Envision maneuvering into new communities where everything looks marginally, well, off. Perhaps everybody at the corner store is smiling like crazy people or all the stray felines possess a scent reminiscent of eggy flatulates. Whatever the unusual quality is, the town is excessively X-Files-y, making it impossible to stick around, so you supplicate the auto begins when you turn the starter.
1 Dwarf City: Mountain Home for Little People Only
Is an amusement park full of little people dressed up to amuse paying visitors exploitative? Maybe. But the nearly 100 people who reside at Dwarf Empire have come from all over China for guaranteed housing and, reportedly, fair wages. They live and work in tiny castles, dress up as fairies and medieval soldiers and put on shows for hundreds of guests each day, and receive dance training and English lessons.
2 Lily Dale: Gated Community for Spiritualists
A group of spiritual mediums came together at the height of the spiritualist movement in the late 19th century to found their very own village, where only people who can read minds and communicate with spirits (and their families) could reside. Established in 1879 on the shady banks of a New York lake, the town of Lily Dale has been the setting for seances, ‘automatic messages’ that appeared on chalkboards and other such phenomena ever since.
3 Retirement Community for Carnies
Where do carnival workers go when they’re not on the road? Many live in ordinary houses in ordinary towns just like anyone else, but in the mid-20th century, some sought a refuge where they could get away from the civilians who gawk at the unusual physical features that drew them to become a part of the carnival life. Gibsonton, Florida was a small town of fishermen and lumber workers before carnival legends like Al “The Giant” Tomiani (who was 7’11” tall) and his wife Jeanie “The Half-Woman” (2’6″ tall) bought property there.
4 No Laws, No Utilities: Slab City, CA
Slab City started as Camp Dunlop, a World War II training ground preparing United States Marines for combat duty. The camp was abandoned after the war, but a handful of chemical company workers set up trailers there in the early 1960s, and when Riverside County ordered people to leave a camping area at nearby Painted Canyon, the community grew. Today, it’s half squatter haven, half off-grid experiment, taking up some 600 acres.
5 Miracle Village: A Colony Of Sex Offenders
The City of Refuge (also known as Miracle Park or Miracle Village) isn't so much a city as it is a small South Florida village in the middle of nowhere. In the 1960s, the community served as barracks for U.S. Sugar's Jamaican employees, who tended the thousands of acres of sugarcane that still surround the place. Today, however, it is home to approximately 120 registered sex offenders. Yes, somewhere in Florida, there is a land of sex offenders surrounded by candy.
6 The Villages: Grand Central For Senior Sex
If a frat house and a Life Alert commercial had a baby, it would be The Villages (not to be confused with Miracle Village). The Villages is a retirement community larger than Manhattan, and if you're over the age of 55, probably more fun. Because the people who live there are constantly doing it.
7 Gibsonton: The Community Where Carnies Can Relax
Once again, you're lost in Florida. This time you end up a little down the way from Sarasota, in a town called Gibsonton or Gibtown, depending on whom you ask. At first, you don't notice, but the little weird bits slowly start to add up. The post office has a counter specially designed for a little person. The bar has both a chair that would seat a very wise person and a chair that would seat a very tall person. Every other house has a decorative circus-themed lawn ornament, and every now and then you run into someone doing something nuts, like swallowing fire or popping their eyes out.
8 Monowi, Nebraska: Population: 1
As much as we joke about Detroit's abandonment issues, Detroit has nothing on the town that's down to its last resident -- Monowi, Nebraska. Octogenarian Elsie Eiler is the town mayor, treasurer, librarian, bartender, shopkeeper, historian, and only living soul. She raises taxes on herself once a year and grants herself her own liquor license. You'd think there'd be some kind of checks-and-balances in place with that sort of thing, but it turns out no one cares when you live in Lonelyville.
9 De Hogeweyk Village for People With Dementia
What is it: A community near Amsterdam where its 152 residents are made up entirely of people with Alzheimer's and other memory problems. It is designed to look and function like a normal town and its inhabitants are free to shop, dine in restaurants, or walk about on their own schedule, but it is also carefully monitored (and the city is enclosed) so that people don't wander off or hurt themselves.
10 Federation of Damanhur – Secret Community Beneath Italian Alps
A secret underground community started in 1975 by Oberto “Falco” Airaudi based upon visions he saw in his childhood. He started with 24 people who helped him build elaborate, ornate structures he called The Temples of Humankind. When finally discovered by Italian authorities, it was dubbed the 8th Wonder of the World and now has 600 inhabitants as well as its own currency and university.
11 Brazil's City of (Mostly) Women
Noiva do Cordeiro, located in south-eastern Brazil, is a remote village comprising mostly women. It was founded in 1891 by Maria Senhorinha who lived in exile after being accused of adultery. There are some men that live there, but they are gone during the week working in nearby cities. Some of the younger women complain there are no eligible men they aren't related to and long to find romance. Others are quite content with their matriarchy.
12 Manshiyat Naser aka Garbage City
A settlement near Cairo, Egypt. The residents, called the Zaballeen, earn their livelihood by collecting trash from the 20 million inhabitants of Cairo and sorting through it. The area mostly lacks electricity or running water, but 90 percent of the waste is recycled. The rest lies scattered about everywhere.
13 Miyake-Jima Island, Japan “Gas Masks City”
Found at the bottom of an active volcano, the Miyake-Jima Island is one dangerous town to live in. Residents of this town are at high risk of being poisoned because of the high levels of sulphur in the air. So, they are always asked to bring a gas mask with them at all times. Whenever the sulphur level is so high, sirens are sounded. One strange fact about this town is that the Japanese government have to pay people to live there.
14 Thames Town, China “A British Town in the Heart of Asia”
Located on the edge of Shanghai, Thames Town is designed after an English town market. It features red phone booths, a fish and chips shop, a pub, and even English cobbled streets. Although the place remains unpopulated, it is still a popular destination for couples.
15 Colma, California, USA “The Dead Outnumber the Living”
In 1900, San Francisco passed on a law that stated that no more cemeteries should be constructed within the city of San Francisco. It affected the town of Colma so much that they decided to turn it into a necropolis in 1924. In 2010, a census showed that the town of Colma is home to a living population of only 1,800 and a deceased population of over 1.5 million. Because of this, it has earned the nickname of “The City of the Silent”.
16 Elista, Russia “Chess City”
The former president of Kalmykia loved chess so much that he thought of designing a whole new town based on the game. The “Chess City” or the Elisa features numerous chess-themed sculptures, including a giant chess board in the town square, complete with large pieces.
Accident is a small town in Garrett County, Maryland, with a total population of about 325 people according to the 2010 Census. As for the town’s residents? According to the book Labels for Locals by Paul Dickson, a person from Accident is called an “Accidental.” Just brilliant, right?
Hell is a small town in Michigan and no don’t worry; the devil doesn’t live there, just a few ordinary people. Hell was featured on the Travel Channel’s Extreme Towns, while in 2008 KFC had the smart promotional sweepstakes Hotter Than Hell, which gave away 500 coupons every day for free hot wings to entrants whose hometown’s temperature was higher than the temperature in Hell, Michigan.
They call it “America’s Rape Capital,” but in reality the nickname is completely misleading. Missoula has had about 80 reported rape cases over the past three years, which is about average compared to the number of rapes in major cities across the United States.
This strangely named place is an unincorporated community in Jackson County, Tennessee. Due to its really unusual name, Nameless is mentioned in the Elvis Costello song “My Dark Life,” along with two other places with very strange names, Ugly, in Texas and Peculiar, in Missouri.