Big Butte Creek was named after Snowy Butte

Do you happen to know the locations of the buttes referenced by Big Butte Creek and Little Butte Creek?

— Dudley L., Medford


Questions such as this one allow us to retire to the Mail Tribune's climate-controlled library and sip espresso while we pull out our prized copy of "Oregon Geographic Names."

According to that esteemed tome, Big Butte Creek took its name from Mount McLoughlin, which was known to settlers in the Rogue Valley as Snowy Butte, according to the big book.

Big Butte Creek, which flows into the Rogue River, is born near Mount McLoughlin, aka Snowy Butte, hence the name, Dudley.

Little Butte Creek, which rises in the same vicinity, was named Little Butte Creek because it is smaller than Big Butte Creek, not because it was named after a smaller butte. See how they did that back then? Tricky people, those settlers were.

Keep the questions coming, Dudley. We love being paid to sip espresso.

— Send questions to “Since You Asked,” Mail Tribune Newsroom, P.O. Box 1108, Medford, OR 97501; by fax to 541-776-4376; or by email to We’re sorry, but the volume of questions received prevents us from answering all of them.

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