What's In A Name? | Snapfinger Road

Jul 10, 2018

Listener Jireh Rowdan told us he can picture Snapfinger Road's first residents jamming out with washboards and jugs, snapping their fingers to the beat. 

Today's "What's In A Name" reveals the real (and unfortunately less jolly) history behind the Decatur street's name.

According to the book Georgia Place-Names, the winding road is named after Snapfinger Creek. Historians claim the stream's name comes from its being a branch — or finger — of Snapping Shoals Creek. 

Legend says otherwise.

The story starts just after the creation of DeKalb County, Ga. In the 1800s, a surveyor tripped at the edge of a then-unnamed creek and broke his finger. Because he "snapped" his finger, the waterway was christened Snapfinger Creek. 

A drawing of geological surveyors around the time of the legendary finger snapping
Credit USGS Publications Warehouse

Keep listening to All Things Considered this summer. We will continue to answer your name questions on 88.5 FM GPB Atlanta weekdays from 4 to 7 p.m.