Phantom settlement

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Phantom settlements, or paper towns, are settlements that appear on maps but do not actually exist. They are either accidents or copyright traps. Notable examples include Argleton in Lancashire, UK and Beatosu and Goblu, US.[1]

Phantom settlements often result from copyright traps, also known as mountweazels, which is when a false entry is placed in literature to catch illegal copiers.[2] Agloe, New York, was invented on a 1930s map as a copyright trap. In 1950, a general store was built there and named Agloe General Store, as that was the name seen on the map. Thus, the phantom settlement became a real one.[3]

There are also misnamed settlements, such as the villages of Mawdesky and Dummy 1325 in Lancashire on Google Maps.[4]

There is a humorous conspiracy theory that the German city of Bielefeld is a phantom settlement, despite its population of over 300,000.[5]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Punt, Steve (18 September 2010). "BBC Radio 4 - Punt PI, Series 3, Episode 1". BBC. Archived from the original on 26 November 2022. Retrieved 26 November 2022.
  2. ^ "mountweazel". Emma Wilkin. 26 February 2020. Archived from the original on 15 June 2021. Retrieved 31 March 2022.
  3. ^ Krulwich, Robert (18 March 2014). "An Imaginary Town Becomes Real, Then Not. True Story". NPR. Archived from the original on 8 May 2015. Retrieved 20 March 2014.
  4. ^ "See the new villages of Mawdesky and Dummy 1325 on Google Maps". Southport Visiter. 20 November 2009. Archived from the original on 4 August 2017. Retrieved 26 November 2022.
  5. ^ Connolly, Kate (5 September 2019). "German city offers €1m for proof it doesn't exist". The Guardian. Archived from the original on 11 November 2020. Retrieved 23 April 2020.