When I read the word "jerkwater" I immediately guessed the meaning.Algot Runeman wrote:jerkwater
Pronunciation: /ˈjərkˌwôtər, -ˌwätər/
[attributive] North American informal
of or associated with small, remote, and insignificant rural settlements:some jerkwater town
mid 19th century: from jerk1 + water, from the need for early railroad engines to be supplied with water in remote areas, by dipping a bucket into a stream and “jerking” it out by rope
Every two days, John visited the jerkwater town of Salsberry, once headed west and then back east. He never knew it, though. For him, it was just a trellis bridge and a good stream for engine water.
But I imagined a completely different etymology.
"backwater" is often used (six times in the Vorkosigan Saga by our resident author LMB) as a synonym for "backcountry", "an isolated and under-developed region"
Now from the sophisticated perspective of some urbanites, the inhabitants of a sufficiently isolated backwater town could only be jerks, justification enough to call such a place a jerkwater town