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Front Page » June 17, 2003 » Opinion » Road names in Carbon may prove our uniqueness
Published 4,060 days ago

Road names in Carbon may prove our uniqueness


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By RICHARD SHAW
Staff reporter

I've always loved lists. I look for lists everywhere I go; particularly the kinds of lists that compare things.

For instance if I go to one of the big discount books stores, the first place I head is to look in the reference section for books of lists.

That is why an idea caught my fancy a few weeks ago. I was watching a news show and they showed some event or something that happened on a street in Florida and then they showed the street sign; Hassle Street.

I thought that was appropriate considering what the report was on, which is neither here nor there as far as this piece is concerned.

I began to wonder if there was a Hassle Street in Carbon County. In turn that made me think about strange street names and I wondered how many unique kinds of names we had here.

So I asked the county's Geographical Information Service if they had a list of all the roads in the county.

Once again they came through for me as they have many times before, telling me they were all on a golden CD they handed me that afternoon. When I took it back to the office I found almost 20,000 names on the disk. Many were duplicates and with the help of our tech department we sorted those down to 13,000 and then we finally boiled it down to a little over a thousand.

I am certain that there are people who are more familiar with the county than I, but I was amazed at the names of some of the streets.

I am sure each of these roads are named what they are for a reason, but sometimes it is hard to decipher the reasons from an uninformed position

Road names in this county often seem to come from industry or land use. For instance, there is Blue Hill Dairy Road, CO2 Road, Compressor Road or Washer Plant Road. Some road names from industry we have gained are actually kind of embarrassing. For instance did you know that there are 13 roads in the area that start with the word "gas." I guess it is just in how you interpret the word.

Of course you would suspect that a lot of roads would have the word coal in them, but then you would suspect wrong. In our studies we could only discern two; Coal Creek Road and Coal Creek Loop.

Then there are the roads named after animals. Names include Bull, Bruin, Cat, Colt, Cow (five of them) Dog, Deer, Elk, Fish (13 begin with the word Fish, and a total of 21 contain it), Goose, Grouse, Horse, Minnow, (gads another fish), Panther, Rabbit and Sheep.

Plants are also big here, particularly trees. Of course there is Elm and Pine Streets.It seems every community has those. But there is also Birch, Cactus, Chestnut, Tree, Ivy, Oak, Orchard, Rose, Sage and Sycamore.

Now to numbers; I mean the number of times a certain word is used in names in the county. I have already mentioned fish. It is part of the name of roads in the county more than any other word. But for first words the number one name is old. I guess we have a lot of old stuff around here (or new stuff that replaced the old stuff so consequently the previous stuff becomes old). Horse and Spring also have 13 streets where they occur. Twelve streets have the names East, Lower and Gas (we certainly have a lot of that in the area).

Some streets have names of people, not just last names, but entire names. First there are three Bobs; Bob Bench (maybe Bench isn't a last name at all), Bob Bishop and Bob Wright Roads. There is also Clarence Anderson Road, Dan D'Ambrosio Road, Floyd Brotherson Lane, Jay Critchlow Ranch Road, Jerry Marchello Road, Joe Krompel Lane, John Houston Farm Road, Luke Milch Cabin Road, Milt Thayn Farm Road, R.D. Campbell Ranch Road, Richard Lee Road and Tane Clark Lane. Some of these people I know, and now I am even more honored because I personally know individuals whom roads are named after.

However, I don't personally know however, the guy Jimmy Carter Lane is named after.

Then there is the category of strange names, maybe the funnest part of my exploration of the volumous list of by-ways and highways in the area. Did you know we had a Burma Road right here in Carbon County? I thought that was situated somewhere in the Far East.

The list of strange names is long, and I hope you get as big a kick out of some of these names as I did. I am sure the names have some meanings, particularly to those who named them or know the history of the monickers. Here goes.

Chaining Road, Dance Hall Spring Road, Dead Dog Road, Fan Canyon Road, Hamburger Flats Road, Icelander Creek Road, Lovers Leap Road, Shooters Alley Road, Sowbelly Gulch Road, Boat Ramp Hill Road, Racey Street, Swishers Road, Bodins Run, Patmos Head Road and Jacobs Beaver Road.

All these and others are in Carbon County.

Probably the most interesting name I came up with in my search was one many people know, Porphyry. In the county exists the Porphyry Bench, Porphyry Bench Road, Porphyry Bench Gas (are we obsessed by that word or not) Road, Porphyry Run and Porphyry Wattis Road.

Porphyry was the name of a Greek philosopher who lived between 233 and 309 A.D. He lived in both Athens and Rome during his life learning from various philosophers, and then became his own man. So at first I figured someone with a philosophical background must have named the bench in the hills after him, and consequently the roads got their name from that.

But then I discovered that Porphyry means "purple" in Greek and that the philosopher Porphyry's name was actually a nickname given to him by one of his teachers because he was from an area of Greece that produced a royal purple dye at the time.

So maybe the area was named Porphyry because the bench can look purple at certain times of the day from a distance. Now I have solved the background of that one, or maybe I have.

On the good side, I only have 1300 more to go.


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