There is absolutely no limit to the number of geographical oddities and strange roadside attractions in the US. If I had the time, I could probably come up with a new article every day for years and there would still be countless topics to write about, hidden in the map. Many of these topics are absolutely fascinating; there’s no end to the interesting history and eccentric people that make America’s map what it is today. From time to time, however, I find that I must push all of that interesting stuff aside to focus on the mundane aspects of writing this blog. The truth is, I wrote this post to be as boring as possible.
I’m referring, of course, to places throughout this country that are literally named Boring! There are 3 of these drearily named towns scattered throughout the USA. My mission is to find out as much as possible about each one. Only then can I figure out which Boring is truly the most boring of them all.
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The biggest (but not necessarily the boringest) Boring can be found in the suburbs of Portland, Oregon (see map). With a population of nearly 8,000, this town appears to be a vibrant community despite its bland name. It’s the only town on this list that has its own schools, and is also home to several parks and trails. At least one local business seems to embrace the town’s name: The Not So Boring Bar & Grill. Boring is also situated in a perfect area; it’s a short drive to Portland, Mount Hood, and the Columbia River Gorge.
The town was originally built on the Boring Lava Field (an oxymoron if I’ve ever heard one) in the 1870s. It was named after William Boring, a wealthy resident who donated land for a school. Boring quickly made a name for itself as a premier lumber town, and helped supply the military with lumber during World War I. Boring’s reputation earned it certain luxuries, such as a rail line and a trolley system to access Portland. Following World War 2, Boring became more conservation-minded, and its primary industry shifted accordingly. Today, Boring is home to a large number of berry farms and plant nurseries.
Photo by pviel on Flickr (cc)
Boring knew how to roll with its unfortunate name. In 2012, the town paired with Dull, Scotland as a sister city. A few years later, the town of Bland, Australia joined the fray. The goal was to promote tourism within the towns, and it’s certainly worked; I know that when I was in the Portland area I made a specific effort to pass through Boring.
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Maryland’s boring entry to this post lies in rural Baltimore County (see map). This Boring is considerably smaller than its counterpart in Oregon, and can only be reached by backroads. Still, the town has its own post office, its own Volunteer Fire Department (the Boring Fire Hall seems like the perfect place for the lazy firefighter to work), and its own Boring Methodist Church (as opposed to the scores of exciting churches out there). Outside of that, there’s not much; just a few colonial-style houses here and there. However, it looks like there’s plenty to do for fun! Boring is home to Mason Dixon Bingo, as well as…um…well…I suppose it’s fun to take your picture in front of the post office sign?
A look at “downtown” Boring, MD
The history behind this unremarkable looking town reveals some fun facts. Maryland’s Boring was originally named Fairview. In time, Fairview became an important stop on the Western Maryland Railroad. However, the railroad eventually requested a name change, since there were already other places named Fairview on the line. The town renamed itself for its postmaster, David Boring, in 1880. Wikipedia’s list of unusual place names adds: “[Boring’s] profession suited the family name.” Ouch, Wikipedia. Seems harsh.
Boring has one more interesting feature to its credit: each June, it hosts the Boring Gas Engine Show and Flea Market. During this weekend, antique tractors and outdated engines are put on display and put to the test in tractor pulls. Sounds like a fun way to spend a summer afternoon!
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In a boring finale to this boring article, we travel to the locality of Boring, Tennessee. The town (if you can call it that) is located in the far northeastern reaches of Tennessee (see map), almost directly in the center of the triangle formed by Kingsport, Bristol, and Johnson City. Truthfully, there’s not much here; Google Street View reveals nothing but an expanse of farmland draped over rolling hills. A little farther down the road is Boone Lake; just up the road you’ll find a small airport. It’s pretty, but I can’t find any evidence of a community.
Boring, TN; where is it?
The internet didn’t turn up anything significant either. Boring was apparently founded sometime in the 1870s. There was only one person in the area with the surname Boring (Elizabeth was her name), so the assumption is that the town was named after her. Apparently, there was a post office established here in 1881, but by 1903 it was discontinued. Since then, Boring has disappeared, leaving only its name. I found no other significant information about it on the web, and it was not included in the 2010 census.
This patch of land is easily the most boring out of the three I’ve looked at in this post. But it has potential. It’s ideally located between three good-sized cities, is right next to the airport, and is situated on a beautiful hilly lakeshore. With some TLC, this former town could bounce right back as a commuter community. Maybe one day Boring will put itself back on the map.
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Other Boring Names
Bland, Missouri (see map) – Named for Congressman Richard Bland; nice enough looking downtown!
Ordinary, Virginia (see map) – In colonial times, ordinaries were public dining halls, hence the name. Looks more like a crossroads than an actual town these days.
Townville, Pennsylvania (see map) – Real creative, Pennsylvania. Real creative.
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