Special Report

50 Strangest Town Names in America (and Where They Came From)

Source: Oyoyoy / Wikimedia Commons

16. Ding Dong, Texas
> Municipal status: Unincorporated
> Population: 400 (est.)

In the 1930s, a couple named Bert and Zulis Bell ran a store in Bell County, in the Texas Hill Country, between Killeen and Florence. (It is now officially within the city of Killeen.) The county wasn’t named for them, but for Peter Hansborough Bell, a 19th-century governor of Texas. Ding Dong, though, was named for them in a way. In making a sign for their emporium, the painter they hired elected to add images of two bells, bearing the couple’s names, to the sign. Under them, he painted “Ding Dong” as a joke — and that became the name of the community.

Source: Billy Hathorn / Wikimedia Commons

17. Dry Prong, Louisiana
> Municipal status: Village
> Population: 524

A prong, which we usually think of as the tine of a fork or part of an electrical plug, can also be one arm of a forked river. This village most likely takes its name from a creek that powered the local sawmill most of the year but dried up every summer.

Source: Porkypinekiwi / Wikimedia Commons

18. Eek, Alaska
> Municipal status: City
> Population: 472

Eek’s name may suggest the sound a frightened person makes, but it’s actually an anglicized corruption of the locality’s Central Yup’ik name, Ekvicuaq — literally ˚little cliff.”

Source: Corey Taratuta / Wikimedia Commons

19. Embarrass, Wisconsin
> Municipal status: Village
> Population: 572

The French verb embarrasser can mean “to hamper,” “to stop,” or “to embangle [entangle].” The word is said to have been attached to this place by French-Canadian lumberjacks who found the nearby river almost impassable.

Source: Andrew Filer from Seattle (ex-Minneapolis) / Wikimedia Commons

20. Flasher, North Dakota
> Municipal status:
> Population: 363

This city, founded by William H. Brown in 1902 and settled by Russian-German immigrants, was originally called Iowa City and later Berrier (after the man who was to be postmaster). Postal officials rejected both, so Brown named it instead for Mabel Flasher, his niece and secretary.