Tag Archives: Caseville Michigan

Caseville Michigan is a little city near the tip of the Thumb that calls it itself the “perch capital of the world”.  Located at the mouth of the Pigeon River that help make this area a boating destination. Well known for its large sandy beach, abundant fishing and unique shops and festivities.

Caseville is also known for its abundance of vacation homes and cottages. Blessed with a sugar sand along the beach, it’s been drawing families to spend the summers here for over two generations.

Caseville is home of the Shanty Days in the winter and the famous Cheeseburger Festival in the closing days of the summer. Caseville is the fun city in the thumb.

The Mystery of the Holes at Rush Lake

4x4 Offroad

A Mystery at Rush Lake

When I was a kid, my cousin and I would ride all over the trails near Rush Lake, a state hunting area in the Upper Thumb. We explored the hills and the large cattail-filled lake. One area that fascinated us was a deep pool of water cut out of the sandstone at the end of Quarry Road. It was larger than the size of two Olympic swimming pools. We threw rocks into it and tried to figure out how deep the water was. We typically got chased out by some irritated neighbor or got bored and went to explore something else. Other than the name of the street, no one knew anything about that deep pool at the end of the road.

Years go by and I’m researching the quarry operations of Grindstone City and of William Wallace’s quarry in Bay Port when I encountered a strange reference to another. There is mention of a stone quarry with a large dock operation near an area called Little Oak Point. Oak Point is located north of Rush Lake. It was an interesting development. Could this be the remnants of that large water-filled pool I explored as a kid?

green leafed plant beside lake
Photo by Irina Kostenich on Pexels.com

A Rush Lake Competitor to Grindstone City?

The Babbitt Sandstone Company was headquartered in Ypsilanti Michigan. It began stone quarry operations in March of 1885 in Lake Township. It was opened on a large exposed area of Napoleon sandstone just north of Rush Lake. News of the quarry’s opening in newspapers throughout Michigan indicated that they wanted to manufacture grindstones. They extracted a blue sandstone that was very hard and ideally suited as a building material. They established a long dock out into Saginaw Bay for shipping the building material. By 1887, the quarried stone was also used for cemetery memorials as the hard sandstone was considered to weather well and hold the inscriptions. Examples of the memorials are said to be found at Caseville cemetery.


Babbitt’s Small Quarry Fails at Rush Lake

Like Grindstone City, the operations began to falter in the late 1880’s . Public records in 1892 show that the Babbitt operations may have started to decline as the company failed to file its financial report that year to the state. By 1910, a State geological survey indicated that the quarry is no longer in operations and the quarry operations were filled with water.

The last evidence of the Babbitt quarry can still be seen at the end of Quarry Road. Specifically, the 1800s excavations are on the edge  of the Rush Lake State Game Area in Lake Township. The site can be seen from Google Earth of the large holes of the former stone quarrying operations. The Babbitt quarry was the smallest and shortest-lived of the sandstone quarry operations of the Upper Thumb.

Similar Stories to Quarry Operations at Rush Lake

Coal Mining Operations of Sebewaing
Grindstone City, the Thumbs First Industry

Rush Lake Sources

• Isabella County Enterprise, 27 March 1885
• Geological Survey of Michigan Lower Peninsula 1896-1900, State of Michigan
• A Biological Survey of the Sand Dune Region on the South Shore of Saginaw Bay Michigan, 1910-1911, State of Michigan

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Bay Port Fish Sandwich Festival

Michigan’s Upper Thumb Festival Season Starts in Bay Port

Bay Port, Michigan – As late summer rolls around the days get a bit shorter and the evenings around the campfire can have a bit of chill in the air. It’s also festival season! If you’re in the Upper Thumb the first weekend in August, head to Bay Port. The Bay Port Fish Sandwich Festival is the granddaddy of them all. Since 1978 folks come in and lined up for a fish sandwich that “takes two hands to hold one.” At $4.00 it’s a deal. It’s a family friendly event but its proximity to the historic Bay Port Inn make thoughts of having a “short one” prior to hitting the craft booths not uncommon.

Bay Port Craft Show
Craft and vendor booths are fun to browse

Events start on Friday, August 3rd at noon with sandwiches and a large continuous craft show, the crowning of the festival’s king, queen, prince and princess and fireworks on Friday evening at Saturday’s events start with a 5K walk/run then the festival’s parade kicks off at 10:30 a.m. Craft booths and fish sandwiches are sold throughout the day. 

The festival concludes on Sunday at noon with a fish eating contest. 

A Bite of Bay Port Fish Sandwich History

Bay Port Fish Sandwich Festival
Even the King makes sandwiches

The Engelhard’s family started the community’s Fish Sandwich Festival. In 1949 Henry and Edna began selling the famous fish sandwich. By 1953, the Engelhard’s erected a stand on the front lawn of their home, with a sign that touted Bay Port’s Original Fresh Boneless Fried Fish Sandwich.

The first Fish Sandwich Festival was held in 1978, and just like Caseville’s 1st Rib stock held years later, they quickly sold out. Today the annual number of visitors averages over 10,000. Back in the late 1940’s folks told them they were crazy, but the Bay Port fishery certainly captivated them and, after all, the Bay Port slogan is “Fish caught the Man.”

Bay Port Fish Sandwich Festival
Live Entertainment All Weekend

The fish sandwich is the prime attraction. The original sandwich is local caught freshwater Mullet is dipped in a secret batter, fried crisp, and served on a long bun with ketchup and mustard. Although not traditional, tartar sauce is also available. According to Henry, the fish should overlap the bun and  the sandwich should be so large “it takes two hands to hold it.” All day, the lines in front of the sandwich stand are long. It is not unusual to sell 12,500 sandwiches to people from as far away as Florida and the northeast.

Bay Port Michigan Fish Sandwich Festival
The lines move quickly

Henry was the festival’s primary inspiration, energy, supporter, and promoter. He wrote many stories regaling the fish sandwiches’ power to please and to heal. Through his efforts, the festival has been featured on NBC’s Today Show, ABCs 20/20, and in many national magazines and newspapers. In recognition of their contribution to the Fish Sandwich Festival, Henry and Edna (she died in 1992) were honored as “Mr. and Mrs. Bay Port.”