Origin of Yeehaw Junction

Desert Inn, Yeehaw Junction, in 2017 before the semi destroyed it

There are a lot of inventive stories about how Yeehaw Junction got its name. All but one are false.

Some claim it was the sound donkeys made as cowboys long ago rode burros into town (plus there were once donkeys at the Desert Inn there). Some say it’s named for the “yeehaw!” that is a celebratory shout of the cow hunter. Others have supposed it came from loggers yelling “yee” – “haw” with each saw stroke as they cut down a tree at nearby sawmills.

Yet another legend pairs it with other old train stops in the area Osowaw, Yeehaw, Nittaw, Illihaw, and Holopaw. They say the Seminoles gave them those names, meaning “one sleep, two sleeps…” indicating how long they traveled on foot to get to each. Not sure where those other names originate — possibly from train company’s imaginations — but Seminoles say most of those words are not known to them.

The real origin of “Yeehaw” comes from the Seminole words eyaha or yah-hah, which means “wolf” or “to howl.” There were once wolves in Florida, such as the Florida Black Wolf; they went extinct in the early 1900s. Perhaps it was about these marauders, howling across the Osecola County prairie. There are still plenty of coyotes that prowl about Yeehaw Junction.

The area has been known as Yeehaw since the late 1800s. It was a cattle drover’s trading post and place to stop over for the night. The “Junction” wasn’t added until the Turnpike went through; however, it was sometimes called Yeehaw Crossing, Yeehaw Crossroads, or similar names starting when Highway 60 came through in 1927 as an east-west corridor across Florida, crossing old cattle road Peavine Trail and Highway 441 and at Yeehaw. Those routes run north to south through Osceola County and into Okeechobee County.

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