Set in what is probably the most bizarre American town of them all, Twin Peaks was all the rage when it premiered back in 1990. David Lynch’s strange, spooky tale of the quest to solve the murder of homecoming queen Laura Palmer was like nothing TV audiences had ever seen before, and the show quickly spawned a dedicated cult following that continued to its second (and final) season. The enthusiasm for Twin Peaks and its nefarious inhabitants never really waned throughout the years, culminating in the show’s return to our screens in May 2017.
A bona fide sequel to the original series, Twin Peaks: The Return, saw the mythology of Lynch’s universe expand beyond the titular town, garnering new legions of fans and a renewed interest in the 1990 iteration. The atmosphere conjured by the fictional locale of Twin Peaks is a unique one; so much so that some folks are questioning whether there’s anything remotely like it in the United States.
Well, if you’re a BUCKiTDREAMER with a taste for the strange and unusual, keep that BUCKiTDREAM planner handy; we’re about to take you through some of the strangest towns in the country. If you’re looking for a Twin Peaks-inspired road trip, these are five places that should definitely make your bucket list.
The Town That’s Constantly on Fire The mining town of Centralia, Philadelphia used to have a small but respectable population of 1,000. Thirty years later, that had decreased to 10. What on earth could cause such a mass exodus? Well, an unquenchable fire that smolders deep below the town might’ve had something to do with it. This coal mine fire has been burning beneath Centralia since 1962, causing toxic smoke, sinkholes and other assorted Book of Revelations-esque shenanigans – and experts reckon it’ll burn for 250 years more. Apparently, the roads and highways are hot to the touch, which brings a whole new meaning to the words ‘Fire Walk with Me’.
The Town Named After a Gameshow There are more than a few places with bizarre names in the United States, but at the top of the list has to be a little place down in New Mexico called Truth or Consequences. Originally called Hot Springs, the town changed its name in the 1950s after the host of a popular NBC radio program declared that he would broadcast the show’s 10th anniversary from the first town that named itself after it. Hot Springs was first out the gate, and from March 31, 1950, the town was officially known as Truth or Consequences.
The Town That’s Totally Off the Map Also known as The Slabs, Slab City is an alternative-living community which describes itself as ‘the last free place in America’. Established on an old WWII base in California, the colorful residents live in a colorful variety of homes and houses; some hole up in abandoned structures such as buses or shacks, while some drive their RVs out into the desert for the Californian winter. The town is unique among American towns in the fact that it doesn’t have a government; off the grid and packed full of outlaws, retirees, and army vets, Slab City is a haven for free-spirits (also known as ‘Slabbers’).
The Town with a Terrifying Name Fittingly a mining town, there are two theories as to how Hell, Michigan got its name. The first concerns a dubious German tourist who, upon stepping out of a stagecoach, declared, ‘So schön hell’ (‘so amazingly bright!’), which was overheard by locals and bizarrely stuck. The second, more believable version, is that after Michigan gained statehood, George Reeves was asked what he thought the new town should be called. His response was, ‘you can call it Hell for all I care’.
The people of Hell really take the nightmarish theme and run with it; devils adorn local businesses, and you can get married in Hell for a gimmicky twist on a traditional wedding. One of Hell’s tourist slogans is the rather ingenious ‘more people tell you to go to our town than anywhere else on Earth’.
The Town with All the Aliens Speaking of themes, another town with an in-built gimmick is the notorious Roswell, New Mexico, which became infamous after a UFO reportedly crashed there in mid-1947. Aliens now populate the town (not in person, but they are everywhere you turn); a whole tourist industry has been built upon the secretive crash-landing, reaching official heights. You can visit a McDonald’s designed in the form of a flying saucer, and the town seal even features an alien.
A road trip across the U.S. features somewhere on every decent traveler’s bucket list so, if you’ve got a taste for the unusual and bizarre, why not go in search of your very own Twin Peaks-esque adventure and stop by these deliciously weird locales? When you do, make sure to share your experiences with your fellow BUCKiTDREAMERS; you might even convince them to go to Hell, too!