Pigeon Rail Tracks

How Pigeon Michigan Got Its Unique Name

Railway map of Michigan’s Thumb in the 1900s

There is no definite record about how the town of Pigeon, Michigan, was named. Some speculate it was from the railway building from the late 1800s. In 1882 the Pontiac, Oxford, and Port Austin Railroad were built from Caseville to Pontiac. The tracks ran through the small town of Berne. Nearby, Pigeon sprang up as the result of the Saginaw, Tuscola, Huron Railroad established a crossing south of Berne in 1886. Some railway maps list the two as separate stops.

Pigeon Michigan in the 1800s

The crossing and subsequent town were named Pigeon due to surveyors naming the Pigeon River. The story goes is that passenger pigeons were so numerous along the banks of the river that it was appropriately named.

Famed birder and ornithologist John James Audubon observed flocks of passenger pigeons that took over three hours to pass overhead. These flocks were estimated to have over one billion birds. Huge flocks of the now-extinct passenger pigeons that migrated over this area were said to have darkened the sky like an eclipse.

Pigeon Depot

Pigeon Historical Society

Pigeon Depot and Historical Society Museum

The town also hosts one of the most active historical societies in the region. The Pigeon Historical Society is comprised of the Woelke Historical Research Center, Depot Museum, and Berne Junction Mercantile.

Two of the active historical projects that the historical society is working on is to digitize the entire contents of the towns newspaper called Pigeon Progress. The other project is to restore two cabins that are thought to be part of the famous Ora Labora religious colony from the 1860s.

Pigeon Michigan Today

With a population of over 1,200, today, Pigeon is part of the largest concentration of wind energy production in the Great Lakes region. The town is situated among 472 operating wind turbines or 44% of total operating in the state.

Michael Hardy

Mike Hardy is the owner of Thumbwind Publications LLC. It started in 2009 as a fun-loving site covering Michigan's Upper Thumb. Since then, he has authored a vast range of content and established a loyal base of 60,000 visitors per month.

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