Special Report

The Least Common Town Names in the US

Source: Image courtesy of Rachel J. via Yelp

1. Box, Oklahoma
> 2017 Population: 130
> Municipal status: Census-designated place

Box, un unincorporated community, used to go by the slightly less original name Roy. The name was changed to Box when the area got a post office in 1911. The new name was inspired by former slave Henry “Box” Brown, who had escaped to freedom in a box.

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

2. Gas, Kansas
> 2017 Population: 609
> Municipal status: City

In 1893, drillers discovered natural gas deposits in the area. The place was quickly dubbed Gas City, and officially became just Gas when the city got its first post office.

Source: dankalal.net

3. IXL, Oklahoma
> 2017 Population: 61
> Municipal status: Town

According to the town website and the Oklahoma Historical Society, there are many theories as to the meaning of I.X.L. (or simply IXL). Some people think it’s an onomatopoeic boast suggesting “I excel.” Others believe it to be a Roman numeral (though the letters are in the wrong order for that). The town’s website ends up deciding that because the town was built on a piece of former Cherokee land its initials signify Indian Exchange Land. The Oklahoma Historical Society, however, points out that the surrounding towns were at that time predominately African American, and adds, without further explanation, that “IXL was the name used to describe a dispersed African American community.”

Source: Famartin / Wikimedia Commons

4. War, West Virginia
> 2017 Population: 738
> Municipal status: City

War takes its name from War Creek, which was named by local Native Americans for a battle that apparently occurred near the creek’s headwaters in 1788. Formerly called Miner’s City, War was incorporated under that name in 1920.

Source: Andrew Filer / Wikimedia Commons

5. Zap, North Dakota
> 2017 Population: 228
> Municipal status: City

One version of the history of the city’s name is accepted as true. The city had a coal mine at the edge of town, and the official in charge of naming new areas at the time knew of a town with coal mines in Scotland that was named Zapp. So it only made sense to him to name the city with the same name, dropping the one “p” as a way of Americanizing it.