5 Weird Town Names in Iowa and the Stories Behind Them
There's something amusing about finding odd and peculiar town names that exist in your state. I decided to do some searching and compile a small list of Iowa towns with eccentric names for this post. Also included are the populations of said towns and a brief history about their existence as well as their unique names.
I think discovering these odd little towns is part of the fun, truthfully. Most are way too small to be considered "map dots," and instead, are most commonly found when driving down the interstate and noticing a sign on the road. These towns certainly fit the bill for ones you happen upon, with their names standing out as being hard to forget.
5. Correctionville, IA:
With merely a population of approximately 800 people, the oddly named Correctionville, IA is so uniquely named that there's actually mention of its eclectic name on its Wikipedia page. It is the longest single-word town-name in all of Iowa. Located in Woodbury County, it was named for its location on the surveyors' correction line, an east-west line between baselines required because of the Earth's curvature.
4. Defiance, IA:
Established in 1855, the Shelby County town of Defiance, IA has a very cool origins story for its name. Originally known as Marmon, IA, the town's name was changed to "Defiance" when townspeople proclaimed their unhappiness that the railroad never came through their community, limiting their opportunities.
As a result, the townspeople called themselves "defiers," and thus, Defiance, IA got its name, per The Des Moines Register. The town is presently home to around 245 people.
3. Gravity, IA:
The Taylor County locale of Gravity, IA merely boasts a population of 154, but the source of its name is intriguing, albeit unconfirmed. Apparently, Gravity got its name from the Old Gravity Post Office. Per The Des Moines Register, some speculate that the post office got its name due to it being the "center of gravity" for the township itself.
Gravity, IA was actually namedropped in a Turbo Tax commercial during the Super Bowl by Ted Lasso actor Jason Sudeikis of all people. Sudeikis proclaimed he invested in cryptocurrency in his hometown of Gravity, IA (the actor is actually from Fairfax, VA). The Mayor of Gravity said that he was contacted about the permission to use the town in a Super Bowl ad, but was unaware of the specifics at the time.
2. Jamaica, IA:
Apparently, Jamaica, IA was originally conceived as Van Ness, but the attempt to register that name was denied due to another town having that same name. Legend has it that the town's mayor, unable to come up with a new name on his own, blindfolded himself and pointed at a random spot on a map. His finger landed on the Caribbean island of Jamaica, and thus, a strangely named town in Iowa was born.
The town's economy appears to be reliant on Tojo's Bar & Grille, an eatery that serves up pork tenderloin so delicious that several YouTubers have ventured out to the tiny, 195-person town in Guthrie County to try it for themselves. The video I embedded below is pretty entertaining, and as someone who loves a good tenderloin, I'm not ruling out an adventure of my own to Jamaica, IA.
1. What Cheer, IA:
Lastly, I wanted to bring some attention to What Cheer, IA, located in Keokuk County. The former coal town was founded in 1865, and The Des Moines Register reveals it has a pretty intriguing origins story:
After the original name of Petersburgh was rejected by the postal department, local politician Joseph Andrews got the town name changed to What Cheer in 1879. One origin tale claims a Scotch miner proclaimed "what cheer!" — an English expression of happiness — when he discovered a seam of coal near the town. - per The Des Moines Register
For more odd towns and their stories, check out The Des Moines Register.