How to name a creek, officially?

We would like to name a currently unnamed creek. If you look on a detailed map, you will notice that almost every little creek has an official name, even ones that are dry half of the year. We have such a creek that flows through the edge of our property. You may have noticed that almost every creek that crosses beneath a road has it’s own sign which displays the name of the creek.

We would like to name the creek after my wife’s deceased father, who willed the property to her before he died of cancer. He was the first of the current local land owners to own property in the immediate area of the valley.

Current Attempts…

We first contacted the Ozark National Forest Headquarters in our county seat. They were baffled as to how to name a creek. They directed us to an individual who should know…

The individual was baffled as to how to name a creek. He said that the USGS usually did that, and that he would try to find out who specifically to contact. I am patiently awaiting his e-mail.

I decided to take a “multi-pronged” approach and contact the USGS myself. After a few transfers and holds on a long distance phone call, I was finally transferred to an expert on the subject. He said that he was baffled as to how to name a creek. At his request, I left him my phone number for him to let me know who I need to contact. I am patiently awaiting his call.


It is a seasonal creek with multiple springs throughout it’s length, one of which flows year-round (no matter how dry the Summer). Some of the springs literally bubble up from the ground when the ground is saturated. It is about 2,500 feet long, longer than other named creeks. Our property is where the creek is most managed. The property is also the most effected by the creek. No-one is, or would, contest any naming rights of the creek. We are on good terms with our neighbors, including the two other owners of the creek.

When the creek is at it’s highest depth, it floods a fair portion of the property and has even damaged multiple fences. It has it’s own concrete culvert, with an opening of approximately six feet squared. The creek can flood so high that the culvert can not drain all of the water, and it nearly floods across the road (rarely).

Next Attempts…

I will contact the county courthouse to see if they can help me.
I will contact the highway department to see what they know.

So why do I need to ask the question on Yahoo Answers… Because I am trying everything I can, hoping that I stumble across the answer.

2 Responses to “How to name a creek, officially?”

  1. Max Says:

    You will need a petition with the names of fellow landowners with property located on the creek. Also, the names of those who have a long-time memory of the creek. The more signatures on your petition the better.

    A detailed description of the creek including its history. Maps and pictures.

    Present them to the probate judge and tell him or her what you want to name the creek and for what reason.

  2. marvin Says:

    Have you checked with your state Department of Natural Resources Survey Division. This department in my state has a survey Historian he might be able to answer your question.
    You will need to know the county Township and Range and Section that you are in,you would like a Township map.
    When the state was surveyed the surveyor was required to note any creeks,branches,spring branches,major bluffs ETC. you should be able to read the survey notes and tell where they crossed the creek and if it had a name at that time Also it may be that this creek starts in what was called a U S land Grant or a U. S. Survey. These surveys were preformed first before any of the Sections were surveyed and it was named then by the owner of the grant.
    It may be your best bet to find a surveyor in your area and ask where to call or write to obtain this information because not all states maintain this information the same way.
    You might be able to have a survey performed and the creek located and a exhibit attached to your deed and the creek named then. I am not a lawyer so I don’t know but a Real Estate lawyer should be able to answer the legal points of your question.
    This could be very expensive and time consuming research.
    Good Luck