SALT LAKE CITY — Utah is rich on bars, has an eggnog to boast of and has one more wife than any other state in the nation.
That's according to a fun and quirky exploration of the names of Utah's geologic formations and cultural institutions, which reveals some interesting tidbits — from the number of places with the word "hell" in it — 55 — compared to a mere 13 places with "heaven."
And while Utah has a notorious reputation for its "quirky" liquor laws, that does not mean the state is short on bars — that is the kind that are the elongated ridges of sand, gravel or other sediment.
“Utah has more bars than Arizona, Nevada and Wyoming combined,” said Mark Milligan, with the Utah Geological Survey, noting there are 211 of the formations documented in Utah.
The agency, which is part of the Utah Department of Natural Resources, compiled the information for its May publication "Survey Notes," in an article called "Glad You Asked."
The documentation of geologic names stretches back to an executive order issued by President Benjamin Harrison creating the U.S. Board of Geographic Names in 1890. The mining, settlement and exploration of Western territories led to wholesale confusion and a host of inconsistencies in naming geologic features that proved to be a headache for mapmakers, surveyors and scientists.
Technology has led to a more expansive documentation of names that includes the use of geographic information systems and global positioning systems.
Such data is entered into the U.S. Geological Survey's searchable database called the Geographic Names Information System, which offers the ability to conduct specific searches.
The Utah survey looked at names specific to the state for its article, having a bit of fun on the way with observations that note while there are 104 "strange names" and 311 "odd names" elsewhere, none are in Utah.
In contrast, however, Utah has nearly one-third of the nation's places with nipple in the name, with 29 such references. You can find Mollys Nipple, a summit, on the south part of Antelope Island in Davis County. An actual water well near Milford in Beaver County is called Mollys Nipple Well.
And while God has only 39 matches in Utah, there are 1,126 matches to Jesus, largely due to the inclusion of churches in the database. All told, there are 1,853 "devils" across the country, among them the 69 found in Utah, including Devil's Kitchen in Juab County and Devil's Playground up north in Box Elder County. The United States has 23 names that includes the word, "goblin," but Utah is the only place with "Goblin Valley."
The United States has 365 "eggs," but only three states — Virginia, Texas and Utah — have "eggnog." In Utah, Eggnog is a little community in Garfield County, north of the Glen Canyon National Recreation area.
Milligan, a geologist with the survey, worked on the article off and on in between his other duties, lured by the fun of the research.
"I'm not really sure how long it took because I was working on it with a bunch of other things," Milligan said. "I kept going back to it because I was entertained by it."
Utah, for example, is the only state in the country with more than one "wife," having two of them. There is Wife Creek in Carbon County near Scofield Reservoir and Wife Canyon, a valley not far away.
"Unique," too, is not that unique across the United States with 12 such places bearing that word as part of its name. But, alas, in Utah there is nothing unique.
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