Springfield is not only the name of a sizeable city in southwest Missouri, but of numerous towns all over the United States.

In state after state, travelers see road signs indicating how many miles away Springfield is, as cities by that name can be found in all regions of the country – on both coasts and a bunch of places in between. Yep, there are lots of Springfields – at least 16 by my count.

Those of us who live here in the Jillikins associate the word Springfield largely with opportunity. It represents the chance to go to the mall, dine at restaurants offering all manner of cuisine, and even check out some big-time, big-name entertainment. It’s home to a double-A professional baseball team, a very respectable zoo, and is where Bass Pro Shops began and maintains a gigantic, theme park-like store.

Basically, what Springfield means to many of us is generally doing lots of stuff that’s not possible anywhere within the boundaries of our home counties, let alone home towns.

Doug Davison

The same is probably true for plenty of other Springfields. Like ours, many of the larger ones are undoubtedly bastions of opportunity to residents of surrounding rural areas.

In order of population, here is a list of American Springfields.

•Springfield, Mo.

Interestingly, Missouri’s Springfield has more residents within its city limits than any other in the nation. According to data compiled by the U.S. Census Bureau, the Queen City of the Ozarks had 159,498 residents in 2010. Not a megalopolis by any means, but pretty big – certainly big enough to act as a hub for hundreds of thousands of visitors.

•Springfield, Mass.

The second most populous Springfield is found in southwestern Massachusetts, with a population of just over 153,000. It lies on Interstate 91 north of Hartford, Conn., and is the largest city in western New England. Its metropolitan area has close to 700,000 residents (far more than the 436,000 in the Springfield, Mo. metro area) and it was the first Springfield in the “New World.”

•Springfield, Ill.

With a population of more than 116,000, this Springfield is pretty much smack-dab in the middle of Illinois, and is the only one that’s a state capital. It’s home to multiple tributes to the Prairie State’s most famous resident, Abraham Lincoln, whose family moved there in 1830 after living in Kentucky and Indiana. Before becoming the 16th president of the United States, Lincoln served terms in the Illinois state legislature and U.S. House of Representatives.

•Springfield, Ohio

On I-70 in the southwestern portion of the Buckeye State, this Springfield had 60,608 residents in 2010. It became known as the “Home City” at the turn of the 20th century, when several charitable organizations built homes for orphans and elderly people.

•Springfield, Ore.

Probably the wettest of all Springfields is this one in west-central Oregon. With a population of 59,000-plus, it’s part of the Eugene metropolitan area, on Interstate 5 in the southern Willamette Valley. Its chamber of commerce lists its annual rainfall at just over 46 inches.

•Springfield, Va.

The Commonwealth of Virginia has a Springfield, too. It’s a suburb of Washington, D.C. and had a 2010 population of 30,484. It was founded as a train station in the mid-1800s. Not surprisingly, its household, per capita and family income rates are higher than in the rest of the Mountain State, but so is its violent crime rate.

•Springfield, Pa.

Another Springfield can be found not too far away in Pennsylvania. With a population of more than 23,000, this one is a suburb of Philadelphia, located 10 miles west of the City of Brotherly Love.

•Springfield, Tenn.

The most populous Springfield in the South is this one in Tennessee, with 17,595 residents as of 2009. The historic community on the Red River was established in the late 1700s and the county seat of Robertson County, north of Nashville not far from the Kentucky border.

•Springfield, N.J.

Located 20 miles due east of New York City on the I-78 Expressway, New Jersey’s Springfield “Township” checked in with a population of 15,817 in 2010. It’s home to the famous Baltusrol Golf Club, which has hosted numerous big tournaments including seven U.S. Opens, four U.S. Amateur Championships, and one PGA Championship.

•Springfield, Vt.

A couple hundred miles north of Springfield, Mass., Vermont’s Springfield had a population of 9,373 in 2010. Located in Windsor County, it’s known as one of the top agricultural communities in the Green Mountain State.

•Springfield, Mich.

Perhaps the only shrinking Springfield, this one in Michigan is located in the Battle Creek metro area and had 5,029 residents in 2009, down from 5,189 in 2000.

•Springfield, Ky.

Kentucky’s Springfield had a population of 2,782 in 2009. It’s located southeast of Louisville in the central part of the Bluegrass State, and is the county seat of Washington County. The town bills itself as “where the Lincoln legacy began” (it’s only a couple of small counties away from where Abe was born and spent his early childhood).

•Springfield, Ga.

The county seat of Effingham County, Georgia’s Springfield had 2,520 residents in 2010. The small Peach State town is not far from the historic coastal city of Savannah.

•Springfield, Minn.

Minnesota’s version of Springfield had a population of 2,152 in 2010. The rural community in the southwestern part of the North Star State is a few miles down U.S. Highway 14 from Sleepy Eye and Mankato, a couple of towns that gained fame as places frequented by members of the Ingalls family and other characters on the popular 1970s and 80s TV show “Little House on the Prairie.”

•Springfield, Neb.

Nebraska’s Springfield is located just outside of Omaha and had a little more than 1,500 residents in 2010. For the past 75 years, it has hosted the Sarpy County Fair in early August (so there’s still time to make plans to catch one of the scheduled “wild cow milking” or “mutton bustin’” contests).

•Springfield, Colo.

The county seat and most populous town of Baca County, Colorado’s version of Springfield had a population of 1,265 in 2009. Located in the plains of the Centennial State’s southeastern-most region, it’s dissected by U.S. Highways 287 and 160 and is near both the Comanche and Cimarron National Grasslands. At an elevation of 4,360 feet, it’s the highest Springfield in the nation.

•Springfield, N.H.

New Hampshire’s Springfield takes the prize for smallest population, with 1,311 in 2010. The remote little town lies in the west-central part of the Granite State, near the Gile State Forest northwest of Concord. It’s not far from Springfield, Vt. (in fact, the two namesake towns are separated by only about a 57-mile jaunt).

So there’s your Springfields. Taking into account the 16 documented here, there are more than 660,000 Americans who have a Springfield mailing address.

That’s more than St. Louis. But then, there are only a few of those (Michigan, Oklahoma, and – of course – Missouri).

Doug Davison is a writer, photographer and newsroom assistant for the Houston Herald. Email:  ddavison@houstonherald.com.

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