Does the Geographic Names Information System (GNIS) Database contain entries for geographic features that are historical?

Yes, GNIS actively seeks names of features that no longer exist. There are more than 100,000 such entries in the database now. To search for them, type the word "(historical)" (along with other name words if desired) in the name field. It is advisable to narrow the search further by selecting State, County, and/or Feature Class. For performance reasons, the query returns only results sets less than 2000 records.

The database also contains many historical names for features that still exist, which are termed variant names. Each geographic feature may have only one official name, but may list numerous variants. The feature query returns all features with the official name or variants matching the query, but only the official name displays in the results list. If a feature appears in the results list with a name different than the name entered, click on the name to view the feature details. The name entered will be listed among the variants. If you do not wish to query by variant names, click the Exclude Variant box under the Name field in the query page. Click the title of the Feature Name field for additional information.

See: Geographic Names fact sheet