Preemption, Illinois, Zip Code 61276:

Just learned about this, thanks to commenter cathyf. If anyone knows the story behind it, please let me know. And please feel free to mention other similarly amusing names, though stay away from the obvious ones (this and this, plus the others linked to from here) unless you have something new to say about them.

Oh, and if you want to use Google directions to get to UCLA, don't ask for Westwood, CA.

UPDATE: According to Edward Callary, Place Names of Illinois, the name stems from "the preemption laws passed by the U.S. Congress that gave squatters the right to 'enter' (register) their land with the government and purchase it later when the tract became legally available for sale. The preemption laws protected settlers from claim jumpers and from having to bid against speculators at open auction." I found some 1800s court cases that confirm the existence of settler-protective "preemption laws," so this adds plausibility to the account. Thanks to commenter Alfred for the pointer.

VincentPaul (mail):
Toad Suck, Arkansas
10.25.2008 7:49pm
Truth or Consequences, New Mexico. From the Wiki page:

Originally called "Hot Springs", it took the name of a popular radio program in 1950, when Truth or Consequences host Ralph Edwards announced that he would do the program from the first town that renamed itself after the show. Ralph Edwards came to the town during the first weekend of May for the next fifty years. This event was called the "Fiesta" and included a beauty contest, a parade, and a stage show.
10.25.2008 7:55pm
Kelly (mail):
Intercourse, PA is funny and all, but a bit on the tame side. The Australians went right ahead and named their town F#*king.

With regard to non-sexually named towns, I've always liked Enigma, GA.
10.25.2008 7:57pm
I have driven through, but not indulged in, Gays, IL 61928. On the map it is around Mattoon/Charleston.
10.25.2008 7:58pm
At the tail end of a long, frustrating family vacation, my mom absolutely lost her mind when the car broke down as we were crossing the appropraitely named Crazy Woman Creek in WY.
10.25.2008 8:00pm
Kelly (mail):
Whoops, should be "Austrians" above. My apologies for libeling the Aussies (or making them seem cooler, depending on your point of view).
10.25.2008 8:01pm
Ritchey Ruff:
10.25.2008 8:01pm
10.25.2008 8:04pm
Frater Plotter:
Gay Head, Massachusetts -- a town on Martha's Vineyard, known as Aquinnah since 1998.
10.25.2008 8:06pm

Gay Head, Massachusetts -- a town on Martha's Vineyard, known as Aquinnah since 1998.

Norman Mailer once said that Endicot Peabody was the only governor of Massachusetts to have three cities named after him: Peabody, Marblehead, and Athol.
10.25.2008 8:11pm
Dr. Weevil (mail) (www):
Another town in Arkansas is Smackover, an excellent example of folk etymology: it was originally Chemin Couvert.

If you'll take roads as well as towns, Fishersville, Virginia (between Staunton and Waynesboro) is blessed with a Mule Academy Road. (It connects Barren Ridge Road to Tinkling Spring Road.) None of the locals have been able to tell me whether there was once a training school for mules in Fishersville, assuming mules are even trainable, or how it got its name.
10.25.2008 8:15pm
Then there's Cut and Shoot, Texas.
10.25.2008 8:16pm
Dr. Weevil (mail) (www):
Speaking of Athol, is it true, as I was told in college 35 years ago, or has it ever been true, that the garbage trucks in Athol, Massachusetts display the slogan "Help keep your Athol clean"?
10.25.2008 8:16pm
Effingham, IL 62401

Oblong, IL 62449
10.25.2008 8:17pm
New Pseudonym:

And since the competition seems to have been opened to foreign countries (Austria, Australia, Austrasia, whatever) there is a small coastal village in Viet Nam called Suc My D#ng.
10.25.2008 8:17pm

Speaking of Athol, is it true, as I was told in college 35 years ago, or has it ever been true, that the garbage trucks in Athol, Massachusetts display the slogan "Help keep your Athol clean"?

I can't answer to that, but in the town where I lived, one of the local companies that would come around and pump out septic tanks had as its company motto:

We're Number 1 in the Number 2 Business
10.25.2008 8:27pm
gcruse42 (mail) (www):
BUG TUSSLE, TEXAS. Bug Tussle is at the junction of Farm Road 1550 and State Highway 34, ten miles south of Honey Grove and five miles north of Ladonia in southeastern Fannin County. ... At least three explanations exist for this unusual name. The most popular is that the name commemorated an invasion of bugs that spoiled a church ice cream social.
10.25.2008 8:38pm
almondwine (mail):
Those who live in northern Minnesota can drive from Fertile, MN to Climax, MN. But you daren't go the wrong direction, or you might end up way over in Embarass, MN.
10.25.2008 9:11pm
phants (mail):
Assawoman, VA Zip code(s): 23302
10.25.2008 9:14pm
Kelly (mail):
Kentucky has a Monkey's Eyebrow. It's not that far from Possum Trot, KY.
10.25.2008 9:22pm
gcruse42 wrote at 10.25.2008 7:38pm:
Or Bug Scuffle, Arkansas, just down the road a piece from Hogeye. The link has pictures of the locale, and driving directions.

Hogeye was apparently the result of a bureaucrat's misspelling of Haggai, after the OT prophet.

Then there is 56, Arkansas.
10.25.2008 9:30pm
Bill Poser (mail) (www):
I've always liked the name of a place I visited in Japan: Onioshidashi 鬼押出し[, which means "Expelling Demons". It seems that a Japanese astronomer has also given this name to an asteroid.
10.25.2008 9:32pm
Albatross (www):
Woman Hollering Creek in Texas, near San Antonio.
10.25.2008 9:41pm
Albatross (www):
Oatmeal, Texas
10.25.2008 9:44pm
Rodger Lodger (mail):
Blue Ball (Pennsylvania) played a role in the Supreme Court decision in Ginzburg v. U.S., 383 U.S. 463 (1966):

"EROS early sought mailing privileges from the postmasters of Intercourse and Blue Ball, Pennsylvania. The trial court found the obvious, that these hamlets were chosen only for the value their names would have in furthering petitioners' efforts to sell their publications on the basis of [**946] salacious appeal...."
10.25.2008 9:45pm
Albatross (www):
Pancake, Texas.
10.25.2008 9:49pm
We here in Indianer have French Lick, which is nowhere near as much fun as it sounds.

Neither is Santa Claus, IN.

Needmore, IN? (Hey, don't we all?)

But the funniest city in the state is Gary. Though not really because of its name.
10.25.2008 10:10pm
ChrisIowa (mail):
Gayville, SD
10.25.2008 10:12pm
John Moore (www):
Show Low, Arizona

The first mayor's race was a tie, so a game of Show Low was used to select the winner. Recently, this happened again.

Liberal, Kansas. It isn't.
10.25.2008 10:25pm
"butt hollow road" crosses under I-81 between salem and roanoke, virginia. i've been laughing about that since i was 5 years old.
10.25.2008 10:34pm
steve (mail):
Peculiar, Missouri 64078.
10.25.2008 11:23pm
I realize you already listed Intercours and someone else named Blue Ball but there are a few other towns in the same area of Pennsylvania with similarly themed names: Virginville, Bird in Hand, and Paradise. These towns are all in the same area. And the kicker? Its Amish Country.
10.25.2008 11:37pm
Bama 1L:
It's named after a preemption line, right?
10.26.2008 12:18am
Jerome Grimmer:
Hows this for name of a state used as a name of a town: Vermont, Illinois 61484.

There's also another place called Ipava, Illinois. According to my grandfather, who was born not far from there, the town is named for Isaac Pava, who signed his name I. Pava. There's only one town with this name. Zip code is 61441.

Near the Rock River in Illinois, there's a town called Grand Detour. Zip code is 61021.
10.26.2008 1:27am
Loyalammash (mail) (www):
10.26.2008 1:50am
Dave N (mail):
I could think of Athol, Idaho and Lovelock, Nevada
10.26.2008 1:56am
I like Drain, Oregon. As a command given how much it rains there.
10.26.2008 1:58am
Freddy Hill:
England seems to have more than its share of intersting names. For example:

Great Snoring, Norfolk.
Ugley, Essex.
No Place and Pity Me, both in County Durham.

And everybody's favorite,

Beer, Devon.
10.26.2008 2:04am
Randy R. (mail):
Don't forget the ever popular Condom, France.

Up near Buffalo, NY, we have Lackawanna, Cheektowaga and Tonawanda. All Indian names that some people find funny.

I like towns named after great cities of Europe, like Troy, Rome, Athens, Paris, Syracuse, Naples, Carthage, and so on.

Here in Washington, there is a part of town called Friendship Heights. And then there is Tenleytown, which sounds like a place for munchkins.
10.26.2008 2:14am
WheresJoe (mail):
Duuuuuudes. WEED, California.

In addition to Vermont, Illinois also has an Oregon, a Washington, and a Virgina. Internationally, Illinois is represented with a Havana, a Cuba, a Peru, a Columbia, a Paris, a Marseilles, a Vienna, a Warsaw, a Waterloo, a Cairo, a Lebanon, and an Orient. Normal, Sandwich, Hometown, and Metropolis are eye-raising names to some in IL, but Mounds, IL gets the most snickers.

In the useless trivia department, there was once a state named Franklin, kind of. And if you already knew that, then you may have also have known the first written constitution adopted by "Americans" was established in that Franklin area in 1772. The Watauga Compact.

And if you ever get the chance, that is one of the most beautiful areas in the US, especially in fall.
10.26.2008 2:23am
Dave N (mail):
Oh, and if you want to use Google directions to get to UCLA, don't ask for Westwood, CA.
Don't ask for Brentwood, California, either, if you want to get to Los Angeles.
10.26.2008 3:17am
Dildo is maybe the most prominent of the silly names for towns in Newfoundland. My wife had a fun 20 minutes reading town names for the island last year. Drunken pirates tend to make silly town names, I guess.
10.26.2008 3:30am
Buckland (mail):
One of my favorites is a town near where I grew up -- Big Ugly, WV.

Violent is fairly low in that part of the country, so the news papers don't think much about how a headline should work. That could account for the blaring local headline when a female from there was discovered to be a victim of foul play:

"Big Ugly Woman Found Murdered"
10.26.2008 9:58am
Here's a town I'm staying away from: Lawyersville, NY 12043.

Another unusual one in Illinois-Foosland 61845 (near Champaign).

I see that Illinois has been cited a number of times here. I read somewhere (I cannot remember the source) that Illinois has more small towns than any other state in the nation. It said that 75% of the towns have a population of 750 people or less and that 75% of those have a population of 250 or less. Having driven the state any number of times I can certainly vouch that once you are out of range of Chicago, say 60 miles south or southwest you get nothing but farmland and small towns. Finally in California there appears to be a town or at least a road near Barstow named Zzyzx. I was not able to get a zip code on it. God knows how it is pronounced.
10.26.2008 10:24am
Alfred (mail):
We'll see if this works:

Mercer County Names
10.26.2008 10:48am
KenB (mail):
Others have mentioned Cut and Shoot Texas, but there's also Point Blank, Texas, Uncertain, Texas and Dime Box, Texas.

I am told, though I cannot verify from personal knowledge, that the developer of Uncertain had not settled on a name when it came time to file the plat. He entered "uncertain" in the space for a name and it stuck. Uncertain is loctaed on the back end of Caddo Lake, which is a large cypress swamp. I have always preferred the explanation that, once you are out on the lake, you are uncertain how to get back.
10.26.2008 11:32am
KenB (mail):
And how could I have forgotten Gun Barrel City, Texas?
10.26.2008 11:35am
ChrisIowa (mail):

Dime Box, Texas.

Coin, Iowa

What Cheer, IA

Osage, IA wasn't named for the Indian tribe, but after a banker named Sage. O. Sage

Then there's Primghar, Iowa. Which was named by taking the initials of the last names of the eight founders. The eight north-south streets in the city are each named after one of the founders.
10.26.2008 12:11pm
Jim Gwyn (mail):
High Point, NC, has two nearby communities; Horneytown and Climax. We locals get quite a few laughs out of the matter.

High Point City website

Climax, NC

Horneytown crossroads
10.26.2008 12:18pm
Michelle Dulak Thomson (mail):
No one seems yet to have mentioned Rough And Ready, CA (95975).
10.26.2008 1:38pm
Bill F.:

Assawoman, VA Zip code(s): 23302

Home of Big Assawoman Bay! Represent!
10.26.2008 2:00pm
BobVDV2 (mail):
Smut Eye, Alabama and Slapout, Alabama.

I am told that Smut Eye is named for the dark sooty faces of coal miners, and Slapout is named for the poorly supplied general store where the usual response of the proprietor when asked for somethat was that "we're slap out of it".
10.26.2008 2:17pm
Randy R.
"Don't forget the ever popular Condom, France."

You reminded me of my favorite name for a (Catholic) college: College of Notre Dame of Maryland. (Think initials. And irony.)

UDallas had flireted with the name Catholic University of North Texas before someone pointed out to the Hungarian Cistercians that one ought to avoid that string of initials. I'm not sure anyone explained *why*.
10.26.2008 2:50pm
Bill Poser (mail) (www):

UDallas had flireted with the name Catholic University of North Texas before someone pointed out to the Hungarian Cistercians that one ought to avoid that string of initials. I'm not sure anyone explained *why*.

This reminds me of the famous South Hanoi Institute of Technology.
10.26.2008 3:14pm
Michelle Dulak Thomson (mail):
As long as we're on the subject of unfortunate acronyms:

There used to be a Unitarian church in Kensington (a neighborhood in the northern part of Berkeley, CA) called the First Unitarian Church of Berkeley in Kensington. I believe the clumsy attempt to avoid the string of initials generated by the most obvious name proved, in the long run, a bit too obvious itself; it is now the Unitarian Universalist Church of Berkeley.
10.26.2008 3:30pm
DiverDan (mail):
I actually took a deposition once at the grain elevator in Mule Shoe, Texas.
10.26.2008 8:37pm
it is now the Unitarian Universalist Church of Berkeley.

Why do I have the suspicion that I would not fit in there? (I mean, besides the fact that I'm lower-middle class.)
10.26.2008 9:08pm
PeterWimsey (mail):
Hoosier, you left out Gnaw Bone, Ind. Apparently originally named for Norbonne.
10.26.2008 10:48pm
PeterWimsey: True. Floyds Knob as well. (Some things we don't talk about among strangers.)

Best name of a city in the Anglo-Saxon world: Wagga Wagga, NSW.

It even has an "Effect" named after it. Though by my lights it should be the "Roma Effect," after Roma, QLD.
10.26.2008 11:19pm
Bob Montgomery (mail):
Not as racy as others mentioned above, but I've always liked
George, WA.
10.27.2008 12:39am
Barry P. (mail):
Disco, MI.
Duck, NC.
Middle Spunk Lake, MN.

Hossier: ever taste the prize winning Cuvee Reserve Ch√Ęteau-Bottled Nuit San Wogga Wogga?
10.27.2008 2:57am
There's Cooter, Missouri, on the southeast corner of the state, just north of Arkansas.
10.27.2008 9:07am
Anonymous Tennessee Resident:
My favorites in Tennessee:
Buck Snort
10.27.2008 12:42pm
My wife took pictures of me just outside Ashville, NC, standing in front of two street signs:

Short Dix Creek


Dix Creek Number 2

"Heh-heh Beavis, he said number 2."

"Yeah-yeah, Butthead. And 'short dix.' Short. Heh-heh."

"Ashville is cool."
10.28.2008 12:56am
Ian the Terrible:
it is very strange to me that the first comment I saw was the place I was going to mention--Toad Suck, Ark. I'm fairly certain there are more churches than people in that town.
10.28.2008 2:59am
Jane Q. Public:
I like Upper Squilchuck, Chelan County, Washington State, USA

But... wait for it now... I have the winner. The big one.

And it's in North America.

It's just below. Scroll down.

Just a bit more.

It's a real place.

"Head Smashed In Buffalo Jump", Alberta, Canada
10.29.2008 1:42am
Jane Q. Public:
Hey, you gotta admit:

It's long.

It's descriptive.

It says exactly what it means.

It's not just a (small) town, it's a historical site.

And it's FUNNY.
10.29.2008 1:52am