Best of America

34 Funny Town Names You Won’t Believe Are Real

From Boring to Slaughterville, read up on America's most unusual city names and their origins.

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Asylum, Pennsylvania

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“Asylum” often brings creepy or scary images to mind, but this township draws its name from the other definition of the word. During the French Revolution, refugees who escaped the violence took shelter in Pennsylvania and founded the village of Azilum. Many residents returned to France around 1800, but the name stuck around.

Boring, Oregon

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No, the name isn’t meant to describe the goings-on in the town. It was named after one of its first residents, William Harrison Boring, and it soon became a railroad town, since the timber in that area was used to build rails and fuel trains. Boring’s great grandson Bob still lives in the area and says that despite the name, “There’s always something going on around here.” The town also has two international sister cities: Dull, Scotland, and Bland, Australia.

Burnt Corn, Alabama

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There are a few legends about how Burnt Corn got its name. Some say settlers burned the Indians’ corn fields; others say Indians burned the settlers’ corn. Either way, conflict between the two groups climaxed at the Battle of Burnt Corn in 1813, which the Native Americans won.

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Burnt Store, Florida

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According to local legend, the town gets its name from a trading house on the Peace River that was burned down in 1849. At the time, manager George Payne had had meetings with Seminole Indians, and he died in a Seminole attack shortly before the store burned.

Cheesequake, New Jersey

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Cheesequake is a derivation of the Lenni-Lenape Indian word, “Cheseh-oh-ke,” which means “upland.” It is now located within Cheesequake State Park, a 1,274-acre park where visitors can go hiking, camping, fishing, or boating. (Related: These are the best trails to hike in America.)

Chicken, Alaska

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When gold miners tried to think of a name for their new community, they suggested Ptarmigan, for the species of game birds that populated the area. Unfortunately, no one could agree on how to spell it, so they went with Chicken instead.

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Cut and Shoot, Texas

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Don’t worry, no actual violence is linked to this name—only threats. The town was divided over who could preach in the local church. Half believed anyone should be allowed, and the other half wanted to exclude Apostolics. When an Apostolic preacher showed up one day, the town grabbed weapons and gathered at the church to defend their positions. Frightened of the pending violence, one little boy said, “I’m going to cut around the corner and shoot through the bushes in a minute.” In the end, no one got hurt, the Apostolic preached under some nearby trees to anyone who wanted to listen, and the phrase “cut and shoot” stuck.

Deadman Crossing, Ohio

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Not a lot goes on in this unincorporated community. Located 50 miles south of Columbus, it’s often abbreviated Deadman Xing. The origin of the name is unclear, but there are six cemeteries within a two-mile radius of the town. Coincidence? Maybe not.

Dog Town, Alabama

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This unincorporated community was originally called Cagle’s Crossroads. It changed to Dog Town (also known as Ruhama and Dogtown) because so many hunters passed through the area with their dogs.

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Embarrass, Minnesota

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The township gets its name from the French word, “embarras,” which means “an obstacle or difficult situation.” When French explorers first traveled through the area, they had trouble getting their canoes down the river, so they named the river (and eventually, the town) accordingly. See? Nothing to be embarrassed about here. (Related: Here are more quirky foreign words without a direct translation.)

Frankenstein, Missouri

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In 1890, Gottfried Franken donated land for the community to build a church. And as far as we know, Franken was not a mad scientist (even though we secretly wish he was).

Hell, Michigan

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Sometimes, “Go to Hell” isn’t an insult. It’s directions! The central Michigan community got its start when George Reeves opened a gristmill (where grain is ground into flour) and paid farmers who brought in grain with home distilled whiskey. If someone asked a farmer’s wife where her husband was around the harvest, she’d reply, “He’s gone to Hell again.” Now, visitors can be mayor of Hell for a day, get married in Hell, and stop by the post office, where workers singe every piece of mail before sending it.

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Hot Coffee, Mississippi

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One inn owner, L.J. Davis, advertised that he made the best hot coffee around—and it very well could have been. Davis made the coffee with pure spring water and New Orleans beans, and he used molasses drippings as sweetener. People loved it so much that they named the town after it. (Check out these tips for making a perfect cup of coffee at home.)

Imalone, Wisconsin

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Maybe the only thing more interesting about the community than its name is its founder’s: Snowball Anderson. One day, Andersen left his gas station in the care of a man named Bill Granger. When a salesman stopped by and needed the name of the place for an invoice. Granger said, “I’m alone,” meaning he couldn’t ask anyone what the name was. So that’s what the salesman wrote down. One current resident says Anderson actually named the community himself, simply “because he was.

Intercourse, Pennsylvania

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There are several theories as to how Intercourse got its name. The entrance to a local race track was once called “Entercourse,” which could have evolved. It could refer to a nearby intersection of two main roads (the Old Philadelphia Pike and another road from Delaware to Pennsylvania). But the last is the cutest: In Old English, “intercourse” referred to fellowship and community, two abundant commodities in the Amish country where Intercourse is located.

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Looneyville, Texas

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Established during the Civil War, this community is named for John Looney, who opened a store there in the early 1870s (we have no reason to believe his name was reflected in his personality). It took a hard hit after World War I; only 40 people lived there. In 1960, its only school closed, and its last store was consumed by a fire in the 1990s.

No Name, Colorado

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Credit for the town’s unusual name goes to the developers constructing Interstate 70, who left several exits unmarked. When a Colorado Department of Transportation official went out to improve the signs, he wrote “No Name” on Exit 119. The town has had No Name ever since. State officials once tried to rename the area, but locals wouldn’t allow it.

Nothing, Arizona

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Nothing is an abandoned town 100 miles northwest of Phoenix. There used to be a gas station and convenience store, but now, there’s really nothing to see in Nothing. (Related: These pictures of ghost towns are hauntingly beautiful.)

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Okay, Oklahoma

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This small town has gone through a few names: Coretta, then Rex, then North Muskogee, then Falls City. Finally, residents settled on one that honored the O.K. trucks made in town by the Oklahoma Auto Manufacturing Company. Everyone’s been A-Okay with that decision ever since.

Pee Pee, Ohio

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Pee Pee is actually named for a man who carved his initials—P.P.—into a nearby tree. Sources vary on whether the culprit was town founder Major Paul Paine or a guy named Peter Patrick. If only he knew what he started.

Pie Town, New Mexico

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Yes, Pie Town really is a town of pie. Named for a local bakery that made amazing apple pies, it is the site of an annual Pie Festival, complete with a pie-baking contest, a pie-eating contest, and horned toad races. Because who says pie is just for humans? (Related: Check out these breathtaking pictures of fall across America.)

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Rough and Ready, California

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In 1849, a group of Wisconsin miners called the Rough and Ready Company (U.S. president Zachary Taylor’s nickname was Old Rough and Ready) settled in the area and named it accordingly. Residents seceded from California two years later for form “the Great Republic of Rough and Ready,” but voted to rejoin the Union the next year. The United Stated Postal Service once tried to get the residents to change the name to either “Rough” or “Ready.” That didn’t go over so well.

Sandwich, Massachusetts

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Incorporated in 1639, Sandwich is the oldest town on Cape Cod. It’s named for the seaport of Sandwich in Kent, England. The commodity the town is most known for? Glass.

Slaughterville, Oklahoma

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Despite its name, Slaughterville is not the site of grizzly murders or uprisings. It was named after a grocery store run by James Slaughter in the early 1900s. In 2004, PETA requested that the town be renamed because it felt the current name alluded to animal abuse. The town council voted down the motion.

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Surprise, Arizona

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Founder Flora Mae Statler named the city as such because she “would be surprised if the town ever amounted to much”—and it seems to be living up to its name. Between 2000 and 2010, Surprise’s population grew by 281 percent. It now boasts a population of more than 117,000. There’s also a Surprise, New York, but that town doesn’t have quite the comeback story. In 2014, only 419 people lived there.

Sweet Lips, Tennessee

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Fewer than 100 people live in this small town that got its name from a nearby creek. Supposedly, Civil War soldiers thought the water from this creek tasted sweeter than others. (Related: Schools don’t teach these 15 fascinating facts about America.)

Truth or Consequences, New Mexico

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For 68 years, the town was called Hot Springs. Then along came Ralph Edwards, producer of the radio show “Truth or Consequences,” who thought it’d be fun if a town decided to name itself after the show. The Hot Springs Chamber of Commerce agreed. It also meant free advertising and no more confusion with any of the other American cities also named “Hot Springs.” The name officially changed in 1950, and not long after, Edwards and his crew visited for a live broadcast of “Truth or Consequences” in Truth or Consequences.

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Unalaska, Alaska

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There’s nothing anti-Alaska about Unalaska. The native Unangan, or Aleut, people called this area “Agunalaksh,” but variations in spelling and pronunciation caused confusion over the years. In the late 1800s, the United States Board on Geographic Names declared that the official name for this town, as well as the island it’s located on, was “Unalaska,” a simplification of the original name. (Related: You’d never guess these 50 crazy facts about the 50 states.)

Uncertain, Texas

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Uncertain isn’t even sure of its own name! It’s also called Uncertain Landing because steamboat captains had a hard time mooring there. Before a boundary was set between the United States and the Republic of Texas in the 1800s, the town’s residents were unsure where their citizenship fell, only adding to the confusion.

Waterproof, Louisiana

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The first residents of Waterproof moved there because it was the one place in their region that managed to avoid devastating floodwaters from the Mississippi River. Unfortunately, being waterproof isn’t always a good thing. The town lost much of its valuable corn crops due to a drought in 2008.

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What Cheer, Iowa

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In 1864, store owner Joseph Andrews organized a post office for his town of Petersburg. He wanted to name the post office “What Cheer” after an old English greeting he liked, and decided that should be the town’s name as well. Peter Britton, who named the town Petersburg, objected. There was a town meeting, but the citizens couldn’t make a decision. Andrews won out in the end.

Why, Arizona

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Why, oh why, is this town called Why? It’s said to be because State Routes 85 and 86 formed a Y-intersection near the area. Since Arizona law required city names to have at least three letters, the founders changed the name from “Y” to “Why”—although if residents hadn’t seen it written down, no one would have known the difference. (Related: These are the dumbest laws in every state.)

Whynot, North Carolina

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When German and English settlers were debating over what to name their new town, one man said, “Why not name the town Whynot and let’s go home?” These are the same people who named the surrounding communities Steeds, Erect, and Lonely.

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Zzyzx, California

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Curtis Howe Springer was a radio evangelist who tried to convince people he was a doctor by selling fake medicines on his radio show. He also set up health spas around the country, but never paid taxes on them. When he acquired a plot of land in the Mojave Desert, he named the area Zzyzx Mineral Springs resort, so it would be “the last word in health.” Eventually, the Feds caught up with his financial schemes and threw Springer in jail—for 49 days.


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