Same Name Travel

On July 21, 2011 · 12 Comments

As I prepare for my upcoming trip to Utah, I noticed that I will be collecting one of the counties named for a state, specifically Utah County, Utah. That’s the home county for Provo.



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I realize that I’ve labeled the counties named for states as unimaginative and boring. Let my clarify that before I get a bunch of irate comments. By using that statement I don’t mean the physical locations are burdened by those attributes, I mean the name chosen by their founders to represent the county. Were they lazy? Were they suffering from an inferiority complex? Were they hoping to persuade politicians to locate the state capital in their town?

I don’t really care this time. This will be my first visit to Utah County and my county counting list will grow as a result. Well, I care a little bit, just enough to check out the history of Utah county for about ten minutes. The Utah territory was established in 1850 and the county was founding to 1852. So was the county named for the territory, or were they both named somewhat simultaneously after the Ute Indians? Maybe it’s close enough to avoid the bulk of the truly unimaginative taint.

Perhaps I’ll rationalize this a bit further. Maybe if I create a personal contest I can pull this out of a boring categorization. Going forward, I will attempt to reach each of the counties sharing a name with its home state. There. Now it’s acceptable. So I will soon visit Utah County, UT. I’ve already visited New York County, New York. That’s Manhattan (plus one tiny little neighborhood across the river). I’ve also been to the independent city of Virginia Beach in Virginia but that one feels like cheating. What do you think?

I have not been to any of the others.

  • Arkansas County, Arkansas has two county seats, De Witt and Stuttgart. I love counties with multiple seats.
  • Hawaii County, Hawaii, is better known as the Big Island. That one is way up on the list of places I’d love to see.
  • Idaho County, Idaho, earns my respect. It seems that the County had the name first and not the other way around. That takes Idaho County directly off the unimaginative list, but perhaps adds the state to it?
  • Iowa County, Iowa, doesn’t seem to have many distinguishing features although Marengo, its county seat, has an interesting name.
  • Oklahoma County, Oklahoma wins the unimaginative trophy, no questions asked. I’ve mentioned this before but it bears repeating: the height of laziness goes to the person responsible for naming Oklahoma City in Oklahoma County in the State of Oklahoma.

Even though I like to poke fun at the repetitious Oklahoma instances, that actually makes it a more attractive target to visit someday. The others all have their own charms as well although I’m going to have to dig a little deeper on Iowa. The home of the 1985 State Champions in Track and Field for Class 2A probably isn’t going to cut it. Come on, random visitor from Iowa County, Iowa, please give me an excuse to visit your fine corner of the world.

I look forward to filling out my map with all of the counties named for states, as I continue with my quest to visit every county in the United States.

On July 21, 2011 · 12 Comments

12 Responses to “Same Name Travel”

  1. Matt says:

    In Mexico, the country, capital city and largest state all have the same name. Even more confusingly, Mexico the city is mostly surrounded by Mexico the state but is actually in a separate Federal District.

  2. John Deeth says:

    According to your county counting map, it looks like you HAVE been through Iowa County, Iowa; it’s hard to avoid as Interstate 80 goes through it. Iowa County’s claim to fame is the Amana Colonies (and Amana refrigerators and appliances.)

    Iowa’s annoying habit is city and county names that don’t match. I live in Iowa City, but not Iowa County. Iowa City is in Johnson County, one county east of Iowa County. There’s several others. Des Moines is in Polk, not Des Moines County, Marion and Cedar Rapids are in Linn County, but there is a Marion County and a Cedar County. Wapello is in Louisa, not Wapello, County. It would be hard to plot a RAGBRAI route without going through one of the mismatches.

    (RAGBRAI=Register’s Annual Great Bike Ride Across Iowa, which is next week. Been happening nearly 40 years. Route varies every year but always starts in the west, ends in the east. Now that’s worth a post!)

    • Hmmm… and you are correct. It appears I have traveled through Iowa Co., IA. That serves me right for going at this using my (notoriously bad) memory. It was a single instance, driving towards Omaha, NE in 1994 but indeed it counts. Thanks for the eagle-eyes, John Deeth.

    • Doug R. says:

      And that could go on and on, too… Fairfield is in Jefferson County but Jefferson is in Greene County, and Greene is in Butler County. Sioux City is in Woodbury County, not Sioux County, Osceola is in Clarke County, not Osceola County and Keokuk is in Lee County, not Keokuk County. To give our state some credit, however, there are some towns in their “proper” county: Washington in Washington, Muscatine in Muscatine, Sioux Center in Sioux, Story City in Story, Polk City in Polk, Dubuque in Dubuque, and Marshalltown in Marshall. There are probably others, too, I’m forgetting. We really revel in our 99 counties!

  3. John Deeth says:

    We also have a county with two county seats: Lee (Fort MAdison and Keokuk)

  4. Dave Kearns says:

    Don’t forget Providence County, in the great state of Rhode Island and Providence Plantation…

  5. Katy says:

    This is one reason to visit Iowa County: http://www.millstreambrewing.com/

  6. Jon P says:

    Dave, nice catch! We rejected a ballot initiative last year that would have dropped Providence Plantations from the state name.

    There are tons of counties sharing the same name as another state. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Index_of_U.S._counties. Three states have an Ohio County, three states have a Wyoming County, six have a Delaware County, eight have a Columbia County, and thirty (!) states have a Washington County (but not Washington state!) And lots more where that came from.

  7. Fritz Keppler says:

    South Carolina seems to be the state with the least imaginative source of county seat names. Fully 31 of the 46 counties have homonymous seat names!

  8. Karl Z says:

    Being from the Oklahoma City area (Norman), I’ll say this…in one sense you’re not missing that much if you don’t go. It’s kind of ordinary. The Oklahoma State Capitol used to be known for not having an external dome and having an operating oil well on the Capitol grounds. They ruined the first one about ten years ago (the structure isn’t even all that interesting) and I don’t think any of the wells operate anymore.

    If you do go, visit the National Memorial at the Murrah Building site (I did know someone in the building that morning), and keep an eye out for AWACS planes–they’re based at Tinker Air Force Base near the city, so they’re an everyday sight. Bricktown might also be good to visit–there are some good restaurants, and I think there’s a microbrewery or two in there. You can also look at the decrepit Crosstown Expressway (I-40, longest bridge in Oklahoma) and the replacement south of downtown, if you have like infrastructure.

  9. Matt Rose says:

    What about counties that are named after other states (Nevada Co, CA for example)

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