Weird things happen everywhere, but it only gets really strange in small, rural towns where the freaks and the black sheep like to hide. From Twilight nuts to dead guy partiers, below are the weirdest small towns in the world:
1. Riverside, Iowa; Future Birthplace of Captain Kirk
Though the special day has not yet happened, the citizens of Riverside are convinced that the “small town in Iowa” referred to in the Star Trek series as Captain Kirk’s birthplace is their hometown. You can find a marker, similar to a gravestone, behind an old barbershop in Riverside, alongside a bench where Trekkies can pray devotedly to the Captain of the Enterprise. In Riverside, “Where the Trek Begins,” you can find a Trek Festival, formerly known as the River Fest before hometown hero Steve Miller, a dedicated Trekkie, got his hands on it. Thanks, Steve! Now we know where to go for James T. Kirk’s birthday in a couple hundred years.
2. Deshnoke, Rajasthan; Temple of Rats
The Karni Mata Temple in India is in the famous rural town home to over 20,000 rats. Yes, you read that correctly. In Deshnoke, the rats are revered here and worshipped as “kabbas”. Much folklore has been discovered over the years to explain the anomaly, from an army of 20,000 men turned into rodents, to a god reincarnating a man’s offspring into the tiny creatures. Either way, people from all over travel to visit the rats, whose water they drink from is considered holy. And if one is killed, it must return as a statue of solid gold. Do you have rat traps in your home? Maybe it’s time to get rid of them.
3. Nederland, Colorado; Frozen Dead Guy Days
In 1989, Bredo Morstol died and was later frozen, using cryonics, by his family and stored in a shed behind their house in the small town of Nederland. Once the quirky citizens discovered this, they began an annual celebration of death and winter every year in March. They hold coffin races,a slow-motion parade, and a “Frozen Dead Guy” lookalike contest, along with showing the documentary of Grandpa Bredo. People are even allowed a tour of the shed where Bredo is still frozen. If only dear Bredo had known his life, or shall we say death, would be turned into such an infamous festival.
4. Nagoro, Japan; The Dolls
Nagoro has a population of 35 humans and 350 human-sized dolls. Strange enough, for ya? Ayano Tsukimi created these creepy dolls after returning home to find her small town nearly desolate. So her brilliantly terrifying idea was to reconstruct the city with replicas of the citizens. All doing what they had done when alive. Now, every time a Nagoroan passes away, they are given their own doll. Ever since discovering the story of this town I’ve had nightmares about the whole population coming alive after dark. Sort of like Night at the Museum, but with a lot more screaming.
5. Miracle Village; Sex Offender City
A small community outside of Pahokee, Florida, Miracle Village is the home of over 100 registered sex offenders. It was created by a minister named Richard Witherow as a reaction to laws prohibiting where sex offenders may live. The community is miles away from any school, as some citizens have been convicted of molesting minors. Witherow operates the community through his organization, Matthew 25 Ministries, which states they do not minister to the pedophiles living in the community. Many residents of Pahokee are fighting against the community’s existence, but we say the offenders are better off where they are. Or better yet, we are better off.
6. Coober Pedy, Australia; The Opal Underground
Though Coober Pedy has a population of 1,695, they may be hard to find. That is because they all live underground. Coober Pedy is known as the opal capital of the world, and after miners spent most of the day in the caverns only to emerge above ground into the scorching heat of the Outback, they decided it would be best just to stay below. The residents live in what are called “dugouts”, similar to hobbit holes. We think even Bilbo would find the below-ground homes to be comfortable compared to the unbearable heat above.
7. Forks, Washington; Home of the Swans
No, this town is not strange for being named after utensils, but owes its claim to fame to Stephanie Meyer. The author of the famous Twilight series set her books in this rainy small town. Citizens have used this to their advantage to bring in tourists. The average number of visitors rose from 19,000 in 2008, the release year of the first film, to 73,000 in 2010. The Twilight phenomenon has even begotten a “Stephanie Meyer’s Day” in Forks. I’m sure citizens of this small town consider themselves to be trapped in the real“Twilight Zone.” See what we did there?
8. Hallstatt, China; The CopyCat Town
Hallstatt is the largest example of deja vu in existence. Thanks to the mining company, China Minmetals, Hallstatt of Austria was completely replicated in its Chinese brother in Bolou County. Its church, fountains, and various monuments were created as an exact copy of the original Hallstatt. The Austrian mayor, Alexander Scheutz, only heard of the plans after the construction was far underway. Many of the Austrian residents faced the replica with skepticism, but the original town has become a large tourist trap opportunity. There are many similar projects in China due to a trend of mimicking cities for the wealthier Chinese population. How silly… sigh, we want to be that rich.
9. Gibsonton, Florida; Sideshow Place To Go
Gibsonton is most likely the only town in America whose post office has a special counter for dwarfs. It is also the home to Percilla the Monkey Girl, the Anatomical Wonder, and Grady Stiles, the “Lobster Boy.” Are you seeing a trend? Yep, this town is a carnies’ dream come true. Gibsonton was famous as a sideshow vacation town, where carnival and circus workers would spend time during the off season. Gibsonton even offered unique zoning laws to allow its residents to keep elephants in their front yards. Did we mention this was the hometown of a munchkin from The Wizard of Oz? Gibsonton is a long way from Kansas.
10. Colma, California; Necropolis
Colma is a city filled not with people, but corpses. In 1924, Colma was founded as a necropolis, pretty much translating to “giant cemetery”. In Colma, the dead bodies outnumber the living citizens a thousand to one. Considering the expanse of cemeteries, the small town has been named, “The City of the Silent.” It has even been given a morbid humorous motto: “It’s great to be alive in Colma!” Is it really, though?
11. Llanfairpwllgwngyll, Wales; A Mouthful
This town’s name means: Saint Mary’s church in the hollow of white hazel near a rapid whirlpool and the Church of Saint Tsyllio near the red cave. Yep, a mouthful. There is even a sign outside the train station of this small town just in case you forgot the longness of this name. We can thank this tongue-tangler to a local humorist that created the name in the 19th century. Thousands of tourists flock to take a picture next to the 15-foot sign, sporting the unnecessarily long title to post on Instagram. We’re next.
If reading about these small towns wasn’t enough try planning a trip and visiting them, but not all of them… please.