7 Great Places with Horrifying Names

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Itub/Wikimedia Commons

As you can’t judge a book by its cover, you can’t judge the people of some communities by the place name. After all, when you live in a place called Hell, you have to have a sense of humor. And many of them would love for you to visit!

1. Hell, Michigan


Photograph by Sswonk.

Hell, Michigan grew up around a grist mill on what is now named Hell Creek. The name “Hell” has a couple of legends associated with its origin. One attributes it to a resident overhearing a German conversation by travelers that said, "So schön hell!" which means "So beautifully bright!" Another quotes grist mill owner George Reeves as saying, about naming the town, "I don't care, you can name it Hell for all I care."

Hell is a tourist draw for its name, and takes advantage of it. Businesses are named for Halloween and afterlife themes, and there’s even a Damnation University that sells diplomas.

2. Shades Of Death Road


Photograph by Daniel Case.

Shades of Death is the name of a seven-mile road in Warren County, New Jersey. There are several theories as to why the road was named so. Nearby Ghost Lake was named for its ethereal fog, but there are also tales of murder and hauntings along the road and locations the road leads to. The highway department is constantly replacing signs that are stolen by souvenir-seekers.

3. Frankenstein, Missouri


Photograph from the Frankenstein, Missouri Facebook page.

Frankenstein is a tiny town of about 30 people just east of Jefferson City, Missouri. It was not named for Mary Shelley’s book nor the movie Frankenstein, but from an early citizen named Gottfried Franken, who donated land to erect a church in 1890. Frankenstein is a small but close-knit community that has its own Facebook page. It made national news in 1999 when Twentieth Century Fox staged an airdrop of 25 skydiving “Frankensteins” delivering VHS copies of the 25th anniversary edition of the movie Young Frankenstein.

4. Hell For Certain, Kentucky


Photograph by Nama.

Hell for Certain in Leslie County, Kentucky is officially named Dryhill for those who are offended at the community’s common name, which was drawn from nearby Hell for Certain Creek. The popular story of how the name came about tells of two men who rode their horses down the mountain.

One said, "This looks like hell." The other one said, "Yeah, for certain."

The U.S. Postal Service will not use the name (sometimes spelled Hell-Fer-Sartin), but named post offices Osha, Omarsville, and Kaliopi at different times.

5. Dead Women Crossing, Oklahoma


Image by Google Maps.

Dead Women Crossing is an unincorporated community in Custer County, Oklahoma. It was named after a murder/suicide/kidnapping that took place in 1905. Katie DeWitt James filed for divorce and her father saw Katie and her baby daughter off on a train to go stay with a cousin. Katie’s father did not hear from her for some time, and ultimately hired a detective to find her. Katie was last seen with Fannie Norton, a prostitute she met on the train. Norton denied any wrongdoing, but witnesses saw her go out with Katie and the baby and come back alone. The baby was recovered alive from a family who said Norton had given her to their young son. Norton, sensing the trouble she was in, drank poison and died. Katie’s body was later found near the river, shot through the skull and decapitated. The murder was attributed to Norton, and Katie’s estranged husband Martin Luther James inherited her property and took custody of the daughter. Some think he may have hired Norton to kill his wife. The legend that remains is that you can hear a woman crying for her baby at a bridge near the spot where Katie’s body was found.

6. Satan’s Kingdom


Photograph by Itub.

Satan's Kingdom State Recreation Area is near the town of New Hartford, Connecticut. Just east of town is an area called Satan’s Kingdom, so called because of the rough and marginalized characters who lived there. The signs designating the recreational area are often stolen because of the name.

7. Transylvania, Louisiana


Photograph by Infrogmation.

Transylvania, Louisiana got its name from Dr. W. L. Richards, an early landowner in the area. He named the town after Transylvania University, the college he attended in Lexington, Kentucky. But an honest history of the name didn’t stop legends of hauntings from growing up around the community. The town has a sense of humor about its name: They’ve painted a bat on their water tower. And being near the Louisiana swamplands, bats are heroes, as they eat mosquitos. Many gift shops sell Dracula figurines and merchandise as souvenirs.

See also: 8 Towns that are Numbered, The Origins of Weird State Park Names, 10 Town Names That Will Make You Hungry, Origins of 8 of the Strangest Place Names in Canada, and 10 Loud Places That Are Actually Nice and Quiet.

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April 8, 2014 - 3:47pm
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