5. Bad Axe, Michigan
Located in the “thumb” area of the state’s mitten shape, Bad Axe, Michigan, is much larger than many of the towns on this list, with approximately 3,500 residents. Established in 1905, its name dates back to 1865, when surveyors Rudolph Pabst and George Willis Pack were surveying the first state road through Huron County. They made camp at the future site of the city, discovering a very worn and damaged axe. They used the name “Bad Axe Camp” on both the minutes of the survey and a sign they placed on the main trail. A post office followed in 1870, retaining the name. Fittingly, the town’s symbol depicts an axe with a broken handle.
4. Rough and Ready, California
Though its countless abandoned historical buildings make Rough and Ready, California, look like a ghost town, it actually counted nearly 1,000 residents in the 2010 census, and the Rough and Ready Chamber of Commerce boasts that it is a popular location for entrepreneurs and home-based businesses. If so, that independent spirit would be in keeping with the town’s history. Founded by miners in 1849, the town took its name from the Rough and Ready Company, itself named after the 12th president of the U.S., General Zachary Taylor, whose nickname was Old Rough and Ready. The town’s history grows even more interesting a short while later, with the town seceding from the union in 1850, reportedly out of frustration with the U.S. justice system, which was unable to prosecute a con man who was preying on the miners. According to legend, the con man was hanged as soon as the town seceded! But only three months later, when the townsfolk were preparing for the Independence Day celebration and realized they could no longer celebrate the birth of a nation to which they didn’t belong, they voted to rescind the secession.
3. Monkey’s Eyebrow, Kentucky
If you imagine Ballard County in Kentucky as looking like a westward-facing monkey face, the teeny-tiny town of Monkey’s Eyebrow is located — you guessed it — about where the eyebrow would be. The best depiction of this image can be found on author Joe Culver’s website, which also features his stories about the town. Culver writes that, when people ask him about the origin of the town’s name, he jokes that there are far worse parts of a monkey’s anatomy to be named after.
2. Toad Suck, Arkansas
Voted the “most embarrassing or unfortunate U.S. town name or place name in a poll at FindMyPast.com in August 2012, Toad Suck, Arkansas, owes its colorful name to steamboat captains. Local legend states that the captains and their crew used to pause there to refresh themselves at a local tavern. The disapproving locals said of the captains: “They suck on the bottle ’til they swell up like toads.” The tavern is long gone, but the legend remains. The town’s history is celebrated at the annual scholarship fundraiser and fair, Toad Suck Daze.
1. Truth or Consequences, New Mexico
Originally saddled with the ho-hum name Hot Springs, this spa city earned a spot in history — and on many lists of odd town names — in 1950. Ralph Edwards, the host of the radio quiz show, “Truth or Consequences,” announced a challenge to towns: he would broadcast the anniversary episode of his show from the first town to rename itself after the show. Hot Springs jumped on the offer, and as a result, Edwards visited the town in the first weekend of May for fifty years. The event, called Fiesta, carries on even though Edwards died in 2005. Unlike Halfway, Oregon, which only changed its name to Half.com for a year as part of a promotion, T or C (as it’s known by locals) kept its moniker. And so the town stretched 15 minutes of fame into six decades’ worth!