How Did Michigan Cities Get Their Names? Part 4

Photo courtesy of Battle Creek-Calhoun County Convention & Visitors Bureau

We’re happy to share with you another post in our ongoing series of how cities in Michigan got their names. Here are five more – including a seasonal city, perfect for this time of year. In case you missed them, here arePart 1, Part 2 and Part 3.

Battle Creek
You might already be thinking, “Battle Creek must have been the site of some epic battle!” The reality of it though is a bit less epic. In 1825 a group of government surveyors were working near a stream near the present day site of the city when two Pottawatomi Native Americans appeared at their camp asking for food. A discussion turned angry and, during a brief skirmish, one of the surveyors took the Native Americans captive when he produced a rifle. The surveyors reported the skirmish to the Governor and later surveyors at the site recalled it as “Battle Creek.”

Royal Oak
The city of Royal Oak is named after a legendary oak tree. In 1819 Michigan Governor Lewis Cass set out to explore Michigan and prove surveyors’ claims that the area wasn’t completely swampy and uninhabitable. At first, swampy land was all they were finding until the group came across a massive oak tree, much larger than any other in the area. It reminded Gov. Cass about an oak tree King Charles II of England is said to have taken refuge under during an enemy attack in 1660. Recalling that story, Cass and his companions named the tree and the surrounding area “Royal Oak.”

Flint’s recorded history also dates back to 1819 when a trading post opened. It was originally called “Grand Traverse,” however over the course of 17 years it had other names as well like “Todd’s Crossing”, “Sidney” and “Flint River” after the local Indian name “Pawanunking,” which referred to the nearby river’s rocky bed. It was later shortened to Flint in 1836 before being incorporated as a city in 1855.

There are a few theories on the origin of the name for Hell, Michigan. The most popular involves a man in the 1840’s named George Reeves who, when asked by officials what he wanted to name the settlement he helped start, replied, “Call it Hell for I care!” Another story of the town’s name comes from the frontiersmen who traveled the low-lying wetlands at the height of mosquito season. After traveling through such wet and infested terrain they referred to it as “Hell.”

The story of Christmas, Michigan’s name is a bit more merry. A Munising man began a roadside factory in 1938 so that he could create holiday gift items. Unfortunately, the factory burned down shortly thereafter, but the name and the factory’s roadside Santa Claus stuck around to this day.

Haunted Happenings – Explore the Spooky Side of Pure Michigan

With Halloween just around the corner, it’s time to get in the ghostly spirit and check out the many Pure Michigan destinations offering chills and thrills during the fall season.

Whether it’s historic hotels or sprawling cornfield mazes, there is something for all ages to make this Pure Michigan Halloween a frightfully fun time. Check out this listing of spooky events happening all across Michigan and visit for more information to help you plan your fun Halloween activities!

Go to Hell … Michigan! Be sure to visit “The Hysterical Town” in southeast Michigan, where Screams Ice Cream & Halloween Store hosts an afternoon of creepy crafts, music and family activities followed by spooky stories around the bonfire on Saturday, Oct. 22.

Step Back in Time… A spooky good time awaits the entire family when the second annual Trunk or Treat weaves its web of fun at the Walter P. Chrysler Museum, in Auburn Hills, on Sunday, Oct. 23. Goblins can trick or treat throughout the museum’s three floors for candy and trinkets found in rumble seats, trunks and truck beds.

Halloween in Greenfield Village… Plan a visit to Greenfield Village and step back in time to a turn-of-the-20th century Halloween. Watch for the headless horseman, banter with a clever witch and make stops at several treat stations spread throughout the Village. Be sure to reserve tickets in advance for October 21-23, and October 28-30.

Walk On the Wild Side… Children’s Zoo at Celebration Square in Saginaw will host a Zoo Boo October 22-23 and October 29-31, with treats, entertainment, train and carousel rides and a visit with Dr. Slime, the mad scientist.

The Binder Park Zoo inBattle Creek will play host to its annual Great ZooBoo through October 30 (check ahead for times and specific dates). Kids wind their way through a dedicated trick-or-treat trail and can hop aboard the Binda Conservation Carousel ortake a hay ride.

Zoo Boo is the Detroit Zoo’s merry-not-scary Halloween celebration with a cleverly decorated half-mile trick-or-treat trail through the Zoo. Enjoy entertainment in the Zoo Boo Revue tent, or visit the Haunted Reptile House and the Zombie Zone for ghastly games and spooky activities. Scare up some fun October 21-23 and 28-30.

The Zoo Goes Boo at the John Ball Zoo inGrand Rapids October 21, 22, 28 and 29. Have fun with the animals plus live entertainment, goodies and activities for kids.

Little ghouls and boys are welcome to Lansing’s Potter Park Zoo for Boo at the Zoo on October 22 and 23. There will be plenty of activities and treats including crafts for kids, a straw maze, hayrides, a trip through the Boo tunnel and more.

Field of Screams… Niles Haunted House is nationally recognized as one of the best haunted theme parks in the Midwest – and organizers warn anyone afraid of the dark not to come. They say they will “scare the yell out of you” on 44 acres of haunted madness.

Don’t Feed the Monsters… Wiard’s Orchard is said to have a long history of haunted spirits roaming the old orchard. Experience six spooky attractions with more than 115 live monsters on 89 acres just south of Ypsilanti Township.

Worse Than Elm Street… Hate scary movies? You might not want to venture to Yale for Nightmare on Main Street with 6,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor terror. This nightmare is not for the weak.

Welcome to Crazy Town…You might think you have lost your mind after visiting St. Lucifer’s Haunted Asylum atPlaylandPark in theFlint area. As “patients,” you can take an elevator ride to the bowels of the hospital that is filled with shocking horrors.

Winter Camping is Pure “Hell”

Warning! The following content contains one “helluva” lot of clichés.

Photo credit: Gary

Teardrops in Hell

My partner, Brad, and I own a teardrop camper and belong to the Great Lakes Chapter of Tearjerkers, a camping group dedicated to teardrop and small travel trailer owners. The group organizes several camping trips during the year. This February, Karl, the director, organized the first ever Great Lakes Chapter winter camping experience called “Tears in Hell.” Having never camped during the winter with our teardrop, Brad and I thought, “What the hell?”

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