There’s no question about it: Those of us who keep chicken flocks truly love our birds. Whether we keep them as pets, raise them for their eggs or meat, breed them to help conservation efforts, or enjoy them as part of the homesteading experience, we all show our avian affinity in a variety of ways.
Some people (myself included) sport chickens on their sweatshirts, T-shirts and ties. Others (myself included) decorate their homes with chicken art motifs on their walls, curtains and linens.
Still others (yes, myself included) perk up their kitchens with chicken cookie jars, stoneware and teapots. There are so many ways we show our love for chickens. And now, here’s yet another for the most diehard devotees.
Road trip, anyone? Let’s visit some places with ties (in name, at least) to chickens.
This tiny northern town—population 12 according to the 2020 US census—is one of Alaska’s remaining active gold-mining towns.
Founded in the late 1800s, the town of Chicken boasts a post office, gas station, liquor store, café, saloon and mercantile, but no electricity or plumbing. The Chicken Historic District, consisting of more than a dozen gold-rush-era structures, can be found on the National Register of Historic Places.
During the summer, the population swells to approximately 100 residents, mostly miners traveling to this Eastern Alaskan outpost via the Chicken Airport (CKX) or by Alaska Route 5 (not maintained during the winter).
Surprisingly, the town was not named for everyone’s favorite domestic fowl. Don’t visit Chicken expecting to see a lot of chickens.
The settlers noticed an abundance of wild ptarmigan—Alaska’s state bird—in the area and thought the town should be named for them. Nobody could agree on the spelling of ptarmigan, however. So they named the town Chicken, which everyone could spell.
Ironically, the Fork River (okay, okay, the South Fork River) runs through Chicken. No word on whether a town called Carving Knife is nearby.
Read more: Seeing chickens all over Sin City.
Gallina, New Mexico
Located in the north central region of New Mexico, this tiny town—population 299 according to the 2020 US census—bears the name of Hen in Spanish. Gallina (pronounced gah-YEE-nah) isn’t particularly known for laying hens, however. Its claim to fame, like its Alaskan cousin, is mining.
Silver, copper, lead and uranium were once hauled out of the earth at the nearby Gallina Mine. Today, the town is a jump-off point for exploring the US Forest Service’s San Pedro Parks Wilderness, a 41,000-acre region boasting more than 100 miles of trails crisscrossing grassy meadows and high plateaus.
Coincidentally, the ptarmigan’s close cousin, the grouse, thrives in abundance in this wilderness region. Only a visit will reveal whether the same is true regarding chickens. But who puts a place named for hens next to a town called Coyote?
Chicken Gizzard Ridge, Kentucky
Just southeast of Louisville and southwest of Lexington, in Kentucky’s beautiful Appalachian region, lies sparsely populated Casey County. Driving west from Clementsville on Kentucky Route 70, you’ll soon come to State Highway 1859 heading north.
This scenic road—also known as Chicken Gizzard Road—will lead you right over Chicken Gizzard Ridge. The vistas from this 1,030-foot ridge are quite lovely and bear no resemblance to chicken gizzards or any part of a chicken, for that matter.
Looking for another poultry-related locale? Consider continuing slightly further west on Route 70, then turning south onto Speck Ridge Road (Kentucky Route 1752). This will lead you to the town of Feathersburg.
Wattles Garden, California
Located in one of the country’s largest metropolitan areas—Los Angeles—Wattles Garden is home not to wattle-bearing chickens but to 141 avocado-bearing trees. A group of 30 devoted gardeners tirelessly labored to recover these century-old trees. The surrounding acreage from the neglected, overgrown land that was once one of Hollywood’s earliest attractions.
In the early 1900s, the Wattles Garden complex featured four carefully cultivated gardens:
- a formal Spanish garden
- an Italian rose garden
- a Japanese tea garden
- an American vegetable garden
These gardens were part of the Wattles Estate, which served as the winter home of Omaha businessman Gurdon Wattles. Wattles opened his beloved gardens to the public for everyone to enjoy. But these sadly fell into disrepair after his death in 1932.
In 1975, Mayor Tom Bradley established Los Angeles’ community garden program, and Wattles Garden became one of the first gardens in the city.
Today, approximately 300 members maintain almost 200 garden plots as well as the estate’s original avocado and citrus trees. Wattles’ Mediterranean-style mansion was recognized as a City of Los Angeles Cultural Monument in 1993 and is now managed by the city’s Recreation and Parks Department, which maintains a hiking trail through part of the estate grounds.
If any part of the estate grounds looks familiar, you’re not imagining things. Several movies and television shows have been filmed here, including Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Rain Man and Ghoulies.