Folklore or historical fact: How your favorite road earned its bizarre name

Backlick Road is said to be named for the salt licks placed by members of the Powhatan tribe along the nearby run to attract deer. It is just one of many area roads with an unusual name and whose origins have been lost or forgotten. (WTOP/Dave Dildine)

WASHINGTON – Bizarrely named byways along your daily commute have become so familiar that it’s easy to forget how strange some of the names are.

Take for example this set of directions: North on Backlick to Braddock, swing a left onto Guinea then head right up Sideburn.

Sound odd? Maybe not, if you’ve lived in Fairfax County most of your life.

WTOP has assembled a list of some of the strangest road names in the Washington area. Many of these abnormally named arteries are even major commuting routes.

Some of the region’s oldest roads were named after nearby creeks, trees, schoolhouses or other landmarks that have long since been paved over or vanished.

The origins of many odd road monikers have been lost or forgotten. Tall tales and lore help to fill in the gaps but offer no substantial evidence.

The origins of other road names are more obvious. Some are named after historic figures or Native American words or tribes, even ordinary items and customs from the colonial past.

Check out the photo gallery on the right for the lowdown on some of the region’s more unusual road names.

In addition to the roads in the gallery, other Virginia contenders for the most unusual road names include the Yokum Parkway in Alexandria, plus Tripleseven Road and the Snickersville Turnpike in Loudoun County.

In Maryland, unusually named roads include Mattawoman Beantown Road in Waldorf, Chicamuxen Road near Nanjemoy and English Muffin Way in Frederick.

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