There are over 2 million place names defined for the United States at geonames.org, and they contain interesting patterns if you look at the right ones. For example:
- Lots of gold names out in the West from the gold rush era. Also check out uranium, coal and oil.
- Cougar live mostly in the Pacific North West (but there are mountain lions elsewhere and even catamounts).
- German immigrants heavily settled the Midwest. Check out the Swedish and Danish too.
- The Cherokee nation was originally established around Tennessee, but they were driven into Oklahoma on the Trail of Tears. The Navaho and Pawnee have clear regions too.
- Regional place topologies, like canyon, bayou, brook and lac are fun history lessons (think about the languages they are derived from).