Oskaloosa, Ia.

It is certain the town of Oskaloosa when translated breaks down into something as deep and as mysterious as a True Detective trailer. It’s just a matter of interpretation what it exactly means.

Wiki declares, “It means “last of the beautiful.”

That is sort of haunting and romantic when used to describe anything, but here it was used as a name of Native American woman.

Oskaloosa derives its name from Ouscaloosa who according to town lore was a Creek princess who married Seminole chief Osceola.

However, Wiki backs off this version of the story.  Instead, it is parenthetically said to mean simply “Black Rain.”

This interpretation of “last of the beautiful” is not correct. “Oskaloosa” in the Mvskoke-Creek language means “black rain” from the Mvskoke words “oske” (rain) and “lvste” (black). “Loosa” is an English corruption of the Mvskoke word ‘lvste’.

How mysterious are the words “Black Rain”?  Well, for starters, it was once the name of a Michael Douglas’ movie during his dark phase and was directed by Ridley Scott who is always in a dark phase. IMDB.com explains,

Two New York cops get involved in a gang war between members of the Yakuza, the Japanese Mafia. They arrest one of their killers and are ordered to escort him back to Japan. In Japan, however, he manages to escape. As they try to track him down, they get deeper and deeper into the Japanese Mafia scene and they have to learn that they can only win by playing the game the Japanese way.

There is no film, however, entitled, “Last of the Beautiful” which is actually a travesty. It really would fit any any genre of movie. Star crossed lovers? Sure. Environmental movie? Probably. Environmental movie with star crossed lovers at the center? Oh, noooo, did we just write a movie?

Okay, let’s focus. Oskaloosa also has a fair share of history.

The first white settlers arrived in 1835 led by Nathan Boone, youngest son of Daniel Boone … selected it to be the first site of Fort Des Moines on a high ridge between what Skunk River and Des Moines River. The ridge was originally called the Narrows.

Meanwhile, have you ever watched a movie like Lone Ranger and thought, “man, they couldn’t have had explosions that big back then?” Oskaloosa is quick to dispel that notion.

On January 6, 1882, most of the buildings in the north half of Oskaloosa were severely damaged and most of the plate glass windows in the area were broken by an explosion. Three boys were killed in the explosion. The boys had been seen shooting at the A. L. Spencer gunpowder magazine half a mile north of the town center.

HALF A MILE? That is crazy, but, ok, it was just once, maybe it was just sort of one of thos unfortunate combinations of once in a lifetime facts. Wait, then 20 years later:

On January 24, 1902, there was a mine explosion in the Lost Creek No. 2 mine… A miner setting shots to blast coal from the coal face re-used a hole left over from a previous failed shot, and the result was a coal dust explosion that detonated barrels of gunpowder stored in the mine. 20 men died on the site and 14 more were badly injured.

Geez. Maybe the town has earned a dark and mysterious name after all.

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