Does it really involve an axe?

Sure a town named "Bad Axe" is a little out of the ordinary but that's just the way it is. With other communities across Michigan named "Hell" and "Zilwaukee" I didn't really give it a second thought-- until now.

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Having grown up visiting family on the east side of the state in the region we Michiganders refer to as "The Thumb", I frequently passed through the town of Bad Axe, Michigan without batting an eye. That was until I recently encountered someone who was born and raised in Michigan and had never heard of this ordinary town with an extraordinary name: my own boyfriend!

When I tried to explain to him the meaning behind the town's name that's when I realized that I don't even know the history myself. Do you?

welcome to bad axe michigan
Google Maps

It Does Involve An Axe

I have to imagine the number one question residents of Bad Axe receive from out-of-towners is, "Where's the axe?"  so to make it easy the Bad Axe District Library gets right to the chase and has a whole page dedicated to answering this question:

We get asked about the name "Bad Axe" frequently, so here's a short version... A military surveyor, Captain Rudolph Papst, named a camp site at the meeting of two major trails "Bad Axe Camp" on his charts, supposedly after an old rusted axe left at the campsite by local hunters.

Go figure!

Google Maps
Google Maps

The community was officially incorporated in 1885 as the village of Bad Axe and despite several early attempts to modify its name, it stuck! It's even believed the bad axe from the original campsite is still around to this day and can be seen here.

Bad Axe, Huron County: 1880-1950s

10 Most Dangerous Roundabouts in Michigan

Gallery Credit: Canva

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