It occurred to me that I was seeing a lot of towns in the US with Rio in their names so I counted them. As it turns out, I can only find 15 of them. There are not so many Rios in the USA, but research provided some mild surprises. Lots of towns have watery names that include the words spring, lake, river, creek, brook, fountain and so forth. For geographic reasons, Arkansas and Florida both seem to have lots of them. However, actual Rios are rare and not especially near centers of Spanish culture that would explain their names.
It’s a fact that 10 of the towns named Rio are in only 2 states, California and Texas. Both states have large Spanish speaking populations. Two Rios are in rapidly growing Arizona.
There are 2 Rio Grandes, but neither is near a grand river and both are in surprising states. Rio Grande, NJ is close to Cape May in the far southern part of the state, and I can find no river near it. Rio Grande, OH is rear Raccoon Creek but not so close to the grand Ohio River. Then there’s a Rio Grande City. It’s not too far from the famous Rio Grande River in Texas near the US/Mexico border. However, the Rio Grande River is so controlled now that it’s never a truly grand river.
I figured that Del Rio, TX near the Mexican border would be the largest US town with Rio in its name, but that proved wrong. The largest town named Rio is a suburb of Albuquerque, NM. There are close to 90,000 people living there not too far from the real Rio Grande River, which is the longest stream in the state of New Mexico. The somewhat strange Rio Grande River begins in Colorado but flows entirely across the state of New Mexico from north to south for almost 2,000 miles. The sight of it near Taos in a deep canyon is an exciting tourist attraction.
The other 3 Rio cities in Texas are Rio Bravo, Rio Hondo, and Rio Vista. Rio Bravo is near Laredo, Rio Hondo is near Harlingen in the Rio Grande Valley near the Rio Grande River’s mouth, and Rio Vista is south of Fort Worth. None of them are large communities although Rio Bravo has a population close to 5,000.
The 5 California Rios are Rio del Mar near Gilroy, El Rio near Ventura close to the LA area, Rio Dell, Rio Linda, and Rio Vista. The largest of these California Rios is Rio Linda with more than 15,000 people. It’s a suburb of Sacramento.