Friday, April 19, 2013

On the Highway to Hell

One of the things I would like to do more on this blog is feature some of the smaller towns in Michigan.  Since I didn't really feel spending a ton of time tonight, I decided to head over to Hell, Michigan.  It's fairly close and pretty small.
 The road to Hell.  I'm not sure if this is paved with good intentions or asphalt.  It looks like any other county highway in the state of Michigan though.
 Hell was established around a sawmill, grist mill, distillery and tavern.  All of these were operated by George Reeves who moved to this area from the Catskill Mountains in the 1830.  He purchased the sawmill in 1841.  The area had a bounty of wheat, so he built a distillery a little later.
 His businesses thrived and soon he built a ballroom over his tavern and a sulky track around his millpond.   He had a run in with tax collectors after the Civil War.  He and the townspeople hid his barrels of whiskey in the pond and lifted them out after the tax collectors left.  Eventually he closed down his businesses and watch the grist mill burn down.  He died in 1877.
 The Reeves family sold the land to a group of investors in 1924.  They increased the size of the mill pond and created what is now known as Hiland Lake.  The area became a summer resort.  Henry Ford considered it for a manufacturing plant but ruled that out.
 There are some theories as to why the town is named Hell.   The first is that a pair of German travelers stepped out of a stagecoach one sunny afternoon in the 1830s, and one said to the other, "So schön hell!" ( translated as, "So beautifully bright!") Their comments were overheard by some locals and the name stuck.   Soon after Michigan gained statehood, George Reeves was asked what he thought the town he helped settle should be called and replied, "I don't care, you can name it Hell for all I care." The name became official on October 13, 1841 although I don't believe it is officially incorporated..  The second theory is tied to the "hell-like" conditions encountered by early explorers including mosquitos, thick forest cover and extensive wetlands.
 I'm not sure what this River is called but it should be the Styx even though I didn't see a ferryman anywhere.
 I think it is flooded.
 There is not much to see though.  If I had done a little more research, I would have looked for the dam in question.
 The sign announcing that you are in Hell.
 This is a sign on the General Store.  At the back of the store is a Postal Sub-Station which is open from May 1 to September 30.  You can get an envelope postmarked from Hell if you want although the US Post Office doesn't recognize Hell as an official town.  It considers this as part of nearby Pinckney.
A sign pointing to other heaven or hell related names.  Theoretically you could go from Hell to Paradise in one day but Paradise is at the other end of the State.


Anonymous said...

i've heard about hell . . . never been there. thanks for pics. looks kinda mundane.

Christopher List said...

Just a few miles west along the road is Sandhill Soaring Club.