Every state has its fair share of towns that outsiders just can’t pronounce. Nobody could blame you for getting them wrong if you didn’t grow up there or don’t live near them. For example, Worcester, Massachusetts is pronounced “WOO-ster”. Freakin’ “WOO-ster”. That’s just crazy.

Texas is no exception. We’ve got plenty of town names here that seem simple enough to us, but that’s because we grew up here and have heard of most of these places. Then again, we’ve had a huge influx of folks moving to Texas from other states in recent years, and it’s not uncommon to hear people who call Central Texas home pronounce Salado “suh-LAW-doe” or Mexia “MEX-ia”. (I know you’ve heard both.)

If you’re like me, you probably have business with people out of state who ask you about surrounding towns and come up with some pretty amusing pronunciations. It happened to me recently during a conference call with two folks up in New York. They kept asking if I’d ever been to “SAL-uh-doe”. It took me a moment to realize they were asking about Salado, and that they figured Texas was so huge that it would take me an entire day to drive there.

Texas towns are often named for railroad pioneers, Native American tribes or phrases, Spanish or German roots, or just as a gimmick like Iraan, Texas. (More on that below.) Temple, for example, was named for Santa Fe Railroad engineer Bernard Moore Temple, and Killeen was named for a railroad executive named Frank Patrick Killeen who, I’m told, never even got a chance to visit. (Although one of his relatives did a few years ago.)

Let’s take a look at a few Texas towns whose names elude transplants and out-of-towners.