A perspective from Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley

This road: Let’s spell it like we say it

Written July 13th, 2020 by Hasso Hering

The spelling on the road sign at Spring Hill Drive and Independence Highway bugs me every time.

If you’re looking for a momentary diversion from politics, corona news, and Portland riots, how about this question: When did they change the spelling of North Albany’s Spring Hill Drive?

And who was it who made the change?

When we moved to Albany more than 40 years ago, the road was called Spring Hill Drive. That makes sense because presumably it is named that way because if goes past Spring Hill.

It also makes sense because other roads named for hills are spelled as three words. Gibson Hill Road is one. Scravel Hill Road is another.

In line with common sense, ODOT spells it as three words on the road sign where Spring Hill meets Highway 20. The U.S. Geological Survey spells it that way too, though on its topographical map of Albany it’s Spring Hill Road and not Drive.

In the 1980 city directory, everybody who lives on the road is listed with an address on Spring Hill Drive. (The directory also shows Carters’ Springhill Market, but that doesn’t count because it was not on Spring Hill but off Hickory Street.)

Now, the road from Highway 20 to Independence Highway along the Willamette River is “Springhill” in most references, such as real estate ads and the online maps published by the city of Albany, by Benton County, and by Google Maps.

But nobody pronounces it as one word. If we did, it would come out as something like “springal.” Instead we use two words, “spring hill,” with a distinct pause in between. If this was a rational world, that’s the way we would spell it too. (hh)


12 responses to “This road: Let’s spell it like we say it”

  1. LouT says:

    If one were to take it to the absurd limits, the current spelling could be pronounced ‘sprin fill.’

  2. Reiner Bohlen says:

    Ahh, the Oregonian sub-dialect of the American dialect of the English language…

    What say you re:

    * Willamette
    * Couch
    * Philomath
    * Santiam
    * Aloha

    Just to name a few?

    I’ve wondered the same thing re Springhill/Spring Hill Rd/Dr, but just shrugged it off as another fun eccentricity…


  3. Tom Decker says:

    Speaking of spelling, does the USGS really spell it that way “two” or perhaps “too?” Other than that, I am with you all the way on Spring Hill as the way to go, two words, pause and all.

  4. Gordon L. Shadle says:

    When it comes to the final authority on proper spelling, look no further than the golf course – Spring Hill Golf Club.

    End of debate.

  5. David says:

    Seriously, this is bothering you. It would seem as if your life is empty and meaningless.

  6. centrist says:

    The hard “g”, soft “h” makes for a difficult transition between Spring and Hill. Placement of the accent is important.
    SPRING hill tends to flow as one word
    spring HILL is definitely two.
    In our local patois, where is the accent?

  7. Ann Kinkley says:

    I hear you, from Robin Hood Lane (not Robinhood)! :)

  8. Cheryl P says:

    Maybe it’s as simple as not enough room on the sign.

  9. Greg Storms says:

    “If this was a rational world”. Rational sometimes, perhaps, but deviations from the main road may occur from time to time.

  10. CHEZZ says:

    Schlemiel – Schlimazel! *LOL


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