With so many little towns and villages scattered all over, Nebraska is bound to have some really oddly named ones mixed up in there. But do you know where those weird town names came from? A lot of our favorites – Friend, Funk, Ong, Valentine, Manley, and Gurley, to name just a few – were named for early settlers, railroad officials, or postmasters. Some are simply misspellings of Native American words. Some of the town names have more interesting backstories, however.
1. Beaver City
This Furnas County town is near Beaver Creek, which in turn was named for the abundance of American Beavers that live there.
2. Beaver Crossing
Like Beaver City, Beaver Crossing’s name was inspired by the nearby creek - or rather, a crossing of the Overland Trail that went over it.
The village of Bee in Seward county got its name from its location in “B Township” when it was platted in 1887.
4. Blue Hill
Located very near the Kansas Border, Blue Hill was originally called Belmont. When town officials learned that there was already a Belmont in Nebraska, they renamed it Blue Hill due to its location on a hill near the Blue River.
This Hall County village was named after the Egyptian city of the same name, though it is pronounced very differently. In Nebraska we say KAY-row, not KYE-row.
It's not as gross as it sounds. Colon was named after Colon, Michigan...which was named after Colón, Panama...which was named in honor of Christopher Columbus.
Cordova, a tiny village in Seward County, derives its name from the ancient town of the same name located in Andalusia, Spain.
In Kimball County, Dix was named for an early settler’s hometown of Dixon, Illinois, which would later be the childhood home of President Ronald Reagan.
This “old Nebraska town” (as it was called in a Richard Marx song) was inhabited by settlers for nearly 10 years before getting its own name. The dangerous-sounding moniker was decided on after two of the settlers discovered a “hazardous-looking hole” while walking along the railroad tracks. Amazingly, the name stuck.
Located in Filmore County, this village was named in honor of the states where most of its settlers came from. You can probably guess which two states those were.
11. Red Cloud
Red Cloud, in Webster County, was once occupied and used as a hunting grounds by the Pawnees. However, its name was borrowed from Oglala Lakota leader Red Cloud.
This Seward County village borrows its name from the village of Staplehurst in England, the former home of one family of settlers.
Surprise, a Butler County village with just 43 residents, was so named after a settler built a grist mill on the Big Blue River. He expressed his surprise at the amount of hydropower available there...and the village has been known as Surprise ever since.
Utica was named after the New York city of the same name. The Utica in New York is said to have been named for a city of antiquity in Tunisia.
Although it sounds like an expression of joy, the city of Wahoo was actually named for the wahoo shrub that grows along the banks of Wahoo Creek.
This one isn’t really much of a mystery...Waterloo in Douglas County was named for the historic Battle of Waterloo.
17. Weeping Water
The legend of Weeping Water’s name says that Native American women cried so much that their tears formed a creek which still runs through the town to this day. However, the name was actually a mistranslation of the Native American word for the same creek; the original name, Nigahoe, meant “rustling water.”
Wellfleet, a village in Lincoln county, borrows its name from a Massachusetts town of the same name.
The tiny village of Winnetoon has an interesting claim to fame: it’s the only town in America with this particular label. A railroad official in the early days of the village named it after a friend’s Wisconsin farm.
We’d like to imagine that this community in Merrick County was named for a huge mass of worms found there or something cool like that. But it takes its name from the city of Worms, Germany. The German town, however, was named for a supposed lindworm (dragon) slaying that occurred nearby....so that's something.
The city of Yutan, located in Saunders County, was once called Clear Creek. Eight years after it was platted under that name, however, its name was changed to honor Otoe chief Ietan.
What other interesting origin stories do you know for Nebraska town names? Add your contributions in the comments!