Between the state’s super scary water creatures, the daredevil residents who seem to enjoy landing on the homepage of the National Enquirer and its newly minted status as the “adopted home” of a former reality TV star turned U.S. president, you get the feeling that Florida has become America’s “weird uncle.” You know who we mean – the one who peels off his clothing to dive into the pool every Christmas morning and flap his arms around until everyone takes a photo of the disaster.
Oh, it’s not a new phenomenon for the Sunshine State. Florida gave warning signs of its impending instability decades ago when its cities and townships adopted names that are a little – well, best thing you can say is “curious” and the worst thing you can label them as is “just plain weird.”
Here are the stories behind 10 of the strangest town names in Florida.
Where is it: Pretty much dead center in Florida, on the southern end of Polk County (halfway between Tampa and Orlando).
2018 population: 3,273
The skinny: No city in Florida is actually “frost proof” – freezing temperatures don’t stick around long in the Sunshine State, but frost isn’t as alien as you’d think. Reports vary on the origin of the city’s name, but the popular theory is that “Frostproof” was adopted to encourage citrus growers – whose fruit is sensitive to cold weather – to settle in the area.
Famous natives: Citrus baron Ben Hill Griffin Jr.
Where is it: Though part of the Orlando metro area, it’s located in Lake County, just northwest of the theme park capital.
2018 population: 1,175
The skinny: The town was founded in 1925 simply as “Howey” by citrus juice manufacturer William John Howey, but was changed to “Howey-in-Hills” in 1927 to reflect the rolling topography of the area – a feature Howey called “the Florida Alps.”
Claim to fame: The first citrus juice plant built in the state opened here in 1921.
Where is it: This unincorporated hamlet is more of a map point than a town. It’s situated in Central Florida in Osceola County at the intersection of Florida’s Turnpike and State Road 60.
2010 population: 240
The skinny: There are a slew of theories about the origin of Yeehaw Junction. One is that the location was named after the nearby Yeehaw station on the Florida East Coast Railway. Another is that Yeehaw is the phonetic pronunciation of a Creek Indian word for “wolf.” (The Florida Black Wolf was once native to the state but has since disappeared). Another account says the destination was once called “Jackass Junction” because donkeys were once ridden by the area’s ranchers.
Claim to fame: In the late 1960s, Yeehaw Junction was the site of a then-secret testing of a biological warfare chemical known as “Agent TX,” whose purpose was reportedly to diminish wheat crops of rival countries during wartime. The testing wasn’t revealed to residents until 2002.
Where is it: Christmas is all around. No, just kidding. Christmas is an unincorporated area east of Orlando in Orange County
2018 population: 1,146
The skinny: On Dec. 25, 1837 – toward the beginning of the Second Seminole Indian War – a force of 2,000 U.S. Army Soldiers and Alabama Volunteers arrived in this region of Central Florida to build a fort – aptly named Ft. Christmas. A full size replica of the fort exists today. Each winter holiday season, Christmas’ post office processes a surge of mail from Floridians who want to send letters posted from “Christmas, Florida.” Christmas is also home to the largest alligator-shaped building in the world at Jungle Adventures, a natural habitat home for Florida Panthers, Black Bears, White-Tailed Deer and – of course – alligators.
Famous natives: Birthplace of sculptor James Hughlette “Tex” Wheeler, best known for his sculpture of the champion racehorse Seabiscuit displayed at Santa Anita Park racetrack in California.
Where is it: Two Egg is an unincorporated community in Jackson County near the Northwest Florida-Georgia border.
2018 population: Unknown
The skinny: According to a town website, the area where Two Egg sits was once a trading spot among Native Americans. Artifacts uncovered there date back thousands of years. The modern history begins about the time of the Civil War, when the community was founded. Originally known as Allison (after a company that built a saw mill there), the town reportedly became known as Two Egg during the Great Depression of the 1930s. As the story goes, two young boys would frequent a local store to trade two eggs for sugar that their family needed. Eventually the store – and the town – would become known as Two Egg.
Famous natives: Two Egg claims to be the childhood home of Academy Award winning actress Faye Dunaway.
Where is it: In Santa Rosa County in Florida’s panhandle.
2000 population: 1,490
The skinny: As you might have guessed, Bagdad is actually named after Baghdad, Iraq (just minus the extra letter). The town was founded in 1840 as a lumber mill. Little is known about why the Iraqi city was the inspiration of the town’s name. One media report in 1990 cited a theory that the town’s Pond Creek joins the Cypress River there – much like Baghdad’s Tigris and Euphrates rivers join in that country’s location.
Famous natives: Birthplace and childhood home of PGA golfer Bubba Watson.
Where is it: Briny Breezes is a small coastal town in South Florida in Palm Beach County.
2000 population: 411
The skinny: “Briny,” as it is known locally, has one of the most interesting stories of all. In the 1920s and 30s, the land was originally a strawberry farm owned by a Michigan lumberman who rented out parcels for tourists and trailers for $3 a week. Decades later, when the lumberman wanted to retire, he let the residents buy the land from him for about $2,000 per parcel. The town was then incorporated as Briny Breezes, probably due to its location between the Atlantic Ocean and the Intracoastal Waterway. In 2005, the town made headlines when a land developer offered residents $500 million to buy their properties, and they overwhelmingly agreed. Later the deal was canceled after zoning disputes and other legal issues arose. The town – at just 0.1 square miles – to this day remains home to primarily retired residents who live in mobile homes.
Claim to fame: The 2005 Cameron Diaz film In Her Shoes was set and filmed here, with many of the town’s residents serving as extras in the movie.
Where is it: Lulu is an unincorporated community in Columbia County in North Central Florida.
2018 population: Unknown
The skinny: According to a 1996 story in the Tampa Tribune, Lulu got its name in the 1890s when the region’s first postmaster named the town after his girlfriend Lulu. Though the couple’s romance wouldn’t last, the town’s name endures.
Claim to fame: At least during the 1990s, Lulu’s current and former residents would still gather annually for a festival to celebrate the town’s history.
Where is it: Lorida is an unincorporated community in Highlands County, south of Orlando between the cities of Sebring and Okeechobee.
2018 population: Unknown
The skinny: The town has had several names over its long history, including Cow House, Sunnyland and Istokpoga. Confusion with local railways using the Istokpoga moniker led town leaders in 1937 to simply adopt the state’s name – just leaving off the “F.” The town has had its booms and busts over time, but still remains home to a handful of fish camps and family-owned stores.
Claim to fame: From time to time, the region has been rumored – with little evidence and more than a dab of joksterism – to be the future home of a “Six Flags over Lorida” theme park.
Where is it: Mayo is a town and the only municipality in Lafayette County in North Florida, halfway between the university towns of Gainesville and Tallahassee.
2010 population: 1,237
The skinny: Compared with some of Florida’s other weird town names, maybe Mayo comes on a little thin. It’s the only town on our list named after a real person – Confederate Col. James Micajah Mayo. That’s not nearly the most interesting part of the story of Mayo: In 2018, the city temporarily changed its name to Miracle Whip as part of a marketing campaign for the competing condiment. Residents were given T-shirts saying “Proud to be from Miracle Whip, Florida” and commercials were filmed. According to reports, the city received a $250,000 donation for the short-term arrangement.
Famous natives: University of Florida football fans all know that Gator quarterback legend Kerwin Bell was from Mayo. Known as the “Throwin’ Mayoan,” Bell was a walk-on player at UF before later graduating having thrown for more than 7,500 yards in his career. He would later go on to success as a college coach.
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