Every state has some very strange names for towns, and Iowa is certainly no different. In the Hawkeye state, a town I'm very familiar with has once again come out on top of the list of the most oddly-named Iowa towns.

It's a town where my dad worked long before I was born; where my late great-grandmother lived; where we'd always go to watch fastpitch softball because I grew up just 16 miles away, in Sigourney. So what's the most oddly-named town in Iowa? It's What Cheer in Keokuk County.

Once a great coal mining town and home to more than 3,000 people, less than 700 remain. Those citizens are always greatly annoyed by how people pronounce the name. It's not pronounced like it looks. No, it's "Wa" (like the beginning of water) Cheer. Forget the "h" and the "t." Wa is really all you need.

The What Cheer flea market is held at the fairgrounds (below) in town several times a year. Ask somebody about What Cheer and that's likely what they'll know, and probably all they'll know.

Google Maps

So what are Iowa's other really oddly-named towns? It's hard to argue with the other choices on the list. Their picks include Balltown, Hard Scratch, and Fertile. Also on the list are Confidence, Cool, Hicks, Diagonal, Hull, Beaverdale, Little Turkey, Manly, Correctionville, and Linn County's own Toddville!

The surrounding states have some really odd names for towns, too. Worms, Nebraska.  Frankenstein, Missouri. Chicken Bristle, Illinois. Thanks to Estately for providing this really great list of odd town names.


Yeah, What Cheer isn't bad at all. Just remember, it's Wa Cheer. The locals will appreciate you saying it right. We'll talk about the pronunciation of my hometown, Sigourney, another time.