Have you ever been on a road trip and gone through a town whose name you can't believe exists? The U.S. has a lot of towns like this, and they aren't always small towns of just 800 people. As interesting as some of the names are, you probably don't wonder about where they came from. For example, Phoenix derives from the Native American settlement that was once there and the new city that rose rom the ashes. But what about Coupon, Pennsylvania? Here are the most unusual town names in the U.S... and their meanings!
Although no violence actually occurred, the city's unusual name had an equally bizarre conception. In 1912, there was a confrontation over a new design for the then town's only church steeple. The violence was reportedly thwarted when a little boy declared, "I'm going to cut around the corner and shoot through the bushes in a minute." Apparently, the name just kind of stuck.
About 60 miles North of Austin, the town of Ding Dong, Texas has quite a nice ring to it, you might say. The name's origin goes back to the 1930s when Zulis and Bert Bell commissioned a new sign for their country store on the Lampasas River. The artist, a talented oil painter named C.C. Hoover, painted two bells with the words Ding Dong, and the name stuck.
The rural community of Monkey's Eyebrow in Kentucky is so under-the-radar, you may not even know you're there when passing through. The definitive story on how Monkey's Eyebrow came to be is unknown, but the most popular account refers to a map of Ballard County, where the town resides on the Ohio River. The county's outline resembles a monkey's profile, and the town's location is situated where the primate's eyebrow would be.
With a name like Scratch Ankle, you might be wondering how residents named this small town in Alabama. According to local folklore, the title was inspired by black gnats. The small insects feasted on the ankles of residents who rolled up their pants to enjoy the afternoon breeze, leaving residents with itchy skin. Other versions of the story blame mosquitoes or fleas, but the sentiment remains.
The unincorporated community in the Rush Fork Valley of West Virginia has a dark past, which some people claim is the inspiration behind its strange name. From the late 1800s until 1917, a series of grisly deaths occurred in the small community. None of the murders were ever solved, so locals attributed them to the boogeyman. Legend says an old stonemason grew tired of the violence and decided to leave the boogeyman and his booger hole behind.
The small town of Chicken, Alaska, counted 7 full-time residents in 2010, but in its heyday, hundreds of gold miners called it home. The establishment of a post office in 1902 required that the town claim an official name. Miners chose "Ptarmigan" after the gamebird commonly found in the region. Unfortunately, no one could verify the accurate spelling of the bird's name, and the townspeople settled on Chicken to avoid an embarrassing mistake.
The name of Pee Pee Township in Pike County, Ohio, may evoke a giggle, but the name doesn't mean what you think it does. The small community was named after Pee Pee Creek, which earned its title when Peter Patrick carved his initials into a tree along the banks. The settler eventually moved to Virginia, and the Pee Pee Township became a part of the Underground Railroad.
The town of Santa Claus in southwestern Indiana didn't always have its merry name. Originally called Santa Fe, the community had to replace its name when it learned of another town with the same name already in Indiana. The townspeople gathered on Christmas Eve in 1856 to discuss the matter. A door burst open, allowing the sound of sleigh bells to drift inside, and the rest is history.
Pronounced "Zye-Zix," this roadside stop was once a luxurious healing resort in the middle of the Mojave Desert. Radio evangelist Curtis Springer established the Zzyzx Mineral Springs in the 1940s to serve as his shining legacy. He even invented the unique name to ensure he'd have the last word in the English language. Unfortunately, Springer was a con artist with no medical experience. Federal Marshals evicted him and his followers in 1974, and the resort fell into ruin.
Why is Why, Arizona named so oddly? Before the town's founding, Peggy and Jim Kater owned a homestead near the junction of State Routes 85 and 86. The two roads intersected in a Y-shape, so the Katers took to calling their place "the Y." They attracted so many visitors, the town had to apply for a post office, but in order to do so, the town name must contain at least three letters. Why, Arizona was born, and now, you know why.
Located on North Carolina's Pottery Highway 705, this quaint community received its odd handle during a town meeting. Locals debated for hours on a suitable new name for their home, asking why not name it this or that? A frustrated farmer finally cut in, asking, "Why not name it 'Why not' and then we can go home?"
Surely, the last place anybody would want to settle down would be in a town by the name of Accident. However, Accident—a town in Garrett County—actually has a population of 314 people who did. There are many reports on the name of the town's origins, but because no one actually knows its real etymology, it's all a guessing game. One tale claims that when Lord Baltimore opened the State's western border for settlement, two men were sent to survey the land. After they had both finished their work, the men then discovered they had picked the same tract of land...by accident. Get it?
Derived from the French word, embarras, the town got its name from the French fur traders who were the very first Europeans to visit the area. In French, embarras roughly means an obstacle or hindrance in the way of something. According to legend, the French fur traders found the narrow river hard to navigate, and thus, the river was named Embarras.
One of the most bizarre names on the list, What Cheer was initially called Petersburg after its first settler, Peter Britton. Fortunately, as the town grew, its name was called into question. A store owner named Joseph Andrews suggested the old English greeting "What Cheer" and, while Britton tried to keep the town's name Peterburg, a meeting of citizens quickly decided to vote in the way of Andrews. And thus, What Cheer was born.
Intercourse, Pennsylvania gets a lot of laughs. It also gets a lot of visitors, often only there to take a photograph beside the sign that reads, "INTERCOURSE." The town was originally known as Cross Keys after a local tavern that was in the area in the 18th century. Although there are several theories on the origins of the town's name, there is one that makes the most sense. Apparently, two famous roads once crossed through the center of the town, which led to the naming of Intercourse.
While its name might conjure up visions of a town coated in toxic waste, Hazardville was actually named after a man called Colonel Augustus G. Hazard. Hazard was a gunpowder manufacturer during the Civil War who established 100 powder mills across Enfield, an area of which Hazardville is now a part of. Funny enough, more than 40% of the gunpowder used during the Civil War came from the mills in Hazardville.
Gas has no long and intricate story behind its naming. On the contrary, the "home of the largest gas can" was named after the abundance of natural gas in the area. With less than 1000 residents, the rural town sits just three miles from the much larger Iola. That said, while Iola provides more opportunities for Kansans, Gas sure has it pipped to the post when it comes to Google searches.
Hell, Michigan, has one of the best etymology stories of all time. According to local legend, once Michigan had gained statehood, a man named George Reeves was asked what he thought of the town. Reeves operated the sawmill, distillery, tavern, and gristmill in the then-nameless town. When asked what he thought the town should be called, he allegedly replied, "You can name it Hell for all I care." And, well, they did.
Despite now being a ghost town, even when Nothing was populated, it only had four residents. According to locals, the town was "named by a bunch of drunks." Founded in 1977, its town sign is enough to give all of us hope in humanity. It read: "Thru-the-years-these dedicated people had faith in Nothing, hoped for Nothing, worked at Nothing, for Nothing."
While Fertile, Iowa isn't the only Fertile in the United States, it's 0.94 square miles of land is also the reason behind its name. It was originally called Rhodes Mill after the founding settler, William Rhodes, who built his house there in 1856. In 1877, however, the locals named the land Fertile due to the quality of the soil, and the town itself was fully incorporated at the turn of the 20th century.
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