03 December 2012

Nome, Alaska

Nome gold pan

The city of Nome, Alaska has a curious and unclear origin.

Nome's founder, Jafet Lindeberg, may have given it that name because of a Nome Valley near his childhood home in Kvænangen, Norway. (In Norwegian, Nomedalen)

Some say that Nome received its name by a mistake. A British cartographer allegedly copied an unclear annotation on a nautical chart made by a Naval officer while on a voyage up the Bering Strait. The officer had written "? Name" next to the unnamed cape. The mapmaker misread the annotation as "C. Nome", or Cape Nome, and used that name on his own chart. Cape Nome made the map and the nearby city took its name from the cape.

This actually did cause some confusion and in 1899, some local miners and merchants voted to change the name from Nome to Anvil City to avoid confusion with Cape Nome which was 12 miles (19 km) south, and the Nome River, the mouth of which is four miles (6 km) south of Nome. But the United States Post Office in Nome refused to accept the change. Fearing a move of the post office to Nome City, a mining camp on the Nome River, the merchants unhappily agreed to change the name of Anvil City back to Nome.

Another story is that a settler asked a native to the area the name of the place and recieved the reply "no-me" meaning “I don’t know” and the settler accepted his comprehension of that answer as the name place.


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