Monday, December 31, 2012


The Peach State.  The Empire State of the South.  Birthplace of Jimmy Carter, Martin Luther King, and Josef Stalin.  The first Christian nation, famous for its Black Sea resorts, towering mountains, and ...  Whoa, think I got the wrong Georgia there.

Okay, I think I've got it all straightened out now.  That's better ...

10. Industrial City of Gordon, Murray and Whitfield Counties

Catchy, ain’t it?  What do you think they actually call it?  Industrial?  Tricounty?  ICGMWC?  Murgorfield?  Gormurwhit?

If you don’t count El Pueblo de Nuestra Senora la Reina de los Angeles de Porciuncula, ICGMWC is probably the longest town name in the whole U.S.  Unfortunately, though, it’s just Industrial City these days.  And those are a dime a dozen (well, at least a dime a couple).

Whatever it gets called, though, it doesn’t seem to have a whole lot of industry – or much of anything else for that matter.  In fact, I couldn’t even find it on Google Maps.  According to MapQuest, it’s in the northwest of the state – right next to Angelville, Soapstick, and Crane Eater.

Probably not the Industrial City
we were looking for

9. Dacula

The place to be on Halloween the next time you catch yourself in the northwest Atlanta metropolitan area.

“Dacula” is actually a combination of letters from Decatur (a nearby town) and Atlanta.  I’m not too good at anagrams, but here are some additional possibilities:
  • Tarantula Cadet
  • Caudal Tater Ant
  • Actuate Land Rat
  • Actual Trade Tan
  • Taut Adrenal Cat
No, no, you’re quite welcome.  Just name a library or something after me.  

According to Wikipedia, “The city of Dacula has a storied and colorful history dating back to a triple homicide in 1910.”  Nothing quite as colorful as a triple homicide, I always say.  Today, Dacula’s just more boring suburban Atlanta sprawl.

By the way, it’s pronounced daCULa.  

Not every town in Georgia has a 
yin-yang symbol on their town seal

8. Eldorendo

“You know, that place that’s got all that gold.”  “El de something, right?”  “Yeah.  Was it Eldehooroo?”  “Nah. It’s something like  Eldoroodoo.”  “You’s both wrong.  I think it’s Eldorildo.”

Eldorendo was named after its first postmistress, Eldorendo Virginia Higgs Brown.  Where that came from is beyond me.

The description of Eldorendo from Wikipedia is so priceless I just had to throw it in here in toto:

Eldorendo is generally located on U.S. Route 27 and Georgia State Route 1 about halfway between the cities of Colquitt and Bainbridge. Some of the major roads in the Eldorendo area are Old Eldorendo Road, Brinson Airbase Road, Donaldson Road and Church Street. The majority of the citizens in the Eldorendo area are of the Christian faith and attend Eldorendo Baptist Church or nearby Bethel Baptist Church. Due to Eldorendo being unincorporated, it has no formally recognized government or city council or any public utilities system. Even though Eldorendo is a small community, it is covered by three zip codes: 39825, Brinson; 39817, Bainbridge; and 39837, Colquitt. A post office located in Eldorendo was closed in the late 1960s due to lack of use and improved road development allowing access to the larger towns in the surrounding area. Since its development Eldorendo has had a small economy, most recently consisting of: the Eldorendo Mall (aka Lee's Grocery), Grubb's General Store (both were in existence from about 1987-1992), Joe's Bait and Tackle, and the Decatur County Fence Company run by Archie Smith. Currently two businesses are located in Eldorendo: a used car lot named Eldorendo Auto Sales owned and operated by Jackie Grubbs, and a branch of Carolina Carports.

7. Thunderbolt *

Probably my favorite James Bond movie.  It’s the one with Ursula Andrews in it, right?  

Man, you’d have to be a pretty serious fan to name a town after it though.  I’m not sure even I could do that.

The name actually comes from a “lightning strike that created a freshwater spring,” according to the town’s website.  It was previously named “Warsaw.”  Thuderbolt’s famous for seafood, and is also the home of Savannah State University.

Never been there, 
but with a name like that,
you know it’s gonna be good

6. 1) Grovania / 2) Flovilla / 3) Frolona

Match the fictional country with the movie it appeared in: a) Duck Soup, b) The Great Dictator, 3) The Mouse That Roared.  Answers below.

All of these are teeny tiny places.  Two are in the center of the state and one (Frolona) is near the Alabama border, west of Atlanta.  Not much to say about any of them.  Flovilla is in Butts County, though.  [Snicker, snicker.]

Uh, I dunno … how about 1) b, 2) d, 3) 42, and 4) none of the above?

The old (and very photogenic)
Ellis Grocery, Grovania, GA

5. Attapulgus

Now, there’s an attractive name.  You can take your Garden Groves and your Mount Pleasants.  Attapulgus – that’s where I want to live.

Please tell me this is an Indian name.  Maybe one that means “garden grove” or “pleasant mountain.”  And indeed it is!  An Indian name, that is.  It means “dogwood grove.”  

It’s also the source of the word “attapulgite,” a form of fuller’s earth.  The clay was named after the town, where it’s particularly abundant.  

Attapulgus is home to not quite 500 people.  It’s near Eldorendo, in the very southwest part of the state. 

Pleasant Grove?
They changed it from Pleasant Grove?
You have got to be kidding me.

4. Enigma

I haven’t a clue where this one came from.  It’s a complete mystery.  A conundrum.  Totally baffling.  A stumper, a teaser, a tough nut to crack.  

Quite seriously, I couldn’t find anything on this one.  How totally fitting.  I do know it was originally called “Gunn and Weston,” and would have been called “Lax” except that that one was already taken (see “Honorable Mention,” below).  

Once again, the Wikipedia entry is such a gem, I just had to reprint it right here (this is just for Enigma’s “Economy,” BTW):

Most citizens of Enigma commute to neighboring towns to work and shop. The town's economy is based primarily on agriculture. The Tree Trunk Restaurant (owned by Bobby Rowan former senator of Georgia) is its only restaurant, and it has 3 gas stations - the Quick Stop #2 (#1 is in Brookfield) and the Enigma Market (which is also a mini grocery store) and the Express It, and all three are located on Highway 82. Also located on Highway 82 is B&G Heating and Cooling, a small business run by Bob Miley and other members of the Miley family, which specializes in repairing and installing air conditioning units, Also, REPASCO, a small business owned and operated by Linda Wiley specializing in restaurant equipment sales, parts, and repair service, The Post Office, Glass Unlimited, Volunteer Fire Department, City Hall, the salon (Freida's Beauty Barn), and the Bank of Alapaha are all located on Main Street. Just off of Main Street is the factory Geo Tex, LLC Plant #2 where screening is made. There is also Berrien Peanut Company two and a half miles outside of Enigma and there was once a skating rink about a mile from Berrien Peanut Company. There are other buildings on Main Street and Highway 82, but they are currently vacant.

Not totally sure this is stocked at any
 of Enigma’s many gas stations though

3. Between

You’re not going to believe this, but Between is exactly right in the middle of two other cities (in particular, Atlanta and Athens).  Equidistant, I say.  Halfway.  Smack dab in the middle.  

Between has about 130 people.  It has its own website, which has a total of four pages and less than 100 words.  Other than that …

There is a novel out there of the same name, by Joshilyn Jackson.  Maybe her next work will be called Attapulgus.

Almost forgot …  There is also a Midway, GA.

See! You thought I 
made it up, didn’t you?

2. Nankipooh

I don’t think it would be possible to think of a less likely Gilbert & Sullivan character to name a town after.  I guess it does beat Yum Yum though.

Nankipooh is basically a suburb of Columbus GA.  It’s home of the Nankipooh Bar B Que.  Couldn’t find any reviews of that place online, but with a name like that …

Not exactly sure why anyone would
 want to name a town after this 
guy (and, yes, Nankipooh was a guy)

1. Ty Ty

Unfortunately, Cobb Cobb was already taken.  (And for those of you who aren’t as crazy about baseball as l am, well … I … just … never you mind.)

“Ty Ty” comes from an Indian name for the ironwood and buckwheat trees.  One was the black titi, and the other the white titi.  Please don’t ask which was which.

The town’s got about 700 people and is in the very southern part of the state.  “Famous natives” include Darby Cottle Veazey and Jim “Big Chief” Wetherington.  

So what is Darby Cottle Veazy,
chopped liver?

Honorable Mention:
  • B-o-r-i-n-g – Centerville, New Town, South Georgia Beach, New Georgia
  • Short and Sweet – Wax, Hemp, Harp, Cork, Veal, Note, Horns, Swords, Sparks, Wrens, Moons, Care, Youth, Matt, Jake, Clem, Ila, Ola, Lulu, Arp
  • Just a little off color – Climax, Cumming
  • Just a little out of place – Kansas, Texas, Waco, Fargo, Decatur (Waffle House Museum), Duluth, Cleveland, Boston, Rome, Athens*, Egypt, Damascus, Arabi, Pretoria
  • How did all those Yankees get down here? –  Jersey, Harlem, Brooklyn, Yonkers, Hoboken
  • Numerically oriented – Double Branches, Double Run, Twin City, Five Forks
  • Atypical adjectives – Hopeful, Jolly, Ideal, Mystic, Gratis, Gay, Lax, Stark, Newborn
  • Unconventional verbs – Panhandle, Register, Fry, Sautee (Gourd Museum)
  • Abnormal nouns – Relay, Flintstone, Crabapple, Coffee, Tiger, Haddock, Sandfly, Air Line, Fender, Magnet, The Rock, Recovery, Temperance, Benevolence, Experiment, Archery
  • Native American mouthfuls – Tallapoosa, Centralhatchee, Chatoogaville, Eastanolee, Ohoopee, Pocataligo, Chickamauga, Chatahoochee, Okefenokee
  • Fun to say – Lumpkin, Ft. Oglethorpe
  • Just plain weird – Needmore, Fairplay, Mayday, Ballground, Burning Bush, Dewy Rose, Sugar Hill, Cloudland, Social Circle, Lovejoy, Subligna, Burnt Fort, Deepstep, Rocky Face, Talking Rock, Rising Fawn, Hentown, Ducktown, Doctortown, Blichton, Pidcock, Philomath, Phinizy, Flippen, Ficklin, Billarp, Lumpkin, Sale City, North West Point, Stevens Pottery, Box Springs (if only it were near Mattress), Split Silk, Snapfinger, Shake Rag, Jot Em Down Store, Hopeulikit (after a dance hall), Po Biddy Crossroads
  • Just plain weird, -ville division – Roosterville, Roopville, Riddleville, Boneville, Faceville
  • I’d like you to meet – Lee Pope, Warner Robbins, Young Harris, Harriet Bluff, Ben Hill, Ray City, Sandy Cross, Santa Claus, Dasher, Barney
  • What’s with all the logs? – Pine Log, Ivy Log, Cherrylog

* - author has visited

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Florida II

I love Florida!  In fact, it’s the first state I’ve devoted two posts to.  This week, we’re covering Native American monsters and mouthfuls.  Last week, we covered everything else.

10. Opa-Locka

There are funnier names, but this one is pretty well known, plus I really like the original
Indian name, Opa-tisha-wocka-locka.  That’s Seminole for “a wooded hummock in a swamp.”  Damn, why couldn’t they have just kept that one?

Opa-Locka is pretty big time.  It’s got 15,000 residents, its own airport, and the highest rate of violent crime of any city in the U.S.!

The town was founded by aviation pioneer Glenn Wright, who – for some reason – gave it a Moorish theme (think Aladdin, Arabian Nights, etc.).  A number of the original buildings are gathered together in the “Opa-Locka Thematic Resource Center.”

No, it’s not Disney World
It’s the Opa-Locka City Hall!

9. Apopka

You don’t see a “p” next to a “k” every day.  I like it.

“Apopka” means “potato-eating place” in some unknown Indian language.  I have it from credible sources, though, that the actual, direct translation is, “You want fries with that?”

Apopka’s big time too.  It’s got over 40,000 people and is known as the “indoor foliage capital of the world.”  Famous native sons include Zach Greinke, Warren Sapp, and Fireball Roberts.  That’s baseball, football, and NASCAR for you less enlightened folks out there.  Apopka’s also home to the Museum of the Apopkans.

Some of that indoor foliage

8. Okahumpka *

Well, heck, let’s add an “m” in there too while we’re at it.

Okahumpka means “deep spring.”  It’s actually one of those bottomless-pit-type places.  The Navy once trained drivers here.

Okahumpka’s in the middle of the state, just south of Leesburg.  Its main claim to fame these days is its eponymous rest stop along the Florida Freeway.  

(I kid you not)

7. Steinhatchee

Just to prove that the Indians were indeed the lost tribe of Israel ...  Unfortunately, though, “stein” is pronounced “steen.”  And as for “hatchee” ...  Oh well, there goes that theory.

Turns out Steinhatchee is Muskogee for “dead man’s creek.”  Further, the river the town is on empties out into Deadman’s Bay.  I know there’s a good story behind all this, but I just don’t seem to be able to find it anywhere.  

Steinhatchee is in Florida’s armpit (where the panhandle bends south), miles away from anything, and is best known for fishing.  

Oh, and a Fiddler Crab Festival too

6. Hypoluxo

Using my knowledge of Greek roots, I’m guessing this means something like “insufficiently luxurious.”  Maybe it’s a trailer park.  I dunno.

Actually, it means “water all around.”  In other words, Hypoluxo is an island.  Internet scholars usually can’t help adding “no get out” to the definition, but that seems a bit too cute for me. 

For some reason, they’re very excited about their “barefoot mailmen.”

The city seal
(there’s also a statue of one of
these dudes in front of city hall)

5. Chassahowitzka

I’m not so sure about this one.  Sounds kinda Polish to me.

It actually means “land of hanging pumpkins.”  Awesome!  That alone is enough to make it onto this list.  

So, what’s there, you ask (other than hanging pumpkins, of course)?  The town of Chassahowitzka pretty much centers around the Chassahowitzka River and the Chassahowitzka National Wildlife Refuge (thank God for cut and paste).  There’s a lodge, a campground, a fire station, a little sprawl from Homosassa Springs (see below), and not much more.

4. Kissimmee

Isn’t this an old Beatles’ song?  “Kiss-a-me, kiss-a-me mucho …”

That’s “Besame mucho,” I’m afraid.  “Besame” does mean “kiss me” though.  Also, the actual pronunciation of “Kissimmee” has the emphasis on the second syllable.  Oh well.  It’s still pretty funny.

Kissimmee’s no mere Chassahowitzka.  It’s the county seat of Osceola County, has over 60,000 people, and is the spring training site of the Houston Astros.  Wikipedia lists 20 “notable residents” (none of whom I’ve ever heard of).  It’s about ten miles away from Disney World.

Almost forgot …  Kissimmee means “long water” in Calusa.

3. Sopchoppy

“Where ya from?”  “Sopchoppy, Florida.”  “Did you say Slaphappy?”  “No, Sopchoppy.”  “Slapchoppy?”  “Sopchoppy!”  “Slopchoppy?”  “The Panhandle.  I’m from the Panhandle.”

Sopchoppy comes from the Muskogee lokchopi, which means “acorn stem.”  So, here’s my question …  Why isn’t it called “Lockchoppy”?  Or maybe “Acorn Stem”?

It’s on the Ochlockonee River.  Population: 426.  Obligatory outrageous festival: Sopchoppy Worm Gruntin' Festival.

Go Sopchoppy Alternative School Yellow Jackets!

2. Weeki Wachee

Yup, this is the mermaid place.  It’s up there with all those other tacky Florida treasures –Jungle Gardens, Gatorland, Flamingo World, Gatorama, Spongeorama, The Holy Land Experience, Big Daddy Don Garlits Museum of Drag Racing, Skunk Ape Research Headquarters, Forrester's Secret Garden of Art and Parrots … (all for real – and many more right here

What’s unusual about Weeki Wachee, though, is it’s a real place.  The name comes from the Seminole for “little water.”  There’s a spring, a river, a high school, and a very small town, all of the same name – and all in addition to those mermaids.

Larry the Cable Guy,
among the mermaids

1. Yeehaw Junction

This was my Dad’s favorite TV program in the early ‘70s.  Wait a minute ...  Was that Hee Haw Junction?  Um, Hootenanny Hollow?  Yahoo Acres?  

Turns out this was not named after a TV show!  If you can believe the Internet, “yeehaw” means “wolf” in Seminole. 

Well, I guess that’s an improvement over the former name, “Jackass Junction.”  Seems the Dept. of Transportation felt they had to clean things up a little for “the tourists” when the Florida Turnpike came through here in the ‘50s.  (BTW, a competing explanation is that “yeehaw” is simply the sound a jackass makes.)

Today, Yeehaw Junction is “a major stopping point for tourists on the Florida Turnpike who want to purchase conditional discount tickets for various tourist attractions in the Orlando area” (Wikipedia).  Yee ha!

The Desert Inn, 
a local landmark 
(and former brothel)

* - author has visited

Honorable Mention:
  • Tallahassee – “old town,” Muskogee
  • Yalaha – “yellow orange”?
  • Osowaw Junction – “bird,” Seminole
  • Bithlo – “canoe,” Muskogee
  • Hilolo – ???
  • Micanopy – head chief of the Seminoles during the Seminole War
  • Narcoosee – “bear,” Creek
  • Micosukke – “chiefs of the hog clan,” Hitchiti
  • Palatka – “crossing,” Muskogee
  • Homosassa – “where the wild pepper grows,” Muskogee
  • Thonotosassa – “place to get flint,” Seminole-Creek
  • Okechobee –“big water,” Hitchiti
  • Fort Chokonikla – “burnt house”
  • Chokoloskee – “old house,” Seminole
  • Lacoochee – “little river,” Creek
  • Lochloosa –“black turle,” Choctaw
  • Loxahatchee – “turtle river”
  • Chattahoochee – “marked by rocks,” Muskogee
  • Estiffanulga – ???
  • Apalachicola – “people on the other side,” Hitchiti
  • Ocheesee – ???
  • Ocklawaha – “muddy”
  • Wacahoota – “cow barn,” from the Spanish vaca and the Creek word for “home”
  • Wewahitchka – “water eyes,” from two round lakes that look like eyes
  • Loxawatchahatcheessassacola – “the round island in the dark river where the hogs eat the sacred pumpkins and get gas” (alright, I made that one up)

BTW, a lot of the meanings come from this great site.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Florida I

So far, Florida’s my favorite state – at least, name-wise.  Combine more than a few Native American monsters, some typical Southern wackiness, and a little over-the-top boosterism, and you’ve got a real winner. 

In fact, I’m giving this thing two posts.  This one is dedicated to the last two from above.  Tune in next week for those Native American mouthfuls.

10. Briny Breezes

It was close, but “Briny Breezes” beat out “Sticky Humidity” and “Swampy Miasma” when the town fathers got together to give their little settlement a name.

Now, would you believe those town fathers all lived, not in log cabins, but in mobile homes?  Yup, “Briny” (as the locals call it) is one big mobile home park, and dates only back to 1963.

Forty-some years later, in 2007, some developer offered the locals half a billion for all 488 lots.  One woman, who bought her lot for $42,000, was offered $800,000.  The whole thing eventually fell through though.  Just couldn’t give up those breezes, I guess.

‘50s Florida – it doesn’t
get any cooler than that

9. Intercession City

The townsfolk were more than a little befuddled when they asked the Post Office for “Intersection City” and Washington came back with this …

Interestingly, those townsfolk actually all happened to be Christians, so Intercession City actually makes some sense.  What’s even more interesting, though, is that the town started out as Inter Ocean City, the harebrained scheme of some deluded Jazz Age promoter who wanted to create a resort and link it up to both coasts with canals.  Not too surprisingly, the guy ran out of money – and the Christians then stepped in.

Today, the town of 500 does have two churches, but I’m afraid I can’t vouch for the spirituality and morality of all 500 of them.

Hmm … Considering half of the images I
found were mug shots like these, I think
the Christians may have moved on

8. Villages of Oriole

Did no one consider Oriole Village?  Oriole?  Oriole City?  Orioleville?  Oriole Junction?  Oriole Breezes?

It’s basically a block of the city of Delray Beach.  It does include a golf course in the middle, a shopping center on one corner, and a school and library on another.  Oh, and lots and lots and lots of condos and apartment buildings.  I have no idea what it has to do with song birds of the genus Icterus.

There are many other villages in Florida, by the way.  Some other favorites of mine are Progress Village and Jan Phyl Village (though I do think “The Villages of Progress” and “The Villages of Jan Phyl” have a much swankier tone).

7. Zolfo Springs

Zolfo – wasn’t he one of the Marx Brothers? 

Actually, zolfo is Italian for “sulphur.”  So, in other words, there are some springs in this town that smell really, really bad.  Apart from these stinky springs, Zolfo (what I assume the locals call it) features the Cracker Trail Museum (dedicated to pioneer-era Florida history) and a top-notch tractor show.

Kickin’ back in Zolfo
(an actual photo from a realty listing)

6. De Funiak Springs

Funiaks ...  Are they a snack treat?  A toy?  A mascot for a particularly lame amusement resort?

Would you believe it’s a family?  Yup, De Funiak is a legitimate surname.  It’s a pretty obscure one, though, so I’m afraid I can’t tell you any more about it. 

Our town just so happens to be named after one Frederick R. De Funiak, Vice President of the Louisville & Nashville Railroad (the L&N founded the town).  Today, De Funiak Springs has just over 5,000 people and is the seat of Walton County.  It also has the oldest continuously operating library in all of Florida.

De Funiak Springs is famous
for its perfectly round
(well, almost) lake

5. Doctor’s Inlet

It’s where all the doctors live.  Big houses, right on the water, huge boats, surgically-enhanced second wives in skimpy bikinis …  It’s right between Lawyer’s Cove and Hedge Fund Manager’s Harbor.

I haven’t a clue where this name comes from, but would you believe there’s also a Doctors Creek and a Doctors Lake?  I really want to know who this guy was – and whether he has any times available next week.

Interestingly, there are some doctors in Doctor’s Inlet.  My personal fave is Dr. Mel Tilak of Doctors Inlet Spine and Pain.  By the way, Florida also includes a Doctor Phillips (no relation).

Doctors Inlet Elementary School Tinikling Club
(and, no, that is not a typo)

4. Panacea

Ask for it by name.  That’s Panacea!  P-A-N-A-C-E-A.  Cures everything.  Be sure to ask your pharmacist for Panacea.  Nothing works like Panacea.

Interestingly, “panacea” originally had a different meaning, a much more positive one.  It’s from the Greek for “cure all.” 

And that’s why the town fathers chose it.  Seems the area was originally known for its healing springs.  Today, though, it’s just another little whistle stop hidden in the north Florida woods. 

Them springs

3. Ft. Lonesome

I guess so.  Today, it’s a grocery store and a power station.  At its height (1930s), it was a lumber mill, a few houses, and a couple of stores.  

Great story behind this one.  Seems a government worker at a fruit inspection station was getting kind of lonely and stuck out a sign saying “Ft. Lonesome” as a joke.  Well, guess what?  It stuck!

No longer with us (sigh)

2. Spuds

Remember that stupid pit bull that one of the beer companies used in their ads for a year or two?  Spuds McKinley or O’Henry or something.  Well, this ain’t him.

What it is is potatoes!  If you’re like me and associate taters with Idaho, you might be surprised that Florida is number nine among U.S. states in producing the vital tuber.

Ironically, Spuds is not the “potato capital of Florida” however.  That’s Hastings, which is only three miles away (and has 500 inhabitants to Spuds’ “several”).

Unfortunately, Spuds is in St. John’s County
(just north of Flagler though)

1. Howey in the Hills / Wilbur-by-the-Sea

Howey and Wilbur had a wonderful time in The Sunshine State.  Look, here’s a picture of them at Gatorworld.  Watch them teeth, Howey!  They’re sharp!  And here’s one of Wilbur at Monkey Jungle.  Howey must have taken that one. 

Founded by William John Howey, Howey in the Hills was originally named Town of Howey.  I don’t know …  I’m thinking anything that didn’t have “Howey” in it would have worked a lot better.  Also, what kind of hills are we talking about here?  This is Florida, right?

Nothing on Wilbur, I’m afraid.  Maybe the “by-the-sea” part was to distinguish it from other Florida Wilburs.  You know, Wilbur in the Hills, Wilbur by the Railroad Tracks, Wilbur in the Swamp …

Mr. Howey’s home, in the hills (nice)

Honorable Mention:

  • B-o-r-i-n-g – Golf, Golfview, National Gardens, Beach Colony, American Beach, Old Town, Floridatown
  • Some cities – Florida City, Leisure City, Highland City (must be “in the hills” again), Carol City, Kenneth City, Clair-Mel City, Plant City, Bean City
  • Short and Sweet – Day, Roy, Bruce, Bratt, Sapp, Frink, Festus, Mayo, Ona (aluminum castle), Wilma, Lulu
  • Just a little out of place – Cleveland, Harlem, New York, Vermont Heights, Lake Placid, The Hamptons, Monticello, Memphis, Fairbanks*, Mexico Beach, Naples, Venice*, Bagdad, Sumatra
  • Abnormal nouns – Celebration, Medley, Corkscrew, Couch, Roach
  • Just plain weird – Needmore, Frostproof, Ozona, Cudjoe, Mary Esther, Old Venus, Dorcas, Duck Key, Dogtown, Deadman Landing, Yankeetown, Niceville, Playland Isles, Satellite Beach, Safety Harbor, Early Bird, Possum Bluff, Red Level, South Flomaton, Fluffy Landing, Bunker Donation, Dinner Island, and - of course - Two Egg
  • Heads up! – Mossy Head, Red Head, Sweet Gum Head
  • It’s too hot for that – Switzerland, Christmas, Cocoa
  • Ghost towns – Andytown, Sparkman, Rattlesnake, Chosen, Corkscrew, Picnic, Snake Bight

* - author has visited

Monday, December 10, 2012


Delaware?  Oh yeah, Delaware.  Almost forgot about you. 

It’s still a state, right?  Somewhere over there on the East Coast somewhere, if I remember correctly.  Couple of thousand people?

Oh, hey, wait a minute …  Joe Biden’s from there, right?  Or is that Rhode Island?  Now, Biden – he’s the Vice President, right?

10. Bear

Would you believe it’s named after a tavern?  Yup, seems there was some Colonial-era place here called Ye Olde Beare Tavern, or At Ye Signe of Ye Beare, or something all quaint and Colonial like that. 

Back then, when the U.S. was a little bit more spread out, taverns were important landmarks, often serving as de facto community centers.  And, because not everyone back then was literate, the picture on the sign was of paramount importance.  “Hallo, Jedediah, shalt I meet thou at ye signe of ye Beare?” one Colonial Delaware dude would say to another.

Today, it’s just a sprawling suburb of Wilmington. 

Buy it right here!

9. Rising Sun

You’re not going to believe this.  This one was named after another damn tavern too.  I guess these Delawareans like to hit the ol’ bottle pretty hard, huh?

It makes me wonder what would happen if we named towns after taverns and bars today.  Dew Drop Inn, IN?  Cheers, MA?  Coyote Ugly, NY?  Moe’s, NT? 

And while we’re here, let’s not forget Red Lion, Cocked Hat, Blue Ball, and Cross Keys.  All same deal.

 See, I told you so!

(Wait.  It looks like this one is in New Castle, at the north end of the state, near Wilmington.  The town of Rising Sun is in the middle of the state, near Dover.  Never mind.)

8. Rodney Village

Not too far from Rising Sun, Rodney Village is a …  Ah, heck, nothing in Delaware is too far from anything else, is it?

I’m pretty sure Rodney Village is from Caesar Rodney.  Never heard of him?  I’m not too surprised.  He’s Delaware’s (very low bush league) equivalent of George Washington.  Rodney signed the Declaration, was President of Delaware (what governors were called way back then), was known for some famous ride (kind of a poor man’s Paul Revere), and made it onto the state’s quarter.

By the way, there is also A Rodric Village.

Go, Rodney, go!

7. Hardscrabble

There’s actually a lot of towns around the U.S. with this name.  You may also already be familiar with this term as a general adjective.  It basically means “characterized by chronic poverty and hardship.”  In other words, this is probably not the kind of thing you want to call your town if you’re actually interested in attracting any more settlers.

But, then again, maybe you don’t want to attract any more settlers.  Maybe you just want to keep it all to yourself.  S-n-e-a-k-y. 

Well, if that was indeed the case, it looks like the fine folks of Hardscrabble were successful.  I could find next to nothing on this place.  It is in the southern part of the state – which means in the middle of practically nowhere.

 Well, I did find something.
It just doesn’t make any sense though.

6. Shortly

Imagine the scene …  A bunch of founding-father types are sitting around somebody’s fireplace, dressed in knickers and tricorn hats, quaffing ale or mead or whatever people quaffed back then.  The time is late, the fire is low, and one of the local ladies sticks her head in the door, asking the gentlemen if they have finally come up with a name for the town.  “Shortly, my goodwife” one of them replies, “Shortly.”

You know, I don’t think so.  My guess is it’s from a surname. tells me that some Shortleys did indeed emigrate to this country.  It does not share the name’s origin, but my guess is that it’s a combination of “short” and “lee.”   The latter’s an old-timey name for a meadow or clearing.  You can contrast Langley, which would apply to the same thing, but be a lot bigger.  Other “lee” names include “Lee,” “Ashley,” “Bradley,” “Stanley,” “Buckley,” and on and on.

Once again, next to nothing on this little crossroads.  But would you believe Shortly is just six miles away from Hardscrabble?

5. Ogletown

Formerly known as “Bikini Beach,” the town was renamed when the local boosters finally had to admit that the place was indeed landlocked.

It was actually named after a local landowner, Thomas Ogle, way back in the 18th Century.  All you’d ever want to know about the early history of Ogletown you can find right here.

Once again, we’re back to the Wilmington suburbs.  Ogletown does seem to be a real place though.  In fact, it has its own (former) junior high school, mega church, and historic German singing group.

 The original Ogle house
(torn down for a new highway – I hate that!)

4. Jimtown

Jamestown I can believe.  Jimtown?  Not so much.

It looks like there are a ton of Jimtowns out there.  A quick count gives me Delaware, California, Indiana, Tennessee, Arizona, Oklahoma, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, Montana, Wisconsin, Kentucky, and West Virginia.  I guess ol’ Jim really got around.

Our Jimtown has next to nothing on it.  I did find an article reporting that Jimtowners were objecting to an equine therapy center because it would be smelly and increase traffic.  You can find these caring folks in southern Delaware. 

Local real estate
(thanks, Google Images!)

3. Pepperbox

Another crossroads in the middle of nowhere down in the southern part of the state.  It is, however, known for one thing – the Pepperbox Peeper.  Yup, he’s a peeping Tom who’s been sited along the old Pepperbox Road, but has recently spread out to Maryland as well.

Sleuthing about the Internet to find out more, I found the following additional links on Pepperbox:
  • Single Men in Pepperbox Delaware
  • Single Women in Pepperbox Delaware
  • Kinky Sex Fetishes in Pepperbox, Delaware, United States
Hmm, something’s going on down there, for sure.

Haven’t a clue where the name comes from.  Another tavern???  I do know Pepper, DE isn’t too far away, so maybe they’re a pair.

 Pepperbox School, ca. 1930

2.  Shaft Ox Corner

Well, here we are in southern Delaware again.  I swear, the place is like the state’s Bermuda Triangle of strange names. 

As for Shaft Ox Corner, I couldn’t even find a peeper.  I did find the following though:
  • Shaft Ox Corner, DE Travel Guide
  • Quality Jobs in Shaft Ox Corner, Delaware
  • Youth Sports in Shaft Ox Corner, DE
  • eCigarettes in Shaft Ox Corner
  • Webcams in the Region of Shaft Ox Corner, Delaware, USA
  • Ramadan prayer times for Shaft Ox Corner
  • Gay Men in Shaft Ox Corner, Delaware, United States
  • Shaft Ox Corner swingers
Oddly, none of these actually showed anything in Shaft Ox Corner.  Isn’t the Internet great?

The name?  According to A Place Called Peculiar, a shaft ox is the one “on the inside on a two-ox cart going around a corner.”  Why someone would want to name their town after said beast, though, is not so obvious.

By the way, other Delaware Corners include Anthony’s, Dinahs, Stumps, Packing House, and Cabbage.

1. Slaughter Beach

Nightmare at Slaughter Beach! The Horror of Slaughter Beach!!  The Slaughter Beach Massacre!!!  I’m pretty sure I saw at least one of these at some drive-in in the 1970s.

Turns out the origin of this name is no way near as scary.  Once again, it’s somebody’s last name.  And that somebody was someone really boring – the local postmaster.

That’s not to say that there aren’t plenty of more colorful stories out there - stories involving scary things such as Indians, and cannons, and horseshoe crabs.  Wait, horseshoe crabs?  Damn, those things are scary!

With that said, there does seem to be a definite horror theme in the southern section of the sleepy state of Delaware.  Slaughter Beach happens to be only 14 miles from Broadkill Beach, and even closer to the Murderkill River.  And only a half-hour drive away is the  beach resort currently known as Lewes – but formerly known as Whorekill.


Honorable Mention:

  • B-o-r-i-n-g – Delaware Heights, Delaware City, Centerville, Middletown, Midway, Alms House, Brick Store, Old Furnace
  • Just a little out of place – Newark, Atlanta, Houston, Wyoming, Mt. Cuba, Glasgow, Petersburg, Odessa*, Smyrna*, Lebanon, Angola, Green Acres
  • Orthographically challenged – Sharpley 
  • Abnormal nouns – Mermaid, Mission, Viola, Cannon, Blades, Blackbird*
  • A plethora of portmanteaux  – Marydel, Delmar
  • Fun to say – Minquadale
  • Just plain weird – Bryans Store, North Star, Woodenhawk, Hour Glass, Tuexdo Park, Seven Hickories, Kitts Hummock, Little Heaven
  • I’d like you to meet – Christiana, Frederica, Vernon, Milton, Penny Hill, Henry Clay

* - author has visited