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Ghost Town in the Thumb – Port Crescent

  • port-cresent-grist-mill
    Port Crescent Grist Mill
  • Port Crescent Village Plat Map
    Port Crescent Village Plat Map
  • ghosttown
  • Port Crescent Town Map
    1800's Map of Port Crescent
  • Port Crescent Plat Map Lumber Mill
  • Port Crescent Plat Map Grist Mill & Brewery
  • Port Crescent Plat Map Detail
  • Port Crescent Plat Map

Mike Hardy

Author of a fun loving and event blog covering topics of the Upper Thumb of Michigan , the wind energy capital of the Great Lakes. Offering great trove of information on Wind Energy, Cheeseburger in Caseville, Saginaw Bay, Sailing.

18 Responses

  1. Its really great to read about these old places. We must never forget as we charge ahead. Dan

    • My home area. Bad Axe for 53 years, but had cottage just down the beach a bit from the park towards Port Austin. knew ever branch of every tree. long before they made it a park. knew ever curve in the river long before they had any canoe rental place. knew all the trails to drive back in on…. and the old chimney was so cool to go inside of. Caught lots of turtles in river, fished the whole thing from my small boat as would come from cottage, go up the river to the highway (25) and back, spend a ton of time on the beaches as it was so remote and beautiful. Had some good high school parties back there too. lol. but we did not damage it…. not like the city gangs did when they came up. My Grampa , passed in 1912, and great Grampa and Great Great Grampa are buried in the Port Crescent cemetary. I remember the days when there was o maintance for many years of it, lke a forgotten place. Ken Peterson, 2016startingover@gmail.com

      • Wow. Thank you for sharing. Places change so fast now days. Clean open space is getting so hard to find. Even my little town has grown to the point that I don’t even know the faces anymore. Very strange feeling indeed.

      • ThumbWind says:

        Yes it is. Imagine in the early 1900’s with automobiles. Now you could travel in a day what took weeks in areas the railroad didn’t serve. Thanks for stopping by.

      • Hey yes. I must say I always seem to lament the times when things were just not that easy. We are very spoilt in some ways today.

      • David Rosbury says:

        In the last paragraph you included the line, “In the Organizations Area, a bit of foundation remains where a structure stood.”

        1) Where is the “Organizations Area”?

        While hiking west of the “old mouth”, not in the day use area, I came across what appears to be a length of sidewalk approximately 60 feet long with a flag pole made of galvanized pipe at the downstream end of it. The location is a little upstream from the remaining truss bridge. It is very close to the river on what is, for the area, a relatively large flat area. Also, on the way down to the river from the hiking trail in that location, there is a small structure built into the hillside. It appears to be built of cement block with a flat top and an opening on the downhill side facing the river. It is about the size of a large dog house.

        2) Perhaps you or Mr. Ken Peterson are familiar with these structures. If so, what were they, when were they in use, and by whom?

      • Mike Hardy says:

        Hard to say. I suspect it was part of the sawmill that sat on the west side of the river. On the map it’s pretty close to the river.

      • David Rosbury says:

        Ken, do you know anything about the following:

        While hiking west of the “old mouth”, not in the day use area, I came across what appears to be a length of sidewalk approximately 60 feet long with a flag pole made of galvanized pipe at the downstream end of it. The location is a little upstream from the remaining truss bridge. It is very close to the river on what is, for the area, a relatively large flat area. Also, on the way down to the river from the hiking trail in that location, there is a small structure built into the hillside. It appears to be built of cement block with a flat top and an opening on the downhill side facing the river. It is about the size of a large dog house.

        Apparently there was a building at that location, but what and when?

  2. I was from Bad Axe, 53 years, but also claimed Port Austin my summer home, I grew up knowing a lot about Port crescent as having a cottage not far down the shore from the mouth of river,,,,,,,,,,,, you failed to point out there is the old mouth and the new mouth as we call it, . the old chimney was so neat, use to walk inside of it, So much wildlife to see, walk across the dunes to the lake, and i think all teenagers got stuck in the sand at least once or twice, got to know how to drive all the way to the mouth . Also took my boat up and down the river from the lake under the bridge on 25. watched beaver and birds and other wildlife. fished the river a lot.
    Also there is a cemetary there, just abut a quarter mile down the port Crescent road. My grandfather is there, buried in 1912… other relations are there too. had some group like the hells angels come in with pickups and destroyed the cemetary breaking the old headstones . what a sad day to see that. so nobody really knows where the graves are. i do know where my grandparents are and my great grandparents and i believe my great great grandparents are all buried there, correct me if i am wrong now but i think it was made a national cemetary or historical one.
    Ken Peterson.

    • ThumbWind says:

      Awesome post. Thanks for filling in details that no one else seems to know. Your one of the few who can tell what it was like first hand.

  3. N. Graham says:

    I’ve long been a big Thumb fan. Check out my book, “Lost Towns of Eastern Michigan” which includes Ora Labora, Grindstone City, Port Crescent, Tyre, Lum, Forestville, and more.

  4. N. Graham says:

    Thanks! Also wanted to mention that the bridge of Port Crescent is still there and worth checking out. Also, the Port Crescent Cemetery.

    • Ken Peterson says:

      many years ago as a kid use to fish just a few feet from the bridge, Wish I knew when the new mouth as we old timers called it along wiht our fathers, washed out thru the dunes and the old mouth became very dead. the old river ran next to the chimney which is now just a memorial type structure, The old chimney was so neat to go inside of it and see the intials of lovers and dates of years back. yup, 53 years of living and loving it there, Kenneth Arthur Peterson (my grandfather Arthur and great Grandfather Chris Peterson buried in cemetary there. )

  5. Ken Peterson says:

    People use to fish off that bridge, long before it got blocked off, we locals would or could drive before that back to the new mouth if you knew where you were going you did not get stuck in the sand. So many city people would try it and get buried (worse then getting buried in snow) right to the right of the bridge when you crossed it was an old road that turned and came back down right along the river bank, people would catch all kinds of fish there, i beleive to the left of the bridge the old road there was a home , my parents knew who’s it was, on the river. We use to walk from our cottage down between Jenks park and the old cartwheel INN (changed ot FIRESIDE ) many years later. down the beach to the river mouth. remember finding a rattle snake there , WEll my dad did, i did know know what kind of snake cause i was only about three lol. but dad always told the story to me about me running out of the snake grass with my pants down tripping . lol . Been gone now for twenty years , but even long before that once it became a park it was a bad thing for history , but good to save the wild surroundings, Some of the most beautiufl beaches in the state. one of my favorite fishing spots was on what i called the east side of the river, where the new mouth and the old river broke thru. was a great hole or very deep spot. it was all so peaceful and quiet untill the park opened up. the old chimney had some of my relations names carved in it, then later after it became a park they knocked down the chimney (from the old saw mill i think) and made a memorial chimney out of the saved bricks. Loved that area..

    • Mike Hardy says:

      Thank you for the great story. We walk back from time to time and enjoy the great view on the bluff. Sometimes geese congregate on the sandbar at the mouth of the river.

  1. June 22, 2016

    […] of the blogs I enjoy reading is ThumbWind, a blog about (you guessed it) Michigan’s Thumb. In A Ghost Town in the Thumb they tell the story of the town of Port Crescent that was within what is now Port Crescent State […]

  2. April 17, 2017

    […] Huron County is at the the tip of Michigan’s “Thumb”. With over 90 miles of shoreline the Upper Thumb has some of the best sugar sand beaches in the state. From Port Austin west to Caseville families can find numerous parks, waterfront summer rentals and campgrounds. You can even camp right on the beach waterfront at Port Crescent State Park the historical location of a long lost lumbering town.  […]

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