A lot of us Californians like to hit the open road, explore miles of highway and venture off onto some back roads. Sometimes, we come across towns with some pretty bizarre and surprising names. For this installment in our series “A Place Called What?!” we head to Timbuctoo in Yuba County.
Know a California spot with an unusual name? Tell us about it in the comments below, or send a note to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Lane Parker says that when miners came to the area, they wanted to name it for a place that was far away and rich in gold. "They were thinking of Timbuktu in Africa," Parker says. "That stuck. They just changed the spelling."
Parker, who has written a book about Timbuctoo, says he became interested in it when he found a travel diary entry from his great-grandmother saying she had visited the town. "I had never heard of [it] before," says Parker, who lives in San Francisco, "and so I wanted to know more."
Parker left San Francisco on his motorcycle in search of Timbuctoo. "I couldn't find anything and I couldn't believe that there was just no town there," he says. "If I couldn't find the place where it was, then I wanted to find it at least on paper."