Moose Jaw

Photo by Mafue (flickr)

I’ve driven through Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, several times, and I have even stopped for gas a few times. I always thought that the name Moose Jaw came from the jaw of a moose found there or something along those lines. Boy was I wrong. The name Moose Jaw comes from the Cree moscâstani-sîpiy for “warm place by the river.” The beginning, (moscâ-), sounds like “Moose Jaw” in English.

While I haven’t really spent much time in Moose Jaw, SK, outside of a gas station, there is some pretty interesting stuff there. Besides Mac the Moose, the world’s largest moose, there is a network of tunnels, known as the Tunnels of Moose Jaw, and CFB Moose Jaw, home of the Snowbirds.

Here’s a video of the Snowbirds in Kelowna, BC:


The exit sign for Happy, TX.
Photo by simplerich, (flickr).

Happy, Texas, “The town without a frown” is a town of 647 people in Randall and Swisher counties. So, how did it get it’s name? It was named after Happy Draw, a nearby spring-fed stream which was allegedly named by some cowboys who were really happy to find water.

A post office opened near Happy Draw in 1891 by a fellow named Hugh Currie. There was also a stagecoach changing station, but in 1906 the railroad bypassed happy. How could they do that? The tracks were a whole two miles away. What to do? The town had to be moved. The new town of Happy, TX, was laid out along the railway tracks, where it remains today, and the town continued to grow.

You may or may not be familiar with a movie called Happy, Texas from 1999. It wasn’t shot in Happy, although they did make a replica of the Welcome to Happy sign for a scene in the film.

There’s a bit more info on Happy, TX, on The handbook of Texas Online and I won’t repeat everything they have here. If you like facts & figures from census results, you can read the Happy, TX Wikipedia Page.

I was going to embed part of the movie here, but searching YouTube showed me that they’ve had some pretty fierce tornados near Happy. Here’s one of them:


A Photo of a Mimosa flower
Mimosa Flower by Weaselmcfee (flickr)

I mentioned yesterday that I would write about Mimosa, TN, so here’s what I know, then we’ll leave Tennessee alone for a while.

Mimosa hasn’t always been called Mimosa. It used to be called Bucksnort. There was a fellow in town named William (“Buck”) Pamplin. We’ll let his grand-niece, Lily May Pamplin, take over the story:

It was like this: William loved whiskey. He would get soused to the ears with the sweet, smelly stuff, and when he did, he would roar and snort till everyone around heard him. They would say: “Just listen to Buck snort.” His snorting became so frequent and the comment was made so often, that the neighbors soon found themselves running the last two words together, thus the place was called Bucksnort.

In the course of time, a post office was needed. The Government wanted to know what name the community wished to be known by. Since William still owned and lived on the site, and since he still kept up his snorting, the neighbors and near-by farmers decided on Bucksnort. It was approved by the Government and the first post office and surrounding community became Bucksnort.

So, that’s how the original Bucksnort, Tennessee got its name, but then in 1898 the town changed its name to Mimosa. The story of how the name Mimosa was chosen must not be as colourful though because it is difficult to find.


Bucksnort Market & Deli
Image by (flickr)

Bucksnort, TN, is a small, unincorporated town in Tennessee. It is close to Spot, TN, (actually, we should probably say that Spot is close to Bucksnort, since Bucksnort is larger and better known).

So, why is Bucksnort called Bucksnort? According to a legend on the back of a T-shirt that’s apparently sold at the gas station, (which may have good sandwiches), in Bucksnort, (I-40, exit 152), there was a trader named Buck who lived in the area, and locals would say they were going to “Buck’s to get a snort.” It looks like this may not be true – see Tyler’s comment below. Update again: There seems to be some debate between the two stories. Check the comments from Tyler and westtenguy below. However, I’m not too sure, as there’s a very, very, similar story about Mimosa, TN, (to be featured later).

After hearing the name Bucksnort, some people have gone to great lengths to see the town. I found a forum post, (scroll down), about a fellow from the Netherlands who went to find Bucksnort. When he got there he didn’t find much, but did find out that where the interstate is now is where the town used to be, and it was actually moved a bit to make space for the highway. Now all that’s left of the original townsite is a dirt road, (although all that’s there at all is a gas station, motel, and maybe a garage or adult store).

Bucksnort, Tennessee is also the hometown of wrestlers Bunkhouse Buck and “Dirty White Boy” Tony Anthony. Tony Anthony even had a signature move called the Bucksnort Blaster.

Oh yeah, that guy from the Netherlands? He’s a member of a band called the Trailer Trash Tremblers. Here’s a video of their song, Bucksnort, Tennessee:


Spot is very near Bucksnort, (Coming soon to Fascinating Names: Bucksnort). Image by (flickr)

I saw somewhere that that there’s a town called Spot in Tennessee and thought it would be fun to write about, but from what I can tell there’s very little to write. There is indeed a place called Spot, TN, in Hickman county. Apparently it’s at 564 feet elevation, and that’s about all I can find.

According to Google Maps, it’s at the intersection of Only Road and Old Richmond Road, a couple of miles from the I-40. In the street view there’s a house there. If anyone knows more about Spot, Tennessee, please let me know.

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Photo by Patricia Drury

Hell is not only a biblical place, it is also an unincorporated town in Michigan.

There are a couple of stories about how Hell, MI, came to be named hell, the first is that some German travellers got out of their wagon and said So schön hell!, which means “So Beautifully Bright” and the name stuck. The second is that after Michigan became a state George Reeves, the founder of Hell, was asked what he thought the town should be named, and his answer was “I don’t care, you can name it Hell for all I care.”

Although the mailing address of hell is actually Pinckney, MI, (three miles away), there is a post office in the back of the general store where you can send stuff from Hell each year from May through September.

There are some other towns called Hell in the world. One was Hell, California, but it only had one family of residents and now there is a highway where it used to be. Another is Hell, Norway, and while the name is interesting in English, in Norwegian the name stems from the word for “overhang” or “cliff cave” and can also mean “luck.”



Joe, Montana town sign.
Photo by jimmywayne (flickr)

Joe, Montana, (the town), is not officially named Joe, it is officially called Ismay, Montana, but in 1993 after Joe Montana, (the football player), was traded to the Kansas City Chiefs a Kansas City radio station convinced the town of Ismay, MT to change its name to Joe, MT for the football season. The trick worked, and Joe Montana, (the person), lead the Chiefs to victory.

Sadly, the name of the town has slowly reverted to Ismay, but some street signs still remain, and the town raised enough money selling Joe, MT, souvenirs to build a new fire station.


Photo of the Highway near Noodle
Near Noodle. Photo by lolomattycakes on flickr

Noodle is a small town in Texas. Settled in 1882 by a shepherd named Anderson Criswell, Noodle, Texas grew and eventually had a Post Office, Store, blacksmith shop, garage, two churches, and a gin, (is that a bar? Let me know).

In Noodle, the children were taught that the name of the town came from a native scout who was looking for water. He found a dry creekbed just north of the townsite, and in his language Noodle meant dry, so Noodle, TX, translates to Dry, TX. We don’t know if he ever found any water.


The Welcome to Chicken sign, painted on the town's water tank.
Photo by J. Stephen Conn

You probably know what a chicken is, but did you know that there’s a town called Chicken in Alaska? The area was settled in the late 1800s by gold miners, and in 1902 a post office was established, so the town needed a name. The original plan was to call the town Ptarmigan, (after the bird that was plentiful in the area), but there were disagreements on how to spell it so the name Chicken was chosen instead.

In its heyday, there were around 400 people living in Chicken, but now the population is apparently as low as 6 during the winter months. Chicken was the home of Anne Hobbs Purdy, the author of the book Tisha. These days it appears that there is an annual music festival, Chickenstock in June.


A photo of Slapout Service in Slapout, OK
Photo by John Curran. Slapout, OK.

There are at least two towns called Slapout in the United States, and it looks like they both got their name in pretty much the same way.

During the depression, highway three was built across Oklahoma. Where it passed his land, a fellow named Tom Lemons moved a chicken coop over to the highway and started a store. His sister worked in the store, and whenever the someone would come in looking for something that they didn’t have she would reply that they were “slap out” of the product. Despite Tom’s protestations, the name stuck, and the town became known as Slapout, Oklahoma.

Some other time, maybe about the same time but data is sketchy, there was a store called the Boys Store in a the community of Holtville, Alabama. If you went into the Boys Store and asked for something they were out of you would be told that they were “slap out of it.” Here too, the name stuck.

Two towns in the US, both with the same name, and the same story about how they got their name. Fascinating.