“You are worthy now. Not when you get that job, not when you lose twenty pounds, not when people know who you are. Now. Simply because you exist.” ~ TinyBuddha
The Climax Christian Church is just a stones throw down the hill from the Climax Holiness Church. According to the map, Climax also has a fire department. We didn’t see it. Back in the late 1800’s, there was a newspaper in neighboring Madison County called the Richmond Climax published by the Climax Publishing Company. We digitized it as part of the National Digital Newspaper Program years ago and you can read its history and peruse its issues here. I could never find proof that the ‘Climax’ in the newspaper’s title was connected to the town of Climax, which is also just a stones throw away from the town of Richmond (for those not from KY). The Richmond Climax is far from the only United States newspaper to employ the word ‘Climax’ in a title. The etymology of the word ‘Climax’ piqued my interest. I was certain the word didn’t have the same connotations in the 1800’s as it does today. According to the Online Etymology Dictionary, the word was first recorded in the 1580’s as meaning “a chain of reasoning in graduating steps from weaker to stronger,” though by 1880 the word began to appear in reference to sex, which is how we usually hear it used today. According to the Kentucky Gazetteer, the post office of Mingo opened in 1888 but changed its name to Climax later that same year. Thus was born Climax, Kentucky. So was the newspaper title ‘Richmond Climax,’ started in 1897, really a nod to the town of Climax and did the town’s name mean in 1888 what it conjures today? We may never know. And that’s okay.
ADDENDUM: After this post first published, Deb found this interesting bit on page 45 of a manuscript collection from Morehead State University, language in [brackets] is mine: “CLIMAX (Rock. Co.): This name and others were placed in a hat and this was chosen. Now: 2 cems, [cemeteries] and several houses nr. [near] the p.o. bldg [Climax post office]. Settlement long preceded the establishment of the p.o. [post office] (Evelyn Lou Mullins, in letter to Delphine Haley, 7/18/1975); Acc. [According] to 1895-6 Gaz. [Gazetteer], it was 12 mi from Mt. V, [Mount Vernon] 6 mi from Wildie [pronounced ‘weel-dee’ as in ‘unwieldy’]. John Pennington was pm [postmaster], Harry Colvin had flour & saw mill, W.D. Costelo was wagonmaker, F.M. Sexton had flour mill & was local blacksmith;” While I still can’t confirm that this name origination is true, drawing a town name out of a hat is a fun idea. And why not just draw a name out of a hat? I have a friend who moved from San Fransisco to Lexington because she and her husband threw a dart at a map. They’ve been here 25 years now and happy as can be, and we’re talking about Climax, Kentucky 130+ years later. Seems to be working out for everybody.