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Aberdeen ~ Ayres Point Geographic Names

Aberdeen, city in Grays Harbor (formerly called Chehalis) County. The town was platted by Samuel Benn in 1884 on his homestead. Benn was born in New York City and in 1856 he came to San Francisco. Three years later he moved to Washington Territory and settled on the Chehalis River. There are two sources claimed for the name of the city. John J. Carney (Names MSS., Letter 65) says it arose from the fact that the Aberdeen Packing Company of Ilwaco established a cannery in early days on the Benn homestead. Hawthorne's History of Washington, Volume II., page 602, declares that the name was suggested by Mrs. James Stewart, who, before her marriage in 1868, was Miss Joan B. Kellan of Aberdeen, Scotland, who had come to America with her parents in 1849 and settled in Ohio. She and her husband moved to Washington Territory in 1874.

Abernethy Creek, see Nesqually Creek.

Acme, town in Whatcom County. The word is Greek in origin and has come to mean the highest point of achievement or of excellence. Charles F. Elsbree (Names MSS., Letter 195) writes that Thomas Stephens and Samuel Parks sent east for a couple of Acme hymnals and were joked for so doing. About 1887 Parks was sent to Bellingham with a petition for a new post office. No name was in the petition. He asked if Acme would do and on receiving an affirmative answer that name was written into the records.

Adams County, organized under the law of November 28, 1883, the name being in honor of President John Adams.

Adelaide, town in King County. When the post office was established there in 1886, it was named in honor of Miss Adelaide Dixon. (Names MSS., Letters 40 and 442.)

Admiralty Bay, in Island County, west coast of Whidbey Island. It probably takes its name from Admiralty Inlet. The name makes its first appearance on Kellett's Chart, 1847.

Admiralty Head, on Whidbey Island, opposite Point Wilson. It was undoubtedly named for Admiralty Inlet. The name first appears on Kellett's Chart, 1847, and is now carried on official Government charts. The Wilkes Expedition, 1841, had given it the name Red Bluff, which name has not persisted.

Admiralty Inlet, the waterway connecting the Strait of Juan de Fuca with Puget Sound. The name was bestowed on Saturday, June 2, 1792, by Captain George Vancouver, the discoverer, in honor of the Board of Admiralty, which supervises the work of the Royal Navy of Great Britain. The Spaniards were first to see the waterway. Quimper saw its entrance in 1790 and Eliza examined it more carefully in 1791. He did not explore it because the Indians said canoes would be necessary to reach its farthest limits. These Spaniards gave the entrance the name Boca de Caamano. As their maps were not published, Vancouver had no way of knowing that his name of Admiralty Inlet was not the first one given. The Wilkes Expedition (Volume IV., page 479) makes use of the name Admiralty Sound, but in present usage the name Puget Sound is encroaching on the other. On the original chart of Vancouver, Admiralty Inlet extended to where the city of Tacoma is now located. On the United States Coast and Geodetic Survey Chart, 6450, dated February, 1905, Admiralty Inlet ends and Puget Sound begins at the lower end of Whidbey Island.

Adolphus Island. The Wilkes Expedition charted in 1841 two little islands north of Orcas Island, which were called Adolphus and Gordon Islands. George Davidson of the United States Coast Survey proved in 1853 that the two little islands did not exist.

Aeneas, town and creek in Okanogan County. The name came from Chief Aeneas, who was at one time a Government guide. He died about 1913 reputed to be more than one hundred years of age. (Charles Clark, in Names MSS., Letter 288.)

Agate Passage, in Kitsap County, connecting Port Orchard with Port Madison. It was named by the Wilkes Expedition, 1841, in honor of one of the party, Alfred T. Agate, artist. It has often been asserted, erroneously, that the name arose from the finding of agates among the pebbles of the shores.

Ahahawat, a summer village of the Makah Indians, in a little cove three miles south of Cape Flattery. The name is here given as spelled by James G. Swan in his writings for the Smithsonian Institution. On the Kroll map the name is spelled Archawat.

Ah-kwahlk-haht, a point on Tulalip Reservation beach on Port Susan, Snohomish County. The meaning of the Indian word is unknown. (Charles M. Buchanan, in Names MSS., Letter 155.)

Ahtahnam, see Atanum.

Ainsworth, town east of Pasco in Franklin County. It was named in honor of J. C. Ainsworth, a prominent railroad man of the West.

Ala Spit, in Island County near Hope Island, off the northeast portion of Whidbey Island, as shown on the Wilkes Expedition chart of 1841.

Alameda, a post office in Douglas County. In 1907 the people petitioned for a post office and three names were to be submitted for a choice by the officials. Vernile F. Hopkins, an old settler, suggested that Alameda be one of the three and it was the one selected. (William F. Edwards, in Names MSS., Letter 434.)

Alamicut River, in Wahkiakum County. The old settlers claim that the Indians called the slough Alamicut, meaning "Deep River." (C. Arthur Appelo, Names MSS., Letter 304.) On Kroll's map the name is Deep River. On the Wilkes Expedition chart, 1841, the name is Ela-be-kail.

Albion, town in Whitman County. The former name Guy was changed in March, 1901, at the instance of an English miller by the name of Thomas to honor the early discoveries in the Northwest by the British, who called the region Nova Albion. (Thomas M. Farnsworth, Names MSS., Letter 438.)

Alden Bank, in Georgia Strait, north of west from Lummi Bay. It was discovered and named by the United States Coast Survey in 1853 in honor of Lieutenant Commander James Alden of the Active. Alden had been in the same waters with the Wilkes Expedition, 1841, and also took part in the Indian wars on Puget Sound in 1855-1856. He died in San Francisco in 1877.

Alden Point, west cape of Patos Island, Strait of Georgia. The name is evidently an additional honor of Lieutenant Commander Alden. It appears on the Richards chart of 1858-1860.

Alder, town in Pierce County. It was named by Martin Hotes in February, 1902, after a grove of alder trees where the town is located. (Names MSS., Letter 108.)

Alder Creek. There are three creeks by this name in Washington. One is in Stevens County (see also Powwow Creek) flowing into the Columbia at Fruitland; another is in Klickitat County, flowing into the Columbia at Alderdale; and another has its rise near Mount Baker and flows into the Skagit River.

Alder Ridge, hills back of Alderdale, in Klickitat County.

Alderdale, station and village in Klickitat County. William Warner, Robert Warner and Mrs. M. L. Warner, constituting the Western Investment Company, platted the townsite and named it Alderdale because it is near the mouth of Alder Creek. (Names MSS., Letter 555.)

Adlwell Canyon in Clallam County. The name is in honor of Thomas T. Aldwell, who located his homestead there many years ago. At present the site is being used for a dam and power plant by the Olympic Power Company. (H. B. Herrick, in Names MSS., Letter 267.)

Alfalfa, a town in Yakima County. The name was given because of the quantities of alfalfa hay shipped from the station. (Names MSS., Letter 353.)

Algona, a town in King County. The place was first called Valley City, but as there was already a post office in the state called Valley the authorities rejected the name of the newer aspirant. A mass meeting in February, 1910, selected the name "Algoma," a word said to mean "valley of flowers." In adopting the name, the post office department changed one letter and the settlers do not know what Algona means. (Claude E. Googe, in Names MSS., Letters 36 and 79.)

Alki Point, now a part of Seattle, in King County. The first name given this place was "Point Roberts" by the Wilkes Expedition, 1841. It is not clear just what man was sought to be honored. In the crews of the expedition there were four men bearing the name of Roberts, Abraham, Humphrey, Owen, and William. It may have been any one of them. Furthermore it may have been the diplomat, Edward Roberts, who had gained fame in the Orient a few years before. Although the name appeared on a number of early charts, it was supplanted by the first settlers who made their homes there. On November 13, 1851, the famous Denny colony landed on that point. In the party there were twelve adults and twelve children. From that colony has grown the city of Seattle. The settlers were very ambitious. They called the place "New York." As the one little store and the few cabin homes grew so slowly they added a hyphen and the Indian jargon word Alki, meaning "by and bye." New York-Alki meant that it was to become the metropolis of the Pacific Coast in the near future. When a majority of the settlers moved to the east shore of Elliott Bay and began the city of Seattle, those remaining at the point dropped the name 'New York," but Alki Point has remained as a well-established geographic name. For a time the Government charts showed this point as Battery Point. See entry under that name.

Allan Island, in Skagit County, west of Fidalgo Island. It was named in 1841 by the Wilkes Expedition in honor of Captain William Henry Allen of the United States Navy. The name of Allen often suffers when transferred from biography to geography. In this case there is little doubt, for the Wilkes chart shows the waterway between Fidalgo Islands as "Argus Bay" and it was in the Argus that Captain Allen was mortally wounded while fighting the British brig Pelican on August 14, 1813. It was a favorite scheme of Wilkes to link the name of an American naval officer with his ship by placing two geographic names close together. "Argus Bay" has been changed on recent charts to Burrows Bay, but the old name of the island remains. The two islands, Allan and Burrows, had previously been named by the Spaniards in the "Sutil y Mexicana" Expedition as "Las dos Islas Morros."

Allard, town in Benton County, named in honor of Samuel Allard. (Alice Dumert, in Names MSS., Letter 259.)

Allen Bank, southeast of Blake Island and stretching across to Point Vashon. The bank was discovered and named by the United States Coast Survey in 1857.

Allen Point, in Island County, southeast extremity of Camano Island. This is one of the original names by Vancouver, but badly distorted. He named one waterway Port Gardner after Sir Alan Gardner of the British Admiralty. The other waterway he called Port Susan in honor of Lady Susana Gardner, and to the point of land he gave his friend's first name, calling it Point Alan. After different spellings it has come upon the most recent official charts as Allen Point.

Allshouse Island, see Raft Island.

Almira, a town in Lincoln County. In the year 1889 this place was named by the Chief Engineer of the Northern Pacific Railroad Company in honor of Mrs. Almira Davis, wife of Charles C. Davis, the town's first merchant. (Names MSS., Letter 357.)

Almota, a town and three creeks in Whitman County. The creeks are West Almota, Little Almota and Almota. Rev. Myron Eells is authority for the statement that the name is a corruption of the Nez Perce word "Allamotin," meaning "torch-light fishery." Lewis and Clark camped there on October 11, 1905, and mention the Indian houses which John Work of the Hudson's Bay Company found and described in his journal of 1825.

Alockaman River in Wahkaikum County. On Preston's Map of Oregon and Washington West of the Cascade Mountains, 1856, and on the Map of the Surveyor General of Washington Territory, it is shown as Strong's River. In the Pacific Railroad Reports, George Gibbs refers to it as "Elokamin." The United States Coast and Geodetic Chart shows it "Elochoman."

Alloweze, see Burke, in Grant County.

Allyn, a town in Mason County. It was named in honor of Judge Frank Allyn of Tacoma, who was interested in the new town about 1889. (Soren C. Nelson, in Names MSS., Letter 411.)

Aloha, a town in Grays Harbor County. The name is the Hawaiian term of tender greeting.

Alpha, see Latah.

Alpine, a town in King County. The place was formerly called Nippon, but in January, 1915, C. L. Clemans, mill owner there, secured a change of name to Alpine as the location is at the summit of the Cascade Mountains.

Alpowa, a creek and a town in Garfield County. Originally a town was started under the name of "Alpowa City" where Silcott, Asotin County, is now located. The word Alpowa is from the Nez Perce language and means "a spring forming a creek," although Thomas Beal, an old pioneer, says it came from missionary experiences and meant that on Sundays they should go to church. The Nez Perces formerly had a village at the mouth of the creek where it flows into the Snake River. The name has also been spelled "Alpahwah" and "Elpawawe." (Fred W. Unfried, in Names MSS., Letter 322.)

Altahnum, see Atanum.

Alto, a town in Columbia County, eleven or twelve miles northeast of Dayton. The railroad engineer gave the name because it was the summit of the divide between Whetstone Hollow and Tucanon.

Amber, in Spokane County. The place was originally called Calvert, after an old settler by that name. The name was changed to Amber to conform to the name of a post office already established on the homestead of Mr. Costello. (L. C. Gilman, in Names MSS., Letter 590.)

Amelia, formerly a post office in Mason County, named in honor of Amelia Edmonds, the postmistress. (Names MSS., Letter 234.)

American Lake, a town and lake in Pierce County, near Tacoma. In 1917, Camp Lewis, one of the Federal Cantonments for the new army, was located in that vicinity and gave to American Lake an increased importance. There is a persistent error as to the origin of this name. The error declares that the name arose from the fact that the Wilkes Expedition celebrated the Fourth of July, 1841, on the shore of the lake and thus contributed to it a name. That is very beautiful but not true. Hubert Howe Bancroft (Works, Volume XXIX., page 189, footnote) quotes Elwood Evans's Puyallup Address as it appeared in the New Tacoma Ledger for July 9, 1880, as follows: "The lake was never formally named; but on account of the American celebration and the residence of the missionaries, was called American Lake, and sometimes Richmond Lake, by the settlers of the Puget Sound Company. The prairie was also called the American Plains, and by the natives, 'Boston Illahee.' The Wilkes narrative does not even mention the lake, but it is quite clear in fixing the place of the famous Fourth of July celebration. In Volume IV., page 412, the record shows that the place of celebration was on the edge of Mission Prairie and that the men were landed from the ships and marched to the place "about a mile distant." The second or new Fort Nisqually was later built near the scene of the celebration and the fence of the Dupont Powder works now encloses the ground. Five years after the celebration, the Inskip chart, 1846, showed the location of the new Fort Nisqually, the mission building site, the racecourse and also indicated a road marked "To Gordon Lake" leading probably toward the present American Lake. Ten years later Preston's Map of Oregon and Washington West of the Cascade Mountains, 1856, shows the lake, then called "Lake Tolmie." Mrs. Mary Perry Frost says that in 1854 she moved into a cabin on their donation claim near the lake. Other American settlers had claims in the same vicinity and the name of American Lake undoubtedly grew from that fact, as the British still held the ground around Fort Nisqually. The monument erected in recent years to mark the site of the Wilkes celebration of 1841 is located about three miles from the right place.

Anacortes, a city in Skagit County. The place was settled about 1860 and received the name of "Ship Harbor." In 1876, Amos Bowman, a civil engineer, bought the site and platted a town. He sought to give it the maiden name of his wife, Anna Curtis but the records perpetuated in some way the present spelling, possibly to give a Spanish tone as the city is on Fidalgo Island.

Anatone, a town in Asotin County. What is now known as Ten Mile Creek was known to the Indians as Anatone. It is claimed that it was so called for a noted Indian woman who lived near the present site of Anatone. (J. C. Packwood, in Names MSS., Letter 381.)

Anderson Island, in Pierce County. It was named in 1841 by the Wilkes Expedition. In the Narrative, Volume IV., page 305, Wilkes says: "Twelve miles more brought us to the anchorage off Nisqually, where both vessels dropped their anchors about eight o'clock. Here we found an English steamer [Beaver] undergoing repairs. Soon after we anchored I had the pleasure of a visit from Mr. Anderson, who is in charge of the fort, and Captain McNeil. They gave me a warm welcome, and offered every assistance in their power to aid me in my operations." He honored these two men by naming for them the nearby islands, Anderson and McNeil. Alexander Caulfield Anderson was born in Calcutta on March 10, 1814. He became a Chief Trader of the Hudson's Bay Company and was located at Fort Nisqually during the year 1840-1841. After other service with the Company, he retired in 1858 and took up his residence near Victoria. He died in May, 1884. The island has had at least two other names. The Inskip chart, 1846, shows it as "Fisgard Island" after the British frigate which was on this station, 1844-1847. Inskip sought to carry the honor further by changing the name of McNeil Island to "Duntze Island" for Captain John A. Duntze of the frigate. Anderson Island was also known for a time as "Wallace Island" in honor of Leander C. Wallace, who was killed by Snoqualmie Indians during their attack on Fort Nisqually in 1849.

Andrews Bay, on the west coast of San Juan Island. On some charts the bay is shown as "Manzanita."

Angeles Point, in Clallam County at mouth of Elwha River. The Spaniards, Quimper, 1790, and Eliza, 1791-called it "Punta Davila." Kellett's chart, 1847, shows it as "Angelos Point." Most American charts now show it as Angeles Point.

Angle Lake, in King County, near Orillia. "I think it was named on account of its shape, forming almost a right angle. It was named before 1864." (J. D. Cameron, in Names MSS., Letter 68.)

Anglin, town in Okanogan County. Named in honor of T. S.

Anglin, who was appointed postmaster on October 28, 1902. (T. S. Anglin, in Names MSS., Letter 263.)

Ankeny, a town in Adams County. It was named in honor of former United States Senator Levi Ankeny, who was a land owner in that vicinity. (L. C. Gilman, in Names MSS., Letter 590.)

Annas Bay, an indentation at the great bend of Hood Canal. Wilkes in the United States Exploring Expedition, Volume XXIII., page 323, refers to it as Anna Bay and also as Anna's Bay. The latter spelling without the apostrophe is now adopted.

Apple Cove, see Apple Tree Cove.

Appledale, a town in Douglas County. "In 1909, the Great Northern Railway Company built a branch line from the Columbia River to Mansfield, Douglas County. This place was then called Appledale on account of the many apple orchards there." (Julius Hollenbeck, in Names MSS., Letter 478.)

Apple Tree Cove, in Kitsap County. It was named on May 10, 1841, by the Wilkes Expedition, whose Narrative, Volume IV., page 304, says: "This was named Apple-tree Cove from the numbers of that tree which were in blossom around its shores." No landing was made there at that time; no white settler was located there and so the conclusion is forced to the mind that Wilkes saw dogwood trees in bloom and mistook them for apple trees. The name has persisted on all subsequent charts, though the word "Tree" is sometimes omitted.

Aputaput, falls in the Palouse River not far from its mouth. See Palouse Falls. The Narrative of the Wilkes Expedition, Volume IV., page 466, says: "The falls upon this river are of some note, and are called Aputaput; and they will hereafter be an object of interest to the travelers in this country." There is also given in the same record an Indian legend of Aputaput.

Arcadia, a town in Mason County.

Argus Bay, see Allan Island and Burrows Bay.

Argyle, a town in San Juan County. There is a town of the same name in Nova Scotia and another in Wisconsin. It is possible that the Washington name was derived from one of these. Argyle Lagoon, a small triangular lagoon about one mile south of the Puget Sound Marine Station on San Juan Island.

Ariel Point, see Nodule Point.

Ariels Point, see Double Bluff.

Arkansas Creek, in Cowlitz County. It was named in the early fifties for the reason that a number of settlers there had come from the state of Arkansas. (E. B. Huntington, in Names MSS., Letter 158.)

Arletta, a town in Pierce County. It was named about 1893 by Mrs. G. W. Powell, who used part of the name of her eldest daughter Aria and a portion of Valetta, the name of a city on the Island of Malta, which is reputed one of the most beautiful cities in the world. (William W. White, in Names MSS., Letter 443.)

Arlington, a town in Snohomish County. When the railroad's arrival gave promise of a city there Morris G. Haller called it Haller City in 1888 in honor of his father. Two years later, Earl & McLeod, railroad contractors, purchased the townsite and changed its name to honor the memory of Lord Henry Arlington, one of the notorious "Cabal" cabinet of Charles II., of England. (W. F. Oliver, in Names MSS., Letter 196.)

Armstrong's Point, see Point Chehalis.

Arrowsmith, post office in Grant County. The place was named in February, 1908, "Mitchell" by Jackson Robinson to honor his mother's maiden name. Since then another post office was granted for the same vicinity and was named for George Arrowsmith. (F. C. Koppen, in Names MSS., Letter 110.)

Artesian, a town in Yakima County. It was named by J. H. Gans about 1906 from the numerous artesian wells in the district. (Marian McShane, in Names MSS., Letter 347.)

Artic, a town in Grays Harbor County. In the eighties a post office was desired and the name in the petition was "Arta" to honor Mrs. Arta Saunders. The post office authorities misread the last syllable. (M. J. Luark, in Names MSS., Letter 548.)

Ash, see Carson, in Skamania County.

Ashby, see Cohassett, in Kittitas County.

Ashford, a town in Pierce County. It was named in honor of an old settler, W. A. Ashford, who located there on February 2, 1888. It has gained importance in late years by being the railroad station for the entrance to Mount Rainier National Park. (Cora J. Ashford, in Names MSS., Letter 229.)

Asotin, a county, a town and a creek in the southeastern corner of the State. The name is from the Nez Perce language and means "eel creek" from the abundance of eels caught there. The town at the mouth of the creek, where it flows into Snake River, took the same name in 1878, as did the County when it was organized under the law of October 27, 1883.

Atanum a river and an old Indian mission in Yakima County. A. J. Splawn is given as authority that the Indian word, sometimes spelled "Ahatahnum," means "the creek by the long mountain." Theodore Winthrop in 1853 spelled the word "Atinam." The early records speak of the priests and their successful mission on the banks of the Atanum.

Ateesowill, see Bear River, Pacific County.

Atlanta, on Samish Island, near Point Williams, in Skagit County. "Platted by ex-Sheriff G. W. L. Allen in 1883. He erected a two-story hotel, established a store, secured a post office and built an extensive wharf, but failed in his larger purpose. This was the extent of the town's growth." (History of Skagit and Snohomish Counties, page 247.)

At-sar-kal Lake, see Lake Washington.

Atsmith, see Willapa Harbor.

Attalia, a town in Walla Walla County. It was named by Mrs. V. K. Loose of Seattle. While touring Italy she visited a little hamlet whose name appealed to her so strongly that her husband adopted it for his irrigation and townsite projects in 1906. (R. C. Julian, in Names MSS., Letter 341.)

Auburn, a city in King County. Dr. Levi W. Ballard, in 1886, laid off part of his claim as a townsite and called it "Slaughter" in honor of Lieutenant W. A. Slaughter, United States Army, who lost his life there during the Indian war of 1855-1856. On the completion of the railroad the town grew rapidly and in 1893 petitioned the Legislature to change its name to Auburn. One of the agitators for the change of name told a group of legislators that it was discouraging for the hotel boy to shout to passengers leaving the train: "Right this way to the Slaughter House!" For all that, the gallant lieutenant deserves an enduring monument.

Avery, a town in Klickitat County. It was named in honor of A. G. Avery, right-of-way attorney for the Spokane, Portland & Seattle Railway Company. (L. C. Gilman, in Names MSS., Letter 590.)

Avon, a town in Skagit County. The first settler there was W. H. Miller, 1882. He sold part of his land to A. H. Skaling on October 27, 1883, who opened a store. In 1890, H. W. and F. S. Graham started a nearby town which was called North Avon. It is said that those early settlers sought to honor Shakespeare.

Axford, post office and prairie in Grays Harbor County. The post office was named in October, 1880, after the pioneer settler of that place. (Hilda E. Evans, in Names MSS., Letter 230.)

Ayers Point, see Ayres Point.

Ayock Point, in Mason County, on the western shore of Hood Canal. It is one of the names given by the Wilkes Expedition, 1841.

Ayres Point, in Mason County, on Hood Canal, opposite Potlatch. The name was given by the Wilkes Expedition, 1841, and possibly in honor of John Ayres, a member of his crew. On Kellett's Chart, 1847, the spelling is "Ayos."

Washington AHGP | Geographic Names

Source: Washington Historical Quarterly, Volume 8 - 14

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