Society

How A Fictional Town In Upstate New York Became Real And Then Fictional Again

| by Dominic Kelly

Agloe, New York was a nonexistent town created by a mapmaking company in order to see if other mapmakers were copying their publications, but at one point, the seemingly fictional town wound up becoming real.

Kudos to NPR for unearthing this gem of a story.

In the 1930s, mapmakers at General Drafting Co. decided they needed to protect their work from others that would duplicate it, so they came up with the fictional town of Agloe, found a random spot near a dirt road intersection in Upstate New York, and placed the town on the map. The name Agloe was derived from the scrambled initials of the company’s director and his assistant, Otto G. Lindberg and Ernest Alpers.

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A few years after placing the fictional town on the map, a different company, Rand McNally, placed Agloe on their map, and when the folks at General Drafting Co. discovered it, they thought they had a case against them. It was revealed, however, that Agloe had since become a real town, and Rand McNally put it on the map in good faith.

The town of Agloe had actually been registered with the Delaware County administration because someone had decided to build a general store at the intersection and named it Agloe General Store after seeing the town of Agloe on a map.

Years later, the Agloe General Store closed and subsequently, the town disbanded. Now, decades later, NPR reported that a search of the town on Google Maps came up in the correct location for the fictional/non-fictional place, but was corrected soon after the discovery. In the end, the town of Agloe remains nonexistent after a clever trick to stop piracy wound up creating a short-lived town.

Photos from NPR