If you’ve done any bit of traveling across the great state of Alabama, there are a few things you’ve probably noticed.
The natural beauty of the mountains, rivers, and lakes are unlike anywhere else. The food here is great, and the people even better…
And some of these town names are straight up bizarre.
Along with the great outdoors and amazing cuisine, Alabama is home to some of the strangest named towns in America. And narrowing this list down to just ten was tough.
Spoonhandle, Spunky Hollow, Blow Gourd, Boar Tush, Possum Bend and Possum Trot, Mud Creek and Murder Creek – those are just the ones that didn’t make the list. Lucky for us, we had a lot of great choices to choose from, so without further delay…
Here are the 10 strangest Alabama town names.
1. Screamer – Henry County
Located in Southeast Alabama just a few miles from the Georgia state line, the original line established between the Creek Indians and the United States in the Treaty of Fort Jackson ran right through this area. But that isn’t how Screamer got its name. Over the years, two dominant stories have emerged regarding the naming. The first one comes from the sounds of the steamboat whistles that could be heard from the nearby ports. The second deals with how well sound carries in the hills and valleys of Henry County and the fact that the Native Americans who first inhabited this area could be heard easily.
2. Frog Eye – Tallapoosa County
Not to be confused with Frog Pond in Franklin County (also a real place), this origin story has to do with a common theme that will emerge in this list – alcohol. Legend has it that a local saloon had a little ceramic frog that sat in the window. During the Prohibition days, this saloon sold legal and illegal liquor, and the ceramic frog quickly became a useful way to avoid trouble with the law. If the authorities were in town, the owner would close one eye of the frog, alerting customers not to ask for the illegal liquor. If both eyes were open, it was business as usual. Word spread fast and the area around the saloon became known as Frog Eye. Pretty clever, huh?
3. Bacon Level – Randolph County
This spot was home to some of the South’s best pottery during the pioneer days when the area first opened to settlers. There was even an art exhibit at Auburn University back in 2011 to celebrate the area’s artistic achievement. But the origins of the name have nothing to do with pottery. Folklore has it that around 1800 a group of travelers had their camp robbed. They were told by those nearby that a group of outlaws was stationed up the trail, where the terrain leveled out. And sure enough, the travelers found their stolen bacon at the level spot, and the name quickly stuck.
4. Burnout – Franklin County
Burnout has a water tower, a few homes, and a volunteer fire department (the irony, right?). It’s also home to the Burnout Missionary Baptist Church, which according to a local newspaper is how this place got its name. Supposedly, back during the Civil War, a group of Union soldiers stopped to make camp at a small church a few miles outside of nearby Red Bay. And during the night, one soldier kicked over a lantern, setting the church on fire. Rather than being defeated by the fact that their beloved place of worship was destroyed, the community simply rebuilt the church and named it Burnout.
5. Burnt Corn – Between Monroe and Conecuh County
This strangely named town has its own website dedicated to the history and legacy of Burnt Corn, Alabama. And like a lot of places on this list, no one is exactly sure how it got its name. Some say it’s because settlers burned the Creek Indians’ cornfields to clear the land for homes; others say it happened the other way around with the Creeks trying to scare off the settlers. One account claims that a group of Creek Indians was traveling through when one of the members of the tribe took sick and couldn’t continue the journey. He was left behind with a supply of corn. When he felt well enough to travel again, having no way to carry the rest of the corn, it remained on the ground and eventually burned in his campfire. Other travelers begin to note of the popular camping site beside a natural spring where the corn had burnt, and the name Burnt Corn stuck around. You can still visit the small farming community today and take pictures at some of the historic buildings.
6. Intercourse – Sumter County
Imagine the strange looks you’d receive if you told someone you were from Intercourse? Apparently, that embarrassment was too much for the residents of this small community that they changed the name to Siloan during the 1980s. But some state maps still refer to the area as Intercourse, and we promise the origins of the name are more innocent than they sound. This place is located at a crossroads in Sumter County, which back when it was settled used to be referred to as intercourses.
7. Lick Skillet – Madison County
While it may sound like a terrible ’80s hair metal band, this community just northwest of Hazel Green is home to the Lick Skillet Pizza Barn where you can catch live music every weekend. And the story goes that back in the 1920s or ’30s when the building was a general store, a fight broke out. At some point, someone got hit in the head with a skillet, thus ending the fight. It didn’t take long for word to get around that someone got “licked with a skillet” and the name Lick Skillet stuck.
8. Smuteye – Bullock County
This area about 60 miles southeast of Montgomery used to simply be called Welcome. But as the story goes, a prominent blacksmith shop in town also doubled as the go-to hangout spot for the men in the area to sit around and drink moonshine. Or as the women in the area called it, “the devil’s brew.” And seeing as the men were huddled around the fire during the winter, their faces would constantly be coated in smut, covering everything but their eyes. The wives soon began calling the blacksmith shop “smuteye” and the name eventually branched out to cover the surrounding area.
9. Zip City – Lauderdale County
Even though this area was settled during the early 1800s, it didn’t get its name until automobiles came around. Local folks say that back when it was illegal to sell alcohol in nearby Florence, people would drive up Chisolm Road to the state line to buy their booze in Tennessee. Residents would watch cars zipping down the road, hence the name Zip City. Others say the name dates back to when moonshiners and bootleggers would outrun the law at high speeds during the night.
10. Seman – Elmore County
About 17 miles north of Wetumpka sits Seman, Alabama, a place that, compared to others on this list, has a fairly tame and simple origin story. It goes something like this: back when the area was first settled, the locals couldn’t agree on a name. After a long and drawn-out process full of bickering, someone suggested to call it Seman, which is just names spelled backward. And while it isn’t known whether or not the other locals actually liked the name or they were just fed up with the entire process, they finally agreed to call the newfound area Seman.