Lick Towns

Lick Towns

One day while meandering around the net as most of us do, I stumbled across several websites with lists of American Towns with odd, strange, and otherwise funny sounding names.

Most of the town names are funny only because the English language keeps evolving and words are discontinued or their meaning changes. The classic American example: “This is a gay party. Queer that Charles isn’t here. Can you light my fag?”

As I read and chuckled like “Beavis and Butthead”™ I noticed that a good majority contained the word “lick”. Why I wondered.

Our first clue is in the definition of lick.

n ” Lick” is a place where salt is found on the surface of the earth, to which wild animals resort to lick it up; — often, but not always, near salt springs.

So now we have a basis for understanding.

As an example, Paint Lick, Kentucky reputedly derived its name from settlers’ descriptions of the peeled tree trunks that served as a means of marking the salt licks along the creek by Native Americans.

However, understanding the origins does not make it any less humorous to the juvenile part of my brain. So allow me to present to you…

“The Large List of Lick Towns”

We begin first with the purist of the “Lick Towns”

Lick (Missouri), Lick (Ohio) and Lick (Illinois).

Then we gain a little momentum with Licking (Missouri), Licking (Indiana), Licking (Illinois), Licking (W. Virginia) and Licking (Pennsylvania).

Now let’s go large with Big Lick (Tennessee), Big Lick (North Carolina), Big Lick (Virginia) and Lick Mountain (Arkansas).

Let’s add a little color with Black Lick (Pennsylvania) Blacklick (Ohio) Blue Lick (Kentucky) Blue Lick (Indiana) and Red Lick (Texas)

How about some cooking utensils like: Lickskillet (Ohio), Lick Skillet (Virginia)  Lick Fork (Virginia) and Lick Fork (Kentucky).

Now for the animals. There is: Otter Lick (W. Virginia) Lizard Lick (N. Carolina) Beaver Lick (Missouri) Beaver Lick (Kentucky) and not to be outdone, Big Beaver Lick also in Kentucky

While on that subject let’s ad French Lick (Indiana), Lickinghole (Virginia), Knob Lick (Missouri) and Big Bone Lick (Kentucky). But you should keep it brief with Two Lick Run (W. Virginia).

Here are some stragglers that didn’t seem to fit anywhere else. Lick Creek (Illinois)  Slate Lick (Pennsylvania) Boones’ Lick (Missouri) Loutre Lick (Missouri) Lick Branch and Clover Lick (W. Virginia).

Now after seeing this list you should have made at least two observations. First, most of the “Lick Towns” seem to be in Southern States, and the majority of those are in Kentucky.

What does it mean?

I haven’t the foggiest.

Here are all the “Lick Towns” (that I know of) in Kentucky:

  • Grants Lick
  • Lick Fork
  • Lick Creek
  • Mud Lick
  • Spring Lick
  • Salt Lick
  • Flat Lick
  • Paint Lick
  • Blue Lick
  • Knob Lick
  • Big Bone Lick
  • Beaver Lick
  • Big Beaver Lick
  • Even Bigger Beaver Lick (just joking)
  • Plumb Lick
  • Mays Lick
  • Lickburg
  • Elk Lick
  • Slate Lick
  • Bullitt Lick
  • Salt Lick
  • Sand Lick

Because of so many “Lick Towns” in Kentucky I guess it comes as no surprise that Colonel Sanders came up with the slogan he did for KFC (for those of you who remember the Good-Old-Days that would be Kentucky Fried Chicken)  You know, “It’s Finger Lickin Good”.

I’m now thinking of writing an article about “Suck Towns”.

I think I’ll begin with Toad Suck (Arkansas).

38 Responses to “Lick Towns”

  1. Dr. Dotty Heady says:

    Very interesting. I am familiar with Blue Lick Road in Okolona outside of Louisville, Ky and Big Bone Lick where dinosaur bones have been discovered preserved in the bogs. Just thought to tell you, but I am sure you know, that when they used ‘fork’ it was not like a knife and fork, but rather the fork of a stream, or a fork in a road. Mostly these names came from the early settlers and Native Americans who were very descriptive in describing and identifying the licks.

  2. Joel M says:

    There is also a Lickdale in Pennsylvania north of Lebanon,PA

  3. susan says:

    My great, great, great-grandfather & his sons started the Lick Fork (KY) Baptist Church. I wonder if it’s still active?

  4. Jan says:

    In KY, there is Red Lick Rd, Elk Lick, Blue Lick Rd, Slate Lick, Bullitt Lick, Salt Lick and Sand Lick. These i know of and I am not even from here…just moved here

  5. Jonathan D.R. says:

    Thanks Jan. I added yours to the list but I omitted the lick roads cause, well… you know why. But that does give me an idea. I bet there are far more Lick Roads then there are Lick Towns. Sounds like the beginning of a new article for me. Thanks again.

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  7. Lowell says:

    My father in law and mother in law were both born in the Big Lick “holler” southeast of Salyersville, Magoffin County, Kentucky.

  8. zack says:

    What about sugartit Kentucky?

  9. LEE says:

    Much of the soil in the south has salt mixed into it. Animals would come and lick the salt from the ground, so people called these places “licks”….

  10. Cathy says:

    LOL….am in Kentucky on a trip and was curious about all the licks and found your article …..thanks for the lesson on licks….loving it

  11. Ray says:

    Add Clover Lick & Lick Run, WV.

  12. Jonathan D. R. says:

    Thanks! However, I could not find Lick Run but Two Lick Run does exists in W. Virginia.

  13. B Thompson says:

    Anyone have any information on old Flat Lick KY I have family who lived there in late 1800’s and may still some there now. The names are:
    Sam Brewer
    Suda “Sudie” Baker Brewer
    Ed Brewer
    Axie Brewer
    Omie Brewer Wortham
    Etna Brewer Edge
    Hazel Brewer Brooks
    Green Berry Brewer (my father
    All the children were born in Flat Lick KY
    Sam Brewer was in the Spanish American War Troop A Calvary Louisville KY 1898-1899.

    I remember visiting there as a child in the early 50s. We visited some Baker relatives. Who lived up the mountain on a road that was unkempt. All I have memory of was a small wooden post office/grocery store.

    The Bakers were my grandmothers brothers.
    I know little of the Brewer side of my family as I was told they left there in a wagon because of a feud.

  14. Rusty says:

    You mentiontioned Boone’s Lick in Missouri, But I did not see Knob Lick (also in Missouri

  15. Jonathan D. R. says:

    @Rusty It’s in the paragraph that begins with: “While on that subject lets ad…”

  16. Gabriel halsmer says:

    From a book I was reading… “to this day names of towns ending in ‘lick’ still attest to the fact our early ancestors were drawn to the seashores or the rock salt deposits of the earth. In England town names ending in ‘wich’, in Germany ‘saal’ as in ‘Salzburg’, remind us of its Neolithic origins. Early settlements grew up around these salt beds and springs.”

  17. Bill Eisenhood says:

    How about Larry Bird’s hometown, French Lick, Indiana. The term lick comes from the salt licks that were placed for deer.

  18. Bill Eisenhood says:

    And Beaver Lick, KY.

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  21. Kate Dircksen says:

    Did you know which snake would be the longest?

  22. Tim Bowman says:

    Then there’s Klickitat in Washington State.

  23. […] Beaver Lick, Kentucky Kentucky has a strange obsession with using the word “lick” when naming things. They’ve also got Big Bone Lick state park . As well as Knob Lick. […]

  24. Kate Corr says:

    In Arizona we have Wet Beaver Creek, which is a perennial stream with one major tributary, Dry Beaver Creek.
    Moving east there is the Tal Wi Wi and BellyButton AZ in between.

  25. John Vance says:

    My hound goes out and licks, we call it Blue Tick Lick

    Don’t forget Bob Hope & Bing Crosby’s most forgetable movie, “The Road to Lichtenstein”

    Oh my, look at where the time has gone, I have tickets to see Dan Hicks and His Hot Licks. I better lickety-split out of here.

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  27. Stephen Peterson says:

    Don’t forget Flynns Lick, TN in Jackson county.

  28. Ashley says:

    There is Beaver Liquor in Beaver Lick. I only know because I bought my first car in Beaver Lick and drove past it and had to chuckle.

  29. Instig8r says:

    Yeah, got a picture of the sign in front of Beaver Lick Baptist Church just a couple of weeks ago. I wanna see one of THOSE services!

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  31. Diane says:

    Thank you. Our youngest son and his family just moved into Kentucky’s Licking River Valley, and settled above Lick Fork, so I *needed* to know what the lick meant. Makes good sense. You are a sincerely appreciated fount of knowledge!

  32. Judy Holbrook says:

    There is also the Tennessee Big Lick – which involves horrible torturing of horses so that they can “prance” pretty. Horrible abuse of beautiful friends of man. Nasty stain on the word “lick”.

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