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The Road To Mount Buggery: A Journey Through the Curiously Named Places of Australia * Mark Whittaker and Amy Willesee
Planning to leave their city jobs to go bush for a year, Mark Whittaker and Amy Willesee became obsessed with the peculiarly miserable placenames dotted around Australia. Places where brave explorers and settlers wore their hearts on their charts as they took possession of a cruel continent. Thirst, mozzies, massacres and an all-pervading woe led to names like Starvation Lake, Mount Unapproachable and Point Torment. So, drawing up their own Map of Misery, the authors packed their four-wheel drive called Frank with a fridge that didn’t cool, lights that didn’t illuminate and a winch that didn’t pull, to investigate the stories behind the names.
I love unusual place names. Love, love, love. Also, mozzies are mosquitoes, and now my preferred word for the nasty little bloodsuckers.
Virginia has some outstandingly eccentric place names as well. I assume this is due partly to Virginia’s being the first settled colony, and therefore the first place to get European kooky. We’ve had the longest amount of time to get weird.
Witchduck Road in Virginia Beach is named for the innocence witchcraft test: the women died, she was innocent; she lived through the repeated dunks, she was a witch, and would be executed. Always made me feel so strange to shop at the plant nursery there, as if I were being frivolous in a desecrated graveyard.
And then we have…
Frogtown, Bumpass, Louisa, Ferncliff, Assawoman, Gretna, Kermit, Lick Skillet, Short Pump, Simplicity, Needmore, Ordinary…and my very, very favorite:
Which leads to the street address that makes me hug myself with joy: Loose Grip Lane, Tightsqueeze, Virginia. I used to drive past that little lane going to an unpleasant jobsite, and it made me smile every single day despite it all.
Weird Virginia: Your Guide to Virginia’s Local Legends and Best Kept Secrets * Jeff Bahr, Loren Coleman, Troy Taylor