Every day when I drive to work, I see the strangest thing. Between Newburgh and Highland is the town of Marlboro, but they seem to be having an identity crisis. Each sign, advertising everything from chambers of commerce to shopping plazas, seems to have a different spelling of the town's name.

May I present spelling version number 1 (Google Maps)
May I present spelling version number one (Google Maps)
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The first sign you see on 9W north has the spelling that I was used to growing up in the Hudson Valley, with the -oro ending. But just when I think we're all on the same page, I drive by this sign, literally a stone's throw down the road:

Not even 200 feet down the road is THIS sign! (Google Maps)
Not even 200 feet down the road is THIS sign! (Google Maps)
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What the hell? It seemed to me that the town, that boasts Nicole "Snooki" Polizzi as one of its famous former residents, is confused. Luckily, I knew just the person that could officially end this debate once and for all.

Oh look, were back to the "Marlboro" spelling. (Google Maps)
Oh look, were back to the "Marlboro" spelling. (Google Maps)
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It should be noted that Google spells the town "Marlboro", as does the public school system. That should be enough to settle the debate, but the evidence to the contrary kept popping up: this hardware store below made me wonder if it used to be spelled "Marlborough" before the town decided to drop the last three letters, but I was wrong. I finally have the definitive answer.

Make up your mind already! (Google Maps)
Make up your mind already! (Google Maps)
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If anyone knew the correct spelling, I reasoned, it would be the local government. Official paperwork, if nothing else, would need to have the correct version of the town name, and I hoped that I would finally find what I was looking for. Luckily, I struck gold.

They just can't make up their mind, can they? (Google Maps)
They just can't make up their mind, can they? (Google Maps)
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I reached out to the Town Clerk's office (which spells it "Marlborough", by the way), to see if I could get an official answer, and within mere hours, I did. From Town Clerk and Tax Collector Colleen Corcoran:

The official spelling of our town is the Town of Marlborough and the hamlets of our town are Marlboro and Milton

A-ha! I mean, it's still thoroughly confusing to those of us who don't actually live in the town (or hamlet) but at least there's an answer. It's either the town of Marlborough or the hamlet of Marlboro. But what even is the difference? That answer is weird, too.

The best explanation I could find said that a hamlet is basically a wannabe town. The old British definition was " a village that does not have its own church", so I guess that could be updated to say that a town has stuff to do, and a hamlet just has houses to live in? So maybe the "ugh" on the end of Marlborough's name stands for "Utilities, Groceries, and Hardware"? Probably not. But at least we can put the debate to bed.

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