That happened to a place called Moscow. No, not the one in Idaho. I’ll get to that in a minute. Moscow, Kansas, one of more than 20 Moscows in the U.S., was honoring a Spanish conquistador named Luis de Moscoso, according to a story on the PRI website about the naming of the Moscow cities across the country. For some reason, they wanted to shorten the name to Mosco. A postal person in DC may have thought Kansans simply didn’t know how to spell, so he helpfully added the W, and it officially became Moscow.
None of the Moscows seem ready to claim a Russian connection. The one we know best was allegedly named by Samuel Miles Neff, who owned the first general store there. In that story, Neff had lived in Moscow, Pennsylvania, and Moscow, Iowa, so why not live in another Moscow, this time in Idaho.
There is at least one Idaho town that gets its name, more or less, from the city you would expect. Atlanta was named for a nearby gold discovery that was called Atlanta. It was named after the Battle of Atlanta. News of Sherman’s victory there came about the same time gold was discovered, according to Lalia Boone’s book, Idaho Place Names, A Geographical Dictionary.