Fostering curiosity in kids (and their parents) since 2011

“How did the Charles River get its name?”

Charles River at sunset in December. (Photo: Robert Bauer)

On an unexpected detour this weekend through South Natick, The Five-Year-Old (who’s reading now–YAY!) noticed a sign for the Charles River. After establishing that it was in fact the same Charles River that flows by the Museum of Science, she naturally wanted to know…

“Mommyo, how did the Charles River get its name?”

He looks so shy and retiring. Can you believe this man would name anything after himself? (Portrait of Charles I by Anthony van Dyck, 1636. Image via Wikipedia)

Funny story. According to Wikipedia, when Captain John Smith mapped the New England area in 1614-15, he named the river the Massachusetts River after a local Native American tribe.

But when he presented his map to King Charles I of England, the king made a few changes, as kings will do. One of those changes was to swap out the “barbarous name” Massachusetts for the more refined and regal Charles.

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