Have you ever met someone who was born in the state of Absaroka, Forgottonia, or State X? Maybe you have met someone just over the border from State X in State Y. Where are these little known states? Maybe a better question would be, “Where were they?” But, that would not be entirely accurate, since they never actually existed, that is, except on some old map or in the minds of their advocates.
In Lost States: True Stories of Texlahoma, Transylvania, and Other States that Never Made it (Philadelphia: Quirk Books, 2010), Michael J. Trinklein has put together a most delightful book about the many interesting states that never made it to full statehood. There were many of these might-have-been states in our nation’s history. Some would have made perfect sense, as for example Superior (the upper peninsula of Michigan) or South California.
South California was a proposal made in 1859, when California had a population easily calculated on one’s fingers and toes. The advocates of this mutilation of California, led by a wealthy landowner named Andres Pico, wanted to name their state “Colorado.” The proposal failed, but the name survived.
The course of history was not kind to these “states.” The Gold Rush seems to have doomed the idea of dividing California. At least in California’s case, the idea is not totally dead. It keeps coming up again and again. And why not? Many residents of northern California would love to be rid of southern California and all its problems.
Trinklein devotes two colorful pages to each of what he calls the “lost states.” One page provides a map locating the proposed state, and the other provides a brief account the history and fate of the “state.” The book’s attractive dust jacket folds out to provide a large, antique-looking map of the continental United States of America with twenty of the lost states superimposed on the actual forty-eight. This atlas of another, somewhat romantic, America is the perfect gift for American history buffs, or as a coffee table book.
Until next time, be good to all God’s creation, and always live under the mercy.