Special Report

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

Source: zrfphoto / Getty Images

31. Ninety Six, South Carolina
> Municipal status: Town
> Population: 2,000

Home of a National Historic Site, and a key Revolutionary War battle site, legend has it that Ninety Six got its name in the 18th century, when a Cherokee woman named Issaqueena rode 96 miles from Keowee, the Cherokee capital, to a trading post on the site to warn the settlers of an impending attack by her people on the settlers.

Source: rossaroni / Flickr

32. Normal, Illinois
> Municipal status: Town
> Population: 54,534

There’s a joke that this town, originally called North Bloomington, was named for its supposed founder, Abner Normal, known as Ab (get it?). In reality, it was named that because the new state university opened there in 1861 was described as a normal school (an old name for a teachers college).

Source: Dustin Moore / Flickr

33. Okay, Oklahoma
> Municipal status: Town
> Population: 522

This Oklahoma town has had a number of names, or at least its post office has. It was originally called Coretta, which was the name of a railway switch not far away. In 1900, the post office was redesignated as Rex, and in 1911 it became North Muskogee. Subsequently, the town was also sometimes called Falls City, apparently a reference to the falls or rapids of the nearby Verdigris River. The present name was finally settled on in 1919, bestowed in recognition of the O.K. 3-Ton Truck and Trailer, which was manufactured there by Oklahoma Auto Manufacturing Company.

Source: David Prasad / Flickr

34. Old Fig Garden, California
> Municipal status: Census designated place
> Population: 5,495

In 1912, a real estate developer from Kansas, J.C. Forkner, established what he hoped would become the world’s largest fig ranch on a plot of barren land near Fresno. He dubbed it Fig Garden. Forkner went bankrupt during the Depression and never realized his dream. In 1947, a group belonging to the local men’s club won nonprofit corporate status to “promote the general welfare” of the property, by then known as Forkner-Giffen Fig Garden Estates #1. The community is now completely surrounded by the city of Fresno.

Source: Jeffrey Beall / Wikimedia Commons

35. Parachute, Colorado
> Municipal status: Town
> Population: 1,181

Parachute was so named, it is said, either for the shape of an adjacent creek (called Parachute Creek) or because hunters on the cliffs above the site used to say they need a parachute to get down there.