15 U.S. City and Metropolis Names With Unconventional Backstories

When numerous towns and cities in the United States had been named right after historical figures or nearby topographical features, some monikers have origin tales that are a minor additional abnormal. Below are 15 names with backstories that variety from the curious to the downright strange.



Originally named Sizzling Springs, this New Mexico spa city modified its title to Reality or Effects on March 31, 1950, in reference to the well-liked recreation show of the very same name. Host Ralph Edwards experienced promised to host the present in the first town that improved its title to Real truth or Consequences. Sizzling Springs obliged, and Ralph Edwards saved his guarantee. But relatively than improve their title back to Sizzling Springs once the novelty wore off, citizens voted to make the identify long-lasting in 1967.



If you discovered that the title Zilwaukee sounds a minimal little bit like Milwaukee, that’s no coincidence. Zilwaukee, Michigan was not just named right after Milwaukee as a tribute to the Wisconsin metropolis, but to trick possible settlers who were interested in moving to Milwaukee. Started off in 1848 by New Yorkers Daniel and Solomon Johnson, the settlement at first consisted of little extra than a handful of homes and a sawmill. In have to have of staff, the Johnson brothers resolved the ideal way to catch the attention of settlers was through deceit. They named their tiny riverside settlement “Zilwaukie” (later transformed to Zilwaukee) and waited for settlers to start pouring in. It is unclear whether or not their plan was prosperous settlers did finally get there, though it could have been the typical wish for work (the founding of the town took place to coincide with an influx of German immigrants), fairly than the Johnson brothers’ intelligent scheme, that attracted the town’s residents.


If not for a momentous coin toss, Portland could have been named Boston. Established by Massachusetts-born law firm Asa Lovejoy and Maine-born Francis Pettygrove, the 640-acre website that would turn into Portland was originally acknowledged only as “The Clearing.” When it came time to give the city a actual identify, Lovejoy and Pettygrove commenced to argue. Whilst Pettygrove insisted the town be named Portland soon after the town in Maine, Lovejoy needed to identify the settlement for his hometown, Boston. In purchase to settle the dispute, the two founders made the decision to flip a coin. Successful two out of a few tosses, Pettygrove received his way, and gave Portland its title.



Though there are a number of theories with regards to Egg Harbor’s origins, one of the most preferred (and effectively-documented) facilities on the fantastic battle that took position just offshore in 1825. In accordance to an 1862 recounting, a group of traders touring in a handful of little boats to Mackinac Island resolved to acquire shelter in an unnamed harbor right away. As they paddled toward shore, a pleasant race broke out, with each individual boat making an attempt to overtake its neighbor. In buy to sluggish every other’s progress, the traders began tossing bits of hardtack (a kind of biscuit or cracker) at each and every other. But they before long recognized they may well need the hardtack later, and so they started out throwing eggs. In accordance to one particular witness, the preventing didn’t prevent the moment the traders achieved shore. Alternatively, they recurring their egg struggle on land, halting only at the time they ran out of eggs, and experienced “laughed right until exhaustion.” The subsequent working day, speeches ended up made commemorating the great egg battle, and Egg Harbor was offered its name.


Some imagine Nags Head was named for a person of the quite a few towns of that identify on the English coast. Other people, nevertheless, feel Nags Head has a a lot more nefarious backstory. According to legend, recounted in the 19th century by Harper’s New Every month Journal, pirates after utilized the beach at Nags Head to entice in their prey. They’d attach a lamp to the neck of an outdated horse (or nag), which would bit by bit wander the beach at night. Mistaking the nag’s lantern for the lights of a different boat, ships would sail towards the mild, grounding them selves in the shallow waters around the seashore and building by themselves a ideal focus on for pirates.


A further city name with a prison backstory is Bastrop. The two cities with the same title in Louisiana and Texas had been named for Dutch nobleman Felipe Enrique Neri, the Baron de Bastrop, who performed an significant purpose in settling the long term Lone Star Point out. Only it turns out the Baron de Bastrop wasn’t a baron at all: Historians now believe that the self-proclaimed Dutch nobleman was really a single Philip Hendrick Nering Bögel, a former tax collector who remaining Holland following remaining accused of embezzlement. Bogel fled to America with a 1000 gold ducat price on his head and reestablished himself as a Dutch nobleman. He went on to aid create many Anglo-American colonies in Texas, and even acted as a representative to the condition of Coahuila and Texas in the 1820s.



From towns and towns, proper down to structures and park benches, persons seem to like naming landmarks just after by themselves it is the nature of the human moi. Which is why the story guiding Modesto, California’s name is significantly shocking. Founded in 1870 and included in 1884, Modesto was the final end on the Central Pacific Railroad line. Town citizens determined that they wanted to title their new city immediately after financier William Chapman Ralston, to honor the man who brought them the railroad and linked them to the rest of the region. But Ralston was also humble, and asked the city to obtain a a lot more suited namesake. Instead, citizens made the decision to contact their town Modesto, in honor of Ralston’s modesty.


Initially a mining city, Hen bought its unconventional name from a team of gold miners who weren’t fantastic at spelling. The miners needed to contact the city Ptarmigan, soon after the grouse-like chicken that inhabited the space, but couldn’t figure out how to spell the word. So they settled on naming the city for an simpler-to-spell bird: the rooster.


According to legend, Frog Eye was named just after a ceramic frog. For the duration of the prohibition period, the proprietor of a regional saloon stored the minimal frog sculpture in his shop window at all periods: When police officers were being in the bar, he’d shut one particular of the frog’s eyes so that prospects would know not to order illegal liquor.



The Mississippi neighborhood recognised as Sizzling Espresso was, you guessed it, named for its damn fine cup of coffee. In accordance to a WPA heritage of Mississippi written during the Excellent Despair, a Civil War veteran named J.J. Davis crafted a keep at the intersection of two key thoroughfares in Mississippi, hoping to appeal to tourists. “He hung a coffee pot in excess of his doorway, and served espresso that was each very hot and fantastic, created of pure spring drinking water and New Orleans beans,” points out the WPA historian. “He made use of molasses drippings for sugar and the buyer could have either very long or brief sweetening he refused to serve product, declaring it ruined the style.” The 19th-century espresso connoisseur quickly developed a name for his remarkable beans, and the two tourists and nearby politicians would recurrent his shop. According to legend, Davis begun contacting the community Warm Espresso just after a touring salesman burnt his mouth making an attempt to drink Davis’s espresso much too rapidly, contacting out, “Mister, this is hot coffee!”


There’s some debate as to how Slaughter Beach bought its title. While some feel the bayside group was named for local postmaster William Slaughter, other people assert it was named right after the hordes of horseshoe crabs that lay their eggs on the beach of the Delaware Bay every single spring. For the reason that of unpredictable tides, the horseshoe crabs generally finished up stranded on the beach front, at the mercy of predatory animals like foxes and raccoons—which resulted in a little something of an yearly horseshoe crab slaughter.



In accordance to community legend, the tiny Delaware group now known as Kitts Hummock was initially named Kidd’s Hammock, immediately after Captain William Kidd. The notorious pirate terrorized America’s east coast through the 17th century, and though there is little historical facts to tie him specially to the group of Kitts Hummock, legends of Kidd’s treasure buried somewhere in Delaware persist to this working day.


Back again in the 1880s, possessing a telephone was a genuinely major offer. These types of a large deal, in fact, that a single Texas neighborhood made a decision it was worthy of naming their city after. According to the Texas State Historical Affiliation, the tiny neighborhood of Phone was proven in 1886. Normal retail store proprietor Pete Hindman submitted a collection of city names to postal authorities, but all ended up presently in use. Disappointed, Hindman submitted the identify Telephone, in reference to the truth that the only phone in the region was in his keep.



According to Tightwad residents, the tiny Missouri town’s name dates back again to the early 20th century, when the nearby mailman asked the nearby grocer to set apart a watermelon for him although he made his rounds. The postman came back again soon after offering the community’s mail only to uncover that the grocer had sold the watermelon to a purchaser who had agreed to fork out 50 cents additional. The postman accused the grocer of remaining a tightwad, and evidently the relaxation of the community agreed, and even embraced the accusation. They unofficially named the very little neighborhood Tightwad right until the village was incorporated in the 1980s, generating the title formal.


At first two towns identified as Mauch Chunk and East Mauch Chunk, this Pennsylvania town became 1 and transformed its title to Jim Thorpe after the legendary change-of-the-century Olympic athlete, baseball player, and football star in the 1950s. The two towns didn’t have any pre-present relationship to Thorpe, who was from Oklahoma and had performed for Milwaukee and New York groups. Alternatively, after Thorpe’s death, his 3rd spouse manufactured a offer with them. Mauch Chunk and East Mauch Chunk were wanting for a way to promote tourism at the very same time, Thorpe’s wife required what she thought of a suitable memorial for her spouse, so she essentially offered the towns on rebranding by themselves as Jim Thorpe. The towns merged, bought Thorpe’s stays from his widow, created him a monument, and turned Jim Thorpe, Pennsylvania. Two of Jim Thorpe’s sons then fought a legal fight to have his remains returned to Oklahoma, but in October 2015 the Supreme Courtroom declined to hear the scenario, leaving in location the appeals court docket ruling in favor of the city.

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