A post on Medium in May 2016 attempted to tackle a seemingly unanswerable question: what's the weirdest town in America? To do this, Lyman Stone used 20 different variables, including what percentage of each city's population was foreign-born, married, working, in the armed forces, etc. He then compared that data to national averages. What he found was that San Jose, CA, is the most bizarre town in the US. But though it may be demographically weird, San Jose doesn't hold a candle to these weird small towns in the United States.
Truth be told, there are thousands of weird US towns that didn't make this list, some of which include Hollywood, Portland, and Providence. The following, however, are notorious for their stark oddity. If you've ever wanted to travel America in search of the silliest, saddest, and most unhinged of all the states, consider this a travel guide to the weirdest small towns in America.
Miracle Village, FL – The Town Of Sex Offenders
Miracle Village is a small housing development outside of Pahokee, FL, that's home to more than 100 registered sex offenders. It was founded by a minister named Richard Witherow who worked in prisons for 30 years. He created the development as a place for recently released sex offenders to live while reintegrating into the community.
Witherow and his ministry, Matthew 25, oversee the development and have final approval over who lives there.Is this strange?
Scottsboro, AL - The Lost Luggage Capital Of The World
Nearly 7,000 units of unclaimed baggage from around the world makes its way to Scottsboro, Alabama, in the Appalachian Mountains every day. The Unclaimed Baggage Center (UBC) receives nearly 1 million unclaimed bags and suitcases each year. The UBC buys lost luggage only after the airline puts it through "intensive tracking," meaning no one showed up to claim their items. Eventually, the UBC sells the found belongings.
Doyle Owens started the UBC in Alabama as a part-time business in 1970. Since then, the company has grown to take over almost an entire city block - 40,000-square-feet - in downtown Scottsboro. The complex even has a museum in which it features unusual found items. More than half of what the UBC finds is clothing, though expensive electronics and other goods are included.They once found a $20,000 painting which a store later sold for $60. And in another case, "the guidance system for an F-16 fighter jet valued at a quarter of a million dollars and a camera specially designed for NASA's Space Shuttle" were both returned to the government.Is this strange?
Slab City, CA – A Place Totally Off The Grid
In the words of Vice, "This bizarre, lawless land in the California desert is inhabited by drug addicts, eccentrics, army vets, hippies and just plain old weirdos. Slab City is referred to by its residents as 'the last free place in America.'"
Remember that scene in Into the Wild when Christopher McCandless (played by Emile Hirsch) meets Tracy Tatro (played by Kristen Stewart)? That was in Slab City. It's a place where hobos can live in peace, off the grid, free to smoke crack and be hippies. There are 150 people who permanently live there, but squatters and RV owners sometimes visit to pass the time. Decommissioned and uncontrolled, Slab City is a bastion for the free spirited anti-socialite.Is this strange?
Hell, MI – A Town That Really Embraces Its Name
Hell, MI, is a small town located in the southeastern part of the state close to Ann Arbor. Originally a milling town––and later a town full of bootleggers––the town with the name Hell has really embraced it. As the story goes, Hell got its name after one of the city's founders was asked what he wanted to name it in the 1840s; he responded "You can name it Hell for all I care," and it stuck.
The town has profited off the name, though. They've embraced hell and Satan––you can even get married in a devil church. You can buy a plot in Hell (as the website says, "buy a piece of Hell,") get a Gravedigger Sundae at The Creamatory at Screams, and even have a burger at the Hell Hole Diner who's pastries are "to die for." Hell also has a fake university called Damnation University––Dam U for short.Is this strange?