While On The Road


We passed a sign warning the next exit would be N Drive North. And I so hoped that it would be N Drive North Road, or maybe N Drive North Road Avenue. “Warning” might be too strong a word there, but it seemed worth drawing attention to the fact. My love said that it probably was just that the streets there were given letters as names, which seems supported by the nearby L Drive North, but still. I choose to stick with the more delightful alternative. Besides, then we passed the sign explaining we were going over Battle Creek River and, you know, what can anyone add to that? A couple mathematically-themed comic strips, is what, including me owning up that I have no idea what John Graziano’s Ripley’s Believe It Or Not is on about. About one thing, I mean. Not about everything. Most of his stuff I get.

What Is Battle Creek, Michigan Named For?


I’m over forty years old. I have an advanced degree in mathematics. I have lived in Michigan for four years. I have only just this weekend stopped to wonder: what battle is Battle Creek, Michigan, named after?

My best guess: French explorers named the spot for where they refilled their water stocks. Then when the English poked in they figured ‘Bottle Creek’ must be some crazy moon-man mistaken pronunciation and they fixed it to ‘Battle Creek’ and we’ve been stuck with that since. So, yeah, please lock that in as my answer, won’t you? Thank you.



And according to Wikipedia, it’s actually named for a battle in the winter of 1823-24 in which two of the natives got into a fight with two people from a federal government survey party. In the fight one of the natives was wounded. After the fight the survey party fled. So, yeah, it involved not quite as many people as were needed to play the classic game show Password Plus. Although I guess there is a folk etymology that the river’s native name, Waupakisco, itself is some kind of name meaning “battle creek”, for some battle they dunno when it happened or what over, which makes people who know the language roll their eyes and sigh. So there we go.