It’s a state with a lot of nicknames and a lot of slogans. It’s also a state with a lot of oddly named towns. That’s why we’ve got A to L this week, and M to Z next week.
There’s something wrong in Virginia, something not quite right. Something out of joint. I don’t know how to put it. There’s something … Something …
Now, I’m sure this is pronounced with the emphasis on the first syllable, and it’s probably after some guy. But wouldn’t it be fun …
Well, as it turns out, there was some guy, and his name was Joseph Amiss, and he was the first settler in the area. And it is indeed pronounced “A-miss,” and not “uh-MISS.”
A-ville is in northern Virginia, at the foot of the Blue Ridge. Like most places in that part of the state, there were more than a few Civil War skirmishes in the area. These days, the emphasis seems to be more on wineries, B&Bs, horse farms, and such like.
At the same time, Amissville is also the site of the Hazard Homecoming, put together by Ben Jones, a.k.a. Cooter, from the 80s TV series The Dukes of Hazzard.
Havin' some fun now
at the Hazzard Homecoming
in Amissville, VA
at the Hazzard Homecoming
in Amissville, VA
9. Bowlers Wharf
Wait, they get their own wharf?
Well, I’m not sure they got anything else. Bowler’s Wharf looks like a half dozen fancy houses along the Rappahannock, about halfway between Fredericksburg and the Chesapeake Bay.
Once again, we’ve got some early settler to thank for this one – in particular, one Thomas Bowler, who arrived in the New World in 1658. Interestingly, the surname has nothing to do with splits and gutter balls, but refers to someone who made bowls.
Virginia is for car loovers.
Carloover is up in the mountains, near the WV border. It’s a couple of dozen houses strung out along the Sam Snead Highway (the golfer was born nearby), just south of Tinkertown. It’s in Bath County.
About the only thing I could find on this place was the autobiography of one Henry Wise Hoover, titled Henry Wise Hoover of Carloover, Bath County, Virginia, 1859-1948, The Autobiography and History of the Life and Times of a Bath County Farmer, Teacher, Photographer, Merchant and Postmaster. Unfortunately – and despite the wonderful rhyme – this tome didn’t help me uncover anything about how Carloover became Carloover.
Well, I’m pretty sure this one wasn’t named after Lewis Grizzard. You know, Kathy Sue Lowdermilk, I Love You; Chili Dogs Always Bark at Night; My Daddy Was a Pistol and I’m a Son of a Gun; Shoot Low Boys – They’re Riding Shetland Ponies … Classic Southern literature.
But maybe it was some long, lost relative. Indeed, the Grizzard surname is not that common. It’s French, and basically means gray. The English word “grizzled” has the same root.
The town is in the southeast part of the state, near the major metropolis of Emporia. It looks like it might not be much more than a handful of homes (including the historic Fortsville) and a couple of crossroads.
But, of course. It’s where they made the keezles.
So, what exactly is a keezle? Well, would you believe it’s somebody’s name? Yup, this place was named after one George Keezell, an early settler. There aren’t a lot of Keezells out there, though, so I’m still not sure what the name means.
This one’s at the bottom of the Shenandoah Valley, just south of Harrisonburg. Massanutten Mountain – with a waterpark, ski slopes, a spa, golf, etc., etc. – is nearby.
a band of some sort
Once again, a lot depends on what sylLABle you emPHAsize. I’m sure it’s the first syllable for this one. But, you know, wouldn’t it be great …
I hate to sound like a broken record, but again, Bumpass is some poor schmoe’s name. In particular, we’re talking about one John Thomas Bumpass Sr., a local landowner. The surname’s from the French bon pas – literally “good step,” probably from someone who walked fast. Bumpus is a more common variant.
Bumpass the town is known for odd things like alpaca farming and a former factory that made ice cream spoons and cocktail forks. It’s a little northwest of Richmond.
You can get your own decal here
Yeah, I know. It’s a bird. It also, however, means crazy … nuts … out to lunch … off the deep end … bonkers … bananas …
You might have a hard time believing this, but there was not an early settler by the name of Cuckoo. This town is, instead, named after an early tavern, The Cuckoo. See a video on it right here.
In more recent times, Cuckoo gained national recognition by being the epicenter of a 5.8 earthquake that rocked the eastern US on August 23, 2011. I actually experienced the thing down here in Charlotte, NC – as did people in places as far away as Atlanta, Cincinnati, and Quebec.
By the way, there is also a Nuttsville in the Old Dominion.
And you can get this right here
And this is where they grew the gooches. Totally obvious.
What’s a gooch? Yup, you guessed it – some poor dude’s last name. Sir William Gooch was Virginia’s governor, from 1727 to 1749. He actually named the place for himself.
Goochland is both a town and the county the town is located in (and, to top it all off, the town is the county seat). Once again, we’re a little northwest of Richmond, along the James River.
Not sure why Virginia has so many people with strange surnames …
Careful how you say this one … That's a lotta "ucks."
The town was named after a nearby creek. Couldn’t find out for sure, but it sounds like the name of the creek may be from a Native American word for “crooked.”
Like many places in southeast part of Virginia, this area was settled a long time ago – in our case, in the early 1600s. Today, we have a library, fire department, post office, a 7-Eleven, and lots more. It has a population of a little over a 1,000. Everything you could ever possibly want to know about the history of this place you can find right here.
has its own historical marker?
1. Forks of Buffalo
I remember these guys. Heavy punk influence. Pretty good shows. The bassist was a chick …
Nah, that’s not it. Now, what’s really scary about this place is that the explanation for it actually makes sense. Turns out the town is located where the Buffalo River divides, into a North Fork and a South Fork.
So, you may be wondering why a river in Virginia was named after buffalo. I mean, don’t those things live out west? Well, would you believe that they once roamed all over the US? Yup, even as far east as ol’ Virginny.
On Mapquest, F of B looks like a handful of buildings and houses strung out along Rte. 60, on the way over the Blue Ridge to Lexington. Looks like good kayaking, hunting, and fishing country.
- B-o-r-i-n-g – Camp, Forest, Grove, Beach, Big Rock, Flat Rock, Central Plains, Centerville*, Centralia, Central Point, Halfway, Homeville, Home
- Short & sweet – Ante, Alma, Cana, Gala, Bula, Leda, Edon, Elon, Elam, Elmo, Ivor, Ida, Karo, Coke, Fox, Fife, Dye, Ark
- Just a little out of place – Broadway, Long Island, Boston, Cleveland, Dayton, Green Bay, Key West, Dublin, Edinburg, Glasgow, London Bridge, Hague, Holland, Hamburg, Damascus*, Lebanon, Alexandria* (Natl. Inventors Hall of Fame), Guinea
- Just a little off color – Gaylord, Dyke, Climax, Ballsville
- Orthographically challenged – Diggs, Deel, Lipps, Ladd, Goode, Handsom, Elevan
- Numerically oriented – Four Mile Fork, Five Mile Fork, Five Forks, Centenary
- Native American mouthfuls – Accomac, Kiptopeke, Appomattox, Chincoteague*
- Miscellaneous mouthfuls – Hampden Sydney, Harmon Maxie, Isle of Wight, King and Queen Court House
- Atypical adjectives – Gray, Ebony, Aqua, Hardy, Lively, Ordinary, Bland*, Bleak
- Unconventional verbs – Love, Counts, Culls, Breaks, Bandy, Check, Drill, Hustle, Huddle, Hurt, Dooms
- Abnormal nouns – Boulevard, Colony, Crosswind, Cascade, Caret, Glass, Dawn, Comet, Eclipse, Base, Hood, Acorn, Dendron, Dolphin, Cardinal, Crows, Grottoes (oldest commercial cavern in US), Lackey, Java, Fries* (actually pronounced "freeze"), Gore, Exit
- Fun to say – Bloxom, Dwale, Darvills, Dumfries, Dinwiddie*, Lucketts*, Fentress, Franconia*, Favonia, Arvonia, Culpeper, Critz, Brodnax
- Hard to say – Ca Ira
- Just plain weird – Horse Pasture, Bowling Green*, Brandy Station, Burnt Chimney, Cluster Springs, Indian Neck, Fancy Gap, Fancy Hill, Free Union, Front Royal*, Birdsnest, Jolivue, Lightfoot, Ladysmith*, Goldbond, Figsboro, Adwolf, Clinchco, Dugspur, Disputanta, Double Tollgate, Bremo Bluff, Big Vein, Gross Junction, Standard Garage, Goose Pimple Junction
- Possessive puzzles – Carters Branch, Adkins Store, Kents Store, James Store, Cootes Store, Boswells Tavern, Benns Church, Bacons Castle, Georges Fork, Jennings Ordinary
- I’d like to introduce you to – Gladys, Carrie, Henry, Floyd, Duane, Alfonso (museum dedicated to Washington’s mom), Dante, Casanova, King William, Daniel Boone, Ben Hur, Bonny Blue, Holly Brook, Craig Springs, Frederick Hall, Glen Wilton
* - author has visited