The great Michigan forest fires of 1881 swept over four counties in three days, destroyed nearly two million dollars’ worth of property, and killed one hundred and twenty-five people. Their extent and irresistible power were largely due to atmospheric conditions. The summer of 1881 was excessively dry, and the drought had done its work nowhere more effectively than in the wide, blunt, tongue of land which lies between Saginaw bay and Lake Huron. At the northern end of this tongue is Huron County.
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Great Michigan Thumb Fires of 1881
Ora Labora, the name means “pray and work,” and the 50 families who came to an area between Caseville and Wildfowl Bay in the early 1860’s certainly did both. The settlers were of German origin, and the Rev. Emil Baur was led the colony. They had to struggle against forests and swamps and fevers. Many of their young men left to fight in the Civil War. In the end, Ora Labora was deserted.
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Ora Labora – A Lost Paradise
There is no definite record about how the town of Pigeon was named. The town began because the Saginaw, Tuscola, Huron Railroad established a crossing there that was called Berne. Later the name was changed to Pigeon, and it’s possible that at one time huge flocks of passenger pigeons (now extinct) migrated over that area.
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Scenic Travel in the 1940’s
Pointe Aux Barques, so named by the French because a certain rock formation looked like the prow of a ship. In 1896 Stanford Crapo, an official of the Pere Marquette Railroad, saw the possibilities of Pointe Aux Barques as a resort for Detroit socialites. Gradually cottages were built and the railroad ran club cars twice daily during the summer, bringing tourists to the Pointe and in 1912 rates were set at: Board and room in hotel, $14 per week; Daily rates, S3 to $5. But just before the hotel was to open, it was completely destroyed by fire.
At the turn of the century, Harvey Firestone owned two cottages, and for many years Michigan poet, Edgar A. Guest, spent summers at his cottage at Pointe Aux Barques.
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Point Aux Barques history