I’m looking to find towns that are named after natural obstructions to river navigation, i.e. falls and rapids. But they can also be named in other languages, such as French. “Waterfall” in French is chute d’eau, although it seems that French Canadian usually uses the word sault for them. So anyway, I compiled the following list using just my brain. That is, I didn’t use Google, Wikipedia, my Rand McNally Road Atlas, or any other reference. (OK, I did look up what state/province a couple places were in, but only when I knew there was a place with that name.)
I’d think that the “navigation head” of a river would also count as an obstruction, so Elkton Maryland would count at the head of the Elk River, as it used to have one of the funniest town names: “Head of Elk”.
Interestingly, THE big ride at amusement parks around the beginning of the 20th century was the Shoot the Chutes ride. In fact, the first acknowledged amusement park – Sea Lion Park in Coney Island – was basically built around Paul Boyton’s patented version of the ride in 1895. By a decade later, every amusement park being built around the United States was basically built around an incarnation of the Shoot the Chutes.
The town of Bow, NH was named for a bow in the Merrimack River, but I’m guessing that wouldn’t meet the criteria of a barrier.
Hampton Falls, NH
Bar Harbor, ME
Livermore Falls, ME
Mechanic Falls, ME
Island Falls, ME
Columbia Falls, ME
Portage Lake, ME - Maybe, not sure if this is on a navigable waterway
Passadumkeag, Maine - The name means “quick water” in Abenaki, not sure if that refers to rapids
Central Falls, RI
Woonsocket, RI - The origin of the name is unclear, but one theory suggests that it’s from “Thunder Mist”, referring to the waterfall in the center of the city.
Nah, I’ll skip portages. They aren’t necessarily due to rapids or falls. Sometimes they’re just where two different drainages were close enough to walk between.
Good addition of The Dalles, though. I used to live only 20 miles from there and I knew there was a waterfall there at one time, but I had no idea how extensive they were until I read the Wikipage on them just now. The whole thing is behind a dam now, so you just see placid water if you drive by.
The Wisconsin Dells are etymologically related to that word.[sup]1[/sup] I’m not sure if they actually blocked river navigation or not; it’s Wikipage doesn’t say.
[sup]1[/sup] Also related geologically. Both were narrow channels where glacial flooding funneled through when the last glaciation ended.