No Names and Nameless

On April 18, 2013 · 10 Comments

The article on Public Streets seemed generate more than the usual amount of interest and lots of great comments, as well as a hint of familiarity. Input from loyal reader David Overton sent me down an interesting tangent. He mentioned No Name Street, which he believed might be "another contender for ‘laziest street name'”. He also included a link to the photographic evidence. Thankfully the original photographer was generous enough to include a Creative Commons license so I was able to embed the image directly within this page, along with a proper citation.

No Name Street
SOURCE: Flickr by electropod via Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

It wasn’t too difficult to track down the location of No Name Street, a brief connecting road in Sandwich, England. Google (Street View) confirmed that I’d found the proper spot. The author noted, "It’s only a little street, but surely they could have thought of a name for it", (and I agree!) to which someone responded, "If they had, what place would U2 have sung about?"

Feel free to listen to U2’s "Where the Streets Have No Names" released in 1987 on "The Joshua Tree" album, as you read through the rest of this article.

I began to experience déjà vu, like maybe I’d written about this situation before. That’s not an unexpected feeling after posting several hundred geo-oddity topics over several years on the Twelve Mile Circle. However I’m usually better at remembering what I’ve researched and published previously, plus I couldn’t find anything when I ran a search on all of the articles and comments ever posted.

Finally I found it on another website, the ever-beloved and much-missed Basement Geographer, which is currently on hiatus. Kyle had written about The Best of Newfoundland and Labrador Toponyms, Part III in July 2011, referencing an unusual location he uncovered known as Nameless Cove. The familiarity derived from a comment that I’d appended to his article. I guess it’s acceptable to quote myself from a different website, right?

We used to have an intramural athletic field called Nameless Field when I attended the University of Virginia. It was large enough for two games to be played simultaneously so it was split into portions: Upper Nameless and Lower Nameless. Yep, Google Maps says it’s still there.

I tend to agree with David’s contention that No Name (and it’s equally thoughtless variation, Nameless) gives Public Street a good run for the money when it comes to laziness. In fact I didn’t bother to create a map of every occurrence because they were so common. That right there should provide sufficient evidence of intellectual indolence. It forced me to focus on geographic units much larger than streets or roads.

The US Geological Survey’s Geographic Names Information System provided 595 instances of No Name. That’s a bit deceiving. I couldn’t find a way to extract the exact string so results included anything with a "name" contained within them. I had to remove a lot of religious properties (e.g., Holy Name, Jesus Name), for example. I also removed a lot of reservoirs, dams and wells where, for some reason, it was popular to call them something like No Name Dam Number X (fill in a sequential number) in certain states. Even so I found a lot of pure instances of names with no names, including 27 specific references to Nameless.

There were several other instances that I found even more interesting. They are all real geographic features recognized by the U.S. Government. I’ve provided map links based on lat/long coordinates listed in GNIS although they may not appear by those names (or at all) on Google Maps.

Your Name HERE

  • Dirty Name Tank, AZ (map)
  • Your Name Dam & Reservoir, MT (map)
  • Has a Name Dam, MT (map)
  • Bad Name Spring, CA (map)
  • Wrong Name Pass, LA (map)
  • Name Creek, WY (map)
  • Little No Name Creek, IN (map)
  • East No Name Creek, CO (map)

My absolute favorite has to be the Nameless Volunteer Fire Department, collocated with the Nameless Community Center in Nameless, Tennessee.

View Larger Map

The Nameless Fire Department was entered into the Congressional Record by Hon. Bart Gordon on May 7, 1996: "Mr. Speaker, I am taking this opportunity to applaud the invaluable services provided by the Nameless Volunteer Fire Department. These brave, civic-minded people give freely of their time so that we may all feel safer at night…" Ten years later, according to Firefighting News, the Nameless Firefighters were "awarded a competitive grant through the Assistance to Firefighters Grant (AFG) Program. Nameless Volunteer Fire Department will receive $75,240."

Bravo to the Nameless Firemen.

On April 18, 2013 · 10 Comments

10 Responses to “No Names and Nameless”

  1. Perhaps even lazier? The numerous roads in England simply called ‘The Street’. There’s quite a few, actually. Here’s the intersection of The Street and The Croft in Costessey.

    And, naturally, you can’t have The Street without The Avenue, and there’s quite a few of those as well.

    As for The Basement Geographer? I have a sneaking suspicion the hiatus will be ending in a few weeks. ‘Sneaking suspicion’ as ‘I just bought, just finished recoding the site and am about 40% percent done reformatting the old posts’. Shooting for a relaunch the middle of May and no later than the first of June. Stay tuned…

  2. Craig says:

    The one I never understood is Temporary Road, Reston, VA. Google Maps does not acknowledge it, unlike Mapquest:

  3. John of Sydney says:

    There’s a road in Central Mangrove New South Wales that seems to have been built to link George Downes Drive with Wisemans Ferry Road called “The Link Road”. The irony is that it doesn’t!.
    I can remember seeing somewhere on my travels around NSW a road called “The Missing Link” but it doesn’t show up on Google Maps and I can’t quite remember exactly where it was.

  4. TB says:

    “Hey, boss, I finally got all the reservoirs mapped out, but I don’t know what to call that one out there by itself.”

    “Heck, kid, I don’t care. Put your name on it, if you want to.”

  5. Ross Finlayson says:

    Don’t forget also “No Name Key” – one of the Florida Keys:

  6. Scott Surgent says:

    The town of Carefree, Arizona, takes a whimsical approach to naming its streets. Just find it on mapquest and zoom in for your reading enjoyment. My favorite are two streets, one named “Ho” and the other “Hum”, which merge into “Ho Hum”. There are a few more like this. Perhaps it could be a future blog article.

    Another that has amused me is Rural Road, which is a major 6-lane boulevard in Tempe and Chandler, the southern continuation of Scottsdale Road. I assume that decades ago, Rural Road was a lonely section-line road when the land out that way was farms or open desert. As development came, no one bothered to rename this road.

  7. Deborah says:

    Near to where I live is Nameless Road. There used to be a town called Nameless, Texas. It is just west of Leander, Texas.

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