How many places or geographical features in Colorado are named Cottonwood?

The Geographic Names Information Service, a part of the U.S. Geological Survey, can answer that question and virtually any other about place names in the United States through one of its regional offices. The center's local phone number is 860-6045.

The 132 Colorado features that bear the word Cottonwood include two towns, nine springs, three ditches, two trails and assorted other creeks, canyons and lakes.

The service now has 29 states in its computer base, according to Don Finley, an agency spokesman. Information on the other states is also available, but may take the service's staff longer to look up.

As an information service, GNIS also serves a federal map clearinghouse. If GNIS doesn't have it, its staff is supposed to know who does, whether it is a state or local government or a private company. If you want a space imagery of Miami, Fla., the Three Rivers Stadium area in Pittsburgh, or a chart of the Chesapeake Bay, Finley says "give us a call."

A request on the name of a feature will turn up the type of feature, location by county and geographic coordinates, spelling variations, elevation (where applicable) and the names of the USGS maps where the feature can be located.

The USGS will send printouts of that information for a fee. A District of Columbia printout costs $3, Maryland $12 and Virginia $20.