If you read our recent piece on asbestos trivia, you might remember that there are a couple of towns that take their name from asbestos. Well, you may not be shocked to hear that the one in Quebec, Canada has decided that a name change might be in order, despite some opposition. According to the mayor, the stigma around its past as an asbestos mining town is such that many English-speaking businesses have refused to move in.
Inspired by this, we thought we’d did out our atlas and find some of the least safe-sounding places in the world to visit. We’re sure a lot of these are perfectly lovely in reality; but equally, some seem to have been named precisely to stop people from going there. Here then are some of unsafe sounding places in the world – from the reasonable to the downright ridiculous.
This small settlement in Maryland dates back to frontier times. Surveyed by one John Hanson – the first President of the Continental Congress – the land went unused until after the Revolutionary War, when plots were given as rewards for soldiers.
Populated by a mere 325 people today, Accident nonetheless has two top-rated restaurants on Google Maps. The origin of the name is unknown, which definitely means it’s incredibly spooky. Expect to be skewered by a ghostly bayonet within hours of arriving.
Explorers can be a bit lazy when naming parts of Antarctica – perhaps because it’s so cold they don’t want to spend too much time thinking about it. Apocalypse Peaks, situated on a mountain ridge directly south of New Zealand, has no such issue.
Named for the apparently distinctive appearance of its peaks – cut and sloped in such a way that they resemble the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse – the peaks are viewable from several research stations in the area. This is where The Thing starts, and nobody can convince us otherwise.
Less a town and more a stretch of lakeside shoreline, Bear Dance is home to 275 people at last count. This includes nine homes inside an exclusive gated community – replete with bear statues – which offers boat access from your door onto the neighbouring Flathead Lake.
Bear Dance appears to be a beautiful, semi-isolated community near a reservation on the Canadian border. Being that close to Canada, it’s also definitely full of bears. One for grizzled veterans and people who like getting their arms chewed off.
Cut and Shoot
Inspired by a small boy’s response to a local argument – “I’m going to cut around the corner and shoot through the bushes in a minute!” – Cut and Shoot started as a tiny settlement some time prior to 1912. Growing from some 50 inhabitants in 1970 to 1,070 today, it is officially classed as a city.
Cut and Shoot’s most notable resident was boxer Roy Harris, who challenged Floyd Patterson for the world heavyweight title in 1958. Given this fact and the story behind the name, the population are clearly prone to violence and insanity, and should be avoided at all costs.
Dead Women Crossing
This one has a claim for the most legitimately unsafe place, even if its origin story goes back a hundred years. The unincorporated community is named after the unsolved murder of a young mother, who filed for divorce and made to leave town with her young child. After several weeks without contact, investigators found the child in someone else’s care, and no sign of the mother.
Locals reported seeing the pair with a woman who was reputedly a prostitute around that time, and she was confirmed to have given the baby to a young boy, who took it home. When the mother’s body was found decapitated, the woman denied murder before committing suicide. Their ghosts obviously still haunt the area and are a bad time for all concerned.
You not think of New York as being very mountainous, but the state around the city is bigger than you might think. Within its confines is Gore Mountain, a snowy peak replete with a garnet mine and a popular ski resort.
The apparent reason for the name is very boring, as a ‘gore’ is apparently an Old English word for a thin tract of land, which is still used in certain contexts by surveyors. The real reason is clearly that the mountain is populated by lions, yetis and possibly dragons. Skiers beware.
Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump
As students of American history may know, a buffalo jump is a natural rock formation where Native Americans would hunt buffalo. Dressing and acting like the buffalo’s predators, they would herd them towards these formations, driving them off the edge and to their deaths.
The head-smashed-in bit doesn’t come from killing the buffalo, though. Legend has it that a young Blackfoot wanted to watch the process, but picked the wrong spot, and had his head caved in by a cascade of falling carcasses. There is no guarantee that the same thing won’t happen to you if you visit.
Mount Slaughter is another of the many strangely-named Antarctic peaks. This one is snow-free, and sits smack bang in the middle of two treacherous glaciers. Again, the name for this one is not actually that inspiring – it’s named after John B. Slaughter, an American scientist.
As far as we can tell though, this one has only been surveyed by air, meaning it could be home to all sorts of beasties. If that doesn’t float your boat, check out Slaughter Beach, Mount Terror, Mount Terrible and Mount Despair – all real and equally terrifying places.
There’s nothing inherently dangerous about this Welsh town, renowned for being one of the longest place names in the world (and having one of the longest train station signs). It’s a pretty town with abundant history, including a rather nice Grade-II listed column.
Whatever you do, though, don’t go here if you’re feeling a bit peaky. If you have to call an ambulance in Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch, you’ll be dead before you finish saying the name.