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CONDOM, INTERCOURSE, CLIMAX!

Readers of this e-book have told us of dozens of their favorite weird place names, after reading last month's story about Pity Me (England), Intercourse (Pennsylvania), Hell (Michigan), and Moron (Cuba). Here are their e-mails:

  • Have you heard of the town of Hotazel in the Northern Cape Province of South Africa? It gets quite warm there!
    Stan (Johannesburg, South Africa).
    [I'd never heard of Hotazel, but thanks to Stan, I've found it on a map. It's not far from Kimberley, the often hot hometown of my colleague and webmaster, Barry Downs.]
  • In addition to Hell, Michigan has a town named Paradise. (It's in the Upper Peninsula, on the shore of Lake Superior.) When we bought a cottage there, one of the previous owner's wall decorations was a road map of Michigan with the route from Hell to Paradise highlighted and "325 Miles from Hell to Paradise" scrawled across the top! Oh, and while Pennsylvania has Intercourse, Michigan has Climax.
    Barbara Bushey.
  • There is a Climax, Michigan that may be worth a visit... or maybe Christmas, MI as well.
    Nathan Miller.
  • Having traveled a bit in France myself, I know you will enjoy: Condom, France ... and, Two Eggs, Georgia.
    Lucy Bowers.
    [Condom would be just the place to post French letters. Nationmaster.com says "Condom is a village in the French département of Gers. Alarmingly, it is located on the river Baïse; baise (without the diaeresis) is a French vulgarism for a sex act."]
  • Here in Arizona we have "Why" without a question mark, and a place that shows on only one map, put out by the AAA, between Wickenburg and Wikieup called "Nothing." It really is a nothing. Near Intercourse in Pennsylvania is Blue Balls and, of course, in France there is Condom. New Mexico boasts Truth or Consequences, named after a long since gone radio program.
    Stanley Dickes.
  • Here's some more for you: Dimbox, Godly, Cut and Shoot (all in Texas), and one of my favorites: Toad Suck, Arkansas.
    Don Cooper.
  • Just read about the various town names, and thought I'd send a greeting from my town of Rough and Ready, California. Here's our local chamber website for your enjoyment: Be sure to check out our "Fruit Jar Pickers" under "present times." Enjoy.
    Rosie Mariani.
    [Reminds us of Ben Ryan's 1926 song, Heart of My Heart:
    When we were kids
    On the corner of the street,
    We were Rough and Ready guys,
    But oh, how we could harmonize!]
  • Do not forget Blue Balls which is located very near Intercourse, PA. Why did the Amish choose such weird names for their towns?
    Linda in Ami Machi, Japan.
    [I'm not sure whether it was the Amish who chose those odd names. Both places may have been named before the Amish settled there. - E.S.]
  • When you found Intercourse Pa. weren't there two towns named Blue Balls and Fertility nearby? My parents were once touring there and send us postcards from all three!
    Nancy Hilty
  • I've seen the exit sign Zzyzx myself on the way to Barstow, and a friend of mine has been to the nature studies center there. It's just a cool name, after all. I've wondered whence the name actually derives. It has its own interesting story involving marketing and illegal land use. Likely the name was inspired by 'zyzzyva', or 'zyzza', genera of weevils and leafhoppers, respectively.
    Chris.
  • My father knew the man who named Zzyzyx (I am sure it is pronounced "zai-zix"). As I recall, he was a bit of a promoter, who wanted to create a town there, and sell land. He selected the name in order to create interest. I guess he succeeded!
    Radha, St John, U S Virgin Islands.
  • Hello from the UK. It is quite common to live in Hope around here - there's one in Montgomeryshire, Wales and the other just over the border in Shropshire, England. There is also a village in Shropshire called Great Ness. I always thought I was destined for greatness but never could afford a house there.
    Chris Bartram.

 

Believe it or not, there's a small place in Upper Austria named Fuc*ing (pronounced "Fooking"). Its name honors a man from the 6th century called Focko. English speaking tourists invariably stop to have their photographs taken in front of a sign displaying the dreaded word. It's been stolen at least seven times. As a new sign costs several hundred dollars, that worries the Mayor, Siegfried Hoeppel, who hopes to avoid further thefts by using more concrete and larger bolts.
Lisa Resnick Escaloni, of Escaloni Communications, in Richardson, Texas, told us about this. Her company's website says "We provide clean, publishable transcripts." If the loss of the asterisk won't shock you, click on this sign.

 

  • You missed mentioning Paradise, Pennsylvania, which is not far from Intercourse, Pennsylvania: and both are also close to Bird-In-Hand, Pennsylvania.
    Lisa A. Hallett.
  • You don't have to go to California to find Paradise. Near Lancaster, Pennsylvania you can find both Paradise and Intercourse. On a highway there is a sign there pointing in two different directions, one to Paradise and the other to Intercourse. Most people opt to take the road to Intercourse, out of curiosity. I am not sure if they go straight to Paradise after Intercourse or return disappointed and then opt to go to Paradise. The three cities, Bird in Hand, Intercourse, and Paradise are all within 5 miles of each other.
    Sethuraman Subramanian
  • Another place to visit, other than Hell, is Dildo Newfoundland
    Dave Ritchie, Canada.
  • I have been to Intercourse, PA. If you love fun place names, you should check out a map of Newfoundland. My mother-in-law is from there, and we have visited. Some are just picturesque, like Harbour Grace, Bay Bulls, Tickle Cove, Tickle Beach, Tickle Harbour, Leading Tickles (a jolly bunch those Newfies must be), Cupids, Mosquito, Goblin, Garnish, Harbour Buffet (to go with the Garnish, perhaps?), Goobies, Come by Chance, Renews, Dildo, Dildo South, Bacon, Old Shop, Gin Cove, Doting Cove, Noggin, Tilting, Little Seldom (emphatic redundancy, perhaps), Joe Batt's Arm, Too Good Arm, Virgin Arm, Whale's Gulch, Lushes Bight, Black Duck, Jerrys Nose, Witless Bay, and Blow Me Down.
    Some tell stories of great hardship, which is remarkable considering the penchant of most New World pioneers to give their godforsaken new home a name with some gloss and hopeful (if not outright deceptive) - but what do we make of Hungry Hill, Burnt Islands, Little Burnt Bay, Isle aux Morts, Camp Boggy, Bareneed, Farewell, Gallows Cove, and such? But some must have found contentment and prosperity there. There are Heart's Content, Heart's Delight, and Heart's Desire, all just across Trinity Bay from Little Heart's Ease. - Randal Allred.
  • There is also a town in Norway, just north of Trondheim, called Hell. They get no shortage of English speaking visitors in this little town who go there just so they can say they have gone to Hell and back.
    Kerilyn Cole.
  • Paradise, Pennsylvania and Hell, Michigan seem to call for Purgatory, Maine. It is actually quite a disappointing place. Its corner grocery store didn't even have post cards celebrating the name!
    James and Helen Miller.
  • Appreciated your message to Anu [Garg] re your "travels" during his absence. Found your senior network site and it's tailor-made for me! Bought my first computer four weeks ago and am approaching it like a dog circling an unknown and fearsome creature (as my continued use of webtv indicates). Your late arrival to the computer gives me hope. Thank you for sharing that information. (I'm 64).
    Barbara Hunter, Puyallup, Washington.

Thank you all for your interesting contributions. Checking out some of those places, because they sounded so unlikely, we found two websites with huge lists of even weirder U.S. place names.

First, we discovered a story written by Sherry Stripling in the Seattle Times, which mentions Scratch Ankle, Alabama; Good Grief, Idaho; Panic, Pennsylvania; Stinking Point, Virginia; Yum Yum, Tennessee (reminds us of Australia's Woy Woy and Wagga Wagga); Dynamite, Washington, and Tranquility, California (that should be spelled with two l's, Sherry); Nothing, Arizona and Zero, Montana.

Sherry was reviewing New York photographer Gary Gladstone's book, Passing Gas: And Other Towns Along the American Highway (Ten Speed Press, $19.95), so named because people who drive through Gas, Kansas, are told not to blink or they'll pass Gas.

Eager to learn more about Gary's book, we found a detailed description of it, plus a gallery of superb photos, on his website (see link below).

"I drove 38,000 miles visiting tiny places with funny names," says Gary. "I made a portrait in a different town every day and posted daily journals on the Photo News Network website. It is now a book."

His photos have appeared in Life, Look and the Saturday Evening Post. Making nine trips in five years, he shot 21,000 frames of film, and visited (among many other odd places) Ding Dong, Surprise, Goofy Ridge and Monkey's Eyebrow.

When you visit his website, be sure to look at his remarkable slide show. There are great pictures of Gas, Purgatory, Tightwad, Rough and Ready, Sweetlips, Good Grief, Bitter End, Suck Egg Hollow and Lovely.

Links

 

Copyright © 2003

Eric Shackle

Story first posted November 2003

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