Palo Alto County, Iowa
Largest town: Emmetsburg, population 3,706
Namesake: Named after the first Mexican-American War battle site near present-day Brownsville, Texas
Profile: Located in northwest Iowa, Palo Alto County is dotted with small, family-friendly agricultural towns. Major crops in the area include corn and beans. The county has deep Irish-Catholic roots and celebrates St. Patrick's Day every year with a three-day festival, "the likes of which are unequaled in all the land," according to one resident. Events include a parade, a "Miss Shamrock" beauty pageant, and a guest appearance by a dignitary from Ireland.
Palo Alto, Miss.
Population: 20 to 30 people
Nearest town: West Point, 13 miles, population 12,145
Namesake: Named in 1846 after the Mexican-American War battle
Profile: Palo Alto, pronounced "Paylo Aylto," was established in 1846 as a trade town for local cotton farmers during the 19th century. At its peak in the 1850s, it had two hotels. It declined in the 1860s with the construction of a railroad near West Point. Today it is a small Clay County community with one general store.
Palo Alto, Texas
Nearest town: Driscoll, 4 miles northeast, population 825
Namesake: Named for an 1834 land grant to Matias Garcia
Profile: This Palo Alto is located in Nueces County near the Gulf of Mexico and the Mexican border. Once a more thriving town in the 1940s with a population of 50 and three businesses, the community began shrinking in the '60s. In 1990, Palo Alto had 15 residents and was still on a mail route from Bishop, Texas.
Palo Alto, Pa.
Population: 10 to 15 people
Nearest town: Hyndman, 4 miles north, population 1,005
Namesake: Refers to a covered bridge
Profile: The Palo Alto covered bridge is located in Bedford County, Penn. It measures 13 by 56 feet, was hand built by the local Fitchner brothers and dates back to 1880. Bedford County lists it as one of 14 covered bridges worth visiting in the area. A small community of 10 to 15 people lives in the area of the bridge, by Gladdens Run creek near Route 96.
Palo Alto Plantation, La.
Population: none (commercial enterprise)
Nearest town: Donaldsonville, 1 mile north, population 7,605
Namesake: Named by Spanish plantation owner Oscar Avraud for its tall trees
Profile: The former plantation with more than 6,000 acres is now known as the Palo Alto Gun & Rod Club. Located in Lousiana's Ascension and Iberville parishes, it has a log cabin and thousands of acres of hunting grounds. The club offers a memorable "deep South hunting experience," according to its Web site -- complete with guided hunting and fishing trips by the bayou. A full-day deer hunt runs from $450. For a more leisurely hunt, visitors can shoot rabbits and squirrels. http://www.paloaltoplantation.com
Palo Alto, Va.
Nearest town: Doe Hill, 4 miles west, population for the entire ZIP code is 122
Profile: Set in Virginia's most rural county, Highland County, Palo Alto is a lonely geographical site. At one time the area, located near the northern border of central Virginia, had a post office -- signifying the existence of some sort of community. Today there is no trace of an identifiable town.
Sources: Denise Flaherty of the Palo Alto County Extension; Jack Elliot Jr. of the Mississippi Department of Archives and History; The Texas State Historical Association; Bedford County Visitors Bureau; Palo Alto Gun and Rod Club Web site; Highland County Historical Society; U.S. Census Bureau.