Special Report

30 of the Strangest Town Names in America

Source: Pubdog / Wikimedia Commons

21. Foot of Ten, Pennsylvania
> Municipal status: Census designated place
> Population: 715

This community takes its name from its position at the base of the Number 10 plane (or incline) of the historic Allegheny Portage Railroad. The railroad was part of the network of canals and railways that made up the Pennsylvania Main Line of Public Works, which connected Philadelphia and Pittsburgh for much of the 19th century.

Source: Carl Belken / Wikimedia Commons

22. Frankenstein, Missouri
> Municipal status: Unincorporated
> Population: 50

There is no evidence that this community was named for Mary Shelley’s mad scholar (or for the man-creature he created, widely and mistakenly also called Frankenstein). The town was mostly likely so christened in honor of one Gottfried Franken, who donated land to the town in 1890. The tract became known as Franken Hill. “Stein” can mean rock, so the name may have simply been a fancy way of honoring the donor for his “rock,” or hill.

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

23. Gas, Kansas
> Municipal status: City
> Population: 488

In 1893, drillers discovered natural gas deposits here, which were described by Gas founder E. K. Taylor in local newspaper the Iola Register as “[N]atural Resources that will erect and maintain a City as solid as the Rock of Gibraltar.” Taylor planned the town, which he dubbed Gas City, and started selling residential and business lots in 1898. When he applied for a post office the following year, postal authorities asked him to drop “City” from the name, which he did.

Source: Localdistrict / Wikimedia Commons

24. Hideout, Utah
> Municipal status: Town
> Population: 1,123

Hideout is a new town, established only in 2008. It’s named for an old landmark nearby, Hideout Canyon, which was called that because it was a popular hideout for rustlers and other outlaws in earlier days.

Source: Dmadeo / Wikimedia Commons

25. Ho-Ho-Kus, New Jersey
> Municipal status: Borough
> Population: 4,101

Where this New Jersey borough gets its name is a matter of some dispute. One theory links it to early Dutch settlers, who may have commented on its hoge eiken (hoge aukers, according to some versions), or high oak trees. More likely, it is a Native American term describing some feature of the local topography, flora, or fauna — possibly a Delaware word usually rendered as “mehokhokus,” meaning “red cedar.”

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