While on the way to Glacier National Park, I had little to do except be a passenger. Ruth & I were in northwest Montana at the time, and I found myself looking at a map of the area. I was struck by the names of the towns and began wondering who was in charge of naming these towns. They seemed to be unusually clever or descriptive names, and I began listing them. I shortly had a number of town names of exceptional character and considerable local color.
The towns around me included Happy’s Inn. Hungry Horse, Kila, Pray, and Old Agency. I was not too far from Heart Butte, Pawer, Maiden, Cat Creek, Cut Bank, and Froid. The last one seemed an especially appropriate town name in North Montana with its cold temperatures in the winter. Wondering who would name their hometown Kremlin, I turned my attention to the county names and found them not so special.
I next noticed that there were just as many not-so-unusual names among the exotic ones. I spotted towns named Manhattan, Lincoln, and Glasgow nearby. It was not a stretch to imagine that someone would name their new town Zurich considering the mountains in the area, and I began doing research on the town of Glasgow. I found it to be a town of more than 3,000 people with a classic Montana bar and a pioneer museum to support. But then I spotted a town named Checkerboard and began speculating about who would have the audacity to name their new town that in this part of Montana.
Big Arm suddenly seemed less interesting when I realized it was a town on Flathead Lake, which was especially beautiful that day. Pawer seemed suddenly more appropriate when I saw that the town of Pony was not too far from it. But Floweree!