Origin of Alaskan Place Names

Yay for Alaska! Flip Todd of Todd Communications is hoping to publish an updated "Dictionary of Alaska Place Names" by Donald Orth. The book details humorous stories of the origin of various places in the state:

Mishap Creek, aka Big Loss Creek, is Unimak Island stream named for a lighthouse keeper who stripped naked to cross the water, then tried to throw his clothes to the other side, only to watch helplessly as they landed downstream and disappeared.

There's Chicken, an old mining town established during the Klondike Gold Rush. A detailed history of the name is not in Orth's dictionary, but according to oft-told lore, miners wanted to call the community Ptarmigan after a bird common to the area, but no one knew how to spell it. So they settled on Chicken, since miners also called ptarmigans "tundra chickens."

Atlasta Creek was inspired by a remark uttered by the wife of the owner of a nearby roadhouse after the first building was completed: "At last a house."

Lost Temper Creek, an Arctic Slope stream, was named over a "camp incident." Eek, a western Alaska village, was derived from an Eskimo
word that means "two eyes." Big Bones Ridge, in the Talkeetna Mountains, came from the large fossil mammoth or mastodon bones found at the site.


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