Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Indiana towns with unusual names

I’ve always maintained that my beloved state of Indiana has some of the most unusual town names of any state in the USA. Sure, every state has a town or two with a weird name, but I defy anyone to show me any other state with a town named after Jolly ol’ Saint Nick or after a European oral activity. So you can see what I’m talking about, here are a few of my favorite Indiana town names, in alphabetical order:

- Carbon. Home of carbon-based life forms.

- Collegeville. Listed here because, weirdly enough, there aren’t any colleges in Collegeville. However, it is within close driving distance of many Indiana colleges.

- Dick Johnson. I guess the town wasn’t big enough to just name a street after him, so they went ahead and named the whole town after him.

- Economy. I sincerely hope it’s an inexpensive place to live and the town budget is balanced.

- Eureka. Shouted by everyone who manages to find the place.

- Fairplay. No cheating allowed.

- Farmers. Farmers? This just strikes me as absurd because darn near every small town in Indiana should be named Farmers. It’s definitely one of those “well DUH” names. Welcome to the Midwest, folks.

- Farmland. As if Farmers wasn’t bad enough. While I’m at it, though, I should also mention Farmersburg, Indiana, and Farmers Retreat, Indiana. Duh, duh, and DUH.

- Floyds Knobs. That’s more about Floyd than I ever wanted to know.

- Fredonia. Also the name of the fictional country that Groucho Marx rules in the movie Duck Soup: “Hail, hail, Fredonia ...!”

- French Lick. Here’s that European oral activity I mentioned earlier. Candidate for best small-town name EVER.

- Friendship. Just the name evokes warm and fuzzy feelings.

- Gas City. The name says it all.

- Gnaw Bone. This gets my vote for best potential small-town name in a cheap horror movie.

- Hillsdale. Mentioned because we also have Hills and Dales, Indiana. As you might guess from this and the earlier Farmers, Indiana example, many Indiana towns have similar names. It almost seems like Hoosiers have a hard time making up alternate town names when the ones they want are already being used. There’s no excuse for that. Based on most of the other town names on this list, being original definitely isn’t a problem in Indiana!

- Hogtown. Yes, there probably are hogs in Hogtown. Many people in Indiana raise hogs, so this is appropriate.

- Hope. Remember, no matter what happens, there’s always Hope.

- Leisure. Sounds like a very relaxing place to live.

- Licking. It’s bad enough that we also have French Lick, Indiana. It must be another favorite Hoosier sport, along with basketball and auto racing.

- Little. Little Indiana. As opposed to Big Indiana?

- Loogootee. I just like saying the name: “Loooo-goooooo-teeeeeeee ...”

- Michigan City. Named for Michigan, of course. Here’s where the unusual part comes in: Why is this town located closer to the Illinois (in fact, CHICAGO) side than to the Michigan side of Indiana?

- Mineral. No towns named Animal or Vegetable, though.

- Mongo. Mongo like candy. See the movie Blazing Saddles if you don’t know what I’m talking about.

- Montezuma. Don’t drink the water.

- Munster. I’m guessing the Addams Family was run out of town.

- Needmore. Needmore money! Needmore paved roads! Needmore ice cream parlors!

- Oil. Probably named by a homesick relocated Texan.

- Oolitic. Again, I just like saying it: “Ooooooooo-litic.”

- Pigeon. Car wash businesses make a fortune in this town.

- Popcorn. Well, why not? Popcorn mogul Orville Redenbacher was a Hoosier, after all.

- Possum Trot. Personally, I've never seen a possum trot. Possums (opossums) don't really move very fast. They just sort of amble along. It's probably why they often end up becoming street pizza in Indiana.

- Pretty Lake. Oh, how I wish – I WISH – we also had Ugly Lake, Indiana.

- Progress. The town just gets better and better every day.

- Pumpkin Center. The center for cantelope must be in Ohio.

- Rising Sun. Well, at least it really is on the eastern border of the state. The mayor lives in "the house of the Rising Sun," baby!

- Roachdale. Bring an exterminator with you.

- Russiaville. Yes, in a notoriously conservative state, we have a town called Russiaville, and we had it all through the Cold War. I guess it’s no coincidence that the locals pronounce it “ROOSH-a-vul.” We also have a Moscow, Indiana. It’s pronounced “Muss-go.”

- Santa Claus. Happiest place on earth.

- Saline Center. Contact lens solution capital of the world?

- Shirley. Some guy probably named it after his daughter. Or his sister. Or something. Still, no worse than naming a town Gary. Or Jasper.

- Scotland. You take the high road and I’ll take the low road. One of the many Indiana towns named after foreign countries or cities.

- State Line City. It’s right on the state line of Indiana and Illinois. So what makes this state-line town so special that it gets to be named State Line, whereas the state-line town of Beal gets stuck with a name like, well, Beal?

- Sulphur Springs. Just the name is enough to make noses curl.

- Sunman. And his faithful sidekick, Moon Boy.

- Toad Hop. Toad-crossing signs everywhere. Honest. Well, okay – there SHOULD be toad-crossing signs.

- Wadesville. Flooding must be a problem there. Or everyone has really high trouser legs.

- Warsaw. But it’s not in Poland. Nope, it’s in Switzerland. Switzerland County, to be exact.