Monday, May 6, 2013


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


  1. Red Club no. Willa Cather's childhood home is Red Cloud

  2. Thanks! Fixed.

    Now, would you happen to know where Inland comes from?