There’s no shortage of places to visit and sights to see around the country. But if you’re road tripping to get to your next vacation destination, don’t just think about where you’re going — the journey there is bound to be just as interesting! Along the way, don’t forget to stop in one of these oddly-named towns and villages. In fact, their names are so strange (and in some cases ridiculous-sounding) that you may think they’re fake. So before you head out, check out the colorful history that gave these places their names.
Uncertain, Texas is very small: it has a total area of 0.50 square miles, and only about 94 people live in the town, according to the 2010 census. In fact, it’s so small that you may miss it, simply passing by. Its odd name is no coincidence: the original residents applied for township, but the name had not yet been decided. They therefore wrote “uncertain” on the applications, which is is how the town earned its name.
This town’s moniker actually comes from a saying. In 1835, Daniel B. Eldred arrived in the area to found the settlement with his father. That’s when he reportedly said, “This caps the climax,” referring to how their find “climaxed” the end of their search.
Cut and Shoot, Texas
The origins of Cut and Shoot’s name may be shrouded in mystery, but legend has it that there was a dispute in 1912 (over what depends on the version of the story) that almost led to violence. During the dispute, a young boy said, “I’m going to cut around the corner and shoot through the bushes in a minute!” The statement stuck with the locals so much so they ended up calling the town Cut and Shoot.
Regardless of the origin of the name, it sounds pretty menacing — but it is actually named after a radio program. The town has only been known by that name since 1950. Before then, it was called Hot Springs. That year, Ralph Edwards, the host of the radio quiz show Truth or Consequences, declared that he would broadcast the program on its 10th anniversary from the first town that renamed itself after the show. Hot Springs earned that honor, and renamed itself Truth or Consequences on March 31st, 1950.
Big Arm earned its name thanks to its location: quite literally, it forms a big arm on Flathead Lake, which is why it’s called as such!
The word ‘embarrass’ actually comes from the French word ‘embarras,’ which means “to hinder with obstacles or difficulties”. In fact, it was the French fur traders, who were frustrated by the difficult navigation of the narrow, shallow river who ended up naming the river “Embarras.” The town’s naming soon followed.
There’s a legend behind this quaint beach town’s name: the French called the area Passe Aux Grilleurs (the passageway of the grillers) in reference to the fisherman who used to camp there.
The Rough and Ready Company was the name of a mining company that settled in the area in 1849, and their settlement became known as Rough and Ready during the California Gold Rush. There is little left of the town today, however, and its remnants are mostly located along the Rough and Ready highway.
Contrary to what you may be thinking, this town was not directly named after the delectable breakfast staple. It was actually named after Mr. Othneil, the area’s first gristmill owner. In 1853, the name of “Oatmeal” became official with the establishment of the post office.
Boring, Oregon, was named after William Harrison Boring, a veteran, who was an early resident who began farming in the area in 1874. He donated land for the first schoolhouse to be built. Now, the town is 7,726 people strong who tend to take the name of their home in jest.
Hot Coffee, Mississippi
In 1870, resident L.J. Davis built a store and hung a sign above the door that read, “the best hot coffee around.” Davis’s coffee, which was made out from pure spring water, New Orleans beans, and molasses drippings for sweetener, was so good that the local politicians often bought it for passing travelers and constituents. The town was then named after the coffee sign!
Ding Dong, Texas
Like Hot Coffee, Ding Dong’s name comes from a shop sign! Two early settlers of the area, Zulis Bell and Bert Bell, opened store and commissioned the artist Cohn Cohen Hoover to make a sign for it. In the sign, he depicted two bells, the initials of the brothers, and the words ‘ding’ and ‘dong’ under the bells.
Wherever you’re going on your vacation, you’re sure to come across some incredible sights. But along the way, you can learn more about our country’s colorful history by visiting these places and supporting their local businesses!
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