Odd Place Names In NC
You can tell a lot about a state by the names you find on the map. North Carolina’s places seem to be saying it’s a combination of food, folks, fun and faith.
First of all, you have to love a state that would combine food with faith to come up with Barbecue Presbyterian Church Road. We also have Barbecue Swamp, Barbecue Creek, and Barbecue Township. It would be easy to fill up a list of places named after other hog-related items like Bacon Road, Pork Creek, Jones Sausage Road, Hogback Mountain, Hog Island and Hog Quarter. Well, what did you expect from the state that brings you the annual Lexington Barbecue Festival and the Ham and Yam Festival?
Your other major meats are also well represented. There’s Meat Camp, Buffalo Creek, Dutch Buffalo Creek, Buffalo Shoals, Bull Bay, Bull Branch and Bull Creek Township, not to mention Cow Camp Gap. Poultry, aside from turkey, clearly is not well regarded here. Hen Mountain is the sole chicken-related location we’ve found to-date. Bucks and deer made the grade, as did the other white meat: possum. Seafood comes in strong. The generic fish leads the way in places like Fishtrap Branch and Fishing Creek Township, followed closely by mussels, bass, oysters, clams, shad, and the ever popular trout. Potatoes, scuppernongs, cranberries, strawberries and huckleberries round out our food named places.
Folk is our next category with family names out front, followed closely by things named in the language of those who settled here. Our Scottish slip is clearly showing. You can’t through a county without seeing at least one place with a Mc preceding it. McAdenville, “Christmastown USA,” provides an excellent example. Our Indian culture is plain to see on the map from Cherokee to the Uwharrie Mountains and from Nantahala to Ocracoke.
English forebears brought us Albemarle, Raleigh, and Dare, among others. Settlers trying to curry favor with England’s King George named their town Charlotte after the eponymous queen and their county Mecklenburg after her home in Germany. Speaking of Germans, we have Germantown, Germanton, and German’s Creek. Now, this is Greek to us: why do we have a Carthage, Macedonia, Sparta, and Troy?
North Carolina’s sense of whimsy is often seen in its place names, too. It’s hard not to visit a place called Lizard Lick, or Dirty Britches Creek. How about Black Ankle? Bootleggers moved their fires around this Randolph County location so that law enforcement agents wouldn’t find their illegal liquor operations. So, they got black ankles from walking through the ashes.
Apparently we like to be on top of things here. Consider: Acme, Apex, High Point, Peak Mountain, Pinnacle and Summit. And then there’s always Climax.
Our moods swing here in North Carolina. Why else would there be a Worry, Troublesome Creek, Troublesome Point, Scuffletown, Cape Fear, Jump and Run Branch, Jumpoff Rock, Swearing Creek, Desolation Branch, Happy Hill, Happy Home, Happy Top, Happy Valley, Laughter Cove, Smiley’s Falls, Lovers Leap Ridge, Love Valley, Love Knob, and Love Mountain?
Temperatures swing also. We have Cold Springs, Cold Knob, Coldside Mountain, Coldwater Creek, Cool Run, Cool Springs, Hothouse, Hot Springs, Cold Mountain, Warm Cove Branch, Hells Half Acre, and Hell Swamp.
Faith is exhibited in a number of ways from the town of the same name to Hope, Charity, Trust and Trinity with a little Luck thrown in for good measure. There’s Bethabara, Bethlehem, Ebenezer and Eden, as well as Hebron and Jerusalem, Sharon and Mount Gilead. Not to be outdone, there is Devil’s Courthouse, a mountainous throne where the Cherokee said the devil sat in judgment of all mankind.
So, grab your map and head out to see what names you can find in a place called North Carolina after the Latin word for Charles, the king who granted this land.
added: May 1, 2009
updated: May 1, 2009