Monday, October 30, 2006
So that's how 'bag, dad' got its name
Have you ever heard of Bagdad? Not Baghdad, but Bagdad, without the "h." As in Bagdad, Arizona.

My producer Amanda Townsend and I were in Arizona recently covering a couple of stories in the cities of Kingman and Tucson. On the drive from Kingman to Tuscon, we saw on the map that there was a small town named Bagdad, just a little bit out of the way of our route. What, we wondered, do the people of Bagdad think about what is going on in Baghdad? Was there an interesting story to tell?

Well, we found out that Bagdad is a copper mining town with about 2,700 residents. We also learned it's a generally conservative place, with what appears to be a higher level of support for the war than the country as a whole. We also discovered that a decent percentage of the town's young people have wound up traveling from Bagdad to Baghdad as members of the military. One woman told us that ten percent of her son's high school class was in Iraq at the same time.

The town enjoys its attention-getting name. The nickname of the sports teams at Bagdad High School is the Sultans. The logo is a genie on a magic carpet. But the name of the town does not have Mesopotamian origins. Legend has it that a father and a son were mining for copper in the late 1800s. The son wanted a sack for his copper and said to his father, "Do you have a bag, dad?"

Of course, we can't be absolutely positive this story is true, but everyone we talked to in town has heard it. Everyone we talked to in town also has an opinion about this war. Nobody was shy with us.

When we walked into the Miner's Diner, we talked with a couple that had a son in Iraq for nine months. We also talked with a woman whose husband was in Iraq for the first Gulf War. Most of the people we met completely backed President Bush's stance on this war. But others made a point to tell us that while they used to support the war, the time has now come to bring home the troops.

We enjoyed meeting Arizona's Bagdadians. And one of the great aspects of CNN's international scope is that the televised story of our visit can be watched in Bagdad as well as Baghdad.
Posted By Gary Tuchman, CNN Correspondent: 5:50 PM ET
  29 Comments
I'm pretty sure in the 1800s, the fathers were called "pa". So, it would be "Bagpa". Of course, it was probably a SACK, and therefore should be SACKPA.

If I lived there I'd vote for a name change.
Posted By Anonymous Sharla Jones, Buckeye, AZ : 6:10 PM ET
I've always wondered what the folks in Bagdad thought of Baghdad. The mayor should be called 'Saddam' and he should loose the next election to a guy named 'Bush' - that would be a perfect replica of the situation in Iraq. Just for jiggles...well, not funny.
Posted By Anonymous E-man, Williamsville, NY : 6:40 PM ET
What an intereting find! It's amazing what you find when you travel the American open road. It's one of the fun things about traveling in our country, you run across a highway sign of a city with a strange name, but a whole lot of history and folklore.
Look forward to seeing the story.
Posted By Anonymous Sylvie Grace Atlanta, Georgia : 6:41 PM ET
Ah, the days of "On The Road" with Charles Kuralt who bothered with 'fly-over' America filled with the quiet heroes of this nation drown out by the noise of the interstates and i-Pods.
Posted By Anonymous linda, bella vista, ar : 7:28 PM ET
Hi Gary,

I travelled to Bagdad on a work related matter over 10 years ago, pre GPS and Mapquest.
Needless to say I had never heard of the place before then, so I asked the principal of the Elementary school up there about the town's unusual name. She claimed the old miners liked to tell Arabian Nights tales and came up with Bagdad...they simply forgot the "h".
Posted By Anonymous Ilona Nester-Thompson, Tempe, AZ. : 8:03 PM ET
Gary: It's nice to know that there is a town called Bagdad in Arizona that appears to be the complete opposite of that other city in Arizona that you tried to visit, Colorado City!
Posted By Anonymous Jolene, St. Joseph, MI : 8:26 PM ET
Wow! Ten percent of a recent high school class deployed by the military to Iraq?! That's an incisive commentary on the 'back door draft' of people who do not have many other opportunities, those who are from the inner city and remote rural areas and cannot afford college or are not 'college material'. How many of Jenna and Barbara Bush's prep school classmates are in Iraq? I would venture to guess: zero.
Posted By Anonymous Chris, Reston, VA : 8:30 PM ET
...fyi...there is also a small town in the panhandle of Florida (east of Pensacola)named Bagdad [no 'h']. It is rich in history dating back before the civil war. I grew up there in the 70's & 80's. I cannot recall where the name originated from, but in our seldom found boredom as children we came up with an alternate name - "Sack Pappy". It was -and still is- a wonderful place to raise a family.
Posted By Anonymous Laura Memphis, TN : 8:59 PM ET
You were probably unaware that between Kingman and Tucson, near Wickenburg, you passed Allah. Now a ghost town, it was railroad stop at the turn of the 20th century. I hear there's nothing left of it.

I sometimes traveled with my dad who was a phoneline trouble shooter when I was kid in the 60's. I've been to Why, Surprise, Santa Claus, Miami, Bumble Bee, Wikieup, and Dos Cabezas. I thought Arizona had a corner on odd names until I moved to California and discovered Weedpatch, Buttonwillow, Zzyzx, Prunedale and Bummerville.
Posted By Anonymous Anne B. Prunedale, California : 10:19 PM ET
In keeping with the Middle East theme of this post..I would like to point out that there is a Iraan, Texas. It is also a small town.
Posted By Anonymous Genevieve M, El Paso, TX : 10:27 PM ET
Mmm... I don't suppose the folks in Bagdad, Arizona who are such strong supporters of the Bush admin's failed policy (well, one of its many failed policies) would want to do an exchange program with those in Baghdad, Iraq? I'm sure you would find more than a few Baghdadians who would be willing to give up their houses-- or what's left of them-- for a few weeks.
Posted By Anonymous Norah, West Chester, PA : 11:31 PM ET
Would anyone Know how Lebanon PA, Damascus VA got their names ? How about Anderson IN ? Anyone.....
Posted By Anonymous Valerie Hesston KS : 11:45 PM ET
I always enjoy when my state is covered in reports. When will the story regarding Kingman and Tucson air?
Posted By Anonymous Stephanie, University of Arizona student, Tucson Arizona : 11:53 PM ET
I visited Bagdad a few years ago when my husband was over the road trucker and went to get a load of copper from the Bagdad Mine. We ate at the resturant and met some nice people. Very friendly town and a place I would like to drive back thru to see again.
Posted By Anonymous Jen, St. Peters, Missouri : 8:13 AM ET
There's also a Bagdad, Florida (in the panhandle, Santa Rosa County). Do we get a story about that, too? I'm sure there are more towns named "Bagdad" in this country, as well.
Posted By Anonymous william, cocoa, fl : 9:37 AM ET
A similar explanation for the naming of Bagdad, KY (a son asking his dad for a bag while conducting their grocery business) is given in a book of Kentucky place names.
Posted By Anonymous J Cox Lexington KY : 9:40 AM ET
I don't live too far from Bagdad, AZ. Coincidentally, I was raised in Pennsylvania near another Bagdad. They told the same story as to where it got its name. It's really nice to have you here in Arizona, keep up the great stories.
Posted By Anonymous Phebe, Phoenix : 10:05 AM ET
I previously lived in Scottsdale for about 5 years. During that time I did some traveling around the state of Arizona. There are some interesting "wild-west" towns out there once you leave the Phoenix area. I'd take the residents' opinions with a grain of salt though. Many of these people spend their years confined to these tiny towns out in the middle of the smoldering desert. My observation was that this lifestyle can take a heavy toll mentally and physically on the residents. They are what's left of old, abandoned mining towns and I can imagine that in many cases, the military is the only way out.
Posted By Anonymous Todd, Devon PA : 10:22 AM ET
Hi Gary,
"Happy Trails." I hope ac360 will do many more of these stories..Manhattan is wonderful, but the sun doesn't rise and set on it alone..There's an awful lot of America, with many different views..Take Care..
Posted By Anonymous Lorie Ann, Buellton,Calif. : 11:41 AM ET
Well since it is Halloween. . . you can always come visit Hell, WI. Were each year there is proof that it does freeze over. When I first discovered the town as a kid, I just loved to tell people to go there.
Posted By Anonymous RL, Appleton, WI : 12:23 PM ET
Well I wonder about it. We have a Bagdad, Ky. in our county and they have a mill and the story is told of putting the grain in bags and one young boy said, " I need a bag dad ".
So it might just be a good story.
Posted By Anonymous Ray Henderson Shelbyville, Ky. : 1:11 PM ET
Wow! I never KNEW there were so many Bagdads in the United States! What a refreshing break from the daily AC 360 "Hate Blog" routine--some nice, innocent, neutral and *civil* comments from all us AC 360 bloggers for a change!! Amazing--no hateful or venom-filled comments for a change! Whew!!

But, let's all *sharpen* our pen-knives in preparation for the next AC 360 Blog's Illegal Immigration blog-post or Dems-Repubs/Politics blog-post! It's a nice "breather" for us all in between our rants!! Touche' !!
Posted By Anonymous Mark, Sacramento, CA : 1:30 PM ET
Hey, get on the road. You can come to Noel, Mo. to post your 'Seasons Greetings'. While you're there you can interview the locals who are irrate about the 'undocumented' influx and rile the dude from Sacramento. Oh, and cover the politics of the GOP AR neighbors who brought in too many 'workers' to Tyson's-Wally world. There's hat trick for you.
Posted By Anonymous linda, bella vista,ar : 2:07 PM ET
Hey Gary~
Cute story about Bagdad. Happy halloween and el dia de los muertos from San Miguel and Patzcuaro Mexico. Yikes! How about the revolution in Mexico? Just in time for day of the dead! Kind of freaky being here! Happy los dias de los muertos to you all!
Posted By Anonymous Betty Ann, Nacogdoches,TX : 2:19 PM ET
After a rudimentary internet search, the following states have towns (or what's left of them) named and spelled "Bagdad:"

WA, LA, KY, FL, AZ, TX, CA, PA and VA.

And the following countries as well:

Germany, Australia, Uzbekistan, Romania, French Guiana and Morocco.

At one time naming your town Bagdad must have been like naming your child Britney.
Posted By Anonymous Chris, New York, NY : 2:23 PM ET
I'm sorry, but I fail to see the point or the relevance of this story... I am just crushed that more and more soldiers are being killed in the war, and we are fascinated with a town that has a name similar to the killing grounds of our American soldiers... CNN, shame on you for printing this silly piece...
Posted By Anonymous Sherry Sarasota, Fl : 2:54 PM ET
Norah from Westchester. You criticize the people of this small town for supporting the war, but they support it with their people, not only their words. Apparently you didn't pay attention to the part of the story that tells about how many sons of Bagdad, AZ are serving in Iraq. I venture that you've never served anything, much less in the military. When you have had to face sacrifice on the level of those good people in Bagdad, AZ then you can criticize. Otherwise, just cuddle up in warm, wonderful West Chester and the next time CNN tries to do a light piece of intersting news with good-hearted people, try not to inject your east-coast liberal nonsense into it.
Posted By Anonymous Danny, Columbus, Ohio : 3:06 PM ET
Hey Gary!
I guess I was mistaken. I thought the "h" stood for something else, as in get the "h"ell out of Baghdad. Anyhow, the Bagdad Chamber of Commerce is probably thrilled.
Posted By Anonymous Carol B. Frederick, MD : 5:11 PM ET
'Sherry in Sarasota': unlike some of us live the war daily, it's nice to just talk about something irrelivant to worldly events. My goodness, live a little!
I'm exhausted from stress, fatigue and emotional roller coasters of my reality. Let us escape a little!
Posted By Anonymous hb, Pensacola Fl : 10:50 AM ET
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