The names of routes and places often tell short stories, providing glimpses into their history in just a handful of words. But not all of these are happy tales, as Cape Disappointment, Pointless Mountain, Loveless Lake, Hopeless Way and Camp Suicide Road can attest.
These and many similarly dismal-sounding roads and locations can all be found searching Google Maps or simply visiting the thematic Instagram account of @SadTopographies. Australian artist Damien Rudd seeks out depressing names, from rivers and lakes to islands and mountains, adding them to this growing collection.
But one has to wonder: what did someone go through before landing on Broken Dreams Drive or Suffering Street? When did they give up on Despair Island? What were their dreams on Nightmare Island? What (or who) came to an end at Termination Point?
And, once named, why would anyone want to travel along Why Me Lord Lane, Emptiness Drive or Shades of Death Road? The tagline of Sad Topographies is “Somewhere to go, when you’re feeling low,” which could be a clue. Perhaps the point of these places (including Pointless Mountain as well as Mount Disappointment) is in part that things can always be worse. It is at least a thought to keep in mind when crossing Murderer’s Creek on Murders Kill Road.
Are you sure Happy and Grumpy Streets aren’t in a Disney-themed subdivision?
In Utah, between Spanish Fork Canyon and the city of Price, there is Starvation Rd.
Sounds like Mormon Pioneer history.
Oh, the quiet desolation…
Re: The Crack is Wack Playground: It’s a playground in NYC where the artist Keith Haring decided to paint a mural on an unused handball court. It was the height of the crack epidemic in NYC in 1986, and Haring’s studio assistant was addicted but unable to find professional help in getting clean. The Parks Department liked it enough to not paint over it, and now has even memorialized it on their website.
Why is there “Crack is Whack Playground!”?
Is this crowsouced names?
Great article. On behalf of Albertans, I would like to contribute Dead Man’s Flats, Alberta, Canada:
I can’t think of many better names than Dismal Nitch. It even has a rest area.
Dead Woman Hollow Road in Pennsylvania is another great one!
Don’t forget the Great Dismal Swamp Wildlife Refuge in Virginia and North Carolina. https://www.fws.gov/refuge/Great_Dismal_Swamp/about.html
I grew up a few towns over from “Shades of Death Road” in Warren County New Jersey and there is actually a lot of local folklore around it. The road gets its name from a string of murders that happened along the road in the 20’s and 30’s. The road itself is also very windy and lined with old trees, making it like a shadowy tunnel to drive through. In high school on Halloween, kids would drive to the middle of the road, park the car and turn off the engine. They then would do a series of “daring feats” like honking the horn, getting out of the car, walking around the car a few times while yelling things and finally laying down in the middle of the road. This was all with the aim to summon some malevolent spirit in the vein of the Bloody Mary mirror game. Then they would come back to school the next day and talk about how they heard something or “were, like, totally, almost murdered.” The road sign was stolen so many times that they had to dig a big post in the ground a few feet deep with the name painted on the side. Along shades of death road is also “Ghost lake” which is actually a really beautiful hiking spot. I have heard that gets is name because it often is covered in fog and people think they see ominous forms.
Also Shades of Death has its own wikipedia page for furthur reading :) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shades_of_Death_Road
…and a main thoroughfare in Fairfax, Virginia is Gallows Road… historically murky, but still somber.
The Nahanni River Valley in the NorthWest Territory of Canada features Deadmen’s Valley, Headless Creek, Funeral Range, Burial Range, Hells Gate and Sunblood Mountain.