(By Brandon Hansen/Chewelah Independent)
Onlyinyourstate.com says despite odd name, town worth visiting…
While Chewelah lost its lofty perch as the poorest town in the state of Washington, it has found itself on another internet list.
Onlyinyourstate.com has called Chewelah one of the weirdest town names in the state. While residents of our town are probably relieved we don’t call it Fool’s Prairie anymore, they might take pause that Chewelah has been ranked as the No. 6 silliest town name in Washington.
The name “Chewelah” comes from the Kalispel word “S che wee leh” which means “watersnake” or “gartersnake.” When the McCrea family homesteaded in the valley, their place was called “Sche wee leh ee” for the spring that bubbled up at their place. The motion of the water, it is said, gave the illusion of snakes moving about the water.
Chewelah’s previous name “Fool’s Prairie” was from a Kalispel Indian who left his own tribe because of a dispute.
On May 8, 1872, a post office was established that had the area called Chewelah.
The No. 1 town on the list of weird Washington names was Steilacoom – which is a town near Tacoma. The origin of the name is unclear, but one story said it comes from an Indian word meaning “Little pink flower.” Another story said the town was named by fur traders with the Hudson Bay Company who named it after Indian chief Tail-a-Koom.
The town of Steilacoom says it’s named after the Steilacoom tribe, since their main village is in the Tacoma area along Chambers Bay.
The full list goes as:
2. Touchet – Located near Walla Walla, name is pronounced TOO-shee
3. Elbe – home of the Mt. Rainier Railroad and Logging Museum
4. Sequim – pronounced “Skwim,” the town is known for its lavander
5. Twisp – With a population of 940, it’s known as the heart of the Methow Valley
7. Forks – Yes, the home of Twilight made the list
8. Chehalis – Known as the “Mint City,” their name is pronounced “Sh-Hail-Less”
Stevens County seat Colville is curiously absent from the list, however it could be because the name Colville is used for two lakes and a mountain range in Canada, a cape, small town and channel in New Zealand and two other towns in the United States. There’s also the Colville National Forest, Colville Island in the San Juan Islands, the Colville River in Alaska and the Colville River where everybody floats with beer coolers during the summer. There is also the Colville Indian Reservation.
Despite having several locations with the same name, one can occasionally hear an out-of-towner call it “Coal-ville” which is mildly infuriating.
The website that made the list, added a caveat. Instead of just being the state’s silliest town names, the actual list name is “These 8 Washington Towns have the Silliest Names But Are So Worth A Visit.” so instead of hurting the reputation of a town, this article might actually get somebody interested in coming to Chewelah.
Just remind them it kind of sounds like Chewbacca.