Monday, February 4, 2013


Another boring Midwestern state.  At least next week I can start on Kentucky and Louisiana.  We’re talking Monkey’s Eyebrow and Waterproof and lots more.  Yeah!  

Oh hell!  I forgot all about Kansas …  Sigh …

10. Scarville

Sounds so much better than Scabville, don’t you think?

Actually, Scarville was named after somebody named Scar – town founder Ole Scar, of Bang, Norway.  That’s really not an excuse, though, is it?

Just had to repeat the following gem from the website of the Scarville-Center Lutheran Church in full:

It may not be big, but it remains the same town with the same faces, the same pride in community, the same sense of humor.  Those who have been acquainted with the town will always remember their time spent there.  In fact, people from all over northern Iowa and southern Minnesota still travel to Scarville, Iowa, every year for its 4th of July parade and celebration.  This may be the only town in which the parade participants delight their observers twice - first, going South on Main Street, and then circling around to pass by again in the opposite direction!

I can just see those parade participants now

9. Beebeetown

Originally called Officialredrydercarbineactiontwohundredshotrangemodelairrifle, the town was asked to come up with something a little shorter by the Post Office.

The name actually comes from the Beebee family, who settled the area in the 1840s.  The name is also spelled Bebe, Beebe, and Beeby.  It comes from the town of Beeby, in Leicestershire, England.  It means “bee town.”  So, in other words, Beebeetown really means Beetowntown.  How confusing.

This teeny crossroads is just north of Omaha, NE, not too far from the town of Missouri Valley (see “Honorable Mention,” below).

The Twisted Tale
(Biker Bar in Beebeetown)

8. Correctionville

Big prison?  Birthplace of the inventor of Wite-Out?

Actually, truth is stranger than fiction on this one.  According to Wikipedia:

The town name comes from the original survey of the town.  The site lies on a surveyor's correction line, which adjusts for the convergence of the meridian lines.  This keeps the section boundaries approximately 1-mile (1.6 km) apart, making all sections approximately the same size (approximately 1 square mile).  This correction line is aligned with 5th street through the downtown; there are no north/south streets extending straight past 5th street.

This burg of 800 is officially part of the Sioux City, IA–NE–SD Metropolitan Statistical Area.  It wins the prize for longest town name in Iowa, coming in at 15 letters.

Great old gas station (ca. 1934)

7. Sergeant Bluff

Sergeant Bluff, meet Colonel Klink.  Colonel Klink, meet Major Major.  Major Major, meet Sergeant Bluff.  Sergeant Bluff, meet …

Named after Sergeant Charles Floyd, the only casualty of the Lewis and Clark Expedition, who is buried nearby.  Historical names include Floyd’s Bluff, Woodbury, Sergeant’s Bluff, and Sergeant’s Bluff City.  To be totally honest with you, I really don’t see what’s wrong with Woodbury.

A neighbor of Correctionville, this town of over 4000 is known for its flatness and industrial blight.  As for the latter, I’m talking two coal-burning power plants, an ammonia fertilizer plant, and the Sioux City Airport.

City Hall!

6. Cylinder

“The surface generated by a straight line intersecting and moving along a closed plane curve, the directrix, while remaining parallel to a fixed straight line that is not on or parallel to the plane of the directrix.”  Or, for short … Cylinder.

Couldn’t really find anything on this one.  It is named after Cylinder Creek.  Not that that’s really helpful, of course.

This diminutive hamlet of 90 citizens is in the northern part of the state, not too far from the Nebraska border.  Google Maps shows me some grain elevators, a couple of dozen houses, and a few more commercial buildings of some sort or other.

Wait, are you sure this isn’t Scarville?

5. Lost Nation

Is this from Hemingway?  No?  Gertrude Stein?  Oh, no, no – that was “lost generation.”

As for “lost nation”?  I haven’t a clue.  It does sound like it might have something do with Indians however. 

But would you believe it’s not the only Lost Nation out there?   Others appear in New Hampshire and Vermont.

Our Lost Nation (population 450) is in the eastern part of the state.  It hosts an annual Rustic Days and Rustic Run (in, I take it, Rustic Park – see below).

Incredible set of photos right here.

City park!

4. Zwingle

Of course there was a Mr. Zwingle.  With a state with people with names like Scar and Beebee (and Zook – below), what else would you expect?

Well, actually, they named it after some guy named Zwingli – Ulrich Zwingli, to be exact.  If you’re not up on your church history, Zwingli led the Reformation in Switzerland.  You may know him from his disputations, the Kappel Wars, or the Marburg Colloquy.  What?  No???

This bantam borough of 90 is in the eastern part of Iowa, not too far from Lost Nation and just south of Dubuque.  Its main claim to fame is being the last community, alphabetically, in the whole state.

Tiny post office!
(though not as tiny as Muddy’s)

3. Gravity

Yeah, I’m a big fan too.  I’m not totally convinced we need to name a town after it though.

But wait!  Here’s an “explanation” (from some obscure site on the Internets):

The new town was named after the Old Gravity Post Office situated 1 1/2 miles west.  It being an old landmark, having stood there for many years.  It was at this place that Rev. A.E. McKay met with an accident that caused him to lose his arm.  This misfortune resulted from his arm being caught in the belt of a threshing machine while at work there.

Now, let me make sure I’ve got this straight …

This community of almost 200 is in the southwest part of the state, practically on the Nebraska border.

The abovementioned site (a history of the town) include a couple of double-takes: Gravity Express (a newspaper), Gravity Bank, and Gravity Cemetery.  A quick search of Google gives us some more: gravity news (it’s still working!), gravity jobs, and gravity weather (rain and snow? - they come down!).


2. Zook Spur

Sounds like something Robin would say: “Zook Spur, Batman!  The Joker really has us now.”

Turns out Zook Spur was at the end of a short rail line that ran from the main line to a coal mine.  Said coal mine was operated by the Scandia Coal Company, under the management of none other than one H. Zook.   I’d love to know what the H stood for.  Horatio?  Helmut?  Habbakuk?  Hyacinth? 

It’s in the middle of the state, just above Des Moines.  Google Maps shows it at the intersection of Zook Spur Road and Zook Spur Lane.  I count about three houses, maybe ten in the greater metropolitan area. says it once had a population of 500.  Can’t see much left other than cornfields now.

They stole that from Tombstone,AZ by the way

1. What Cheer

According to what I could find, this is simply just a very old-fashioned way of saying hello, or welcome.  Today, What Cheer would probably be called Wassup or Yo or maybe ‘Sup. 

This town of 650 is southeast from Des Moines.  Like Zook Spur, it’s an old coal mining town, and actually produced a past president of the United Mine Workers, Frank Hayes.  It’s also known for antiques, and has a harness race track as well.


Honorable Mention: 

  • B-o-r-i-n-g – Big Rock, Homestead, Old Town, Farmersburg, Prairieburg, Iowa City (world's largest wooden nickle), Iowa Center, Center Junction, State Center, Centerville (world's largest town square), Middle, West
  • A bad case of the cities – Albert City, Stone City, Orange City, Sac City (world's largest popcorn ball), May City, Prairie City, Promise City, Story City
  • Short & sweet – Church, Wood, Fern, Coin, Colo, Rake, Prole
  • Just a little out of place – Little Rock, Missouri Valley, Cincinnati, Harpers Ferry, Scranton, Brooklyn (the Community of Flags), Delaware, New Virginia, Key West, Nevada, Wyoming, Dakota City, California Junction, Pacific Junction, Ontario, Jamaica, Panama, Brazil, East Peru, Geneva, Madrid, Lisbon, Wales, Norway, Denmark, Paris, New Vienna, Moscow, Persia, Manila
  • Numerically oriented – Seven Ponds, Ten Mile, Tenville, Thirty
  • Native American mouthfuls – Keokuk, Titonka, West Okoboji, Oskaloosa (only known mule cemetery)
  • Atypical adjectives – Quick, Mystic, Stout, Diagonal, Cool, High, Manly
  • Abnormal nouns – Walnut, Carbon, Confidence, Defiance, Unison, Bunch, Soldier, Rubble
  • Fun to say – Dubuque, Exira, Cresco, Fiscus, Struble, Popejoy, Jackson Junction, Swaledale
  • Just plain weird – Balltown, Otterville, Red Line, North English, South English, Coon Rapids (famous rotating ear of corn), Mediapolis, Little Mermaid
  • I’d like to introduce you to –  George, Edna, Floyd, Burt, Arthur, Carl, Craig, Mark, Elvira
  • Not to mention – Grace Hill, Troy Mills, Vernon View
  • And the whole Grove family – Ida Grove, Buck Grove, Lin Grove
  • Ghost towns – Indianapolis, Terre Haute, Illinois Grove, New Philadelphia, Peoria City, Klondike, Motor, Crab Town

1 comment:

  1. Gravity is about 50 or 60 miles from the Missouri River which is the border with Nebraska. It is close to the state of Missouri border, about 15 miles.