CHARLOTTE, N.C., October 19, 2016 – As the Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump clear the final hurdle before the homestretch in the presidential steeplechase, trivia begins today with the state of Nevada.
1 – What are the odds?: The final debate takes place in Las Vegas tonight, which, in its own unique way, seems more than appropriate for the 2016 campaign. But, while Las Vegas brings in a lot of capital, it is not the capital of Nevada.
That honor belongs to Carson City which was named for the nearby Carson River. Originally, Carson City was known as Eagle Ranch, but John C. Fremont, who explored the wild and woolly West back in the early days of western expansion, called it Carson City after Kit Carson.
Carson, who was a well-known frontiersman in his day, worked with Fremont as his scout during his exploration of the Rocky Mountains.
2 – From the ashes: Most of us have heard of the mythological bird the Phoenix that consumed itself by fire only to be later reborn from the ashes. Oddly enough, that is the precisely the source of the name for Phoenix, Arizona which is built upon the Pueblo Grande ruins on an indiginous civilization known as the Hohokam.
The claim to fame of Hohokam was an elaborate irrigation system stretching 135 miles through the desert between 700 and 1400 A.D. By the time American settlers arrived, the Hohokam tribe was gone thanks to what most experts believe was the result an extended drought.
The name “Phoenix” was proposed by an Englishman known for his love of spirits in a bottle as well as the spirits of literature. “Lord” Darrel Duppa was prolific in his recitations of Shakespeare and believed the image of the Phoenix of Egyptian mythology was the ideal name for the city.
Duppa’s suggestion received little debate, since the earliest settlers had named the city “Pumpkinville.”
3 – French toast: In an effort to pay tribute to the indigenous people of the region, Colonel A.B. Coleman chose the name “Cheyenne” in the hope of maintaining a good relationship with the “interesting savages” of what we call today Wyoming.
Unfortunately, Coleman did not realize that the tribe did not call themselves Cheyenne. Apparently the word was a French spelling of a Sioux word which meant “people who speak a foreign tongue.”
No matter. The name “Cheyenne” stuck after a rousing day of celebration in July of 1867 in which toasts were given for everything including “The Embryo City of Cheyenne” to the “health of the mule train.”
4 – Politics as Usual: If you think that Bismarck, North Dakota is named after the Prussian statesman, Otto von Bismarck, you are absolutely correct.
During the heyday of railroading in the northwest, the builders of the Northern Pacific Railroad named the terminus of their project “Bismarck” in the hope of attracting German investors.
The strategy failed but Bismarck did send the company an autographed note acknowledging the effort.
The historical saga of how, when and where our state capitals derived their names is an interesting conglomeration of the diversity with which our immigrant nation evolved.
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Bob Taylor has been traveling the world for more than 30 years as a writer and award winning television producer focusing on international events, people and cultures around the globe.
Taylor is founder of The Magellan Travel Club (www.MagellanTravelClub.com)
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