Caseville Harbor History Compares to Fishtown

It’s only been in the last 60 years that Caseville was known as a sport fishing and pleasure boat vacation spot. Before the marinas and boat slip, it was just docked along the Pigeon River. Buildings from the iron foundry, sawmill, and salt block still stood from Caseville’s Days as an industrial powerhouse.

Caseville Harbor 1930s

Caseville Harbor c1930s
Postcard of Caseville Harbor c1930s

This shot taken from the train trestle bridge over the river from the 1930s shows the remains of the salt block on the left bank of the Pigeon River. The white building beyond was owned by J.G. Gillingham which the plat map show as owned in 1904. In 1931 Bob Gillingham rebuilt the fishery. This is, I expect, why it looks rather new. This fishery closed operations in 1955.


This picture shows the rapid transformation of Casevilles harbor. The shot looks out to Saginaw Bay from the interior harbor on the Pigeon River in 1941. The chimney remained from the old sawmill. The Huron Yacht Club is on the left. The Bay Post Fish Company dock on the far right was torn down in 2017 to make way for updates to the Saginaw Bay Marina.

Caseville Harbor from the State of Michigan archives

This picture postcard from 1943 shows that the chimney from the sawmill was taken down and Saginaw Bay Marina was in operation.

Caseville Harbor 1943
Caseville Harbor in 1943

The shot has amazing similarities to the famous Fishtown in Leland County in Northwest Michigan. Caseville Harbor was home to a lumber mill, salt block, an iron foundry, and several fishing companies.

Village of Caseville

The Caseville Harbor history photo was likely taken from the railroad bridge that once crossed the Pigeon River. The plat map below was from a 1935 WPA project that shows the village and railroad lines leading into the area that is known today as Caseville Beach. In 1964 the Caseville Harbor break wall was built. It was made with huge boulders and rubble fill an extended 1,780 feet into Saginaw Bay. The break wall protects the harbor from the prevailing north-east wave action from Lake Huron.

Caseville Harbor History
Village of Caseville from Michigan Archives

Related Caseville Mi Reading

Caseville Helping Hands Thrift Store – Some time ago we posted a picture of Caseville Mi. Mercantile. The shot was from the late 1800s and we had a hard time placing it until someone mentioned that it was the general store was now the Helping Hands Thrift Shop on Main Street in Caseville. This is a mission of the Caseville United Methodist Church and is one of the most highly rated thrift shops in the region according to ratings on Yelp and Google. 

A Harbor’s Late Season in Caseville – The Fall in Michigan seems incredibly short this year. Boats are still in the water as November rolls in. Will we be the last one out of the water? It’s kind of sad and a bit lonely to be one of the last ones out of your slip in the Fall in Caseville harbor. Last year we were one of the diehards with ice beginning to form a weekend or two after we got our sailboat out and winterized for the season water.

Port Austin’s Farm Market Mornings – Each Saturday morning during the summer, the Port Austin farm market offers local locally grown produce, crafts, and flea market items from all over the thumb. The weekly event is not hard to miss as it’s only a block away from the harbor. You can park just about anywhere in town and figure out where to go.

Michigan Day Trip Around the Thumb – Part Two – In Part One of our Michigan Day Trip Around the Thumb we traveled from Port Huron up the eastern shore of Lake Huron to the tip of the Thumb. Our starting point for the second half of our fun day trips in Michigan adventure is in Grindstone City. We will begin heading west along Saginaw Bay’s shore of sugar sand beaches and interesting coastal towns and villages.

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8 thoughts on “Caseville Harbor History Compares to Fishtown”

  1. I remember two fish places,,,, the one we use to go to was Giliahams or something…. use to love walking thru the place wiht all kinds of fish on ice… we use to get Herring .. and take them home and clean them and freeze them……. caught our own perch of course. as a kid in scouts we fished off the dock or channel there and got a mess of fish,,,,,,, never knew what happened to all the ones we caught, I bet our den mother kept them for themselves lol.


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