America is full of unique places. So you can be sure that within the country’s nearly four million square miles, there are some pretty odd town names out there. From the hilarious to the downright unfortunate, we’re going to take you to a few places in America that have really unusual names. And we’ll find out just how these towns ended up with their questionable titles. Would you rather live in Chicken, Alaska, or Toad Suck, Arkansas?
Ketchuptown, South Carolina
As of the writing of this article, the “Where to eat” section on the Facebook page for Ketchuptown simply says, “No recommended places to eat.” The small South Carolina community in Horry County got its name from local farmers who would travel to the small general store located at the Ketchuptown crossroads to “catch up” on the latest news.
Part of the store still stands today, but the crossroads is no longer the community hub that it once was, as a road-paving project in the late 1940s allowed the area residents to easily travel farther for supplies and gossip. Also pictured above is the Ketchuptown fire department.
If you think you’re cheap, just wait until you read about the next town.
Some locals say that this town was named for a story involving a watermelon farmer and a postal worker, almost 100 years ago. Legend has it that on his route, the postal carrier asked the farmer to save him a watermelon that he’d pick up when he was finished delivering the day’s mail.
When he returned to collect his melon, he learned that the farmer had sold it to someone else for 50 cents more than their agreed price. Enraged, the postal carrier loudly called the farmer a “tightwad” and continued to do so every day after that.
Burnt Corn, Alabama
“Welcome to Burnt Corn, Alabama, home of beautiful Murder Creek” could be the message scrawled on the town’s welcome sign, but this isn’t a Stephen King novel. No one seems to have a definite answer as to how the town got its unique name, but most of the stories agree that it arose from some conflict between the early settlers and the Creek tribe that had inhabited the area for generations.
One version has the settlers burning the Creek corn fields to drive them away. Another claims that the Creek burned the settlers’ corn to drive them away. Yet another story describes how a group of Native Americans had to leave a sick companion behind and left him with some corn to help him survive. He eventually recovered but left some of the burnt corn at the campsite. And the beautiful Murder Creek? It was named for all of the bodies that were piled up there during the Creek War.
Chicken, Alaska, was the second town to be incorporated in the state. It’s one of the only places in the region where gold is still actively mined. And it could have a very different name today, had its founders not been overly concerned with spelling.
When gold prospectors first arrived on the scene in the 1890s, they made it through their first brutal winter by eating a ton of a local grouse called ptarmigan. They were so grateful for the sustenance that they wanted to name the town after the bird, but feared the spelling would be a problem for many. So the settlers opted for the simpler “Chicken” and the name stuck.
Satan’s Kingdom, Vermont
People who have ever dreamed of tubing in a place named for the devil are in luck with this one. Satan’s Kingdom, Vermont, is situated in Addison County. The unincorporated community’s odd name was given out of spite, by someone who had traveled to the area expecting “fertile, rolling acres” but instead found the land “rocky and hill-covered.”
Satan’s Kingdom is actually the name of three different towns in the United States. The others are in Connecticut and Massachusetts. Which one will you select for your next family reunion?
Belchertown, Massachusetts, is surprisingly not named for a shared gastric disorder. No, the town was named for Jonathan Belcher, a wealthy politician and business owner who became the royal governor of Massachusetts and later New Jersey.
We can only assume that many years ago in England, the ancestors of John Belcher might have been part of a carnival travelling the countryside, socking away money from their amazing burp shows and performing gallant deeds to win favor with the king. It’s still better than “Fartville.”
Nestled in the foothills of the Cascade mountains, Boring is just a few miles from Portland. It was established in 1903 as a major hub of the timber industry. The reason for labeling the city with such an uninspiring word is pretty ho-hum: it was named after William Harrison Boring, a Union soldier who was one of the area’s first settlers who also built the first schoolhouse.
Boring is anything but “boring,” with plenty of gorgeous outdoor activities like hiking and other attractions. It has two sister cities, the village of Dull in Scotland, and Bland, in New South Wales, Australia.
Coming up, you’ll never guess what “The Magic Capital of the World” is named.
Chugwater is a small town of around 200 located in Platte County, Wyoming. The town was named after the “valley of the Chug,” which got its name from a legendary Mandan hunting expedition where the hunters drove bison over a local cliff and observed an audible “chugging” sound as they were trapped in the rapids below.
Visitors to Wyoming will be familiar with the iconic bronco rider silhouette on the state license plates. The rider and horse (Clayton Danks and “Steamboat”) are both Chugwater natives and the horse and rider motif is the longest running license-plate theme in the world!
Colon, Michigan, located in St. Joseph County, is home to approximately 1,227 people (as of the 2000 census). That’s a pretty small village to have the enormous nickname “Magic Capital of the World.” A number of famous magicians, including Harry Blackstone Sr., lived here and there are several magic attractions and supply companies based in Colon.
But how did the town get its unfortunate-sounding name of Colon? Well, it was named after the shape of nearby Palmer Lake. There’s also a Long Lake there. We have to wonder how “Colon” won over “Long.”
Climax, Georgia, is located in Decatur County. The town, incorporated in 1905, has a population of roughly 280 citizens. Climax officials claim that the city was so named because it’s at the highest point of the railway between the Chattahoochee River and Savannah, Georgia.
This explanation is certainly plausible but doesn’t stop some of us from snickering at it. Bonus: Climax holds an annual Swine Time Festival complete with chitterling eating, pig racing, and hog calling competitions. Double bonus: there are cities in Minnesota, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and New York that are also called Climax. The more, the merrier.
Gnaw Bone, Indiana
In his book titled Hometown Revelations, author Mark Usler shares this background information about Gnaw Bone, Indiana, located in Brown County. “It’s named after a French town by the name of Narbonne, but when the English settlers came in to the town, slang and their dialects changed the word to Gnaw Bone.”
But instead of spelling the unincorporated community’s name like the French version, they called it G-N-A-W-B-O-N-E. “It took years of translation to do that,” Usler joked with NPR. Located between Columbus and Nashville, tiny Gnaw Bone is the home of three different flea markets.
Before this unincorporated area in Boulder County, Colorado, was called Hygiene, it was known by the more common name Pella. But in the late 1800s a sanitarium called Hygiene Home was established there for tuberculosis patients.
The impressive and highly-esteemed sanitarium was three stories tall and boasted a glassed-in sun porch. It only made sense to name the town after this prestigious institution. Today, the scenic area and its charming downtown is popular with locals and tourists alike.
Hell, Michigan, might be the most famous “oddball” town name in the USA. With a population of roughly 65,000, Hell is a popular and scenic destination for tourists. Journalist Mark Usler shared the backstory to the city’s name in his book Hometown Revelations.
In 1938, a resident named George Reeves ran a backyard still. “All the husbands used to come up to George’s place to have a good time, and when the people asked the wives where their husbands were, the wives threw up their hands and said they went to hell. They’re up at George’s place,” Usler explains. “In 1841, the state of Michigan contacted George and said you have to name your town, George. And George said, just call it Hell. Everybody else does.” Fair enough, George.
With a name like “Fleatown,” you might expect a long, rambling Wikipedia entry filled with funny stories about how the community got its name and all of the famous people who were born there, or an interesting fact like, “did you know that Fleatown was the winter home for the original cast of Cats?”
Sadly, the community’s page has none of this. It may be the shortest Wikipedia entry in existence, which itself could be an interesting fact to add to the page. The page does give us the important fact that Fleatown is located in “Licking County,” which feels like it helps make sense of the whole situation.
Monkeys Eyebrow, Kentucky
“You’d probably be surprised how many people haven’t been to Monkey’s Eyebrow,” writes local historian Joe Culver. That might be true of the small unincorporated community near the Ballard County Wildlife Management Area. But that doesn’t mean that people aren’t interested to learn how it got its unusual name.
Most folks who are familiar with the area say that a map of Ballard County looks like a monkey head, and that the town is right where its brow would be. Makes sense. Fun fact: Monkey’s Eyebrow was mentioned in the 1990s comic series The Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck!
Possum Grape, Arkansas
There are two theories as to how this unincorporated community received its name. One is that it was called “Possum Grape” after a variety of grape that grows in the area. Another is that residents were torn between calling the town “Possum” or “Grape” and eventually settled on the compromise of Possum Grape.
A blogger named A Possum Grape In The Big Peach shared this memory with readers about growing up in the small town: “It was, I kid you not, illegal to dance in the town closest to me until roughly 2006. My high school had to have prom about 20 miles away from home because of the dancing rule. So, when you think of my hometown, you can seriously compare it to a Kevin Bacon movie and be accurate.”
Loveladies, New Jersey
The Loveladies area of Long Beach Township, in New Jersey’s Ocean County, has one of the most pleasant names on this list. How did it get its unusual name? Pretty easily, it turns out. A United States Life-Saving Service station, built to save the lives of shipwrecked people, was established there in 1871.
Nearby this station was an island owned by a man named Thomas Lovelady. The area was called Lovelady for many years but eventually morphed into the present Loveladies. It’s a very scenic part of the state, with four “lovely” public beaches.
The next town doesn’t have such an appealing name…
Toad Suck, Arkansas
Can you imagine telling people that you live in a place called Toad Suck? Residents of the tiny (less than a square mile!) town in Perry County, Arkansas, get that privilege. According to a local website, Toad Suck got its name from the steamboat days.
When the river ran low, steamboat “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.'” Today, the town hosts an annual fair called Toad Suck Daze.
Two Egg, Florida
Jackson County, Florida, is the proud home of a town called Two Egg. The unincorporated community supposedly received its name during the Great Depression, when people low on cash would trade eggs for goods at a local store.
It’s said that Two Egg is home to a Bigfoot-type creature that locals call the “Two Egg Stump Jumper.” In addition to sightings, people have reported hearing growling noises in the woods at night. Local historian Dale Cox told Two Egg’s local news, “I’ve spent decades of my life in and around these woods and swamps and sometimes you just get a feeling that something is there, watching you as you go past.”
Weiner, Arkansas, used to have a name that sounds a lot less silly: West Prairie. The town, located in Poinsett County, was later renamed after the engineer who oversaw construction of its first railroad in 1881. Weiner, 1.4 square miles, had a population of 686 people as of 2016.
Weiner is notably the hometown of reality television personality Tia Booth. She’s appeared in season 22 of The Bachelor as well as Bachelor in Paradise. As the Arkansas Times reported, Booth returned there in an episode. She and bachelor Arie Luyendyk “came to little ol’ Weiner to visit the family.”