Hell, or Hiland Lake, is an unincorporated community in Putnam Township of Livingston County in the U.S. state of Michigan. The community is near the border with Washtenaw County, about 15 miles (24 km) northwest of Ann Arbor. Hell is 3 miles (4.8 km) southwest of Pinckney via Patterson Lake Road. The community is served by the Pinckney post office with ZIP Code 48169.
Hell grew up around a sawmill, gristmill, distillery and tavern. All four were operated by George Reeves, who moved to the area in the 1830s from the Catskill Mountains in New York. He purchased a sawmill on what is now known as Hell Creek in 1841. In addition to the sawmill, Reeves purchased 1,000 acres (400 ha) of land surrounding the mill. Reeves then built a gristmill on Hell Creek which was powered by water that was impounded by a small dam across the creek. Farmers in the area were quite successful in growing wheat and had an abundance of grain. Reeves opened a distillery to process the excess grain into whiskey. Reeves also opened a general store/tavern on his property.
There are two theories for the origin of Hell's name. 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.The second theory is tied to the "hell-like" conditions encountered by early explorers including mosquitos, thick forest cover, and extensive wetlands. It has frequently been noted on lists of unusual place names.
In the early 1930s, Pinckney, Michigan postmaster W. C. Miller began to receive requests from stamp and postmark collectors for cancellations: Hell had no post office, instead being served by the one for Pinckney, three miles away. On July 15, 1961, a postal substation was established at Hell, operating from May 1 through September 30. It remains at the back of the general store, although the United States Postal Service does not recognize Hell as a town; it instead uses the name of nearby Pinckney as the mailing address.
Hell in popular culture:
If you beat the video game Twisted Metal III as the demon Minion, he wishes to spend eternity in Hell. In standard Twisted Metal fashion the wish is turned against him and he is sent to Hell, Michigan.
From June 30 to July 4, 2008, KFC ran a promotional sweepstakes "Hotter Than Hell", giving away 500 coupons each day for free hot wings to entrants whose hometown's temperature was higher than in Hell, Michigan.
Hell was featured on The Travel Channel show Extreme Towns.
Burger restaurant Red Robin ran a promotion offering free chili if Hell, Michigan's high temperature on any day between February 18/February 24, 2013 was below freezing. The temperature on February 20, was 25 degrees Fahrenheit, leading restaurants to give away a free cup of Red’s Chili Chili™ to the first 100 customers who mentioned the offer to their server.