Any town can name itself Centerville or Plainview or Greenville or some other ordinary name. It takes a real town to bestow upon itself a name that will cause others to laugh. That will cause others to make jokes. That will cause it to land on our list of the eight towns with the wackiest names across the United States.
In the late 1600s, French settlers named this place “Sumac Couvert,” which literally means to be covered in sumac bushes. English-speaking settlers began populating the area sometime in the 19th century and, coming to the realization that French words were too difficult to pronounce, the area became known as Smackover. The town became nationally known not only because of its unusual name, but because of its massive oil boom between the years 1922 and 1925. Even today, Smackover still holds on to its rich history and cultural traditions.
2. Santa Claus, Indiana
Population – 2,411
In 1856, this place was called Santa Fe, Indiana, and was hoping to get a post office under that name. However, the United States Postal Service told them to kick rocks because there was already a Santa Fe, Indiana, post office. The town council held a number of meetings and finally decided on the jolly name of Santa Claus. Fun fact: Because this is the only post office in the country with this name, it routinely gets thousands upon thousands of letters addressed to the big, white bearded man himself. To learn more about this fascinating town, check out the Santa Claus Museum and then head over to Santa’s Candy Castle. Can’t ignore that sweet tooth for too long.
Population – 7,410
Why is this small town in Illinois named after one of the greatest hand-held bites of all time? Because a local politician by the name of “Long John” Wentworth was successful in negotiating more land for the state of Illinois when the state lines were drawn up between Illinois and Wisconsin. He was allowed to name the town, so he named it after his hometown of Sandwich, New Hampshire. After you wrap your head around that juicy bit of information, see what kind of treasure you can uncover at Prindi’s Antique Mall and then see a show at the Sandwich Opera House.
Population – 319
King George II of England gave a gentleman by the name of George Deakins some 600 acres of land of his choosing in western Maryland. Mr. Deakins sent out two teams of engineers to survey the best of land they could find. Unbeknownst to the two teams, they both started out under the same exact oak tree and surveyed the same tract of land. They declared it the “Accidental Tract” and the name for the town stuck. In fact, if you’re born here, you’re called an “Accidental.” However, this town isn’t just known for its funny name and nicknames for locals, but also for its cheese production. Head to FireFly Farms and stuff yourself silly with some of the best cheese Maryland has to offer.
Population – 4,299
When you first hear the name Slaughterville, Oklahoma, you probably think it’s named such because the streets are lined with slaughter houses and butcher shops, but far from it. This small town on the outskirts of the Oklahoma City metropolitan area was named after a grocery store that was ran by a feller named James Slaughter. There’s your history lesson for the day; now it’s time for fun. Slaughterville is also a mere 11 miles from the University of Oklahoma, so make the short drive and check out the Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum of Natural History. The Hall of People of Oklahoma is incredible.
Population – 76
Go to Hell! We’re not kidding. This tiny unincorporated community in Putnam Township, Michigan, is named after the fiery underworld. Two theories exist on how this place acquired its infamous name. One is about a couple of Germans who travelled through the area via stagecoach and one remarked to the other, “So schön hell!”, which means something about it being very bright outside. A bystander heard this phrase and the name “Hell” stuck. The other story is that early settlers compared it to the likes of the underworld because of all the mosquitos, wetlands, and thick forests making for hell-like conditions. Either way, the name became official in 1841 and whether you like it or not, you’re going to Hell.
7. Intercourse, Pennsylvania
Population – 1,274
Remember to use protection when you go to Intercourse, Pennsylvania. And by that we mean remember to buckle your seat belt during your drive. Excuse us, we meant to say during your buggy ride. After all, this is Amish country, so the first thing you should do is go for a tour of the country side with Amish All Around Buggy Rides. And if that doesn’t capture your imagination enough, a visit to the Plain and Fancy Farm for the Amish Experience certainly will. You’ll learn everything there is to know about the way of the Amish. Who knows, you may even decide a change in lifestyle is just what you’re looking for.
8. Los Banos, California
Population – 39,183
Most people can’t help but think it’s “the baths”. Hence its inclusion on our list of towns with the wackiest names in the country. Located in the heart of the San Joaquin Valley, Los Banos is a pleasant town to explore. Walk around the newly created Miller Plaza in downtown and shop for local goods in the nearby stores. If you’re looking to get out into nature, make the quick drive to the Los Banos Wildlife Area. There’re all sorts of animals to spot like jackrabbits and California mule deer.
Next time you’re rolling along the highway and pass a sign that says, “Welcome to Hell,” “Welcome to Intercourse,” or any of the others listed above, don’t be alarmed. You didn’t pass through some twilight zone time warp. You’re just passing through one of our eight favorite towns with a wacky name.
Header image via Sue Smith/Shutterstock.com
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