Port of Call – Harbor Beach Michigan


As the world’s largest man made harbor, the port of Harbor Beach is an ideal stopping point for sailors making their way up the shore of Lake Huron. With its protected port and town that’s steps away from the Marina, Harbor Beach offers sailors and boaters a  welcome break and an ideal provisioning point. If you find yourself with a few extra hours there are some great little site seeing trips that are close and interesting. Some are walking distance while some will require an Uber ride from dockside.

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Harbor Beach Light House – If you’re in the harbor on a Saturday and have $20 you can get a small 10 minute boat ride and guided tour of this Spark-plug light located at the tip of the break wall.  You can access four of the six levels of this working light and get a taste of local history. Figure taking about one hour for the entire tour. If the weather is ideal the best advice is to take your best pictures on the ride back with the sun higher in the sky. The fee covers the lighthouse trip and entry to the museum.


Grice House – The home is a prime example of a mid-19th century working home in thegrice-house-museum days before electricity. With its period kitchen, parlor, sewing room and bedroom you can imagine what life was like in the late 1800’s  There are collections and artifacts of local maritime history, history of the Great Lakes, and of early lumbering in Harbor Beach. This home was constructed in 1874 by James G. Grice, and is listed in the national Registry of Historical Places.

On the grounds there is a one room school house from the early 1900’s The school is furnished with desks, books and the stove typically found in one room country schools of that era.

The GriceHouse is a short walk from the Harbor Beach Marina on the north end of town.  Tours for the museum are available from Memorial Day to Labor Day.  Hours: Wednesday, Thursday and Friday – 1-4 pm, Saturday – 10 am-4 pm, Sunday – 1-4 pm, and by appointment by calling 989-479-3363. Admission is $5.


murphy-museum-smallFrank Murphy Museum – Frank Murphy is listed as one of Michigan’s most notable and accomplished politicians. He was the Mayor of Detroit, Governor of Michigan, Governor-General/U.S. High Commissioner of the Philippine Islands, Attorney General of the United States and finally a U.S. Supreme Court Justice. Born in Harbor Beach in 1890, he graduated from the University of Michigan Law School and returned to Harbor Beach to practice law early in his career. Frank Murphy was a national defender of civil rights. His was author to the dissent position of the Supreme Court in the Korematsu vs. the US case, which upheld the legality of Japanese internment camps during WWII. Murphy called the decision “legalization of racism.” A plaque highlighting his famous position is outside the museum.

The Frank Murphy Memorial Museum south of the Marina on Huron Street next to the Visitor’s Center at 142 S. Huron Avenue.  Tours for the museum are available from Memorial Day to Labor Day.  Hours: Tues-Fri: Noon-4pm, Sat-Sun: 10am-4pm, and by appointment.  Admission: Adult: $2 / Child: $1


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Pointe Aux Barques Light House – This is well north of Harbor Beach but worth the drive.  The Pointe aux Barques Lighthouse ranks among the ten oldest lighthouses in Michigan. It is an active lighthouse maintained by the US Coast Guard remotely, located in Lighthouse County Park on Lake Huron near Port Hope, Michigan in Huron County. “Pointe aux Barques” Francois for  ‘Point of Little Boats’, a descriptor of the shallow shoals and reefs that lurk beneath these waves, presenting a hazard to boats as they round Michigan’s Thumb. This historic landmark marks the opening of Saginaw Bay. You can climb to the top of the lighthouse only on Memorial and Labor Day weekends.

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Kinde Michigan – Our Bean Town


img_0337Many want to keep this place a secret. It’s a slice of a true American farming community in the Thumb of Michigan. The village was founded in the 1880’s during the regions transition from lumbering to agriculture by John Kinde. A lumber yard, general store, grain elevator and post office were established followed by a train station in 1882 by the Port Huron and Northwestern Railroad, (PH & NW).

Kinde was once renowned as the “Bean Capital of the World“. Michigan white navy bean soup has been a staple for over one hundred years in the U.S. Senate dining room in the form of Senate bean soup.  (Find the recipe in our post of Unique Michigan Foods You Have to Try) While beans are still a huge agricultural focus in the Thumb the mighty sugar beet has nudged the venerable white bean from first place.

Each year the heritage of the area rises with the Kinde Polka Fest that is held each September. Polka groups  from all over Michigan and the Midwest converge on the village for the entire weekend of music and fun.  A 5k run is held on Saturday with a Breakfast held on Sunday. Proceeds from the event go toward schorships for local students, school projects and the FFA.

img_0343Kinde offers a wonderful respite from the beach, the crowds in Port Austin or craziness of Caseville during Cheeseburger. In the center of town there is a giant water slide and miniature golf. The Wiley’s Water Slide is a cool option on a hot summer day. If getting all wet doesn’t interest you, there is an ice cream store too.

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If your more into the inside sports nearby on M-53 there is the time honored institution of Biff’s Bowling Bar.  Built in 1947 the bowling alley has been owned by the same family for three generations. Al and Kimberly Yageman brought out Al’s dad in 2003 and haven’t looked back.  The bowling alley has been highly rated online by both Yelp and Foursquare and has been noted for a great family atmosphere.  They have a full kitchen and some of the coldest beer around.

img_0342Most of the year-around folks in the Thumb consider The Pasta House a must visit. While everyone raves about their pizza this author tends to go for their signature dishes of homemade ravioli and chicken Marcela. With banquet facilities next door,  the Pasta House also draws special events, weddings and large parties.

img_0339Finally it you want a joint that is out of the ordinary head west of town to Heck’s Bar. This place is in what was once a thriving crossroads village of Pinnebog but today the Heck’s is the sole survivor. They offer one of the largest selections of craft beers in the area. They are known for their Friday fish fry and the famous Heckle burger.  The décor is a bit dated but they are working on it. The service is fast and conversation is pleasant as it’s never overly loud. It is somewhat kid friendly with families surrounding large tables with grand kids in tow.  So before you leave Kinde, come to the center of the Universe at Heck’s Bar.

The Thumb Town of Pinnebog


Pinnebog, Huron County

Walter Hume, “the Daniel Boone of Hume Township,” became the first settler in the area in 1844; this settlement was first called Pinnepog (Chippewa for partridge drum); but there was another Pinnepog five miles north on Saginaw Bay, so this one changed to Pinnebog (“a high sounding and dignified way of saying pine bog”), while the other one changed to Port Crescent; Arthur Heminger became the first postmaster ofpinnebog_shirt Pinnebog on April 15, 1863; the office was closed on Jan. 2, 1872, but was restored on Dec. 19, 1879; it was named from its location near the Pinnebog River. Today much of the original town is gone. However the tiny town is the northern boundary to several of the largest wind farms in the area. Pinnebog is home to the famous Heck’s Bar. Known for its Heckle burger and cool T Shirt design denoting Pinnebog as the center of the universe.


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1940 Huron County Scenic Travel


In the months prior to WWII the major topic was the US’s stance on with our stated isolationist policy. Yet the war had not yet been declared and rationing was not even thought of. Large portions of M-25 were now paved and this Michigan Scenic Highway was viewed as tourist destination. Here is an interesting piece from the Huron Times in April 1940 highlighting the travel opportunity’s in the Thumb.Except for some spelling corrections the article is how it appeared in the Harbor Beach Times.

 

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Climb aboard, everybody for a sightseeing jaunt on the 90 mile Scenic Highway of Huron County, Michigan. We’ll start at White Rock on the lower right of the map on U. S. 25. White Rock was an Indian altar or shrine.  All land north of it was allotted to the Indians for hunting grounds in a treaty made in Detroit in. 1807. The land south of this early-day boundary line become the property of the ‘White people’.

Next is Wagener Park, named to honor P. O. Wagener, pioneer physician of Harbor Beach.  It contains the most beautiful stand of cedars in the Thumb district. That bathing beach flashes invitingly.

Step on the gas. We’re now in Harbor Beach, home of Supreme Court Justice Frank Murphy. That industry, on the short front is owned, by the Jenks family and is the largest specialty starch plant in the world.

Those lake breezes’ the ships on .the, distant horizon this is the life. We follow the shore line tothe thriving and beautiful village of Port Hope. We’ll relax, a few minutes in the W. R. Stafford Park, named to honor the founder of the village.

Whiskey Harbor — in the early days, to escape duty, whiskey was smuggled here from Canada, Several Kegs are said to be buried in the harbor. Keep your seats, at Huron City, summer home of Prof. Wm . Lyon Phelps is Lighthouse Park, a Federal gift to Huron County. There, goes a. deer. This park is a refuge for these beautiful creatures;

We pass Grindstone City, scene of the first industry of the county, and the beautiful summer resort Pointe Aux Barques, Thumb Nail of Michigan.

A long the rugged shore line we see. Turnip Rock, Kimball Point, Twin Rocks, Broken Rocks, Sandstone caves and  the site of an Indian pottery,  factory and village. “Poems from the hand of God” the natural scenery of Huron County is of the finest in the world.

Kimball Rock has an interesting Indian legend connected with it. Click’s Click’ — Hope those snapshots turn out okeh.

After getting an eye full of those, bathing beauties, look at those long strings of bass brought in by the lucky fishermen or women. Perch and Wall-eyed pike are also plentiful in Huron County.

All aboard, we’re on our way through country made famous by David Orr’s novel; “White Gold.’’

Those two parks, with a fine bathing beach are the Murray Van Wagoner and W, L. Jenks and the A.C. McGraw parks.

That 125. Ft. chimney stands as a lone sentinel guarding the ghost village of Port Crescent, a thriving port which vanished in 1884, with the lumber industry.

With 500 acres of parks, “in a natural paradise,” Huron County is the playground and recreational center of Michigan. We spin on, past the pot of gold buried somewhere on Loosemoore’s Point, to Oak Beach Park and summer resort colony.

Did you notice that everywhere along Scenic Highway 25 are found good hotels, restaurants, cottages, cabins, free camping grounds and every accommodation for the tourist.

We roll over the smooth pavement to the State park. Those sand dunes overlooking the sparkling waters of Lake Huron are a favorite haunt of the American eagle. Every tree native to Michigan is found in this beautiful playground, planned for by V. V. Philp former FERA administrator

More, than 120,000 persons in 1939 signed this register in the county, park at Caseville, where, we have just written our names. This is the largest of the Huron county park units. The Pres. McKinley family lived in Caseville four years.

Gen.  George M. Meade placed that, U.S. survey, marker near the tip of Sand Point. The “Hero, of Gettysburg*’ was called to the colors from here.

Those ruins of log buildings mark the site of Ora Labora colony, a religious-socialistic experiment of the Civil War days. The marshes of Wild Fowl Bay are the best duck hunting grounds in Michigan.

We pass the Bay Port Stone Quarry and Bay Port, with its summer colony and “sportsman’s paradise.”

We see from the highway an Indian Tree, famous in Indian legend. A white man, “who discovered the secret lead mines of the Indians,” was said to have been tied to this tree and burned to death.’

That land m ark at the mouth of the Shebeyon, “W here the lead ore is hidden,” creek was the first church of Huron county. It was built by Rev. J.  Auch, Lutheran missionary, in 1850.

Now we enter the thriving village of Sebewaing. The name is Chippewa and translates “near the winding creek,” An ancient battle was fought here between two large Indian tribes. ‘Skeletons o f warriors were unearthed on main street in recent years. Sebewaing has a fine park and many Industries including a large sugar factory.

One more park, near the Tuscola county line. Want to see a-little of the beautiful farming country, of

Huron County?’ Okeh !’ We turn east at Sebewaing, motor through Owendale, north to Pigeon and then east to Elkton and Bad Axe, county seat of Huron county. At Ubly we find the largest REA plant in the world.

Yes! Kinde is the bean center of the world for pea beans. You’re right! Huron county is a garden spot, almost everything we eat is grown on the half million acres of its fertile land;. The county also leads in daily products, in thoroughbred horses and purebred cattle. The population! About 32,000. Now introduced to this county of Huron, come enjoy, in full with us “the most pleasant spot in the world.”

From the Harbor Beach Times April 16, 1940
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Fun in Michigan's Upper Thumb

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