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, Oregon, for which it received computers and $110,000 from the 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?