Let’s wrap up What’s In A Name Week with the story of how a state that never existed got its name.

This is the story of the state of Absaroka, which might have been the 49th state if things had gone differently.


In 1939, a group of ranchers in the West decided they weren’t getting enough attention from their state governments, not to mention the feds, and thought maybe they’d do better if they left those states behind and created their own.

They proposed a state made up of northern Wyoming, the western third of South Dakota, and a slice of southeastern Montana.

The name they chose, Absaroka, is a Crow word meaning “children of the large-beaked bird.”

A local official, A. R. Swickard, proclaimed himself governor of the new state, they started printing license plates, and they held a Miss Absaroka beauty pageant.

This was not enough to convince Congress to back statehood, and when the US joined World War II, the movement fizzled out for good.

But the story of Absaroka is a good reminder that our state boundaries are only really as permanent as we choose them to be.

And that if you’re going to push for statehood, you may have to do more than print license plates.


So Tulsa, Oklahoma is the center of the universe. Who knew?

Actually there is a place in Tulsa referred to as the center of the universe, because if you stand in this one circle surrounded by another circle of bricks, you can hear your own voice magnified several times.

There’s an acoustic anomaly there that acts as an echo chamber and volume booster.

So say something nice when you’re there, ok? People might hear you.

The State of Absaroka (South Dakota Magazine)

The Center of the Universe (Atlas Obscura)

Cool Weird Awesome’s backers on Patreon are the center of our universe. Join us today!

Map via Wikicommons