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The railroad split and a multisyllabic, hyphenated name solution

March 3, 2010

The railroad: a source of community division in the pioneer days. (Note: yes, I realize there are palm trees in the background of this photo. It is for illustrative purposes only, you detail-oriented railfans. Sheesh.)

I moved to my current city of Scottsbluff, Nebraska, from Champaign, Illinois, and there are some interesting similarities between the communities.

Champaign is an upstart, founded in 1861 after the railroad bypassed 1833-founded Urbana by two miles. Urbana clung fiercely to the Champaign County seat. The two cities, the twin cities, seem to have forever after cooperated grudgingly, the sibling rivalry always present in the background. And there’s a contiguous 1950s add-on village that never really gets mentioned: Savoy.

Scottsbluff is an upstart, founded in 1900 after the first railroad, on the north side of the river, bypassed 1887-founded Gering, on the south side of the river. Gering clung fiercely to the Scotts Bluff County seat. The two cities, the twin cities, seem to have forever after cooperated grudgingly, the sibling rivalry always present in the background. And there’s a contiguous 1950s add-on village that never really gets mentioned: Terrytown.

The aforementioned Illinois and Nebraska twin cities have their own governments and their own identities, but for many practical purposes, the two (well, three) communities are one. Champaign-Urbana (or Urbana-Champaign, if you prefer) is a conglomeration; so is Scottsbluff-Gering (or Gering-Scottsbluff).

But multisyllabic hyphenated names are a pain to write and say, when they are written and spoken frequently.

The lazy tongues of the Illinois twin cities solved this problem by compressing the name: Chambana.

Chambana. Rolls off the tongue nicely, doesn’t it? (Thank goodness they didn’t shorten it to Urpaign; that sounds like a Tolkienesque battle injury or a severe case of stomach cramps.)

OK, Gering-Scottsbluff / Scottsbluff-Gering.

What about Gerbluff?

Mmmm . . . nah. Sounds too much like a sneeze.

Bluffing?

That’s just plain silly.

Gerscott? Scottger? Ingbluff? Scottsing?

Hmmm . . .  Scottsing. I rather like that one. Sibilant, with a note of glee club.

What say you?

Text copyright 2010 by Katie Bradshaw. Image credit to stevekrh19 at sxc.hu.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. March 3, 2010 4:01 pm

    Were we to include Terrytown with this–it could be Tergerscott–especially as Terrytown is always mentioned last in conversation–it’s all laughable in the long run.

    • Katie Bradshaw permalink*
      March 3, 2010 8:04 pm

      Haha. “Tergerscott” sounds like a playground taunt.

  2. Michele Arnold permalink
    January 8, 2011 9:52 am

    I’d vote for “Monument, Nebraska.”

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