Boringly ordinary town names

There’s a little village near where I grew up which was the site of an old roman settlement. The only visible remains of this is now a very small, low roman wall skirting some of the surrounding fields - you would never know it was roman if you didn’t know. So the village is now called ‘Wall’.

Most place names that come from other languages probably would sound a lot more boring if you translated them into English. While not a town name, Rio Grande just means “big river”. Mississippi means the same thing in Ojibwe.

Don’t get me wrong, Oceanside, CA is a lovely place. But under the circumstances, the name is pretty obvious, maybe even boring. I’ve been through a few of the places called Long Beach in the US, and those are pretty obvious as well.

Riverside, CA, as well (except maybe for the part about it being a lovely place).

The Wikipedia page for Riverside mentions that the founder of that town had previously founded Northfield, MN. Apparently he wasn’t very creative when it came to naming his towns.

And that reminds my of my mom’s hometown, Marshfield, WI. Supposedly it was named because the early settlers drained a marsh, so they could use the land as a field.

Its sister village should be Wall, South Dakota, which arrived at its thrilling name because someone thought the nearby rock formations resembled a wall.

Like Interior, S.D. (mentioned previously), Wall also has a boringly ordinary Lakota name, “Makȟóšiča Aglágla Otȟuŋwahe” which translates to “Town alongside the Badlands”.

Legend has it that the village was a tourist trap dating back to when the Lakota Sioux ran things, and there was an oversized lodge selling fossilized buffalo turds and other knick knacks.*

*now known as Wall Drug.

Down in Mississippi is the town of Waveland. Dad used to drive us there from Harahan every Labor Day; probably not as big of a draw after Katrina wiped out about half of the beach.

Michigan has Commerce Township - and apparently so do several other states:

There is a town I occasionally have driven through called Petrolia, Pennsylvania.

Driving through the town, one side of the road is a huge chemical plant that goes on for a mile or so, while on the other side of the road there are just old houses where the chemical plant employees all live.

Every few years there are accidents/near accidents and the town needs to be evacuated.

And Seaside, CA (upon whose loveliness I pass no judgment).

I stayed in Seaside once. It seems like it’s main appeal is that it’s close to Monterey, but cheaper. My impression wasn’t that great, but that might be just the neighborhood where my motel was. Even though it looks close to the beach on the map, it was actually surrounded by strip malls, car dealerships, and car repair shops. Actually accessing the beach required walking across a busy street, walking to the end of street past a strip mall, and then under the freeway. That’s actually probably why Seaside didn’t develop as a more upscale beach town in its own right – the freeway cuts off the beach from the rest of the town. The next time I visited the Monterey area I just paid more for an hotel actually in Monterey.

Fries, Virginia, does not come from “want fries with that”, but from the surname of the town’s first cotton mill owner, who pronounced his name “freeze”.

In response to your whynot, I give you Why, Arizona.

More in the spirit of “boring” than “town” I give you two locations around Puget Sound:

Point No Point*
Useless Bay*

/* Apparently this promontory is less impressive up close than it appears to be at a distance (Wikipedia)
** This one I can vouch for: It opens to the south, so during storms the wind and waves come blasting into the bay, making it a poor place to moor or anchor.

Most places named Lincoln were named after Abraham. But Lincoln, Maine, was founded when Abe was a teenager, and was named for Enoch Lincoln, a governor of Maine.

There’s also a number of places (especially in the South) named after Benjamin Lincoln, a Revolutionary War general.

There are separate towns in Wisconsin named Menominie, Menominee and Menomonee Falls.

Arkansas City, Kansas, is pronounced ar-KAN-zus, as is the Arkansas River where it flows through Kansas.

Malibu is derived from a name that means “the surf sounds loudly”.

Occasionally you’ll see someone write “The La Alhambra”, which means “The The The Red”. One definite article in each of English, Spanish, and Arabic.

And Seaside, Oregon—I’ve been there. Apparently there’s one in Florida too.

And, famously (in England, anyway), Pendle Hill - hill hill hill.

Wiki has hundreds of 'em:

  • Torpenhow, Cumbria, England, supposedly meaning “hill hill hill”, exaggerated into an (unsubstantiated) “Torpenhow Hill = hill-hill-hill hill” for effect;[19] it may only be a single tautology, torpen expressing “the top or breast of a hill” (rather than “hill-hill”), with the tautological addition of Old Norse howe ( haugr ) “hill”.[20]

Hamilton, Ohio is just down the road from Middletown. In 1986, city council decided to change its name from Hamilton to Hamilton!.