It wasn’t until 1903 that the Flint and Pere Marquette railway extended tracks from Harbor Beach north to Port Hope in the Upper Thumb. Financed by local businessmen, a standard gauge rail line was laid the final seven miles. The following year a modern depot was built to host passengers and cargo. Now passengers could come in from anywhere in the country and Port Hope could ship out commodities to other markets.
Port Hope was the End-Of-The-Line
The railway owners deemed Port Hope to be the end of the line running up the eastern shore of Lake Huron. So an engine house, water tower and a “Y” turn-around were built to maintain the depot. Up until sometime in the 1930’s there was a daily train that ran from Port Huron to Port Hope in the morning with a return trip in the late afternoon. The run took three hours. Trains continued to run to Port Hope to another fifty years. The last freight runs ceased operation in 1982.
The Restored Port Hope Depot Today
Today the Port Hope Depot has been exquisitely restored. You can see exhibits in the passenger waiting room, the station masters office, luggage and freight room. Each room has been painted to match the original color. The station looks brand new. One of the most interesting items on display was a pair of glasses found trapped for over one hundred years behind window trim in the station master office. The wire frame glasses are extremely fragile yet look brand new.
Model Railroad Shows History of Port Hope and Harbor Beach
In the lower level of the depot there is an extensive model railroad being built by volunteer craftsmen. The model depicts how Port Hope and Harbor Beach depots and freight yards looked when the railway was active in the early 1900’s. Volunteers are still at work creating this are as it looked. It’s a fascinating exhibit in miniature. The model railroad can be seen when the depot is open or by appointment at 989-550-5298.
Caseville’s Union Army Memorial Statue from the Civil War
The Pedestal Inscription of the Caseville Memorial Statue reads – 1910. Dedicated to the living and dead soldiers of Huron County 1861-1865. Erected by the patriotic citizens of Huron County under auspices of Nancy Smalley Circle No. 7, L. of G. A. R.
Rededication – “We proudly acknowledge those from Caseville and vicinity who answered the call to preserve freedom and the memory of those who made the supreme sacrifice for that freedom. Dedicated Memorial Day, 1976”
Shots from the when Pinnebog was one of the interior four corner villages in Huron County. The ruins of Champagne’s general store can still be seen across from Heck’s Bar in Pinnebog. Pinnebog has just about faded away.
The lumbering era in Michigan’s Upper Thumb from 1860-1880 resulted in booming towns all along the shoreline. Sebewaing was no exception. While it did not benefit from proximity of being on Lake Huron like Sand Beach, (later named Harbor Beach), or having a deep river outflow like Caseville, it’s historical spot as a rich hunting area by native Americans and natural outflow to Saginaw Bay by the Sebewaing River predestined it as a natural gathering spot.
While researching another topic. I ran across these rare pictures taken in the Sebewaing river area in the late 1800’s. I was surprised such large ships could enter as the early plat maps show only a narrow river entrance into the town. It turns out that Sebewaing was a bit of a ship building and repair site. It’s yet another bit of history to savor. If only for a moment.
Schooner Viola in Sebewaing harbor. Source: Ralph K. Roberts
Schooner G.R. DURKEE, 1887, attributed to being taken in Sebewaing. (Doubtful) Dowling Collection, University of Detroit – Mercy
Steambarge J.C. Liken 1873, taken in Sebewaing. Source: Ralph K. Roberts
One of our favorite topics of Michigan Upper Thumb history is the famous German Religious Colony of Ora Labora. This colony was located north of Bay Port. It operated from 1862 to 1867. It’s a fascinating topic and its one in which I’ve created many posts over the years.
Utopia – Lost in the Wilderness – Ora et Labora settlement was founded by Emil Baur in 1857 near Bay Port Michigan. The colony lasted until 1867 after greed, war and even bugs exhausted the colonists’ will to carry on. But there is much more to the story… This announces the new research site Ora-Labora.org.
Ora Labora – A Lost Colony In Michigan’s North – Ora Labora known as “Christian German Agricultural and Benevolent Society of Ora et Labora” (Pray and Work), where it’s parishioners could combine work with prayer, and live according to the Methodist Church Discipline. Founded in 1862 on Michigan’s Wild Fowl Bay, the colony disappeared in 1867
Ora Labora – A Lost Colony In Michigan’s North – Part II – Part II of the Ora Labora story outlines the summer of 1863. The building is rapid and progresses exciting in Michigan’s north. But the looming effect of the Civil War is about to impact this fledgling German religious colony’s effort to bring their culture and traditions to the Great Lakes wilderness.
Ora Labora – A Lost Colony In Michigan’s North – Part III – Part III of the Ora Labora story brings us to 1864. The rapid growth of the colony was costly and the society needs funds to grow. It was time for drastic measures. The raging war in the south was turning in the North’s favor the colony was on borrowed time until the draft took effect.
Our next installment of the Ora Labora legacy will take us to 1865 during the closing days of the civil war. The colony finds itself tumbling toward ruin yet more energetic colonists join the society. The direction that the colony takes now is arguably the most critical for the next century of the thumb region.