Historically Speaking

Making sense of it all!

Jerkwater Town

Posted by Elyse Bruce on February 5, 2010

Back in the day when railway travel was the only way to go, steam engines going long distances had to stop intermittently along the way to  take on more water for their engines.

Towns along railway lines would have overhead water towers with long nozzles attached for trains pulling into town, and passengers could get on or off the train at that time.  The term given to the activity was to “jerk water.”

If the only reason the train had for stopping in a town was to “jerk water” it didn’t take long before the town was known as a “jerk water town.” 

In time, “jerkwater town” came to mean a place so remote, small and insignificant  that it had nothing worthwhile for anyone passing by.

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