Strangely Named Towns

Road Sign Showing WELCOMEWhat’s in a name? In the case of these extraordinary American towns, a lot! Perfect for a fun themed road trip.

Truth or Consequences, New Mexico

In 1950, the popular radio quiz show Truth or Consequences promised to broadcast from the first town that renamed itself after the program. The city of Hot Springs, New Mexico took the plunge. For the next 50 years, the show’s host Ralph Edwards, would visit the town on the first weekend of May for a “Fiesta” that included a beauty contest, parade and stage show—a celebration the city still holds each year.

Cut and Shoot, Texas

According to local lore, this city got its name in 1912 when a small boy yelled, “I’m going to cut around the corner and shoot through the bushes in a minute!” While there was no actual cutting or shooting that day, his declaration put Cut and Shoot on the map.

Hot Coffee, Mississippi

This small community is nestled midway between Natchez, Mississippi and Mobile, Alabama. In 1870, Levi Davis established an inn at the crossroads and hung a sign outside advertising “the best hot coffee around.” Eventually, road-weary travelers would ask how far it was to “hot coffee,” and the name stuck. Davis’s inn is long gone, but you can still get a hot cup of joe and a nice slice of pie in town.

Needles, California

Founded on the banks of the Colorado River in 1883, Needles is named for a group of pointed rocks on the Arizona side. While the name suggests a barren, cactus-filled landscape, the city has a rich culture and history going back thousands of years to the Mohave people. It’s also a gateway to the scenic desert of the Mojave National Preserve.

Smackover, Arkansas

While oil is the backbone of Smackover’s economy, the town owes its name to the timber industry. French trappers who later turned to logging and farming settled the area in the 1800s. The name Smackover comes from an anglicization of the French sumac couvert (“covered in sumac”) or chemin couvert (“covered path”). Oil was discovered in 1922, and half of the town’s population still works in the petroleum business. Smackover hosts an annual four-day Oil Town Festival in June.

King of Prussia, Pennsylvania

This city outside Philadelphia has nothing to do with royalty or Prussia. It began as a cottage built by a couple of Welsh Quakers. In 1769, it was turned into an inn (George Washington slept there in 1777). By 1786, the inn was renamed The King of Prussia and the community that grew up around it took on the moniker. The inn is still standing, but today King of Prussia is better known as the home of the largest mall in America.

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