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Quirky Arizona Town Names

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by Gail Clifford MD (subscribe)
I'm a freelance writer and photographer traveling the world, often following my daughter. Visit our site at www.ABLETravelPhoto.com and follow us on Instagram @ABLETravelPhoto
Published April 5th 2022
Arizona, USA, Grand Canyon, destination, tourism, ecotourism
Arizona's Grand Canyon


When I first moved to Arizona, I lived in Yavapai County in the town of Prescott. Now neither of those are particularly strange names, considering it was originally Native American land and Yavapai is one of the Native American tribes and William Hickling Prescott was chosen for the author of "The History of the Conquest of Mexico."

But other Arizona towns have much more interesting names.

Like Snowflake. It's up in the mountains, so it wouldn't be hard to believe it was actually because of snowflakes falling in the winter. But, in fact, it was two men, Mormon pioneers Erastus Snow and William Jordan Flake who combined forces to create the settlement that became the town.

Show Low, Arizona, restaurant, family fun, food
Show Low, Arizona Restaurant "Sweethearts"


Not everybody was that generous though, they wanted an all or nothing situation for who ran their town. This happened in Show Low Arizona where it was a poker game that won the ranch. Corydon Cooley and Marion Clark worked the ponderosa pine forest that surrounded the valley. But Cooley got a little too involved in Fort Apache for Clark's comfort and they decided, ultimately, that whoever showed the lowest card, won the ranch. Now, I didn't even know who won until I looked it up (Cooley), but I can tell you the main street is called Deuce of Clubs. I thought that was one of the more interesting names for a main street in the United States.

The other town I think it's really interesting is Bagdad. There's no H in it because it has to do with a father and son mining team. As the story goes, the son filled bags with ore from a copper deposit and he kept letting his dad know when he needed more: "Bag, dad!" Ergo the name.

Arizona, State Flag, Children's Chalk Fun, art
Children's Chalk Fun with the Arizona State Flag


Carefree, AZ is one of my favorite places in Maricopa County. I drive past it every time I drive from the Phoenix airport to Show Low. Developed as a planned community in the 1950s, it's a haven for retirees and, with names like "Easy Street," "Ho Hum Drive," and "Never Mind Trail" leads to the state of mind those original planners had in mind.

Other names that I haven't found in other states include:

Why, Arizona. State Routes 85 and 86 intersect in a Y shape on the map. Arizona requires a minimum of three letters in a town name, so the new city wrote it phonetically as "Why."

Nothing, Arizona. Allegedly named by a "bunch of drunks," there really wasn't much in this tiny place in the middle of the desert. It once had a gas station and convenience store but was abandoned in 2005.

Hardrock, Arizona. While this tiny town, last population I found was 94, is surrounded by rocky outcrops of durable building stone, it's actually named as a direct translation of its Navajo name, Tsé Dildo'i. Sadly it's the site of a large Navajo-Hopi land dispute where the Hopi won a court decision making what was once one of the Navajo's largest

But the reality of the Hard Rock Chapter is much more complex than its name. It is quite possibly the chapter that lost the most in a Navajo-Hopi land dispute settled in court in the 1970s.

restaurant, Arizona, art
Some People's idea of art is Wanted Posters


Chloride, Arizona. The mining of silver chloride, found in the hills along the Arizona – Nevada border led to this town's name.

Arizona, highway, two lane, transportation, red rock
One of Arizona's many two lane highways

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