All Counties of the United States by Proximity
March 24, 2020 9:42 AM   Subscribe

Last fall, Ktamas posted a quiz to see how many US cities you can name. Now, here is one to see how many US counties you can name.

The trick here is that guessing a county will also cross off any counties within 100km (~62 miles) of the center of the guessed county. So, for example, if you guess New York County (which is Manhattan), you'll also get the other four boroughs, a lot of the Hudson Valley, most of northern New Jersey, and most of western Connecticut. (You'll actually get a lot more, because the parser also gives you credit for just "York", which is in Maine, Nebraska, Virginia, and several other states.)

There are a total of 3142 counties, and you have 12 minutes.

Spoiler alert: You can get over 2700 without knowing a single county, using a couple of obvious tricks.
posted by kevinbelt (18 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
My PR is 2920, including all but one east of the Mississippi, but really that's only like 150-200 more than the tricks.
posted by kevinbelt at 9:44 AM on March 24

This is neat. Can anyone name the 4 "royal counties"?
posted by vrakatar at 9:52 AM on March 24

Not a single one.
posted by Jode at 9:56 AM on March 24

Not too bad: "You scored 2369/3142 = 75%. This beats or equals 48.3% of test takers. The average score is 2095."

I was able to get more than I thought, but a bit disappointed in some that I just couldn't think of in my current home state.
posted by hydra77 at 9:59 AM on March 24

wow you can get well over half just by typing in the presidents
posted by everybody had matching towels at 10:31 AM on March 24 [7 favorites]

That's one of the tricks I mentioned. :)
posted by kevinbelt at 10:39 AM on March 24 [2 favorites]

Just start naming presidents, common surnames, geographic features, and some charismatic flora, fauna, and livestock, and you can get pretty far. Abstract patriotic concepts are nice, too, and also memorable (often English) places.
posted by pykrete jungle at 10:45 AM on March 24 [1 favorite]

Just naming large cities in California will go a ways as well, but won't increase your score that much.
posted by LionIndex at 11:17 AM on March 24

A combination of presidents, random white guy names (Smith, Johnson, O'Brien), land features (Mesa, Butte, Rock), and well-known cities got me to 77%, most of which was east of the Mississippi.
posted by ourobouros at 11:31 AM on March 24 [1 favorite]

So I've been doing presidents, founding fathers who weren't presidents (Hancock, Hamilton and Franklin most obviously, but other Revolutionary figures like Lafayette and Pulaski), prominent Confederates, names of each state (often the county bordering a state will have the name of that state, e.g. Texas County, OK), state capitals, cities with pro sports teams, geographic features (Lake, River, Ocean, Hill, Prairie, Mesa, Butte, etc., plus specific ones), colors, and Great Lakes. After that, I'll go through and name ones I know (Seattle is in King County, for example), and then I'll just start naming as many Native American tribes and St./San/Santa names as I can think of. If I still have time, then I'll start on Army generals: Scott, Sherman, Custer, Pershing. I just took it again, and this got me to 2946.
posted by kevinbelt at 12:27 PM on March 24

I don't need to click a link to demonstrate my county knowledge! (1) Los Angeles County (2) Orange County (3) Nassau County. I don't know where Nassau County is, but most of my former coworkers in East New York used to commute from there, so I assume it's somewhere near New York.
posted by betweenthebars at 1:04 PM on March 24

What kevinbelt said, presidents and founding fathers.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 1:20 PM on March 24

2819/3142 = 90%!

The list of most popular answers weren't super instructive due to the proximity thing, but the most popular ones I didn't get were more interesting: Ocean! Nevada! Carbon! Crook! And poor Harney, the least-guessed in the lower 48 (despite being one of the largest in Oregon), where according to Wikipedia cattle outnumber people 14-to-1.
posted by Rhaomi at 7:13 PM on March 24

So what's the single most valuable answer? The highest-scoring single entry I came up with was "Jackson" at 487. But Jackson was a terrible person, so can anyone do better?
posted by Nerd of the North at 7:33 PM on March 24

The least popular answer that I got was Coconino, which makes me sad that not enough people are familiar with Krazy Kat.
posted by darksasami at 12:44 AM on March 25

2800. The most popular one I missed was Harris, TX (where Houston is) and I'm definitely weaker in the West. (But that's probably true for most people just because counties are bigger there.)
posted by madcaptenor at 8:35 AM on March 25

A way to cheat without external resources: Since a correct answer also crosses off nearby counties, and hovering over "revealed" counties shows their name in a tooltip, you can start with just a few counties and iterate outwards. Works better on the East Coast, where the counties are smaller.

I got something like 90% just doing this.
posted by Belostomatidae at 3:51 PM on March 25

Belostomatidae: I've been trying that! It definitely works better where the counties are small. There seem to be some counties in the big-county-lands you can't get to that way.
posted by madcaptenor at 6:59 AM on March 26

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