Special Report

30 of the Strangest Town Names in America


In order to identify the 30 strangest town names in America, 24/7 Tempo reviewed the nearly 30,000 names of cities, towns, villages, boroughs, and CDPs (census-designated places — settled but unincorporated population centers as defined by the U.S. Census Bureau), collected by the U.S. American Community Survey. We then used our best judgment to identify the most unusual among them.

To help narrow our search, we used four criteria. The first group comprises towns with names that occur only once in the United States and do not consist of discrete words in the English language. For example, Ho-Ho-Kus, New Jersey, is both the only town with that name and a word (or series of words) not found in the dictionary.

The second group is composed of town and place names that are discrete words not expected to be used as town names. For example, the strangeness of the name of Pillow, a town in Pennsylvania, comes not because there’s anything strange about the word “pillow,” but from the unusual choice of using a common noun (though it turns out that it isn’t in this case) to designate a place.

The third and fourth groups consist of names with four or fewer characters as well as names with 20 or more characters as both would likely include examples outside of mainstream naming conventions.

Finally, we used informal sources to add a small number of small unincorporated communities not classed as CDPs, just because they had names (and stories behind those names) that seemed too good to miss.

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