10 of South Carolina’s most unusual town names

State - Regional

Courtesy: lakecitysc.gov

MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (WBTW) — Disney villains and “The Office?” What about a town name based entirely off a pun?

With hundreds of municipalities in the state, more than a few are bound to have more unusual names.

Here are South Carolina’s top 10 towns with the strangest names, in no particular order:

  1. Alcolu

County: Claredon

Population: 429

Pronounced “al-kuh-LOO,” the sneeze-sounding town is actually a combination of three names.

Alcolu started as a mill town in the late 1800s. The owner, D.W. Alderman, is where the “Al” comes from. His friend and brother-in-law, whose last name was Coldwell, contributed the “Co,” and Alderman’s daughter, Lulu, is the “lu.”

The mill’s employees were paid with metal coins stamped with an “A,” which could be used at the company store to buy groceries, see movies or visit a doctor.

  1. Coward

County: Florence

Population: 752

Described by its town website as “a quiet, peaceful place,” Coward’s name has a bit of debate behind it. 

The town might be named after Capt. Solomon Coward, who had 126 acres in the area in 1831. Another contender is Confederate Col. Asbury Coward, who was also the commandant of the South Carolina Military Academy. Or, it could be named after John Wilson Coward, who petitioned the state charter to incorporate Florence County. All that’s known for sure is that the town was called Coward long before it was officially incorporated in 1963.

  1. Cowpens

County: Spartanburg

Population: 1,942

Cowpens’s history is a bit louder than Coward’s, and the meaning behind its name is a lot less spotty. The town is known as the location of the Battle of Cowpens during the Revolutionary War, and is the location for the Cowpens National Battlefield. The city was named after the local pastures and cow pens, known as “Hannah’s Cow-pens” at the time. It wasn’t officially incorporated until 1900.

The Battle of Cowpens is touted as an immense success for the Patriot forces, which only lost 12 people and had 40 wounded. The British, in comparison, had 100 dead, 200 wounded and 500 additional soldiers who were captured, according to the National Park Service.

  1. Gaston

County: Lexington

Population: 1,824

“No town’s slick like Gaston, no town’s quick like Gaston…?”

The town, which doesn’t have much of an online presence, is mostly a mystery. Home to the annual Collard Festival, it may have gotten its moniker from a last name. 

The city created a one-officer police force in 2010 after not having a police department for the previous two years, according to a 2010 article from the Associated Press. 

  1. Ketchuptown

County: Horry

Population: 75

“I’ll ketchup with you later.”

No, really. Ketchuptown’s entire name comes from a pun. Not a Heinz factory. Not from a roaring hotdog trade.

In the 1920s, farmers would travel to the country store to “catch up” on the news, according to the SC Picture Project. Ruth Marie Small Ham — the daughter of Herbert “Hub” Small, who owned the store — was obsessed with the letter K. She’d often draw elaborate “K”s when she was in the store, and wrote “Ketchuptown” down over and over. It apparently stuck.

  1. Lake City

County: Florence

Population: 6,497

Lake City is supposedly named after a series of lakes named Lynches Lake, which are located to the southeast of the city. There is a small, manmade lake within the city’s boundaries. 

Lake City isn’t its original name. It was first called “Graham” after Aaron Graham, who owned land in the area, according to the city’s website, but was renamed after “Graham” caused mail delivery problems.

The 150-year-old city has a history of agriculture and manufacturing, and is known for the annual Artsfields competition and festival. The city was once known for its strawberry production and used to be deemed the “Bean Capital of the World.”

  1. Lugoff

County: Kershaw

Population: 8,243

Lugoff, pronounced “LOO-goff,” is an unincorporated area in Kershaw County. Information about the area is scarce online, although it does have an annual Lights of Lugoff Christmas Parade. According to the SC Picture Project, the area is named after a Russian count.

  1. Peak

County: Newberry

Population: 64

Named after a railroad superintendent, Peak is located at a whopping 295 feet above sea level and is only 3,265 feet shorter than the state’s highest point. For comparison, half of South Carolina is located at more than 350 feet above sea level. 

  1. Scranton

County: Florence

Population: 932

Nope, no Dunder Mifflin here. The town doesn’t have much of a paper trail online, including information on how it got its name.

  1. Townville

County: Anderson

Population: 3,914

It’s possible that people ran out of names before they got to Townville. It’s actually not a town — it’s an unincorporated community in Anderson County. Not much is online about the area, and it isn’t clear who chose the name.

Honorable Mention — Cope

County: Orangeburg

Population: 37

The area’s origins are happier than they sound. The area was named after a farmer, Jacob Martin Cope, who sold some of his land in the 1890s to create a town and train depot, according to SCIWAY.

That train depot is now on the National Register of Historic Places. The area became the start of the Manchester and Augusta Railroad in 1894, and the tracks would go on to be used by the Atlantic Coast Line Railroad.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Trending stories