All About River Heights
Where is River Heights?

Downtown River Heights
Downtown River Heights

WHERE IS THAT mysterious and fictitious Mid-western city of River Heights, which is hometown to the most renowned amateur sleuth in history?  This question is perpetually beseeching for elucidation from those who peruse the Nancy Drew Mystery Stories.    Some people believe it is in Ohio, fashioned after an illustrious city there, while a number of people consider it located in New Jersey, or even Illinois.  Still others actually suppose it placed in Iowa, the home state of the beloved Nancy Drew ghostwriter, Mildred Benson.

The reasons for the various locations differ from person to person for remarkable rationales.  Many readers of The Nancy Drew Mystery Stories believe that the locality of River Heights has changed through the years.  A few even declare that depending on which ghostwriter wrote the story, that this essentially pinpoints the location of the small city! Where the mid-western US reasonably compares to the original text, and the eastern US justifiably draws a parallel to the revised text of the series, this is a striking case indeed.

Wherever it is, the small midwestern city has eternally remained elusive to the reader who is sufficiently intrepid to scrutinize maps, atlases, and globes. The ever-persistent sleuth, deciphering charts and diagrams, might uncover places analogous to those of River Heights City, Utah, settled in 1882, a quiet bedroom community whose motto is Prettiest Little City at the top of the State. Instead, maybe unearth the now acclaimed River Heights Vineyard Church found in Woodbury, Minnesota.  Then, with the utilization of that ever-dependable magnifying glass, the spunky detective may perchance discover the 18 holes, River Heights Golf Course, which is obscurely located in DeKalb, Illinois.  How conversely interesting these settings may be, none is our intangible city however, cited here for inimitable objectivity.

River Heights Country Club
River Heights Country Club

In a recent poll, which concluded on the NancyDrewSleuths discussion site on the World Wide Web, the survey, which posed the question "Where do you believe River Heights to be located?" showed that 74 percent of the respondents selected that River Heights was located in the Mid-western United States.  The Eastern US acquired eleven percent of the votes and as well, eleven percent cast for the North-Eastern US.  There was also a near four percent, who chose the Central United States.

When solicited for their vision of the small city, the majority of respondents in another opinion survey described River Heights as a small urban river-town with many affluent residential districts.  They expressed impressive visualizations of paved, tree-lined roads in the dignified neighborhoods, with some dirt roads that meander through quiet farms and forests, to outlying lakes and other picturesque small towns.

The respondents also portrayed it as a distinctly old and established city, with a small commercial and industrial district, and as well incorporating a diminutive sleazier residential sector. From where else are the villains in some of the stories drawn, they retort logically.

Many articulate that River Heights reminds them of a small city that they have occasioned to visit or live near, and often situate it in many differing places throughout the United States.  Some surmise that the authors deliberately intended the small municipality to be that way, not a real place but one that is timeless and un-locatable, an attractive little borough that can only be instituted in the authors minds and in the pages of the mystery books they create.

Farms of River Heights
Farms of River Heights

In spite of everything, still others will effectively debate that all writers draw from their own personal real-life experiences and thereby are writing from something that is tangible so therefore; River Heights is fashioned after an actual place.  Is this initiative categorically plausible?  Can we find a small conurbation that matches the greatly sought after city of River Heights? In addition, can we definitively affirm the authors were reminiscing of a particular real city, whilst composing these books?  Are we to solve this decidedly intriguing and baffling mystery at last?

We have the books of the series to inquire about evidence as to the locality of River Heights.  There are innumerable hints to the neighborhoods and discernable descriptions of the fair city besieged throughout those pages that might assist us in our investigation.  In addition, we even have some of the illustrations in the books to examine for telltale signs that could perhaps provide us some suggestion as to the small citys position.  With so much irrefutable proof of its authenticity at hand, how can the genuine counterpart to this city be so indubitably challenging to find?

In the second part of this series Where is River Heights? we will investigate some of the areas where the ghostwriters of the Nancy Drew Series lived, and as well search for a few clues to the associations in those vicinities that may harmonize with the authors construal of River Heights.  We will also ascertain why some consider River Heights to be located in varied states, and furthermore disclose specific cities, along with revealing reasons why there is a persistent belief, that River Heights was formed, subsequently to them.



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