Friday, November 1, 2013


I think Tennessee would be number one in crazy names, if only some of these places were just a little bit bigger. But we do have to abide by the rules, and one of those rules is to make sure that any candidates appear in a standard road atlas. That ensures that 1) this blog is manageable, and 2) there’s enough to these places so you know you’re actually there when you drive through them.

And, really, that’s too bad – especially for the Volunteer State. Here are some of the Tennessee beauties that didn’t meet my admittedly very stringent requirements:
  • Boom
  • Lonely
  • Nameless
  • Moodyville
  • Dismal
  • Defeated
  • Bitter End
  • Suck-egg Hollow
  • Yum Yum
  • French Broad
  • Sweetlips

10. Owl City 

“Man, there sure are a lot of owls around here.” “All that blasted hootin’.” “It’s enough to drive a feller crazy, ain’t it?” “Yup, it’s a regular owl city out here.”

So, this is what I imagine the conversation around the fire sounded like when the first explorers came through here. I mean, how else could this place have gotten its name?

Well, that may forever remain a mystery. I just couldn’t seem to find anything on this place. I do know that it’s basically a dozen houses where two roads meet in the western part of the state, a little north of Memphis. It’s part of the larger – and rather oddly named – Bells.

Owl City also happens to be “an American electronica project created in 2007 in Owatonna, Minnesota, one of several such projects by singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Adam Young.” No relation, I take it.

Adam hearts Taylor

9. Bell Buckle

First, it’s “belt buckle.” Second, it’s not anything you’d ever want to name a place after.

Well, you’ve got a couple of competing stories for this one. Seems like a bell & buckle were hung (or drawn) on a tree here by some early explorers (or Indians) to indicate a promising meadow (or to let whites know their cattle were not welcome). Or, then again, perhaps it’s something totally different (or not).

This town of 500 is almost in the dead center of Tennessee. The folks there seem to want tourists pretty bad, and claim the following attractions:
  • Victorian era buildings
  • Crafts, quilts, and antiques
  • A musical "venue," the Bell Buckle CafĂ© and Music Parlor
  • Several festivals, including one celebrating RC Cola and Moon Pies 
  • A fancy-pants prep school
That’s a Goo Goo Cluster in the back, by the way
(have no idea what the babe in pink is supposed to be)

8. Gruetli-Laager

This isn’t a town in Tennessee. A beer from the Czech Republic maybe. But definitely not a town in Tennessee.

Would it help any if I told you this started out as two towns? And that the settlers who founded both of them were Swiss? 

Gruetli was named after a village in the homeland. Laager was probably named after one of the settler families or, possibly, after the German lager, which means “deposit” (as in coal). Laager was known previously as Henley’s Switch.

G-L is in the south central part of the state, and has about 1,800 people.

Some good ol’ boys, Swiss style

7. Glimp

This place sounded so promising. Here’s what one of my search results tantalized me with:
“Headed to Glimp Tennessee? AOL Travel's Glimp Travel Guide gives you a snapshot of the city including hotels, things to do, restaurants, nighlife [sic], and more … “

Unfortunately, clicking on the link gave me:
  • Sorry, we don't have any Hotels located in Glimp but please check out nearby cities for Hotels.
  • Sorry, we don't have any Restaurants located in Glimp but please check out nearby cities for Restaurants.
  • Sorry, we don't have any Nightlife located in Glimp but please check out nearby cities for Nightlife.
  • Sorry, we don't have any Things To Do located in Glimp but please check out nearby cities for Things To Do.
Those nearby cities? Well, on Google Maps, I can see Opossum, Arp, Lightfoot, and Fort Pillow. The AOL site, though, seems to want me to head to Memphis instead. Indeed, Glimp is north of Memphis, near the Mississippi River, but really just a bend in the road in the middle of nowhere.

Where did it get its name? Well, I actually was able to find something, on a genealogy site. As it turns out, some of the early settlers were named Glymph. It looks like they probably came from South Carolina, where most of today’s 100 or so Glymphs or Glimps reside today. 

In fact, all the Glymphs / Glimps in the US today may descend from one Johann Abraham Glymph, who lived in Charleston. They may be surprised to know, though, that their ancestor was originally from Poland, was Jewish, and was born Joseph Ben David. Still not sure what the surname actually means.

By the way, there is also a Crump*, TN.

6. Only

Shortened from The One and Only, this little town was never lacking for civic pride.

Seriously, I really couldn’t find anything definitive on where this one came from. I did find a good story though ... Turns out there were two competing roads running through the area here. One of them then got paved. So, from that time forward, there was really only one way to go, the way this little town just happened to be on.

We’re in the west center part of the state (in fact, Only’s closest neighbor is Centerville). Only’s just south of I-40 and a little east of the Tennessee River. I see a prominent road (perhaps the one from the story) and about a dozen buildings.

Here’s some priceless back and forth from Only’s chat room on

Guy 1:  Does anybody know if the petite, short, brown-haired girl at the Verizon store is single and if she is a manager?
Gal 1:  Just go in and fake check something ... then ask her. I'm a girl. I'd be flattered if you asked me. Worst she can say is “I'm taken.”
Guy 2:  Chica, are *you* taken?
Gal 1:  [silence]

Shopping district, 
Only TN

5. Pigeon Forge *

It’s where they make the pigeons, of course.  Why do you ask?

Well, actually, it’s from a blacksmith’s shop that set up shop here along the Pigeon River, at the foot of the Smoky Mountains. Now, why did they name a river after those poop-filled pests? Well, it’s actually after passenger pigeons. You remember them, don’t you? They’re all dead now.

Pigeon Forge is right down the road from Gatlinburg. says that the two are, collectively, “the standard by which all tourist traps must be benchmarked.” And that means PF’s got:
  • Dollywood
  • An Elvis museum
  • The Hollywood Wax Museum 
  • Hannah's Maze of Mirrors 
  • The Three Bears Bear Pit 
  • An upside-down building 
  • A mural of Lara Croft, Tomb Raider
  • A Titanic replica, world's largest museum attraction 
  • The Lumberjack Feud dinner show

Well, I guess they forge progress now

4. Laurel Bloomery *

What?  It’s not a garden center?

Well, would you believe it’s where they made things? Yup. And would you believe what they made there was iron? Unh-huh. “Bloomery” is just an old-fashioned way to say “iron furnace.” And this particular one just so happened to be along Laurel Creek. Just call me Holmes, Sherlock Holmes.

The author has actually been through this place – numerous times. It’s on the way from my home in Charlotte, NC to the mountain splendors of Damascus, VA and thereabouts – hiking, biking, camping, canoeing, and lots more. I love it up there!

So, I can personally vouch that there isn’t a whole lot to this place. There is a fiddler’s convention there – not that I’ve ever been. It’s in Tennessee’s very most northeastern tip. In fact, it’s the furthest east of any Tennessee town. Everything else is just woods and North Carolina.

Hey, down in front!

3. Bug Scuffle

Wasn’t this where Jed and Granny and Jethro and Elly May were from? No, no, that was Bug Tussle. I always get those two confused.

Well, this is a real place. Other than its name and vague location, however, there just ain’t a lot out there. It’s in the center of the state, with Wartrace, Bell Buckle, and Normandy as near neighbors.

The typical explanation for towns with names like these (and there are several scattered around the country) is that they were too small for two bugs to fight in. An alternative along those lines is that the town was so small and remote and boring that the only excitement to be had was watching some ants or beetles go at it. A final explanation is that the bugs – fleas, skeeters, whatever – were just too much, and the inhabitants were left tussling or scuffling with them constantly.

Because these name appears again and again (AL, KY, MO, OK, TN, TX), I’m thinking it might have an origin in some national humor source. That is, after all, what’s behind the Dogpatches (from Lil Abner) and Pumpkin Centers out there. As to what that might be, though, I’m at a loss.

Get it on a T-shirt right here

2. Difficult

I wasn’t expecting it to be easy to find out anything about this place …  And I was right.

It’s a little northeast from Nashville.  Defeated is just down the road.  

Could this possibly be for real?

1. Soddy-Daisy

If only the first part of this had been “Soggy” …  Though “Soddy” has its own unique appeal as well.

Now, there’s a little controversy about the “Soddy” part. Some say it’s from the Indian tsati which means “sipping place” (spring? bar? tea shop?). Others say it was after William Sodder, who owned an early trading place here.

The “Daisy” part, on the other hand, is a lot less contentious. Seems it was named after one Daisy Parks, the daughter of the president of the local coal mine.

Put the two together, and what do you get? Why, a city of 11,000 people, a bedroom community for Chattanooga, the site of a nuclear power plant, and the subject of this book.  

Stefanie Wittler,
Miss Hamilton County,
Soddy-Daisy resident,
and space alien
(just look at her eyes!)

Honorable Mention: 
  • B-o-r-i-n-g – Lane, Vale, Pond, Lake Site, Hilltop, Big Rock, College, Tennessee Ridge, Tennessee City *, West Junction, South Tunnel, Crossroads, Midway, Centerville, Center Point, Central, Center, Spot, McBurg
  • Short & sweet – Moss, Mink, Mint, Vine, Hoop, Boma*, Jena, Eva, Hale, Lee, Dill, Duff, Arp
  • Just a little out of place – Cleveland, S. Pittsburg, Valley Forge *, Trenton (world’s largest teapot collection), Westpoint, Hartford*, White House, Mt. Vernon, Richmond, Savannah*, Houston, Waco, Alamo, Denver*, Santa Fe, Yuma, Monterrey, Portland, Cuba, Bogota, Quito, Brazil, Belfast, Wales, Bordeaux, Paris (Eiffel Tower replica), Denmark, Dresden, Milan, Rome, Carthage, Moscow, Petersburg, Athens, Troy, Lebanon*, Damascus, Palestine, Cairo, Alexandria, Memphis* (largest pyramid in US), Persia, India, Asia, Siam, Milky Way 
  • Just a little off color – Flippin, Krapp Springs
  • Orthographically challenged – Tri-Angle, Chuckey, Quebeck, Smartt
  • Numerically oriented – Five Points, Ten Mile
  • Native American mouthfuls – Sequatchie, Chattanooga* (Intl. Towing and Recovery Museum)
  • Atypical adjectives – Major, Overall, Oral, Royal Blue, Big Sandy
  • Unconventional verbs – Trade*, Plant, Curve, Campaign, Veto, Tumbling, Yell, Harms, Moons, Skinem
  • Abnormal nouns – Sunshine, Falcon, Fishery, Rugby, Ozone*, Opossum, Mascot, Viola, Clouds, Tradewinds, Dukedom, Bride, Gift, Wheel, Winner*, Finger, Grinders, Disco
  • Fun to say – Lusk, Lutts, Trimble, Vasper, Turtletown, Hoodoo, Nankipoo
  • Hard to say – Armathwaite
  • Just plain weird – Ducktown*, Needmore, Miser Station, Irving College, Puncheon Camp, Summer City, New Deal, Bean Station, Bible Hill, Burnt Church, Barren Plain, Black Center, Ball Camp, Bumpus Mills, Sunbright, Silver Point, Cash Point, Greenback, Golddust, Gilt Edge, Lightfoot, Hornbeak, Goose Horn, Love Joy, Love Lady, Sugar Tree, Chestnut Mound, Walnut Log, Nutbush (birthplace of Tina Turner), Crab Orchard *, Frankewing, Littlelot, Carlock, Wartrace (all depends on how you pronounce it), Wartburg (only one way to pronounce it)
  • Just plain weird, -ville division – Friendsville (Friends Station too), Flourville, Monoville, Cornersville, Stainville, Striggersville
  • I’d like to introduce you to – Edith, Sadie, Louise, Heloise, Henrietta, Stella, Martha*, Warren, Vernon, Erwin, Seymour, Montezuma, Pocahontas*, Topsy, Dante, Nixon, Martha Washington, Madison Hall, Austin Springs, Walter Hill *
  • Season’s greetings – Christmasville, Bethlehem, St. Bethlehem
  • Happy Halloween – Limbs, Hanging Limb, Bone Cave, Skullbone, Screamer
  • Ghost towns – Wheat, Chuckalisa, Mousetail Landing

* - author has visited

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