There are more than 19,000 recognized cities, towns and villages, and hundreds more “unincorporated places” in the United States. In the quest to give each community a unique name, some states ended up with some truly weird and wacky city names.
Some were named in jest, others by lazy officials. Some were named after oddly monikered people or foreign words that sound silly, while others chose a bizarre name on purpose to make themselves a tourist destination. Whatever the reason, these cities are worth a visit just to get a picture of the ridiculous road sign on the way into town.
Even odder than Burnt Corn and Frog Eye, Alabama, is the community of Slicklizzard. According to AL.com, the name comes from the local mine where miners had to crawl on their bellies through clay openings to get in and out and came out "slick as a lizard."
Unalaska, home of cruise ship port Dutch Harbor, isn’t named for grouchy locals who’d rather not live in the 49th state. The original Aleut word for the area was “Agunalaksh,” which Russians converted to different variations including “Ounalaska” and “Oonalashka.” The U.S. then standardized the spelling of the town to Unalaska.
Anyone on a long road trip might have to rub their eyes after first spotting the exit for this Arizona town. Roughly 30 miles north of the Mexican border, Why was actually named after the shape of the letter Y. The town was previously situated where Highway 85 and Highway 86 intersected in a Y. Unofficially called “The Y,” residents changed the spelling when they applied for a post office.
Near Arkansas’s beautiful Blanchard Springs and Mirror Lake in the Ozarks sits Fifty-Six. The town was originally called Newcomb, until residents applied for a post office in 1918 and were denied because the name was already being used. They were temporarily dubbed Fifty-Six after their school district number, but the name was never changed to anything else.
Formerly Soda Springs, this unincorporated community’s name was changed to Zzyzx (pronounced like “Isaacs” with a Z) by con man Curtis Howe Springer, who wanted it to be the last city in the atlas and “the last word in health.” Springer squatted on almost 13,000 acres of land in the Mojave and turned it into a sham health spa before being evicted in 1974 once the government caught on.
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The 100-person northwestern Colorado town of No Name received its name after I-70 was constructed. A Colorado Department of Transportation official noticed the region did not have a name and put "No Name" on the exit sign for the area. Locals soon accepted the moniker as their actual name.
While it might sound hazardous, this Connecticut town is named for local manufacturer Colonel Augustus George Hazard.
This village was once simply known as The Corners, but evolved into Corner Ketch as early as 1856. While there are many theories and no proven history to the name, one of the most popular legends is that the town’s main intersection was either confusing or plagued by highway robbers, so locals would warn them, "Watch out! They'll catch ye at the corners!"
The town of Lorida (Florida minus the F) went through many failed names. Starting out as Cow House, it was later called Sunnyland, then Istokpoga, but there was already a Lake Istokpoga train station, which confused deliveries of mail and goods. So in 1937, the woman running the post office suggested Lorida and other locals gave the switch the go-ahead.
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Although it sounds like something out of a zombie flick or sci-fi B-movie, Experiment, Georgia, is named after the University of Georgia Agricultural Experiment Station located there.
Considering Hawaii has three active volcanoes, it’s a bit confusing to have a city on the Big Island also named Volcano. Located alongside Volcanoes National Park, which contains two of those active volcanoes, Volcano, also known as Volcano Village, is a small town of artists and farmers that can easily be found because it's named after rather conspicuous landmarks.
It might seem far-fetched to think of soft drinks bubbling up from a geyser, but that’s exactly what the town of Soda Springs is named for. The area is dotted with carbonated springs with water that’s bubbly like soda. Soda Springs is also famous for having the world’s only controlled geyser. The stream was struck by a man drilling for hot water in 1937. He tapped into an underground chamber of pressurized water that would’ve continued to stream out, but the town installed a mechanism to regulate it so it spouts when allowed to.
Some folks simply want a normal life. This Illinois town, which is home to Illinois State University, embraces its quirky name. A local t-shirt shop ships apparel around the world with "Normal Kind of Girl" and "Far from Normal" designs. The name comes from the university, which used to be called Illinois State Normal University, with “normal” referencing the French name for secondary schools for teachers, “ecoles normales.”
Much cheerier than Rapture, Indiana, Santa Claus in southwestern Indiana initially went by the name Santa Fe, until the post office informed the town the name was already taken. They wanted to keep the “Santa” bit so they settled on Santa Claus and have since embraced their connection with Christmas.
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A former mining town, What Cheer, Iowa, was initially called Petersburg. One of the town’s first settlers wanted to name the new post office after the old English greeting “What cheer.” He then insisted the post office and town should have the same name, and the rest is history.
Keith Myers/Kansas City Star/KRT
With a population of a little over 500, Gas, Kansas, named for its natural gas. It is home to the largest Gas Kan, which it part of the city’s water tower.
Move over Duck, North Carolina -- Kentucky doesn’t just stop at a generic animal name for its towns. While there is a Hippo, Kentucky, there’s also Monkey’s Eyebrow and Beaverlick. The community was started as a fur trading site where the Beaver Branch of Big Bone Lick, a slang word from creek, began.
Uneedus, Louisiana, is named for exactly what it sounds like: the phrase “You need us.” That was the slogan of the former local Houlton Lumber Company.
Perhaps worse than its fellow towns of Boring and Crapo, Accident, Maryland, seems to actually be an accident. According to the Baltimore Sun, its boundaries are irregularly shaped compared to the rectangular properties around it. The most popular explanation is that two surveyors discovered they’d selected the same tract of land “by accident,” thus giving it its name. Locals call themselves Accidentals.
You can not only “Go to Hell,” you can also get married there or dine at the local Hell Hole. Hell, Michigan, has embraced it’s unique name, which came from original settler George Reeves. Reeves often paid local farmers in homemade whiskey, so during harvest season, wives would lament that their husbands had “gone to Hell again.”
Though the word has evolved to be an insult, the town of Nimrod is actually named after the biblical figure Nimrod, who was a mighty hunter.
There are plenty of towns named after food, and Hot Coffee is named for exactly what you can find there. A waypoint on the road from Natchez, Mississippi, to Mobile, Alabama, Hot Coffee got its name from the store built there that advertised "the best hot coffee around.” You can still get some hot coffee in Hot Coffee today.
More peculiar than Peculiar and more long-winded an insult than Tightwad is the southeastern Missouri town of Braggadocio. A local farmer told the LA Times that the townsfolk wanted to pick a long, impressive name that "would really impress the folks up in Washington."
In 1883, town founder Marcus Daly wanted to name the city “Copperopolis,” but it was surprisingly already taken. The postmaster instead named the town Anaconda after Daly’s mining company, which was open for almost 100 years.
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While Nebraska has a penchant for common nouns as town names, such as Magnet and Worms, perhaps the most unappealing city name is Gross. Ahead of the opening of a new railroad, the area was settled in 1893 by Ben Gross and his wife. The community began to thrive until the railroad ultimately bypassed the new city. Today, Gross only has a population of two people.
Refusing to let Las Vegas have all the fun, Jackpot, Nevada, capitalizes on the state’s gambling image. The town was formed when two casino owners from Idaho were forced out of state when it outlawed gambling in 1953.
Though this town name sounds “dumm,” it’s actually named for lieutenant-governor William Dummer, who served the province of Massachusetts Bay.
While it might sound like the name of a Dairy Queen dessert or a monstrous cheesesteak, Cheesequake is actually the name of a town and state park in New Jersey. Though it sounds English in origin, its name evolved from a word from the local Leni-Lenape tribe of Native Americans.
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Formerly known as the generic Hot Springs, New Mexico, this city famously renamed itself after the radio quiz show “Truth or Consequences” in 1950 as part of a contest to get the show to be broadcast live from one town. Host Ralph Edwards, who stopped hosting the show in 1957, traveled to the town once a year for the next 50 years to host the Truth or Consequences Fiesta.
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You, unfortunately, won’t find Batman cruising in the Batmobile through the streets of Bat Cave, N.C., straightforwardly named for a nearby cave home to multiple species of bats.
Zap, North Dakota, has more than 200 residents. The story goes that the mining town was named after its fellow mining town of Zapp in Scotland, but Americanized by removing a P. A clever tagline was ruined after the 1969 spring break tourism campaign Zip to Zap led to the Zip to Zap riot.
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Though the origins of the town name of Knockemstiff are murky, most lore involves moonshining, bar fights or rough and tumble behavior of some sort. One funny alternative anecdote is that when approached by a woman who asked him how to keep her cheating husband at home, a preacher replied, "knock him stiff.”
A town with a current population of about 150, Gene Autry was formerly named Berwyn, Oklahoma, until famous cowboy crooner and actor Gene Autry bought 1,200 acres of land on the edge of town. In 1941, the entire town voted to change the name in his honor. Though the real-life Autry sold the land after World War II, the city still built a Gene Autry Oklahoma Museum and hosts an annual Gene Autry Oklahoma Film and Music Festival.
Much like Midland, Michigan, and Midland, Texas, Halfway, Oregon, got its name for being the midpoint between places. Midway between the settlement of Pine and the Cornucopia mine, Halfway became famous when it changed its name to Half.com in a publicity stunt in 2000, becoming the world’s first “Internet city.” After eBay bought the original website a year later, the town changed back to its original name. Oregon is home to another famous halfway point: the 45th parallel hits I-84 between Baker City and North Powder and is marked with a sign.
Those with a dirty mind will get a kick out of the famous village of Intercourse, Pennsylvania, but the Keystone State has plenty of other weirdly named cities. Bird-in-Hand, also located in Amish country, gets its name from the idiom, “A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.” According to local legend, two surveyors on the road between Philadelphia and Lancaster found themselves in the small village at dusk, and one of them decided it was wiser to stay at the local inn than push on, uttering the famous saying. Travelers can still stay at the Bird-in-Hand Inn.
Plenty of cities across the country are taken from Native American names, but Rhode Island has an especially high concentration, and this beach town’s name might be the biggest mouthful. “Quonnie” or “Quany” for short, Quonochontaug means “black fish,” according to local historians.
A town of a little more than 1,200 people, Due West is either simply named for its position in relation to another town, or because through the years, people began mispronouncing or mishearing the name “De Witt’s.” An early settler named De Witt opened a trading post along the trail and that spot became known as De Witt’s Comer, which became corrupted to Due West.
If Blunt, South Dakota is any indication, this state is straightforward when it comes to place names. Thus, the town of Wall is named for the sudden, steep Badlands rock formation nearby. The town is home to iconic highway stop Wall Drug.
Bugscuffle, Bitter End and Disco -- there are plenty of creative town names in Tennessee. But residents of this community seemingly couldn’t come to a consensus on a name for post office way back in the 1860s, thus temporary title of Nameless became its name.
With almost 1,000 cities, Texas settlers had to get creative with their city names. Many went the cowboy and ranching-inspired route, such as Cut and Shoot, or simple, such as the towns of Cool, Texas, and Tool, Texas. One central Texas community’s name came about organically. Settlers Zulis Bell and Bert Bell opened a store in the area with a sign featuring two bells with the words “ding” and “dong” written underneath. The name Ding Dong stuck, and the town is even located in Bell County, named after Peter Hansborough Bell, the third governor of Texas.
With a population of about 30, the town of Mexican Hat, Utah, is a village along the highway in canyon country that could easily be overlooked if it didn’t have such a distinctive namesake marker: a 60-foot stone formation that looks like an inverted Mexican sombrero.
The Charlie Daniels Band song says “The Devil Went Down to Georgia,” but if you look in the Vermont town of Leicester, you’ll find the unincorporated community of Satan’s Kingdom, a title it’s had since the 1820s. But the name isn’t because of any evil afoot in the area, but rather the spite of a bitter settler. According to the book “Vermont Place-Names,” it was “thought to have been named by someone who had expected fertile, rolling acres and had received rocks and hills instead.”
In the 1950s, the founders of George, Washington, decided to pay humorous homage to the first president of the United States. The street’s towns are themed around varieties of cherries and they make the world’s largest cherry pie on the 4th of July. The city of roughly 500 is also known for its Gorge Amphitheatre, sometimes called "The Gorge at George,” which plays host to the annual Sasquatch! Music Festival.
West Virginia isn’t wanting for wacky town names with cities such as Lick Fork and Crab Orchard. While Lick Fork might be appetizing, the unincorporated community of Booger Hole certainly isn’t. The name is actually derived from the word “boogieman.” The town has a history of attracting crime, murder and mysterious disappearances.
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In the Wisconsin town of Osceola, there’s a curious unincorporated community called Chinatown. According to the oral history of its name, the area’s first residents built temporary shacks along the lake, and to avoid flooding in the spring, built their homes on stilts. Neighbors began calling it Chinatown because of the homes’ Asian appearance. The town’s odd signs have been regularly stolen because of its unique name.
Chugwater, Wyoming, population roughly 200, shares its name with nearby Chugwater Creek and the red sandstone Chugwater rock formation. Local lore is that the name comes from a native American legend about a hunter who drove buffalos off a nearby cliff. “Chug” is the onomatopoeia of the sound they make hitting the ground.