Monday, March 4, 2013


“Sportsman’s Paradise,” huh?  Yup, that’s been the motto on Louisiana license plates since, I don’t know, the Model T?

I’m sure the huntin’ and fishin’ is pretty good there.  That said, aren’t there some other things Louisiana is famous for?  Nawlins?  Cajun food?  Mardi Gras?  The Super Bowl?  Crawdads?  The Big Easy?  Zydeco?  The bayou?  The French Quarter?  Towns with really funny names?

Yeah, that last one!  So, laissez les villes folles rouller

10. Bastrop

Sounds like it might be something rendered backwards.  You may be familiar with Remlap, AL, which is Palmer in reverse.  Hmm, Portsab’s not really ringing a bell though, is it?

Would you believe this is actually somebody’s name?  Yup, it’s named after Felipe Enrique Neri, the Dutch Baron de Bastrop.  Hold on – it gets even better …

Our Baron was actually born Philip Hendrik Nering Bögel.  He fled to the US after being accused of embezzlement.  There, he passed himself off as a nobleman, got involved in land speculation, and tried to establish a colony that fell apart for lack of funds.  Just the kind of guy who needs some immortalizing.

Bastrop the town is a metropolis of over 10,000 people, in the upper northeast part of the state.  It’s the birthplace of baseball hall of famer Bill Dickey; a governor, Luther Hall; and a number of major league athletes. 

Oh, and also Ronnie Coleman
(he’s a professional bodybuilder,
just in case you’re not familiar with him)

9. Frogmore

It’s a royal castle in England, a kind of stew, the name of a couple of famous plantations, a software company, and also a small Louisiana town.  It’s all these and more.  It’s Frogmore! 

As far as I can tell, the Louisiana town took its name from the Louisiana plantation.  The plantation, in turn, took its name from the royal castle.  The royal castle was named for “a proliferation of frogs in the marshy grounds.” 

Our town is in the north part of the state, on an oxbow of the Mississippi near Natchez.  There doesn’t seem to be much there other than the plantation.

Mmm, good!

8. Alluvial City

“Of, relating to, or found in sediment deposited by flowing water, as in a riverbed, flood plain, or delta.”  But of course! 

Fittingly, this place is right in the middle of The Delta.  It’s actually south and east of New Orleans, though not on the Mississippi.  If you know your Louisiana geography, you may be aware that that area is more water than land.  I spot about two dozen buildings, a couple of streets, and one business (a fishing charter).

Wasn’t able to turn up much on Google for Alluvial City, though I did find this:

Get a Phlebotomy Certificate | Phlebotomy Schools In Alluvial City LA
Top Phlebotomy Schools in Alluvial City, LA - Programs, Colleges, Degrees, Courses, Classes, Certification

I hate to tell you this, but there are no phlebotomy schools in Alluvial City.  Man, talk about bait and switch, huh?

Bayou La Loutre, between Alluvial City & Ycloskey
(yup, Ycloskely is Alluvial City’s neighbor)

7. Anacoco

I think I just like to say this one.  Anacoco, Anacoco, Anacoco.  Just imagine that with a nice reggae beat.

The town was named after the local Anacoco Bayou.  According to Louisiana Place Names, by Clare D’Artois Leeper, variants include:
  • Leaunacucu
  • Lianaucucu
  • Anacucu
  • Yanacoco
  • Yanecoocoo
  • Yanakoka
  • De Koocoque
  • Kan Coque 
  • Or pretty much anything you’d care to make up, I would imagine

Leeper goes on to explain that the first part is from the Spanish liana (“plain”), and the second from a Native American language (and meaning either “cuckoo prairie” or “nutgrass prairie” - but definitely "something prairie").

It’s in the western part of Louisiana, close to the Texas border.  It has 900 people, and boasts its own high school.  Go (totally non-PC) Indians!


6. Tickfaw

Wasn’t  Mr. Tickfaw the director of an orphanage in one of Dickens’ more obscure and lengthier novels?  Bleak TimesChuzzlewit & SonsThe Picklewick Expectations

The town is actually named after a nearby river.  Once again, we’ve got plenty of choices here, for your orthographic needs:
  • Tickfaw
  • Tickfoha
  • Ticfoha
  • Ticfaw
  • Tickfah

It means “pine rest” or, alternatively, “wild beasts shed their hair there” in Choctaw.  I vote for the latter.  Makes a good tongue-twister too.

Our town is just north of Lake Pontchartrain, and boasts a population of 600 people.  The local Catholic church is called Our Lady of Pompei.

And I just love this little nugget from Wikipedia:

It is known locally as a notorious speed trap, as the only way to get people to stop in Tickfaw is for the police to pull them over within city limits.

Hmm.  I wonder if the author may have had some personal experience with this.  

20th Annual Italian Festival
Tickfaw, LA

5. Head of Island

Okay, let me make sure I got this straight …  As far as I can tell, there is an island called Maurepas.  At the top of this island, is a village.  Some people call it Head of Island.  Others call it Maurepas. 

So, we’ve got a village called Maurepas that’s at the head of an island called Maurepas, but which is also called Head of Island (the village, not the island).  Any questions?

Head of Island is west of Lake Pontchartrain, not too far from Tickfaw and also French Settlement (see above and below).  It’s got its own high school (in fact, the town doesn’t seem to be much more than the high school and a little post office).  Needless to say, the school is called Maurepas High.

4. Dry Prong

Don’t you just hate it when your prong gets dry?

And especially when you built a mill right over it?  Here, let me explain (thanks, Wikipedia):

A family moved to the region in the 1870s to build a sawmill.  To power the mill, they built a water wheel, only to discover that the creek over which they had built it went dry every summer: the creek was a "dry prong".  The mill was soon rebuilt over a nearby creek which flowed all year, but the name stuck.

So, “prong” must mean a small creek or stream – kind of like “fork.”  Not what I was thinking at all.

Dry Prong the town is smack dab in the middle of Louisiana.  It’s got about 420 people, as well as its own junior high school. 

I’m sure all the commuters from Alexandria and Natchitoches
kick themselves everyday when they pass this sign

3. Waterproof

A raincoat?  Definitely.  Basements?  Yup.  Watches?  Sure.  A town?  Maybe not so much.

In this instance, “waterproof” really just means “floodproof.”  I guess the town fathers wanted to emphasize that, with those new levees on the nearby Mississippi, their town wasn’t quite as flood-prone as it used to be.

This town of 800 is just up the river from Natchez.  It was the site of a Civil War battle, and also includes more than its share of pretty famous sons and daughters:
  • Miss USA 1961, Sharon Renee Brown
  • Gen. Claire Chennault, of Flying Tigers fame
  • Pro Football Hall of Famer John Henry Johnson

The Waterproof water tower
(I love it!)

2. Shongaloo

Early ’60 dance move, if I remember correctly. 

It’s actually from the Choctaw shakalo, which means cypress tree.

It’s in the northern part of the state, right on the Arkansas border.  Population: 180.  Given its size, it has a surprisingly long list of famous sons on Wikipedia (though, oddly, I’m not familiar with any of them):
  • Daniel Branton, former mayor of Shongaloo
  • Parey Pershing Branton, Sr., former member of the Louisiana House of Representatives, the Webster Parish School Board, and mayor of Shongaloo; father of Daniel Branton
  • Robert L. Frye - Republican nominee for state education superintendent in 1972, was born in Shongaloo in 1927.
  • E.D. Gleason (1899–1959), member of the Louisiana House of Representatives from 1952 until his death in office
  • Mary Smith Gleason (1899–1967) of the nearby Evergreen Community succeeded her husband as a member of the Louisiana House from 1959-1960.
  • Talmadge L. Heflin, born in Shongaloo, is a Republican former member of the Texas House of Representatives.
  • Leland G. Mims (1901–1979), businessman and president of the Webster Parish Police Jury, the parish governing board, from 1956–1973, was born in the Evergreen Community southwest of Shongaloo.
  • Carlus D. Morgan (1917–2007), educator and member of the Webster Parish Police Jury from 1988–1992, resided in the Evergreen community.
  • J.L. Munn, member of the Webster Parish Police Jury from Shongaloo from 1936–1952
  • Franklin Sims, reptile expert in the 1970s; son of Samuel "Sammy" and Sheila Sims
  • Bobby J. Myers, Masters Degree Finance, University of Houston, former Captain, USAF, and Texas County Executive
Why am I thinking Daniel Branton might have authored this?

Shongaloo Civic Center
(I understand it sold out when Springsteen was here)

1. Zylks

Didn’t one of the Scooby-Doo characters say this when things weren’t going their way?

Turns out Zylks is a real honest-to-goodness family name.  What it means, and where it’s from, though, is not so clear.  One guess is it started out as Silk or Silks.  There’s another theory that it’s from the Polish word for “vein” or “tunnel.”  By the way, another form of the name is Zylka.  More than you probably wanted to know, right?

Zylks is about as far northwest as you can go in Louisiana.  Here, look:

Cool, huh?

Honorable Mention:

  • B-o-r-i-n-g – Homeplace, Midway, Center Point, Central, Centerville, Farmerville, Prairieville, Forest, Lacamp, LaPlace, College Town
  • Short & sweet – Trout, Clay, Mound, Bush, Trees, Frost, Sun, Star, Echo, Link, Ida, Iota, Bel, Ball, Point, Book, Mix, Mire
  • Numerically oriented – Fifth Ward, Four Forks, Many
  • Interesting S’s – Parks, Lushes, Lions, Epps, Starks, Swampers
  • A bad case of the ‘villes – Keithville, Charlieville, Marthaville, Crowville, Fishville, Downsville, Klotzville
  • Just a little out of place – Atlanta, Georgia, Princeton, Oxford, Iowa, Phoenix, Fairbanks, Hollywood, Liverpool, Hamburg, Lisbon, Sicily Island, Venice, Vienna, Transylvania, Albania, Athens, Arabi, Aloha
  • Native American mouthfuls – Kickapoo, Chinchuba, Coushatta, Natchitoches ("chestnut eaters," in Caddo), Opelousas ("black legs," in Choctaw), Ponchatoula, Tangapahoa ("corn cob," in Choctaw), Westwego
  • Orthographically challenged – Laark, Cornor
  • Atypical adjectives – Manifest, Saline, Standard, Supreme, Sharp, Kinder, Lucky
  • Unconventional verbs – Start, Reserve, Converse, Cut Off, Slaughter
  • Abnormal nouns – Pioneer, Empire, Triumph, Extension, Convent, Sulphur, Potash, Pigeon, Hurricane, Hicks, Vixen, Jigger, Belcher
  • Fun to say – Womack, Waggaman, Slagle, Niblett, Toomey, Bunkie, Dubberly, Kratz Springs, Fluker, Hico, Norco, Bosco, Serapta, Urania, Uneedus, Zenoria, Varnado, Barataria, Talla Benna
  • Just plain weird – Log Cabin, Dixie Inn, Oil City, Port Sulphur, Plain Dealing, Goodwill, Goodbee, Good Pine, Rosepine, Newlight, Samtown, Aimwell, Hotwells, Couchwood, Grand Cane, Bossier City (Mardi Gras Museum), Cow Island, White Castle, French Settlement, St. Bernard, New Roads, Fort Necessity, Happy Jack, Rattlebone Hollow, Cranky Corner, Goober Hill
  • I’d like to introduce you to – Roy, Archie, Lottie, Lucy, Effie, Ethel, Eunice, Bernice, Alden Bridge, Linda Lee, Jean Lafite, Eros
  • Going for a record – Napoleonville (13), Paincourtville (14)
  • Ghost towns - Anchorage, Hinkle, Burtville, Woodyard Bottom


  1. And don't forget Merryville in the 'villes. And how about the one that's so hard to spell...Natchitoches! Not to be confused with Nacogdoches over next door in Texas!

  2. Natchitoches is definitely in there - under Native American Mouthfuls. I'm pretty sure I've got Nacogdoches, under Texas, as well.

  3. Replies
    1. Dang, that's a good one. Probably not big enough to make it onto my atlas, but I like it.