Lizard Lick, Ty Ty, & Nowthen

Lizard Lick, North Carolina, ATM
I shot this photo of a lizard statue on top of an ATM while visiting North Carolina earlier this year.
According to Wikipedia:

Lizard Lick is an unincorporated community in Wake County, North Carolina, United States. The community is located at the crossroads of Lizard Lick Road and NC 97. Lizard Lick has frequently been noted on lists of unusual place names.

The community is approximately 20 miles east of the state capital of Raleigh. It is about 3 miles north of Wendell and 3 miles west of Zebulon.

According to NC historian William S. Powell, the town got its name from a “passing observer who saw many lizards sunning and licking themselves on a rail fence.” Regardless of the town name, local community members who are native to the area are proud of their origins, and their economic future in the area. In May 1997, the state installed the first traffic light in Lizard Lick, marking a new period of “increasing property values” and growth.

Seeing Lizard Lick got me interested in other strange city names that we have in this country. Many times while driving around the country I have wondered how towns got their names. Most city and town names are pretty obvious. It is the unusual ones that pique my curiosity. Here are a couple more that are rather strange:

Ty Ty CityHall Photo by By Michael Rivera

I have driven through Ty Ty, Tift County, Georgia, and always wondered about its name.

According to Wikipedia:

The population was 716 at the 2000 census. 

Ty Ty is named from the trees that once lined Ty Ty Creek, which runs through the area. These Ironwood and Buckwheat trees are referred to as white and black titi trees. 

Nowthen, Minnesota


Another unusual city name is Nowthen in Anoka County, Minnesota. 

From the Nowthen website:

Nowthen, the first post office of Burns Township started June 5, 1876.  Jim Hare (first postmaster) was credited in naming the Nowthen Post Office.  History says that Hare wrote to Washington requesting a Post Office in Burns Township.  The Post Office Department indicated that they could not approve the Burns Post Office because there was already Burnstown Township Post Office in Southern Minnesota.  The department asked Hare for suggestions for a new name.  Jim Hare sent a letter to the department with several suggested names.  At the end of his letter he stated “nowthen” and signed it.  Not knowing the Hare often started and ended his sentences with “nowthen”, the department thought it was a pretty good name and named Burns Township’s Post Office the Nowthen Post Office.

Even after the Nowthen Post Office closed in July 31, 1894 the residents still referred to the area around the Post Office as Nowthen. 

On December 12, 2007, Burns Township filed a Petition with the Office of Administrative Hearings, Municipal Boundary Adjustments (OAH-MBA) requesting the incorporation of Burns Township to the City of Nowthen.

Nowthen, that’s our story.

MentalFloss website as well as Wikipedia has unusual United States city names. There are many, many more of them!

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2 thoughts on “Lizard Lick, Ty Ty, & Nowthen

  1. It is also funny how a name can distort over time. Santa Fe, near Gainesville, was once a Franciscan mission to Timucua Indians. The Seminoles (mostly Creek) took over the site. In 1757, the British in Georgia mistakenly referred to the Seminole town near “San-ta-Fe” as “St. Taffy’s.”
    The Creeks who settled in the Panhandle pronounced the Little Saint Johns River (San Juanito) something like “Suwanee.” Suwanee looks Indian, but it comes from Spanish.


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