Monday, June 19, 2017

How Many Springfields Are There in the US?

Answer: many. How many? It depends. Here, let’s dive right in …

No Soap (9)

Yup, there are some states out there that simply have neither hide nor hair of anything resembling a place called Springfield. Here’s the list, from least-likely-to-have-a-Springfield to most-likely:
  • Hawaii
  • Alaska
  • New Mexico
  • Arizona
  • Montana
  • Wyoming
  • Oklahoma
  • Rhode Island
  • Connecticut

It Depends (6)

Now, this group may or may not have a Springfield. In particular, I was able to find something out there. But what that might be is another question. In other words, some site out there (Trulia, WhereiS, MapQuest, even Google) might show a dot on a map somewhere, but tell me next to nothing about population, features, etc. So, a little hard to say if it’s really a town or not. Anyway, these are those …
  • Utah
  • Washington
  • Mississippi
  • North Carolina
  • Delaware
  • Maryland

Ghost Towns (2)

So, we’ve finally got a couple of places that we know are for real. Unfortunately, they were only real in the distant past.

Not a lot on Springfield, Nevada.  Founded in 1875, it was abandoned in 1876. says it has “pretty scenery,” but that “only the ruins of one small stone cabin remain.”

Springfield, Texas has a little bit more on it. In fact, you can find pretty much everything you ever wanted to know about it right here. Or here:

Though that last one might be a little hard to decipher

Real Places (34)

So, here they are – in increasing order of population …

North Dakota (pop. 35) tells me the population of this place, but not much else. Looks like it’s in the northeast part of the state, not too far from the Canadian border.

By the way, it’s actually a township, and not really a town per se. What’s a township? It’s basically a grid that divides up the whole state.

Somehow or other, though, it does merit its own t-shirt 

Idaho (pop. 330)

Not much more on this one either. It’s in the eastern part of the state, not too far from Pocatello. It does sound, though, like it gets some tourists – the American Falls Reservoir and Springfield Bird Refuge are nearby. It’s still mostly agriclutural though – potatoes, wheat, and lettuce, in particular.

Maine (pop. 400)

Now we’re getting into the big time. This place has its own website, as well as a building on the National Register of Historic Places (see below). It is also the “birthplace of A. O. Lombard, inventor of the Lombard log hauler and other things [???].”  This Springfield dates all the way back to 1834. It’s inland, not too far from the Canadian border, and has Millinocket as its closest city.

Springfield Congregational Church (1852)
A particularly good example of the Gothic Revival

Louisiana (pop. 500)

Well, this historical plaque pretty much says it all:

What they don’t mention, though, is that this place probably has only 500 people because the town fathers, “fearing a lawless element,” declined the offer of having the railroad run through their little burg. And, back in the 19th Century, that was a sure way to put your town on the road to obscurity.

South Carolina (pop. 500)

Springfield, SC, on the other hand made the right bet on the railroad. Actually, the town started (in 1887) only when the railroad came through. Their big thing is a Frog Jump, modeled after the much better-known one in California.

Unfortunately, I could not find those shirts online

West Virginia (pop. 500)

Springfield, WV is in the far northeast corner of the state (but not quite in the little “hook”). It dates back to 1790, and is named after the Revolutionary War Battle of Springfield (New Jersey).

A little history for you

California (pop. 900)

Springfield, CA almost made it into the Ghost Town section. It’s in Gold Country, and was once more than twice as big. 

Needless to say, a Google Images search on “springfield california” returns a lot of these

Iowa (pop. 1,100)

Well, looks like we’ve got another township on our hands.  Actually, it looks like we’ve got 3! Are Iowans just a particularly boring and unimaginative people? 

Only one of those, though, has enough data out there that I could list a population for it. And that one is in the eastern part of the state, pretty much halfway between Davenport and Cedar Rapids.

New Hampshire (pop. 1,300)

Settled in 1769 and originally names Protectworth (?!?!), Springfield, NH changed its name in 1794. It’s in the western part of the state and includes Giles State Forest. It also represents our first real famous resident – former general and CIA director David Petraeus.

Good lord – they even have their own cop car!

New York (pop. 1,350)

Springfield, NY was settled in 1778, and named in 1797. It was once famous for its hops, and today claims a big 4th of July celebration, one that has been going on for over 100 years. Wikipedia lists 4 famous residents, none of whom I have heard of.  Nor do any of these “celebrities” have their own Wikipedia articles. Hmm … It looks like the town’s halfway between Schenectady and Syracuse. Nice!

Colorado (pop. 1,450)

Looks like we’ve got our first county seat. In fact, this Springfield also doubles as the most populous town in Baca County as well. Both are in the very southeast corner of the state. The town was named after Springfield, MO, where most of the early settlers had come from. It dates back to 1887.

Springfield’s one brush with national attention came during the Dust Bowl

Arkansas (pop. 1,600)

The Wikipedia entry for Springfield, AR has a mere 62 words. Interestingly, 56 of them are about its one “notable person”:

Rick Beck (born 1956), Republican member of the Arkansas House of Representatives for Conway and Perry counties since 2015, electrical engineer born in Little Rock and a former resident of Springfield. He is also an adjunct professor at the University of Arkansas Community College at Morrilton.

Something tells me Rick might have put this in himself.

I don’t think this very picturesque old railroad bridge has anything to do with Rick however

Nebraska (pop. 1,600)

Springfield, NE is another railroad town. It sprung up from the prairie in 1873 when the Missouri Pacific came through. Current-day highlights include its:

  • Having a genuine, old-fashioned soda fountain
  • Being the site of the Sarpy County Fair
  • Being the filming location for the video for Lady Gaga’s “You and I”

It’s real near Omaha. Lotsa corn.

South Dakota (pop. 2,000)

Springfield, SD is located in the southeast part of the state, on some bluffs overlooking the Missouri River. One “famous son” is Mel Tjeerdsma, past president of the American Football Coaches Association.  The town’s motto is “the best kept secret in South Dakota.” 

Springfield is also home to the Mike Durfee State Prison. In fact, of the town’s 2,000 people, 1,200 of them are actually behind bars.

Hard to believe, but they have a frog jump too

Minnesota (pop. 2,100)

Guess what? Yup, another railroad town, this one dating back to 1877. This particular one is in the southwest corner of the state – in some pretty intense and particularly rich farm country. There are some connections to Laura Ingalls Wilder. It’s also the birthplace of Bernie Bierman, former Golden Gopher football coach and member of the College Football Hall of Fame.

That’s Bernie, by the way … not Laura … just in case you were wondering

Kentucky (pop. 2,650)

Another county seat, Springfield KY is pretty much smack dab in the center of the state. It dates back all the way to 1793. Notable sons and daughters include:

  • Former NFL quarterback Phil Simms
  • The Lincolns, Tom and Nancy, parents of President Abraham Lincoln

I believe this is our first Springfield to have its own newspaper, the Springfield Sun.

Bet you didn’t know the Lincolns were avid golfers, did you?

Wisconsin (pop. 2,750)

There are actually no less than 5 Springfields in the Badger State. And I thought Iowans were boring!

The particular Springfield, WI I’m featuring here is the most populous one. In fact, it looks like it outnumbers all the others combined. It’s in the south central part of the state, just northwest of Madison. Its one “famous son” appears to be Bernard Esser, whose “accomplishments” include serving:

  • As the Springfield clerk, assessor, and  treasurer
  • In the Wisconsin legislature
  • As Dane County Clerk of Circuit
  • On the Dane County Board of Supervisors

You go, Bernard!

Georgia (pop. 2,800)

Springfield, GA is part of the Savannah Metropolitan Statistical Area (bet you didn’t know there was even such a thing). It’s the county seat of the wonderfully named Effingham County. Though it’s been the county seat since the 18th Century, it only really started growing – once again – when the railroad came through, back around the turn of the 20th Century. These days, it’s growing even more – as something of a bedroom community for the expanding metropolis of Savannah.

The old courthouse
(which is, actually, kind of cool looking)

Alabama (pop. 4,000)

Unfortunately, we’ve got the old multiple Springfields problem again. This time, it looks like I can spot 4. The one I’m going to concentrate on, though, is that megalopolis of 4,000 people in the northeast part of the state. It’s most famous son is undoubtedly Hank Patterson, who played Fred  Zifel, owner of Arnold Ziffel, on Green Acres. 


That's Fred on the left,
Arnold on the right

Michigan (pop. 5,300)

Springfield, MI is an “enclave of the city of Battle Creek,” and is just west of the big city. Its main attraction appears to be the disc golf course at Begg Park, which hosted the Disc Golf World Championships in 2008.

Oh, almost forgot – it was also the scene of a mysterious, massive crow die-off

Vermont (pop. 9,000)

Our oldest Springfield to date, this one goes all the way back to 1761. At one time, it was a major producer of machine tools. Springfield’s Wikipedia entry includes 28 “notable people,” including an Olympic gold medal winner, a couple of governors, and a vice-president of the US of A (Levi P. Morton, who served under Benjamin Harrison). Most importantly, though, Springfield, VT was selected – out of all the Springfields out there – to host the premiere of The Simpsons Movie.

Florida (pop. 9,300)

Florida’s Springfield is just east of Panama City. If you’re not familiar with your Florida geography, that is not the capital of the country of Panama, but part of the Panhandle. 

This entry from Wikipedia is possibly the most priceless thing I’ve ever found on that site:

Unlike much of Bay County, Springfield has been mostly left out of the recent real estate boom, possibly due to the large and odoriferous chemical mill and paper plant on the city's waterfront.

Possibly. What do you think?

Looks like there are amusement parks in the Sunshine State as well

Tennessee  (17,000)

Holy cow!  We are now officially over 10,000 people.

Springfield, TN is just a little north of Nashville.  Their motto is, “Minutes from Nashville, miles from ordinary.” There’s not a lot out there on the town, so I’m assuming it’s a bit of a bedroom community.

New Jersey  (pop 17,500)

As mentioned before, this Springfield was the site of a Revolutionary War battle. You’ll be happy to know that the Murcans won, whipping the evil Hessian General Wilhelm von Knyphausen. 

These days, the town looks dangerously close to NYC. In fact, it’s just to the west of garden spots such as Elizabeth and Newark. 

They do have a swanky golf club, though – the Baltrusol. It’s hosted the PGA Championship and 7 US Opens.

They’ve also got more notable people than I can shake a stick at, but – once again – I’ve never actually heard of any of them. That said, however, we certainly could never overlook:

  • Dan Avidan, lead singer-songwriter of Ninja Sex Party and Starbomb
  • Jeannette DePalma, murder victim found in Houdaille Quarry whose unsolved case has become a matter of significant controversy thanks in part to coverage in Weird NJ magazine
  • Zygi Wilf, owner of the Minnesota Vikings

Can't tell for sure if this is Ninja Sex Party or Starbomb

Pennsylvania (pop. 24,000)

Continuing our suburban theme, Springfield, PA is just west of Philadelphia. It’s also our oldest town so far, dating back to 1686. Interestingly, it was originally called Amosland (?!?!). I actually know two of its famous people this time – baseball Hall of Famer Mike Scioscia and early American painter Benjamin West. Hard to believe, but there are actually 9 Springfields in the Keystone State.

Virginia (pop. 30,000)

Here’s a place that I actually know! I’m from Northern Virginia originally, and still have a number of relatives in the area. 

Apart from my relatives, Springfield’s main claim to fame is the Springfield Mall. Like the nearby Tyson’s Corner, it seems to have an almost iconic presence in the DC area. 

The town itself dates back to 1847, and got its first post office 30 years later. It only really changed from a sleepy country crossroads after WWII, with the coming up the first subdivisions.

Like I say, iconic

Oregon (pop. 60,000)

Springfield, OR is in the southern Willamette Valley. It was settled in 1848, and incorporated in 1885. It was formerly known for lumbering and for its hazelnut orchards. It would probably be much larger than it is today, but the town fathers (like those in Louisiana) bet against the railroad, with the line going through Eugene instead. Actually, local lore has it that the town fathers of Eugene helped the decisioning along with a little pecuniary encouragement (AKA, a bribe).

These days, the town seems a little on the crunchy side, with connections to Ken Kesey, the Grateful Dead, and early Gay Rights legislation. More importantly, however, Matt Groening, creator of The Simpsons, once let out that this particular Springfield was actually the one he had in mind!


Ohio (pop. 60,000)

Founded at a site on the Mad River in 1801, Springfield, OH grew into a major industrial player (Kelly Springfield Tire started here). It’s also where 4-H clubs got their start; boasts a Frank Lloyd-Wright home; and includes famous sons and daughters such as photographer Berenice Abbott, silent film actress Lillian Gish, and a surprising number of major-league baseball players. Finally, it’s our first Springfield to feature a real, live university – Wittenberg University, to wit.

Unfortunately, recent times have not been that good. And here’s what Wikipedia has to say on that front:

In 2010, Springfield ranked third worst in a national wellbeing survey conducted by The Gallup Organization. In 2011, Springfield was named the "unhappiest city in America" by another Gallup survey. In 2015, Springfield was ranked the least healthy city in Ohio by 24/7 Wall St.

Illinois (pop. 117,000)

Hey, our first (and only) state capital! 

You’ve probably already heard of this Springfield’s most famous son. In fact, Abraham Lincoln is something of a local industry here. The city features his home, library and museum, and tomb. 

Here are some other interesting facts about Springfield:
  • Reputed home of the corn dog
  • Site of the oldest fast food drive-thru
  • Starting point (to continue our eating theme) for the Donner Party

Massachusetts  (pop. 154,000)

Springfield, MA appears to have a lot going for it.  It was the first Springfield in the New World, is the fourth largest city in New England, and has no less than 3 nicknames: 

  • City of Firsts – “because of its many innovations”
  • Hoop City – because it’s where basketball was invented 
  • City of Homes – honestly, I have no idea (I mean, you could say that of pretty much any city out there, right?)

Unfortunately, like Springfield OH, Springfield MA seems to be another victim of Rust Belt malaise. Wikipedia gets right to the point, stating that, “During the 1980s and 1990s, Springfield developed a national reputation for crime, political corruption and cronyism.” Ouch!

Can’t forget that it's the hometown of Dr. Seuss now, can we?

Missouri (pop. 165,000)

Springfield, MO is in the southwest part of the state, going by the nickname “the Queen City of the Ozarks.” It’s the third largest city in the Show Me State, behind only St. Louis and Kansas City.

It’s also the home of Missouri State University, the site of several Civil War battles, and is known as the “birthplace of Route 66.” Finally, it’s the headquarters of Bass Pro Shops, O’Reilly Auto Parts, and the Assemblies of God.

It was also a huge center of country music,
All of which has pretty much migrated to Branson (shown)

Why Springfield?

It’s simple, isn’t it? Just think of the two main things early settlers might be looking for – water and flat, cleared ground. Bingo!

Unfortunately, it looks like we’ve got only one, Oregon, where that applies. There are 7 more, though, that at least have the water part – ME, CA, AR, NE, SD, KY, NJ, MN, and MO.

The rest of the Springfields, interestingly, were names after other Springfields. And those are mostly Springfield, MA. I’ve got 3 of those – ME, WV, and OH. 2 others – GA and VA – were named for a local farm or plantation. And 2 more were named for other Springfields. In particular, Springfield CO was named for Springfield MO. 

By the way, there are a couple of Springfields out there that are a little up for grabs. In particular, Springfield MN could have been named on its own or for Springfield MA. And Springfield MO could have been named for Springfield MA, Springfield TN, or independently.  C’mon, people!  Make up your minds!

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