When my wife and I moved here in September, we knew coming here from North Carolina there were going to be adjustments for us. The weather being chief among those, and then of course there’s the difference in our accents from native Minnesotans or Mid-Westerners. 

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But quickly were learned another thing that would be different for us, is the names of some of the towns or areas in Minnesota. Now, don’t get me wrong. We had some unusual names in the South as well. Nebo was a town in our home county, of course that comes from the bible. We had a section of our county called “Goose Creek”, which is also the same name of a town in South Carolina. There’s also Dysartsville (pronounced die-surts-ville), Seven Devils, Kill Devil Hills and Fuquay-Varina.  

Here in Minnesota there's an assortment of names that stand out, here are just a few. 

Climax, Minnesota- This town in Polk County, which borders North Dakota. Climax is said to have gotten its name from a Chewing Tobacco Company.  

Photo Credit: Google Street View
Photo Credit: Google Street View
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Sleepy Eye, Minnesota- Is in Brown County and is named for a famed Sioux Chief who got his name for a “droopy eye”. Sleepy Eye, the Chief, was one of a group of Native Americans who was selected to meet with President James Monroe in Washington D.C. in 1824.  

Photo Credit: Google Street View
Photo Credit: Google Street View
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Embarrass, Minnesota- Is in Saint Louis County and is said to be the coldest place in Minnesota. According to the Embarrass Minnesota website, the name of the town came from the name of the river, which was said to be difficult to navigate. The word “embarrass” comes from the French word meaning to confuse, hinder or is complicated.  

Nimrod, Minnesota - Wadena County. The 2010 Census population listed the town’s population at 69, which is one of the smallest in the state. The name Nimrod comes from the Bible, from Genesis, and Chronicles. Nimrod was a king and the great grandson of Noah.  

Photo Credit: Google Street View
Photo Credit: Google Street View
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Kiester, Minnesota- Is in Faribault County in Southern Minnesota. The town is said to be named for county judge Armel Kiester. The population of Kiester in 2010 was 501. 

Photo Credit: Google Street View
Photo Credit: Google Street View
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Bemidji, Minnesota- Is in Northern Minnesota in Beltrami County. The name comes from the Ojibwa word which means “a lake with crossing waters”. Bemidji is one of the more commonly mispronounced town names, the correct pronunciation is “buh-midge-ee". The movie “Fargo” was filmed in part in Bemidji.    

Photo Credit: Google Street View
Photo Credit: Google Street View
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Ball Club, Minnesota- Is in Itasca County where the Mississippi River borders the East and the West. The name “Ball Club” is said to have come from a Native American Lacrosse stick.  

Blue Earth, Minnesota- Is also in Faribault County. It is home to the statue of the Jolly Green Giant and the “Golden Stripe” on I-90. The town is said to be named for the river there that has the same name, which was named by the Dakota Tribe.  

No matter how unusual or humorous these town names are, there’s a reason why they’re called what they are. That doesn’t mean you can’t snicker or even laugh the next time you hear that town’s name, but at least you’ll know where the name comes from.   

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