What’s in a name? For a town, quite a bit. A beautiful-sounding name like Savannah or Palm Beach naturally inspires curiosity. But then again, so does an odd name. We dare you not to be curious about the town of Slickpoo.
Alabama: Lick Skillet
Though all you’ll find in this tiny village is a big old building called the Music Barn and a few storage buildings, it does have a pretty odd story behind its moniker. Named after a brawl in which two relatives got into a fight, one was hit by a skillet in which it was reported “he licked him with the skillet.” There was also another Lickskillet in Alabama at one point (without a colorful backstory), but that one’s now known as Oxford.
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There are a number of theories about the name of this super-tiny town, which only has about 35 people (mostly workers). One describes a potential investor to the town as remaking that he “wouldn’t want to put money into feeding a dead horse.” Another says that an early company in the area had an exclusive contract to cart away dead horses from Fairbanks. Either way, the name remains.
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A simple handshake between two developers in the “Carefree Development Group” christened the town’s name.
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This distinctive name came from a nearby train station, which was named after a railroad official in St. Louis.
Photo by Thomas R Machnitzki via Wikimedia Commons
California: Rough and Ready
A mining company that paid homage to the nickname of General and President Zachary Taylor inspired this town’s name. Today, it’s more of a tourist stop, but around 1,000 people do call Rough and Ready home.
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This unincorporated community was named for a nearby sanitarium that helped tuberculosis patients. Here’s one of the oldest buildings in the community, the Church of the Brethren, which dates back to 1888.
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This town isn’t filled with danger, but with charming historical buildings. Hazardville got its name from Colonel Hazard, who owned the Hazard Gunpowder Company.
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Delaware: Slaughter Beach
Local legends attribute this name to either the springtime masses of horseshoe crabs that come to lay their eggs, or simply from a circa-1800s postmaster with the last name.
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Florida: Treasure Island
Property owners attempted to boost sales in this town by burying wooden chests that they pretended held treasure. Today, the theme is still strong in this community, with many pirate-themed businesses (in addition to more tasteful high-rises and vacation homes).
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This small town got its distinctive name from a 1920s dance hall called “Hope You Like It.”
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Nope, not a town filled with people named Kurtis, but a town named for A.G. Curtis, who had a general store that became the town’s post office.
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Giggle all you want, but this extremely tiny unincorporated town isn’t filled with, um, hazards. Instead, it’s named after Josiah Slickpoo, who provided a site for a church.
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Illinois: Goofy Ridge
After a night of drinking, a game warden declared he was sober enough of to shoot a walnut off someone’s head. After successfully shooting the walnut off a volunteer’s head, it was said to be “one damned goofy thing to do” and the name stuck. Today, Goofy Ridge is notable for being close to the beautiful Henry Allan Gleason Nature Preserve, shown here.
Photo by Curtis Albert via Flickr
Indiana: Santa Claus
Originally called Santa Fe, but due to conflicts with the city in New Mexico the town was renamed by its citizens.
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After a dispute on what to name the town (after its previous name was actually in use), a blindfolded mayor pointed at Jamaica on a map to gives this town its name.
Photo by Ashton B. Crew via Wikimedia
Kansas: Canada (and Ottawa)
It’s not a coincidence: This town was founded by the sons of the former Speaker of the Canadian Senate in 1883. Then, lots of Canadians soon followed.There’s also an Ottawa, Kansas (shown here, circa 1942), but that’s named for the Native American tribe instead of the city in Canada.
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Kentucky: Monkey’s Eyebrow
If you look on the town from a hill, it apparently looks just like this very specific monkey facial feature.
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Thank the Houlton Lumber Company, whose slogan was simply “You Need Us.” You might find this town on your way to the Global Wildlife Center, where you can meet interesting animals like this rhea.
Photo by Vegasjon via Wikimedia
There isn’t anything strange about Norway, but the story behind it is. The town name is the result of a clerical error after someone misheard the original name, Norage.
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Maryland: Martin’s Additions
After Harry M. Martin bought land from nearby Chevy Chase (shown here), the holdings were named “Martin’s Additions to Chevy Chase” and then a 1985 referendum passed to incorporate Martin’s Additions as its own separate town.
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Locals put up with off-color jokes about provocative pronunciations of its name, which came from the Scottish second Duke of Atholl.
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While there isn’t a clear idea why this town was named Hell, the town has embraced it with a “Go to Hell” slogan and other pun infused advertisements.
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Though the name will make you raise an eyebrow, this extremely small town of under 300 was named after a local tobacco company.
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Legend has it that Postmaster Jim Eaton’s constant usage of “so-so” in regards to how he was doing or feeling was the catalyst for this name.
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This town was indeed (allegedly) named out of spite after an incident in which a store owner ripped off a postman on a transaction. One of the smallest towns on our list, the population of Tightwad was around 64 people at the time of the 2010 Census.
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The town founder originally wanted to call it “Copperopolis,” but that was surprisingly taken. Instead, he decided on “Anaconda,” after his mining company. Fun fact: Lucille Ball spent some of her childhood here!
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Settlers were surprised that the land was so much better than they previously expected. One of the biggest draws in the early 20th century was the modestly-sized Surprise Opera House, shown here.
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Though it may not immediately jump out as an odd name to you, its rumored translation will make you laugh. Allegedly, back in the 1800s, a railroad speculator of ample proportions visited the now-tiny town and inspired the Paiute to coin this name — which (again, allegedly) means “Ample Posterior.”
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New Hampshire: Dummer
It’s not a commentary on intelligence, but instead a tribute to former Massachusetts governor William Dummer. Visitors still visit the town to see the scenery, especially the gorgeous Pontook Reservoir (formerly Pontook Lake, seen in this 1908 post card).
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New Jersey: Loveladies
Named after founder Thomas Lovelady who owned the nearby island that was called “Lovelady’s.”
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New Mexico: Truth or Consequences
Formerly Hot Springs, the town was named after the NBC radio show of the same name. Host Ralph Edwards promised to visit the first town to name itself after the program.
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New York: Horseheads
It’s not quite the most glamorous of origin stories, but this town got its name from the remains of Military Pack horses who belonged to the armies of Major-General John Sullivan and has passed in the 1779.
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North Carolina: Lizard Lick
Famous for the reality show Lizard Lick Towing and a 1998 launch of “Yoshi’s Story” video game; Lizard Lick was actually named after passerbys noticed lizards licking themselves. (Perhaps the sight looked a bit like these Australian lizards?)
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North Dakota: Zap
Particulars of the naming of this town are mysterious, though some like to believe it was named after a prominent banking family with the last name Zapp. Mostly well known for its “Zip to Zap” riot.
Photo by Andrew Filer via Flickr
Ohio: Pee Pee
One of a few townships around Lake White, this was named after the Pee Pee Creek that took its name from a settler who carved his initials “P.P.” on a nearby tree.
Photo by Aesopposea via Wikimedia
Though it sounds like it would be the setting for a horror movie, this small town of around 4,000 people was named after a small business owned by a resident named Jim Slaughter. On an even nicer note, it’s the location of WildCare Foundation, which helps injured wildlife (like this majestic owl).
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Named after a Union soldier, William H Boring, Boring became a sister city with “Dull, Scotland” to help promote tourism between the two cities.
Photo by Jeff Hitchcock via Flickr
Several theories range from it being named due to crossing intersections or as a symbolism of social interaction and faith. Regardless, this town features some of the most stolen signs in the country due to its unique name.
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Rhode Island: Woonsocket
A waterfall by the same name likely inspired this town. Some say that the name means “thunder mist,” which certainly supports the waterfall-as-inspiration theory.
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South Carolina: Pumpkintown
Named by a visitor who was in awe of the large pumpkins grown on the nearby Oolenoy River. Of course, one of the highlights of the year is a local festival that includes pumpkins of all sizes.
Photo by Bill Herndon via Flickr
South Dakota: Blunt
Another town that got its name from a railroad official during the late 1800s.
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There is no definitive explanation on “Nameless.” But hey, even that fact makes the unincorporated community very distinctive.
Photo by Brian Stansberry via Wikimedia
Texas: Ding Dong
Early settlers Bert and Zulis Bell hired a painter named C.C. Hoover to create a logo for their country store. Hoover was advised to be creative by Fred Foster and created a logo with two bells and underneath each right “ding” and “dong.”
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Strong winds were the remarkable feature of this town when it was founded by Erastus Snow. (A whirlwind blew off the top of his buggy.)
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This beautiful (and tiny) town is thought to be inspired by two English towns that have similar-sounding names: Tynemouth and Teignmouth.
Photo by Jared and Corin via Wikimedia
It was truly a tight squeeze for travelers navigating a narrow highway between two shops in the 1800s, giving rise to the town’s name. It’s much easier to navigate the streets these days, especially if you’re en route to nearby Danville (shown here). P.S. If you were wondering where the “Made in the USA” IKEA pieces come from, it’s Danville! This city is home to Swedwood, a subsidiary of the Swedish brand.
Photo by Miguel Gereda via Wikimedia
Washington: Medical Lake
Founded in 1888, this town is named for its beautiful lake that was thought to have healing powers.
Photo by Gneek via Wikimedia
West Virginia: Paw Paw
Named after the “Paw Paw” Bends of the Potomac that received its name from the pawpaw trees that border the river.
Photo by Bob Marquart via Flickr
Wisconsin: Egg Harbor
Though there are other Egg Harbors in the United States, Wisconsin’s has an odd backstory that makes it worthy of this list. The village was named for a truly epic egg fight that occurred when a six-boat trading flotilla competed for a same spot of land.
Photo by A.amitkumar via Wikimedia
There once was a herd of bison that, when chased by hunters, fell off a cliff into a stream. The hunters had said the sound of this event sounded like someone “chugging.” Thus, the name Chugwater. Today, it’s home to the oldest soda fountain in the state, in case you’re thirsty.
Photo by Derek Bruff via Flickr
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