Classy Name for a Town

Article excerpt

Byline: The Register-Guard

Detroit, Ore., may be about to lose its name. It will do so by addition, not subtraction. A proposal on the Nov. 2 ballot would change the name to Detroit Lake.

The not-quite-300 residents of Detroit need no advice about city names from editorial writers in a place called Eugene. Nonetheless, we're inspired to offer some.

Oregon's Detroit was, in fact, named in the late 1800s after the Michigan city. According to McArthur's "Oregon Geographic Names," the first name suggested for the community was Coe. But postal authorities rejected that because it was too much like Cove in northeast Oregon: "Detroit was the name then selected because of the presence in the community of a number of Michigan people."

Fair enough, although that does raise the question of why there should be an unusual number of Michiganders in the Santiam Canyon east of Salem.

Detroit Lake already exists as a physical entity, of course - a big (nine miles long) reservoir formed by Detroit Dam, which blocks the North Santiam and Breitenbush rivers. …