Saturday, November 30, 2013

Vermont

Ice cream. Hippies. Cows. Socialists. Cheese. I mean, what else is there to say?

10. Chippenhook

After the dancers, right?

Actually, no. We do have several choices for this one though:

  • “Great steep banks" in Algonquin
  • Abenaki for "extended run of water" 
  • From the Dutch "Shippen's Hoek" 

Other than that, there’s not a whole lot on – or to – this place. Looks like a number of houses strung out across several crossroads just a little southwest of Rutland (i.e., not too far from the center of the state).

By the way, Vermont also features a Chittenden, Checkerberry, and Chiselville.


9. Adamant

Adj, “refusing to be persuaded or to change one's mind.”

Hmm, do you think this was what they really had in mind? Sounds like a fancy synonym for intransigent, rigid, stiff, stubborn, inflexible …

Well, of course, this is a quality that call also be admired, giving us determined, resolute, and unshakable. It all depends on how you look at it, I guess. Indeed, the town’s Wikipedia entry states that the place has no set boundaries or government and is, in fact, “a state of mind.”

Give all that, it’s also something that you might say of rocks. Hard rocks. Like granite. And this place was once famous for its granite quarries. 

Well, however it came about, it certainly beats what the town was originally called – Sodom. Yup, they petitioned the state legislature for the name change way back in 1905.

Adamant’s just a little northeast of the state capital, Montpelier (i.e., in the north central part of the state). It claims the state’s oldest co-op, a prestigious music school, and an experimental theater.

Having some fun practicing

8. Winooski

This suburb of Burlington was named after The Big Winooski, a Cohen brothers film starring Jed Bridges as an unemployed Seattle slacker and avid mahjong player, nicknamed "The Guy." 

Nah, nah. It’s just some Indian name. It’s from the Abenaki, and means “where the wild onions grow.” There’s a river of the same name (and which was originally called the Onion).

Winooski is an old mill town, busily trying to revitalize itself. It had its fifteen minutes of fame for some hare-brained scheme to erect a dome over the whole place back in the ‘70s. There are 7,000 Winooskians.

An artist’s rendition

7. Queechee

I remember this stuff. It was real popular back in the ‘70s. It wasn’t all that bad actually. They spelled it a little differently back then though.

The town’s actually named after a nearby river, the Ottauquechee. Which is how you say “swift mountain stream” in Natick, by the way.

This place has 650 people, and is just west of White River Junction (where 89 and 91 cross, on the Connecticut River). The local claim to fame is the Queechee Gorge, “Vermont’s Grand Canyon.”

Said Gorge Canyon

6. Weathersfield Bow

It’s all so simple, when you think about it. Weathersfield Bow is a part of the larger town of Weathersfield, along a bow in the Connecticut River. Really, that’s all there is to it.

I count about 20 buildings. There’s a cute, old, very New-England-looking church there, as well as a cemetery that seems to be very popular with genealogy types. It used to be big-time sheep country.

God, it gets cold there
(yup, that’s the Connecticut)

5. North Hero / South Hero

This one is equally straightforward as well. Basically, the area was granted to Revolutionary War heroes, Ethan and Ira Allen. It was originally called Two Heroes.

We’re way up in the northwest for these two, on some islands in the middle of Lake Champlain. South Hero is double the size of North Hero (1,700 to 800), but North Hero is the county seat. SH also claims a Miss Vermont and a Nevada governor. North Hero? Nobody!  And guess who has the airport, huh? Yup, Allehnholm Airport is in South Hero.

And where is the 
4th of July parade held, huh?
Huh?

4. Joes Pond

Well, I guess this is an improvement on the original name – Sozap Nebees. “Joe’s Pond,” though, is merely a direct translation from the Abnaki – Sozap is Abnaki for “Joseph,” and nebees means “pond.”

It was named after a Micmac Indian named Joe who was friendly with the early settlers. They named a neighboring pond after Joe’s wife, Molly.

The denizens of Joes Pond are famous for something called the Ice Out. Basically, they bet on when the ice on the pond melts. They take it all very seriously.

If this isn’t proof of global warming,
I don’t know what is

3. Passumpsic

This is from a Native American term meaning “backed-up septic tank.”

Actually, it means “flowing over clear, sandy bottom,” which is really kinda the exact opposite. The name was originally applied to the nearby river.  

The town is in Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom, and is just south of St. Johnsbury. Anne Morrow Lindbergh once lived here.


2. Tinmouth

Isn’t this what they call kids whose parents send half their paycheck to the orthodontist?

This one’s probably after Tynemouth, England. And that merely refers to a town at the mouth of the river Tyne. By the way, both are pronounced “TIN-muth.”

This town of 600 or so has somehow managed to produce a couple of governors, a senator, and Tom Peters, author of In Search of Excellence

Hippies!
(Solarfest, Tinmouth, VT)

1. Pompanoosuc

Just in case Passumpsic wasn’t enough for ya.

This baby is from the Abnaki, and means “mushy, quaky land.” It’s from the Ompompanoosuc River.  

The town is located where said river meets the Connecticut. It’s is just up the river from Hanover, NH, home of Dartmouth College.

BTW, if you go Googling for this place, most of your hits will be for Pompanoosuc Mills, a big custom furniture company. Their factory is up the river a little ways, in the interestingly named town of East Thetford.

… in Pompanoosuc, VT!

Honorable Mention: 
  • B-o-r-i-n-g – Middletown
  • Short & sweet – Ira (after Ethan Allen’s brother), Ely, Jay
  • Just a little out of place – New Haven, Albany, Rochester, Newark, Washington, Baltimore, Richmond (round church), Charlotte, Charleston, Georgia, Jacksonville, Kansas, Texas, Bakersfield, Jamaica (from the Natick word for “beaver”), Peru, Holland, Berlin, Moscow, Florence, Athens, Corinth, Troy, Jericho, Jerusalem, Egypt, Eden
  • Just a little off color – Gaysville, Smutty Corners
  • Orthographically challenged – Bragg, Fairlee (drive-in movie motel)
  • Atypical adjectives – Orange, Wilder
  • Unconventional verbs – Prosper 
  • Abnormal nouns – Victory, Downers
  • Fun to say – Alfrecha, Hortonia, N. Pownal, S. Pomfret, E. Poultney, Putney, Ascutney, Lympus
  • Just plain weird – Warners Grant, Dummerston Center, Underhill Center, Chimney Point, Derby Line (library split between US and Canada), Morses Line, St. Rocks, Hartland Four Corners, Hardscrabble, Puckershire, Westminster West, Butternut Bend, Lost Nation, Notown, Podunk, Bread Loaf, Smugglers Notch, Averys Gore, Brimstone Corners, Satans Kingdom, Skunks Misery
  • Just plain weird, ville division – Hectorville, Cuttingsville, Tarbellville, Beansville, Mosquitoville 
  • I’d like to introduce you to – Pearl, Sharon, Sheldon, Vernon, Warren, Randolph, Rupert, Ferdinand, Mary Meyer, Warren Gore



Monday, November 25, 2013

Utah

I’m sorry, Utah. You are just a very boring state. What? You already knew that? Well, did you know that your towns have very boring names as well? You did? Well, okay then.

That said, Utahans certainly have a sense of humor about the whole thing. If you don't believe me, check out this video

10. Gusher

Gusher is a town of many names. In addition to Gusher, it was also once known as Sober City (in jest) and Moffatt (after the guy the Moffatt Tunnel, in Colorado, is named after). 

Whence Gusher? Well, some developer – one Robert Wood, to be exact – thought for sure he would find himself some oil riches nearby. (He did not.)

Mr. Wood must have been rather ambitious. I count no less than 10 city blocks in Gusher, only four of which are occupied. Gusher is in the northeast part of the state.

No more postmarks from Gusher,
I’m afraid

9. East Carbon

East Carbon dates back only to 1973, when two struggling mining towns – Dragerton and Columbia – combined.

So, why isn’t this place called Columberton, or Dragumbia, or Coldrag? Well, it is in the eastern part of Carbon County. And we are talking about Utah here, right? I mean, this is basically saying the same as “East Part of County,” correct? And that is particularly catchy and imaginative, no?

This town of 1,400 is southeast of Salt Lake City, about halfway to Moab.

Your dream home awaits
 – in East Carbon, UT! 

8. Birdseye

No, this place wasn’t named after a sack of frozen peas. 

In fact, it was named after the birdseye granite that was quarried nearby. And that stuff got its name because it has lots of little o’s scattered about it (which, I guess – if you’re a really imaginative person, that is – might – on a good day – remind you – somewhat – of the eyes of a bird … maybe).

This place of who-knows-how-many people is south of Salt Lake City. There are a few attractions in the area, including the Five Star Ranch, which is a resort, and the Birdseye Boys Ranch, which is a “treatment center for youth who have been identified as having ‘inappropriate sexual issues’ or ‘highly sexualized behavior.’” Don’t confuse these two, okay?

Tell me this doesn’t
make you think ornithology

7. Gunlock

Would you believe this is after some guy? No, silly, there isn’t a Mr. Gunlock out there. “Gunlock” was some dude’s nickname. Here, let this local plaque explain: 

William Haynes (Gunlock) Hamblin, Born Oct. 28, 1830 Salem Ohio. Married Mary A., and Betsy Leavitt. Died May 8, 1872 at Clover Valley, Nevada from efforts of poison given to him before he could testify concerning a silver mine he had discovered and was selling.

But Truth crushed to Earth shall rise again, so we anxiously await for that day when men shall stand before the bar of justice and account for every word and deed.

He was the father of 17 children, and was given the nickname ‘Gunlock’ by George A. Smith, Apostle for whom he drove wagon across the plains. He also worked for him as a gunsmith. Gunlock, Utah was named in his honor.

He got his fame for his great marksmanship. At 50 paces, he shot the bottom from a pipe bowl without touching the rim. He won a $50.00 bet.

Pipe Springs, Arizona is in honor of that feat. He was an Elder in the LDS Church and served a mission to the Hopi Indians in 1855. He was a great hunter and scout for the church.

Good stuff, huh (especially that "truth crushed to earth" bit)? 

Gunlock the town is in the far southwest of Utah. It’s on the old Santa Fe Trail. They have an annual rodeo, one that’s been going on since 1945.

Young Mother and Son
Gunlock, UT
Dorothea Lange

6. Ticaboo

Any town name that rhymes with “peekaboo” is a winner in my book. 

It means “friendly,” in Paiute, by the way. The town is actually named after a creek of the same name. 

We’re in the far south part of the state for this one. In fact, we’re not too far from the Colorado River and Lake Powell. And that explains the various lodges, resorts, marinas, and real estate agents scattered widely about the area.

And mobile home parks too

5. Centerfield

Oh, put me in, Coach – I'm ready to move today / Put me in, Coach – I'm ready to move today / Look at me, I can live in Centerfield

Would you believe this place was originally called The Field? In a fit of whimsy, the locals changed the name to Center Field, to celebrate the fact that the settlement was in the middle of the Gunnison Valley.

Note that this valley is not to be confused with the Gunnison River Valley in Colorado. That’s really beautiful. This one, on the other hand, is very, very flat and pretty darn boring as well (and is on the Sevier River).

Centerfield has 1000 Centerfielders and is in – appropriately – the center of Utah.

Actually, this is the way to the cemetery

4. Panguitch

Here, have another panguitch. You want some syrup on that one?

Well, considering that “panguitch” means “big fish” in Paiute, you may want to just skip that syrup.  
This town of 1,600 is in the southwest part of the state. It’s not too far from Bryce Canyon, as well as other natural attractions, so tourism is a big part of the economy. The Panguitchians like to call their town the “Center of Scenic Utah.”

The big tourist event in town is the Annual Quilt Walk Festival, where “local performers re-enact the story of the Quilt Walk” – whatever the heck that could possibly be.

Look, it’s a quilt walker!

3. Virgin

It works for airlines, right? And mobile phone companies too.

Now, I’m not sure what those were named after, but I do this one was named after the Virgin River. And that, in turn, was named after the Virgin Mary, by some Spanish Catholic missionaries.

By the way, I much prefer the old name for this place – the much more evocative Virgin City. Reminds me of Virginville, in Eastern Pennsylvania. By the by, Virgin was also formerly known as Pocketville.

This place has 600 Virgins, and is in the southwest corner of the state, not too far from Zion National Park. Interestingly, the town’s legend says nothing about Zion, but instead is “Gateway to the Kolobs.”

People are a little different in these parts. Virgin is one of a handful of towns in the US that have a law dictating mandatory gun ownership. And that’s what was responsible for Virgin’s 15 minutes of fame, in Michael Moore’s movie Bowling for Columbine.

By the way, there is also a La Verkin, right next door. It’s an Anglicization of the Spanish La Virgen. Sheesh! Nice try, gringos.

Unbelievably quaint

2. Shivwits

“Way to go, Shivwits!” “God, Bernie is such a shivwits.” “You shivwits!”

Of course it’s Native American! In fact, it’s the name of a branch of the Paiutes. The word itself means “eastern people.” Alternate forms are Shi'-vwits, Sübü'ts, and Sebit – as well as the wonderfully evocative She-bits.

We’re way back down in the southwest corner of the state again. As far as I can tell, Shivwits is a couple of buildings (and some ruins) strung out on Old Hwy. 91 just west of the major metropolis of Ivins (7,000 people). 

More ruins than buildings, unfortunately

1. Mexican Hat

Could someone please tell these folks they’re called “sombreros”?

No, no – not the people who live there. They’re Mexican Hatters. I mean the Mexican hats themselves. Sombreros. They’re called “sombreros.” The hats, that is.

So, there’s got to be a good story behind this one, right? Well, would you believe we can put this one down to “descriptive.” And if you don’t believe me, just look below. Wow!

We’re in the southeast for this one. This town of 260 is, once again, surrounded by lots of natural beauty. In particular, we’ve got the Valley of the Gods, Gooseneck State Park, and – of course – the Big Sombrero itself.

Ole!

Honorable Mention: 
  • B-o-r-i-n-g – Meadow, Junction, Midway, Centerville, Central, Plain City
  • Short & sweet – Mona, Moab (cliff from Thelma and Louise), Orem, Lehi, Loa, La Sal
  • Just a little out of place – Boulder, Riverside, Santa Clara, Cleveland, Syracuse, West Point, Plymouth, Washington, Monticello, Charleston, Wales, Modena, Naples, Mt. Olympus
  • Just a little off color – Beaver (birthplace of Philo Farnsworth, inventor of TV)
  • Orthographically challenged – Sevier
  • Atypical adjectives – Sandy, Tropic, Vernal, Bountiful, Mutual
  • Unconventional verbs – Echo, Bluff, Hatch
  • Abnormal nouns – Enterprise, Granite, Sunset, Promontory (Golden Spike spot), Bonanza, Hurricane (100-year-old fruitcake & bacon), Helper, Dinosaur
  • Fun to say – Altonah, Aneth, Nephi, Neola, Upalco, Ucolo, Kanosh, Koosharem ("edible tuber"), Paragonah
  • Hard to say – Kanab, Callao, Scipio, Ibapah, Lynndyl, Peoa, Tooele
  • Just plain weird – Mountain Home, Soldier Summit, New Harmony, Fountain Green, Wanship, American Fork, Dry Fork, Big Water, Rubys Inn 
  • Just plain weird, -ville division – Orangeville, Snowville, Honeyville, Sugarville, Wellsville, Circleville, Orderville
  • I’d like to introduce you to – Roy, Francis, Grover, Dutch John, Faust, Elmo, Hiawatha
  • Ghost towns – Kiz, Fruita, Telegraph, Boston Terrace, Duncan’s Retreat, Dragon, Dividend, West Dip, Highland Boy, Consumers, Devil’s Slide


Sunday, November 17, 2013

Texas O-Z

Last week, we covered Texas towns from A to N. This week, we cover those from O to Z. 

I did, though, want to make a special call-out to Texas’s counties. There are no less than 254 of them, and some of them are real beauts. Here are my faves:
  • Jack
  • Wise
  • Real
  • Coke
  • Colorado
  • Motley
  • Winkler
  • Glasscock
  • Jeff Davis
  • Tom Green
  • Jim Hogg
  • Deaf Jones


10. Tom Bean

Texas actually has a bunch of these. There’s Seth Ward and Leon Springs, Marshall Ford and George West (as well as the four counties above). And let’s not forget the wonderfully alliterative Ben Bolt. There’s something about the short, laconic, down-to-earth, somewhat peculiar nature of Tom Bean, though, that really strikes my fancy.

Who was Tom? Well, it sounds like he was a wealthy landowner who gave away some acreage so the railroad could come through – and make him even more wealthy. What a guy!

Now, why they didn’t just call it Bean, or Beanville, or Beantown, I just don’t know. Well, except for that last one, that is – I think that one’s already been taken

TB is in the northeast part of the state, and has just over 1,000 citizens. According to Wikipedia, the local area, including Sherman and Dennison, is sometimes called Texoma or Texomaland (by the local space aliens, I would assume).

It was either that or the Beanie Babies

9. Personville

I understand it’s populated by people!

Yup, all 50 of ‘em. 

Interestingly, the name is from some guy, one D.B. Person, the first to settle the area. He was from North Carolina, which has its own Person County. Person is actually not an uncommon surname, and is probably just an alternate spelling of “parson.” 

By the way, the townsfolk also considered the much more evocative Lost Prairie. Weird in its own way, but no way near as weird as Personville.

We’re just a little east of Waco, by the by.

Hey, it’s historic!

8. Veribest

Texans aren’t really known for their subtlety. Some other over-the-top Texas town names includes Best, Sublime, Stellar, and Peerless.

As for Veribest, it’s a town of 40 in the center of the state. It’s also a dry cleaners in San Diego, an automotive products company, a doughnut shop in Georgia, a manufacturer of lithium battery chargers, and – in general – just kind of a cheesy way to try and market something. 

The town seems to be primarily made up of a high school. Their team mascot happens to be a falcon. And that makes them the Veribest Falcons in the whole world.

Touchdown celebration
or disco dance move?

7. Rio Frio

In English this would be the boring Cold River. In Spanish, though, it becomes the exotic, poetic, and slightly ridiculous Rio Frio.

Yes, there is an actual Frio River. It – like the town – is a little west of San Antonio. And, yes, it is cold. 

It’s also mentioned in the George Strait song All My Ex’s Live in Texas. According to Wikipedia, the river also figured prominently in the movie Race with the Devil, and is “where the scene of the sacrifice took place.” Interesting. I’ll have to look that one up on Netflix. Nothing makes a movie, in my opinion, like a good sacrifice scene.

It actually looks like real pretty country around there. In fact, there are several tourist sites out there for the area and the town.

By the way, there is also a Frio Town. The two seem to be at the opposite ends of the river, 
though – a good two hours apart. Hey, it’s a big state!

Wow! They weren't kiddin'!

6. Sour Lake

It’s not something I usually associate with lakes. Big maybe. Long, yes. Perhaps even green or sandy or south … But sour?

Well, would you believe this one truly is “descriptive”? Seems there are some sulfur springs that feed the lake. I guess you could call the smell of sulfur “sour.” I wonder, though, if the locals ever considered naming their little body of water Skunk Lake, or Rotten Egg Lake, or Really Nasty Fart Lake?

The town of Sour Lake began – interestingly – as a health resort. The sulfur, though, also pointed to oil, and the little burg quickly became an oil boom town around the turn of the 20th Century. At its height, the town supported 10,000 people (there are 1,800 today), and was the birthplace of Texaco.

By the way, we are in the far southeast part of the state. 

Catchy, no?

5. Zunkerville

Put a z and a u together, and you’ve got a sure winner. Think zucchini, zumba, zuppa, and Admiral Zumwalt. Now, combine that with the ending “unker” – like in clunker, lunker, and spelunker – and things are really going to start to happen.

Of course it’s named after some guy. In our case, we’re talking about one H.R. Zunker – basically, the first settler. And what exactly is a zunker, you may ask. Well, in German, it’s a crag, so this name basically denotes someone who lived by some crag somewhere at some time a long, long time ago.

Seeing as there are only 15 people in this place today, there really isn’t that much on it. I can, though, safely assure you that it’s southeast of San Antonio.


4. White Settlement

Wow! Let’s just come right out and say it, shall we? No beating around the bush in this place, is there?

I was sure this was – once again – named after some dude. Interestingly, though, it is descriptive. Turns out there were several Indian settlements in the area and one white one. Not sure what happened to the Indian ones, but the white one’s still there and going strong. Way to go, white people!

In 2005, the townsfolk overwhelmingly voted down a proposal to change the name of the place to West Settlement. Don’t mess with White Settlement, huh? 

This place is basically a suburb of Ft. Worth. It’s got 16,000 whities … er, citizens. A naval air station borders it to the east.

By the way, Texas also features a Whiteflat and a Whiteface.

White Settlement is also home to the 
Texas Civil War Museum (coincidence?)

3. Tool

“Tool” means many things. On the surface, it’s a “device or implement, esp. one held in the hand, used to carry out a particular function.” It’s also slang for the male productive organ. And, finally, it can be also be used to describe someone who’s lacking in smarts or sophistication – as in, “You’re such a tool, Warren.” All of which make this a pretty darn funny thing to name a town.

So, would you believe Tool was named after some dude? Yup, one George Tool, to be precise. The surname is probably just a shortened version of O’Toole, which means “son of Tuathal” (and with Tuathal meaning “ruler of the people”). 

In other words, Tool has brevity on its side, if nothing else. I mean, seriously, who’d want to live in Son of the Ruler of the People, TX?

Tool has 2,275 inhabitants and is southeast of Dallas, on beautiful Cedar Creek Lake. Sounds like it’s a great place to retire or to buy a second home.

And Gun Barrel City is
right across the lake!

2. Oatmeal

I like the occasional bowl too (especially on a cold winter day). I can’t say I’ve ever wanted to live in a town named after it though. I don’t like it all that much.

Another dude. In this case, an early German settler named Othneil. Put that in your Texas translatin’ machine, and out comes Oatmeal. An alternative explanation is that it’s a direct translation of Habermill, the surname of another German settler (haber means “oats”).

Oatmeal is just a little northwest of Austin and has only 20 people. And, yes, they do have a festival, a spoof on the typical chili cook-off:

Chili cooks eat hot peppers. Oatmeal cooks eat boiled okra. Chili cooks have beauty queens. Oatmeal cooks have Ms. Bag, who is over 55, Groaty Oat, who is beyond description, and Miss Cookie and Miss Muffin, who are 4 to 8 years old. Watermelon raisers spit seeds. Oatmeal cooks kick cow chips.



1. Old Dime Box

This is implying that there is a New Dime Box as well. Heck, maybe there’s a North Dime Box and a West Dime Box and a Dime Box Station and a Rancho Dime Box and a ... I mean, Dime Box is such a common name for towns, I’m sure there are probably a dozen variants.

Well, there does so happen to be a just plain ol’ Dime Box. And that one is newer than Old Dime Box, so I guess it all makes sense after all. Case closed.

Oh, the Dime Box part? Haven’t a clue. 

No, seriously, I actually do have a story … Turns out locals used to use an old box at a crossroads here to send and receive their mail. And if you were sending something, you’d leave the piece of mail as well as a dime to cover the cost of postage. I’m afraid to admit it, but this story actually makes some sense.

ODB has a population of 200, and is a little east of Austin. Dime Box (i.e., the new town) was started when the railroad came through, about three miles away. The March of Dimes once kicked off its annual campaign from here (get it?).

Twofer

Honorable Mention: 
  • B-o-r-i-n-g – West, Wall, Woods, Orchard, Thicket, Plateau, Plains, Sand, Yard, Round Rock, Texas City, Universal City
  • Short and sweet – Orla, Voca, Vega, Tira, Toco, Watt, Whon, Vick, Rusk, Rye, Tye, Pep, Plum, Pluck, Pleak, Poth, Shep, Zuehl, Zorn
  • Just a little out of place – Oklahoma Lane, Omaha, Paducah, Peoria, South Bend, Pittsburg, Princeton, Rochester, Scranton, Saratoga, West Point, Washington, Richmond, Selma, Santa Fe, Reno, Oakland, San Jose, Pasadena, San Diego, San Juan, Puerto Rico, Scotland, Paris (Eiffel tower with cowboy hat), Riviera, Roma, Sudan, Palestine, Saturn, Venus, Paradise, Utopia
  • Orthographically challenged – Texon, Rhome, Tokio, Patrich, Sargent, Priddy
  • Numerically oriented – Three Rivers, Three Leagues, Tri Cities, Trinity, Seven Oaks, Seven Sisters
  • Native American mouthfuls – Pontotoc, Waxahachie (replica Munster Mansion)
  • Atypical adjectives – Orange, Olden, Sharp, Wealthy, Placid, Polar, Petty, Pointblank, Salty, Uncertain
  • Unconventional verbs – Rule, Run, Post, Point, Park, Tow, Tell, View, Speaks, Slide, Spade, Spur, Staples, Scurry, Sprinkle, Wink (Roy Orbison Museum), Ponder, Panhandle
  • Abnormal nouns – Security, Star, Sparks, Sundown, Sunray, Raisin, Quail, Peacock, Turkey, Telegraph, Telephone, Tradewinds, Wayside, Valentine, Rugby, Royalty, Regency, Poetry, Pumpkin, Pancake, Thrall, Tuxedo, Shiner, Shafter
  • Fun to say – Waco (dog collectibles museum), Waka, Wamba, Spurger, Spofford, Splendora, Purves, Pidcoke, Pantex, Peaster, Patroon, Poteet, Twitty, Yoakum, Van Vleck, Von Ormy, Pflugerville, Winkelman, Throckmorton
  • Hard to say – Ovalo (what syLABle do I emPHAsize?)
  • Portmanteaus – Texline, Texhoma, Texarkana, Oklaunion
  • Just plain weird – Reklaw (Walker backwards), Rising Star, Star Route, The Colony, Old Glory, Old Ocean, Study Butte, Ropesville, Pumpville, Spanish Camp, Streetman, Skidmore, String Prairie, Sugar Land*, Tigertown, Tiki Island, Weedhaven, Possum Kingdom
  • I’d like to introduce you to – Winnie, Otto, Sheldon, Seymour, Sylvester, Tarzan, Robert Lee, St. Hedwig, Sam Rayburn, William and Penn, Tomball
  • Ghost towns – Pringle, Tuckertown, Tee Pee City, Sher-Han, Savage, Red Barn, Old Gomez, Samfordyce, Palafox, Sulphuria (formerly Rustler Springs), Zella

* - author has visited

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Texas A-N

Well, everything’s bigger in Texas, isn’t it? So, we shouldn’t be too surprised that they’ve got two posts of funny names. This week, we’ve got A to N. Next week, it’s O to Z.  

The funny thing, though, is that there are plenty of other states with two posts worth of stuff as well. In fact, Texas comes in a distant second when it comes to states like New York and Pennsylvania, which have three. Well, what do you think of that, Texas? Huh? Hey, I’m talkin’ to you!

(Oh, oh. Does that constitutes messing with Texas? I guess I’m in big trouble now.)


10. Novice

What an incredibly non-boastful, all-humble-like, non-Texan thing to call your little burg.

Novice got started when the citizens of Atoka (formerly Tyro) and Rough Creek moved and combined their little towns to take advantage of a new rail line built nearby by the Santa Fe. They happened upon Novice because they associated that word with a “new beginning.” Hmm … I guess nobody in town owned a dictionary, huh? 

Novice is in the center of the state, and currently features 140-some Novices. Back in the ‘30s, in the midst of an oil boom, it had four times as many. 

The great state of Texas also includes a Humble and a Humble Camp. Hmm … Maybe I’ve got these people all wrong.

A true Novice

9. Bee House

I could be wrong, but don’t we mean “bee hive” here?

Well, I was right – as were the local citizens. Turns out it was the Post Office who screwed everything up. Yup, the locals asked for Bee Hive (for the many bees in the area), but the geniuses in DC sent back Bee House instead. Or so the story goes …

This tiny enclave of 40 is – once again – in the center of the state, a little southeast from Novice. 

Other apiologically oriented Texas towns include Bee Cave and Beeville.
Everyone loves a mouse pad, right?
I mean, they make the perfect gift.

8. Circle Back

So, this pretty darn useful and official-looking site says that this place “was named for a ranch to the south whose brand was a circle on the backs of cattle.” Hmm ... I don’t know if I’m totally buyin’ it.

They also have a pretty good history of the town and its ups and downs:

From 1918 to 1954 the settlement had a six-grade school and at one time about a dozen houses, a filling station, and a store-post office. Zue Smart ran the store, which burned in 1954. In 1949 the community, which served surrounding cattle and sheep ranches, had 100 people. By 1980 the population had dwindled to forty-nine, and by the mid-1980s only the Baptist minister and his wife and two children remained. In 1990 and again in 2000 the population was reported as ten.

Zue, huh? 

Circle Back is near the New Mexico border, about midway between Amarillo and Lubbock. It’s just east of the wonderfully evocative Needmore.

Why? Did I miss something?

7. Cuthand

Okay, so it’s probably not enough to tell you this place was named after Cuthand Creek, is it? So, how about if I let you know that the creek was named after a Delaware Indian named Cuthand? Would that be enough? No? You want to know how he got his name? Dang! I was afraid of that.

Not a whole lot to this place that I haven’t already mentioned, I’m afraid. It does have about 115 people. And it is in the northeast corner of the state, about halfway between Paris and Texarkana.

Ohmigod! You’re not going to believe it. Cuthand has its own sasquatch, the “Cuthand Critter.” Don’t believe me? Well, look right here!

Not the Cuthand Critter
(but a wild boar instead)

6. Muleshoe

It was named after Muleshoe Ranch. The ranch’s owner named it that after finding a mule shoe on his land. Kinda boring and obvious, huh?

Muleshoe represents our first – and only – foray in this post into the realm of real cities. Yes, it’s true. Muleshoe has over 5,000 people and is also the county seat. Some of the attractions of this major metropolis include the:
  • National Mule Memorial
  • Muleshoe Heritage Center
  • Tour de Muleshoe bicycle race
  • World Championship Muleshoe Pitching Contest

Muleshoe is in the northwest corner of the state, less than 20 miles from Circle Back.

I don’t know about you,
but I’m feeling inspired

5. Belcherville

The town fathers were divided between this, Burptown, Ructus Junction, and Eructation Station.  
Seriously, this place was named by the founders, John and Alex Belcher, who owned a huge ranch in the area. The surname is originally French, from the two words beau and chere, and basically means a person with a cheerful disposition.

Belcherville is just east of Wichita Falls. There are 30-some Belchervillians. At one time, B-ville was the smallest incorporated town in the US.

The Tomb of the Unknown Cowboy
Belcherville Cemetery

4. Chocolate Bayou

Linda Ronstadt song, right?

Would you believe the explanation for this one is “descriptive”? Yup, the bayou’s particularly “heavy silt load” really does make it look like something straight out of Willy Wonka.

Actually, there seems to be a lot more to the bayou than to the town. The latter’s got only 60 people, but the former is a pretty major topographical feature in the area. In fact, it flows over 20 miles, from just south of Houston and down into the Gulf at Chocolate Bay. 

Maybe that’s what explains the existence of the Chocolate Bayou Credit Union. Yup, you can get a Chocolate Bayou checking account or a Chocolate Bayou credit card … and at any of five conveniently located branches throughout the greater Alvin / Pearland / Manvel area.

There’s a little bit of history here as well. The area was originally owned by Stephen Austin, and a sister of his owned a plantation, Peach Point, nearby.

You thought I was making that up,
didn’t you?

3. Noodle

What is it about words that end with “oodle”? I mean, you’ve got poodle and doodle, and oodles, and strudel. And that’s totally apart from why anyone would want to name a town after a basic foodstuff anyway.

So, where’s it from? According to the TSHA (that’s the Texas State Historical Association, not the guys at the airport), it’s from Noodle Creek. And that creek got its name because it was dry, “noodle” being an old-timey way to say nothing, nada, zilch …

Noodle is just northwest of Abilene. There are about 40 Noodlers. The wonderfully named Noodle-Horn school there closed in the 1970s.

Couldn’t find much else on Noodle, though I did find this priceless – and completely nonsensical – search result:

Noodle Tutoring in Noodle, TX - WyzAnt Tutoring
www.wyzant.com › TX › Taylor County‎
It's easy to find a Noodle tutor. WyzAnt has thousands of tutors nearby and ready to help you.


2. Earth

“So, where ya from?” “Earth.” “C’mon, smart ass, what town are ya from!?!”  “I already told you, Earth.”  [kerpow!]

So, here’s the story. Earth began as Fairlawn, which is what developer William E. Halsell called it when he first laid out the town. Unfortunately, there was already a Fairlawn in the state, so Halsell and the townsfolks had to come up with something else. 

And here’s where things start to fall apart ... According to Wikipedia, “the townspeople sent in suggestions, and the agreed-upon best name was chosen.” Kinda makes you wonder what the townsfolk might have been drinking when they all agreed upon this as the “best” name, don’t it?

A second theory (from the Texas State Historical Association again) is that the town was “supposedly named for a sandstorm blowing when storekeeper and first postmaster C. H. Reeves had to come up with a name.” Once again, I’m not sure I totally get it.

My favorite explanation (once again from the TSHA site) is that the post master submitted “Good Earth,” but the post office shortened that and came back with just plain “Earth.” I don’t know though. I’m still not totally convinced.

Well, wherever it came from, Earth is in the northwest corner of Texas (near Circle Back and Muleshoe, in fact). There are a little over 1,000 Earthlings. Nearby attractions include Blackwater Draw (fossils) and Plant X (an oddly named power plant).


1. Cut and Shoot

Seems to be a lot of cutting going on in the Lone Star State. In addition to Cuthand, above, Texas also includes a Cross Cut.

As for Cut and Shoot, the Internets are full of stories about some fracas in the town, with some little boy talking about “cutting around the corner” and “shooting through the bushes” when things got too hot. I don’t know. I’m afraid that’s just a little too colorful for me (and also for this totally random guy too).

I was thinking that I’ve heard the phrase “let’s cut and shoot” before as a way to say “let’s skedaddle.” I do know that, separately, that’s what both do mean. Searches on Google, though, only brought up things relating to:
  • A basketball drill
  • A knife
  • A fashion photography studio
  • A race horse
  • Some rap lyrics (“Get on the cut and shoot your shot!”)
  • Trimming your willow tree (“Initial Effects of Brush Cutting and Shoot Removal on Willow Browse Quality”)
  • Chinese gangs in San Francisco fighting each other back in 1898 (“Chinese Cut and Shoot Each Other”)

Ah well, there goes that theory.

The town? It looks like a bedroom community of about 1,100 people, just north of Houston. They have one famous son, Roy Harris, a boxer who lost a world heavyweight championship to Floyd Patterson in 1958.

Formerly BJ’s BBQ Shack and Bait Shop

Honorable Mention: 
  • B-o-r-i-n-g – Forest, Dale, Meadow (and Meadows), Lawn, Hills, Canyon (and Canyon City), Cove, Center, Central, Center Point, Centerville, Center City, Junction, Midland, Midcity, Midway, Halfway, New Home
  • Short and sweet – Okra, Iola, Eola, Era, Ida, Ira, Mico, Hico, Dido, Bebe, Bula, Buda, Buna (polka dot house), Burr, Hub, Hogg, Hye, Hart, Mart, Lott, Guy, Joy, Flo, Nell, Dean, Dew, Doss, Fife, Elk, Blum, Krum, Arp, Art, Ace, Boz
  • Just a little off color – Gay Hill, Climax
  • Orthographically challenged – Harrold, Kenedy, Kalgary, Iraan, Chappell Hill, Leakey, Drane, Kurten, Leming, Kyote
  • Numerically oriented – Duplex, Double Oak, Double Bayou, Camelot Two, Four Way
  • Native American mouthfuls – Nacogdoches 
  • Atypical adjectives – Freer, Direct, Concrete, Canadian (ranch from Castaway), English, Cool, Crisp, Happy, Jolly (and Jollyville), Moody
  • Unconventional verbs – Hooks, Echo, Call, Dial, Draw, Groom, Grow, Bend, Battle, Crews, Converse, Cost, Cash, Hoard, Loving, Loop, Lull, Deport, Dies
  • Abnormal nouns – Friday, Frost, Hail, Dawn, Sparks, Antelope, Cactus, Oaks, Nursery, Nickel, Mineral, Magnet, Maverick, Matador, Majors, Marathon, Miles, Mercedes, Flat (and Flats), Edge, Circle, Cistern, Cyclone, Cone, Carbon, Clay, Chalk, Cheek, Cologne, Comfort, Blanket, Blessing, Bells, Birthright, Nobility, Knickerbocker, Locker, Impact, Energy, Grit, Gunsight, Duster, Domino, Dinero, Divot, Dimple, Fairy, Faker, Nada, Lollipop 
  • Fun to say – Fink, Fritch, Clegg, Clute (mosquito festival), Gruver, Mingus, Millsap, Nelta, Knippa, Hutto, Lubbock (Buddy Holly Museum), Lufkin, Friona, Flatonia, Fredonia, Fluvanna, Floydada, Mobeetie, Bovina, Brazoria, Bastrop, Ledbetter, Elmendorf, Higginbotham, Heidenheimer, Falfurrias
  • Hard to say – Broaddus, Flomot, Katemcy, Goldthwaite
  • Just plain weird – Goodnight, New Deal, New Willard, Notwal (Lawton backswards), Country Campus, Cool Crest, Levelland, Lovelady, Bluegrove, Barwise, Beaukiss, Bracketville, Black Jack, Box Elder, Boys Ranch, Big Sandy, Grand Saline (house built of salt), Flat Fork, Honey Island, Happy Union, Jim Town, Cheapside, Needville, Gouldbust, Addicks Katy, Bruceville-Eddy, Medicine Mound, College Mound, Looneyville, Mudville, Cee Vee, Ding Dong, Devils Pocket, Bug Tussle, Frognot (and Frog), Jot Em Down
  • Just plain weird, cities division – Beach City, Horizon City, Electric City, League City, Crystal City (statue to Popeye), Close City, Coy City, Gun Barrel City
  • I’d like to introduce you to – Kermit, Elmo, Mickey, Nemo, Bigfoot (as well as just plain Foot), Edcouch, Alanreed, Allenfarm, Howardwick, Maryneal, Maypearl, Burkburnett, Ben Hur, Ben Arnold, Ben Franklin
  • Ghost towns – Acme, Cuthbert, Bankersmith, Ben Ficklin, Fry, Burning Bush, Nix