Monday, November 26, 2012


I’m sorry, Colorado.  I hate to say this, but you’re a little, well, boring.

I had all these Wild West visions of colorful prospectors and cowboys and desperadoes, with towns named things like Last Chance Gulch and Four Flusher Flat and Black Bart Butte.  Instead, I had to really scrounge around just to come up with these ten. 

C’mon, Colorado!  Step up your game!

10. Hygiene

Cleanliness is next to godliness, but I’m not sure I’d want to name my town after it.  Unless, of course, the alternative is to name your town after the local TB asylum.

And, yup, that’s just what they did.  Hygiene was named after Hygienic House, a former sanitarium for tuberculosis patients.  The little town is just north of Boulder.

It’s big enough to have its own elementary school.
Go Hawks!

9. Paradox

I have no idea where this name comes from.  It a complete … um …a total … er … conundrum? … no … mystery? … unh … enigma?

Apparently, the name comes from the paradoxical course of the Dolores River.  Instead of flowing down the length of the valley where Paradox is located, the river cuts right across it.

The whole valley was once known for it lawlessness.  In fact, it was called the “Slaughterhouse of the West.”  There were range wars, outlaws, murders, and a particularly gruesome beheading – all encouraged by the valley’s remoteness and inaccessibility.

I understand things have cooled off a little today.  In fact, Paradox itself is pretty much a ghost town these days.

Paradox Valley from space – QED

8. Sugar City

Sounds like the name of a bad disco band from the ‘70s. 

It’s actually named for the sugar beet processing factory that operated here from 1900 to 1967.  Who woulda thunk it?

Sugar City is in the flat part of Colorado.  The town’s website calls it “a quiet bedroom community” – though it looks like a two-hour drive to anything even approaching a real city.  Population: 279. 

Like I say, flat

7. Stringtown

Not to be confused with Twineville, Strand City, or Ropeburg …

There are a number of Stringtowns scattered across the U.S.  Most got their names from being strung along a road or highway.  I’m sure that’s where this one came from too.

It’s another semi-ghost town, by the way, with the few remaining buildings having been completely absorbed by the nearby burg of Leadville.

6. Security-Widefield

Move over, Alsace-Lorraine!  Watch out, Austria-Hungary!  Make way, Schleswig-Holstein!  There’s a new kid in town.  And its name is Security-Widefield. 

Security-Widefield is big time.  It’s got over 30,000 people, is a true bedroom community (of Colorado Springs), and was even the topic of a film:

Andrew Gillis' debut feature, simulating a documentary film with its use of handheld cameras, was awarded an official certificate for following Dogme 95's rules for "cinematic chastity." Following college, Karen relocates to Security, Colorado, to be close to boyfriend Paul. With an apartment and a job in a record store, her life is in order, so she then embarks on her dream of becoming a writer. However, her job is unfulfilling, and when she spots a theft in the store, she doesn't report the shoplifter but instead attempts to befriend her. Unable to relate to life around her, Karen has a growing dissatisfaction with her existence, and an unusual psychological portrait emerges as she attempts to deal with everyday realities and find security in Security. (

By the way, the "Security" part of it was named after the land developers, Security Development Corp.

5. Swink

A verb describing a way to swindle someone?  A certain kind of loot?  Slang for a stool pigeon in prisons?  Another word for nerd?  The name of a 1950s men’s magazine? 

This town was actually named for George Swink, a local notable.  Supposedly, the surname is from the Gaelic suibhne, and means “pleasant.”  A common related name is McSweeney. 

So …  Why didn’t they just call it “Pleasant”?  That’s a lot more pleasant sounding than “Swink.” 

 Rhett Larsen,
Colorado 4-H, District 6,
President & Treasurer
(and one super swinky dude!)

4. Sawpit

“A pit over which lumber is positioned to be sawed by two men with a long two-handed saw” ( kind of says it all, don’t it?  Well, I’m going to go out on a ledge here and assume there was a little lumbering here.  Any more I cannot say.

Sawpit’s main claim to fame is its being the least populous incorporated town in Colorado.  And what that means is a grand total of 25 Sawpitites ...  Sawpitians? ... Sawpitters?

3. Toonerville

It’s a great name all by itself, but would you believe it was named after a comic strip?

Yup, the town changed its name from Red Rock to Toonerville, after the then-popular comic strip "The Toonerville Trolley."  There was a little train that ran through the town.  Other than that, though, I’m not sure just what was motivating these folks. 

Today, it’s pretty close to a ghost town.

Toonerville today

2. Tincup

Okay, this is more of the crazy Wild West stuff I was expecting.  Turns out prospector Jim Taylor named the area Tin Cup Gulch after he came back to camp from here with some gold nuggets in his drinking cup. 

Tincup was originally called Virginia City.  Seems, though, there were just too many damn Virginia Cities out west (Nevada, Montana).  Voila, Tincup!

 Well put

1.  Stoner

“Friends around the campfire and everybody's high …”

I’m sure there’s a Mr. Stoner behind all this.  And for him (or at least some ancestor lost in the mists of time), there are a couple of possibilities:

  • He worked with stone
  • He lived near a stone
  • He liked to get stoned
Okay, I made that last one up.

Trucker Hat, $12, CafePress
Stoner Hats & Caps

Honorable Mention:

  • B-o-r-i-n-g – Colorado Springs, Colorado City, Commerce City, American City, Center
  • Short & sweet – Hale, Rand, Wray, Lay, Loma, Vona, Ault, Ione, Eads, Joes, Kim, Kutch
  • Just a little out of place – Idaho Springs*, Frisco*, Austin, Kokomo, Ohio City, Louisville, Jamestown, Trinidad, Oxford, Black Forest, Genoa, Florence, Lebanon, Delhi
  • Orthographically challenged – Nunn, Carr, Devine, Peetz
  • Numerically oriented – Firstview, Twin Lakes, Two Buttes, Ninemile Corner 
  • Just a little off-color – Bust, Climax, Dick
  • Unconventional verbs – Rush, Brush, Bond, Burns, Masters, Marvel, Cope, Divide
  • Atypical adjectives – Rustic, Golden (Buffalo Bill grave & museum), Gothic, Hasty
  • Abnormal nouns – Empire*, Vigil, Sunbeam, Snowmass, Skyway, Falcon, Dinosaur, Bedrock (if only there were a Flintstone), Basalt, Boulder, Granite, Silt, Monument, Model, Rifle, Gunbarrel, Powderhorn, Parachute, Severance, Crook
  • Fun to say – Vancorum, Ft. Lupton, Pitkin, Bondad, Boncarbo, Idalia, Fruita (home of the Headless Chicken Festival), Naturita, Nucla, Niwat, Yuma, Yampa, Yoder, Tabernash
  • Just plain weird – Red Wing, Federal Heights, Commerce City, Spar City, East Portal, Fairplay (model for TV show South Park), Last Chance, Powder Wash, Silver Plume, Silver Cliff, Slick Rock, Steamboat Springs, Cripple Creek, Crested Butte, Punkin Center, Utleyville, Sphinx Park, Mayday, Towner, Bachelor City, Lulu City, Jimtown, Chromo, Yellow Jacket, Pea Green Corner, Buckskin Joe, No Name
  • I'd like you to meet – Dolores, Tiffany, Beulah, Craig, Mack, Otis, Rocky Ford, Virginia Dale, Ken Caryl, Kit Carson, Montezuma
  • Ghost towns –  Old Hundred, Capitol City, Engineer City, Massive City, Parrot City, Tasmania, Tomboy, Trump, Tuttle, Roses Cabin, Smuggler, Upper Camp Bird, Wild Irishman, Pie Plant

* - author has visited


  1. You know I'm surprised Cripplre Creek didn't get an entry...

  2. It's under Just Plain Weird - though you could make an argument that it could get its own entry.