Imagine Northeast Iowa

A blogging extravaganza by, for, & about Northeast Iowa.

What's In An Iowa Name?: Calmer, Castalia, Clayton, Chester, Clermont, & Cresco
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What's In An Iowa Name?: Calmer, Castalia, Clayton, Chester, Clermont, & Cresco

We’re back and ready to tackle the 6 “C’s” in Northeast Iowa. Beginning with some exciting (or sad?) news…

Calmar Iowans, you’re all alone. That’s right, there is only one Calmar and it’s in Iowa. (Someone, please prove me wrong!) Perhaps it’s because your town got its name from a city in Sweden named Kalmar back in 1854? Whatever the reason, you’re special, enjoy it!

Castalia, Iowa is nearly alone. If you’d like to visit all the Castalia’s in the country, you only have to go two other places: Castalia, Ohio and Castalia, North Carolina.

Castalia, Ohio is the largest of the three with a population of 935. It started as a settlement in 1738, but the early settlers decided they wanted to be closer to Pennsylvania-based merchants, so they burned the village and moved. Where did they move? They moved to an area at the mouth of the Cuyahoga River and named the town, you may have heard of it before, Cleveland. Later on, other settlers loved the location of the old town and Castalia, Ohio was born again.

Castalia, North Carolina has a population of around 340. And for those of you tired of living through Castalia, Iowa’s long, cold winters, you could always move to NC! In Castalia, NC, between 60 and 90 days per year are over 86 degrees. Although, those hot days, combined with the South’s high humidity, make it sweltering in the summer.

You can find Clayton’s in 26 states; however there are 29 cities, towns or villages named Clayton. How can this be? I’ll tell you. Wisconsin has FOUR towns or villages named, Clayton. That’s right, if you’d like to visit all the Clayton’s in the U.S., you can knock four off the list by just heading to our neighbor across the Mississippi!

Some points of interest include Clayton, Alabama which is known for its Whiskey Bottle Tombstone that was featured in Ripley’s Believe It or Not. (Look it up!) It’s a tombstone shaped like a whiskey bottle, designed by the wife of the man who lies there. She promised to mark the husband’s grave if he drank himself to death and she’s a woman of her word!

Something else I found interesting is that Clayton, California almost had a different name. The two men who founded the town flipped a coin to determine who it would be named after, Joel Clayton or Charles Rhine. Can you guess who won the flip?

In fact, most of the Clayton’s on the list were named after people, except for Clayton, Washington which was named for nearby clay deposits.

Clayton, Georgia is where a portion of Disney’s “Old Yeller” was filmed in 1957.

The most populated Clayton is Clayton, North Carolina with 16,116 residents. The least populated is Clayton, Idaho which has only 7 residents. I’m unsure of the population of Clayton, Minnesota because it consists of just one cemetery.

Other states that are home to Clayton include Delaware, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Texas, and West Virginia. That’s a lot of Claytons!

On to Chester! There are 28 cities, towns or villages named, Chester. But just like Clayton, they can all be found in only in 26 states, due to New York having three different towns named, Chester. Two of the New York Chester’s can be found in Orange County, one of which claims to be the birthplace of “Philadelphia Cream Cheese.” Another Chester that has “birthplace” claims is Chester, Pennsylvania which claims to be the birthplace of the hoagie.

Have you heard of Popeye the sailor man? If you’re a major Popeye fan, you’ve likely heard of Chester, Illinois. Chester, IL is the "Home of Popeye” being the birthplace of its creator, E. C. Segar. The town has a 6-foot, 900-pound bronze statue of Popeye the Sailor Man in a park that memorializes Segar. Several of Mr. Segar's characters were created from experiences with people of Chester.

Here’s something for all you fans of Chuck Norris. Have you heard some of the hundreds of famous “Chuck Norris” quotes? Such as, “Chuck Norris has a vacation home…on the sun.” Well, whether that’s true or not, he also has a vacation home in Chester, California. Chuck Norris, whose wife Gena Norris is a Chester native, visits there several times a year.

Other states with cities, towns or villages named Chester include Arkansas, Connecticut, Georgia, Idaho, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, South Carolina, South Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, West Virginia, and Wisconsin.

There are 7 places with the name, Clermont, in the U.S. And with 632(ish) people, our very own Clermont, Iowa is almost the least populated. Where can you find a smaller Clermont? In Pennsylvania, where a once-booming Clermont is now basically empty, with camps outnumbering homes, after a sewer pipe company named Kaul Clay burned down in 1961.

There are also Clermonts in Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, New York and, the most populated, Clermont, Florida with 30,201 residents.

Our final “C” town in Northeast Iowa is Cresco. Located in Howard County, Cresco, Iowa is home to one of the largest school districts in Iowa in terms of square miles. It is also hometown to Nobel Peace Prize laureate, Norman Borlaug.

Would you believe there is only one other town in the U.S. named Cresco? To go there you would have to travel from northeast Iowa to northeastern Pennsylvania. Cresco, PA is a small town that attracts many tourists due to its historic train station, Callie’s Pretzel Factory and Callie’s Candy Kitchen. Pretzels and candy? I’d say they are reason enough to make a trip to see the ONE other Cresco in the U.S.

Click here to read, “What’s In An Iowa Name: Alpha, Alta Vista, Arlington, & Aurora”

Click here to read: “What’s In An Iowa Name: Bassett, Bluffton, Brandon, & Burr Oak”

  1. Kris Kulish
    Very interesting story. I am from Calmar the only one in the United States! That's so good to know thank you for the interesting story.

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