I love studying maps, especially paper maps (but Google maps certainly have their place as well). I particularly like to look for unusually named towns. I can recall numerous times in my life when I’ve deliberately deviated from my route, or begged the driver (usually my husband or my parents, before I could drive) to turn here or exit there just so I could see the town of (fill in the blank). I guess you could say it’s a sort of bucket list thrill for me to visit some of these uniquely named towns.
As a child, I didn’t tolerate the summer heat very well. I told my parents, “I’m going to move to Alaska when I grow up. It’s cold there, and I won’t have to deal with the heat.” In preparation for my impending move, I frequently studied the map of Alaska in our atlas, looking for towns with funny names. Two in particular stood out: Chicken and Eek. How fun would it be to live in a town called Chicken or Eek?! I looked up Chicken recently and learned that it was a gold rush town in the 1800s. Settlers survived on eating the ptarmigan, a bird that resembles a chicken. When the town established a post office in the early 1900s, many people liked the idea of naming the town after the ptarmigan, but because of disagreements about the spelling, and for fear of embarrassment, they decided on Chicken instead. After all, there’s nothing embarrassing about saying that your hometown is named Chicken! The population ranges from 7 to 17, depending on the time of year. From the websites I perused, it appears that the folks in Chicken have a good sense of humor about their tiny town. I would love to see it someday!