A setting of rugged terrain, lush green spaces and vineyards called Provence could be the town in France but isn’t. Two places are named Berlin, but neither of them is in Germany. A town called Nashville is famous for a collection of dinosaur footprints rather than the music which is omnipresent there.
Towns throughout the United States may share the same name with other places, but little else. After all, there are only so many ways to label a community so it’s no surprise that there are repeats. For example, there are over 20 U.S. towns called Berlin and Middletown and about two dozen known as Paris.
These towns span the country, so some probably are within a convenient drive of where you live. They can provide a welcome day trip during this time of limited travel.
Provence France – and Texas
Let’s begin our journey with a visit to a 450-acre planned community near Austin, Texas. Inspired by the magnificent landscape that greets visitors to
the popular province in southeastern, France, the development brings touches of southern France to the Texas Hill Country. People strolling by pocket vineyards and authentic 19th-century European statuary may easily imagine themselves having been transported to the other Provence.
You’d think that a place called Berlin was named by German immigrants, and that’s true for the former gold-mining settlement in Nevada. German prospectors arrived in the 1880s but left about 30 years later when the mine closed. Today it’s a ghost town where well-preserved buildings contain the original furnishings.
Much older exhibits are the remains of giant marine reptiles that swam in the ocean which covered central Nevada 225 million years ago. They’re on display in a Fossil House.
A small town in Maryland is called Berlin but its name is pronounced “Burl-in,” with emphasis on the first syllable. That’s because the village occupies the site of the Burley Plantation, which was established in 1677. Berlin’s historic residential areas feature nearly two centuries of architectural heritage, and 47 structures are included in the National Register of Historic Places.
Towns Named Nashville Provide Diatonic Ditties and Dinosaurs
What place other than Nashville, Tennessee could claim the nickname “Music City?” Since the 1920s, it has attracted musicians and those who love country music and, more recently, a variety of other genres.
Entertainment venues range from the famous Grand Ole Opry to small clubs and nondescript bars. Other major attractions are the Country Music Hall of Fame and museums dedicated to leading musicians.
Sauropods rather than sounds of music are the major attraction in Nashville, Arkansas. A man who moved to the area from Tennessee is said to have proposed the moniker when the town was incorporated in 1849.
Once a major peach growing center, the small community (population about 4,600) is home to the largest dinosaur trackway in the world. A collection of up to 10,000 footprints preserved in a quarry serve as reminders of Sauropods that roamed the area during the early Jurassic period, which began about 200 million years ago. Some species in the group were the largest animals that ever lived on land.
Then there are towns that got their name because of their location between places. That includes Middletown in Connecticut, because it’s about halfway between Windsor and Saybrook, and in California, which occupied the halfway point along the stagecoach route that connected Calistoga and Clearlake.
The Connecticut community originally was called Mattabeseck, after the local indigenous people, and was renamed in 1653. Due to a recent influx of immigrants from southeast Asia the town has a number of restaurants that offer a range of cuisines.
During the first half of the 1900s natural springs in Middleton, California attracted people seeking to “take the waters.” A major draw today is the Middletown Rancheria, a Native American reservation that is home to some tribal members and the Twin Pine Casino.
The Odd Couple From the Towns of Eureka: Archimedes and Reagan
According to legend, the ancient Greek scholar Archimedes came to understand the theory of water displacement after stepping into a bathtub. The excited sage reportedly ran naked through the streets yellowing eureka (“I have found it”).
However, Eureka, Illinois is best known for its association with Ronald Reagan. He attended Eureka College and remained close to it throughout his life. Reagan returned to town at least 12 times, including twice as President.
The Reagan Museum and Peace Garden at the College is the largest center of his memorabilia after the Reagan Presidential Library in California. Also, Eureka is located along the Ronald Reagan Trail, which connects towns in central Illinois associated with his early life.
A much longer pathway passes through Eureka, Montana. The 1,200-mile Pacific Northwest Trail runs from the Continental Divide in that state to the Pacific Ocean. Ten Lakes National Scenic Area just outside the town is a wilderness setting of rugged Alpine mountain terrain and spectacular views all the way into Canada.
A Historical Village includes a general store, school, church and other structures, some dating back to the 1880s.
This brief sampling provides an introduction to several places around the country that have the same name but very little else in common. There are many more which may be discovered by an Internet search.
If You Go:
Ronald Reagan Museum and Peace Garden