Removed Geographic Names: Louisiana

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Names removed from the Louisiana map by the US BGN are shown in the above map. This research was presented at the 2014 State of the Coast Conference. High resolution boards (PDF).

A few notes:

The term “historical” as used in the GNIS means specifically and only that the feature no longer exists on the landscape. It has no reference to age, size, condition, extent of habitation, type of use, or any other factor. For example, a ghost town is not historical, only abandoned as might be noted in the historical notes field. Most historical features are (or were) man-made, but also can be natural features such as shoals that are washed away by a storm or a hill leveled by mining activity.
An entry with Feature Class = Populated Place represents a named community with a permanent human population, usually not incorporated and with no legal boundaries, ranging from rural clustered buildings to large cities and every size in between; includes metropolitan areas, housing subdivisions, developments, modular home communities, and named neighborhoods (village, town, settlement, hamlet, trailer park, etc.). The boundaries of most communities classified as Populated Place are subjective and cannot be determined.

A community with Feature Class = Civil represents a political division formed for administrative purposes with legally defined boundaries (borough, county, incorporated place, municipio, parish, town, township).

(The Civil feature class does not include named residential neighborhoods, developments, etc. that are based on ownership of plots of land and therefore will have defined boundaries. These features are not considered political entities; they are classified as Populated Places.)

A small percentage of communities classified as Populated Place will have a corresponding political entity classified as Civil. In these cases, the entry classified as Populated Place represents the perceived metropolitan area usually extending beyond the legal boundaries of the incorporated community classified as Civil.

The feature classified as Populated Place and a corresponding entry classified as Civil are separate and distinct entities, as well as separate records (entries) in the dataset, each with a unique feature identifier. The two records have no direct relationship in the dataset except that they might have the same Census Code.
Geographic Name

A name applied to a geographic feature. It is the proper name, specific term, or expression by which a particular geographic entity is, or was, known. A geographic entity is any relatively permanent part of the natural or manmade landscape or seascape that has recognizable identity within a particular cultural context. A geographic name, then, may refer to any place, feature, or area on the earth’s surface, or to a related group of similar places, features, or areas.

The U.S. Board on Geographic Names is a Federal body created in 1890 and established in its present form by Public Law in 1947 to maintain uniform geographic name usage throughout the Federal Government. The Board comprises representatives of Federal agencies concerned with geographic information, population, ecology, and management of public lands. Sharing its responsibilities with the Secretary of the Interior, the Board promulgates official geographic feature names with locative attributes as well as principles, policies, and procedures governing the use of domestic names, foreign names, Antarctic names, and undersea feature names.

The original program of names standardization addressed the complex issues of domestic geographic feature names during the surge of exploration, mining, and settlement of western territories after the American Civil War. Inconsistencies and contradictions among many names, spellings, and applications became a serious problem to surveyors, map makers, and scientists who required uniform, non-conflicting geographic nomenclature. President Benjamin Harrison signed an Executive Order establishing the Board and giving it authority to resolve unsettled geographic names questions. Decisions of the Board were accepted as binding by all departments and agencies of the Federal Government.

The Board gradually expanded its interests to include foreign names and other areas of interest to the United States, a process that accelerated during World War II. In 1947, the Board was recreated by Congress in Public Law 80-242. The usefulness of standardizing (not regulating) geographic names has been proven time and again, and today more than 50 nations have some type of national names authority. The United Nations stated that “the best method to achieve international standardization is through strong programs of national standardization.” Numerous nations established policies relevant to toponomy (the study of names) in their respective countries.

In this age of geographic information systems, the Internet, and homeland defense, geographic names data are even more important and more challenging. Applying the latest technology, the Board on Geographic Names continues its mission. It serves the Federal Government and the public as a central authority to which name problems, name inquiries, name changes, and new name proposals can be directed. In partnership with Federal, State, and local agencies, the Board provides a conduit through which uniform geographic name usage is applied and current names data are promulgated.

For geographic feature names policies applying to the United States, or to the use of foreign geographic names, Antarctica names, and undersea feature names by the United States, see the respective items in the main menu on the left. Any person or organization, public or private, may make inquiries or request the Board to render formal decisions on proposed new names, proposed name changes, or names that are in conflict. Minutes of the Board’s meetings are available. Communications concerning the Board should be addressed to:

Lou Yost | Executive Secretary | BGNEXEC@usgs.govw
U.S. Board on Geographic Names | U.S. Geological Survey

Established Usage

A geographic name that has appeared consistently in written usage and/or has been expressed consistently in verbal usage, and that is supported by historical and/or current written materials and/or in folklore.

Historical Usage

A geographic name given and used during the early history of a place or feature; the name may be either obsolete or in current use.

Legal Usage

A geographic name that appears in a document generated as part of a legal procedure established by a government body; the document may either (1) establish the name, or (2) apply it incidentally in order to identify or locate an area, site, or feature important to the principal purpose of the document. This category includes “legislated usage,” which, because of its importance to the naming process, is given special recognition.

Legislated Usage

A geographic name established by a legislative body–local, tribal, State, or Federal.

Local Usage

A geographic name commonly and currently used for an entity, whether in verbal and/or written form, by persons having frequent enough contact with the entity to use the name on a regular basis.

Unnamed Feature

A geographic entity that is not known to have had a verbal or written name.

Verbal Usage

A name used by people when referring to a place, feature, or area in their own language as commonly spoken every day.

Written Usage

A geographic name in handwritten or printed form, for example, handwritten letters, diaries, and logs or names printed in newspapers or on maps or recorded in official, digital records.

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