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mod. rural; backwoodsy; insignificant. (see also one-horse town.) I’m from a little jerkwater town in the Midwest.
A small community with modest conveniences. Tracks along main lines in the early days of American railroading had permanent towers that supplied water for steam locomotives. Not so along less important routes, so train crews and any other willing hands had to form bucket brigades to fill the boiler from streams and ponds. Filling the buckets was known as “jerking water,” and any small collection of houses, stores, and community buildings where that was done were “jerkwater towns.” The epithet stuck, especially when people from larger towns and cities wanted a snide way of referring to small towns.