Place Names

USGS 1894 Asheville map

 

People like to name natural features. In Appalachia, place names often stand out because of the wide variety of ethnic groups that have settled the region. Many places, like Cullowhee and Nantahala, retain their Cherokee names. Other places were renamed by European immigrants–for early settlers (Boone), politicians (Asheville), military heroes (Jackson County), biblical places (Mt. Pisgah), or local significance (Bear Wallow, Honey Cove, and Rattlesnake Ridge). Some names exhibit the region’s colorful folklife (Chunky Gal, Frog Level, Holy Butt, and Sweat Heifer). Naming the landscape brings a sense of ownership and also creates a personal relationship with it. Many place names are purely local and informal, existing only in the conversation of neighbors and never found on maps.

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