Cover for Callary: Place Names of Illinois. Click for larger imageGoofy Ridge. Mason. Nine miles northeast of Havana. The origin of the name is unknown. According to a local story, the name dates from the Prohibition era of the 1920s, when moonshine whiskey flowed freely in the area. As the story goes, one day several people with nothing better to do were sitting around drinking when one, inebriated, of course, bet he could shoot a walnut off someone’s head with a rifle. Another, equally inebriated, accepted the bet and placed a walnut on his head. When the rifle cracked, the walnut flew—through better luck than skill. Both parties withdrew, presumably to celebrate with another round, leading one witness to exclaim, “This is sure a goofy place!” According to another story, a man was chasing a naked woman through the woods in earlier times (what her being naked had to do with the story is unknown). Those who saw them said, “That’s a pretty goofy thing to do” (Orr, “Goofy Ridge”).

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From Place Names of Illinois by Edward Callary

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