Cheesequake and Other Curious Places

by D.J. Wilson –

Have you ever glanced at a map and spotted a place with a curious name?  All across America there’s a plethora of towns and places with catchy and entertaining names.  Due to my inquisitive nature, I researched some which caught my eye and made me scratch my head in curiosity.  Here are some I found amusing which I’d like to share with you.

  • Cheesequake, NJ –   Have you been there?  Perhaps you unknowingly stopped at Cheesequake’s rest area located on the Garden State Parkway at milepost 123.  Those who take a fleeting look at its name often mistakenly think it reads cheesecake.  The origin of the name has nothing to do with baked goods or any natural disaster.  The quirky name is derived from the Lenni Lenape Native American word Cheseh-oh-ke and means “upland” or “upland village.”  Historically, the Lenni Lenape Indians were the first to inhabit the area and were known as Unami or “people down the river.”


  • Lake Chargoggagoggmanchauggagoggchaubunagungamaugg, Webster, MA – What a lengthy name!  In fact, it is the longest place name in the United States.  The complicated spelling led to an incorrectly spelled sign bordering Connecticut.  Due to its extremely difficult pronunciation, many of the locals simply call it ‘Webster Lake’.  Named by the Nipmuk Indians, it loosely means “fishing place at the boundary.”  The lake was historically considered a neutral territory and was used for meetings and powwows by the Nipmuk Indians, as well as other tribes such as the Narraganssett, Pequot and Mohegan tribes.  The lake is comprised of three spring-fed lakes, narrow channels and ponds.  Three songs have been written about the lake.  The first was performed in the 1930s, a second was recorded by Ethel Merman and Ray Bolger in the 1950s, and a third was released by singer-songwriter Diana Taraz in 2010.


  • Hopeulikit, GA – Located outside of Statesboro, many wonder how this 800 acre community got its intriguing name.  According to long-time resident and co-founder of the town, Beatrice Ellis, it got its title from a dance hall off Highway 80 that was open in the 20s and 30s.  Ellis recalled sitting on her porch listening to band music coming from The Hopeulikit Dance Hall.  The Ellis family owned two businesses in town, a grocery store and meat market which no longer exist.  However, generations of their family were raised in this charming community.


  • Truth or Consequences, NM –Is it a game or a town name?  How about both.  The town got its name from the 1950 NBC radio program.  The city, located on the Rio Grande, was originally named Hot Springs but changed its name after host of the radio quiz show, Ralph Edwards, announced he would air the program from the first town which renamed itself after the show.  Hot Springs proudly did so and Edward visited the town during the first weekend of May for the next 50 years.  It became a notable event known as “Fiesta” which is still celebrated to this day.   Truth or Consequences is known as a spa city due to its hot springs and is located in Sierra County, New Mexico.


  • Unalaska, AK – If you ask residents where they’re from, the answer is bound to be confusing.  Unalaska is the 11th largest city in Alaska, with about 4,000 residents.  It is a picturesque island, located along the Aleutian Chain, about 800 miles southwest of Anchorage.  The economy is based on commercial fishing and is strategically located along a shipping route, making it a hub of transshipment of cargo.  There are different theories about the derivation of its name.  It is most widely believed to come from an altered form of the Russian word Ounalashka , which was derived from the Aleut word for near the mainland. Despite its prefix, make no mistake, Unalaska is officially part of Alaska.


  • Paint Lick, KY –If you think the town got its name from paint licking, you’re incorrect.  Historians believe, due to a marker found near old Paint Lick Presbyterian Church and Paint Lick Cemetery, it’s likely settlers discovered Indian signs painted on trees near creek banks, near Salt Lick. Paint Lick is located in Garrard County, Kentucky and lies along Routes 21 and 52.  It is approximately 78.9 square miles with a relatively low population density.


  • Joe, Montana – Yes, it’s true. The town was named after the famous quarterback when he signed on with the Kansas City Chiefs in 1993. A Missouri radio station personality urged the folks of this southeast Montana town to change its name.  Not far from the North Dakota border, the small town of Ismay obliged.  All 22 of the apparently sports-loving citizens voted in favor of the name change.  In fact, Joe Montana souvenirs helped the town to build a new fire station.  The name change was only temporary, though, and Joe, Montana has officially reverted to its original name.


  • Idiotville, OR – Wonder why it’s currently a ghost town?  Perhaps no one wants to live in a place which deliberately takes pot shots at human intelligence.  Located in Tillamook County, Oregon, it is situated northwest of Portland.   Nothing currently remains at the site.  A logging camp which was once part of a salvage operation is a half mile up the creek.  Due to its remote location, folks declared that only an idiot would work there.  The camp, once called Ryan’s camp, became popularly called Idiotville.  The name was also given to the nearby stream, Idiot Creek.

It’s evident that throughout America many states have places with interesting names.  Some encompass historical significance, while others provide a glimpse into the interests or mindset of its people.   Towns on the map, like Zig Zag (OR), Knockemstiff (OH), and You Bet (CA), leave us yearning to learn more about their curious names.  Please comment if you have an interesting place to share with our readers.  We welcome your input.

Join the Discussion   Add Your Comment

  1. Wanda says:

    I’ve always found INTERCOURSE PENNSYLVANIA interesting.
    It’s in the heart of Amish Country?!

  2. Craig says:

    Theres a beecher meat market in beecher il.right down the road from the beecher tool and die

    • sandy says:

      I grew up taking field trips to Cheesequake Park in NJ. I remember when there was a small earthquake that occurred in the park. The locals then called it the “Cheesequake Earthquake”. Gee it brings back fond childhood memories!

  3. Carl in SC says:

    Having lived in Florida I know there are some strange sounding names besides some already mentioned. I’m curious about how YeeHaw Junction, FL came to be named. Kissimmee near Orlando is unusual and is mispronounced by many as kiss-a-me. Then there is Weeki Wachee above Tampa, and Wimauma, east of St. Petersburg. Wimauma was named for a family’s daughters Willma, Maude, Mary.

    • Erik says:

      It would not surprise me in the least if this were the case with some poeple. There are supposedly good psychological reasons why some poeple seem to believe in things which the bulk of the population think is wrong or even nonsense. It gives the believer a sense of empowerment in thinking they know the truth and nearly everyone else is wrong. It also puts them in an in-group. If I recall correctly the late Carl Sagan expounded on this in The Demon Haunted World .This sort of thing ranges from the old nonsense about oil companies buying up 100 mile per gallon patents through to the world is flat story that some poeple seem to believe. It includes things like 2012 doomsday, the Bermuda triangle and of course the ragged old balderdash about evolution being some sort of plot.Once some poeple get into this mindset they will reject any argument and any fact that militates against their belief system.

  4. Gus says:

    I heard there was a poor excuse for a town called “New York City” !!

  5. Jim says:

    How about Horseheads, New York

  6. William Evans says:

    And then there is Lambs, MI. No lambs live there that I ever saw.

  7. Stephen Williams says:

    There is a “Two Egg”, Florida, and a “Sopchoppy”, Florida. There is also a “Sneads” which so many people pronounce as Sneeze.

  8. Pat says:

    I am partial to a town in my home state, North, South Carolina.

  9. Charles Heberer says:

    How about Tightwad, Missouri. However, the Bank of Tightwad closed several years ago. Or Bigfoot, Illinois.

  10. Phil Kuhn says:

    There is a muleshoe Texas, bean blossom Indiana, gnaw bone Indiana and a zulu Indiana. I have been to all of them, they still exist.

  11. larry pollard says:

    there is a Needmore,Texas some 70 miles northwest of Lubbock Ever heard of Earth, Texas

  12. Al says:

    There’s a Todd Suck Arkansas

    • Shirish says:

      Ein wirklich sehr feiens Bild. We4re optimal mit einer Fudfspur statt der eines Fahrzeugs. Aber manchmal bekommen wir Fotografen das Motiv nicht so serviert, wie wir es gerne he4tten.Aber auch so ist es ffcr mich ein echter Hingucker.

  13. Dg says:


  14. Dg says:

    Cut n Shoot, Texas

  15. tony says:

    Wew have shake rag Georgia. No idea where that came from unless they used it to shake during the civil war>

    • Carly says:

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  16. Mildred Atwell says:

    lVery interesting & thanks for the laughs !!

  17. walter wendland says:

    there is a Hump Tulips, Washington

  18. Joy Pruett says:

    I was especially fascinated by Toad Suck, Ark; not to mention Rooster Poot, Ark!

  19. JessicaM says:

    There is Hot Coffee, Mississippi

  20. Marvin Camp says:

    I can’t believe that I forgot to mention Needmore Georgia, that makes three!

  21. Linda Enz says:

    I was raised not far from Boring, Oregon

  22. Marvin Camp says:

    One isn’t enough. there are two ‘Needmore’s one in Pennsylvania and oine in Florida.

  23. RLPartridge says:

    A few miles southeast of Meridian, Mississippi is the town of Whynot. According to local lore, when they were deciding on a name, someone said: “Whynot call it Whynot?”

  24. Tom says:

    Went to a concert once in George, Washington, in the Columbia River gorge, (the Gorge at George).

  25. Sherry says:

    I have been to Truth or Consequences, NM and also “Buck Snort”, Tenn.

  26. Sue Navratil says:

    Big Bug Az, 96 SC, don’t forget Paradise and Intercourse Pa!

  27. Marilee Downing says:

    Hope, AZ. West of Salome on Hwy 60. At the edge of town, either direction,
    they have a sign that tells you that you are now “Beyond HOPE”.

  28. Jerry Reier says:

    and Texas has ‘Bangs and Trickem’

  29. Paul says:

    And I vaguely remember that it was the “Truth or Consequences” TV show that held the contest to re-name a town…….hmm?

  30. ran newman says:

    ………..and then TEXAS has notrees , cutnshoot , bugtussle , allamore , buffalo gap and iago……

  31. Dennis says:

    Here are a couple more for you…
    Painted Post, NY (near Corning, NY & Binghamton, NY)
    Between, GA (east of Atlanta)
    Ball Ground, GA (north of Atlanta)

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  32. Jim Lee says:

    How about Dinosaur, Colorado on old US Hiway 40 300 miles West of Denver and 200 miles East of Salt Lake City. Headquarters of Dinosaur National Monument. 20 miles North of the Rangely, Colorado oil field. Thanks

  33. John Alley says:

    There is a “town” about 15 miles north of Beatty, NV called Nowhere,NV and it sure is.

  34. Jeanie says:

    Then there’s Protection, Kansas (only Protection in the US)

  35. john says:

    How about “Rough and Ready”in the Sierra foothills of California!

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