Completely Random

On September 1, 2013 · 2 Comments

I happened to pop onto the 12MC Clustr Map as I like to do occasionally because I’m strange like that and I enjoy watching visitor statistics in real time, and a certain placename caught my eye: Random Lake, Wisconsin. It seemed — and you knew where I’d take this — so incredibly random. "Where do you live?" "Oh, a random lake in Wisconsin."

Random Lake, WI: 43.548783°, -87.959406°

It’s a real place ("The Southwest Gateway to Sheboygan") with fifteen-hundred residents and its own school district, fire department and visitors guide with plays on words like "a random picture is worth 1,000 words."

The guide must have been written by a geo-geek because it started off: "If map coordinates are your thing, welcome to latitude 43.548783 and longitude -87.959406 — better known as the Village of Random Lake." Why yes, map coordinates are my thing. Thank you, Random Lake Area Chamber of Commerce, for asking. Naturally I checked the coordinate and it pointed to the southern edge of Random Lake on Russel Drive between Lake View Park and some random house, probably the author’s residence. Someone should probably go knock on his or her random door and ask about that.

Sheboygan, since it came up, derived from the Chippewa language although its meaning wasn’t know precisely. It could mean something that’s hollow or able to be pierced, or the object doing the piercing. It could be a reed or pipe stem, or it could be an awl or needle. It could be something different entirely. It’s not a she-boy so don’t even go there. I don’t run one of those kinds of websites.

Random settlements were much more unusual than I anticipated. They were quite sporadic, or one might even say random. The US Geographic Names Information System listed only seven additional random populated places, and they all were less significant than Random Lake. I’ve included them for reference with linked maps using coordinates specified by GNIS.

  • Random Oaks, FL (map)
  • Random Woods, NC (map)
  • Random Woods, NC (map)
  • Random Woods, NC (map)
  • Random Hills, NC (map)
  • Random Hills, VA (map)
  • Random Heights, MD (map)

Suddenly events appeared entirely less random. What about that unusual clustering in the Mid-Atlantic, particularly in North Carolina? Was it a random collection of Random places or did it represent something more nefarious?

Random or Not? You be the Judge

Did it seem logical that three of eight Random populated places in the United States should be found along a 60 mile (95 kilometre) stretch of Interstate 85, extending from Lexington to Greensboro to Burlington? I tried to discern a logical pattern. They best I could conclude was that they all seemed to have a similar mid-1960’s to mid-1970’s suburban architectural feel to them. They all featured mostly small, single-story houses of a familiar style. Could the hand of a common developer have been involved? If so, the developer had either an odd sense of humor or a complete lack of originality.

I noticed Greensboro, NC’s Random was ringed by Fairfax Road. Did the developer also have a connection to Random Hills in Virginia, located in Fairfax County directly adjacent to the City of Fairfax? I think we may need Jesse Ventura to sort this one out.

Canada didn’t escape from random silliness either.

Random Heights on Random Island

Can I just say how much I love Newfoundland and Labrador? NL is to Canada as Delaware is to the United States: pound-for-pound, they both seem to have more geo-oddities per square mile than any other areas of their respective countries.

The Canadian Geographical Names Data Base contained very few random reference, generally associated with Random Island located off of the east coast of Newfoundland. Random Heights was the predominant random neighbourhood (which CGNDB defined as an "unincorporated urban place"). It seemed to be an extension of the Town of Clarenville albeit just outside of its formal limits (route).

I also checked Australia. There weren’t any random towns although Australia had a Random Swamp (map). Deep within Blue Mountains National Park, I would have to agree that would be a completely random spot for a swamp.

On September 1, 2013 · 2 Comments

2 Responses to “Completely Random”

  1. Greg says:

    I live near a Random Rd, whose sign used to get stolen every week or so until the city put it about 15 feet up.

  2. Will T. says:

    On a completely different note, I just happened to notice this really weird curve through 6 European capitals. I find it quite strange.,23.291016&spn=36.458666,86.572266

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