Town Names: Welcome to Hell

In a former post, I talked about the importance of our own names. But today, I want to highlight fascinating names of towns around the good ol’ U.S.A.  While only two people are typically involved in naming a child, I would think that more input would go into the naming of a town. I don’t know, though, since I’ve never been asked to name a municipality.

Certain town names have clearly been chosen to give you a warm fuzzy feelings and a desire to visit or live there:

Friendly, West Virginia

Magnet, Nebraska

Paradise, Utah

Pleasureville, Kentucky

Welcome, Minnesota

Welcome, North Carolina

What Cheer, Iowa

Other towns, however, aren’t so sure about their appeal:

Accident, Maryland

Boring, Oregon

Cut Off, Louisiana

Embarrass, Wisconsin

Experiment, Georgia

Okay, Oklahoma

Peculiar, Missouri

Uncertain, Texas

Why, Arizona

Whynot, North Carolina

Some towns are named after animals, such as Antelope, Idaho or Swans Island, Maine. But I want to know the stories behind Ducktown, Tennessee; Fishkill, New York; and most especially, Lizard Lick, North Carolina.

Other towns seem to be named after the kind of people you might expect to find residing there. Which of these would you want to live in?

Guys, Tennessee
Idiotville, Oregon
Loco, Oklahoma
Normal, Illinois

Perhaps these towns are named for what one might expect to find there:

Hygiene, Colorado
Jackpot, Nevada
Tightwad, Missouri
Yellville, Arkansas

Some towns don’t have names at all, but numbers:

Hundred, West Virginia
Ninety Six, South Carolina
Village Eight, Hawaii

A few towns changed their names when a company offered some perk. The most widely known is Truth or Consequences, New Mexico. T or C, as it is often called, changed from Hot Springs in 1950 when Ralph Edwards, host of the radio show Truth or Consequences, asked a town in America to rename in celebration of the game show’s tenth anniversary.


The town of Clark, Texas renamed itself DISH, Texas in 2005 in exchange for all town residents receiving free basic television service for ten years and a free DVR from Dish Network. And Halfway, Oregon was temporarily named Half.com, Oregon, for which it received computers and $110,000 from the Half.com company. It has since reverted to Halfway.

Some towns seem inappropriately named, like Unalaska, Alaska; Beach, North Dakota; and Hurricane, Utah. Do they understand where they live?

And some towns are downright scary. There is War, West Virginia and Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina. Moreover, who wants to drive into a town with the sign “Welcome to Hell”? And yet, there is Hell, Michigan.

More frightening to me is Roachdale, Indiana. You couldn’t pay me enough to live in a place named after roaches! If enough of them occupy the area to determine the town’s name, I’m packing up and moving to Humansville, Missouri – where presumably we have a chance against those nasty exoskeletal creatures.

Finally, here are two of my Texas favorites:  Cut and Shoot and Gun Barrel City.

 

For those towns that simply cannot come up with an appropriate label, they could take a page from a town in Tennessee called Nameless.

What’s the most strangely named town you’ve visited? What unusually named towns are in your state? Where did your town get its name?

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15 thoughts on “Town Names: Welcome to Hell

  1. Oh, I'm so glad you mentioned Cut and Shoot. I think that's such a neat name for a town. I've heard all sorts of histories on it, but I am not sure what's true. I'm coming up blank on other unusual names. Fun post, though. 😀

  2. Don't forget planets…Jupiter FL anyone? Oh and having been to Boring OR I can attest that it lives up to its name 😉 How about Canada? Elbow, Saskatchewan…I guess it's better than arm pit, LOL.

  3. It's funny that you mentioned Cut & Shoot because I used to live near there. Now I live in Arizona, where there are quite a few unusual names. Near Prescott there is a little place called Skull Valley. You've probably heard of Tombstone, but there's also Bumblebee, Grasshopper, Hog Eye, Santa Clause and Tuba City. There are also a lot of areas around here named for something scary like Devil Dog Road, Dead Man's Gorge and Big Bug Gulch.

  4. Raelyn – Planets would be a good category! And there are many crazy town names outside the U.S. Elbow is unusual.Marla – Tuba City and Big Bug Gulch are curious. Wonder what the reasoning was there! Thanks for some good ones.

  5. You might find two Michigan town names of interest. They're made of numbers. Not like Three Rivers, or Six Lakes but made from numerals that appeared on railroad mile markers.Thus No VI became Novi. And M 10 became Mio.

  6. I grew up in Michigan and I always used to giggle at Hell, MI. It was like a free pass to cuss. Nice, huh? There's also a Hamburg, MI and a Paris, MI. I mean, Paris, MI? I hear it's lovely in the springtime. Ha!Kalamazoo, MI is another funny one. Mostly because it's fun to say.

  7. I've heard of Cut and Shoot, always wondered about that one LOL. And OMG – there used to be a small town called Blue Ball, just on the edge of Middletown, OH. The funny part? 30 years ago, there was actually a signpost with a big, blue ball on it! The ball was probably a good five or six feet in diameter, and it had a little welcome sign hanging off the side of the post. It's not there any more. 😦 Probably because the area is developed, with a lot of retail and restaurants.There are a ton of funny town names at http://www.accuracyproject.org/towns.html – including some in Ohio that make Blue Ball sound like Boring LOL!

  8. What a fun post! I live in Cedar Rapids, Iowa and grew up in SE Iowa, so I'm very familiar with What Cheer. Typical small town America. I loved your list, and I totally agree about Roachdale. Yuck!

  9. Fun post, Julie! I immediately think of Intercourse, Pennsylvania, a little town in the Pocono Mountains. Then there's Bethlehem, PA. As you can imagine, they do Christmas up big in that city. Ironically, one of Bethlehem's neighboring towns is Hellersville.Many Long Island towns have Algonquian Indian names, including my town. They can be quite difficult to pronounce, but interesting when you learn the history of the word.

  10. Jen – I saw the Blue Ball town name as well. I wonder if the school has the same name, and what the mascot could possibly be? (Don't go there, people.) By the way, I used towns I could find more than one source for b/c some names you find on the internet no longer exist.Stacy – What Cheer sounds MUCH better than Roachdale, doesn't it?!Jolyse – Intercourse was another oddly-named town I saw, especially when you find out it's in Amish country and not that far from Climax. (Oh my goodness, I may get in trouble with my parents or my church for that last comment, but you can't make this stuff up!)

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