Monday, March 18, 2013


Maryland was founded as a refuge for English Catholics.  And crabs.  It was the site of much action in the War of 1812, and the Star-Spangled Banner was written during a bombardment of Baltimore.  Plus crabs.  It was a border state during the Civil War, with the important battle of Antietam occurring within its boundaries.  Crabs too.  It’s centered around the picturesque Chesapeake Bay, but also includes beautiful mountains and Atlantic beaches.  More crabs!  Famous sons and daughters include:
  • Babe Ruth
  • Frederick Douglass
  • Francis Scott Key
  • Thurgood Marshall
  • H.L. Mencken
  • Crabs, crabs, crabs!

10. Secretary

The town council is thinking about changing the name to Administrative Assistant.  Some like the alliteration.  Some think it makes the place sound more modern.  On the other hand, some think “Executive Assistant” sounds classier.  And some think both are a little long, favoring “Admin” instead.

So, where did it come from?  It's named after Lord Henry Sewell, Secretary of the Province of Maryland in the late 1600s.  I understand he could type 50 words a minute.

This town of 530 is on the Eastern Shore.  It’s at the mouth of the Warwick River, which is actually a small creek that feeds into the much larger Choptank (see below).  I see a church, a school, a bank, and some restaurants, including this one …

Makes me hungry
(website right here)

9. Rosaryville

A priest was assigned a small church in the Alaskan Maryland backwoods.  After a couple of years, the bishop stopped by to see how he was doing. 
"Ah, Bishop, it's really lonely here. I couldn't have made it without my Rosary and two martinis a day."
The bishop replied, "You know, a martini would taste good right now."
The priest agreed and yelled into the kitchen, "Hey, Rosary! Fix us a couple of martinis, will ya!?"

Sorry.  This was about all I could find on Google for “rosary jokes.”

Rosaryville was supposedly named after a local church, probably Holy Rosary or Our Lady of the Rosary – though I couldn’t find either on Google Maps.

This town of 11,000 is right next to Andrews Air Force Base.  Within its city limits, it features two colonial mansions, Mt. Airy and the wonderfully named His Lordship’s Kindness.  Other than that, it looks like it’s got a fair amount of DC sprawl.

Rosaryville Elementary goes down
in the Prince Georges County Science Bowl

8. Pomonkey

Okay, I could come up with some god-awful joke about some unfortunate simian getting shot into space or something about bananas or organ grinders, but I’ll spare you.  This time.

Pomonkey is named after the Pamunkey Tribe of Native Americans.  Haven’t a clue where that comes from unfortunately.

This hamlet of maybe a dozen buildings is on Pomonkey Creek, which flows into the Potomac below DC.  It was once the site of the Pomonkey Spoon Factory (which really sounds funny, for some reason), and is not too far from Mattawoman, Allens Fresh, Pomfret, and Accokeek (see below).


7. Mattawoman

Originally called Whatawoman after an early settler, Lucretia Plunkett, who founded the town, ran the general store, home-schooled eight kids, farmed 40 acres, and was a Cub Scout Den Leader and team mom for six different sports.

Seriously, it’s actually named after Mattawoman Creek, which comes from the Algonquian Mataughquamend and means “where one goes pleasantly” (love it!).

The town actually looks fairly well populated.  It’s unincorporated, though, so just kind of blends in with the DC sprawl, without having much character of its own.

By the way, there is also a Mattapex, MD.  As far as I can tell, that means “junction of waters.”

6. Lutherville-Timonium *

Now, Lutherville’s bad enough.  But what the heck is a “timonium”?  Chemical element?  The pandemonium that happens when Tim Tebow gets into a game?  The name of a local mansion that was in turn named for a tower in ancient Alexandria built by Marc Antony?  Yeah, C!  I’m going with C, Regis!  (Lutherville was named after Martin Luther, BTW.)

Well, here’s our first stop in the Baltimore area.  L-T is just north of the Beltway, and home to almost 16,000 commuters.  Timonium claims to have “City Convenience and Country Comfort.”  It’s home to the Maryland State Fair.  BTW, Maryland also features a Linthicum and a Lapidium.

Lutherville claims a historic district, as well as a number of current and former famous residents, both above and below ground:
  • Spiro Agnew
  • Pam Shriver
  • Don Shula
  • Johnny Unitas

A little history

5. Allens Fresh

Well, perhaps you should just slap him. 

Allens Fresh is named after Allens Fresh Run.  My guess is there was once a Mr. Allen who may have used this creek to send rafts of tobacco downstream during Spring freshets (little floods).

The run turns into the Wicomico River, which itself flows into the Potomac.  It looks like we’ve got ten buildings, a bridge, and not much else.

One of them freshets.  Ouch!

4. Romancoke

No, I didn’t ask what you wanted to drink.  I asked you where you come from.

Romancoke is actually an Algonquian word, meaning “circling of the water.”  Which, I’m afraid, makes it sound kinda like a toilet, if you really want to know.

It’s on Kent Island, which was once somewhat remote, but is now basically a stepping stone for the Chesapeake Bay Bridge.  Romancoke is not big enough to be a “census-designated place,” so is classified as an “urban cluster” instead.  Kind of chocolate?  Bad experience in the inner city?

There’s a Romancoke VA as well.

3. Crapo

Yeah, it’s pronounced “cray-po,” and it’s actually somebody’s name, but it’s still a very popular entry on crazy town name lists, so I’m including it here.  Too bad they didn’t throw an extra “p” in there.  That would have given us some pretty great search results, like:
  • Crappo Homes for Sale (they’re falling down)
  • Crappo Mortgage Rates (they're really high)
  • Crappo Weather (it’s raining again)
  • Crappo Jobs and Employment (there are none)
  • Crappo Lawyers (pretty much all of them)

The surname is from the French crepeau, or crepaux, meaning “curly-haired.” God, that sounds so much classier.  One "famous" Crapo is the current US senator from Idaho, Mike Crapo.

We’re back on the Eastern Shore for this one – pretty much in the middle of absolute nowhere.  I see a post office and maybe three other buildings.

Post office = big time!

2. Accident

This one actually comes from a Colonial era surveying accident.  No, not the kind where somebody gets hurt.  Just a little miscalculation between friends, that’s all.

The land was originally known as the Accident Tract.  Unimaginative, tone-deaf, or perhaps slyly humorous early settlers simply kept the name for their new town.

This one is in the very western corner of Maryland – just to make our tour of Maryland complete.  You know, that little hook that ends things rather abruptly and stabs right down into West Virginia.  (I gotta tell ya, of all the states, Maryland’s pretty much got the weird shape prize wrapped up.)

We’re talking  about a little burg of about 325 Accidentals in total here.  We’ve also got a library, a post office, an elementary and high school, and some businesses (including the wonderfully named Accident Garage).

BTW, Friendsville (see below) is just to the west.

Main Street accident
(er, I mean, “Main Street, Accident”
- ah, the power of punctuation)

1. Scientists Cliffs

One, I’m not sure why the developers or town fathers wanted to attract scientists in the first place.  Two, I didn’t realize scientists were so attracted to cliffs.  Heck, the place is right on the water.  You’d think Scientist Beach or Scientist Shores would have sounded a lot more appealing.  But, then again, I’m only an engineer.  What do I know?

Ready for this one?  This place was established as a summer colony for scientists by forest pathologists Flippo and Annie Gravatt (yup, Flippo).  They were originally attracted to the blight-resistant chestnut trees in the area.  Later scientists were attracted to the cliffs, which include one of the largest collections of Miocene fossils in the world.  Honestly, I can’t make this stuff up.

It’s just southeast of DC, on the western side of the Chesapeake.  About 120 houses are permanently occupied.  Alternate names include Flippos Folly, Annes Aggravation, and Pathologists Quagmire. 

English major keep out!

Honorable Mention:

  • B-o-r-i-n-g – Maryland Point, Maryland Line, Maryland City, Oldtown*, Middletown, Halfway, Avenue, Street, North East, Public Landing, Suburbia
  • Short & sweet – Champ, Chance, Fork, Rocks
  • A bad case of the ‘villes – Beachville, Churchville, Friendsville, Loveville, Downsville, Gingerville, Wolfville, Beltsville*, Barrelville, Cockeysville, Claggetsville, Scaggsville, Chewsville, Dentsville
  • A bad case of the ‘burgs – Ruthsburg, Ladiesburg, Fiddlersburg, Fowblesburg, Finksburg, Frizzelburg
  • Just a little out of place – Newark, Texas, Phoenix, Hollywood, California, Pasadena, Pomona, Londontown, Oxford, Paris, Waterloo, Berlin (shark from Jaws), Vienna, Lisbon, Mt. Etna, Moscow, Damascus, Aloha
  • Native American mouthfuls – Honga, Wango, Nikep, Choptank, Nanjemoy, Pokomoke City, Piscataway, Chicamuxen, Accokeek
  • Too many words – East New Market, George Island Landing, Font Hill Manor, Fort Washington Forest, Cape Isle of Wight, The Crest of Wickford, Amberly of Kings Court
  • Atypical adjectives – Paramount, Level, Savage* (and Mt. Savage), Boring, Rumbley, Apple Green
  • Unconventional verbs – Issue, Chase, Hurry
  • Abnormal nouns – Canal, Unity, Gratitude, Security, Stronghold, Sunshine, Sparks, Delight, Crescendo, Mayo, Bivalve, Detour, Parole, Fearer
  • Fun to say – Motters, Cresaptown, Crumpton, Finzel, New Glatz, Benevola, Pomfret, Pumphrey, Von Bibber
  • Hard to say – Elioak, Glenelg, Gnegy Church
  • Just plain weird – Eckhart Mines*, Fair Play, Rising Sun, Allview, West Friendship, Love Point, Sweet Air, Big Pool*, Tall Timbers, Rippling Ridge, Lime Kiln, Putty Hill, Flintstone*, Cavetown, Joppa Town, Mousetown, Redhouse, Tammany Manor, Charleston Furnace, American Corners, Seat Pleasant, Sandy Bottom, Port Tobacco, Port Deposit, Point of Rocks*, Elk Neck, Quaker Neck, Christ Rock, Pendennis Mount, Borden Shaft, Basket Switch, Long Green, Dames Quarter, Funkstown, T.B.
  • I’d like to introduce you to – Perry Hall, Charlotte Hall, Quincy Orchard, Glen Burnie* (giant crash test dummy), Chevy Chase*, Prince Frederick, Madonna

* - author has visited


  1. We also have a case of the heights_ Capitol Heights, Forest Heights, Marlo Heights, Friendship Heights, District Heights, Berwyn Heights, Braddock Heights, Fairmount Heights, and Hillcrest Heights.

  2. Yeah, and seeing as the place is pretty darn flat ...

  3. And out in western Maryland is Negro Mountain. Can't make this stuff up.