So, where does all this creativity come from? I kind of like the theory proposed by the book Weird Kentucky:
Kentucky’s town names can obtuse the best of them. In fact, the people who named these places must be bold surrealists, possibly hallucinating on squirrel brains and ‘shine.
10. Mud Lick
Of course, if that’s not what your tastes run to, may I suggest one of the following:
- Sulphur Lick
- Paint Lick
- Deer Lick
- Wolf Lick
- Bee Lick
- Beaver Lick
By the way, a lick is a natural salt deposit that animals (deer, wolves, beavers, bees?) like to lick. Humans found them pretty valuable too.
These teeny places are scattered all over Kentucky. Very little information exists on any of them however. I was able to find that wrestler Hillbilly Jim claims to be from Mud Lick. There is also a Mud Lick Flippin Road in nearby Tompkinsville. Oh, and this …
You can get it on a shirt right here
Quick way to get a jump on New York, Orlando, New Orleans, and San Francisco?
Well, you’d definitely need something to get the tourists here. Not only is it in the middle of absolute nowhere, but there doesn’t seem to be anything there either. What there is is in the eastern part of the state, just south from Lexington, and almost to the Tennessee border.
Kentuckians sure do love their ‘villes. So, if Touristville doesn’t make you want to pack your bags, how about one of these instead:
8. Sublimity City
I don’t know. Settin’ the bar pretty high here, folks. Might want to scale it back just a little bit.
Especially considering I couldn’t even find your town on Google Maps! Now, I could find it on MapQuest (MapQuest shows everything), but they called it something entirely different (Pine Grove)?!?!
Sublimity City / Pine Grove / whatever is in the southeast, about halfway between Lexington and Knoxville. It looks like its right on I-75.
7. Tress Shop
You’re not going to believe this, but here’s another crazily named place with little to nothing on it. Do Kentuckians just name every darn crossroads, grove of trees, and wide place in the road – and then move on and forget all about them?
So, I’m assuming they made tresses here. Or maybe sold them. Or maybe both.
I’m also not too sure what they heck we’re talking about here. According to the dictionary, a tress is a “long lock of a woman’s hair.” Great. Clears that right up.
My guess is it’s named after the surname Tress. Now that one’s pretty mysterious in itself, but it may be related to the German first names Andreas or Teresa. It’s also known in the UK (that’s United Kingdom, not University of Kentucky), plus there’s a Dutch Van Tress and a German Von Tress, none of which have a meaning ascribed to them.
This is also know as Tywhapity – and, I would assume, Tiwoppity, Tiewhappetee, Tiwapiti, Tayewhhaehppyhyttiyie and pretty much anyway else you want to spell it.
It’s from the Shawnee, and means “place of no return.” Interestingly, there’s a town of the same name in Missouri.
Our “Place of No Return” is in the western part of the state, north of Nashville. I can make out a dozen buildings, without a single cross street.
(and God bless)
(and God bless)
5. Oven Fork
What’s next? Spatula? Pizza Slicer? Veg-o-Matic?
Okay, you knew this was going to be at a fork of the Oven River, didn’t you? I feel like I’m finally figuring this stuff out. That said, why anyone would want to name a river after a kitchen appliance is still totally beyond me.
Oven Fork is in Letcher County. [snicker] It’s got a cute country store, the Oven Fork Mercantile, and a church, Oven Fork Baptist. We’re talking serious mountain country here.
By the way, Kentucky’s also got a Flat Fork, Forks of Elkhorn, Bent Fork, Forks of Ecstasy, Fork in the Road, and Fork It Over. Alright, just those first two are legit.
Oven Fork Mercantile’s competition, J.D. Maggard’s
(that might be J.D. in the bottom left corner)
(that might be J.D. in the bottom left corner)
Surely, they meant Mouthguard. I mean, that doesn’t make a whole heck of a lot of sense either. But it sure does beat Mouthcard.
I’d be totally clueless on this one, if I didn’t notice that there is a Card Mountain nearby, as well as the mouth of Road Fork as it spills into the Levisa Fork River. Card also happens to be a legitimate surname, related to the carding of wool, a major medieval occupation. Just call me Holmes, Sherlock Holmes.
We’re back deep in the mountains again. In fact, we’re talking Hatfield-McCoy territory here. That said, this is a major metropolis compared to the rest of the wide spots in the road in this post. I’m talking a bank, a dentist, and Lacy’s Factory Outlet (haven’t a clue what they make however - maybe mouthcards).
Well, there you go
(thank you, Google Images)
3. Pippa Passes
Passes what exactly? Gas? A kidney stone? Seventh grade?
Would you believe this is a literary reference? With my BA in English literature, I can confidently tell you that Pippa Passes is a poem by Robert Browning that was popular in the mid 19th Century. It’s where the famous line “God's in his Heaven / All's right with the world” comes from.
Pippa Passes, KY? Well, one more time, we’re in the mountainous east. PP distinguishes itself from all the other whacky towns up here by having its own college, Alice Lloyd College. To tell you the truth, actually, it looks like there isn’t any more to the town than the college. (Great piece of trivia … ALC has their own radio station, with the call letters WWJD.)
There’s an interesting story about Alice and how the town got its name (here, from Wikipedia):
The town had no post office when Alice Lloyd, founder of Alice Lloyd College, arrived in 1916. She solicited donations from the Browning Society to found the college and build a post office. The Browning Society suggested Pippa Passes as a name for the post office. The town was earlier known as Caney Creek and is still referred to as such by its inhabitants.
Proud prospective student
2. Tiny Town
To really appreciate this one, you may have to be familiar with this one:
The latter is arguably one of the worst movies ever made. It’s a Golden Turkey, made the bottom 10 movies in the Book of Lists, and was featured on the Canned Film Festival. It’s a pretty standard western … but with midgets.
The real Tiny Town is in the western part of Kentucky, right on the border with Tennessee. There’s actually an historic stage coach inn here (with accompanying historical marker). It’s also the home of two of the world’s most boring blogs:
Oh, there’s also a Tacky Town in the Bluegrass State.
1. Rabbit Hash
This is either the title of a book of surrealist poetry or a really unappetizing recipe.
Well, as it turns out, it’s the latter. The story goes that this town got its name after a certain recipe that helped the townsfolk survive a major flood.
The town, though there’s really very little to it, is rather well known. In fact, the “downtown” is on the National Register of Historic Places. RH is right on the Ohio, just down the river from Cincinnati. It was founded in 1831.
Almost forgot – the mayor’s a cat
- B-o-r-i-n-g – Lake, Oldtown, La Center *, South
- Short & sweet – Lone, Lot, Load, Scale, Snow, Moon, Plank, Wax, Vest, Van, Tram, Job, Lair, Newt, Pig, Uz, Uno, Ono
- Just a little out of place – Omaha, Pittsburgh, Memphis Junction, Texas, Nevada, Yosemite, Sacramento, Mexico, London (World Chicken Festival), Rome, Paris, Madrid, Moscow, Paradise
- Numerically Oriented – Three Springs, Nineteen, Seventy Six, Number One, Million, Thousandsticks
- Orthographically challenged – Sweeden, Loyall, Nuckols, Mousie, Mummie, Sublett, Peoples
- Just slightly off color – Penile
- Atypical adjectives – Windy, Ready, Lovely, Loyal (though not Loyall), Little, Urban, Public, Majestic, Premium, Topmost, Subtle, Ordinary, Troublesome, Rowdy, Rugless
- Unconventional verbs – Press, Rush, Stay, Select, Settle, Spears, Stab, Slaughters, View, Ogle
- Abnormal nouns – Quality, Utility, Pride, Relief, Region, Raccoon, Wildcat, Terrapin, Turkey, Parrot, Viper, Spider, Talcum, Tobacco, Penny, Princess, Pyramid, Petroleum, Pilot, Lookout, Lackey, Lemon, Mayo, Mentor, Music, Mistletoe, Static, Sample, Soldier, Skylight, Quicksand, Vortex, Poverty, Ruin
- Fun to say – Slade, Slemp, Smilax, Scalf, Scocho, Skibb, Strunk, Stites, Molus, Noctor, Nippa, Oppy, Penrod, Paw Paw, Pactolus, Paducah*, Verda, Lecta, Ulva, Wingo, Zula
- Just plain weird – Stamping Ground, Softshell, Sideview, Mullins Addition, Redhouse, Ragland, Lejunior, Lovejoy, Lucky Stop, Possum Trot, Pumpkin Center, Marrowbone, Wolf Coal, Science Hill, Whoopee Hill, and - of course - Monkey’s Eyebrow
- I’d like you to meet – Phil, Ned, Nancy, Polly, Susie, Mary Alice, Olive Hill
* - visited by author