Thursday, May 19, 2011

Crucial Counties

There are 3,143 counties in the USA and somewhat more county seats (since a few counties have more than one capital ... don't ask!).

So how come it's fair to have a clue like {Kentucky county} or {Seat of Washoe County}? Well it wouldn't be unless the county or capital were nationally famous ... or unless the answer had local geographical associations (e.g. there are counties named after the Ozark Mountains, Platte River, Lake Erie) or historical associations (e.g. there are counties in honor of Dan'l Boone, Juan Ponce de León, Thomas Sumter). So chances are such crossword answers will be recognizable for reasons not overtly stated in the clue.

Lee County Courthouse, VA
The rest of the post is a list, by state, of the counties and/or capitals that tend to crop up in crosswords. To avoid repetition, I've excluded two crucial county names that occur in numerous states: Robert E. Lee has counties named after him in eight former Confederate states; James Monroe has counties in his honor in 17 states.


Alabama
Coffee County Courthouse
County Capital Factette
Coffee Elba The name Elba was determined in a lottery
Dallas Selma Known for the 1965 Selma Voting Rights Movement


Arkansas
Franklin County Courthouse
County Capital Factette
Franklin Ozark Ozark is a corruption of the French "Aux Arc"


Arizona
Pima County Courthouse
County Capital Factette
Gila Globe Globe is the western terminus of U.S. Route 70
Pima Tucson Pima is named after the Pima tribe


California
Mariposa County Courthouse
County Capital Factette
Alameda Oakland Alameda means "a place where poplar trees grow"
Santa Clara San Jose Much of the county is in Santa Clara Valley (aka Silicon Valley)
Contra Costa Martinez Contra Costa is Spanish for "opposite coast"
Humboldt Eureka Humboldt derived its name from Humboldt Bay
Fresno Fresno Fresno is Spanish for "ash tree"
Madera Madera Madera is the Spanish term for wood
Marin San Rafael Marin County is across the bay from San Francisco
Mariposa Mariposa Mariposa County is known as the "Mother of Counties"
Napa Napa Napa County is known today for its wine industry
Orange Santa Ana Anaheim is in Orange County
San Mateo Redwood City San Mateo is Spanish for Saint Matthew
Shasta Redding Shasta County was named after Mount Shasta
Sonoma Santa Rosa The Sonoma region is known as the "Valley of the Moon"
Ventura Ventura Ojai and Simi Valley are in Ventura County


Colorado
Mesa County Courthouse
County Capital Factette
El Paso Colorado Springs Pikes Peak is in El Paso County
Mesa Grand Junction Mesa County is named for the many large mesas in the area
Costilla San Luis San Luis is the oldest town in Colorado


Florida
Pasco County Courthouse
County Capital Factette
Miami-Dade Miami The county is named after Major Francis L. Dade
Pasco Dade City The county is named after Senator Samuel Pasco
Saint Lucie Fort Pierce Fort Pierce is nicknamed the "Sunrise City"
Marion Ocala The county is named after General Francis Marion
Orange Orlando Orlando is nicknamed "The City Beautiful"
Leon Tallahassee The county is named after the Spanish explorer Juan Ponce de León


Georgia
Cobb County Courthouse
County Capital Factette
Bibb Macon Little Richard was born in Macon
Macon Oglethorpe Oglethorpe is named for Georgia's founder, James Oglethorpe
Cobb Marietta The county was named for Senator Thomas Willis Cobb


Hawaii
Rainbow Falls
County Capital Factette
Hawaii Hilo Hawaii County is one of seven US counties to share its name with its state
Maui Wailuku Lanai is in Maui County


Idaho
Ada County Courthouse
County Capital Factette
Ada Boise Ada is by far the most populous county of Idaho
Teton Driggs The county was named after the Teton Mountains


Illinois
Champaign County Courthouse
County Capital Factette
Champaign Urbana Urbana borders the City of Champaign


Indiana
LaPorte County Courthouse
County Capital Factette
LaPorte La Porte LaPorte is nicknamed The Maple City


Iowa
Dolliver Memorial State Park
County Capital Factette
Webster Fort Dodge Fort Dodge is on the Des Moines River
Sac Sac City County and capital are named after the Sac tribe


Kansas
Memorial to the Children Lost on the Trails, Johnson County Courthouse
County Capital Factette
Allen Iola Iola is on the Neosho River
Johnson Olathe Olathe is a a suburb of Kansas City, Missouri
Ness Ness City City and County were named for Corporal Noah V. Ness
Osage Lyndon The county is named after the Osage River that runs through it
Shawnee Topeka Topeka is Siouan for "a good place to dig potatoes"


Kentucky
Boone County Courthouse
County Capital Factette
Boone Burlington The county is named for frontiersman Daniel Boone


Maryland
Queen Anne's County Courthouse
County Capital Factette
Queen Anne's Centreville The county is named for Queen Anne of Great Britain


Massachusetts
Essex County Probate Courthouse
County Capital Factette
Essex Salem and Lawrence MA


Michigan
Wayne County Courthouse
County Capital Factette
Huron Bad Axe The county is located at the northern tip of the Thumb
Ionia Ionia The county was named after the ancient region of Ionia
Wayne Detroit The county was named for general "Mad Anthony" Wayne


Minnesota
Winona County Courthouse
County Capital Factette
Hennepin Minneapolis The county was named for the17th-century explorer Father Louis Hennepin
Mille Lacs Milaca Milaca is situated on the Rum River
Winona Winona The names are said to derive from the Princess Winona legend


Missouri
Ste. Genevieve County Courthouse
County Capital Factette
Osage Linn The county was named for the Osage River
Ozark Gainesville The county was named after the Ozark Mountains
Platte Platte City The county was named for the Platte River
Ste. Genevieve Ste. Genevieve The county was named for the patron saint of Paris


Montana
Teton County Courthouse
County Capital Factette
Deer Lodge Anaconda The name Anaconda was chosen in lieu of Copperopolis
Silver Bow Butte Butte is the birthplace of Evel Knievel and Martha Raye
Lewis and Clark Helena Helena is nicknamed Queen City of the Rockies
Teton Choteau Choteau is named after the fur trader Pierre Chouteau, Jr.


Nebraska
Otoe County Courthouse
County Capital Factette
Otoe Nebraska City The county is named for the Otoe Indians
Platte Columbus The county is named after the Platte River


Nevada
Washoe County Courthouse
County Capital Factette
Elko Elko The names are taken from the Shoshoni word for "white woman"
White Pine Ely Ely is home to the Nevada Northern Railway
Nye Tonopah Tonopah is nicknamed "Queen of the Silver Camps"
Washoe Reno Washoe County is home to the annual Burning Man Festival


New Hampshire
Hillsborough County Courthouse
County Capitals Factette
Hillsborough Manchester & Nashua The county was named for Wills Hill, the Viscount Hillsborough


New Jersey
Essex County Courthouse Lioness
County Capital Factette
Essex Newark Aaron Burr was born in Newark
Ocean Toms River Ocean County is on the Jersey Shore
Passaic Paterson Paterson is known as the "Silk City"
Sussex Newton Sussex County is the northernmost in NJ


New Mexico
Doña Ana County Courthouse
County Capital Factette
Doña Ana Las Cruces Las Cruces is nicknamed "The City of the Crosses"
Otero Alamogordo The White Sands National Monument is in Otero County
Taos Taos The D. H. Lawrence Ranch is Taos County


New York
Tioga County Courthouse
County Capital Factette
Erie Buffalo Buffalo is the second most populous city in NY
Nassau Mineola Nassau County is on Long Island
Niagara Lockport Lockport's name comes from a set of Erie canal locks
Oneida Utica The county is named in honor of the Oneida tribe
Oswego Oswego The city of Oswego is on the Oswego River
Otsego Cooperstown Cooperstown is home to the National Baseball Hall of Fame
Tioga Owego Tioga derives from an American Indian word meaning "at the forks"
Ulster Kingston Woodstock is in Ulster County


North Carolina
Randolph County Courthouse
County Capital Factette
Randolph Asheboro The county was named for Peyton Randolph
Ashe Jefferson The county was named for NC governor Samuel Ashe
Alamance Graham Elon University is in Alamance County


North Dakota
Ward County Courthouse
County Capital Factette
Ward Minot Minot is known as Magic City


Ohio
Van Wert County Courthouse
County Capital Factette
Champaign UrbanaChampaign takes its name from the French word for "open level country"
Erie Sandusky The Cedar Point amusement park is in Sandusky
Van Wert Van Wert County and capital are named for Isaac Van Wart
Greene Xenia Xenia (ξενία) means "hospitality" in Greek


Oklahoma
Pontotoc County Courthouse
County Capital Factette
Pontotoc Ada Ada was named after the daughter of an early settler
Garfield Enid Enid was on the Chisholm Trail
Osage Pawhuska The county is coterminous with the Osage Indian Reservation


Pennsylvania
Susquehanna County Courthouse
County Capital Factette
Erie Erie Erie is known as the "Flagship City"
Susquehanna Montrose Crossword Man lives here


South Carolina
Sumter County Courthouse
County Capital Factette
Sumter Sumter County and capital are named for General Thomas Sumter


South Dakota
Custer County Courthouse
County Capital Factette
Custer Custer County and capital are named for General George Armstrong Custer


Tennessee
Overton County Courthouse
County Capital Factette
Overton Livingston The county is named for Memphis co-founder John Overton


Texas
McLennan County Courthouse
County Capital Factette
Angelina Lufkin Angelina is also a National Forest
Jackson Edna The county is named for Andrew Jackson
El Paso El Paso El Paso is across the Rio Grande from Ciudad Juárez
Gregg Longview The county is named for Confederate general John Gregg
Menard Menard The county is named for Michel Branamour Menard
Palo Pinto Palo Pinto Palo Pinto roughly translates as "painted stick"
McLennan Waco Waco is on the Brazos River


Utah
Utah County Courthouse
County Capital Factette
Utah Provo Crossword fav Orem is also in Utah County
Wasatch Heber City Wasatch means "mountain pass" in Ute


Virginia
Amelia County Courthouse
County Capital Factette
Amelia Amelia CourthouseThe county is named for Princess Amelia of Great Britain


Washington
King County Administration Building
County Capital Factette
King Seattle Originally named after William Rufus King, the county now honors Martin Luther King, Jr
Yakima Yakima The names originate from the Yakama Nation


Wisconsin
Racine County Courthouse
County Capital Factette
Winnebago Oshkosh Oshkosh is located where the Fox River enters Lake Winnebago
Racine Racine "Racine" is French for "root"


Wyoming
Albany County Courthouse
County Capital Factette
Laramie Cheyenne The capital was named for the Cheyenne nation
Albany Laramie Laramie is located on the Laramie River
Teton Jackson Jackson Hole is in Teton County

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

I must point out that factoids are "facts which have no existence before appearing in a magazine or newspaper", to quote Norman Mailer who coined the term. In other words they're not facts.

See the WP entry for chapter and verse.

Graham
Guildford, UK.

Crossword Man said...

That's interesting about Norman Mailer. The factoids are now factettes.

Anonymous said...

I fear I may be fighting a losing battle, but my work here is done.

Graham
Guildford, UK.

David said...

King County, Washington was originally named for vice-president William Rufus Devane King, who served under President Franklin Pierce (for whom Pierce County, Washington was named) for only 45 days before dying of tuberculosis. He was the shortest serving vice-president, except for John Tyler and Andrew Johnson, both of whom became president.

In 1986, King County passed a resolution renaming King County for Martin Luther King, because WRDK was a slaveowner. The state of Washington confirmed the change in 2005.

There is also speculation that WRDK was the first homosexual vice-president, and that he had a relationship with James Buchanan, who some believe was the first homosexual president.

Crossword Man said...

Thanks David. You've persuaded me that King County has to be in a crossword some day (if not already). Adding it also gives me the chance to include a more consistent Washington image ... that's a very kingky seat they have out front!