In our post about Adelaide, I said Glenelg was the only town I knew of whose name is a palindrome, meaning that it reads the same forward and backward.
Well, to paraphrase my lovely wife, “There you go, spouting off about something you know nothing about.”
Turns out there are dozens of palindromic town names around the world, including other towns named Glenelg in Maryland and in Scotland.
There are even a few towns whose names are double palindromes. Such as Nerren Nerren and Mullum Mullum here in Australia.
In United States we have complex palindromically-named towns such as Ekalaka Lake, Montana and Wassamassaw, South Carolina, and then there are starkly simple towns named Ada in Minnesota, Ohio, Oklahoma, and Oregon.
You can see the complete list of all the world’s palindromic town names at this Wikipedia list.
I don’t know why, but I’ve always loved palindromes. For many years, I proudly resided in palindromic zip code 92629.
Connoisseurs of palindromes would agree that the best ones express complete, even pithy thoughts. For example, my favorite is:
“A man, a plan, a canal — Panama.”
Writer Leigh Mercer came up with that one in honor of John Frank Stevens, the civil engineer hired by Teddy Roosevelt to lead the construction of the canal after France abandoned its efforts.
Napoleon is credited with another great palindrome. After he was exiled to Elba, a small island in the Mediterranean, he supposedly said, “Able was I ere I saw Elba.”
And Mark Twain claimed that the first words ever spoken were directed at Eve: “Madam, I’m Adam.”
Then there are poor palindromes that cobble together a bunch of unrelated words into a sentences that read the same forward and backward, but lack any meaning, wit, and substance. For example, a computer created one that reads:
“A man, a plan, a canoe, pasta, heros, rajahs, a coloratura, maps, snipe, percale, macaroni, a gag, a banana bag, a tan, a tag, a banana bag again (or a camel), a crepe, pins, Spam, a rut, a Rolo, cash, a jar, sore hats, a peon, a canal – Panama.”
See what I mean? Lots of words, little substance.
But let’s get back to Glenelg. It’s an ugly word, isn’t it? It sounds like someone swallowing. But trust me on this — the beauty of the place quickly makes you forget the ugliness of its name.
Maybe they should rename it Ekalaka Lake.