For some they're just words on a map. Spots we pass by, but never think about. Many of us call these places "home."
Southwest Virginia is full of distinct, unusual, and even hard-to-pronounce names, but each one has its own special story.
Everywhere you look in the city of Bedford, there's something called "Liberty." A high school, a park, even a restaurant carry the name.
"Bedford used to be called Liberty," said Jennifer Thomson, genealogical librarian at the Bedford Museum & Genealogical Library.
The name "Liberty" dates back to the late 1700's, when the town was formed. The United States had just won its freedom from England, and residents of Bedford County were feeling patriotic.
"The residents of that time thought 'what better name than Liberty to show how great we are for the cause of American Liberty and American Freedom?'" Thomson said.
100 years later, Liberty almost burned to the ground. A fire took out most of the town and big dreams rose from the ashes.
"We decided we were going to be big and huge," Thomson said. "We were going to be as big as Lynchburg."
Liberty needed a bigger sounding name, so town leaders decided to call it "Bedford City" in honor of the county around it.
Around that same time, another community was forming on the other side of the Blue Ridge. A city that, at first glance, appears to have a Spanish-sounding name.
"It is not B'way-nuh-vee-stah," said local historian Pat Gibson, referring to the Spanish pronunciation of Buena Vista. "That's how we can tell when people are not from the area."
Locals have their own way of saying Buena Vista, but the city's name originated during the Mexican-American war.
The U.S. won a battle at Buena Vista, Mexico using cannon balls made at a furnace in Rockbridge County. The furnace was named for the Mexican town, and years later the city within Rockbridge County was named for the furnace.
So where did the local pronuciation come from?
"I think it has something to do with the Scots-Irish inhabitants that came here originally," Gibson said. "I think if you ask a Scot, you might find it pronounced closer to Buena Vista."
Some Virginia names have nothing to do with accents.
Take Fries for example, which looks like "Frys" but is pronounced "Freeze."
"It's 'Freeze' in the Winter and 'Frys' in the summer!" explain local historian, Martha Nichols.
The name of the Grayson County town actually comes from Colonel Francis Henry Fries. He came from North Carolina in 1900, to build a dam along the New River and open a mill.
The mill and its workers gave birth to a community.
"They had to come up with a name and Colonel Fries had done all the work, so Colonel Fries named it Fries," Nichols said.
Much like Fries, Hershberger Road in Roanoke also takes its name from people.
"Hershberger Road is named for a father and son, Samuel and Jacob Hershberger," said Nathan Flinchum, Virginia Room librarian for the Roanoke Public Library.
The family built a house in the 1700's, near what is now Hershberger Road. The home has been renovated and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
What many travelers in Roanoke don't realize is the word "Hershberger" on street signs is spelled differently than the namesake family.
"The original name of these folks was 'Harshbarger,' which is how you often see it written," Flinchum said.
The family originated in Germany, where their name was pronounced "Hershberger" but spelled "Harshbarger."
"When those names were brought to the U.S., they tended to get mispronounced or misspelled, so you will see both Harshbarger and Hershberger," Flinchum said. "There are all sorts of spellings and pronunciations, but Hershberger is the one that we ended up with here."
So many names. So many different ways to say it all.
It's part of what makes Southwest Virginia a special place to live.