Monday, June 24, 2013

New Mexico (Ghost Towns)

Like Nevada, New Mexico may have more ghost towns than real ones.  Why is that?  In a word, mining.  You can get the full scoop on that – and more – at the Nevada ghost town blog

There is, though, one thing that I really didn’t cover there.  And that’s – not the creation of ghost towns – but their preservation.  And that is due, in a word (or two), to the desert.  It’s probably no coincidence that a humid, sticky state like my own North Carolina doesn’t have a whole lot of these places. 

Now, there is one other thing that undoubtedly plays a role in preservation, and that‘s the remoteness of many of these mining towns.  Think about it.  There’s no real rhyme or reason where a deposit of gold, or silver, or copper, or whatever is going to be.  There’s no rule that says it has to be next to existing centers of population, rivers, railroads, highways, fertile farmland, or anything else that might encourage human habitation.  And – when the game is up and the townsfolk leave – that remoteness, in turn, keeps the town safe from things like vandals and scavengers and recyclers.

Okay, enough with all that theorizing.  Let’s look at some crazily named New Mexico ghost towns …


  • Plateau – became Kermit (see below)
  • Hill
  • Highway
  • Center
  • Center Point

Yup, it’s a highway.
Yup, it’s in New Mexico.
(Thanks, Google Images!)

Short & sweet

  • Abo – Actually an ancient Indian pueblo.  But, heck, that’s a ghost town too, ain’t it?
  • Arch
  • Cone
  • Lon
  • Nobe

Cool old postcard
(And can you imagine letting someone climb 
around on the ruins like that in this day and age?)

Just a little out of place

  • Salt Lake
  • Sacramento City
  • Alcatraz - Spanish for "pelican"
  • Oklahoma
  • Kentucky Valley
  • Pittsburg
  • Mt. Vernon
  • Richmond
  • Virginia City
  • England

Hmm, something tells me
this may not be the right Alcatraz

Just slightly off color

  • Heck
  • Assiter – sounds like somebody lost an “l”
  • Anal – I’ll spare you any Google Images results for this one

Orthographically challenged

  • Teel
  • Sublette – actually a surname
  • Ahmigo – yup, it’s Gringo for “amigo”

Sublette is now a siding on the
Cumbres and Toltec Scenic Railroad

Unconventional verbs

  • Need
  • Ogle
  • Spindle – nothing on Fold or Mutilate, I’m afraid
  • Tingle
  • Fondle – sorry, I totally made that one up

Thanks, Google Images!
(search = "ogle nm")

Atypical adjectives

  • Brilliant – now part of Ted Turner’s ranch
  • Bland
  • Meek

Bland, in its prime

Abnormal nouns

  • Telegraph
  • Sulphur
  • Pyramid
  • Painter
  • Beauty
  • Cameo
  • Sunnyside
  • Star
  • Midnight
  • Blackdom – settled by African-Americans
  • Baldy – now part of Philmont Boy Scout Camp
  • Riddle
  • Swamp
  • Swastika – now part of Ted Turner’s ranch

Real estate bubbles
have a long history in the US

Fun to say

  • Airolo
  • Slagle
  • Hurlburt

Just plain weird

  • Towner
  • Tartop
  • Adams Diggings
  • Chance City
  • High Lonesome
  • Royal John

Why do “slim chance” and “fat
chance” mean the same thing?
(Chance City, NM)

Pure irony

  • Fertile Valley – it was not
  • Lucky – it was not
  • Paradise Plains - I guess they weren't

I’d like to introduce you to

  • Henry
  • Sherman
  • Felix
  • Leon
  • Leopold
  • Kermit – became Plateau (see above)
  • Waldo – we found him!
  • Juan Tafoya – nothing on Michele, unfortunately
  • Shakespeare 

The Bard would be proud

Monday, June 17, 2013

New Mexico

The Land of Enchantment.  And also the home of green chili cheeseburgers, Roswell aliens, frito pie, the Very Large Array (think Jodie Foster, in Contact), and the birthplace of Buddy Holly and resting place of Billy the Kid.  

Oh, and also some genuinely weird town names …

10. Truth or Consequences

I really debated including this one at all.  Sure, it’s a riot.  At the same time, though, it’s also cheating.  Here, let me explain …

Back in the ‘50s, there was a popular radio show called “Truth or Consequences.”  As a publicity stunt, the show offered to broadcast from any town in the US that changed its named to that of the show.  Hot Springs, NM stepped up to the plate … and the rest is history.

It’s a good story, but this blog is really about unintentional humor.  What I like are the ones where the town fathers thought they were coming up with a real winner, but we can’t help but get all snickery and snarky about it today.  And that’s why Joe, Montana is not in here, nor is DISH, Texas.  Everyone’s heard of T or C, though, so I thought it at least deserved a mention (plus I had to introduce this diatribe somewhere).

As for the town itself, it has 6,500 citizens, is in the southwest part of New Mexico, and actually does have several hot springs (and spas).

Two for one!
(see below for Elephant Butte)

9. Pep

Wishful thinking or pure, unadulterated irony? 

Well, it turns out it’s the former.  Storeowner Edward Cox came up with the name in 1925 to encourage the town’s growth as a “lively, energetic” and up-and-coming place.

The irony comes in when you consider that the Pep of today is not exactly Manhattan (New York or Kansas).  I count about seven buildings at a crossroads in the middle of absolute nowhere.  It does have its own post office though.

There’s a Pep, TX, by the way – right across the border.  It doesn’t look too peppy either, I’m afraid.

Said post office

8. Dusty

Talk about stating the obvious …

Dusty is that … and not much more.  I count a couple of buildings on a dirt road a little northwest of T or C. 

By the way, there’s also a Dusty, WA and a Dusty, Tajikistan.

Dusty is as Dusty does

7. Chilili

Not to be confused with Chili, another NM town; or chile, the state dish; or chilly, what you can become in the NM mountains.

Our Chilili has about 100 people and is about an hour southwest of Albuquerque.  It’s actually got a quite a history.  It was originally an Indian pueblo, then a mission, was abandoned in the 17th Century, and then came back to life in the 1840s. 

Chilili is actually one of the oldest names in NM, having first been recorded in 1581.  It’s from the Tiwa chiu alle, and means “sound of water barely trickling.”

It’s famous for a cemetery where all the tombstones are made of tin (and worth a tip in Roadside America).

Is it measure once, cut twice?
Or cut twice, measure once?

6. Flying H

As in, “I don’t give a …”?

I’m assuming it’s named after a local ranch. 

Looks like a couple of houses / farms strung out along a canyon road in the middle of nowhere.  Elk (see below) is nearby.  The closest real towns are Alamagordo (nuclear bombs) and Roswell (aliens). 

5. Weed

Named for the local area’s particularly potent strain of cannabis sativa

Naah …  Don’t be too surprised that this teeny burg was named after a Mr. Weed (in particular, one W.H. Weed, a local merchant).  Weed Heights, NV has much the same problem, as does Weed, CA.  The surname has a couple of possibilities – from an ancestor who:
  • Lived in a weedy place
  • Had a name that began with “wid” – Widalt, Widulf, Widbert (okay, I made that last one up)
  • Liked to smoke dope (okay, okay - I made that one up too)
This particular Weed is in the south central part of New Mexico, not that far from Flying H.   
Though there are only 40 people, the town does have its own rather robust website.

Stoned ponies, 
Weed, NM

4. Organ

1.  n., a keyboard instrument in which sets of pipes are sounded by compressed air and produce a variety of timbres.  2. n., bodily parts performing a function or cooperating in an activity.  3. n., the male … um … repro …. uh …. oh, never mind.

This one comes from the local Organ Mountains, whose pinnacles early Spanish explorers thought resembled organ pipes.

This town of 300 is just northeast of Las Cruces (which is itself not too far from El Paso, TX, which is right on the Mexican border).  Originally a mining camp, it now provides homes and services for White Sands Missile Range workers.

Actually, not who you think
(Slumbering Mountain Cemetery, Organ NM)

3. Pie Town

Yes, they do have a festival!  And, yes, it does feature pies!

As for the name?  Well, long ago, before there was any festival, there was a local store here, famous for its pies.  And the rest, as they say, is history.

This tiny town is in the west central part of the state, close to … well, pretty much nothing.  With only 35 people, though, it does claim two pie shops, the Pie Town Café and the Pie-o-Neer. 

Pie Town’s other claim to fame is appearing in a set of Dust Bowl photographs by Russell Lee.  Complete article on that from the Smithsonian magazine right here.

Yeah, right

2. Toadlena

What not to name your daughter.

Well, this one is a bit of a mystery.  As far as I can tell, this may trace back to the Navajo tohaali, which means … heck, I dunno.

Toadlena is actually pretty famous for its trading post (which happens to be, not in Toadlena, but in the nearby Newcomb).  Said trading post is famous for its blankets.

And that’s about all I can tell you about Toadlena.


1. Humble City

We are the humblest city in the whole darn state!  They’re ain’t nobody humbler than us!  We are to humble what Michael Jordan is to basketball, Picasso was to painting, and Donald Trump is to real estate!  Believe me, they’re ain’t nobody humbler than us!

Well, looks like these folks might actually have something to be humble about.  It appears that we have about a half dozen streets and maybe a dozen or so homes.  Oh, and it’s also in the middle of absolute nowhere, in the southeast corner of the state.

And that’s about as much as I could find on this place.  Too bad.  I really wanted to talk about the place’s humble police, and very humble mayor, and exceedingly humble beauty queens. 

I was able to find out that the town was named after the Humble Oil Company.  And that company just so happened to gets its start in Humble, TX.  And that town got its name in turn from one Mr. Pleasant Smith Humble, an early settler.  You may know Humble Oil, by the way, in its current, considerably less humble incarnation – as ExxonMobil, the largest corporation on the planet.

Oh, damn – it’s the one in Texas!

Honorable Mention:

  • B-o-r-i-n-g – Cliff, Field, House, Central, El Pueblo, Road Forks
  • Short & sweet – Elk, Jal, Tome, Bibo
  • Numerically oriented – Three Rivers, Five Points, Seven Lakes, Seven Springs, Seven Rivers, Sixteen Springs, Tres Piedras, Tres Ritos, Tres Lagundas
  • Just a little out of place – Las Vegas, San Jose, Santa Cruz, Sacramento, Folsom, Hollywood, Des Moines, Cleveland, New York, Monticello, Florida, Miami, Cuba, San Juan, Malaga, Madrid, Valencia, Milan, Sofia, Jordan
  • Just slightly off color – Elephant Butte, Beaverhead
  • Orthographically challenged – Gallup, Dunken, Texico, Nutt, Watrous
  • Miscellaneous mouthfuls – Ranches of Taos, Black River Village, Blanco Trading Post, San Felipe Pueblo, Santo Domingo Pueblo, Los Ranchos de Albuquerque
  • Unconventional verbs – Grants, Reserve, Turn, Hatch (after Gen. Edward Hatch)
  • Atypical adjectives – French, Loving, Bent, Tinnie
  • Abnormal nouns – Sunshine, Rodeo (Sp. for “enclosure”), Monument, Vanadium, Chloride (previously called Bromide), Queen, Counselor, Oracle, Coyote, Anaconda, Sedan, Lingo (probably from a surname)
  • Fun to say – Artesia, Tucumcari, Claunch, Carizozo, Escabogo, Vanderwagen
  • Hard to say – Tapiciitoes, Abiquiu
  • Just plain weird – Oil Center, Missile Range, Wagon Mound, Fence Lake, Radium Springs, Bread Springs, Waterflow, Sunspot, Cloudcroft, Shiprock (where NM, AZ, CO & UT meet), Loco Hills, High Rolls, Angel Fire, White Signal, Candy Kitchen
  • I’d like to introduce you to – Eunice, Nadine, Lucy, Dora, Roy, Floyd, Otis, Stanley, Tyrone, Moses, Solomon, Anton Chico, Juan Tomas, Luis Lopez, Bernardo Contreras, Charles R Ranch,
  • En espanol – Cebolla (“onion”), Porvenir (“future”), Tijeras (“scissors”), Tierra Amarilla (“yellow earth”), Ruidoso (“noisy”), Raton ("rat"), Mosquero (“fly trap”), Ojos Calientes (“hot eyes”)
  • Ghost towns – Holy cow!  New Mexico seems to have more of these than Nevada.  Looks like we’ll have to give New Mexico a post just for their ghost towns as well.

Monday, June 10, 2013

New Jersey M-Z

As I mentioned last week, New Jersey has a lot of funny town names for a state of pretty middling size.  What do I attribute it to?  Indians!  They’re not something I usually associate New Jersey with, but there you go.  Read on!

10. Rudeville

How fitting that this place is in Joisey. 

It actually comes from the Rude family, early settlers of the area.  And that surname may have an English, French (very fitting as well), Scandinavian, or German origin.  I guess there are just a lot of rude people in the world.

This T in the road is in the northern part of the state.  I’m seeing some farmhouses and McMansions on Google Maps. 

By the way, it’s famous for its fluoroborite, a rare mineral that gemologist types get all hot and bothered about.

Some of that famous fluoroborite

9. Plumbsock

“Plumb” I understand.  “Sock” I understand.  Of course, I’m not sure I’d put either of them in a town name ...  But together?  Fuggedaboutit!

Haven’t a clue where this one comes from.  I’m guessing something Native American though.

We’re in the north again, near the very appropriately named Beemerville.  This one is just a bend in the road, with what looks like a junk yard as its sole habitation.  Oh, excuse me …  It’s actually a farm.  What a dump!

8. Teaneck

Tea Party redneck?

Once again, “tea’s” okay, I guess.  As is “neck.”  But “Teaneck”?  C’mon!

This is probably a combination of Dutch and English, with tene being the Dutch word for “willow,“ and “neck” just an old-timey English word for a peninsula.. 

This one’s across the Hudson from NYC.  In fact, it’s right next to Hackensack.  Teaneck is a very diverse city of 40,000, with a large (esp. Orthodox) Jewish presence.

7. Whippany

When a problem comes along / You must whip it / Before the cream sets out too long / You must whip it /  When something's goin' wrong / You must whip it

Whippany is actually an American Indian word, and means “place of the willows” (which were typically used for arrows).  Early on, the town was called Whipponong and Whippanong.

It’s in the north center part of the state, and looks very suburban.  It’s home to the Ukranian American Cultural Center of New Jersey, and includes the following “famous” native sons (thanks, Wikipedia author!):
  • Adlan Amagov, Strikeforce fighter
  • Sal Canzonieri, guitarist and founding member of the band Electric Frankenstein
  • Dan Frischman, character actor, noted for his many roles of playing socially inept "geeks" and "nerds"

“Single Women in Whippany, NJ”

6. Perth Amboy

Perth I can take.  Heck, it’s a city in Australia, right?  And I could even do Amboy, though it’s not anything I’ve ever heard before.  But Perth Amboy?  No friggin way!

The “Perth” comes from the Earl of Perth, some Colonial dude.  And “Amboy” comes from the Lenape ompage, which means "standing,” or “upright.”

This city of 51,000 is at the head of Raritan Bay.  They call it “The City by the Bay” … though I think I may have heard that used somewhere else before.  I dunno.

PA dates back to 1668, and was once the capital of New Jersey.  In more recent times, it distinguished itself by being the birthplace of Jon Bon Jovi.

Assorted queens and princesses,
General Pulaski Parade,
Perth Amboy, NJ

5. Penny Pot

There are a plethora of possibilities for this one:
  • From the name of a Colonial tavern
  • From the Dutch word paanpacht, meaning either "low, soft land" or "leased land."
  • From the Indian name penipach ghihillen, meaning "falling off," referring to the falls on a creek
PP is in the south center of NJ.  It looks like we’ve got lots of pine trees, a couple of intersections, a couple of restaurants, a little park, and not much more.

I wonder if they possess any potties,
at Penny Pot Park?

4. Pisacataway

A profusion of plethoras (all from Native American languages):
  • Branch of a tidal river
  • Place of dark night
  • Great deer
  • Place of the minivans (okay, I made that last one up)
This city of 56,000 is just a little west of Perth Amboy.  It came in 57th in CNN’s  best places to live. 

Interestingly, there is also a Pisacataway, MD.

“That’s me at Johnson Park, Piscataway, NJ”

3. Weehawken

Even more choices:
  • Place of gulls
  • Rocks that look like trees
  • At the end (I did not make this one up)
Weehawken is directly across the Hudson from Midtown Manhattan.  In fact, it’s where the Lincoln Tunnel empties out.  Hoboken, by the way, is just to the south.

The main claim to fame of this city of 12,000 is something that happened here 210 years ago but had an enormous effect on the history of the United States.  I’m talking about the Hamilton-Burr duel, probably the modern-day equivalent of Joe Biden shooting Rush Limbaugh. 

Did I happen to mention the view?

2. Parsipanny

Sounds like a character from a Lemony Snicket novel.  You know, Peter Parsipanny.  Or, even better – Professor Peter Parsipanny.

Well, we’re back with our old friends the Lenni Lenape again.  “Parsipanny” comes from the Lenape for “the place where the river winds through the valley.”  Positively poetic, if you ask me.

Another well-populated (53,000), very oddly named New Jersey town, Parsipanny is in the north central part of the state, just north of Whippany (see above).

Parsipanny comes in 15th on Money magazine’s top places to live.  Take that Piscataway!

Just can’t get enough of that alliteration

1. Manunka Chunk

Sounds like something you might hear from behind the bathroom door of college dormitories all across the USA on any given Saturday night.

It actually means “hill at the boundary.”  MC is in the northwest part of the state, right along the Delaware River.  At one time, it was a large rail center, with a well-known double tunnel (now abandoned).

By the way, there was also once a Mauch Chunk, in Pennsylvania (it means “bear mountain”).  The town changed its name to Jim Thorpe in 1953 – after 135 years as Mauch Chunk.  Interestingly, the town had no previous connection to Thorpe.  The name change all came about through an odd combination of a dead Olympian, an irate widow, and a town saddled with a terrible name and desperate for tourist dollars.  Result: shrine and burial site for Olympian, happy widow, new town name, and raised eyebrows from the rest of the nation.

I ain’t goin’ in there!

Honorable Mention:

  • B-o-r-i-n-g – Ocean City, Oceanville, National Park, Thorofare, Yardville (after one John Yard)
  • Just a little out of place – New Brooklyn (from Brooklyn, CN), Yorktown, Rio Grande, Pomona, Newfoundland, Oxford, Normandy Beach, New Lisbon, Malaga, Mantua (actually from an Indian name), Verona, Palermo, Vienna, Stockholm, Petersburg, Sparta, New Egypt, Timbuctoo
  • Numerically oriented – Twin Rivers, Three Bridges
  • Native American mouthfuls – Passaic, Secaucus (“black snake”), Netcong, Mahwah, Manalapan (“edible roots within covered swamp”), Mantoloking (“sand place”), Metedeconk, Succasunna, Wickatunk (“house place”)
  • Miscellaneous mouthfuls – Sergeantsville, Peapack-Gladstone
  • Abnormal nouns – Wall, Tranquility, Pointers
  • Fun to say – Nutley, Tuttles Corner, Teterboro, Tenafly, Waterford Works, Pompton Plains, Zarephath (if you can say it, that is), Pluckemin (after a town in Scotland)
  • Just plain weird – Sea Girt, Neptune City, Mystic Islands, Toms River (probably from William Toms), Vale Homes, Victory Gardens, Maple Shade, Slackwoods, Wildwood*, Washington Crossing, White Horse (from a tavern), Wallpack Corner, West Portal (western end of railroad tunnel), Star Cross, Ship Bottom, Yellow Frame, Red Lion, Red Bank, Town Bank
  • I’d like to introduce you to – Shirley, Norma, Othello
  • Ghost towns (in NJ?) – Martha

* - author has visited

Monday, June 3, 2013

New Jersey A-L

New Jersey is the Rodney Dangerfield of states.  It just doesn’t get any respect.  Jersey Shore, Chris Christie, The Sopranos, tank farms, “What exit?” …  Whaddya gonna do?  

One thing it does have going for it, though, is an odd preponderance of weird place names.  In fact, I had to give The Garden State two posts.  This week, you get to enjoy towns with strange names that begin with the letters A to L.  Next week, it’s M to Z.  Let’s get started!

10. Changewater

I thought this was what you were supposed to do after soaking your beans.

The name actually refers to the separation of the wonderfully named Musconetcong River into its upper and lower portions.  The Changewater Forge was operating here in the mid 18th Century. 

This little town’s main claim to fame is as the site of a famous 19th Century murder, the Castner murders.  Changewater once had a population of 200, but now has only about 20 houses.   

Former industry includes a snuff factory, which gave its name to the nearby (and equally wonderfully named) Snufftown.

Not a real billboard!

9. Bargaintown

Well, you’ve got your choice of two interesting origin stories on this one:

  • From an early real estate agent, a blacksmith who tried hard to sell lots he owned next to his shop
  • From a bargain a slave owner made with his slaves (if they built a road, he would give them their freedom)

Bargaintown is part of Egg Harbor, on the south Jersey store.  In fact, it looks like it’s right across the street from Egg Harbor’s municipal building.  All that’s really left of Bargaintown is a big pond and a road.

Oh, and a fire station

8. Brass Castle

So, you’ve got your brass monkeys, your brass tacks, your brass knuckles, your brass balls …  So, why not your brass castles as well?

Rather disappointingly, this place was named for early settler Jacob Brass, whose log cabin was ironically referred to as a castle.  The surname comes from the town of Brace, in England.

Brass Castle is in the northwest part of New Jersey, not too far from Changewater.  It’s got about 1,500 people. 

Fine, upstanding Brass Castle citizen

7. Buckshutem

Named after the character actor in ‘50s Westerns, Buck Shutem …

Okay, you know that’s not true, right?  Well, it’s actually not all that much worse than what I could find on the Internet.  Here are the two main candidates:

  • It derives from the phrase "Buck, shoot 'em," when a hunter saw a deer
  • It’s derived from Buckshutem Creek, whose rapid flow of water as it empties into the Maurice River causes boats to "buck and shoot"

My guess is that it’s from some Native American language and means something totally un-poetic and obscure, such as “place that stinks like cabbage” or “where the women found the dead muskrat.”

Buckshutem’s in the southwest part of New Jersey, near Millville.  In fact, though there are plenty of houses in the area from the Millville suburb of Laurel Lake, there’s really nothing for Buckshutem but an eponymous road and creek. 

Oh, and an ambulance service

6. Hoboken

One thing I really like about New Jersey is that the funny names are not limited to obscure, barely-there places such as Buckshutem and Bargaintown.  Some of the state’s largest cities are genuine howlers.  Take Hoboken.  Please!

This odd one is from the Lenapi hupokàn, which means “land of the tobacco pipe.” You probably already know that this city of 50,000 is right across the Hudson from Manhattan.   

Here are some more factoids you may not be aware of:

  • The first recorded game of baseball was played here
  • The first brewery in North America was located here
  • Famous sons and daughters include tennis star Michael Chang, “actress” Pia Zadora, “businessman” “Chainsaw Al” Dunlap, sexologist Alfred Kinsey, photographers Dorothea Lange and Alfred Stieglitz, and – of course – singer Frank Sinatra
Batter up!

5. Allamuchy

It’s just all too much!  I can’t take it anymore!  It’s just, just … allamuchy!

Well, at least it’s an improvement from the original name, Allamuchahokkingen.  That’s Indian for “place within the hills.”

We’re in the northwest again, not too far from Brass Castle and Changewater.  Allamuchy is a township, of 20 square miles and about 4,300 people.

Somehow or other, Allamuchy made it onto both and, for:

Believe it or not,
there are bears in New Jersey

4. Hackensack

Another major city with a majorly odd name, Hackensack derives its name from a Native American word for “toxic waste dump.”

Excuse me. It’s actually from the Lenape, and means “stony ground.”  It was originally spelled Achkencheschakey or perhaps Achinigeu-hach, or maybe Ackingsah-sack, or Ack-kinkas-hacky, or Achkinhenhcky …  Hmm, they all make Hackensack sound kinda good.

Once again, we’re in the great urban sprawl across the Hudson from NYC.  Hackensack’s got all of 43,000 people.  And here are some interesting bits of Hackensackiana:

  • It’s been immortalized in song by Johnny Cash, Steely Dan, Billy Joel, Fountains of Wayne, and P.D.Q. Bach (Peter Schickele)
  • Singer Debby Boone was born here
  • F. Scott Fitzgerald went to prep school here
  • Jimi Hendrix’s first public performance was in Hackensack

Robert Eagan,
America’s “unofficial ambassador to North Korea,”
father of “barbecue diplomacy,”
and Hackensack native

3. Lower Squankum

“It looks like you’ve sprained your lower squankum, Mrs. Peabody.  Very badly, I’m afraid.”

I couldn’t find anything on how this town got its name, but I was able to find that another NJ town, Williamston, was originally called Squankum as well.  And that “squankum” meant either “entrance” or “place of evil ghosts” (not so sure of that latter one). 

By the way, there was also once an Upper Squankum too.  It was renamed Farmingdale.  Now, I’m not so sure why everyone is in such a bloody hurry to erase all traces of their squankumness.  Well, at least the Lower Squankumites are there to uphold the tradition.

Lower Squankum is a wide space in the road is in the northeast part of the state, between Lakewood and Asbury Park.  Here’s an article about a mill there, very likely owned by a relative of mine (yup, my Dad was a Jersey boy).

2. Cheesequake

It’s a dessert!  It’s a natural disaster!  It’s both!  It’s a cheesequake!

Interestingly, this one has nothing to do with dairy products or the movement of tectonic plates.   

It’s another Anglicization of a much longer Native American word – in this case, cheseh-oh-ke, which means “upland.”

It’s in the northeast part of NJ, and looks rather developed.  It’s given its name to a big state park, a creek, an elementary school, a little league, a fire station, and a turnpike service area.  I could not find any factories, unfortunately.

There is also a strain of marijuana
of the same name!

1. Foul Rift

Foul Rift really isn’t there anymore.  The town, which is on a bend of the Delaware River, was basically condemned by the local power company, which owned the land (their power plant is right across the river).  There are still some houses in the general area, though, so that’s why I’m including it here, and not below under “ghost towns.”

As for the name?  The site of the town just so happens to also be the site of some hazardous rapids on the Delaware River.  So, I guess that’s just an old-timey way of saying “hazardous rapids.”  To me, though, it means “smelly estrangement” – if indeed it means anything at all.
By the way, the rapids are Class 2, and are considered the most dangerous along the Delaware.


Honorable Mention:

  • B-o-r-i-n-g – Jersey City, Jerseyville, Center Grove, Central City
  • Short & sweet – Deal, Brick (after Joseph Brick)
  • Just a little out of place – Broadway, Delaware, Dayton, Bogota, Hibernia, Edinburg, Flanders, Hamburg, Germania, Florence
  • Just a little off-color – Beaver Lake, Buttzville
  • Numerically oriented – Five Points
  • Native American mouthfuls – Hopatcong, Ho-Ho-Kus (“red cedars”)
  • Miscellaneous mouthfuls – Baptistown, Cinnaminson, Flatbrookville, Egg Harbor City, Cape May Court House
  • Atypical adjectives – Ceramic
  • Too much green – Green Brook, Green Pond, Green Village, Green Bank
  • Abnormal nouns – Brigantine, Cologne, Bivalve
  • Fun to say – Bricksboro (after Joshua Brick, no relation), Hurffsville, Hi-Nella
  • Just plain weird – Great Notch, Center Square, Convent Station, Creamridge, Deerfield Street, Dutch Neck, Bedminster (after a town in England), Egg Harbor City, East Orange, Blue Anchor (from a tavern), Little Silver, Ironia, Loveladies, Double Trouble, Ongs Hat
  • I’d like to introduce you to – Dorothy, Elmer, Lawrence Harbor, Bradley Beach, Holly Park, Leonardo
  • Ghost towns (in NJ?) – Martha, Feltville, Amatol, Batsto Village, Demon’s Alley
Surprised at how many meanings I was able to provide here?  I got ‘em all from this great website.