Sunday, September 8, 2013

Oklahoma L-Z

Oklahoma is OK, huh? Just like Arizona is AZ, and Minnesota is MN, and Virginia is VA, right? Well now, that is imaginative.

Wait.  Hold on a sec … Is this a double-entendre (and did I spell that right?)? Ohmigod, that’s so clever! This is exactly the kind of stuff I read the New Yorker for. I take back all the bad things I’ve said about you, Oklahoma. 

10. Medicine Park

In the west, “medicine” often means “magic,” or “healing.” And that gives us such great stuff as Medicine Lodge, Medicine Lake, Medicine Springs, and Medicine Park. I think it has something to do with Native Americans. 

MP is an old resort town. It’s in the Wichita Mountains, in the southwest part of the state. Former well-known visitors include Will Rogers, Wiley Post, Al Capone, Bonnie and Clyde, Pretty Boy Floyd, Les Brown, and Roy Rogers. The town is famous for its cobblestone architecture.

Some of that there architecture

9. The Village

I had a friend in grade school who had a dog name “Dog” and a cat named “Cat.” He’d probably fit right in here.

Officially known as City of the Village, this village / city / whatever is almost entirely surrounded by Oklahoma City. There are 10,000 people in The Village. Yup, that’s 10,000 Village people. Sorry.

The Village is the corporate headquarters of Love’s Travel Stops, which you may be familiar with if you’ve ever traveled on an interstate in the United States of America. The town was incorporated only in 1970.
8. Slaughterville 

Wow! What kind of terrible massacre must have happened here? 

Well, actually, I’m afraid Slaughterville owes its name to nothing more gruesome than a local grocer named James Slaughter. And he had a store at some crossroads here.

Like Fishkill, NY, Slaughterville was once asked by PETA to change its name. PETA offered to give $20,000 worth of veggie burgers to the local school if the town changed its name to Veggieville. Honestly, I could not make this stuff up if I tried (see here for proof).

We’re in the Oklahoma City area again, just a little to the southeast. There are 4,000 Slaughtervillians, though they all appear to be rather spread out.

Thanks Internet Photoshop user!

7. Scraper

You know, to get the ice off your windshield. Where did you think it came from?

Actually, it’s from some dude – namely, one Captain Archibald Scraper, of the 2nd Regiment, Indian Home Guard. He was a Cherokee.

This one’s got 475 people, and is in the northeast part of the state. It has one famous son, Wilson Rawls, author of Where the Red Fern Grows.

Oops, wrong scraper

6. Slick

Noun: an oil slick. Hmm, I don’t think so. Adj: smooth and glossy. Probably not. Adj: operating in an impressively smooth, efficient, and apparently effortless way. I like it!

Well, wouldn’t you know. It’s actually named after another dude. Thomas B. Slick was a legendary Oklahoma oil man, and drilled the first oil well in the area here in 1920.

Slick the town actually once had a population of 5,000. These days, not so much. It’s down to about 130. Ah well. The oil giveth and the oil taketh away. Great YouTube video on this almost ghost town right here.

As for the surname, it means “smooth and glossy.” Not. It’s actually an Anglicization of Schlick, a German name that means “glutton.” Take your pick: Slick, Schlick, or Glutton – they all would have made it into this post.

Haunted high school, Slick, OK

5. Loco

Crazy / I’m crazy for feeling so lonely / I’m crazy / Crazy for feeling so blue …

Well, actually, I’m crazy because I ate some locoweed. Yup, that’s where this town’s name came from. 

There is another theory though. This one leads back to the Latin word for “place” – you know, like in the word “locus.” I don't know ... I ain't buyin' it.

Loco the town has 150 people and is in the south central part of the state. 

And, as with all towns whose names are adjectives, Google returns some great results. In our case, these include loco divorce lawyers, loco singles, and loco cardiologists.

And loco tankers as well

4. Pumpkin Center

Don’t laugh. This is actually a fairly common name. In fact, would you believe there are more states with a Pumpkin Center than there are without? Yup, I count 29 with and 21 without. 

Now, why is this name so popular? That is the question. 

Well, interestingly enough, I may have just found an answer. Turns out there was a comedy team by the name of Uncle Josh and Aunt Nancy who cut some early records at the turn of the 20th Century. And can you guess what fictional podunk they hailed from? Yup, good ol’ Pumpkin Center.

To confuse things even further, though, would you believe there are four possible places with this name just in Oklahoma alone? For the sake of time, however, let’s go with just one. My particular favorite is near Lawton, in Comanche County, in the far southwest part of OK. They’ve got a restaurant called the Dry Beaver Supper Club, which certainly deserves a plug with a name like that.

3. Non

Non: the town that wasn’t there!

Actually, I was able to find it, on MapQuest. It looks, though, more like it’s barely there. I count about a dozen houses or buildings of some sort or other.

So, where did the name come from? Well, all I could find was a story that it was from the last syllable of the surname of the first postmaster, one J.W. Cannon. That makes me assume that 1) there was already a Cannon, OK, and that 2) J.W. was not a particularly imaginative person. As it turns out, there is not a Cannon, OK, so I guess it’s #2 then. Alternatively, though, perhaps A.J. was just a little bit unusual.

I could find next to nothing else on the place, but I did get some interesting hits on Google nonetheless, including:
  • What you need to know about Oklahoma non-compete agreements
  • The non-conference schedule for the Oklahoma State basketball team
  • How to start a non-profit in Oklahoma
  • That it’s OK for Christians to apologize to non-Christians
  • That nonok is Malay for “vagina”

2. Slapout

Believe it or not, there are a few Slapouts out there too. In addition to Oklahoma, Alabama and Texas claim one as well.

The typical story is that there was a general store at some crossroads that was somewhat lacking in inventory. So, whenever someone would ask for something, the store owner would have to admit that he was “slap out of it.” Perhaps there’s some comedic basis to this as well. Maybe Uncle Josh and Aunt Nancy owned a store. Who knows?

At 8 people, the Oklahoma Slapout may be the smallest town in the state. Not much there other than a store and a couple of houses. It’s located right at the beginning of the Panhandle.

Photo tip: always be sure to make things sprout
directly from your subjects’ heads

1. Nuyaka

So, dis guy comes out west. I dunno, he’s from Flatbush, or someplace like dat. Anyhoo, he buys some cows or steers or whatever, and he starts dis farm …

You’re not going to believe this, but this place is actually named after The Big Apple. Seems a bunch of Creek Indians met George Washington there, and were suitably impressed to name a town after it when they came out west.

You won’t have any trouble distinguishing between the two however. Ours has about 15 buildings scattered over three blocks, a bit south of Tulsa. The name itself has a little more traction, with a creek, winery, mission, high school, mall, and various other Nuyaka kind of things scattered about the greater Okmulgee area.

Not to be confused with …

Honorable Mention:

  • B-o-r-i-n-g – Woods, Oklahoma City (American Banjo Museum), Midwest City
  • Short and sweet – Taft, Tom, May, Meno, Nebo, Ord, Orr, Vici, Vian, Wye, Zoe, Zena, Stapp, Prue, Roff
  • Just a little out of place – Peoria, Pittsburg, Yale, Utica, Tupelo, Washington, Pensacola, Orlando, Miami, Santa Fe, Yukon, Panama, Lima, Prague, Troy, Lebanon
  • Orthographically challenged – Wheeless, Picher (former site of world’s largest zinc mine), Rufe, Purdy
  • Numerically oriented – Twin Oaks, Three Sands
  • Native American mouthfuls – Pawhuska (nation’s first Boy Scout troop), Pontotoc, Weleetka, Tahlequah (Mr. Ed the Talking Horse burial site), Tullahassee, Oologah, Oktaha, Okmulgee, Okfuskee, Muskogee (site of first Girl Scout cookie sale), Sallisaw, Sapulpa, Wappanucka
  • Atypical adjectives – Loyal, Noble, Valiant, Mutual, Little (and Little City), Long, Pink, Okay
  • Abnormal nouns – Victory, Model, Mounds, Lookout, Sentinel, Snow, Shamrock, Pharoah, Wildcat, Sparks, Verdigris, Rattan, Platter
  • Unconventional verbs – Page, Muse, Roll
  • Fun to say – Milfay, Lookeba, Ponca City, Panola, Inola, Yahola, Yuba, Yanush, Skedee (Chief Baconrind monument), Swink, Spavinaw (Mickey Mantle’s birthplace), Tuttle, Tussy, Tushka, Tamaha, Talala, Quapaw (“downstream people” – a tribe), Uncas
  • Impossible portmanteaus – Texola, Texhoma, Texanna, Tunkahoma
  • Just plain weird – Loveland, Oil Center, Sulphur, Sunkist, Sunray, Stillwater (home of OSU), Stringtown, Strong City, Sacred Heart, Pyramid Corners, Pauls Valley, Richards Spur, Rubottom, Retrop (Porter backwards), Red Bird, Lone Wolf (as well as just plain Wolf), Radium Town
  • I’d like to introduce you to – Martha, Maud, Mazie, Velma, Vera, Olive, Stella, Ramona (formerly Bon Ton), Spiro, Milo, Oscar, Homer, Norman (home of the Univ. of Oklahoma), Wayne, Leonard, Luther, Milton, Vernon, Virgil, Remus
  • Ghost towns – Santa Fe, Yonkers, Oak Wall, Little Chief, Wildman, Whizbang

Wondering what happened to all the OK towns from A to K?  Well, check right here.


  1. What about Romulus? Oklahoma has Romulus, Remus, and Wolf -- an homage to ancient Roman tradition.

  2. Also, I grew up in Pink, which is in close proximity to the ghost towns of Brown, Black, Green, and I believe Red. And I spent a couple of years living in Slaughterville! :)

  3. I got Wolf on there (3rd bullet from the bottom), as well as Lone Wolf. And Pink's under Atypical Adjectives. My guess is all those others were probably not big enough to make it onto the atlas I was using. Great stuff though! Thanks for sharing. I love themes.

  4. Oh man, I just found Remus and Blue, Brown, and Grey too.