Ever been to Seldom Seen Pond in Canaan, Connecticut? Since you probably haven’t, you know how it got named. Every name tells a story. In a place as long and thickly settled as the Constitution State, just about all natural features—hills, lakes, ravines, rock outcrops and watercourses included—have at least one if not multiple names. They appear on signs and maps, and we hear them roll off the tongues of our neighbors and colleagues. Nevertheless, their meanings often remain mysterious.
Many places have fascinating and musical Indian names, often with multiple and uncertain meanings. Among them are Minnechaug (“huckleberry”) Mountain in Glastonbury, Waubeeka (“crossing place”) Lake in Danbury, and Mashamoquet (“great fishing place”) Brook in Pomfret. Our devout colonial forebears honored biblical places like Mt. Ararat in East Lyme, Meriden’s Sodom Brook, and Mt. Nebo in Manchester. They frequently left surnames such as Hubbard, Baldwin, Clark, Burnham and Whitcomb etched on our landscape. All are meaningful markers of our past, sometimes the only evidence of a bygone culture.