Possessives and Attributives
Q. I’m writing a book about Death Valley National Park, and not sure what style to use for place-names that include possessives. The National Park Service omits apostrophes from all names—Scottys Castle, Dantes View, Devils Golf Course, etc.—which looks wrong to me. On the other hand, if I use the apostrophes my book won’t match the Park Service maps. What would you suggest?
A. Sometimes it’s difficult to determine a “correct” version of a place-name, but unless you are sure that one of these names is a plural attributive rather than a possessive (e.g., Devils Golf Course), you need an apostrophe. If you feel better including a note in your book that the Park Service uses its own spellings, do so.