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10 Origins for Oddly Named U.S. Towns

NEW YORK ( MainStreet) -- Most of the more than 30,000 incorporated towns and cities in the U.S. listed by the U.S. Census Bureau have names that wouldn't get a second glance, but there are more than a few that have very unusual names -- and even some that create some snickers.

We found 10 of some of the most usually named towns and cities and where they got their names:

1. Flippin, Ark.: When residents of this town say they had a run-in with the Flippin Police or that they're going to attend the Flippin Baptist Church on Sunday, they're not substituting a nicer word for that other word. Founded in 1820 as Goatville and later called Flippin Barrens for the early settler, Thomas J. Flippin, the town was renamed Flippin in 1904. It's best known as the world headquarters for fishing boat giant Ranger Boats and its proximity to bass fishing on Bull Shoals Lake.

2. Two Egg, Fla.: After reading the opening sentence on the Two Egg official website -- "We have no city government, no city taxes, no city services and no city attitudes!" -- we wonder if this small Florida town has much besides friendly neighbors who still wave to one another. No matter. Two Egg, named for the commodities residents used to trade to survive during the Great Depression, is known as the childhood home of actress Faye Dunaway and for its own Big Foot-like creature, The Two Egg Stump Jumper.

3. Dead Horse, Alaska: Dead Horse is so small, with 50 to 60 permanent residents, it doesn't even have its own website. An unincorporated community in the North Slope Borough, Dead Horse is best known for being featured on the cable channel reality show Ice Road Truckers, which is appropriate -- many believe it's named after Dead Horse Trucking, a business that ran in the area in the 1960s and '70s.

4. Intercourse, Pa.: It's a little ironic that a small village surrounding Amish country, which holds some of the most modest people in the country, has such a name, but the town's official website says both theories of where the town got its name are pure: One centers around the name of a racetrack originally called Entercourse; the other is that the village was named because two famous roads intersected in the town. One has to wonder if it is the antiques and Amish that draw the thousands of visitors or if people just want to say they've been to Intercourse.

5. French Lick, Ind.: Combine a former French trading post and a spring near a natural mineral deposit known as a salt lick and you get the town of French Lick, Ind. French Lick has claims to fame beyond the mineral springs that made it a destination in the 19th century: Franklin D. Roosevelt announced he was running for president at the National Governor's Convention held at the French Lick Springs Hotel; it's also hometown to basketball star Larry Bird, who is known as "The Hick from French Lick."

6. Embarrass, Minn.: Open the township website and find the message "Welcome to Embarrass, Minnesota, the cold spot." The town has an average temperature of 34 degrees, making it the coldest spot in Minnesota. Contrary to belief, the town's name has nothing to do with being ashamed of that fact; "Embarrass" is derived from a French fur trader term for the nearby river, which they found difficult to navigate -- Riviere d'Embarras.

7. Big Bone, Ky.: Mineral deposits, or licks, seem to be the origins of many towns with strange names; Big Bone, originally named Big Bone Lick, is no exception. The town got its name from the many large mammoth bones and fossils found in the area. It is theorized the ancient animals would stop in the area to get a taste of the mineral licks. The area is most noted for Big Bone Lick State Park.

8. Klickitat, Wash.: An unincorporated town in Klickitat Country, this burg claimed about 400 residents in the 2000 census. The town, originally called Wrights after one of the original settlers, was changed to Klickitat when the nearby railroad inadvertently changed the town's sign with that of a soda company operating nearby. The name was changed officially in 1910. The town was once known for its mineral springs, the soda company and a dry ice company, but since 1957 the most outstanding thing about the town remains its name.

9. Looneyville, Texas: If you pictured a town full of mentally deranged folks wandering the streets, you can erase that vision from your mind. Like many early U.S. towns, Looneyville was named in the 1870s for its founder, John Looney. Unfortunately, the town is now mostly a memory to the 40 or so residents who inhabited the town after World War II. Perhaps it was the monicker that sent Looneyvillians scrambling for a new home. The town was declared a "dispersed rural community" in the 1990s and the only remaining structure, a store, was destroyed by fire.

10. Toad Suck, Ark.: Arkansas has so many uniquely named towns that it was hard to choose just two for this list. One of the most well-known towns in Arkansas is home to Toad Suck Daze, an annual festival that draws thousands of visitors. The origin of Toad Suck isn't as messy as it might sound. When steamboats cruised up and down the Arkansas River, captains sometimes had to tie up and dock waiting for the river to reach adequate depth so they could continue on their journey. The ship's crew frequented a local tavern and locals would say, "They suck on the bottle till they swell up like toads," and a form of that description stuck.

Kerri Fivecoat-Campbell is an Arkansas-based journalist who writes for TheStreet and MainStreet on personal finance, small business and leisure/travel issues.

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