Taku River, Alaska
Coordinates: 58 27 N 134 10 W
Length: 180 miles (290 km)
Look closely at a good map of the world and chances are, you’ll eventually stumble across the name of a town or region more familiar as a comestible (Champagne, Cheddar, and Parma all spring to mind fairly quickly). In the past however, before places lent their names to foodstuffs, people often described locations according to what sort of resources (edible or otherwise) could be found nearby. The Taku River for instance, is so called because in the Tlingit language, Taku means “where geese gather,” thus signaling its suitability as a site for fowling. Beginning in the northwest corner of British Columbia, this waterway—also one of Canada’s largest salmon-producing rivers—winds across the Coast Range to empty into Taku Inlet, roughly ten miles from the capital of Alaska.
Ben Keene is the editor of Oxford Atlas of the World. Check out some of his previous places of the week.