Pointe Aux Barques Resort Noted in the Standard Guide to Mackinac Island & Northern Lake Resorts 1899

This was found in the Library of Congress in a pamphlet entitled, “The Standard Guide; Mackinac Island and Northern Lake Resorts.” It is a visitor’s handbook written in 1898, detailing early tourism to Mackinac Island. For 25 cents, it gave the potential visitor a glimpse of what to expect at Michigan’s premier tourist destination. But the ads and descriptions of the other resorts in northern Michigan at the time are very interesting. Among the featured stories is the Pointe Aux Barques Resort.

Here is an excerpt from the guide. Other than the headings and minor edits, it reads with the same style and candor as the late 1800s.

Pointe Aux Barques

Pointe Aux Barques Resort Ad 1899

The extreme northernmost point of the “Thumb” of Michigan, which juts out into Lake Huron marks the northern limits of Saginaw Bay, is of a character so unusual and remarkable that the earliest explores of these great western seas made mention of it.

How it was Named Pointe Aux Barques

Father Claude Allouez, a Jesuit priest, is thought to have given it its name. He and a group of canoeists crossed Lake Huron in 1665. It was the Pointe aux Barques to the venturesome voyageurs who noted it as they passed on their dangerous and laborious journeys; and it is still the Pointe aux Barques, now that civilization has driven out the red man, and has peopled the “Thumb” with a thrifty and progressive community. The rocky cape still stands as a grim sentry, looking out over the vast blue expanse of restless waters that, in the sun and in a storm, crash against its rock-bound base.

A Perfect Climate for Play

Pointe Aux Barques Resort Shore
Point Aux Barques Shore

Dame Nature has provided no more delightful retreat along the chain of great inland seas, to which the footsteps of the busy people of the great cities may tend during the warm months when resting and recreation from the routine cares of life become a necessity. The Pointe aux Barques described by Colonel Anderson of the Government Survey of 1833, as a “rough, rocky, small caverned cape,” still furnished numberless nooks and grottoes where, in the cool environment, one may muse with luxurious contentment upon the uniquely picturesque surroundings. Here the cool and inviting breezes always blow, and beyond stretches the beach of white sand, dotted with merry children, and in the background are the pleasant groves that give the certain promise of romantic paths and pleasant glades.

The Pointe Aux Barques Resort

For more than a score of years, the lighthouse on the reef has flashed nightly the beacon light of warning at regular intervals, and in thick weather, the bass voice of the fog-horn has been heard for miles. Until 1896 the residence of the lighthouse keeper was alone and solitary. But early in that year the Pointe aux Barques Resort Association, having for its purpose the upbuilding of a family resort, was formed. It was believed that this spot was ideal for the location of summer homes. No place is more beautiful, the air and temperature are delightful, and the water not so cold as at other resorts farther north.

To the south lies one of the most fertile and high cultivated farming sections of the State which assures the cottagers of the wholesome products of the farm in their freshness. A delightful drive or walk to the beautiful little village of Port Austin puts the stores of the merchants at the command of the resorters. Within a few hours’ ride of the centers of population of the State, it is easy of access; so good is the service that the afternoon papers of Detroit 60 are delivered the same evening. 

A Truly Private Resort

The acreage and waterfront, controlled by the association, is of an extent that prevents the possibility of intrusion, and the association has secured the promise of the railroad that no rough day-excursionists will be landed at the Pointe. It is secure from the undesirable element which too frequently inflicts its presence at such places.

Unexpected success has followed the efforts of the association. It has many members and has made substantial improvements. The Pointe aux Barques Club, as the new clubhouse is designed, is of the old colonial style of architecture. It is located on solid rock, thirty feet above the level of the lake, overlooking the waters of Lake Huron, and only a short distance from the beach.

State of the Art Communications With the World of Business

The Club is connected with Western Union Telegraph lines, which enables its guests to communicate with the world at large, and the government has made this it’s post-office, and twice a day the mails bring letters to the guests.

The season opens June 1, and the class of patronage is high, making it a most desirable retreat for the cultivated people of our large cities.

Sailing & Boating At Pointe Aux Barques Resort

Pointe Aux Barques Resort Beach
Point Aux Barque Beach 1899

Those who take pleasure in rowing or sailing will find the Pointe aux Barques a most delightful resort, with the waters of Saginaw Bay on the one side and that of Lake Huron on the other, always available for either the row or sailboat. Pointe aux Barques bathing is an enjoyment. The water is clear as crystal, and of a pleasant temperature, and one can hardly be persuaded to come out. The shore of Alaska Bay, which bends into the land from Lake Huron in a graceful curve, about two miles long and the same distance in breadth, has one of the finest strips of pure sand beach on the chain of Great Lakes.

Gravel Highways for Motoring

Huron County, in which the Pointe aux Barques is located, boasts of having a good country highway, and well it may, because nowhere can better highways be found by the enthusiastic wheelmen, who delight in a spin-out into the country. During the summer months the gravel roads which stretch out for miles in either direction, with magnificent farms on either side, form a perfect panorama, in which the bicyclist revels.

Sandy Beaches, Swimming & Fishing 

Michigan, with a thousand miles of taking coast, holds pre-eminence over all her sister States in the importance of her commercial fisheries. These lakes have an area of 97,000 square miles, and a total length of about 1,500 miles, with varying depth.

It is in traversing a territory so bountifully remembered by nature in her many gifts of delightful, crystal fishing grounds, that the Pointe aux Barques appeals to the angler. Saginaw Bay, the waters of which teem with the finest and largest of the finny tribe, lies just to the west. Fishermen generally acknowledge this bay to be one of the finest fishing waters in America. From the Pointe aux Barques, all the famous fishing points are most accessible. Here the exciting and delightful sport, trolling for lake trout, during the season can be enjoyed to the utmost. Bass and perch fishing is unexcelled.

Day Tour the Local Communities

There are several attractive summer places at a convenient distance from Pointe aux Barques, which afford the opportunity for pleasant excursions. Among them, Port Austin, with its picturesque shore; Bay Port with its fine hotel and excellent fishing, nestled in the shelter of Heisterman and North Islands, is a desirable place for a day’s outing, and of convenient distance from the Pointe; and Sand Beach with its mineral springs, the waters of which have developed marvelous curative properties, government breakwater and finest harbor of refuge on the chain of Great Lakes, upon which the government has spent millions of dollars, is only a short distance from the Pointe.

Applying for Membership at Pointe Aux Barques

Each applicant desiring membership, who has been vouched adequately for, upon payment of $50, receives two shares of non-assessable stock. The owner of the two shares of a stock then has the privilege of selecting and purchasing any lot then owned by the association, the price of which may vary according to location, receiving full title to same, and protected by the laws of Michigan, subject only to the regulations of the association; all money received from the sale of stock and lots to be used for improvements and dividend, in which all members participate. These shares entitle the holder to a vote on each share in the selection of the Board of Directors, which, like a village board, makes the regulations govern this community. They also secure for the member and his immediate family and guests the substantial concessions in the rates at the Club House, as has been shown by the schedule, and a half-fare rate on all railroads in Michigan when going to and from Point aux Barques. The annual dues of ten dollars on each share to which land has been attached, which are payable in the spring of each year, aggregate a sum that enables the Board of Directors to provide for the member’s many services, which in many places are found to be expensive and annoying to the individual. Upon application, Mr. H. F. Moeller, General Passenger Agent, Flint & Pere Marquette Railroad, Saginaw, Mich., will gladly furnish detailed information on this subject.

Source The standard guide; Mackinac Island and northern lake resorts. With illustrations. [New York] Foster & Reynolds, 1899. Library of Congress

History of Pointe Aux Barques

More about the Pointe Aux Barques gated community and Pointe Aux Barques turnip rock.

History Of Pointe Aux Barques Cottage Community In Michigan’s Thumb – The year is 1912. An exclusive modern resort community is opened at the tip of Michigan’s thumb with direct train service from Detroit. For over 100 years it has been a resort community.

The First Woman Lighthouse Keeper In Michigan Ran The Pointe Aux Barques Lighthouse – In 1849, Catherine Shook was appointed the first woman lighthouse keeper in the State of Michigan. She ran the Pointe Aux Barques Lighthouse until 1851.

Turnip Rock – 7 Basic Things To Know When You Kayak – One of the most amazing sites in the #Michigan Upper Thumb is Turnip Rock. It’s the #1 tourist attraction in the Upper Thumb. Here are the top tips on how to visit the site and things to know before you go.

6 Fascinating Places To See At Harbor Beach Michigan – Home to the world’s largest man-made freshwater harbor, the port of Harbor Beach is an ideal stopping point for sailors making their way up the shore of Lake Huron.

Huron County Lighthouses Guard The Shore – Michigan’s Upper Thumbs hosts three lighthouses. Each can be visited and explored.

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Michael Hardy

Michael Hardy is the owner of Thumbwind Publications LLC. Michael was born in Michigan and grew up near Caseville. In 2009 he started this 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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