Minnesota Historical Society

Pocket Guide to Minnesota Place Names: The Stories Behind 1,200 Places in the North Star State

$ 11.95

A handy and entertaining pocket guide to the origins of place names of the North Star state.

Within our state's borders you'll find such exotic place names as Amor and Darling, Fertile and Conception, Comfort and Happyland, Looneyville and Nimrod, Flour Lake and the Diarrhoea River, Great Scott and Eureka, Home and Nowhere, Moonshine and Whiskey Creek, Stringtown and Pig's Eye, Snowball and North Pole, Embarrass and Kiester, Coin and Money Creek, and Chickentown and Bull Moose. But how did these places get such unusual names? Wonder no longer as author Michael Fedo relates the curious and prosaic ways in which a place gets named.

Place names tell a rich history of how our state was settled. This compact guide presents the fascinating stories behind over 1,200 Minnesota place names. Included are all the names you'd expect--counties, larger towns and cities, major lakes and rivers--as well as the curious and odd. Culled from over 20,000 entries in the classic work Minnesota Place Names by Warren Upham, this concise guide is the perfect companion for anyone who travels the highways and waterways of the North Star state.


  • By: Michael Fedo
  • Format: Paper, 168 pages, index by county
  • Publisher: MHS Press
  • Product ##: 9780873514248


MICHAEL FEDO is the author of four other books including The Lynchings in Duluth and The Man from Lake Wobegon and has been a contributor to the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, Newsday, and the Christian Science Monitor. He lives in Coon Rapids, Minnesota, a place named, not surprisingly, for the numerous raccoons that used to frequent the banks of Coon Creek.



A sampling from The Pocket Guide to Minnesota Place Names:


Darfur city (Watonwan County) was named either for a region of Sudan or when two Scandinavian railroad men questioned, "why you stop dar fur?"

Ivanhoe city (Lincoln County) was named by railroad officials for the hero of the novel by Sir Walter Scott. Many of the town's streets are named for characters in the novel.

Lucan city (Redwood County) may have been named for one of the railroad surveyors, Lou Kartak. When another surveyor was asked if he could think of a name for the town, he replied, "No, but maybe Lou can."

Money Creek township (Houston County) was named for the creek here, which was in turn named after a man got his pocketbook and contents wet in the creek and spread out the bank notes on a bush to dry. A sudden gust of wind blew them into the water again, and some of it was never recovered.

Nodine village (Winona County) was named by two government surveyors who could not find a place to eat.


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