Special Report

The Shortest City Name in Every State

Billy Hathorn / Wikimedia Commons

Names are meant to describe and distinguish one thing from another. Whether that’s a sign of creativity or simplicity, names have captivated people from their beginnings. So when settlers came to the United States, they had a lot of opportunity to name new cities. Often they named towns after people, landmarks, or historical events. Sometimes these names were meaningful, and sometimes less so.

Whether they have a deep meaning or not, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed the cities with the shortest names in each state.

The shortest city or town names in most states have names with four letters or fewer, with one exception at seven letters. This doesn’t come close to other towns around the world, where even one letter can be a name. In fact, there are seven villages in Sweden with the same one-letter name: Å.

Cities around the world choose their names for a variety of reasons. A place like Cairo was named to remember its glory in ancient history, meaning “Victorious” in Arabic. Other cities are simply named to describe its location, like Shanghai and its translation meaning “city on the sea”.

Some cities chose to name themselves after resources found in the area. But like Leonardo Da Vinci said, “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.”

What do you think is the shortest city name in your state?

Click here to see the shortest city name in every state
Click here to see our methodology

Source: Frankie_117 / Flickr

1. Alabama
> Shortest town name: Opp
> Population: 6,665

Opp is named after a lawyer who helped a small town thrive. Henry Opp, a lawyer from Andalusia, Alabama, defended the L & N Railroad company in its plan to build a railroad around a somewhat populated area. Because the railroad forked in the area, a town was able to grow. In appreciation of Opp’s work, local residents named the town after him.


Source: Porkypinekiwi / Wikimedia Commons

2. Alaska
> Shortest town name: Eek
> Population: 455

Eek, Alaska is a traditional Yup’ik Eskimo village that’s split in two by the Eenayarak River. It used to be located on the Apokok River, but flooding forced the village to relocate in the 1930s. The original name of the village was actually Ekvicuaqm, but missionaries were unable to pronounce it, so the name was eventually shortened to Eek.

Source: Ixnayonthetimmay / Wikimedia Commons

3. Arizona
> Shortest town name: Mesa
> Population: 458,860

Located in the Greater Phoenix Area, Mesa is the third largest city in Arizona. Despite its modern metropolis feel today, the history of Mesa dates back to the Hohokam people at least two thousand years ago. The Hohokam built a huge canal system hundreds of miles long that is considered to be the most sophisticated in the continent. Many of them are still used to this day.

Source: Google Maps data 2017

4. Arkansas
> Shortest town name: Bay
> Population: 1,973

Despite its name, Bay, Arkansas isn’t actually located at the edge of any major lake or ocean, though it is relatively close to the Mississippi River. Bay is home to two large Native American mounds, which are known as the Bay Mounds.


Source: Brocken Inaglory / Wikimedia Commons

5. California
> Shortest town name: Napa
> Population: 79,113

If you like wine, there’s a good chance you’re already familiar with Napa, California. Founded in 1848, Napa quickly became an agricultural powerhouse, as well as a gold rush town. The area has continued to flourish, largely because of tourism.

Source: Jeffrey Beall / Wikimedia Commons

6. Colorado
> Shortest town name: Rye
> Population: 209

Rye, Colorado, located in the San Isabel foothills, got its name specifically because it’s so short. The town was originally named Table Top Mountain, but post office workers said that was too long. They got their wish for a shorter name and it was changed to Rye.


Source: Ravi-Shah / Wikimedia Commons

7. Connecticut
> Shortest town name: Derby
> Population: 12,796

Not only does Derby hold the shortest name for Connecticut, but it’s also its smallest city. Located between rivers, the city was colonized by early settlers who named the area after Derby, England in 1675. Today Derby benefits from its relative proximity to larger cities. New Haven and Bridgeport are within commuting distance, and New York City is less than two hours away by train.

Source: JERRYE & ROY KLOTZ MD / Wikimedia Commons

8. Delaware
> Shortest town name: Dover
> Population: 37,144

The name “Dover” may be short, but the city isn’t short on things to do. Dover just so happens to be Delaware’s capital city. The city is just a handful of miles away from Delaware Bay and the Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge.

Source: Google Maps data 2017

9. Florida
> Shortest town name: Lee
> Population: 561

The rural town of Lee sits atop Florida’s panhandle. Only 20 minutes away from the Georgia border, Lee prides itself on its small-town atmosphere.


Source: Google Maps data 2017

10. Georgia
> Shortest town name: Ila
> Population: 428

Though Ila, Georgia, has a unique name, its first moniker was downright strange. Settled in 1879, the town that became Ila was first called “0’possum” (Yes, that’s a zero there, not an “O.”). It was later changed to Ila after “a very beautiful little girl” from the community.

Source: Larabelle / Flickr

11. Hawaii
> Shortest town name: Puhi
> Population: 3,435

Puhi, Hawaii, is located on Kauai, the northernmost Hawaiian island. In the Native Hawaiian language, “puhi” means “a puffing or a blowing.” The area certainly has plenty of ocean breezes as it is just a few miles away from the coast.


Source: Jeremy Reeder / Wikimedia Commons

12. Idaho
> Shortest town name: Kuna
> Population: 16,557

During the late 1800s, a pathway westward through Idaho was put in place. To avoid building on uneven terrain, the Oregon Short Line Railway Company decided to build a station called “Kuna” about 15 miles from Boise. A town would then grow from around the station. It’s also just north of a lava tube cave system known as Kuna Caves.

Source: isydiavibes / Wikimedia Commons

13. Illinois
> Shortest town name: Ina
> Population: 2,342

Ina, Illinois, originally came about because its founders wanted to attract a railroad to come through southern Illinois. A railroad worker was staying with a nearby family and asked the homeowner, S. E. “Jerry” Brown, to name the town. Brown had two daughters, Anna and Ina. Since there was already a town named Anna, Ina was selected as the name.

Source: Nyttend / Wikimedia Commons

14. Indiana
> Shortest town name: Amo
> Population: 508

The small town of Amo, Indiana, lies about 30 miles west of Indianapolis in Hendricks County. The town was founded by John Morris in 1850 as Morristown and changed its name in 1855. The town was incorporated in 1913.


Source: ArtisticAbode / Wikimedia Commons

15. Iowa
> Shortest town name: Ely
> Population: 1,994

Ely is one of the more popular short city names, as it appears on this list three times along with towns in Minnesota and Nevada. Ely, Iowa, was originally settled in 1838 by a German immigrant. It became a railroad town and a place for pioneers to stock up on supplies.

Source: Shutterstock.com

16. Kansas
> Shortest town name: Gas
> Population: 606

Located in Allen County, the city of Gas obtained its name from the abundance of natural gas that was discovered in the area. That isn’t to say the city doesn’t know what its name implies. The town’s slogan is: “Don’t Pass Gas, Stop and Enjoy it.”


Source: Wikimedia Commons / Jomegat

17. Kentucky
> Shortest town name: Clay
> Population: 1,283

Clay, Kentucky, has been named “Clay” several times. The town was originally named Ashland, probably in honor of the Lexington home of 19th-century statesman Henry Clay. It was changed to Clay, then postmaster Bush D. Winstead renamed it Winstead. Three months later, the name Clay returned. It was renamed Claysville in 1860 before the Clay name returned for good in 1872.

Source: Google Maps data 2017

18. Louisiana
> Shortest town name: Sun
> Population: 323

Sun, Louisiana is a small village on the eastern edge of the state. It’s just a few miles away from the border with Mississippi. Like many southern Louisiana cities, the area around Sun is checkered with rivers, creeks, and lakes.

Source: Kenneth C. Zirkel / Wikimedia Commons

19. Maine
> Shortest town name: Saco
> Population: 18,874

Saco, Maine is bordered on the east by Saco Bay and on the south by the Saco River. Though it started as a mill town and textile manufacturing area, Saco now uses its coastline area to attract visitors.


Source: Famartin / Wikimedia Commons

20. Maryland
> Shortest town name: Luke
> Population: 97

Despite its small population, the town of Luke was once an important industry town in Maryland. The industry was paper, and business was booming. At one point, over 1,000 people were employed at the Piedmont Pulp and Paper Company, located in what is now called Luke. The town once known as West Piedmont changed its name to accommodate the family that chartered the paper company — the Luke family.

Source: John Phelan / Wikimedia Commons

21. Massachusetts
> Shortest town name: Lynn
> Population: 91,626

The city of Lynn, Massachusetts, actually predates the U.S. The city that became Lynn was founded in 1630. Settlers who moved to Lynn from nearby Salem initially called the city Saugus, but once its first minister came from King’s Lynn, England, the townspeople renamed the city Lynn in his honor.


Source: Andrew Jameson / Wikimedia Commons

22. Michigan
> Shortest town name: Troy
> Population: 82,542

Troy was first settled by pioneers who traveled from the city of the same name in New York in the 1820s. Once known for its agriculture, Troy has blossomed into a suburb of over 80,000 people. The city is home to several universities and upscale shopping experiences that bring customers across city and even state lines to buy high-end merchandise.

Source: Bjoertvedt / Wikimedia Commons

23. Minnesota
> Shortest town name: Ely
> Population: 3,445

The Ely, Minnesota, area was settled by Native Americans before white settlers were attracted by what they believed was gold in the area. The discovery turned out to be iron pyrite or fool’s gold. However, that led to the discovery of iron ore deposits.

Source: Skye Marthaler / Wikimedia Commons

24. Mississippi
> Shortest town name: Iuka
> Population: 3,005

Founded in 1857, the city of Iuka was built on a Chickasaw native reserve. Named after Chief Iuka, the town is near the only area in Mississippi that was subject to battle during the Civil War.


Source: Google maps data 2017

25. Missouri
> Shortest town name: Ava
> Population: 2,961

Like many other places on this list, Ava, Missouri, has gone through a historical name change. The town was first called Militia Springs because during the Civil War, Missouri’s Union militia camped out around the area. It was renamed Ava in 1881.

Source: AliciaEdwards96 / Wikimedia Commons

26. Montana
> Shortest town name: Troy
> Population: 710

Unlike its name relative in Michigan, Troy, Montana is a small community in between the Kootenai River and a scenic mountain range. Fearing the wilderness as well as indigenous tribes, pioneers didn’t settle the land until gold was discovered in the mid-1860s. That was until gold was discovered in the mid 1860s. There are several theories on how the city earned its name, but the most accepted stems from the story of E.L. Preston, who named the town after the son of the family who provided him with a place to live while he laid out the town site.


Source: Ammodramus / Wikimedia Commons

27. Nebraska
> Shortest town name: Ord
> Population: 2,257

Ord, Nebraska, and the North Loup Valley it resides in played a major role in the westward expansion of early American settlers. Fort Hartsuff, located in Ord, offered pioneers a refuge as they fought with Native Americans during the Plains Indian War. Ord was named after General E.O.C. Ord who established Fort Hartsuff.

Source: trekandshoot / Shutterstock.com

28. Nevada
> Shortest town name: Ely
> Population: 4,206

The city of Ely is best known as the Nevada’s most important copper mining region. To accommodate growth of the copper industry, the Nevada Northern Railway was built in 1906. This well-preserved railroad acts as a tourist hot spot when visitors look for something other than the glitz and glamor of Las Vegas.

Source: Thinkstock

29. New Hampshire
> Shortest town name: Dover
> Population: 30,534

Dover, New Hampshire, was an early lynchpin for the state’s economy, even before the U.S. broke away from England. During the colonial era, Dover’s proximity to the ocean made it a thriving shipbuilding hub for the colonies.


Source: NHRHS2010 / Wikimedia Commons

30. New Jersey
> Shortest town name: Lodi
> Population: 24,590

Named after an Italian city, Lodi became an incorporated city after merging with the Lodi Township and Saddle River Township in 1894. The presence of a large Italian community in Lodi made it the ideal choice for the hit TV show The Sopranos, which chose several of the town’s restaurants and bars as film locations.

Source: Google map data 2017

31. New Mexico
> Shortest town name: Jal
> Population: 2,161

Jal, New Mexico, gets its name from the John A. Lynch ranching operation that settled near present-day Jal. The initials, JAL, were used to brand cattle and that name stuck for the town as well.


Source: Jimmy Emerson / Wikimedia Commons

32. New York
> Shortest town name: Rye
> Population: 15,944

Rye is one of the oldest American cities in the country. The area was first settled in 1660, after Native Americans signed a treaty to share the land. The town ceded from New York and joined Connecticut in protest of a court ruling in 1695, but joined back in 1700 permanently. The town name was chosen as it gave homage to the settlers’ ancestors in Rye, England.

Source: KAD Photo / Shutterstock.com

33. North Carolina
> Shortest town name: Cary
> Population: 151,186

Cary, North Carolina, is named for Samuel Fenton Cary, even though he had nothing to do with the town itself. The town’s actual founder, Francis Page, admired Cary because of his strong stance against alcohol, and so he named the town in his honor.

Source: Andrew Filer / Flickr

34. North Dakota
> Shortest town name: Ray
> Population: 527

The small town of Ray, North Dakota is named after Al G. Ray, a chief special agent for the Great Northern Railway. Established in 1902 alongside the railway, Ray became a supplier and service center for settlers and ranchers.


Source: Nyttend / Wikimedia Commons

35. Ohio
> Shortest town name: Ada
> Population: 6,050

For many years after it was established, Ada, Ohio, solely relied on the lumber industry to keep the town afloat. The town, first known as Johnstown, was significantly bolstered by the arrival of a railroad.

Source: RaksyBH / Shutterstock.com

36. Oklahoma
> Shortest town name: Ada
> Population: 17,149

In the late 1880s, the Daggs family began to settle in the Native American territory that is now known as Ada. The town is named after the daughter of Jeff Reed, a relative of the Daggs who was appointed to carry mail through hostile land. Incorporated in 1901, the city is home to country music singer Blake Shelton and retired NFL player Jeremy Shockey.


Source: Albert Pego / Shutterstock.com

37. Oregon
> Shortest town name: Bend
> Population: 81,780

Bend, Oregon, lies on both sides of the Deschutes River in central Oregon. There used to be a ranch on the banks of the river known as Farewell Bend Ranch. That name was eventually shortened to just Bend and became the town’s name.

Source: Smallbones / Shutterstock.com

38. Pennsylvania
> Shortest town name: Yoe
> Population: 1,067

Once called Snyderstown, Yoe was established on what was once part of two farms in York township. After being denied a permit for a post office on the grounds that another town in Pennsylvania was bearing the same name, the name Yoe was suggested by Moses Snyder to commemorate his mother and his father’s first wife. The settlement continued to grow and was incorporated into a borough in 1893.

Source: Hank Shiffma / Shutterstock.com

39. Rhode Island
> Shortest town name: Warwick
> Population: 81,855

Upon its founding in 1642, Warwick, Rhode Island was initially called Shawomet. For decades, there was a disagreement about whether the city belonged to Rhode Island or Massachusetts. Robert Rich, the Duke of Warwick, settled the matter and sided with Rhode Island. Out of gratitude, its residents renamed the city after him.


Source: Google map data 2017

40. South Carolina
> Shortest town name: Iva
> Population: 1,085

Founded by Dr. Augustus Cook, the town acted as a shipping station for the Seaboard Railroad. Originally named Cook’s Station, Dr. Cook changed its name to Iva when he discovered that there was another community with the same name.

Source: Google Map Data 2017

41. South Dakota
> Shortest town name: Tea
> Population: 4,427

As you may have guessed, Tea, South Dakota gets its name from the drink. The town was initially named Byron, but when applying for a post office, townspeople learned the name was taken. They were told to come up with a list of 10 short names to replace it. During a tea break, the name “Tea” was added to the list and eventually selected as the permanent name.


Source: Nathan / Flickr

42. Tennessee
> Shortest town name: Dyer
> Population: 2,330

The quiet city of Dyer embraces its little city feel. Established in 1899, it was originally known as Peck’s Switch — a name given to it by railroad workers in the area. The town’s railway history is commemorated every July with the annual Dyer Station Celebration.

Source: Billy Hathorn / Wikimedia Commons

43. Texas
> Shortest town name: Van
> Population: 2,654

As many towns began to grow over a century ago, they needed a post office. To get one, they had to settle on a name, so postmasters had a lot of say in what many towns were called. Van got its name from its first postmaster, James Vance.

Source: Google Map Data 2017

44. Utah
> Shortest town name: Roy
> Population: 37,670

Roy was settled in 1873, 25 years after the neighboring community of Ogden. The reason why it was left alone for so many years was because settlers didn’t want to live on the dry and sandy land. Harsh conditions aside, four brothers-in-law came and measured the land for what they hoped would be a permanent settlement. The name is derived from Roy C. Peebles, a child of a local school teacher who died.


Source: ciapix / Wikimedia Commons

45. Vermont
> Shortest town name: Ludlow
> Population: 944

It’s not exactly clear where Ludlow, Vermont gets its name, but we do know it is not the first place to bear that name. Some believe it gets the name from Ludlow, Massachusetts, but others think it took the name from the original Ludlow in England.

Source: Famartin / Wikimedia Commons

46. Virginia
> Shortest town name: Wise
> Population: 3,185

High on the Appalachian Plateau sits the town of Wise, Virginia. The county seat of Wise County, it was named after Henry A. Wise, who had just become Governor of Virginia. Wise would be a six-term congressman infamous for his unabashed defense of slavery and his role as a Confederate army officer.


Source: J A Uppendahl / Shutterstock.com

47. Washington
> Shortest town name: Roy
> Population: 634

The city of Roy, Washington used to be known as Media because it was roughly halfway between Tacoma and Tenino for those travelling along the Northern Pacific Railroad in the 1870s. The name Roy comes from the name of founder James McNaught’s son.

Source: Magnolia677 / Wikimedia Commons

48. West Virginia
> Shortest town name: Man
> Population: 991

A community of less than 1,000 people, Man is situated at the mouth of Buffalo Creek on the west side of the state. The town dedicated its name to prominent 19th century West Virginia House of Delegates member Ulysses Hichman by taking the last syllable of his surname.

Source: Royalbroil / Wikimedia Commons

49. Wisconsin
> Shortest town name: Rio
> Population: 1,102

It’s believed that Rio actually comes from a mistake. A now-defunct newspaper asserts the name “Rio” comes from the word “Ohio.” Reportedly, the “O” and “H” smudged together in a request for a post office, looking like an uppercase “R” and making postal officials think the town’s name was actually Rio.


Source: Daniel J. Rao / Shutterstock.com

50. Wyoming
> Shortest town name: Cody
> Population: 9,741

When Colonel William F. “Buffalo Bill” Cody passed through the region in the late 19th century, he knew he stumbled on something special. Finding rich irrigation, hunting grounds, and within a close proximity to Yellowstone National Park, he came back with his men to start work for a town in the mid-1890s. In 1901, Cody was incorporated and some of its street signs are named after those men to this day.


To identify the shortest town names in every state, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed all incorporated places tracked by the U.S. Census. These are places with a charter recognized by state and elected officials. We did not consider Census Designated Places (CDP’s), which are statistical entities. Hawaii, where all places are considered CDPs, was an exception. To count the characters in each place’s name we counted “town,” city,” “village,” “municipality,” etc. only when these were parts of the official title. Ex: with Gas City, Indiana, “City” is part of the proper name of the city, whereas the “city” in Gas, Kansas is not part of the official title and was excluded from the character count. Most states’ shortest place names are tied with other places in the state. Ties were broken by taking the shortest place name with the largest population. Population figures are five-year averages from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2015 American Community Survey.

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