Don’t call me Fernley

To finish up on the topic of Town Names—in Nevada, you would have to put the following places on a list of the “Decently Named.” Winnemucca and Tonopah (good, rhythmic, sorta-fun native words), Eureka (what better name for a mining burg than “I have found it!”), Paradise Valley (hey, sounds like a nice place), Boulder City (watch the fake-out here; named for the dam, not big rocks), Mountain City (OK), Jackpot (informs us as to the town’s main industry), and Las Vegas (the only Spanish-named town in America where you can get away with dropping the pronoun, if you don’t include “Frisco”).

In the category of “Blah, Bland and Meaningless,” any reasonable person would have to include Yerington, McDermitt, Hawthorne, Gerlach, Ely, Beatty, Henderson, Fallon, Laughlin, Fernley, Sparks and yes, indeed, Reno. You see the pattern that ties all these burgs together? Simple—each one has been named after some white dude from the late 19th or early 20th century, usually a megalomaniacal power monger. As a result, the names of all these towns tell us nothing distinctive about their local history, industries or geography. What they do tell us is just one thing and one thing only—for Mr. Henderson and Mr. Yerington and Mr. Beatty, having a really big house just wasn’t enough.

It’s difficult to imagine any reason to re-name our towns at this point (Mutant Mormon-cricket death plague? Successful invasion by Martians?), but if there ever was a next time around …

Fallon—this rich ag region is especially big with alfalfa and cantaloupes. But Cantaloupe City is about as sophisticated as “Liquorville,” and “Melonburg” isn’t much better. But “Falfa Town,” contracted to “Falfaton,” well, hey, if that’s the leg you’re standin’ on, don’t whiz on it.

Fernley—before Dr. Fernley’s ego trip, this outpost used to have the snappy handle of “Canal Township.” It’d be good to go back to that firm foundation, but with a Spanish approach. Unfortunately, the Spanish word for canal is “canal.” At this point, then, it’s best to punt in a Dadaist direction and go with “Zelda.”

Laughlin—Let’s face it; if there was ever a town that would be worthy of the name “Hellhole,” this is it. But that ain’t gonna fly as long as old man Laughlin’s alive, so best to fall back on the old fallbacks of Spanish and geography. This is the town of the hot river, after all, so “Rio Caliente,” would get it done.

Beatty—should the Republicans remain in power for a while, Beatty’s dumpish date with destiny might well come to pass. Those locals would best be advised to deal with this dreariness humorously, especially when it comes to a new town name. Would the Nye County Commission dare to drop a little Greek into the mix, and go with “Toxicopolis?” (Actually, here might be another fine application of “Hellhole,” if still available.)