Sunday, March 24, 2002

West Virginia Bird Place Names (Part 1 of 5)

The U.S. Geological Survey's Geographic Names Information System is a wonderful source of information on place names. I used it to identify West Virginia geographic features with bird names. A couple of names found in the DeLorme atlas, but not the GNIS database, are denoted by [DeLorme]. The resultant list includes 77 different bird place names that have been used to describe more than 330 geographic features in West Virginia. I have not researched the derivation of any of these names, although I suspect that most (but certainly not all) are named for birds. Features named Turkey (82), Pigeon (34), Raven (24), Goose (22), and Eagle (18) are particularly well-represented in West Virginia. Surprisingly, I found no features named after the State bird--the Cardinal, but there are three features named Redbird (a common colloquial name for the Cardinal).

The following types of features are included in this list: Bends (bottoms, loops, or meanders), Branches (streams), buildings, Campgrounds, Camps, Cemeteries, Chapels, Churches, cliffs, Country Clubs, Creeks (streams), Dams, Ferries, Forks (streams), Gaps, Golf Courses, Historic Districts, Hollows (valleys), Impoundments (reservoirs), Knobs (summits), Lakes (reservoirs), locales, Lookout Towers, Mountains, pillars, Ponds, populated places (cities, settlements, towns, or villages), Post Offices, Public Fihing Areas, Ridges, Rocks (summits or cliffs). Runs (streams), Schools, Seaplane Bases, Shopping Centers, Springs, State Parks, summits, Swamps, Trails, valleys, and Works (locales).

And here's the list of West Virginia bird place names (click here for a map showing the location of West Virginia counties):

BALD EAGLE (1) - a valley in Marshall County.

BIRD (13) - Branches in Mingo and Wyoming counties; Cemeteries in Putnam and Roane counties; a Knob in Clay County; an historical Post Office in Tyler County; Ridges in Hampshire and Wood counties; historical Schools in Gilmer, Mercer, and Wood (Bird Ridge) counties; and a Run and Campground (Bird Run) in Pocahontas County.

BIRDS (5) - a populated place, a Creek, and a Church (Birds Creek United Methodist) in Preston County; and a Run and an historical School (Birds Run) in Harrison County.

BLACKBIRD (2) - a Knob and a Trail (Blackbird Knob) in Tucker County.

BLACKEAGLE (1) - a populated place in Wyoming County.

BLACKHAWK (3) - a populated place, an historical Post Office, and a Hollow in Kanawha County.

BLUE GOOSE (1) - a Pond in Mason County.

BLUE JAY (4) - populated places (Blue Jay and Blue Jay 6)--the former with a Post Office (zip code 25816)--and a Lake (reservoir) in Raleigh County.

BOB WHITE (2) - a populated place and a Post Office (zip code 25028) in Boone County.

BUZZARD (14) - Branches in Kanawha and McDowell counties; a Dam (Buzzard Branch) in McDowell County; Cemeteries in Pocahontas and Ritchie counties; Creeks in Mason and Putnam counties; a Hollow and a Ridge in Pocahontas County; Rocks in Wood County; Runs in Berkeley, Monongalia, and Ritchie counties; and an historical School in Pocahontas County.

BUZZARD ROOST (2) - Knobs in Jackson and Wayne counties.

To be continued . . .

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