Aahh, weird Wisconsin, how I love you. Truth is, I appreciate a well-named town. And by well-named, I just mean strange. Here are 25–and believe me, that’s just a sampling–of Wisconsin’s oddly named communities:
- Arkansaw (Pepin County)
Arkansaw, Wis. was named after the Arkansas River. I’m not sure when someone decided to replace the ‘S’ with a ‘W,’ but who am I to question their logic?
- Avalanche (Vernon County)
I have to wonder if an introvert named this town as a strategic way of deterring others from moving in. We’re on to you, citizens of Avalanche…
- Bluff Siding (Buffalo County)
Evidently, Bluff Siding got its name from the rocky bluffs near the town site. Props to the very practical town-namer of Bluff Siding.
- Bosstown (Richland County)
I find myself sitting up extra straight while driving through the tiny town of Bosstown.
- Cleghorn (Eau Claire County)
I like this one because it sounds like the name of a character from Harry Potter.
- Dairyland (Douglas County)
Shouldn’t this be our capital?
- Disco (Jackson County)
I dream of a town where everyone has moves like Travolta. Said town shall be named…Disco.
- Embarrass (Waupaca County)
- Fence (Florence County)
Apparently the town of Fence was named after an American Indian hunting method. As in, they’d build a fence, deer would jump over it and then get impaled. Hmph. That is a surprisingly graphic backstory for a pretty basic town name.
- Gotham (Richland County)
Batman would live here if this town was pronounced the way a lot of people think it’s pronounced. But au contraire! The name actually rhymes with “Loath them.”
- Footville (Rock County)
I always tell folks I’m from Evansville, but technically, I grew up outside the teeny tiny town of Footville in Rock County. Once, I ran out of gas on the west end of town. I was able to roll my car all the way down to the southeastern end of town, where the community’s only gas station was located. Thank you, Footville, for having a rockstar name and also for being topographically advantageous for those of us who are prone to running on E. 😀
- Institute (Door County)
I went to a bar here once. It was called Institute Saloon, I believe. My friends and I had a lovely time. That is all.
- Ixonia (Jefferson County)
Didyaknow? Ixonia was named when some townsfolk decided to draw letters from a hat. I bet these peeps had mad Scrabble skills.
- King (Waupaca County)
- Luck (Polk County)
Fun fact: Singer-songwriter Regina Spektor worked at a butterfly farm in Luck. #MindBlown
- Mishicot (Manitowoc County)
Mishicot means “hairy leg.” And this, my friends, is the most useful nugget of knowledge you will consume all month.
- Oconomowoc (Waukesha County)
So there are probably hundreds of hard-to-pronounce Native American town names in Wisconsin, but Oconomowoc is one of my favorites because it stumps every single out-of-towner. Hehe. Aside from my evil regard for baffling nonnatives, I also like that the name Oconomowoc derives from Coo-no-mo-wauk, which is the Potawatomi term for “waterfall.”
- Pardeeville (Columbia County)
Partyyyy peeeeeople. Who wouldn’t wanna call this place home? I know I would.
- Random Lake (Sheboygan County)
I’m unsure of the origins of this one. Maybe it was just a random name? If anyone knows, comment below!
- Rural (Waupaca County)
Somewhat of a lazy naming job I suspect, but I kinda like it.
- Sheboygan (Sheboygan County)
I don’t know why, but every time I say Sheboygan out loud, I find myself really laying on the Wisconsin accent: Shah-BOYYYY-geaann. Such dramatized pronunciation makes this Was-CANNNN-sin girl very happy. 🙂
- Taycheedah (Fond du Lac County)
I am seriously considering naming my first pet cat this. Tay for short (obvi).
- Tichigan (Racine County)
It’s like someone had a few too many brandy old-fashioned sweets and thought it a good idea to give their town a name that sarcastically alludes to our next door neighbor.
- Weyauwega (Waupaca County)
It’s native american for “old woman.” Use this information very cautiously please. Allow me to be more frank: Maybe don’t use this word in Mom’s next birthday card? :/
- Winnebago (Winnebago County)
I didn’t find this name too amusing…until I learned Winnebago literally translates to “dirty water people.” Now that’s giggle-worthy.
There are tons more worth noting! Which would you like to see on this list? Add your favorites below!
Mariah Haberman hosts the nation’s longest-running tourism TV show, Discover Wisconsin. She hails from Evansville, where she was brought up in a family of seven in a small farmhouse outside of town. Some of her favorite memories include Lake Michigan fishing trips with her Dad, showing sheep at the Rock County Fair and buzzing around the farm on an ATV with her little brother. Watch Discover Wisconsin Saturdays at 10 a.m. on FSN Wisconsin’s outdoor block. (Twitter: @DiscoverWI)