Friday, February 15, 2013

Wheres Pikes Apostrophe?

Pikes Peak, Colorado
April 30, 2001
Pikes Peak postcard from the 1930s

There are nearly two dozen places in the United States that are officially named Devils Punchbowl. You will not, however, find a single apostrophe in any of those names. Although placenamers may have thought the devil possessed these places, the United States Board on Geographic Names has determined otherwise. Since 1890, the Board on Geographic Names has discouraged the possessiveness of places by not allowing the genitive apostrophe and the “s”. In fact, the Board has actually removed the apostrophe from geographic names for natural features although they allowed the “s” to remain. Five natural features have been able to keep their apostrophe thanks to official decisions of the Board:  Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts, Ike’s Point in New Jersey, John E’s Pond in Rhode Island, Carlos Elmer’s Joshua View in Arizona, and Clark’s Mountain in Oregon.

Friday, February 1, 2013

The Devils Punchbowl

Dianas Punchbowl
aka Devils Punchbowl
Nye County, Nevada
Los Angeles County, California   May 29, 2000
Nye County, Nevada   May 24, 2009
Montgomery County, Indiana   July 3, 2011

The Devil has quite a number of punchbowls in the United States. Over 20 places in more than a dozen states have been called the Devil's Punchbowl or Punch Bowl. The Devils Punchbowl is also found in other English-speaking countries including Canada, New Zealand, Ireland, England, and Wales. Since the devil is known in other languages, his punchbowls are also found elsewhere in the world. In Ecuador at the Rio Verde it is called La Ponchera del Diablo.

We are not talking about a large bowl from which a beverage such as punch is served. Rather, these punchbowls are unique geologic or topographic features which to an explorer's eye may look like a bowl-like depression. These features include basins, springs, lakes, and waterfalls. The devil's ownership to the punchbowls has been usurped by man, but the devil's presence at one time or another engulfed these places. The anxiety of a placenamer who came upon one of these punchbowls may have spawned a fright that only the devil can bring. A legend telling of the devil haunting, causing mischief, or bargaining for a soul at the punchbowl may have evoked anxiety and fright in the placenamer. Or it may have just been a shiver down the back of the placenamer as the punchbowl brought visions of the devil's dwelling.