Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Apple #275: Hell, Michigan

In keeping with my recent promise to provide the origin of strange names of towns in the United States, here's how Hell, Michigan got its name:

The red dot shows where Hell is
(map from Wikimedia)

  • In 1838, a guy named George Reeves built a mill and general store on the banks of a river called Hell Creek. How that got its name is uncertain.
  • From there, three tales about how the town slowly earned its moniker are:
      • 1. Some German travelers stopping briefly remarked, "So schoene Hell." But in German, hell means "bright and beautiful." But some residents overheard this, thought it was funny, told others and spread the tale.
      • 2. The land is low and swampy, and it was really hard to get a team and wagon heavy with provisions through that place. So people referred to the area as hell to get through.
      • 3. George also ran a whiskey still, and soon people spent a lot of time at his mill. People asking for someone who happened to be hanging out at George's place would get the reply, "Ah, he's gone to hell."
  • Regardless of how the name started to take hold, when the State of Michigan asked founder George what he'd like to name the town, he said, "Call it Hell for all I care; everyone else does."
  • So it became official.

The Official Site of Hell, Michigan, The History and the Really L-O-N-G History

1 comment:

  1. I enjoyed this one! Every year my grandmother informs me when "hell freezes over." She also then tells me about Intercourse, PA and Climax, MI and giggles. It's very cute. :)

    Another good one is Defeated, TN! It's right by where I used to live.


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