Seven of the weirdest place names in the U.S.

Lori Castle
New York 40° 42' 52.38" N, -74° 0' 25.632" E

There’s no shortage of curiously named places in the U.S. Look at Sandwich, New Hampshire and Burnt Corn, Alabama, for example. And then there is Owl City, Tennessee, and Little Turkey, Iowa. We also want to point out the towns named Christmas in Florida, Michigan and Mississippi. You can also find friendly places like Pleasantville, New York and Love, Arizona, and the scary-sounding locales like Satans Kingdom, Vermont and Accident, Maryland.

You could create endless lists of weird, funny, inappropriate, creepy, happy, depressing, nonsensical and more. But imagine if you lived in one of the following places and had to explain every time someone asked you where you live.


Nameless, Texas

It was originally a case of rejection that plunged this place, just north of Austin, into anonymity and fame. The Texas State Historic Association tells it like this. The town was settled in 1869 and the founders submitted six different names when applying for a post office. All were denied, to which they responded back: "Let the post office be nameless and be damned!"

For reasons unknown, the post office took it literally, accepted Nameless and established a branch in 1880. It only remained open for 10 years, and today, while Nameless is still on the map, it has been absorbed by the town of Leander.

 

Unalaska, Alaska

The conversation might go like this…

"Where do you live?"
"Unalaska."
"You mean in Alaska?"
"No. Unalaska. In Alaska."

The word originates from when Russian fur traders settled the area — part of the Aleutian Islands — and renamed it "Ounalashka." Historical artifacts discovered in Unalaska date back 9,000 years. The city calls itself: “a place that’s a little quieter, a little less hurried and a lot less like the rest of the world.” On a volcanic island, the region is known for its spectacular scenery and opportunities for birding, beach combing, fishing, skiing and kayaking.

placenames-notalaska

image credit: Unalaska Port of Dutch Harbor, Convention & Visitors Bureau

Embarrass, Minnesota

Here’s another likely conversation…

"So where are you from?"
"Embarrass, Minnesota."
"I’ve heard Minnesota is a nice place; why are you embarrassed?"

It’s typical to blush when you feel humiliated, but in Embarrass your face will be red from the cold. Within the state, It’s known as “the cold spot” for an unofficial low temperature of -64. A Finnish population was dominant during homesteading days, but the name of the town is the doing of the French.

In the 1800s when traveling by canoe, French explorers found the area difficult to maneuver as it was filled with obstacles and debris along the way, according to the town’s website. "’Embarrass’ comes from a French word, which means to hinder, confuse or to be complicated." The population is 607 and homestead tours are the main attraction. If you prefer to live a bit further south but still want to be in Embarrass — try Wisconsin.

Embarass

image credit: Town of Embarrass, Minnesota

Whynot, North Carolina

Why not, indeed. This is exactly how the town was named. Similar to the exasperated citizens of Nameless, the founders of this community were trying to establish a post office. In this case, the townsfolk debated for a long time on what to call their town and could not agree and legend has it one person stepped up and said, “"Why not name it Why Not and let's go home.”

The post office was taken over in 1905 by Seagrove. Aside from its famous nomenclatures, Whynot is known for being located on a stretch of NC 705 that runs from Seagrove to the golf resort town of Pinehurst nicknamed the “North Carolina Pottery highway.”

 

Hell, Michigan

The story of Hell isn’t one of Satan and fire, unless you happen to count certain ‘spirits’ as a devil. A grist mill and general store run by settler George Reeves was where local farmers sold their grain back in the mid-1800’s. Ole’ George tended to pay in whiskey so the wives adopted a saying during harvest time when asked where their husbands went. “He’s gone to Hell again.” The name stuck.

This is one U.S. town that makes the most of its origins. You can get married in Hell at the chapel, become the mayor of Hell for a day, buy a souvenir or even a piece of land in Hell for $6.66. The town saying is: “Come out and visit us... so the next time someone tells you to ‘Go To Hell,’ you can tell them you've already been there and had a Hell of a good time!”

Town of Hell, Michigan

image credit: Town of Hell, Michigan

Lake Chargoggagoggmanchauggagoggchaubungungamaugg, Massachusetts

This is not a typo. It’s the longest name of a place in the U.S. and comes from the Nipmuc Indians — the first people to inhabit the area. Recognized in 1832, the town goes by Webster and the lake was formed by the retreat of glaciers.

Webster Lake Association

image credit: Webster Lake Association

ZZYZX, California

If you are an evangelist, quack doctor and want to get people to your so-called healing waters, one way might be to give it a ridiculous name. This is what Curtis Howe Springer did in 1944 when he established the ZZyZx Mineral Springs Health Spa by filing a mining claim.

 

 

Pronounced Zye-Zix, the area is southwest of Baker and about two hours outside of Las Vegas. It was originally known as Soda Springs and was a popular stop for Indians, explorers and other travelers. The Federal government took it back in the 1970s and it’s now under the auspices of the National Park System.

Any weird names near where you live? Share them in the comments.

Topics: Features, Fun Maps, Weekend Reads

Comments