So today we were supposed to get rain (Big shock: nothing close), so we didn't plan on doing anything on Friday of vacation week. Thus, we merely went out to eat, and as Laurie drove, I got flipping through the new Rand McNally we bought. I knew the last alphabetically arranged place in Indiana would be my old stomping grounds of Zulu, but I wondered how Zulu fared against the rest of the nation.
As it turns, they were tenth last in the US of A, and I wondered about the places that beat it out. It made an interesting tale.
9- Zumbro Falls, SE Minnesota. Zumbro Falls is an actual incorporated city, pop. 207. It was incorporated in 1898 and founded near a grist mill dam which gave it the falls it was named after, though neither mill nor dam exists anymore. The latest flood from the mighty Zumbro River in 2010 led to the town's evacuation. And 15 miles west as the crow staggers is...
8- Zumbrota, SE Minnesota. Billed as "the only Zumbrota in the world" (with good reason), it is a small city of 3,252 (second biggest on our list, kinda), and is locally famous for having a park built around the last functioning covered bridge in the state, which is additionally the focus of the yearly covered bridge festival.
7- Zuni Pueblo, WC New Mexico. This is essentially a community of Zuni Indians, somewhat spread out over an area called a "census designated area"- a small community analogous to an "unincorporated area" plus its environs. The whole thing has a population count of 6,032, of which 97+% are Zuni.
6- Zuni, SE Virginia. Pronounced "zoo- nigh" to distinguish it from the Indians, Zuni is the remains of a more substantial town that found itself shrinking due to being off the Interstate and then being heavily damaged by Hurricane Floyd in 1999. Now boasting a grocery store, gas station, an engine repair shop, and a pair of churches (at least one of which is Presbyterian), it formerly had a bank, hotel, peanut processing mill, and dentistry offices, as well as a gun shop that went out of business when the owner was shot in a hold-up. Its main claim today is being just down the road from Virginia's lone nudist colony.
Tie 4- Zurich, NC Montana and NC Kansas. The Montana version is an unincorporated podunk which has in common with Zulu the legend that its name was picked with a dumbtack being stuck into a random page of an atlas. (Zurich from the European page, Zulu from the African page.) While finding much else about it on Google was complicated by the existence of a Hotel Montana in Zurich, Switzerland, this Zurich does have two somewhat famous residents. The first, one CC Beck, was the original artist of the Big Red Cheese, the original Captain Marvel. The other is Gus Bradley, who coached the NFL's Jacksonville Jaguars a few years back.
The Kansas edition, pop. 99, might have had a brighter future had two fires in 1918 and 1921 not wiped out half the town, and then half of what was left. In the 1920's they had a slogan: "Zurich It's Never Idle".
3- Zwingle, EC Iowa. Founded by the Court brothers, Daniel and Albert, from Pennsylvania. An attempt to incorporate it in 1908-9 ended unfinished. It had the first Reformed Church in the state, for what that's worth. Pop. 91.
2- Zwolle, WC Louisiana. Zwolle (pronounced za-wall-ee) was a point on the Kansas City Southern Railroad where builder Arthur Stilwell (for which Stilwell, Oklahoma, home of Oklahoma State U., was named) ran out of bucks. So he went to Europe, specifically Zwolle, Netherlands, where he convinced Jan De Goejin to invest about $30 mill in its completion. It has a pop of 1,759.
And the alphabetically last...
1- Zylks, NW Louisiana. In the very NW corner of Louisiana, Zylks was apparently founded and run by members of the Zylks family, who incorporated it in the late 1800's. But it soon began to shrink, and by the time they filed to have it unincorporated in 1960, only the family general store was left. And even it was gone by 1975. But like many little towns that have since faded from sight, it remains on the map.
As for Zulu, I found a page that says that it found mention of 4 OTHER Zulus in the US of A- but it only had mentions but no locations for three of them, The fourth, which doesn't even rate a wiki article or a Rand McNally mention (both of which we have, nyah nyah nyah), is in central Alabama inside the rough triangle of Tuscaloosa, Birmingham, and Montgomery.