Category Archives: Michigan History

Lake Huron Beach Access in 1937


M25_SignWe almost take it for granted that if your near the lake in Huron county that your a short walk or drive away from being able to put your toes into the water. That was not always the case. I remember stories from my grand parents and others that the beach front was some of the last land to be sold and parcel developed. After the lumber boom had fizzed out in the 1880’s attention turned to farming. Since the dunes and swampy areas near the water were pretty unfit for farming they stayed clear of development until well into the 1900’s.

Parks were available but they were far and few in between. This small article appeared in 1937 in the Harbor Beach newspaper as many miles of M-25 were in process of being paved. It called on Huron leadership to extend the township roadways that stopped at M-25 right to the shore so tourists could access the beach and lake. Sanilac county took the lead on establishment of easements that were a model for much of the Great Lakes region. Today an example of township easement this can be clearly seen at Oak Beach. The road runs right up the water where, for many years, there was a boat ramp available righ on the edge of the park..

Beach

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1940 Huron County Scenic Travel


In the months prior to WWII the major topic was the US’s stance on with our stated isolationist policy. Yet the war had not yet been declared and rationing was not even thought of. Large portions of M-25 were now paved and this Michigan Scenic Highway was viewed as tourist destination. Here is an interesting piece from the Huron Times in April 1940 highlighting the travel opportunity’s in the Thumb.Except for some spelling corrections the article is how it appeared in the Harbor Beach Times.

 

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Climb aboard, everybody for a sightseeing jaunt on the 90 mile Scenic Highway of Huron County, Michigan. We’ll start at White Rock on the lower right of the map on U. S. 25. White Rock was an Indian altar or shrine.  All land north of it was allotted to the Indians for hunting grounds in a treaty made in Detroit in. 1807. The land south of this early-day boundary line become the property of the ‘White people’.

Next is Wagener Park, named to honor P. O. Wagener, pioneer physician of Harbor Beach.  It contains the most beautiful stand of cedars in the Thumb district. That bathing beach flashes invitingly.

Step on the gas. We’re now in Harbor Beach, home of Supreme Court Justice Frank Murphy. That industry, on the short front is owned, by the Jenks family and is the largest specialty starch plant in the world.

Those lake breezes’ the ships on .the, distant horizon this is the life. We follow the shore line tothe thriving and beautiful village of Port Hope. We’ll relax, a few minutes in the W. R. Stafford Park, named to honor the founder of the village.

Whiskey Harbor — in the early days, to escape duty, whiskey was smuggled here from Canada, Several Kegs are said to be buried in the harbor. Keep your seats, at Huron City, summer home of Prof. Wm . Lyon Phelps is Lighthouse Park, a Federal gift to Huron County. There, goes a. deer. This park is a refuge for these beautiful creatures;

We pass Grindstone City, scene of the first industry of the county, and the beautiful summer resort Pointe Aux Barques, Thumb Nail of Michigan.

A long the rugged shore line we see. Turnip Rock, Kimball Point, Twin Rocks, Broken Rocks, Sandstone caves and  the site of an Indian pottery,  factory and village. “Poems from the hand of God” the natural scenery of Huron County is of the finest in the world.

Kimball Rock has an interesting Indian legend connected with it. Click’s Click’ — Hope those snapshots turn out okeh.

After getting an eye full of those, bathing beauties, look at those long strings of bass brought in by the lucky fishermen or women. Perch and Wall-eyed pike are also plentiful in Huron County.

All aboard, we’re on our way through country made famous by David Orr’s novel; “White Gold.’’

Those two parks, with a fine bathing beach are the Murray Van Wagoner and W, L. Jenks and the A.C. McGraw parks.

That 125. Ft. chimney stands as a lone sentinel guarding the ghost village of Port Crescent, a thriving port which vanished in 1884, with the lumber industry.

With 500 acres of parks, “in a natural paradise,” Huron County is the playground and recreational center of Michigan. We spin on, past the pot of gold buried somewhere on Loosemoore’s Point, to Oak Beach Park and summer resort colony.

Did you notice that everywhere along Scenic Highway 25 are found good hotels, restaurants, cottages, cabins, free camping grounds and every accommodation for the tourist.

We roll over the smooth pavement to the State park. Those sand dunes overlooking the sparkling waters of Lake Huron are a favorite haunt of the American eagle. Every tree native to Michigan is found in this beautiful playground, planned for by V. V. Philp former FERA administrator

More, than 120,000 persons in 1939 signed this register in the county, park at Caseville, where, we have just written our names. This is the largest of the Huron county park units. The Pres. McKinley family lived in Caseville four years.

Gen.  George M. Meade placed that, U.S. survey, marker near the tip of Sand Point. The “Hero, of Gettysburg*’ was called to the colors from here.

Those ruins of log buildings mark the site of Ora Labora colony, a religious-socialistic experiment of the Civil War days. The marshes of Wild Fowl Bay are the best duck hunting grounds in Michigan.

We pass the Bay Port Stone Quarry and Bay Port, with its summer colony and “sportsman’s paradise.”

We see from the highway an Indian Tree, famous in Indian legend. A white man, “who discovered the secret lead mines of the Indians,” was said to have been tied to this tree and burned to death.’

That land m ark at the mouth of the Shebeyon, “W here the lead ore is hidden,” creek was the first church of Huron county. It was built by Rev. J.  Auch, Lutheran missionary, in 1850.

Now we enter the thriving village of Sebewaing. The name is Chippewa and translates “near the winding creek,” An ancient battle was fought here between two large Indian tribes. ‘Skeletons o f warriors were unearthed on main street in recent years. Sebewaing has a fine park and many Industries including a large sugar factory.

One more park, near the Tuscola county line. Want to see a-little of the beautiful farming country, of

Huron County?’ Okeh !’ We turn east at Sebewaing, motor through Owendale, north to Pigeon and then east to Elkton and Bad Axe, county seat of Huron county. At Ubly we find the largest REA plant in the world.

Yes! Kinde is the bean center of the world for pea beans. You’re right! Huron county is a garden spot, almost everything we eat is grown on the half million acres of its fertile land;. The county also leads in daily products, in thoroughbred horses and purebred cattle. The population! About 32,000. Now introduced to this county of Huron, come enjoy, in full with us “the most pleasant spot in the world.”

From the Harbor Beach Times April 16, 1940

TBT – A Rich Haul- Harbor Beach


100 years ago today illustrations started to appear in the newspapers of Michigan’s Upper Thumb. The following was on the front page of the Harbor Beach Time January 5th 1917. Was food scarce? Coal was also in short supply causing layoffs of fisherman and the sugar beet processing plant in Mt. Clemans.

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