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Unnamed emigrants sure got around

I've always wondered how Emigrant Lake got its name. I'm sure that will be an easy one for you experts.

— Nancy M., Medford

Well, Nancy, we don't like to brag, but we're used to smacking softball questions like this one clear out of the park.

Emigrant Lake was actually named after Emigrant Creek, which was dammed in 1926 to form the lake east of Ashland on Highway 66.

Easy, huh?

Now we suppose you'll want to know how Emigrant Creek got its name.

To save you from having to ask, we'll tell you that, according to "Oregon Geographic Names," the creek supposedly got its name because a group of emigrants stopped at the creek to cool off after crossing the Cascade Mountains. Nobody seems to know who those emigrants were, but they sure got around.

All sorts of natural features were named after them, including Emigrant Butte in Lane County, Emigrant Buttes and Emigrant Hill in Umatilla, another Emigrant Butte in Klamath County, Emigrant Pass in Lane County and Emigrant Springs in Sherman County.

It strikes us as a tad unimaginative to name so many features after people who just happened to pass by, but there you go, Nancy.

Send questions to “Since You Asked,” Mail Tribune Newsroom, P.O. Box 1108, Medford, OR 97501; by fax to 541-776-4376; or by email to youasked@mailtribune.com. We’re sorry, but the volume of questions received prevents us from answering all of them.