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Reference Question of the Week – 10/2/11

   October 8th, 2011 Brian Herzog

Map of New York StateI've been out most of this week at conferences and meetings, so haven't been in the library enough to get a really good reference question. But I did get one directly from someone who reads this website, which I thought would be fun for other people to try. His question:

Here is a nice reference question for you. I tried to answer it but couldn't. It's a question I got from a colleague (at the university I work for) who got it from his daughter (a junior high student).

In the state of New York there are several places that are also found in a number of other states. Name the New York places that match these descriptions.

Place 1
Is also located in 11 other states: Delaware, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania.

Place 2
Is also located in 15 other states: Colorado, Georgia, Indiana, Iowa,Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, South Dakota, Texas, West Virginia, Wisconsin.

Place 3
Is also located in 27 other states: Arkansas, California, Connecticut, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, West Virginia, Wisconsin.

Place 4
Is not only located in 9 other states: California, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Oregon, Pennsylvania,Virginia, Wisconsin
But is also the name of a Canadian province.

I found a Wikipedia page (but not the right answers) and a page made by Dan Tilque which was about toponyms

I believe I found the Wikipedia page he referenced, as well as an About.com page, but they didn't answer the question. The reference to Dan Tilque ended up leading to a journal named Word Ways: The Journal of Recreational Linguistics. He apparently was the author of an article in 2001 named Common Place Names, but when I tried finding that journal in our databases, the coverage only goes back to 2002 - that's frustrating.

The Most Common US Place Names Wikipedia article cites the Census Bureau's American FactFinder as the source, but I played with their interface and couldn't find any kind of listing that would help with this question (but did learn that they're releasing a new version of the FactFinder soon).

I tried searching online for things like toponym trivia "new york", but had no luck - does anyone know a resource to answer this type of question?

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