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Comment: This book has already been loved by someone else. It MIGHT have some wear and tear on the edges, have some markings in it, or be an ex-library book. Over-all it is still a good book at a great price! (if it is supposed to contain a CD or access code, that may be missing)
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Utah Place Names: A Geopgraphic Guide to the Origins of Geographic Names, a Compilation Paperback – January 16, 1991

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Editorial Reviews

Review

“The book is scholarly and complete—but it is also a lot of fun. Van Cott includes the folklore, the myth and mystery, the logic and reasoning that have made our map what it is. This is a great book for browsing in, for starting conversations with, for simply enjoying as a window on the past.”
Desert News


“The first full-length account of Utah’s toponyms, which range from the prosaic to the wonderfully evocative. A worthy addition to western Americana.”
—Western American Literature


“Took me on a dizzying psychotronic journey through Utah geography.”
—The Daily Utah Chronicle

About the Author

John W. Van Cott is former supervisor of General Botany Laboratories in the botany and Range Science Department at Brigham Young University. During World War II he was the Lieutenant of Police on the Manhattan Project at Hanford Richland, Washington and has worked for both the U.S. Forest Service and the now non-existent U.S. Grazing Service. He was a charter member of the Utah State Committee on Geographic Names, and Founding President of the Utah Place Names Society.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 480 pages
  • Publisher: University of Utah Press (January 16, 1991)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0874803454
  • ISBN-13: 978-0874803457
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.3 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,312,621 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Bomojaz on November 5, 2005
Format: Paperback
Quite a few states have place name books, but I've never seen one better than this one (only Attwood's "Length and Breadth of Maine" comes close). Locations, both man-made (towns, dams, etc.) and natural, are listed in alphabetical order; then the county in which each can be found along with it's name origin are given. Usually this is as far as books like this go, but Van Cott gives us much more. Sometimes a little history of the location is related, and then, best of all, the section, township, and range is given, making it easy (or at least easier) to pinpoint the sites specifically on maps or in the field. Finally, each place name is referenced to books listed in a 600+ item bibliography.

Van Cott has covered all the bases that need to be covered in this great book. If you're interested in how places were named (how Faust in Tooele County, for example, was named after Doc Faust who operated the Pony Express station there) or exactly where places are located, especially ghost towns (Faust is at the south end of Rush Valley, S27, T7S, R5W), or both, this book is your best source. The listings run double-column for over 400 pages, and it appears to be thorough but not complete: I have come across old towns in post office listings from the 1800s not listed (Shem, Millersburgh, and Panaca, all from Washington County, for example). Despite the omissions, it's a great achievement and a marvelous tool for anyone interested in (most of) Utah's place names and locations.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Mike Smith on September 30, 2005
Format: Paperback
Everything you need to know about Utah is in this book.

Well, not everything. But it's a great place to start.

Look up a town, canyon, mesa, river, or county, and this will tell you how it got its name.

It's well-organized, well-written, and just plain fun to read.

...Some of the book's information is questionable, but history is always kind of uncertain, especially when you come to the sort of isolated desert areas that cover so much of Utah.

For instance, the book says "Sweet Alice Springs" got its name from an area Indian maiden that would offer her body to the local cowboys, but Ned Chaffin--an old-time cowboy himself--has said it was named after a song "Sweet Alice" that a tone-deaf friend of his tried to sing while they were out riding the range.

The author also suggests that a rancher named John Kitchen named the slickrock butte known as "Mollies Nipple" after his wife, when that place name was actually already on maps long before John Kitchen ever moved there.

All that's neither here nor there though, because this book is a great read, and a must for anyone who lives or travels in Utah.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book would have received all five stars; it is missing some obvious current and former cities, like Hunter and Pleasant Grove.
While they are mentioned by name as references these two and others are missing.
I have enjoyed reading about other cities towns etc, while I drove to Manti Utah.
This book is from 1995 and could us an update.
Overall very good.
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By skibikehike on December 28, 2013
Format: Paperback
It is missing many place names for communities in southern Utah Dameron Valley, Winchester Hills and Diamond Valley to mention a few
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Utah Place Names: A Geopgraphic Guide to the Origins of Geographic Names, a Compilation
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