Monday, May 27, 2013

New Hampshire

Live free or die, huh?  Well, if it’s okay with you, how about if I just get house arrest?  Heck, I’d be fine with the pen – if it’s one of those fancy, Martha Stewart ones with the golf course and stuff.

10. Hillsborough Lower Village

Don’t adjectives typically go in front in English?  And isn’t “Village” a little redundant?  I mean, wouldn’t “Hillsborough” be enough?  Could we just call it “Lower Hillsborough”?

And, yes, there is a Hillsborough Upper Village, as well as a just plain Hillsborough and a Hillsboro too – all within a couple of miles of each other.  No chance for confusion there.

HLV itself looks like several dozen houses in the woods, right next to Franklin Pierce Lake.  It’s in the center of the state, just a little west of Concord. 

HLV does include a major tourist attraction, Franklin Pierce’s birthplace.  You know, the 14th president?  He was responsible for …  uh … er … I don’t know, something or other.

Right here, on this very spot!

9. Potter Place

Kind of like Peyton Place, but with dementors and death eaters.

Ohmigod!  You are not going to believe this.  Potter Place just so happens to be named after an honest-to-god “master of the Black Arts.”  Just check out the genuine historical marker below.

Potter Place is actually part of Andover, which is just north of HLV.  The railroad station there is on the National Register of Historic Places, which looks well worth a visit.  There is also a bartending school.  Oh, and a boarding school for young wizards.


8. Little Boars Head

As no town in New Hampshire seems to be able to exist on its own, it shouldn’t surprise you that Little Boar’s Head is actually part of North Hampton.

LBH is actually a rocky promontory on the Atlantic, which later gave its name to the town of summer “cottages” that was built around it in the late 19th Century.  Ogden Nash once lived here, as did the Studebaker family.

One of those little “cottages”
(Can you imagine the electric bill?)

7. Deerfield Parade

I-I-I love a parade / The tramping of feet / I love every beat / I just don’t associate them with town names / But, I-I-I love a parade

There is an explanation.  As it turns out, in old-timey times, villages often had a parade ground, where the local militia could gad about.  This was typically the town green, but Deerfield sounds like it had its own separate location.  Well, wouldn’t you know – this location then became a town in its own right.

Now, because there seems to be a general New England principle to allow each of its states only a couple of dozen names to choose from (see Maine), Deerfield Parade could not realistically hope for its own name, all by itself.  It had to take the parent town name, then saddle it with something like “center,” “south,” “junction,” “upper,” “mills,” whatever.  Now, “parade” is not normally one of these additions but, heck, that’s what got DP into this blog.

Deerfield Parade has one famous son, Benjamin “Beast” Butler, Civil War general, governor, and senator. 

An attractive fellow,
he also weighed about 300 lbs.

6. Christian Hollow

Muslims, keep out!  No Jews allowed!

Wow, there’s not even a lot of Christians in this place.  Subsequently, I could find next to nothing on it.  I did find that it’s officially part of Walpole, which is in the far southwest part of the state.  On the map, it just looks like a lonely crossroads, with the center of Walpole being a good four miles away. 

Through the magic of the Internet, though, I was able to find all sorts of helpful information about CH and its environs:

  • Nearest FedEx location (Walpole)
  • Nearest place to stay (Putney, 7 miles away)
  • Nearest lobster restaurant (Keene, 10 miles away)
  • Nearest local webcam (Brattleboro, VT, 15 miles away)
  • Nearest gluten-free food (Keene, again)

5. Lempster

Who or what is a lempster?  Is it a slimy, eel-like fish?  Someone from the land of Lemp?  Kind of crustacean?  Is it a person who’s involved in lemping?

Well, actually, it’s a mispronunciation.  The town was named after Leominster, England.  Now, said place is rather hard to pronounce as spelled (try it), so it usually gets reduced to “lemster.”  I’m not sure how the p got in there (going for most consonants in a row record?).

Hard to believe, but we’ve finally come across a town that is not a part of another town.  In fact, it’s even got its own satellite villages: East Lempster, Keyes Hollow, and Dodge Hollow. 

This metropolis of 1,154 people is on the western border of NH.  There’s a big wind farm on one of the mountains just outside town.

That there wind farm

4. Rindge

Disease of cattle?

Nah, just some guy who owned the original land.  The surname comes from an Old English word for a kind of cattle disease.  Sorry.  I honestly haven’t a clue where the name comes from.

This enormous conurbation of 5,400 people is in the southwest part of the state, again.  It’s on the wonderfully named Contoocook River, which provided power to early industry, including the following kinds of mills: grist, saw, shingle, stave, planing, and clapboard. 

Today, it’s home to Franklin Pierce University.  Don’t tell the folks in Hillsborough Lower Village though, okay?

As every little crossroads in New Hamster seems to have some famous son, don’t be too surprised to find out that Rindge’s is Nathan Hale. 

Rindge’s classic New England meeting house

3. Squantum

Native American word for a disease of cattle?

Not buyin’ it?  Well, would you believe it’s a Native American word for a clambake?  Yup.  In fact, the word has worked its way in as a regionalism.  “See yuh at the squantum this evening, Mabel?”  There is also a town called Squantum in Massachusetts.

Our Squantum is officially part of Jaffrey, but actually closer to old favorite, Rindge.  Looks like it’s a crossroads with some houses and a few stores.

2. Happy Corner

There are a lot of corners in New England.  I think it’s just Yankee-speak for “crossroads.”  I believe it’s safe to say, though, that there’s only one of these places that is truly happy.

And what makes it so happy exactly?  Well, how about a Victrola?  Turns out the family who lived at the ford there owned one of these early record players.  And, way back then, that’s all it really took to guarantee a good time.

HC is in the far north part of the state.  It’s officially a part of the town of Pittsburg (see below).  A “bustling neighborhood in the late 1800s,” it now has some cabins, a café, and a supermarket, all owned by the same family.  The economy revolves around logging, tourists, moose- and leaf-peepers, fishermen, hunters, and snowmobilers.  It’s known for its covered bridge.

The Bridges of Happy Corner

1. Center Sandwich

Formerly know as Smoked Turkey Breast … 

Okay, I’ve probably mentioned before that New Englanders love to take a basic name for a town and then surround it with all sorts of versions of it.  In our case, we have a Sandwich, but also a North Sandwich and a Center Sandwich. 

Center Sandwich is definitely where all the action is though.  It’s got a library, some fairgrounds, the town clerk’s office, a car dealership, the League of New Hampshire Craftsmen, and the wonderfully evocative Sandwich Police ("Put down that reuben! Now!") and Sandwich Historical Society.

They like their garlic in Center Sandwich, NH
(Booty Family Farm, LLC)

Honorable Mention:

  • B-o-r-i-n-g – State Line, Meadows, Hill
  • Short & sweet – Lee, Pike, Rye
  • Just a little out of place – New Boston, Amherst, Woodstock, Rochester, Pittsburgh, Richmond, Greenland, New London, Scotland, Lisbon, Waterloo, Berlin, Milan, Troy, Alexandria, Bethlehem, Gaza
  • Numerically oriented – Twin Mountain
  • Orthographically challenged – Dummer
  • Native American mouthfuls – West Ossipee, Wonalancet (said of boils?)
  • More mouthfuls – Fitzwilliam Depot, Gilmanton Iron Works, Candia Four Corners
  • Atypical adjectives – Orange, Stark
  • Abnormal nouns – Freedom, Guild, Woodman, Bath
  • Fun to say – Laconia, Effingham
  • Alliterative apotheosis – West Wilton, Northwood Narrows, Milton Mills
  • Just plain weird – Snowville, Suncook, Horse Corner, Canaan Street, Cornish Flat, Madbury, Water Village, Wentworth Location, Pinkham Notch*, Powwow River, Whiteface, Noone (all depends on how it’s pronounced, I guess), Breakfast Hill, Hell Hollow
  • I’d like to introduce you to – Randolph, Nelson, Errol, Percy, Melvin Village
  • Too many Glens – Glen*, The Glen, Glendale, Glen Gould, Glen Campbell (okay, those last two are made up)
  • What’s with all the houses? – Crawford House, Willey House*, Fabyn House

* - author has visited

Monday, May 20, 2013

Nevada (Ghost Towns)

Nevada’s a funny state.  I think it must have more ghost towns than real ones.  I do know that it has more ghost towns than any other state in the Union.

How’s come?  I put it down to the fact that, other than extracting minerals from the earth, there’s not much else going on economically in the Silver State.  In addition, said extraction of minerals – silver, gold, copper, whatever – isn’t really what you’d call a sustainable industry.  So, what’s here today is largely gone tomorrow.  Boom towns turn into ghost towns here awfully quickly.

Notes on Methodology

I’m doing things a little different on this one.  For one thing, there tend to not be a lot of facts and figures when it comes to ghost towns.  Indeed, the typical town history invariably goes something like this:

  1. Some prospector discovers some deposit of some mineral
  2. Other prospectors flood the place to get in on the action
  3. Hangers on flood the place as well (and build hotels, and banks, and saloons, and brothels, and what not)
  4. The deposit runs dry
  5. Everyone gets out of town
  6. The post office closes
And, believe it or not, that can happen in the space of just a couple of years.

So, given that, I’m not going to pick out and rank individual ghost towns (there's just not info on each one).  Instead, I’ll feature the basic groupings I typically use for my honorable mentions.  If I do find some interesting tidbits – or good pictures – though, I’ll make sure to include them.

Oh, and a couple of other things:

  • If the ghost town has at least one real, flesh-and-blood residence, it’s not a ghost town, and is listed in my previous post
  • I’m not including “camps” where no permanent structures (wood, brick, or stone – vs. canvas) were ever built
  • No pure water or wood stops or just section houses for railroads
  • No “towns” that were really just ranches

By the way, most of these ghost towns come from these incredibly awesome sites:


B-o-r-i-n-g

  • Tunnel
  • Stateline
  • Spring City
  • Canyon City – intermittently occupied for almost 100 years (1863 to 1958); at one time, had 1,600 inhabitants
  • Central City
  • Central

Short and sweet

  • Oak
  • Ray
  • Carp

Not the same carp unfortunately
(though this event is in NV)

Just a little out of place

  • Telluride – after the ore tellurium, a rare metal used in alloys
  • Tacoma
  • Duluth – the post office remained open for only a year
  • Pittsburgh
  • Rochester
  • Bunker Hill
  • Potomac
  • Alabama
  • Guadalajara
  • Barcelona
  • Geneva – founded by Charles Breyfogle (see below)
  • Berlin – the only Nevada ghost town that is also a state park
  • Athens
  • Babylon

There’s no wait,
in Berlin, NV!

Abnormal nouns

  • Joy
  • Wonder
  • Aura – from the Latin for “gold”
  • Mineral
  • Chloride
  • Burro
  • Jackrabbit
  • Veteran – all that’s left is a huge open-pit copper mine
  • Burner – named after prospectors Elijah and J.F. Burner
  • Shafter – I’m sure there’s a Mr. Shafter behind this one
  • Decoy
  • Frisbie – yup, Frisbie’s a last name too
  • Minimums – after A.E. Minnimum (I kid you not!)
  • Sumo

Cool old postcard

Fun to say

  • Moho
  • Cluro
  • Orizaba – though I have no idea how to actually pronounce it
  • Nivlock
  • Pactolus
  • Breyfogle – named for Charles Breyfogle, a prospector who discovered a large gold deposit while wandering through the desert after escaping from Indians.  He spent the next 26 years trying to find it again.  By the way, this was not it.
  • Cocomongo

Prime Orizaba real estate

Just plain weird

  • Patsville
  • Phonolite – “a rare extrusive volcanic rock of intermediate chemical composition between felsic and mafic, with texture ranging from aphanitic (fine-grain) to porphyritic (mixed fine- and coarse-grain)”
  • Steptoe City – after Col. Edward J. Steptoe, “primarily remembered for the Steptoe Disaster,” an ambush of U.S. troops by Indians
  • Stonewall – named after Stonewall Jackson
  • Star City
  • Golden Arrow – founded by two deaf-mute prospectors
  • Silver Bow – Nellis AFB bisects the town
  • Silver Glance – after the Silver Glance Mine
  • Silver City
  • Metallic City – formerly Pickhandle Gulch
  • Tungstonia
  • Mud Springs
  • Black Horse
  • Buckskin – originally known as Gold Pit
  • Rawhide
  • Bruno City
  • Broken Hills
  • Yankee Blade – after a New England newspaper

Yup, it says “Patsville”

I’d like to introduce you to

  • Bonnie Claire
  • Betty O’Neal
  • Ruby City

Available on Zazzle
(for some unknown reason)

Miscellaneous

  • Divide
  • National – after the National Mine, which produced $8,000,000 worth of gold
  • Seven Troughs
  • Weepah
  • Skookum
  • Metropolis – not too far from Lovelock

No, it's not the Taj Mahal - 
it' a school ruin from Metropolis


Monday, May 13, 2013

Nevada

Wow, looks like Nevada might be another Nebraska.  Just not a lot of funny-town-name action going on here.

Unlike Nebraska, though, Nevada may have a legitimate excuse.  Apart from Las Vegas, there just aren’t a whole lot of people in this state (less than a million outside Sin City).  And you need people to create a town.  Or at least that’s what I’ve heard.

So, Nevada, I’m cutting you a break.  But only this once.

10. Scotty’s Junction *

This one’s not that crazy, but it does have a really great story.   

The town started as a depot for the building of Scotty’s Castle, a millionaire’s mansion now part of Death Valley National Park.  Interestingly, Scotty was not the millionaire.  Instead, he was a prospector, con man, and major-league character that the millionaire – Chicago insurance magnet Albert Johnson – took to in a very big way. 

Today, the town has 11 people, and includes two businesses, a truckstop/campground, and a brothel (The Shady Lady).

Y'all come!

9. Stagecoach

Named after the John Ford Western of 1938, this town is a wonderful example of life imitating art.  Not.

I’m afraid it’s a lot more prosaic than that.  Unsurprisingly, this burg started out as a stop on the Overland Stagecoach Line (as well as the Pony Express). 

Stagecoach is just east of Carson City on Route 50.   It’s got a little over 1,800 people.  Beyond that, it sounds pretty darn boring.  I’d say about 90% of the results on Google Images for this place are small houses, trailers, or lots for sale.

Like this one here
(So, when can I move in?)

8. Lovelock

Now, does this have anything to do with the Shady Lady?

Unfortunately, it does not.  It does have everything to do, however, with one George Lovelock, an early settler.  If you’re wondering where the heck that name comes from, it was actually not an uncommon one for a Middle Age dandy who cared a lot about his hair.  I kid you not.

What started out as a lush spot along the Humboldt Trail, then a station on the Southern Pacific, eventually became the metropolis of 2,000 that it is day.  In addition to being the county seat of Pershing County, Lovelock also boasts a major prison, one which once housed O.J. Simpson.   
Lovelock also includes this cryptic comment on its municipal website:

The City Of Lovelock, known as the “Banana Belt”, was established in 1868 …

I found several links that said much the same, but without any ever explaining what the heck that means.

Lovelock’s in the northwest part of Nevada, by the way – which looks pretty darn empty to me.

Cool old gas station along Route 40

7. Winnemucca

This is funny enough in itself, but it’s even better in translation.  Turns out the town was named after one Chief Winnamucca, whose name means “one moccasin.”  So, was he known for forgetting to put the other one on?  “Hey, uh, Chief.  You, uh, forgot your moccasin [again].”  Not what I personally associate with really inspired leadership, but hey …

Winnemucca is actually pretty big time.  It has over 7,000 Winnemuccans and is also the county seat of Humboldt County.  It’s in the northwest part of Nevada, which doesn’t have a whole heck of a lot else (see Lovelock, above), so I guess you could consider it the capital of that part of the state as well.

Local industries include mining, gaming, prostitution, and manning the many hotels and restaurants along I-80.  That last one is particularly important, as it’s 350 miles to anything going east and 165 to anything going west.

Ever on the lookout for those elusive tourists, Winnemucca has used many slogans over the years, including “Proud of It,” “Chukar Capital of the U.S.,” and “City of Paved Streets” – none of which I am making up.  Events to draw in said  tourists include a Mule Show, a Basque Festival, and the Run-a-Mucca Motorcycle Rally.

I’m a complete sucker for old postcards
(note Corvair and extremely demure bikini)

6. Steamboat

I do not associate Nevada with water, let alone with steamboats.

Well, the map shows me that this place is south of Carson City, and in very near proximity to Steamboat Springs as well as Steamboat Creek.  My guess is that the vents, fumaroles , and geysers around the hot springs let off their steam in much the same way that a steamboat might.  It’s how Steamboat Springs, CO got its name, after all.

Legend has it that none other than Mark Twain was the one who gave the Nevada springs their name.  Other famous visitors include Ulysses S. Grant, Jack Dempsey, and Man o’ War.  The spa is still there today, but the suburbs of Carson City seem to be fast encroaching. 

I have no idea who or what Borasca is
(last paragraph)

5. Deeth

A typo for “teeth”?  Misspelling of “death”?  I must know!

Well, you’ve got your choice of two stories with this one:

  • The first does indeed relate to death.  The story goes that travelers without enough water would certainly meet their death in this inhospitable region (the northeast part of the state).  How we got from “death” to “deeth,” though, isn’t quite as clear.
  • The second is that the town was named after an early settler named Deeth.

My money is on the boring one.  Deeth is, in fact, a not totally unheard of surname.  The boring explanation for the surname is that it comes from an Old English word for tinder, dytha, and signifies someone who gathered it for a living.  Interestingly, the name is sometimes spelled “Death” (but still pronounced “deeth”).

This near ghost town has 20-some flesh-and-blood inhabitants (though it had 250 at its height).   
Sounds like there are a bunch of dude (and real) ranches nearby

4. Searchlight

Okay, we’ve got three tall tales for this one:

  • A prospector who once said, “You’d need a searchlight to find gold here.”
  • A brand of matches
  • Searchlights used to guide miners to the brothels in town
  • A guy named Floyd Searchlight (???)

Yeah, sure.  Whatever.

This small town of 500 is just south of Las Vegas.  Historically, there were boom periods for gold and silver mining and for the Hoover Dam.  It has one famous son, Senator Harry Reid, and a couple of famous former residents, including Clara Bow and Edith Head.

Tea Party members express their severe psychological problems
First Amendment rights in Searchlight

3. Weed Heights

Formerly Heights of Weed, the town’s name was changed when the Chamber of Commerce types got tired of all the stoners that seemed to be attracted to the place.

Seriously, this place was actually created and named by the Anaconda Copper Company.  What kind of employees they were trying to attract, though, when they called it something like “Weed Heights” is not entirely clear to me.

Well, wouldn’t you know …  As it turns out, it just so happens that one Clyde E. Weed was the mine manager.  Poor schmuck.  Poor townsfolk. 

This one’s just east of Carson City.  Now that the mine’s closed, it’s almost a ghost town.  There is a nice view of the very blue water that filled the old pit (and is now an EPA Superfund site!).

As well as a rather surrealistic
miniature golf course

2. Pahrump *

Sounds like something some 19th Century prospector might have said when his diggings revealed nothing.  You know …  Pshaw!  Hurrumph!  Fiddlesticks!  Pahrump! 

Well, believe it or not, it actually could have been worse.  The name is from the Indian pah-rimpi, which means “water rock.”  Pahrimpi, Pahrump … Pahrimpi, Pahrump …  Ah, heck, it’s a toss-up.

Pahrump is just west of Lost Wages, with Mt. Charleston separating the two.  It’s actually got 36,000 inhabitants, and boasts casinos, racetracks, wineries, and more of those completely legal brothels that Nevada is famous for (including the well-known Chicken Ranch).

Come again?

1. Duckwater

It’s a great name, but I couldn’t find anything on where it came from.  My guess is its something super simple, like a small body of water that attracted ducks at one time.

Duckwater the town is in the east central part of the state, in the middle of absolute nowhere.  It’s actually on an Indian reservation, the Duckwater Indian Reservation, where the Duckwater Shoshone tribe hang out.  It doesn’t look like there’s a heck of a whole lot going on there.

So, where are all the ducks?

* - author has visited

Honorable Mention:

  • B-o-r-i-n-g – Mountain City, Stateline, Centerville
  • Short & sweet – Schurz, Vya, Roc
  • Just a little out of place – Boulder City, Sun Valley, Austin, Alamo, Dayton, Manhattan, Virginia City, Charleston, Genoa, Golconda, Mercury
  • Numerically oriented – Thousand Springs
  • Native American mouthfuls – Owyhee, Beowawe, Wabuska
  • Atypical adjectives – Ursine
  • Unconventional verbs – Contact
  • Abnormal nouns – Tunnel, Empire, Mogul, Sparks, Sulphur, Jackpot, Pinenut
  • Fun to say – Gabbs, Jiggs, Jarbidge (“devil,” in Shoshone), Elko, Jungo, Denio
  • Just plain weird – Goodsprings, Skyland, Battle Mountain, Blue Diamond, Red House, Bunkerville, Sodaville, Peavine, Dinner Station
  • I’d like to introduce you to – Ruth, Arthur, Milton, Verdi, Nixon
  • Ghost towns – hold on.  There are so many of these I’m giving them their own post.  Tune in next week.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Nebraska

Okay, it’s official.  I have designated Nebraska the least interesting state for funny town names.  Granted, I’m only halfway through them all …  But this state has to have the most boring, insipid, uninspired town names of anything I’ve seen yet. 

Sorry, Nebraska.  But it’s the truth!

10. Broken Bow

So, supposedly some early settler found one of these in his field.  Dang!  It could have been so much more poetic than that.

This town of 4,000 is pretty much dead center in the middle of the state.  It’s got the largest cattle feedlot in Nebraska (which is probably sayin’ quite a bit).  For some reason, it was mentioned in The X-Files and in the movie About Schmidt.  Finally, the local chamber of commerce gives us the classic Broken Bow Chiropractic Center. 

BTW, there is also a Broken Bow (of much the same size) in Oklahoma.  It’s actually named after Broken Bow, NE.

Right over there,
to your left a little ways

9. Surprise

Was this what they said to the immigrants as they got off the trains?  Yup, you’re in the middle of nowhere.  That’s right, it’s really flat.  Un-huh, that’s your little plot of land, right over there.  Nope, nobody here speaks Norwegian.  Surprise!

Well, supposedly, this was named by an early settler, George Miller, who was surprised at how much water was available for his gristmill.  Which has to be about the most boring story you could come up with for a town with such an interesting name. 

Today, Surprise has got about 43 people.  Oddly, it also has 15 different streets and 15 different blocks (about one each for every three people).  Sounds kinda like they threw a party … and nobody showed up.  The closest real place is Lincoln.

Funny biker guy

8. Assumption

I’m assuming the town fathers were really desperate for names at this point.

Well, if you’re Catholic like me, you probably already know where this one’s going.  Yup, we believe that the Virgin Mary was assumed bodily into heaven when she died (Jesus’ doing the same thing is called the Ascension).

Okay, so enough theology.  All you really need to know is that this area was settled by Catholics from Germany and Luxembourg, they founded a church in the area called the Church of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and then they named their town after it.

Today, we’ve got a crossroads with about a dozen buildings in the middle of lots and lots of really flat cornfields.

Like I said, flat

7. Mascot

Makes me wonder what they call the local high school sports teams.  “Alright, fans, put your hands together for the Fighting Mascots!”  Are the girls teams called the “Lady Mascots”?  What do they call their own mascot? 

Well, I wish I could tell you all about this one, but my Google results overwhelmingly point to things having to do with Nebraska Cornhusker football.  Go figure.

I was able to find the place on MapQuest though.  Another crossroads amidst the flatness.  [yawn]  Half a dozen houses?  We’re in the south central for this one.  I’m not sure it’s close to anything.

Herbie Husker (left)
& Lil’ Red (right)

6. Inland

Of course it’s inland.  It’s freakin’ Nebraska, fer cryin’ out loud!

Well, it sounds like “inland” – in Nebraska at least – might mean something along the lines of remote, or perhaps far from a river (esp. the big ones, like the Missouri and the Platte).  I would love to hear from some real Nebraskans on this point.  Don’t you all comment at once, though, okay?

Once again, we’re in the south central part of the state.  Just to place it a little better for you, Inland is about halfway between Harvard and Hastings – maybe a little more on the Hastings side.

Crossroads.  Flat.  Handful of people.  Corn.

Did I mention flat?

5. Rising City

This one was named after an early settler family, the Risings (the surname’s from a town in England).  That’s too bad.  I was hoping it was dreamt up by some over-the-top booster types. 

This town of 370-some is in the east central part of Nebraska.  Its main claims to fame are The Butler County Speedway and famous son Cliff Hillegas, founder of Cliff Notes.
.
Rising City is in Butler County, the county seat of which is … David City (named after one William Davids). 

Speedway or something
from Chariots of the Gods?

4. Funk

Turns out “despondency” was just too hard to spell. 

Of course it’s named after a guy.  In this particular case, we’re referring to one C.P. Funk, a Civil War veteran who settled in the area after the war.  As for the surname itself, it’s German for “spark,” probably a nickname for a blacksmith.

Well, it looks like we’re back in south-central Nebraska again.  This one’s between Holridge and Minden.  You know, on routes 6 and 34.  The one with the big grain silos?

This burg, which officially goes by the wonderful title The Village of Funk, has about 200 people.  Its Topix website features rumors about a new ethanol plant, a query about local swingers, and the following post from one “boatrider”:

funk neb lol do you have a red light there? lol do you funk a lot? hehe

Funky lady!
(yes, this is the picture
they put on their homepage)

3. Boys Town

I think everyone’s heard of this one, but it still seems a pretty darn amusing thing to call a real place. 

And, yes, this is the original one.  It’s the one that Father Flanagan started in 1917, and it’s where the movie with Spencer Tracy and Mickey Rooney was set.  

There are now ten other locations in the US.  Overall, the organization affects up to two million kids every year.

Our location is right outside of Omaha.  The 745 inhabitants do seem to be mostly kids and staff.


2. Weeping Water

This one comes from the French l’eau qui pleure, “the water that cries.”  Kind of reminds me of Minnesota’s Lac Qui Parle, “the lake that talks.”  I’m assuming there are towns out there somewhere called The River That Sings or The Marsh That Sounds Like Donald Duck or The Bog That Speaks Calmly and Carries a Big Stick (la tourbière qui parle calmement et porte un gros bâton). 

This metropolis of 1000 is right on the Missouri.  It shyly calls itself the “limestone center of the nation.”  They may also have the “worst municipal website in the nation” – a long scrolling page of PDFs.
 
Weep something else
for a change, would ya!

1. Worms

As in Diet of, would be my guess.  In case you haven’t heard of it, the Diet of Worms was a famous conclave, held in the German town of Worms, where Martin Luther defended himself against the Catholic Church. 

As for Worms the town in Nebraska?  This little burg isn’t even a crossroads.  But they do have their own bar, the wonderfully named Nitecrawlers.  Worms is out the Platte River a ways, closest to the city of Grand Island. 

Triple entendre?

Honorable Mention:

  • B-o-r-i-n-g – Valley, Hamlet, Nebraska City, Central City, Midland, Center
  • Short and sweet – Page, Bee, Oak, Otoe, Rulo, Max, Dix, Ayr, Graf, Ord, Ong
  • Just a little out of place – Cedar Rapids, Dakota City, St. Paul, Decatur, Utica, Ithaca, Syracuse, Trenton, Washington, Virginia, Norflok (birthplace of Johnny Carson), Louisville, Memphis, Atlanta, Waco, Panama, Peru, Valparaiso, Belfast, York (Museum of Marbles), Waterloo, Madrid, Genoa, Ravenna, Venice, Belgrade, Prague, Malmo, Petersburg, Odessa, Crete, Lebanon, Cairo, Mars, Venus
  • Just a little out of place (college division) – South Bend, West Point, Amherst, Harvard, Oxford, Cambridge
  • Just a little off-color – Beaver Crossing, Beaver City
  • Native American mouthfuls – Winnetoon, Winnebago, Ogallala
  • Abnormal nouns – Champion, Friend (world's smallest police station), Sargent, Magnet, Sparks, Valentine, Angora, St. Bernard, Hazard, Flats, Colon
  • Atypical adjectives – Hardy, Strong, Superior, Royal, Imperial, Gross (population: 2)
  • Unconventional verbs – Cook, Parks
  • Fun to say – Firth, Indianola, Ohiowa, Unadilla, Wahoo
  • Just plain weird – Redbird, Red Cloud (Willa Cather's girlhood home), Elk City, Prairie Home, Guide Rock, Blue Springs, Republican City, North Loup, Loup City, McCool Junction, Crookston, Clay Center, Crab Orchard, Wynot
  • Just mash ‘em all together, would ya? – Lodgepole, Whiteclay, Scottsbluff
  • Ghost towns – Cleveland, Buffalo, Charleston, Houston, Copenhagen, Norway, Factoryville, Nonpareil, Jim Town