It’s time for the Dreier clan to hit the road again this summer and engage in one of our favorite travel pastimes: watching for unusual place names, particularly in my home state of West Virginia. My research revealed that there are places in the Mountain State that even I have never heard of.
Try as I might, I couldn’t find an actual town called Big Ugly. The creek that gave the town its moniker is located in Lincoln County and allegedly got its name because it’s, well, big and ugly.
You’d have to be crazy not to believe in Looneyville, located on WV Route 36 between Parkersburg and The New River Gorge. You might think it was Odd, which is back in a holler just off I-77. And you might think it’s Strange, which is way over in Braxton County near the creek it was named after.
My son-in-law, a lover of all things Lego, would be thrilled to know there is a town in West Virginia by that name. There is no indication that the houses there are built from giant, plastic, connecting blocks. Nor is there a Lego convention. That was held back in June at the Charleston Coliseum and Convention Center.
If you get lost in Kanawha County, you might find yourself in a Pinch — the town, that is. But don’t blink as you drive through. You might miss it because this little community covers only 3.6 square miles. It boasts a school system and public transportation, although I don’t know where you’d need to go that you couldn’t get there by foot in a town that’s only 3.6 square miles.
If you’re looking for Romance, you could meander on down to Jackson County, to a little unincorporated community whose namesake is an early settler, Romance Parsons. A quick search turned up no information about this individual other than a name. Was this a man or a woman? Was there really anything romantic about them? You can make up your own story if you want, which might qualify you to live in a place called Bulltown, named after a native American with the curious handle of Captain Bull, son of Teedyuscung, whom the history site refers to as “King of the Delaware.” After going on a rampage with his raiding party, Captain Bull was captured and given the option of being hanged or leaving the territory. He chose door No. 2, and that’s no Bull.
In fact, if you’re tired of all that bull, it’s True you’ll find near Route 20, somewhere south of Hinton. And if you’re desperate for peace and quiet, you could try to live in Harmony. Just don’t go near Panther Lick, unless you’re also carrying a Big Stick, which is the name of a town apparently filled with Teddy Roosevelt fans.
So get out on that road and explore! And if you’re feeling lonely, be sure and stop in a town called Friendly, population 124.