A small, triangular piece of land—the result most often of a surveyor’s error or a mistake in a deed description—is called a gore. Highway engineers apply the term to those useless sharp juts left on a mountain slope after the construction of a series of hairpin curves. Both departments of transportation and law enforcement agencies refer to the triangular area between an entrance or exit ramp and a freeway as a gore. Some states, including Arizona, have drawn up particular laws regarding the gore: for instance, a traveler is often not permitted to stop in one. The term is most commonly used to designate a small triangular parcel on flatter ground in New England—called by some a hiatus—either unpopulated or of undetermined ownership. One gore—Hibberts, Maine—has a population of one. Another, Averys Gore in Essex County, Vermont, has a population of zero. Gores may become homesites, be turned into river parks, or be ignored by tax authorities. They are often fought over—in some cases, legislation is required to finally decide ownership. Some gores simply provide breathing space to stand and observe the world. The Gore Range in Colorado, one of the most rugged parts of the southern Rockies, was supposedly named for an English sportsman, Sir Saint George Gore, but the serrated range is punctuated by many sharp peaks that thrust their triangular points into the sky.

Elizabeth Cox