About Chemical Innovation - Subscription Information
August 2001
Vol. 31, No. 8, p IBC.
The Last Word

Table of Contents

Nancy K. McGuire

Periodically in need of a vacation

figure of road signsRoad trip! Everyone else is traveling in August, so why not chemists? Naturally, our trip will be a tour of places named after chemical elements. First, let’s set some ground rules. This is only a one-page article, so we’re sticking to English names (we’ll get to Argentina on our next trip). Towns will be named after elements, and not the other way around (sorry, Berkeley). Names that only sound like chemical elements will have to wait as well, so Argonne is off the itinerary. Now that we have a manageable task, let’s go.

Our tour begins in Australia, home of Boronia Peak in Grampians National Park. Covering both ends of the economic spectrum are Gold Coast and Tin Can Bay, in Queensland. From there, it’s a relatively short hop to the Mercury Islands at the north end of New Zealand.

One very long plane flight (did I mention we have our own plane?) puts us in Copper Center, AK, with a side trip to Lead Hill. Many of the places on our tour can thank the mining industry for their chemical names. From there, we go to Uranium City, SK, then south to Gold Bridge, Gold River, Silverton, and Radium Hot Springs, BC. Iron River, AB, is one of three Iron Rivers we’ll be visiting.

We re-enter the United States at Gold Bar, WA, with side trips to Silverdale and Silver Creek. Our golden trail picks up again at Gold Beach and Gold Hill, OR, then goes on to Gold River, CA. Then we go to where the real money is, Silicon Valley. We round out our California tour with quick stops in White Sulphur Springs, Silverado, Boron, and my personal favorite, Copperopolis.

Moving inland, we visit Mercury, Silver Springs, and Gold Point, NV. Nobody’s home in Gold Point—it’s a ghost town. Silver Bell, Sulphur Springs Valley, and Chloride, AZ, are a little more lively. Carbon County, UT, is one of four such counties in the United States, as is Iron County. Utah has exclusive claims on Silver Reef and Antimony, however. Montana has its own Carbon and Iron Counties, along with Silver Bow County and White Sulphur Springs. South to Wyoming, and we’re in Carbon County again. In Colorado, we stop at Carbondale, Hot Sulphur Springs, Copper Mountain, Silverton, Silverthorne, Telluride, Leadville, and Golden (was this town called Leaden before the alchemists arrived?). Chloride, NM, is populated by lizards and rattlesnakes, but Silver City has a thriving art community, and Radium Springs positively glows (sorry).

Off to Texas we go, with a quick stop at Copperas Cove, which, despite the name, is far inland, near Carbon. Sulphur Springs and Sulphur Bluff beckon, followed by Sulphur, OK. We can give our noses a rest after that with a visit to Carbondale, KS. While in Kansas, we visit Silver Lake, then sneak in a trip to Argonia so the noble gases won’t get left out. Silver Creek, NE, and Lead, SD, round out our Western tour.

Crossing into Minnesota, we find Mountain Iron, Silver Lake (which is actually a town), and Silver Bay (another town, but it’s on the shore of Lake Superior). Wisconsin has the third Iron County, along with Iron River (a town) and Iron Ridge, and Silver Lake (another town). Carbondale and Glen Carbon, IL, bring us into the industrial Midwest.

The iron industry makes a strong appearance in Michigan: Iron Mountain, Irons, Iron County, and Iron River (you guessed it, another town), but Copper Harbor and Silver City are also in Michigan. Indiana has its Silver Lake, and Tennessee has Copperhill, but things really get colorful in Neon, KY.

Farther south, we find Sulphur Springs and Urania, LA, then it’s off to Carbon Hill and Silverhill, AL. Do the Silver Springs in Florida feed into Silver Creek, GA? We follow the coast back north, passing through Iron Station, NC, before going on to White Sulphur Springs and Nitro, WV. Visiting Silver Spring, MD, is bending the rules a little (early settlers found a spring with silvery mica flakes in it), but it’s on the way to Carbon County, Carbondale, and Silverdale, PA. We’re on a silver streak here, since the next stops are Little Silver, NJ, followed by Silver Creek and Silver Bay, NY, and Silver Lake, NH. We swing back by Cobalt, CT, before crossing into Canada to visit the other Cobalt in Ontario. From there, it’s off to Carbonear, Newfoundland.

Another long plane trip puts us in Silver Sands, Jamaica. It’s tempting to end the trip right there, but we would miss out on Silverton, Gauteng (PWV), South Africa. From there, it’s a long jump to Iron Bridge, Shropshire, England.

Those of you who still have a bit of the wanderlust can sign up for the deluxe tour package, which includes a shuttle trip to Superman’s birthplace on the planet Krypton.

Nancy K. McGuire is associate editor of Chemical Innovation.

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