The passage of time shrouds the linguistic origins of some places, such as Long Sought For Pond in Westford. “It’s been called that forever . . . for as long as we have records for it,” said Penny Lacroix, museum director for the Westford Museum & Historical Society.
Intriguing stories lurk behind many other addresses. Bloody Bluff in Lexington, for example, got its name from the Revolutionary War’s first day of battle; according to the US Geological Survey, it was where British troops regrouped on their retreat from Lexington and Concord.
A granite marker stands at the base of a small rocky hill, to the north of Old Massachusetts Avenue at the intersection of Route 2A, commemorating the events that took place nearby. It states: “This bluff / was used as a rallying point / by the British / April 19, 1775 / After a sharp fight / they retreated to Fiske Hill / from which they were driven / in great confusion.”
In Bellingham, Crooks Corner refers to the intersection of South Main Street (Route 126) and Pulaski Boulevard. Its namesake is Jeremiah Crooks, who operated a tavern there centuries ago.
In Needham, Dog Corner is a grassy area at the intersection of Great Plain and Central avenues, across the street from 1453 Great Plain Ave., the former site of the McIntosh tavern. Its canine-inspired name emerged in the 19th century because dog owners would leash their pets there.
In Waltham, the area around Lexington and Bacon streets and Totten Pond Road is called Piety Corner.
According to Massachusetts Historical Commission records, this righteous name originated from “the many church deacons who lived in the vicinity during the eighteenth century.” Their religious reputation lives on in modern times, as Piety Corner is now a recognized historic district, and the Piety Corner Club, founded in 1886, calls itself the oldest neighborhood association in North America.
About 2 miles away, on the south side of Waltham, are two more neighborhoods with unusual names — “The Bleachery” and “The Chemistry.” Both titles are relics of the city’s once-booming textile industry, with one section named after the Waltham Bleachery and Dye Works, while the other neighborhood was once home to the Newton Chemical Co.
Although the factories have long since closed, “The Chemistry” and “The Bleachery” still appear on today’s Google Maps, and Wayne T. McCarthy, copresident of the Waltham Historical Society, said many people in the city still use those terms. (“If they’re from Waltham,” he added.)
Local industry served as inspiration for naming many other villages and neighborhoods in the area. Such is the case with Paper Mill Village in Groton, Harness Shop Hill in Concord, Rocklawn Mills in Westborough, Factory Village in Medway, and Bush Factory in Norfolk.
In Concord, the area around Cottage and Crest streets was called Harness Shop Hill because that’s where Boston Harness Co. employees once lived. Their boss, Harvey Wheeler, subdivided farmland and created the streets to provide housing for his workforce.
In Westborough, Rocklawn Mills was on Flanders Road, according Carolyn Mulrain, president of the Westborough Historical Society. Rocklawn workers ground corn and wheat, sawed wood, pressed cider, and later, ground limestone into fertilizer and lime.
“It was a big ol’ mill,” said Mulrain, that dated to the late 1800s. Few people in town still refer to that part of town as Rocklawn, she said.
“The old-timers do,” said Mulrain. “The new people don’t know what you’re talking about.”
What strange-sounding places are in your neighborhood? Share them with us by e-mailing globewest@ globe.com.