I live in Pinetop. Or maybe in Lakeside. I’m not really sure and I suppose others may not be too sure either. I’d guess that’s why the powers-to-be decided to call the area Pinetop-Lakeside and avoid the confusion. But either way, the monikers make sense. Lots of pines up here on the top of the rim and we’re beside many lakes. But what about the names of some other towns around Arizona?
Snowflake? Was it named in the winter? If it was named during the monsoon season would it have been called Raindrop? Turns out it was named after a couple of LDS pioneers to the area, Erastus Snow and William J. Flake. Not all that puzzling after all, right?
Of course there’s nearby Show Low, where legend has it being named as a result of a card game played to determine ownership of a ranch, which later morphed into the town. Whichever fellow in the contest who would show the low card on the next draw, got the deed. The deuce of clubs won the draw and the rest is local history.
What about Why, Arizona in the southwest corner of our state near the Mexican border? Seems the not too imaginative founders of the outpost decided that the intersection of State Routes 86 and 85, which formed a “Y”, would suffice to distinguish the town and so referred to it as” Y”. But when they wanted the US Postal Service to establish an office in their burgeoning enclave, they had to adhere to the service’s standard abbreviations that all offices needed a three letter designator. Keeping with their stunted imaginations, they re-named the town, Why.
Other towns around Arizona with distinctive names include, Top-of-the World, near Globe (not even close!), Three Way, in Greeley County (nothing randy here; three intersecting roads were the impetus), So-Hi in Mojave County (named well before the marijuana initiatives), Surprise (named because the founders thought it would be a surprise if the place ever amounted to anything) and Nothing, found between Kingman and Wickenburg (it started out as nothing and remains so to this day).
But Arizona isn’t alone among the states with goofy town names. For example, Alabama boasts a town named Frog Eye, which may have led to the naming of another town, Screamer. And if you’ve ever walked around that state in sandals, you’ll appreciate how the town, Scratch Ankle, got its name.
Kentucky has Monkey’s Eyebrow as well as Hell For Certain. Not to be outdone by its northern neighbor, Tennessee sports a town called Bitter End.
Head to Georgia and you’ll find Climax but maybe that came after Pennsylvania’s, Intercourse. I have to wonder what these town’s founders were doing when they decided on these names although they all have official, reasonable and staid explanations. (Yeah, right. And how is Conception Junction, Missouri explained?)
I know several people who should relocate to Idiotville in Oregon and sometimes wonder if we shouldn’t move the Capitol there. Or maybe to Nimrod, Minnesota? How about Dummer, New Hampshire? Maybe I should leave the politicians alone. (but they make it so easy!)
While Arkansas has Goobertown, West Virginia doesn’t stand on decorum when naming one of their towns, Booger Hole. (I suppose the gentler, Nostril, was already taken?)
New Mexico even re-named a town just to get an audience with a popular radio game show of the day, Truth or Consequences.
In Illinois, you’ll find Roaches (the town, not the insects, although…) as well as Goofy Ride and the curiously named, Chicken Bristle. Oddly enough, Kentucky also boasts a town named Chicken Bristle although neither town explains the origins.
Why Not is in North Carolina and you can visit both Pee Pee Township and Knockemstiff in the Buckeye State, Ohio, but I don’t know why you’d want to.
So, you see, when some out-of-stater knocks the names of some of our towns here in Arizona, ask them where they’re from and smack ‘em back with one of the curiosities mentioned above. Although Punkin Center and Bumble Bee here in Arizona sound kinda funny for town names, Minnesotans have to live with Embarrass, Washington has a Big Bottom in Idaho?