Tawas – Fun Across the Bay


On summer evenings we can see the blinking lights of the Tawas area from our beach. Its a day’s sail from Caseville but a several hour drive from the Upper Thumb.  The bay is  clear due to the currents coming in from Lake Huron and the little town nestled near the harbor is a charming mix of tourist and art colony.


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Small Town Charm

East Tawas might be a small Michigan harbor town located on Tawas Bay, but that doesn’t stop this fascinating area from being known as a four season destination. East Tawas is an exceptional port of call and vacation spot if you’re a passionate boater. The town is filled with charming restaurants, small artisan shops, lively pubs, and even a movie theater within walking distance of the harbor. The Tawas Point State Park with its iconic lighthouse is also not far away, so there’s a virtually endless list of things you can do while vacationing at or touring East Tawas.


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Boating and Sailing

East Tawas is located on Tawas Bay, and known as a prime cursing destination for sailing in Lake Huron. It has a safe and beautiful harbor, and this makes it the perfect fit for just about every float plan if you near Saginaw Bay. The East Tawas State Dock is a 140-slip marina that attracts boaters from all over the Great Lakes area. It has state-of-the-art features such as a comfortable dock office, a new shower facilities, a boat launch, and a park with a playground. The facility is undergoing a multi-million dollar renovation so expect some construction impact if you plan to visit. There are also many boat rentals in East Tawas where you can motor a small boat or sail out on the bay.


tawas point
Visit the Tawas Area Beaches

You have a long list of options when it comes to the beaches at East Tawas. East Tawas offers public swimming beaches that are fitted with amenities including picnic areas and playgrounds. City Park in East Tawas has camping areas that are situated on the beach. The neighboring Tawas Point State Park offers miles of sandy beaches, either along the cooler waters of Lake Huron or, the warmer waters of Tawas Bay. Tawas Point has been referred to as the “Cape Cod of the Midwest.” With its iconic lighthouse standing guard on the point.


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Enjoy the Local Food

While the food at your hotel, camp or on deck may be perfect, you can find a fine selection of cuisine within walking distance of the harbor or a short drive. Treat yourself to the fantastic locally caught walleye or great homemade fudge and candy. Some of the notables in town include G’s Pizzeria & Deli, Craving, Northwoods Steak House, and Tawas Point Grille.


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Go Fishing

Tawas Bay is a fishing spot, situated at the confluence of the Lake Huron and Saginaw Bay waters it’s known as the feeding ground for much of the fishery in Lake Huron. The waters of northeast Lake Huron are cool, while the waters of southwest Saginaw Bay are warm. As a result, many species are thriving here; walleye pike, yellow perch, and salmon are what the charter boat captains go for. If you’re after the elusive bass you can try at the Huron National Forest.


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Go Skiing

When the snow fly’s its time to rethink your activity. East Tawas is active during the winter, cross country skiing is a high impact option and draws enthusiasts from around the region. There are major trail systems for you to choose from in the Tawas area- the groomed Corsair Ski Trails, and the un-groomed Highbanks Trails. The Corsair Trail System, is situated in the beautiful Silver valley surrounded by the 120,000-acre Huron National Forest. The Corsair system is considered one of the largest groomed trail networks in Michigan. Iosco County has 94 miles of trails for snowmobiling that are spruced and ready for action in wintertime.

There are numerous activities in the Tawas area. Shopping, hiking in the Huron National Forest or check out the nightlife in town. Possibilities are endless, and your adventure in upper Saginaw Bay promises to be a memorable one.

Graphics courtesy of Wikipedia Commons, Tawas Bay USFWS photo by Frank Horvath

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Transom Charm – What’s In a Name


“The name selected for a boat may not seem like an important thing. But, considering the strong feelings many of us have for our boats; the fact that we put so much work, and sweat and money into them; the fact they are a big part of our memories of so many good times, with family, with friends; the fact that sometimes our very lives are in the safekeeping of our boat; most of us feel that selecting the right name for our boat is important.”- The Frugal Mariner

 


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Railway at the Bottom of the Bay


Pontiac_Oxford and Northern_TRANS


On October 20th 1881 construction of Pontiac, Oxford & Port Austin Railroad began at Caseville to bring rail service to the Thumb area. Just before construction began a huge fire devastated the thumb area. The result was that the former lumbering area was now ripe for agricultural development. The fire opened up the land to farming.


Crawford-Mill-Caseville


Caseville’s first railroad engines were delivered by the ship C.R. Dumford from Cleveland. The track out of Caseville was laid out about a mile before heavy snow stopped the work. Francis Crawford financed the railway project and the rails were shipped in from Cleveland.


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On one shipment from Cleveland the ship ran aground on the rocky shoals near Oak Point. During the salvage operation, 23 rails slipped into Saginaw Bay and were lost. It’s assumed that those rails are still at the bottom of the lake today.


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Experience a Haunted House


If there is one area in Michigan’s Upper Thumb where the paranormal might reside it would have to be Bay Port. The area was the site of the vanished Ora Labora German Colony that existed from 1861-1867, the spooky and unattended Old Bay Port Cemetery the famous but now vanished and presumed haunted Bay Port Hotel and the address of the Sweet Dreams Inn where many claim to have experienced paranormal activity.


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The Inn was built in 1890 at the end of the lumber era in the Upper Thumb. Contracted by William H. Wallace, the Victorian style home was designed with the tastes and style common at that time by those with means. Wallace was active in politics and was a delegate in the Republican National Convention in 1908, 1916, and 1924. He was president of Michigan Sugar Company and Bay Port State Bank.  He owned the Wallace Stone Quarry which is just south of town and still in operation today.  His first wife, Elizabeth died in 1893 and local lore tells that she passed away in the home. There also a bit of a mystery in that despite the prominence of this individual there is no record of his or his son’s grave sites. Thus it’s no coincidence that visitors say Wallace and his first wife still roam the inn with his heavy footsteps, as well as whispering in the ears of the guests.


“Me and my best friend live in Bay Port We have seen ghosts and heard screams countless times walking on the street in front of the Sweet Dreams Inn. Also have heard stories of the ghosts and have seen the little girl looking out of the left window on the third floor. So I believe it is haunted!!!”


The Sweet Dreams Inn is a specialized bed-and-breakfast where guests hope to experience the proximity of these friendly ghosts. Guest have reported that doors open and close, beds and chairs are moved. Some report that they feel being touched and hear voices and footfalls where nobody has been. One event that was caught on a cell phone video was that of an “orb” flying through one of the guest bedrooms. At times guests are unnerved by the experience and leave in the middle of the night.


“Been there several times and have experienced activity first hand: footsteps, voices. Just because one person doesn’t have an experience doesn’t mean it never happens.”


The original family owned the large mansion for over 100 years. The family lived on the first two floors. They entertained in a large ballroom on the third floor. Local historians noted that the Wallaces would host parties on Saturday night that would last well into the morning hours. Guests say that most of the paranormal activity occurs on the third floor.


 “Most guests don’t know (about the unexplained occurrences) but they usually find out by the end of the night. Some guests leave at 3 or 4 a.m.”


The inn has been featured in two Haunted Michigan travel books and appeared in a paranormal documentary and movie. It’s also found in the famous Pure Michigan website. The Inn registers guests by appointment you can actually stay overnight.


Quotes from - hauntedhovel.com, michigansthumb.com

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Fun in Michigan's Upper Thumb

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