Top 10 Unusual Place Names

Suggested by SMS

Think the residents in Floyds Knobs, Indiana or Climax, Minnesota have it rough? Wait until you get a load of some of these place names, which undoubtedly make their residents pause before answering the question “Where are you from?” How weird are these names? Looneyville, Texas, Dildo, Canada, and Santa Claus, Indiana didn’t even make the list. The Top Ten Most Unusual Place Names are: Parental guidance may be required.

10. Blow Me Down, Newfoundland, Canada

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This picturesque fishing village on the edge of Newfoundland was founded in the late 1700 or early 1800s. The folks at the Blow Me Down Provincial Park website obviously have a sense of humor about the name, as visitors are assured that they will not, in fact, be “blown down” while hiking the beautiful nature trails and mountains around Blow Me Down. The unusual name reportedly originates from a sea Captain Messervay, who stood only 4’2” tall and who, having experienced the stiff wind blowing across the harbor from the mountains surrounding the Bay of Islands, remarked that he hoped the winds did not “blow me down.” Aside from the humorous name, Blow Me Down is well-known in Newfoundland as a destination for serious hikers and family outings alike, though tourists are warned in advance about the windy conditions.

9. Humptulips, Washington

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With a name like Humptulips, this tiny town on the Humptulips River in Washington (which seems to corner the market on odd place names), was destined for stardom. Sure enough, Humptulips’ big moment came when it made a cameo in the book Another Roadside Attraction, by popular novelist Tom Robbins, as the home base for a group of assassin monks. The name is thought by some to be a local Native American dialect for “hard to pole,” referring to the difficult-to-navigate Humptulips River. Others believe that the name derives from a Native American word for “chilly region.”

8. Toad Suck, Arkansas

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Not to be confused with the equally unfortunately-named Frog Suck, Wyoming, Toad Suck, Arkansas, is a suburb of Little Rock on the Arkansas River. Toad Suck is rumored to have been named for the riverboat captains and their crews who frequently stopped in the town and among whom drinking was a popular activity. Early residents of the town were said to remark that the shady characters who got off the riverboats sucked up whiskey until they swelled up like toads. Today, a nearby state park has made Toad Suck a popular destination for fishing and picnicking.


7. Condom, France

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This tiny commune in Southwestern France almost certainly doesn’t hold the same fascination for the French as it does for the hordes of American tourists who have posed with the city’s road sign, as the French use an entirely different word for “condom.” Despite its giggle-worthy name, Condom has managed to make an international name for itself, hosting an international music “bandas” festival, an international chess tournament, an international chess marathon, and two 13th century castles. The commune was also featured prominently in the film “Le Bonheur est dans Le Pre,” in which a French man quits his job in a toilet lid factory to start a new life in Condom.


6. Whiskey Dick Mountain, Washington

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Located in the Whiskey Dick Wildlife Area in Washington, this curiously-named but popular hiking destination is always a favorite in “worst place names” lists from coast to coast. While no official explanation can be found for the name, it’s difficult to imagine it was related to anything other than the obvious alcohol-induced erectile dysfunction. A mere two hours from downtown Seattle, Whiskey Dick is said to feature one of the stunning shrub-steppe areas of the United States. In fact, Whiskey Dick contains a 12-mile hiking trail which is one of the best in the nation for rugged natural beauty and wildlife viewing.

5. Monkeys Eyebrow, Kentucky

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Believe it or not, there were actually TWO Monkeys Eyebrows in Ballard County, Kentucky, known as “Old Monkey” and “New Monkey.” The two towns were located at the top and bottom of a hill. This unincorporated rural community in Ballard County is thought to have gotten its name because the shape of Ballard County resembles the head of a monkey. Monkeys Eyebrow (no word on the reason for the missing apostrophe) is located precisely where the eyebrow of the Ballard County monkey would be: that is to say, near both Paducah and Possum Trot, Kentucky. In fact, residents of the comparative metropolis of Paducah are fond of saying that their town is located halfway between Monkeys Eyebrow and Possum Trot.


4. Taumatawhakatangihangakoauauotamateaturipukakapikimaunga horonukupokaiwhenuakitanatahu, New Zealand

taumatawhakatangihangakoauauotamateaturipukakapikimaungahoronukupokaiwhenuakitanatahu-new-zealand

Shortened by the locals to “Taumata” for obvious reasons, this 85-letter Maori word for a hill in Southern Hawk’s Bay is said to mean “The summit where Tamatea, the man with the big knees, the climber of mountains, the land-swallower who travelled about, played his nose flute to his loved one.” Alternatively, the longer, 105-letter word for the same hill, Taumata-whakatangihanga-koauau-o-Tamatea-haumai-tawhiti-ure-haea-turi-pukaka-piki-maunga-horo-nuku-pokai-whenua-ki-tana-tahu, is roughly translated as “The hill of the flute playing by Tamatea — who was blown hither from afar, had a circumcised penis, grazed his knees climbing mountains, fell on the earth, and encircled the land — to his beloved.” Oddly enough, it’s the 85-letter version of the name that is listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as one of the world’s longest place names.


3. No Name, Colorado

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Upon first seeing the road signs, it’s difficult to tell if the town of “No Name,” located near Glenwood Springs, has no name or if it’s called “No Name.” The later is case. Not only were the founders of No Name at a loss for words when it came to naming their town, they also were unable to come up with anything suitable for the equally un-nameable “No Name Creek” and “No Name Canyon.” It seems like there should be plenty of interesting geography in Colorado after which to name a town, but perhaps the original townspeople were just indecisive. It turns out this trend continues with the residents of No Name; the No Name tunnel of I-70 is close nearby.


2. Knockemstiff, Ohio

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The tiny town of Knockemstiff, Ohio, is little more than a ghost town sitting at a rural intersection in backwoods Ohio. Now known as Glen Shade or Shady Glenn, Knockemstiff was the title of a collection of short stories written by Ross County, Ohio native Donald Ray Pollack. A number of stories exist to explain the name of Knockemstiff, from a description of the brave men who populated the town to the result of a large brawl that took place at a local tavern. The most amusing story, however, is that of a young woman who asked her local preacher how she could keep her husband home at night. The preacher purportedly responded, “Knock em stiff!” In recent years, the town has gained a level of notoriety not only for its name, but because several local hauntings were mentioned in Randy McNutt’s book “Ghosts.”

1. Fucking, Austria

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The fact that the name of this town outside of Salzburg, Austria, is pronounced “Fooking” doesn’t keep the road sign from being frequently stolen by foreign tourists. The settlement at Fucking has been in existence since about 1070 and was so named to honor “Focko,” a 6th century man who is believed that have lived in the area. Fed up with the constantly stolen street signs, the City of Fucking held a referendum in 2004 on changing the name of the town. While the name change was voted down by residents, the Fucking street signs are now reinforced; welded in steel and anchored in concrete.

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