Tims River

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Tims River, formerly Negro Run, is a 1.8 mile long tributary of the Robinson River within the Shenandoah National Park [1] in Virginia.


History of racist place names

Negro Run was one of "at least 1,441 federally recognized places across the nation include slurs in their official name". [2] At least 558 place names refer to African-Americans specifically in a derogatory manner. This creek was originally called Tim's River in 1753 and officially named Nigger Run in 1933. [3] It, and all other geographic features, replaced the word "Nigger" with "Negro" in 1962 by order of the Secretary of the Interior. [4]

Name change process

In November 2015, a local hiker sent a letter to the Deputy Director of the National Park Service expressing concern about the creek called Negro Run and suggesting that it be renamed "Oak Run" to reflect its proximity to White Oak Canyon. African-American families were living in the lower White Oak Canyon during the Jim Crow era, [5] which is most likely the basis of the official name change in 1933 to Nigger Run. From that letter, the Shenandoah National Park Superintendent began the process of officially changing the racist name of the creek. The Board of Geographic Names [6] reached out to other state and local historical societies to ask for comment on the proposal. The Madison County Historical Society preferred to see the creek named "Dyer Run" after the family that owned the property and lived in that area prior to the establishment of the park. By December 2016 the local African-American community had worked with the historical society to come to an agreement on the new name to be proposed to the Board of Geographic Names. [7]

The competing proposed names, "Freedom Run" by the National Park Service and "Dyer Run" by the Madison County Historical Society, were mutually withdrawn [8] and replaced by the proposal to rename Negro Run "Tims River" at the 789th meeting of the Board of Geographic Names Domestic Names Committee on December 8, 2016. The proposed name and case summary was included in Review List 426 [9] released December 30, 2016 and subsequently approved by the Board of Geographic Names on February 9, 2017.

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  1. "Shenandoah National Park (U.S. National Park Service)". www.nps.gov. Retrieved 2017-02-14.
  2. "Racial slurs are woven deep into the American landscape". Yahoo! News. Retrieved 2017-02-14.
  3. "Geographic Board Approved Name Card for Nigger Run". 1933.
  4. Palmer, Brian (2011-10-03). "Gringo Gulch, Dago Spring, and Polack Swamp". Slate. ISSN   1091-2339 . Retrieved 2017-02-14.
  5. "History of Segregation in Shenandoah National Park". www.nps.gov.
  6. "U.S. Board on Geographic Names (BGN)". geonames.usgs.gov. Retrieved 2017-02-14.
  7. Eagle, GRACIE HART BROOKS Madison County. "Movement afoot to rename Negro Run in Madison". The Daily Progress. Retrieved 2017-02-14.
  8. "Board of Geographic Names Domestic Names Committee Meeting Minutes". December 8, 2016.
  9. "Board of Geographic Names Review List 426". December 30, 2016.

Coordinates: 38°09′06″N78°05′34″W / 38.1518°N 78.0928°W / 38.1518; -78.0928