Wait, How Did Bad Axe, Michigan REALLY Get Its Name?
Having grown up visiting family on the east side of the state in the region we Michiganders so lovingly refer to as "The Thumb", I frequently passed through the town of Bad Axe, Michigan without giving it a second thought.
Sure, the name is a little out of the ordinary but that's just the way it is.
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-- and it was my own boyfriend!
I was flabbergasted, in every sense of the word, to learn that someone who has spent the majority of their life in The Mitten has never had the words, "Bad Axe, Michigan" cross their ears.
With the town frequently appearing on numerous listicles regarding "towns with the weirdest sounding names" or "most uniquely named towns in Michigan" I'm just surprised that news of Bad Axe's existence hadn't reached him over in Parchment yet! To be fair, he knows about both Hell and Paradise, Michigan to his credit.
Then I realized: I actually don't know how Bad Axe got its unique name. Do you?
Yes, It Involves An Axe
It's probably the number one question residents of Bad Axe receive from out-of-towners 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.
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.