50 Funny Town Names from Each of the 50 States
From Boring to Slaughterville, read up on America's most unusual city names and their origins.
Burnt Corn, Alabama
Funny town names that have to do with food, like this Alabama town, are the coolest. There are a few legends about how Burnt Corn got its name. Some say settlers burned the Indians’ corn fields; others say Indians burned the settlers’ corn. Either way, conflict between the two groups climaxed at the Battle of Burnt Corn in 1813, which the Native Americans won. Don’t miss this other United States trivia you never learned in school.
There’s nothing anti-Alaska about Unalaska. The native Unangan, or Aleut, people called this area “Agunalaksh,” but variations in spelling and pronunciation caused confusion over the years. In the late 1800s, the United States Board on Geographic Names declared that the official name for this town, as well as the island it’s located on, was “Unalaska,” a simplification of the original name.
Why, oh why, is this town called Why? It’s said to be because State Routes 85 and 86 formed a Y-intersection near the area. Since Arizona law required city names to have at least three letters, the founders changed the name from “Y” to “Why”—although if residents hadn’t seen it written down, no one would have known the difference. Here are more of the the dumbest laws in every state.
Possum Grape, Arkansas
This name is not as weird as it sounds—possum grapes are actually a kind of grape native to the southeastern United States. (Yes, they do grow in Arkansas—the name really would be weird if they didn’t!) Another funny theory for these funny town names, though, suggests that the townspeople couldn’t agree on whether to call the town “possum” or “grape”—and argued about it for almost 20 years! Don’t miss these other 50 fascinating facts about basically everything.
Curtis Howe Springer was a radio evangelist who tried to convince people he was a doctor by selling fake medicines on his radio show. He also set up health spas around the country but never paid taxes on them. When he acquired a plot of land in the Mojave Desert, he named the area Zzyzx Mineral Springs resort, so it would be “the last word in health.” Eventually, the Feds caught up with his financial schemes and threw Springer in jail—for 49 days. Can you guess the only letter that isn’t in any state name? (Hint: It’s not Z.)
No Name, Colorado
This is one of many funny town names that aren’t really names at all. Credit for the town’s unusual name goes to the developers constructing Interstate 70, who left several exits unmarked. When a Colorado Department of Transportation official went out to improve the signs, he wrote “No Name” on Exit 119. The town has had No Name ever since. State officials once tried to rename the area, but locals wouldn’t allow it. Here are 11 funny things you never knew had names.
Happyland is actually a tiny community in the larger town of Preston, Connecticut. A theory says it was named for an amusement park that used to be there but that was destroyed by a hurricane in the 1930s, a decidedly unhappy story! Unfortunately, travel blogger Johnna Kaplan says that there’s no “welcome” sign, which we’re also not happy about. I mean, who wouldn’t want a picture with a “Welcome to Happyland” sign?
Little Heaven, Delaware
This place sure thinks highly of itself! Little Heaven was the name that an 1870s farmer gave to a group of cabins he built in the area for his Irish workers. There is also rumored to have been another small community nearby called—you guessed it—Little Hell. Unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately?), it no longer exists. Check out these other U.S. geography facts you won’t learn in school.
Burnt Store, Florida
According to local legend, the town gets its name from a trading house on the Peace River that was burned down in 1849. At the time, manager George Payne had had meetings with Seminole Indians, and he died in a Seminole attack shortly before the store burned.
Lots of these funny town names could qualify as experiments themselves. Experiment, Georgia gets its name from the Agricultural Experiment Station at the nearby Georgia University. Of course, it’s not to be confused with the colonial antislavery movement the Georgia Experiment!
Despite what you might think when you first read its name, this Hawaiian community is not named for a three-line Japanese nature poem. Haʻikū was an ancient Hawaiian name for the natural valley in which the community is situated. Some say it is a Hawaiian word meaning “speak abruptly” or “sharp break”; others say it is another name for the Kahili flower. Here are 11 things to know before vacationing in Hawaii.
Good Grief, Idaho
No, this isn’t Charlie Brown’s hometown! In fact, if you can believe the old-timey TV show Hee Haw (a name that might be better for funny town names than “Good Grief”), no one really lives there at all. According to an episode of the show from the 1970s, the entire population of Good Grief consists of “two dogs and one old grouch.” Here are 13 more of the smallest towns in America (yep, some have just one person).
Don’t pretend you’re not forcing back a chuckle at this one. This Illinois community was named for Colonel William H. Boody, a head of the railroad industry (that poor, poor man). There’s a Boody Water Company and a Boody Water Tower, and there was even a Boody High School at one point. We wish it was still there, because we think it’d be pretty funny to only go for a year or two and then be a Boody School Dropout.
Santa Claus, Indiana
Originally called Santa Fe, the town’s name changed in 1856 when town officials learned that there was already a Santa Fe, Indiana. However, the town has certainly made the most of the second-choice name: Santa Claus, IN fully embraces its Christmas-y moniker. Touted as a place “where it’s Christmas all year round,” Santa Claus features attractions like Holiday World, Lake Rudolph Campground, and Frosty’s Fun Center.
What Cheer, Iowa
In 1864, store owner Joseph Andrews organized a post office for his town of Petersburg. He wanted to name the post office “What Cheer” after an old English greeting he liked, and decided that should be the town’s name as well. Peter Britton, who named the town Petersburg, objected. There was a town meeting, but the citizens couldn’t make a decision. Andrews won out in the end. Don’t miss the most mind-blowing world record broken in every state.
Though it’s fun to say, this town name has a pretty simple origin: it’s the name of a Native American and Indigenous Mexican tribe living in the area. Today, it is home to a 150,000-acre Indian reservation. According to legend, the name means “wanderer.”
No, there are no actual hippos in Hippo, Kentucky. The name of this town comes from one of its twentieth-century residents, Bee Madison “Hippo” Craft. His nickname has nothing to do with hippopotamuses, either; the townspeople called him “hippo” as a rather insensitive shortening of “hypochondriac.”
The first residents of Waterproof moved there because it was the one place in their region that managed to avoid devastating floodwaters from the Mississippi River. Unfortunately, being waterproof isn’t always a good thing. The town lost many of its valuable corn crops due to a drought in 2008.
Bald Head, Maine
Bald Head, Maine is named for the cliff of the same name. Does Bald Head Cliff look like a bald head? Unfortunately, not really. Sometimes funny town names don’t have a unique meaning to match. It does look pretty incredible, though, and the neighboring town’s name is just as odd: Ogunquit (which sounds like “a-gun-quit”).
The most popular story about this odd name dates back to the late 1700s. Legend has it that two surveyors, Brooke Beall and William Deakins, Jr., both became interested in the same piece of land in the then-colony of Maryland. “By accident,” they both claimed the same land, each not knowing that the other had claimed it. The story ends happily, though: Deakins let Beall have the land, because the two were friends and because Beall had claimed it first. Check out these other 15 little-known facts about America.
Incorporated in 1639, Sandwich is the oldest town on Cape Cod. It’s named for the seaport of Sandwich in Kent, England. The commodity the town is most known for? Glass.
Sometimes, “Go to Hell” isn’t an insult. It’s directions! The central Michigan community got its start when George Reeves opened a gristmill (where grain is ground into flour) and paid farmers who brought in grain with home distilled whiskey. If someone asked a farmer’s wife where her husband was around the harvest, she’d reply, “He’s gone to Hell again.” Now, visitors can be mayor of Hell for a day, get married in Hell, and stop by the post office, where workers singe every piece of mail before sending it.
The township gets its name from the French word “embarras,” which means “an obstacle or difficult situation.” When French explorers first traveled through the area, they had trouble getting their canoes down the river, so they named the river (and, eventually, the town) accordingly. See? Nothing to be embarrassed about here.
Hot Coffee, Mississippi
One inn owner, L.J. Davis, advertised that he made the best hot coffee around—and it very well could have been. Davis made the coffee with pure spring water and New Orleans beans, and he used molasses drippings as sweetener. People loved it so much that they named the town after it. Here’s where to get the best gas station coffee in every state.
In 1890, Gottfried Franken donated land for the community to build a church. And as far as we know, Franken was not a mad scientist (even though we secretly wish he was).
Big Arm, Montana
This town is known for Big Arm Bay of the nearby Flathead Lake, which also gives its name to Big Arm/Flathead Lake State Park, a popular destination for fishing. The “big arm” in question is the name for one side of the lake. On another side is the equally fun Elmo, Montana.
Like Hippo, Kentucky, Worms was not named for the wildlife, which is probably a good thing. The name most likely comes from the city of Worms in Germany, which would be pronounced “vorms” and comes from a nickname for a Roman emperor. But seeing it written out, we can’t help but think of creepy-crawlies. This is the hardest-to-pronounce town name in all 50 states.
Sugar Bunker, Nevada
Unfortunately, the story behind this name isn’t as sweet as you might think. Sugar Bunker was the name of a storage site for chemical explosives that operated in the mid-twentieth century. Luckily, no chemical tests are held there nowadays! Here are 10 little-known, but no less amazing, national parks.
Potter Place, New Hampshire
Before Harry Potter, there was Richard Potter! That’s right—while this community is not named after the boy wizard, it’s still named after a magician, which we think is pretty cool. According to the welcome sign, Richard Potter was a “magician, ventriloquist, and showman.”
Cheesequake, New Jersey
Again, lots of funny town names have to do with food. At first glance, it looks like this town is called cheesecake! Cheesequake is actually derivation of the Lenni-Lenape Indian word “Cheseh-oh-ke,” which means “upland.” It is now located within Cheesequake State Park, a 1,274-acre park where visitors can go hiking, camping, fishing, or boating. These are more of the best trails to hike in America.
Pie Town, New Mexico
Yes, Pie Town really is a town of pie. Named for a local bakery that made amazing apple pies, it is the site of an annual Pie Festival, complete with a pie-baking contest, a pie-eating contest, and horned toad races. Because who says pie is just for humans?
Butternuts, New York
Legend has it that Butternuts was named for three butternut (also known as white walnut) trees growing out of the same stump. Unfortunately, the trees were cut down a long time ago to build a log cabin, which seems pretty anticlimactic to us. Learn which food brands have different (and funny!) names in other countries.
Whynot, North Carolina
Sadly, this isn’t a sister city to Why, Arizona. When German and English settlers were debating over what to name their new town, one man said, “Why not name the town Whynot and let’s go home?” These are the same people who named the surrounding communities Steeds, Erect, and Lonely.
Zap, North Dakota
This is another place that most likely gets its name from a city in Europe: Zapp, Scotland. The North Dakota community is a coal town, and a railroad official named it after Zapp, also a coal mining hub. Today, the town’s tourism catchphrase is “zip to zap”—how great is that?
Despite its name, Slaughterville is not the site of grisly murders or uprisings. It was named after a grocery store run by James Slaughter in the early 1900s. In 2004, PETA requested that the town be renamed because it felt the current name alluded to animal abuse. The town council voted down the motion.
No, the name isn’t meant to describe the goings-on in the town. It was named after one of its first residents, William Harrison Boring, and it soon became a railroad town, since the timber in that area was used to build rails and fuel trains. Boring’s great-grandson Bob still lives in the area and says that despite the name, “There’s always something going on around here.” The town also has two international sister cities: Dull, Scotland, and Bland, Australia.
“Asylum” often brings creepy or scary images to mind, but this township draws its name from the other definition of the word. During the French Revolution, refugees who escaped the violence took shelter in Pennsylvania and founded the village of Azilum. Many residents returned to France around 1800, but the name stuck around. Not creepy enough for you? Pennsylvania does have one of America’s best haunted houses—and it’s inside a real prison.
Woonsocket, Rhode Island
“Woonsocket” sounds like it should be a town name in a Dr. Seuss book, not the USA! Like “Kickapoo,” it’s a variation on a Native American word, most likely from the Nipmuc tribe. There are several theories about what it means: “thunder mist/waterfall,” “fox country,” “at the fork of the river,” to name a few. Others just think it’s a combination of a couple different tribe names. Turns out it’s not quite as much fun to say as “Kickapoo”—its correct pronunciation is “one-SOCK-it.” Find out how to pronounce 10 more city names you’ve been saying all wrong.
Coward, South Carolina
Not much is known about how Coward got its name. Funnily, though, the town is best known for an intense treetop walk that is definitely not for cowards! The “Canopy Walk” has bridges that are up to 50 feet above the forest floor and that sway terrifyingly. Here’s a bucket list item for each state (and DC!).
Red Shirt, South Dakota
No, this town is not named after the infamously oft-killed off extras of the original Star Trek. It was named for chief Red Shirt of the Oglala Sioux tribe, who is famous for being a U.S. Army Native Scout. Our runner-up for Mount Rushmore’s home state was Plenty Bears, South Dakota (which sounds like a place Trek‘s redshirts would definitely want to avoid!)
Sweet Lips, Tennessee
Fewer than 100 people live in this small town that got its name from a nearby creek. Supposedly, Civil War soldiers thought the water from this creek tasted sweeter than others.
Established during the Civil War, this community is named for John Looney, who opened a store there in the early 1870s (we have no reason to believe his name was reflected in his personality). It took a hard hit after World War I; only 40 people lived there. In 1960, its only school closed, and its last store was consumed by a fire in the 1990s.
This is one name that means exactly what you think! The name probably comes from the fact that settlers looking after livestock in this area were often given eggnog to drink. We think Eggnog, Utah and Santa Claus, Indiana need to team up and throw the greatest Christmas party ever. See if you can guess each U.S. state by its flag.
This is one place we already know we’d rather not visit! Mosquitoville is actually a tiny community within the town of Barnet, Vermont. Barnet has a population of around 1,700 people… and we’re surprised even that many live so close to a place called Mosquitoville.
Mosquitoville may be pretty low on the list of places we’d like to visit, but Dragonville is at the top! This community was most likely named after a settlement in England’s County Durham. As for how that place got the super epic name, we’re not sure.
It’s actually got nothing to do with tulips. Most sources say that it comes from a Native American word meaning “hard to pole,” indicating the difficulty the Indians had poling their canoes up the river in the area. Another theory says that the word meant “chilly region.” This is one place named after a Native American word that we think might’ve been better off left un-anglicized.
Booger Hole, West Virginia
This one makes us cringe way more than Worms, Nebraska. Turns out that the town actually does have a cringe-worthy history—and it’s got nothing to do with runny noses. In the early 1900s, the town was full of outlaws and plagued by violence. Several people were murdered, and more just disappeared altogether. Today, the town’s a major destination for ghost hunters. As for how it got its bizarre name, the legend says that many of the townspeople attributed the murders and disappearances to the “boogieman.” Paranormal experts say these are the 22 most haunted places in America.
Maybe the only thing more interesting about the community than funny town names is its founder’s: Snowball Anderson. One day, Anderson left his gas station in the care of a man named Bill Granger. When a salesman stopped by and needed the name of the place for an invoice, Granger said, “I’m alone,” meaning he couldn’t ask anyone what the name was. So that’s what the salesman wrote down. One current resident says Anderson actually named the community himself, simply “because he was.”
The popular story behind this name claims that a young Native American, leading a bison hunt or “buffalo jump,” would often chase the bison right over cliffs, where they would fall and land with a loud “chugging” sound. Because there was a small stream by the cliffs, Native Americans began to call the area “water at the plate where the buffalo chug,” which was shorted to Chugwater. Alas, to us 21st century folk it sounds far more like something you do when you’re very thirsty. You’d never guess these other 50 crazy facts about the 50 states.