America’s strangest place names
The UK has its fair share of weird place names but the United States has us beat hands down on the sheer number and wackiness of some of its place names. Many of them are too filthy or filled with innuendo for us to publish in this family friendly blog and the complete list of bizarre names is far too long for us to list in one blog post, so here are the top five that made us chuckle.
Lake Chargoggagoggmanchauggagoggchau-bunagungamaugg, Massachusetts
Often thought to be the longest place name in the United States the lake’s name comes from the Algonquian language of the Native Americas and is thought to mean “Fishing Place at the Boundaries — Neutral Meeting Grounds” or the more humorous translation of “”You fish on your side, I fish on my side, and nobody fish in the middle”. Americans often call it Webster Lake to save on saying Chargoggagoggmanchauggagoggchaubunagungamaugg and you can’t blame them. Locals of the area take pride in reeling off the longer version to bemused sightseers.
Toad Suck, Arkansas
Located on the Arkansas River this little town was voted number one on ‘the most embarrassing or US Town place names’ poll carried out by a website. According to a local website, the town got its name as follows: What does “Toad Suck” mean anyway? Well, the answer is quite simple… Long ago, steamboats travelled the Arkansas River when the water was at the right depth. When it wasn’t, the captains and their crew tied up to wait where the Toad Suck Lock and Dam now spans the river. While they waited, they refreshed themselves at the local tavern there, to the dismay of the folks living nearby, who said: “They suck on the bottle ’til they swell up like toads.” Hence, the name Toad Suck. The tavern is long gone, but the legend and fun live on at Toad Suck Daze the town’s annual festival.
Bat Cave, North Carolina
Fans of the Dark Knight may be amused to learn that a small town in North Carolina is named after their favourite superheroes hideout. In fact the small community was named after a nearby cave which is inhabited by several species of bats. The cave itself is the largest granite cave in North America.
Unfortunately Idiotville is a ghost town these days, located in the far NorthWest of Oregon near the mouth of Idiot Creek. Since the spot was so remote, it was said that only an idiot would work there, so the camp was popularly known as Idiotville. The name was eventually applied to the stream as well.
Lizard Lick, North Carolina
Since 1972, the residents of this town, 16 miles east of Raleigh, have held lizard races every fall to herald the farming community’s unusual name. It dates back to the days when the area was home to a federally operated liquor still, and lizards were brought in to cut down on the insects. Travelling salesman noticed the creatures and dubbed the community Lizard Lick.
Monkey’s Eyebrow, Kentucky
The small town of Monkey’s Eyebrow is located in Ballard County, Kentucky and its thought that the origin of this unique name is that, when looking at a map of Ballard County, it looks like a a monkey’s head. Monkeys Eyebrow is located where the monkey’s eyebrow would be located.
Elephant Butte, New Mexico
This amusing sounding place is located in Sierra County, New Mexico and is home to just under 2,000 people. The small town gets its name from the Elephant butte lake and is apparently one of the most popular tourist destinations in the State. The origins of its name are a mystery but one does wonder if the locals are called butts… or maybe buttites?
Oscar Peeples, the town grocer in the early 1900s, was forever waiting on customers who asked for things he didn’t have. “I’m slap out of it,” Peeples would say. This central Alabama community, north of Montgomery, is now little more than a crossroads, with a church, bank, barber shop, and the tumbledown remains of Peeples’ old store.
In the spring of 1868, Postmaster E.T. Thomson decided to name his town “Excelsior,” but postal officials told him it was already taken. Thomson reapplied with new names, and received the same response time after time. Exasperated, he finally told postal officials to assign the town a unique name, one that was “sort of peculiar.” Peculiar, near the Kansas border just south of Kansas City, is home to about 1,800 people.
Rough and Ready, California
This settlement gets its name from the mining company that founded it. The Rough and Ready mining company established the town in 1849. The company itself was named after General and US President Zachary Taylor whose nickname was ‘Old Rough and Ready’. Bizarrely, Rough and Ready seceded from the union, effectively turning itself into a republic for a brief time, forming the “Great Republic of Rough and Ready.”