The Most Bizarre Names of Cities in the U.S.
We’ve all taken a wrong turn and ended up someplace on accident. But have you ever arrived in Accident, Maryland? This little town is real! As silly as it sounds, it’s one of many cities with a bizarre title. You won’t believe the strange names of the following U.S. towns.
1. Chicken, Alaska
This Alaskan mining town fully embraces their ridiculous name, even erecting an, “I Got Laid in Chicken, Alaska” sign. In the early 1800s, miners survived there by eating ptarmigans, a game bird abundant in the area. When the town was incorporated, locals wanted to honor the bird. But they struggled to spell “Ptarmigan.” They decided to call it “Chicken” instead.
Next: Fans of the show Extreme Couponing may want to move here.
2. Coupon, Pennsylvania
If you do a web search for “Coupon, Pennsylvania” you’ll find more coupons for shopping in Pennsylvania than info about this community. With only 73 inhabitants in the 2010 census, Coupon is near the larger town of Altoona in Cambria County. The unincorporated community got its name from a former industry paying employees in scrips, or coupons.
Next: This town capitalizes on its breakfast-food name.
3. Oatmeal, Texas
Oatmeal, Texas isn’t inspired by breakfast; it’s just how the name of a local farmer, Othneil, got anglicized. However, the town of Oatmeal now hosts the annual Oatmeal Festival over Labor Day weekend. The celebration began in 1978 when one resident asked oatmeal producers if they would sponsor a festival to put Oatmeal on the map. National Oats agreed, and they’ve celebrated ever since.
Next: The French pronunciation of this name is less embarrassing.
4. Embarrass, Minnesota
Of all the strange names, Embarrass undoubtedly begs for its origin story to be told. The tale goes back to French fur trappers and priests who struggled to navigate the river in the area, dubbing it the Rivière d’Embarras, or “River of Obstacles.” The French name stuck — not the translation — and citizens now lean into the silly name instead of saying it the French way.
Next: If you know even a little Spanish, this town will make you laugh.
5. Los Baños, California
Many English speakers in the U.S. know “el baño” means “the bathroom” in Spanish. But this town actually got its name from the creek near its first post office, called “El Arroyo de Los Baños del Padre.” In this original name, “los baños” referred to the fact that settlers bathed in the creek, not that they used it as a toilet.
Next: It makes sense people would steer clear.
6. Hazard, Nebraska
If you’ve heard the ’90s song, “Hazard,” by Richard Marx, you likely figured the town mentioned was fictional. But it’s actually a real community (with a population of 70 people as of 2017). Marx wanted to sing the line, “this small Nebraska town,” but needed a two-syllable location to include. He asked the Nebraska Chamber of Commerce for a list of city names and picked Hazard. However, it seems fitting since the song is about a murder!
Next: Speaking of murder, this next town fits right in.
7. Hell, Michigan
Some people really do live in hell — Michigan, that is. Hell has leaned into its name; its website is gotohellmi.com, and it sells souvenirs boasting that you’ve been to hell and back. The town got its name in the mid-1800s when a grain-mill owner paid farmers for grain with his homemade whiskey. The whiskey had such a reputation that the farmer’s wives would say their husbands had been to hell again. The name stuck.
Next: No, this town isn’t filled with giant African animals.
8. Hippo, Kentucky
This Floyd County town isn’t named after the hippopotamus animal — shocker. The story goes that the first post office registered in Hippo got its name from the postmaster’s husband, who was a hypochondriac. So, do they pronounce it “hypo” then? You’ll have to go there to find out.
Next: One more bathroom joke
9. Pee Pee, Ohio
Unsurprisingly, the village of Pee Pee wasn’t named for the bodily fluid. This town got its name from the stream running through it, Pee Pee Creek. And that creek got its name from an early resident named Peter Patrick.
Next: A sexualized city in Amish country?
10. Intercourse, Pennsylvania
Intercourse is considered the center of Amish Country in Pennsylvania and has been for two centuries! The origin of the name isn’t 100% known, but two major highways cross here, making it a stop for travelers and locals alike. In 1814, when the town got its name, “Intercourse” referred to social interaction and friendship. So, get your mind out of the gutter!
Next: A sad history behind this town
11. Money, Mississippi
This impoverished town has an unfortunate legacy with the civil rights movement. In 1955, a 14-year-old boy named Emmett Till whistled at a white woman. His punishment was death by lynching, and the outrage from this horrific event was the catalyst for action. This legacy is all that’s left of Money, along with boarded-up buildings and less than 100 people.
Next: “Okay,” this town definitely has a strange name.
12. Okay, Oklahoma
Okay, OK — oh man, we can’t get enough of it — didn’t get its name from the state abbreviation. The name honors a truck and trailer, called the O.K. 3-Ton, which was manufactured by the town’s Oklahoma Auto Manufacturing Company. The business played a vital role in the community. Although it eventually failed, the factory’s remains are still there to this day.
Next: A wild west tale behind this name
13. Cut and Shoot, Texas
So, cut what exactly? Shoot whom? Well, the town got its name from a standoff that occurred in 1912 over whether an Apostolic preacher could hold a meeting in the community center. When things got heated between the opposing sides, they say a young boy said, “I’m scared! I’m going to cut around the corner and shoot through the bushes in a minute!” Thankfully, no cutting or shooting occurred that day!
Next: This ordinary small town has an anything but ordinary name.
14. Frankenstein, Missouri
If you lived in this area, you might petition for a name change. But people from Frankenstein, Missouri have lived in this rural town since the late 1800s without batting an eye at the unusual moniker. The name likely comes from a founding pioneer of the city, Godfried Franken.
Next: Our last strange place will make you feel festive.
15. Santa Claus, Arizona
Christmas all year round? It sounds too good to be true. And it was. Santa Claus, Arizona was founded in 1937 by real-estate agent, Nina Talbot. She tried to create a tourist trap where visitors could stop any time of the year to see Santa Claus and Christmas-related attractions. For over a decade, she brought visitors to the area. However, no one bought real estate and stayed. So Talbot’s plan failed. She sold the city, and now it’s just a ghost town.