With North Carolina being home to a multitude of history…our town names are all but normal. Most were named long ago by early settlers, Native Americans, or even after slang words referring to rum!
The meaning of words inevitably changes through the years. With centuries now between us and these names, some have just manifested into downright weird and funny. Here are ten….
1. Lizard Lick, Wake County
This growing community in Wake County was put on the map by the TV show, Lizard Lick Towing. Lizard Lick used to be home to a federally operated liquor still where lizards were brought in to control the insect population. But 'Lizard Lick?' Legends says traveling salesmen would come to the town, filling a jug with 'lizard liquor', and always gawk at the amount of lizards, licking themselves, and basting in the sunlight.
2. Kill Devil HIlls
Despite being the "first in flight," location, Kill Devil Hills got its name from wreckers who scavenged shipwrecks transporting barrels of rum. Back in the day, Kill Devil was slang for rum by the English. So now, it all makes sense.
3. Boogertown, Gaston County
No need for tissues at Boogertown. The residents embrace their towns interesting name. Is the town linked to boogers? No. But they do put up a sign each year at Christmas that reads, "Have a Boogertown Christmas!"
4. Whynot, Randolph County
Whynot is an unincorporated community located on US 705, or also called the "North Carolina Pottery Highway." The origin derives from residents debating over what to name their town. (Wikipedia) says a man said "Why not name the town Whynot and let's go home?" Residents began making pottery during the 18th century, and today several esteemed potters live in Whynot.
5. Fuquay-Varina, Wake County
This one is quite a mouthful. Fuquay comes from an early settler, while Varina comes from the wife of an early postmaster. Both were originally separate towns, but I guess one day someone was like "lets make the most complicated town name by combining these two exotic words." Today, F-V is one of the fastest growing communities in North Carolina, as it is a popular haven for those who work in Raleigh.
6. Toast, Surry County
Toast is an elusive small town with about 2,000 residents. While the origin is a mystery, Toast lies right next to Mt. Airy, Andy Griffiths' hometown (and his model for Mayberry). Toast is even mentioned on the Andy Griffith EP, "A Girl For Goober." So my question is, do the townspeople call themselves Toasters?
7. Chocowinity, Beaufort County
Chocowinity is a small town located in Beaufort County. The 2010 census reported the population was 820. While the name sadly does not derive from Chocolate (I know, I'm upset about it too) it derives from the Tuscaroran Indians who lived here long ago. The name has been traced to the Chocawanteth Creek, now spelled Chocowinity Creek. Some say Chocowinity means "fish from many waters." One thing..you could never say Chocowinity without a smile on your face. I do love that name.
Whoever came up with this town name....they either had one dirty mind or were just naively in love with the new land they discovered. Whatever it may be, Climax is a small town that borders Guilford and Randolph County. Climax is home to the Hobson Cricket Grounds where teams from the Mid Atlantic Cricket Conference compete.
9. Zebulon, Wake County
While Zebulon sounds like a Greek God, or bad guy from a science fiction novel, the name actually derives from a popular Civil War governor, Zebulon Vance. Today, the town is home to almost 5,000 people and coins itself "the town of friendly people."
10. Horneytown, Forsyth County
Between Climax and High Point there is also, yes you guessed it, a horneytown! I'm starting to think that this area was on to something...Today, Horneytown is an unicnorporated community 5 miles northwest of High Point. While your mind might be in the gutter...the name derives from the Horney Family, an early group of settlers to the area.
Bat Cave, Erect, Hookerton, Pfafftown, Gumberry, Windblow, Frying Pan Landing, Bear Grass, Bee Log, Meat Camp, Loafers Glory, Grabtown…ok I could go on forever. If you want the full run-down
this gazetteer by William S. Powell is super helpful and interesting.