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What’s next? Buenavista?

Brief by Central Staff

Real estate – September 2001 – Colorado Central Magazine

The real-estate industry has its own vocabulary. For instance, they always sell “homes,” rather than “houses,” and advertising phrases like “ski out your door” sometimes translate to “the county doesn’t plow the road in the winter.”

And in this ad from the “Distinctive Properties & Estates” section of the Aug. 3 Wall Street Journal, the settlement at the junction of U.S. 160 and Colo. 149 in Rio Grande County has a new name: “Southfork” rather than the traditional “South Fork” employed on every map at hand, by the town government (it was incorporated in 1992), and by the U.S. Postal Service at 81154.

Granted, it was likely just a typographic error, and we make our share of those, too. But it does inspire some speculation about compressing other place names: Delnorte, Ponchasprings, Fortgarland, Twinlakes, Saintelmo, Crestedbutte, CaƱoncity, Sanluis, Taylorpark, Anterojunction …

Geographic nomenclature can get tricky. The town of South Fork gets its name from a branch of the Rio Grande which joins the main stem there. First, there’s the Rio Grande, often called the Rio Grande River in this country — which seems redundant, since you don’t need to know much Spanish to know that rio means river.

In Spanish colonial days, it was Rio Grande del Norte, great river of the north, hence the Colorado town of Del Norte on its banks. But the river is Rio Brazo in Mexico. Brazo literally means “arm” or “foreleg” in Spanish, and figuratively it means “strength.” So we guess that Rio Brazo translates to “Strong River,” but we’re eager to be corrected by someone more knowledgeable.

Then to the tributary. Is it South Fork of the Rio Grande? Not according to the U.S. Geologic Survey, where the official name is South Fork Rio Grande, just as Chaffee County’s unimaginative pioneers left us with undistinguished names like Middle Fork South Arkansas River.

This use of fork inspired at least one clever newspaper name: the South Fork Tines, as opposed to the usual Times.

But we’d better stop here before we start speculating as to how much “peace and tranquility” will remain in South Fork if this ad does the job and moves a lot of lots.