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Funny Pennsylvania Town Names
Pennsylvania Town Names: Whatever Were They Thinking?!
Pennsylvania holds the record for funny town names. There's Bird-in-Hand, Climax, Hazard, Jugtown, Intercourse, Noodle Doosie, Paradise, Puseyville, Punxsutawney, Rough & Ready, and that's just for starters!
Did you ever wonder what people were thinking when they named these places? This lens delves into some of that history in an attempt to unravel why these Pennsylvania towns bear these very usual names. We also plan to show that Pennsylvania has the silliest, funniest and sexiest sounding towns and villages in the USA.
This is but a sampling of true place names in Pennsylvania. There are so many others....and we'll be adding more from time to time.
What You Will Find Here
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Funny Pennsylvania Towns That Seem Misplaced
Why Did the Founders Choose These Names?
Jersey Shore, PA
Saint Petersburg, PA
We have the answer to why some of these towns were named after other places. See below!
California, PA: This is a town in Western Pennsylvania that was settled during the height of the California Gold Rush and named for that great state filled with gold.
Egypt: This eastern Pennsylvania community was settled in 1733 and named "Egypt" because the early residents of the Lehigh Valley would travel here to buy provisions, much like Jacob's sons once traveled to Egypt to buy corn. ~ Yes, I know it sounds far fetched, but this is what the records say!
Indiana, PA: Located in western Pennsylvania, Indiana took its name from the word "Indians".
Jersey Shore, PA: Located on the north side of the Susquehanna River. From 1790 to 1826 it was called "Waynesburg." Since many settlers came there through New Jersey, the locals liked to teasingly call it the "Jersey Shore." The name stuck and was changed to "Jersey Shore" around 1826. By the way, it's totally inland, miles from the ocean, and when I did a mileage search, I found it to be about 160 miles from inland New Jersey.
Milwaukee, PA: There is some controversy over the origin of the name. Some say it was named after a mill, and others say the name "Milwaukee" is an Anglicized version of the Algonquin Indian name for "good land."
Moscow, PA: This town, located in Pennsylvania's Lackawanna County, was named in the 1830s in honor of Russian immigrants from Moscow.
Nazareth, PA Located in Northampton County in Pennsylvania's Lehigh Valley, Nazareth is named for the Biblical town of Nazareth, where Jesus Christ resided as a young boy.
Nebraska, PA: The residents of this community in Forest County Pennsylvania are said to have headed to Nebraska and were disillusioned, so they returned to Pennsylvania. Why they chose to name their town after the place they were disillusioned is anyone's guess.
Newfoundland, PA: This town in Wayne County, Pennsylvania was named by Daniel Stroud in the late 1700s because it was "new found land."
Norwegian, PA: Located in in Schuylkill County, Pennsylvania, it got its name from the German settlers who thought the mountains resembled those found in Norway(?!)
St. Petersburg, PA: It was named in the 1830s in honor of Russian immigrants from St. Petersburg who settled in the area. It is located in Clarion County.
Free Love Valley, PA
Now defunct community that got its name in the 1840s from a group of idealists who preferred holding their worship services in their natural unclothed state and went skinny dipping in the community lake.
Honey Hole, PA
Located in Luzerne County, Pennsylvania, its name comes from the fisherman's slang for a "sweet spot" where the fish are biting nicely.
Honey Pot, PA
Also located in Luzerne County, Pennsylvania, Honey Pot got its name from the hordes of wild honey bees at that location.
Hop Bottom, PA
This Susquehanna County area was once known for its hops grown for regional breweries.
Noodle Doosie, PA
The records indicate that it was founded in the mid-1700s. Located in Lancaster County, the name was changed to Napierville a number of years ago because it sounded less silly.
Located in Bradford County, Pennsylvania, this location was established as an asylum for the wealthy refugees of the French Revolution.
Bala Cynwyd, PA
It is located in Montgomery County, near Philadelphia in Eastern Pennsylvania. It was named by Welsh Quaker settlers in 1860 for the Welsh town on Bala and the Welsh village of Cynwyd.
Balls Mills, PA
It is located in Hepburn Township and was named by Bill Ball for the family mill.
Bath Addition, PA
It is located in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. We're guessing that someone was very happy about their home improvements.
Beach Lake, PA
Located in Wayne County, Pennsylvania, and totally inland, it takes its name from the many beech trees and bad spellers in the area.
Located near Pittsburgh in western Pennsylvania, this town was named after Big Beaver Creek which was named for the great many beavers in the area.
Big Beaver, PA
Also located near Pittsburgh in western Pennsylvania, this place had bigger beavers.
Big Run, PA
Western Pennsylvania lumbering town named after a creek called Big Run.
Bird-In-Hand (info from Wikipedia)
The community was founded in 1734. The legend of the naming of Bird-in-Hand concerns the time when the Old Philadelphia Pike was surveyed between Lancaster and Philadelphia. According to legend, two road surveyors discussed whether they should stay at their present location or go on to the town of Lancaster. One of them said, "A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush," and so they stayed. And that's how the town got its name.
Blue Ball, PA
This sexually suggestive name actually has a respectable meaning. It was named after a building at the same location, the Blue Ball Inn. The Inn got its name when it was struck by cannon balls from a British war vessel in 1777. The Inn was torn down in 1990 but the town of Blue Ball remains. Ouch.
Bulls Head, PA
Located in Lackawanna County, Pennsylvania, it was named by a cattle dealer because his large red barn had a painting of a bull's head.
It is located in Bradford County, Pennsylvania. It was named for the Revolutionary Soldier "Reuben Bumpus" who settled there.
Burning Well, PA
It was named after after a burning oil field in McKean County, Pennsylvania.
Burnt Cabins, PA
Located in Centre County, Pennsylvania, and so named because William Penn decided to burn some cabins of illegal settlers in 1750 in order to keep peace with the Indians. (Settlers were building on the land that was designated Indian land. These settlers kept pushing the borders and the Indians were threatening war, so William Penn had some cabins burnt down in an effort to teach the illegal settlers a lesson and to make peace with the Native Americans. )
This is a town in western Pennsyvania that was settled during the height of the California Gold Rush.
Cherry Tree, PA
This has nothing to do with George Washington. It was named Cherry Tree because a huge Cherry Tree near this spot set the boundary between the Iroquois land and the territory acquired by the Penns. (source: Origins of Town Names of Northeast Pennsylvania )
Located in Lackawanna County, Pennsylvaia and named for the squirrel-like rodent.
This town is located in Jefferson County and was named in the early 1800s for a cleared area in the normally rugged timberlands.
It is located in Clarion County, PA It was once a mining community. I could not find any information on how it got its name.
Located in Lebanon County, Pennsylvania, Its name comes from a slang term meaning "undesirables."
It is located in Eastern Pennsylvania. The name "Conshokocken" is a Delaware Indian word for "pleasant valley."
Coon Hunter, PA
Racoons would be wise to avoid the area. Coon Hunter is located in Snyder County, Pennsylvania.
It is said that a large supply of crackers were stolen at this spot. I couldn't find anything to back up that claim. Crackersport is located in Pennsylvania's Lehigh County.
Located in Luzerne Cunty, Drums is named for a tavern owned by Abram Drum in the late 1700s.
Established in 1857, this Armstrong County locale was named for the echo coming from the hills.
The eastern Pennsylvania community was setteled in 1733 and named "Egypt" because the early residents of the Lehigh Valley would travel here to buy provisions, much like Jacob's sons once traveled to Egypt to buy corn. ~ Yes, I know it sounds far fetched, but this is what the records say!
Erie was named for the Erie Tribe, who's name means racoon or wild cat. Similarly, early maps show Lake Erie as the Lake of the Cat. Erie is in Erie County, Pennsylvania. And if the locals had their way, they would have renamed the state Erie.
Forest City, PA
Located in Susquehanna County, Pennsylvania, it was the location of a lumber camp.
History of Pennsylvania's Funny Place Names Fo-Pa
Continued from Previous Module
Forty Fort, PA
Located in Luzerne County, Pennsylvania, it got its name because 40 settlers built a fort there during the American Revolution.
Glen Campbell, PA
Not named for the singer, although he did pay a visit in 1971. The first part of the name, "Glen" was taken from the Scottish word meaning "valley." The second word "Cambell" stands for Cornelius Cambell, who supervised the local coal company in the area.
Named for the gravity railroad system, which allows cars to coast down the slope by the force of gravity alone.
Although it certainly sounds like some accident waiting to happen, this Lehigh Valley town was actually named for a Philadelphia Quaker by the name of Erskine Hazard, son of Ebenezer Hazard, the nation's first postmaster. Erskine Hazard partnered with Josiah White and played a major role in the American industrial revolution.
Homer City, PA
Named after "Homer," the Greek Poet.
Located in western Pennsylvania, Indiana took its name from the native "Indians" in the area.
The Amish Village of Intercourse was named by George Brungard in 1813. At that time, the word Intercourse commonly referred to a commercial or trading site. "As one writer has noted, 'in the written annals of early days, 'intercourse' had a common usage referring to the pleasant mutual fellowship and frequent intermingling which was so much more common in the informal atmosphere of the quiet country village of that day.' " * (*The Quote is from Amish Country News.
Jersey Shore, PA
Nowhere near it. ~ Located on the north side of the Susquehanna River, from 1790 to 1826 it was called "Waynesburg." Since many settlers came there through New Jersey, the locals liked to teasingly call it the "Jersey Shore." The name stuck and was changed to "Jersey Shore" around 1826.
Jim Thorpe, PA
Jim Thorpe was originally called "Mauch Chunk" but because a number of murders and hangings had taken place in "Mauch Chunk," and because the town was decreasing in population, the name of the town was changed from "Mauch Chunk" to "Jim Thorpe" to help generate tourism.
Located in Franklin County, Pennsylvania, it was either named for its pottery works or its booze.
King of Prussia, PA
Located in Motgomery County Pennsylavia, it was named after a local tavern which was named after Frederick II, King of Prussia.
Located in Monroe County, PA, Kunkletown was named after Joseph Kunkle in the early 1800s. Kunkle was one of the early settlers and businessmen.The name of the town is frequently mispronounced and called "Knuckletown."
Located in Lancaster County, Lititz was founded in 1756 by members of the Moravian Church and was named after a castle in Bohemia.
Located in Washington County, Pennsylvania, we can only speculate at how it got its name.
This western Pennsylvania town was named for the God of War (?!)
There is some controversy over the origin of the name. Some say it was named after a mill, and others say the name "Milwaukee" is an Anglicized version of the Algonquin Indian name for "good land."
Township outside of Pittsburgh, PA, the name was derived from a bend in a nearby river that looks like a crescent shaped moon.
Named in the 1830s in honor of Russian immigrants from Moscow.
Mount Joy, PA
Located in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania and founded by the Scottish Irish in 1759. We do not know the origins of the name.
Located in Northampton County in Pennsylvania's Lehigh Valley, Nazareth is named for the Biblical town of Nazareth, where Jesus Christ resided as a young boy.
The residents of this community in Forest County Pennsylvania are said to have headed to Nebraska and were disillusioned, so they returned to Pennsylvania. Why they chose to name their town after the place they were disillusioned is anyone's guess.
"New found land" named by Daniel Stroud in the late 1700s.
Located in Western Pennsylvania, it got its name because it is the site of a state teacher's college, which was once known as a "normal school."
Located in in Schuylkill County, Pennsylvania, it got its name from the German settlers who thought the mountains resembled those found in Norway(?!)
We're not sure if the town name is pronounced like Yoko "Ono" (the name of the artist who was married to John Lennon) or if it's pronounced "Oh No!" If anyone can enlighten us, please put your information in our comment box below. Thanks!
Located in Bradford County, Pennsylvania, this town was named after a nearby water-powered sawmill overshot a stream nearby.
Located in Pennsylvania's Somerset county, it took it's name from the nearby Paint Creek.
Located in Centre County, Pennsylvania, it was named after settler George Pancake.
History of Pennsylvania's Funny Place Names Pa-Y
Continued from Previous Module
A town in western Pennsylvania which, in 1871, was about to open a post office. The people of the town realized that the name they called their town e.g. "Samoka," was already taken and they had to come up with a new name. As the story goes, no one could agree on a name and panic set in. Someone suggested they call the town "Panic' and on this, everyone agreed.
Paradise , PA
A bit of Heaven(?) Some say the town was named by the settler Joshua Scott around 1800 because he thought it was beautiful "like paradise."
Peach Bottom, PA
Located on the east bank of the Susquehanna River, this village got its name in 1815 from a peach orchard owned by a settler named John Kirk.
Named in the 1800s for the great number of passenger pigeons in the area. Note: This species of pigeon is extinct today.
Located in Dauphin County, Pennsylvania, it was named after General Gideon Pillow.
It is located in Schuylkill County and was named after John Pott.
Prosperiety is located in Washington County, Pennsylvania and was so named because of the wishful thinking of the early settlers.
Located in northwestern Pennsylvania, Punxsutawney was named by the local Indians for a vicious sandfly that caused them to avoid the area.
It is located in Bradford County. Source of the name is unknown.
Rough and Ready, PA
Located in Schuylkill County, Pennsylvania and named for a California Gold Rush town.
Located in the Appalachian Mountains of Luzerne County, Shickshinny is an Indian word that either means "land of mountains" or "land of the fine stream." (There are two different versions of the meaning of this Indian name.)
Slippery Rock, PA
Located in Butler County and named after slippery rocks in the nearby creek. Some of the locals say that the town was so named because George Washington was fleeing an Indian and chose to cross the creek at Slippery Rock. The Indian who was following him lost his footing on the slippery rocks and misfired. Washington was sparred, and the town got its name.
Located in Centre County, Snow Shoe got its name in 1773 when surveyors found a snow shoe hanging from a tree limb here. Seriously.
Two Lick Valley, PA
Located in Indiana County and Named for Two Lick Creek. I guess one lick wasn't enough.
Stump Creek, PA
Located in Jefferson County, it was named after a stream running through the town.
Located in Berks County, PA, Virginville is the translation of an Indian name meaning "virgin" or "pure."
Located in Western Pennsylvania near Pittsburgh, Versailles got its name from the famous French palace, although the reason is unknown. It doesn't seem to have had French settlers. The locals pronounce it "ver-sales."
Yellow House, PA
Located in Berks County, Pennsylvania, Yellow House was named for a rest house that was painted..... yellow.
Favorite Place Names in Lancaster County
This Religious, Ultra-Conservative Pennsylvania County Has Some of the Sexiest and Silliest Names of Towns & Communities on the Planet!
Lancaster County, Pennsylvania is located in the south-eastern part of the state. It is the heart of the Pennsylvania Dutch Country and is home to the oldest Amish settlement in the United States. When traveling through the area, you will see horses and buggies, and you will see and experience some of the best crafts and heartiest home cooked food in America. This is an extremely religious community which has by far the most sexually explicit sounding place names as well as the silliest sounding names in the U.S.A.
• Bird in Hand
• Blue Ball
• Burnt Mills
• Mount Joy
• Noodle Doosie*
This is the only way I can make a space because br doesn't work.*The name "Noodle Doosie" (which is sometimes spelled "Noodledoosie") was changed to "Napierville" because it is more serious sounding. Apparently no one could say the former name of their town with a straight face or without getting a lot of laughs.
Most Stolen Sign in Pennsylvania
The road sign for Intercourse, Pennsylvania in Lancaster County is Pennsylvania's most stolen sign. (It is actually not this one, but the sign we wanted to show you is unavailable (stolen).
Intercourse, Pennsylvania is not hard to find but you can no longer find any road signs directing you there. They are stolen as fast as they can be put up so the Department of Transportation no longer furnishes them.
Flickr Commons Photograph Â© Luke Wisley
Creative Commons License: Some rights reserved
A Look at the Amish Way of Life - Lancaster County, PA (Runtime: 3:33)
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Great Pennsylvania Book Selections
Uncovering the History of Pennsylvania
Here you will find books on the following: The history of the Delaware Indians in PA, the history of the Pennsylvania Dutch Settlers, Facts Concerning Major Pennsylvania Disasters, and the history of Pennsylvania's ghost towns.