Thursday, November 17, 2011

Pennsylvania Place Names

A previous post extolled the rich character of women's names in Pennsylvania. This state also has hundreds of the more curious place names ever heard. I bring you a sampling.

Coal mining has left its mark in the countryside via numerous town names. When there was more than one mine in an area they would all be given the same name with a number appended. Most of the mines are closed yet the names have stuck. So today you could reside in Alison One or Alison Two. Or Continental Three--perhaps Continental 1 and 2 have faded into obscurity? There's Filbert One, Montour Ten, Thompson Two, Tower Hill One and Two. The name Lock Three comes from operations on the Monongahela River.

Other coal and coke legacies are Minersville, Smoketown, Smokeless, Cokeburg, Miners Mills, Poland Mines, Grindstone, and the absolute worst--don't ever move here--Pitt Gas! Imagine the humiliation at a dignified gathering when introducing yourself as Bob Smith from Pitt Gas, Pennsylvania. And I would choose Smokeless over Smoketown!

Cokeburg, Pennsylvania in 1910

You could live in Indiana, California, or Wyoming. Not the states; they are all towns in Pennsylvania.

You would never spell out this place on an envelope: S.N.P.J. It stands for Slovenska Narodna Podporna Jednota. Translation: Slovene National Benefit Society. Yeah.  S.N.P.J, Pennsylvania.

Then there are the peculiar, intriguing places: Bird in Hand, Trucksville, Pillow, Burnt Cabins, Fearnot, Camp Jo-Ann, Eighty-Four, Tarrs, Library, Snowball Gate, Turkeyfoot, Turkeytown, the cute Daisytown, and what must be a lovely place, Scenery Hill. I would build a house there, but not in Low Hill. There are two places called Dry Tavern. And is it really such a large place that you must designate your residence as Upper Peanut or Lower Peanut?

Then we have the grand prize Pennsylvania place name that mortified me as a teenager: Intercourse.  I thought I'd rather die than have to give THAT as my hometown.  Driving through there made me eternally grateful my Dad grew up in the not-so-weird towns of Perryopolis and Star Junction!

George Washington's Mill, Perryopolis Pennsylvania

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