Thursday, December 6, 2012

Those Places Thursday: Naked Creek

Those Places is a daily prompt at Geneabloggers that invites family historians to post photos and stories about places their ancestors lived. 
 

As part of my participation in the Sepia Saturday group, I recently posted a story about the Blue Hole, a local swimming hole in Naked Creek, located in both Rockingham County and Page County, Virginia.  Blue Hole and Naked Creek have been ingrained in my family memory for as long as I can remember, so it never occurred to my feeble blogging brain that the name “Naked Creek” would spark such interest.  Comments ranging from “sounds like a place to go skinny dipping” to “we want to know MORE about Naked Creek” sent me on a research mission to get the full story.

And here’s the naked truth:  there is no story.  At least not one that is even mildly titillating. 

I checked my resources which include a couple pages from a Page County gazetteer and a book on the history of the town of Shenandoah.  I even found Dr. John Wayland’s History of Rockingham County online.  He’s the go-to expert on everything about the Shenandoah Valley, and if he had nothing on Naked Creek, there must be nothing to say. 
  
According to the gazetteer, Naked Creek is a right-handed tributary of the South Fork of the Shenandoah River, which forms about six miles of the boundary between Page and Rockingham counties.  Exciting?  But there’s more.  



Close-up 

There are falls.  Yes, Naked Creek Falls is a cascade of the East Branch of Naked Creek between Long Ridge and Powell Mountain.  An experienced hiker can bushwhack his way to the falls from the Skyline Drive, but there is no real trail.  If you don’t feel adventurous, you can enjoy the photos posted at one of these 2 spots:

Shenandoah Views (I use Google Chrome.  If I use Internet Explorer, this page gets garbled.)

Where there are falls, there are mountains.  Naked Mountain was an early name for part of the Blue Ridge Mountains that was mentioned in surveys as early as 1771.

Did I stop there with my research?  Heck no.  Surely there has to be a story, some explanation for how the creek got its name.  I checked the various genealogy forum message boards on the off-chance that someone might have asked about the history of Naked Creek.  And I found something that MIGHT be something.  Of course, it might also be nothing.  In April 2003 someone seeking information about an ancestor said this:  "I was born at the Old Furnace at Nakjec Creek. . . .  My great grandfather . . . was the postmaster and Justice of the Peace at Naked Creek."

“Nakjec” and “Naked” – I’ve Googled “Nakjec” and even checked back with Dr. Wayland’s book, but I can find nothing.  But I do wonder if “Nakjec” was an old Indian name for the creek, and over time it morphed into “Naked.” 

Sounds reasonable to me, but for now it's just a theory.  




© 2014, Wendy Mathias.  All rights reserved.

11 comments:

  1. It sounds reasonable to me that Naked Creek morphed from Nakjek.

    You are great at research!

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  2. Your theory sounds good to me but it's a shame I'll have to shake off that little frisson of excitement about how it got the name 'Naked'. I suppose not everything turns out to be scintillating. Great research.

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  3. Great job with the research! Your conclusion sounds right to me.

    Have a good Thursday!

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  4. Awesome research! I'm wondering if Naked Creek was named for the mountain. But your theory of Nakjek Creek morphing into Naked Creek sounds reasonable too. Great job Detective Wendy!

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  5. WOW! I'm impressed as always, but I think you are on to something!!!! cool cool cool

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  6. Guess the old Indians idn't have swimming costumes!

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    1. I'm sure "buckskins" and "buck naked" could be connected somehow.

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  7. What about Nataniel Kidd? Nat Kidd? (pronounced in dialect of course) And don't forget French words were often misused too. Names of things are such a mystery, in part because they stick even without good reason. Have you tried any old property maps? Names of families or forgotten settlements might offer clues. But heck I'm just being a pest again. :-}

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    1. The one property map I have is from the latter part of the 1800s. Based on those early deeds I mentioned, the name had been around for over 100 years by then. I'll look for some older ones.

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  8. Naked Creek may sound strange, but Naked Mountain makes more sense, IE a mountain without trees. Although when I look at pictures I see an awesome amount of trees in the area, so I doubt if such a naked mountain exists.

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    1. Oh yes - very treesy. I thought I had read somewhere that the name might have something to do with the course the creek took seeming to come from nowhere. Not sure how that fits, and not even sure if my memory is correct.

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