I spent one summer a few years ago working for a daily newspaper in Hopkinsville in Christian County, Kentucky. Even though my grandparents have lived in a town not too far from Hopkinsville my whole life, I wasn’t very familiar with the area but trusted my GPS to take care of me. My new co-workers laughed at me when I began dutifully punching in addresses to Garmin.
“That’s not going to help you,” my boss said. “That GPS isn’t going to be able to get you to Possum Trot.”
Now, if I thought Hopkinsville’s nickname, “Hop-Town,” was strange …
Possum Trot is an actual town. It’s a dot on the map in Marshall County, Kentucky, east of Paducah. On the western side of that western Kentucky town, you’ll find Monkeys Eyebrow – note, that is not a possessive monkey’s – in Ballard County (Garmin, however, will pretend the place doesn’t exist, despite the signs that say it is so). Officially, it isn’t actually a town because it has never had a post office. But don’t say that to the locals.
Here are more of Kentucky’s oddly-named towns:
• Rabbit Hash – really just a general store in Boone County on Highway 536 just southwest of Cincinnati. Supposedly, the name comes from the recipe that helped the town residents survive a harsh flood in 1816.
• Mud Lick – there are actually 9 towns with this name in Kentucky. You’ll find them in Anderson, Elliott, Greenup, Knox, Lewis, Robertson, Russell, Perry and Pike counties.
• Paint Lick – this seems more dangerous than the above. You’ll find this town on Highway 52 in Garrard County. It’s named for a salt lick marked for prime hunting by Native Americans in the area.
• 88 – yes, it’s a Kentucky town. In Barren County on Highway 90, 7 miles south of Glasgow. It is rumored to get it’s name because one of the town’s founders had 88 cents in his pocket when they were trying to pick a name. Talk about running out of ideas. Other rumors say the local postmaster had such terrible handwriting that he picked the name because he was sure everyone could read those two numerals.
• Future City – in Ballard County. This town reportedly got its name from the developer who put up a sign at the edge of the land where he intended to build a town that read: “Future City.” And then he never got around to building anything.
• Lamb – there are two of these, one in Kenton County and the other in Monroe County.
• Typo – in Perry County, you can make up a good story for that one.
• Bush – in Laurel County. This town was named after George Bush. No, not THAT George Bush. No, not that one either. This George Bush founded the town in 1840 when he opened the post office and the general store. The first President Bush did campaign there in 1988, and newspaper headlines read: “Bush Returns to Bush”
• Bugtussle – on Highway 87 south of Tompkinsville in Monroe County. This is popular with fans of the Beverly Hillbillies, who may remember that the Clampetts were from Bugtussle … only they were from Bugtussle, Tennessee. Well, Monroe County IS near the Tennessee border. Bugtussele is another word for a backwater town.
• Black Gnat – in Taylor County
• Black Snake – in Bell County
• Co-operative – in McCreary County
• Crummies – in Harlan County
• Hi Hat – (as in ‘hello’ and not way up in the sky) in Floyd County
• Quality – in Butler County
• Subtle – in Metcalfe County
• Susie – in Wayne County
• Whoopee Hill – (not cushion) in Ohio County
• Wild Cat – (Go Big Blue?) in Clay County