The Confused Mapmaker

ABOVE: A very wrong map

There are actually two states in the Union named Oregon. One we all know; the other borders the west side of Lake Michigan.

Confused? The second state is Wisconsin.

Some historians believe that both Oregon and Wisconsin are named after the Ouisconsink River, (now known as the Wisconsin River) which bisects the dairy state and empties into the Mississippi. It's not hard to see how the name Wisconsin was derived from Ouisconsink, but Oregon seems a bit of a stretch.

Here's how it is believed to have happened. Long ago, a mapmaker misspelled Ouisconsink as Ouracon--sint. From there it's not too hard to see how the name Oregon was derived.

Of course, today the place we call Oregon is over a thousand miles from the Wisconsin River, but that wasn't clear to cartographers and explorers in the 1700s. At least one theorized that the Ouisconsink River flowed from the Great Lakes all the way to the Pacific Northwest.

He was wrong, but the name stuck.