The 22 Weirdest Town Names Ever Put on the Map

No matter how underpopulated, unremarkable, or remote they may be, these oddly named American communities are places to see and be seen (at the very least in a selfie snapped by the highway exit sign). And if, as the Latin phrase goes, nomen est omen—name is destiny—then these towns are destined to be remembered.

  1. Normal, Illinois

    Normal, Illinois

    The somewhat abnormal name of this town of 52,000 was taken from Illinois State Normal University, a normal school (or teacher training institution), which was located there. The school, now known as Illinois State University, is the oldest public building teaching higher education in the state.

    Related: 17 Parts of Your Home You Never Knew Had Names

    Flickr via rossaroni

  2. Dummer, New Hampshire

    Dummer, New Hampshire

    This northern New Hampshire hamlet is home to just over 300 citizens, who are probably just as clever as folks in the surrounding towns. The founder, a wealthy businessman from Portsmouth, clearly didn’t think things through when he named the new town after Massachusetts Governor William Dummer (1677–1761).

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  3. Hell, Michigan

    Hell, Michigan

    Ready to go to Hell? You’ll find this unincorporated village in south-central Michigan, just 15 miles from the bustling college town of Ann Arbor. The name may come from the German word hell, which means bright, or it could be attributed to the thick clouds of mosquitoes and deep forest found in the area when Western explorers first arrived.

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  4. Rough and Ready, California

    Rough and Ready, California

    With about 900 souls, this former Gold Rush town, founded in 1849, was named for a Wisconsin mining company, which was in turn named for General Zachary Taylor (nicknamed "Old Rough and Ready"), the 12th President of the United States. The company’s founder, A.A. Townsend, had served under Taylor during the U.S.-Mexican War.

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  5. Chugwater, Wyoming

    Chugwater, Wyoming

    The Chug, a stream that runs through this scenic cattle-herding valley, gives the area its name. The most famous citizen of the town of around 212 was a rodeo horse named Steamboat, who served as the inspiration for the bucking bronco on the Wyoming state license plate.

    Related: Home Alone: 10 Beautiful Homes in the Middle of Nowhere

    Flickr via jeepdawg

  6. Random Lake, Wisconsin

    Random Lake, Wisconsin

    With around 1,600 residents, this town is part of the Sheboygan metro area and sits clustered on the shores of its eponymous lake. The first surveyors in the region named the body of water—and apparently they were feeling very uninspired that day.

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  7. Bigfoot, Texas

    Bigfoot, Texas

    The state of Texas is rich in bizarrely named towns. This one, a village of 450 in Frio County, was first settled in the 1860s as “Connally's Store," but later was renamed in honor of Texas Ranger William A. A. "Bigfoot" Wallace, a former resident of the town.

    Related: The 20 Best Towns for Trick-or-Treating

    Flickr via auvet

  8. Choccolocco, Alabama

    Choccolocco, Alabama

    Located in northeastern Alabama, this town of 2,800 had its moment of fame in the early 2000s, when “The Choccolocco Monster” was repeatedly sighted at the edge of the woods, scaring motorists. The culprit was later found to be a local teen who liked to dress up in a cow’s skull. The origin of the town’s name remains a mystery.

    Related: 11 Real Haunted Houses to Visit—If You Dare!

    Flickr via auvet

  9. Forks of Salmon, California

    Forks of Salmon, California

    This unincorporated Northern California town was settled during the Gold Rush, and its name has nothing to do with eating a nice fish dinner. Instead, it comes from the hamlet’s position in between the north and south forks of the Salmon River.

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    Flickr via usfsregion5

  10. Why, Arizona

    Why, Arizona

    This rural desert spot is home to around 115 people and got its name from the Y-shaped intersection of the two major highways, State Routes 85 and 86, that originally comprised the center of town. It’s now a T intersection, but the name stuck.

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  11. Whynot, Mississippi

    Whynot, Mississippi

    David Ruffin, one of the crooners in the Temptations, came from this sparsely populated settlement near Mississippi’s eastern border. No one knows who gave it this name, or why—but after all, why not?

    Related: Keep, Don't Kill: 9 Weeds to Welcome

    Flickr via rob_stone

  12. Boring, Oregon

    Boring, Oregon

    This town at the foot of the Cascade Range is named for William Harrison Boring, a former Union soldier and farmer who settled the area in 1874. The townspeople embrace their low-key moniker with humor, and have adopted the tagline, “An exciting place to live.”

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  13. Bread Loaf, Vermont

    Bread Loaf, Vermont

    This unincorporated community gets its name from a loaf-shaped nearby mountain. Vermont does boast many excellent bakeries, but this community is known for the famed writer’s workshop held there every summer, sponsored by Middlebury College.

    Related: 23 Brilliant Hacks to Help You Weather Winter

    Flickr via juanalbertogarciarivera

  14. Peculiar, Missouri

    Peculiar, Missouri

    After local folk found that all their other ideas for town names had already been taken, the postmaster settled on this one, figuring it would be too strange to be duplicated. The city now boasts a comical slogan—”Where the Odds Are With You”—and about 4,600 residents.

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  15. Embarrass, Minnesota

    Embarrass, Minnesota

    This unincorporated village gets its name from its river, which French fur traders dubbed “Rivière d'Embarras,” or, loosely translated, “river of obstacles.” It may be not be an embarrassing place to live, but it probably isn’t very comfortable—it bears the dubious distinction of being the coldest place in Minnesota.

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  16. Duckwater, Nevada

    Duckwater, Nevada

    This high desert town gets its name from nearby Duckwater Creek, a well-watered marsh and a hospitable place for wild waterfowl. The area is also known for its hot springs, found on the tribal lands of the Duckwater Shoshone.

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  17. Accident, Maryland

    Accident, Maryland

    This small town in the mountains of far western Maryland is home to just over 300 people. The origin of its name isn't known for sure, but legend has it that one land speculator told another that he’d marked off this plot “by accident.”

    Related: 7 Ways to Trace Your Home's History

    Flickr via kenf

  18. Humptulips, Washington

    Humptulips, Washington

    Native Americans of the Chehalis tribe gave the nearby river the name Humptulips, which may mean “hard to pole” (as in navigating with a poled canoe) or “chilly region.” About 250 people live in this village near the Washington coast.

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    Flickr via four12

  19. Nameless, Tennessee

    Nameless, Tennessee

    One legend has it that when local residents inadvertently left a blank space on a form requesting a post office, the federal government gave this place its moniker. Others believe the name was adopted in protest after Yankee feds rejected a name chosen to honor a Confederate general. Whatever its origin, the Nameless name has attracted attention from writers and travelers ever since.

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  20. Hot Coffee, Mississippi

    Hot Coffee, Mississippi

    This celebrated spot in Covington County got its name from a wayside inn at the central crossroads, where fresh-brewed java, made from local spring water and beans roasted in New Orleans, was served to tired travelers.

    Related: 11 Uses for Coffee Grounds

    Flickr via auvet

  21. Deadhorse, Alaska

    Deadhorse, Alaska

    Only 25 to 50 permanent residents live in this community on Alaska’s North Slope, hard by the Arctic Ocean. But because it’s a jumping-off point for oil workers and tourists, the population can sometimes swell as high as 3,000. The town is believed to have gotten its name from the Dead Horse Haulers Trucking company, which used to make runs to the settlement in the 1960s and '70s.

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  22. Zzyzx, California

    Zzyzx, California

    This unincorporated flyspeck in the Mojave Desert was once known as Soda Springs, but a wily entrepreneur, who hoped to make the land’s mineral springs into a tourist spot, changed its name into something more memorable. Now home to a desert study center run by a consortium of California State University campuses, it’s usually the last entry in the index of any U.S. atlas.

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