"Podunk" exists in the U.S. imagination as a mythical town of such remoteness and emptiness that it epitomizes hillbilly rurality, but, interestingly enough, there are several places in the U.S. actually named Podunk. One, a subdivision of the extremely small town Wardsboro (population 854 as of 2000), exists in my home state, Vermont. A few years back, the Washington Post gave an interesting, if cursory, look at the place with the folklorically charged name.
Podunk, located in Windham County in the extremely southern part of the state, flourished during the mid-1800s, peaking at 1000+ residents, most of whom were subsistence hill farmers. The population dwindled as residents of Wardsboro moved to better land or more industrialized places to live. By 1916, Podunk’s schoolhouse closed, and the forest began to overtake the once-cleared fields. Current residents sometimes happen upon abandoned foundations in the underbrush and, more poignantly, little cemeteries, mere family plots with a few markers. The population now numbers half a hundred full-timers, though that number may be increasing, at least on a seasonal basis. With the Mount Snow and Stratton Mountain ski areas nearby, Podunk now attracts vast vacation homes for skiers. Though Podunk is not an especially significant place, it is one with an interesting history, one that currently is being paved over by oblivious gentrification.