Via magazine
Via magazine - Your AAA Magazine

Odd Names for Western Towns

The West is full of towns with funny names, such as Chicken or Boring. Here's a list and the stories behind the silliness.

Via Contributors
red rocks stacked up that look like a Mexican hat, image
Photo caption
Red rocks stacked up by nature look like a Mexican hat; hence the Utah town's moniker.

Need some comic relief on your next road trip? Check the map. The West is full of towns with funny names.

DUNMOVIN, CALIF. Tired settlers were "done movin' " and set up shop in the Mojave Desert. Current population is four. (760) 876-6222.

BORING, ORE. "It's a place, not a condition," locals are prone to say. The town was settled in 1874 by Civil War veteran William H. Boring. Visit the Knot So Boring Pub. (503) 654-7777,

MEXICAN HAT, UTAH According to legend, an old medicine man turned a young Mexican to stone when a beautiful maiden took a liking to him. The tale explains Mexican Hat Rock, the sombrero-shaped rock formation from which the town takes its name. (800) 574-4386.

JACKPOT, NEV. It was known for three years as Unincorporated Nevada Town #1 before locals decided that Jackpot had a better ring. (775) 755-2653,

DINOSAUR, COLO. The town changed its name from Artesia in 1965 because of its proximity to Dinosaur National Monument. Look for Stegosaurus Street and Tyrannosaurus Trail. (970) 374-2205,

WHY, ARIZ. Located near Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument where two roads form a Y. The U.S. Postal Service wouldn't recognize a one-letter name, so the spelling was changed to Why.

CHICKEN, ALASKA When the town incorporated in 1902, local miners decided to call it Ptarmigan, after what is now Alaska's state bird. But no one could spell Ptarmigan, so they settled on Chicken. No phones in Chicken (or electricity or running water, for that matter).

Photography by Utah's Canyon Country

This article was first published in January 2004. Some facts may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.