I rarely write about the same topic two weeks in a row, but my column last week about quirky road and street names netted some interesting responses from readers that I feel compelled to share.

In the column, I declared that Skowhegan takes the cake for having the most unusual names, including Big Bird, Sesame, Boo and Blah streets, as well as White Chicken Road and MRI Drive.

Other interesting names I cited were Katie Crotch Road in Embden, Bactasanity Drive in Moscow, Goah Way in Liberty, Vipah Lane in Farmington and Weed Lane in Burnham.

Karen, a colleague in our advertising department here at the paper, said that while she was reading the column, she thought for sure I’d mention her street in Waterville — Canabas Avenue — since it was in the same category as Weed Lane (though the kind of weed people smoke is spelled differently).

An email from Al Diamon of Carrabassett Valley cast light on the history of Hernia Hill, a road I mentioned in the column and wondered if it is so steep that people become injured ascending it.

Diamon, who lives on Hernia Hill, says it is, indeed, steep, but not so much as to injure the average walker.

“According to the hill’s earliest residents, the name of this private byway originated in the 1960s, before most vehicles had four-wheel drive,” Diamon writes. “After a snowstorm, cars regularly slid into the ditches trying to make it up the (then unpaved and rutted) incline. The families that arrived every weekend to go skiing devised a system to deal with this hardship. Each Friday evening as everyone showed up, the men would come out of their camps and push the new arrivals up the hill. The women would sit in the car trunks for ballast. This worked pretty well, except for one guy, who just couldn’t stay on the road no matter what. He always ended up in the ditch. After this happened a few times, one of the men, weary of getting him out, complained, ‘You’re going to give us all hernias getting you up this hill.’ In short order, a name was born.”

Diamon goes on to say that when E911 was instituted many years later, town officials asked residents the names of their roads to make the informal names official.

“When they heard about Hernia Hill, they were appalled,” Diamon says. “’You can’t call it that,’ they told the residents. ‘It’ll hurt property values.’ The Hernia Hill gang insisted and eventually prevailed. We now have an official town road sign to prove it.”

Skip Gates of Skowhegan said he enjoyed my column but lamented that I had omitted his favorite: Easy Street in Canaan. Thanks for catching that, Skip.

I got a kick out of a missive from Jeanne Gale of Chesterville, who cited an especially unusual name — Alcohol Mary Road, in Greenwood.

“Though I no longer live in that town, I did find out that Mary made Bootleg Whiskey during Prohibition,” Gale writes. “Little bitty Greenwood. Who knew?”

Debbie Vigue of West Gardiner said she enjoyed the column about “crazy road names” and offered to share another odd one:

“My husband and I were traveling on Rt. 100 between Gray and New Gloucester,” she writes. “We had the Navigator in my vehicle’s Info Center on. Like a Garmin it lists the next road is up ahead.  I happened to glance down and read ‘Road to Nowhere’ Ahead.  I looked at my husband and asked, ‘So do you think this is it for us?’ ”

While further perusing the net, I discovered more quirky ones, though some not in our immediate coverage area: Old Bloody Hill Road in Lewiston, Calling Crow Road and Wisdom Road, both in Chelsea, and Gordon’s Driveway in Norridgewock.

Then there’s Cemetary Drive and Cemetery Drive, both in Dexter (huh?), Down Road in Harmony and Shark Stew Road in Canaan.

But I still think Skowhegan reigns supreme when it comes to idiosyncratic nomenclatures.

I mean, where else can one find a street called “Monkey Speedway”?

 

Amy Calder has been a Morning Sentinel reporter 31 years. Her columns appear here Mondays. She may be reached at [email protected]. For previous Reporting Aside columns, go to centralmaine.com.

 


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