Monday, March 11, 2013

Maine

Ah, our first New England state.  Interestingly, they seem to be just as boring as those out in the Midwest (Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas).  They do, however, have their own unique way of being boring.

For some reason, every New England state seems to have only 100 or so town names to work with.  What do they do when they go over that number?  Why, they simply add a prefix:

  • East
  • West
  • North
  • South
  • Upper
  • Lower
And if things get real crazy, they might substitute a suffix instead – Center, Falls, Mills, and so on.

And that’s what behind such creative extravanganzas as:

  • Poland, ME
  • E. Poland, ME
  • W. Poland, ME
  • Poland Springs, ME
How does the post office keep ‘em all straight?

10. North New Portland

Case in point!  Case in point!

North New Portland is a tiny town in the western part of the state.  It’s just north of … [drumroll] … East New Portland!  And, yes, there is a New Portland – but it’s way over to the west.  It’s not as far away as Portland, however, which is way over to the east, on the coast.  (BTW, Portland was named after Portland, England, which is way, way, way over to the east.) 

East and North had next to nothing on them, but I did find some things on New.  I especially loved the totally random description of this town that I found on Wikipedia, so I’m sharing it here verbatim:

New Portland is a town in Somerset County, Maine.  It is perhaps best known for its Wire Bridge, a cable suspension bridge completed in 1866 that is the last remaining bridge of its type in Maine, and possibly the U.S.  Much of North New Portland's Main Street burned to the ground in the fire of 1919, including a hotel.  The annual town fair draws large crowds from around, and is held in September.  The population was 718 at the 2010 census.  The town was given to the residents of Falmouth (now Portland) by the Massachusetts legislature to repay them for their loss when the British fleet burned Falmouth in 1775.

9. Allagash

Now, I might believe Allaglow, Allatwitter, Alladither, and Allaflutter.  But Allagash?  I don’t know.  I’m just not buying it.

Turns out it’s not English at all, but is from the Penobscot walakeskihtek, which means “bark stream.”  I do have to wonder, though, how they got “allagash” out of walakeskihtek.  Lost a little something in the transcription, eh?

Allagash the town is in the very far north of the state, and has just over 200 people.  Allagash is also a river, which has been preserved as part of the Allagash Wilderness Waterway, a part of the National Wild and Scenic River system.  It looks really beautiful.

And I think we’ve probably all heard about the Allagash Brewing Company, no?  Maybe even sampled some of their products.  But did you know that the brewery is in Portland? – almost at the opposite end of the state, 350 miles and 6 hours away.


Global warming
hits Allagash

8. Falmouth Foreside

Foreside’s weird enough.  Combine it with a second word, then make sure they’re both alliterative – and, hey, I think we’re really onto something here.

Falmouth Foreside is actually part of Falmouth proper.  I’m not totally sure why townsfolk couldn’t have called their burg just Foreside.  (Actually, it sounds like a lot of natives do.)

By the way, Falmouth is from the English town.  Foreside probably gets its name because it’s right on the water, with Falmouth several miles inland.  “Foreside” is an old-timey word that means “front side or part” (and sounds a lot like “foreskin” [snicker]).  There is also a Cumberland Foreside in Maine as well.
 

Yours for a mere $8,450,000!

7. Caratunk

The sound an old lobsterman makes when he falls down the stairs at the old folks’ home?

Well, maybe not.  You do have your choice of two possibilities though:

  • “scraped field,” unknown American Indian language
  • “forbidding, or crooked, stream,” Abenaki
Maybe some native Abenaki speakers out there could let me know for sure.  Thanks in advance!

This town of 70 is way back in the woods.  In fact, the Appalachian Trial passes right through it.  Seasonal residents outnumber permanent ones two-to-one. 
 

Hikuhs

6. Mattawamkeag / Passadumkeag

Now, what are the chances that, if I stuck my elbow on the keyboard twice, both attempts would end in the same five letters?  Huh?

Actually, these two mean, respectively:

  • Gravel bar at the mouth
  • Above the gravel bar
So, putting my linguistic sleuthing skills to use, I’m going out on a limb here and hypothesizing that “keag” means “gravel bar.”  Now if I only knew what language it did that in.

These two actually have lots more in common as well.  They’re both:

  • In east central Maine
  • Named after rivers, where those rivers join the Penobscot
They’re also just 30 miles apart.
 

Yours for only $19,000!
(Passadumkeag)

5. South Arm

Not that far from East Leg, just down the road from Elbow Falls, right next to West Ankle, and a stone’s throw from North Nostril.

Well, this is pretty boring, but this place is actually named after the south arm of a lake, Lower Richardson Lake.  It’s in the “lovely Rangeley Lakes Region of Maine's Western Mountains” (www.visitmaine.com).  All I can make out are some docks on the lake and some houses back in the trees.

By the way, there’s also a South Arm, Michigan and a South Arm, Tasmania.


4. North East Carry

I’m assuming there is also a North West Carry, South East Carry, South West Carry – and perhaps even a North-North-East Carry, a North-North-West Carry, and a …  The possibilities are endless!

By the way, “carry” is just an old-fashioned term for “portage.”  The portage here was from Moosehead Lake to the Penobscot River.  As Moosehead is the source of the Kennebec River, this portage was pretty important.  Thoreau actually wrote it up.

The town has a couple of houses, a couple of docks, and a couple of commercial buildings, including Raymonds Country Store.  Almost forgot …  NEC is in the upper western part of Maine – i.e., absolute nowhere. 


Are you real enough
for Raymonds Country Store?
Huh?  Are you, punk?

3. Eggemoggin

 No, eggemoggin does not mean “signature breakfast sandwich.”  It means “fish-weir place.”   Yumm ...

Eggemoggin is on Little Deer Isle, in Penobscot Bay.  I’m talking prime tourist territory here – cottages, lodges, inns, artist’s studios, country stores, you name it.
 

So damn picturesque
I think I’m gonna puke

2. Molunkus

n, slang (chiefly US), “A large, clumsy person.”  Also see “galoot,” “oaf,” “klutz.”

Actually, that’s not even close.  Turns out molunkus means “stream in ravine.”

Well, there does happen to be a Molunkus Stream, as well as a Molunkus Lake.  The town isn’t much, though – basically, a Y intersection and maybe 4 buildings.  It’s in the east central part of the state, way out in the woods.

In fact, it seems the main economic activity there is camping, fishing, and providing guides for hunting.  One of the outfitter-type enterprises there, Katahdin Valley Outfitters, has a website that features some crusty, Maine-guide-type of character named Molunkus Harry.
 

Harry, Molunkus

1. Meddybemps

“Oh, don’t be such a meddybemps, Ursula!  I dare say!”

“Meddybemps” actually comes from the Passamaquoddy, and means “plenty of alewives.”  Not a phrase I personally use everyday, but hey, it could come in handy.  (Oh yeah – an alewife is a kind of fish.)

We’re talking about 150 people here.  Near the coast, almost on the Canadian border.  Oh, it’s also the home of the Meddybemps Howler, the bigfoot of the Maine woods.  Look, there’s proof!


Howler and friend (er, relative?)

Honorable Mention:

  • B-o-r-i-n-g – Old Town, Centerville
  • Short & sweet – Jay, Sound, Starks
  • Just a little out of place – Hartford, Princeton, Richmond, Monticello, Charleston, Detroit, Dallas, Mexico, E. Peru (& W. Peru), Belfast*, Oxford, W. Paris (& S. Paris), Frankfort, Dresden, Vienna, Belgrade, Stockholm, Denmark, Norway, Sweden (& Sweden Mills), Moscow, Madrid, Lisbon Falls (Moxie Museum), Sorrento, Naples, Rome, Athens, Carthage, S. Lebanon, Levant, Orient, China, Purgatory
  • Numerically oriented – Number Four, Twelve Corners
  • Native American mouthfuls – Kokadjo, Ogunquit, Oquossuc, Androscoggin (“turbid, foaming, crooked snake”), Skowhegan, Seboomook, Kennebunkport*, E. Millinocket, Wytopitlock
  • Atypical adjectives – Gray, Strong, Starboard, Mainstream, Moody
  • Abnormal nouns – Freedom, Friendship, Harmony, Crystal, Sunrise, Lookout, Moosehead, Lobster, Grindstone
  • Unconventional verbs – Weld
  • Fun to say – Ogontz, Quimby
  • Just plain weird – Mount Desert Island*, E. Vassalboro (& N. Vassalboro), Robinhood, Christmas Cove, Cape Porpoise, Biddeford Pool, Shin Pond, Soldier Pond, Beans Corner, Bachelors Crossing, Prouts Neck, Owls Head (oldest minivan), Bald Head, Vinalhaven, Jemtland, Jackman, Jimpond, Norridgewock, Squa Pan, Plaisted (really, really drunk?), Misery Gore
  • Odd ‘villes – Oceanville, Winterville, Upper Frenchville, Stacyville, Cornville, Suckerville
  • I’d like you to meet – Alfred, Eliot, Eustis, Milo
  • Ghost towns – Flagstaff, Riceville, Dead River

By the way, I usually don’t do street names, but a Sun Journal article listed these beauts, so I just had to share:

  • Katies Crotch
  • Alcohol Mary
  • Jackass Annie

* - author has visited

7 comments:

  1. Howdy, Cliff! Back in February you paid a visit to my blog "The Lower 48 (Plus 2)" when I did a post on some of the weird names of US cities/towns. Since then, I have been to "really weird place names" a few times and have enjoyed your work each time.

    If you'd like to do a guest post on "The Lower 48 (Plus 2)", I'd love to have you do it. Shoot me an email at lower48plus AT gmail DOT com and let me know. The door is always open for you.

    One more quick thing....the day you visited my blog and left a comment I added "really weird place names" to my blog roll, as your blog niche fits in with mine.

    Keep up the great work!

    BTW...I am from Texas and two of my favorite Texas towns are called Cut and Shoot & Gun Barrel City. :)

    Toby

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  2. Cut and Shoot and Gun Barrel City both made the cut. Check out my Nov 2013 posting.

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  3. Cowshit Corner is a real place too.

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    Replies
    1. Hmm, I don't seem to be able to find that one in my Rand-McNally. ;^)

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    2. oh it's real! LOL driven by a few times- they a sign to mark it

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  4. Yup, it's under Just Plain Weird, with its actual spelling, "Vinalehaven."

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