Genoa was named after Genoa, Italy, since it was founded and settled by persons of mostly Italian descent. It was established in 1854, originally platted as Bad Axe City. Historically, Genoa was a regular port for steamboats and an important avenue for railroads. Today, railroad and river traffic are still vital modes of commerce, traversing the rails and passing through the locks at Lock & Dam #8. In addition to river and rail commerce, early industry included two clamshell button factories and occupations of limestone quarrying.