M-25 Cottage Road Signs

The Crazy Cottage Art Along the Road of Michigan’s Upper Thumb

If you’re driving along M-25 along the coast of Lake Huron and Saginaw Bay in the Upper Thumb, you may start to notice a decorative version of “cottage sign art” that typically gets overlooked. These little gems of folksy creativity signal what lay beyond and out of reach for those who have not invited guests. Yet these cottage art ideas say “welcome here” are colorful cottage decorations to the passing eye hurtling down the ribbon of pavement at 60 MPH.

The Decorative Cottage Art of Michigan’s First Scenic Highway

Sign art for the cottage or cabin is a Michigan tradition that has a useful purpose. We often drive by these little cottage signs as we drive along the coast, but seldom take notice of the cottage itself. Many times travelers watch for these signs like a sailor watches for a lighthouse.

Imagine that upon reaching the threshold of a cottage you see an outstretched hand and an inviting invitation “Welcome!” What would you do? What would you feel? In place of the traditional cottage gate, cottage door, and other traditional furnishings these cottage sign artists tend to keep it simple.

Let the people of Michigan welcome you with their iconic “cottage signs” when you travel the highways. Let them also help you remember your vacation here.

With the unpredictable Michigan weather and all the beautiful places to explore, sometimes you need more than an address. Sometimes a simple, hand-drawn “cottage sign” is needed. One that leaves guests smiling, with a warm welcome, and directions to the best spot on the beach for your wine or cheese.

When traveling at highway speeds these signs are the only thing that catches the eye. Perhaps you have seen some of these “cottage signs” along the highway. They’ve become so beloved by travelers that some have become well-known locations along the road like the one shown here. Many of these signs are professionally done by artists and graphic designers that specialize in signage.

How many times have you seen the “Cottage” or “Home of…” road signs and thought, “Wow that would be a nice place to stop on vacation.” The signs have become popular symbols of Michigan’s Upper Thumb and an interesting historical tidbit about the region.

Michigan’s Upper Thumb Cottage Road signs are a quirky addition to the M-25 landscape. Drive through Michigan’s Upper Thumb and the odds are good that you’ll pass through one or more of these along the shoreline on the state highway.

If you stop for a look, take your time and enjoy the sights. This neat custom adorns many lakefront homes, cottages, and cabins, providing an aesthetic milestone for travelers passing through. The cottage signs are small but bold reminders that you are traveling along a road not everyone chooses to travel.

The cottage sign is an evergreen small piece of communication that was meant to be seen and appreciated by passing drivers. These simple signs are considered to be a visual landmark for visitors to the Upper Thumb region.

This is only a small sample between Caseville and Sleeper State Park along M-25. Roadside cottage decoration sign art is an up-and-coming nitch for craftsmen and artists. Distressed Signage is a favorite gig and becoming an Etsy and Ebay theme. Do you have a favorite? If so send a shot of your cottage sign to contact@thumbwind.com. We will post it in a future edition.

The First Major Art Gallery in the Upper Thumb – It’s a rare event where we go away stunned by a new visitor experience in the Thumb. However, that’s what it felt after leaving White Church Gallery in Grindstone Michigan. Located in the rural remoteness of an old Methodist church in what was the heart of a long-abandoned 1800’s grindstone quarry operation, the owners Michael and Carrie Zaitz have created an artist oasis for the Port Austin art community at the tip of the thumb. A great place to find your own cottage decorations.

How Art, Kayaking, and a Farmers Market Saved Port Austin – Today these small towns are struggling to survive. Caseville Cheeseburger Festival offers merchants a chance to make their year profitable in a single week. Thousands of tourists descend for a burger and a beer while wearing a grass skirt and having a good time. Indeed, summer festivals in the Thumb celebrate beans, polka, sugar, potatoes, fish sandwiches, and chicken wings. Each of these small rural towns is looking for ways to draw folks in and keep their local businesses going.

Upper Thumb Radio Stations – The Upper Thumb is the home to a very diverse blend of radio stations. While the region surrounded stations from Bay City, Tawas, and Detroit the area holds its own with great local programming. Here is a detailed listing of Michigan’s Upper Thumb Radio stations located in Huron, Sanilac, and Tuscola County. Listen to their streaming broadcasts live and see coverage maps for each station.

Michigan Art in the Upper Thumb – Port Austin is becoming a draw for Michigan art and artists. Just down the road a bit from Oak Beach is an amazing site. An entire barn has been transformed into an Ark. This larger-than-life work of art was completed by sculpturing artist Scott Hocking in 2015. He has transformed an 1800s barn into a large object denoting sanctuary and safety. The Ark can be found about a mile south of Oak Beach on Oak Beach road and Fechner.

It’s 8 o’clock Somewhere in Michigan’s Thumb – Checking the watch and the setting sun over my shoulder, I knew I didn’t have much time. A unique sight was coming up. It only makes its appearance during the early Summer nights like this.  The Secret Sky Barn Project survived another harsh winter in an area known for its winds and horizontal snow that shreds cottages along the shore.

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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