Tag Archives: Pure Michigan

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.


Pigeon-River-Salt-Iron-Works


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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Turnip Rock – Movie Set


Our favorite paddling spot near Port Austin was the set of a 2014 movie. Jinn is a action-horror-thriller film. Turnip Rock  can bee seen in the trailer. 2014 was when the lakes hit an historic low water level. Thus the caves at Pointe Aux Barques could be used.

Jinn was was shot in many Michigan locations, including Detroit, Bloomfield Hills, Novi, Monroe, Commerce Township, Warren, Highland Park, and Port Austin.

Featured Photo: Ricardo Diaz via Flickr

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Caseville’s 25th Shanty Days February 17-19


It’s Shanty Days Silver Anniversary!

The middle of winter is celebrated and imbibed in the cold of February off the shores of the frozen Saginaw Bay. Caseville’s annual Shanty Days Festival kicks off the 2017 year of fun in Key North. 

Shanty Days PostponedDon’t be left out in the cold. The 2017 Shanty Days in Caseville promises to be eventful even if the weather doesn’t cooperate. Events are all weekend long at the Saginaw Bay Marina and the Caseville County Park including the popular Polar Bear dip cut from a hole in the ice at the marina. Two years ago the 2015 Caseville Shanty Days Sharnty Days 2015theme was “Let’s Get Flaky” which proved to be fun and  matched with some of the crazy events over the three blustery days. 2015 was also the first time that the iconic event was postponed for a week due to sub-zero temperatures and blizzard conditions.

2017 Shanty Days Highlights

Friday Feb 17 – Caseville Eagles Open to the Public Located Behind Caseville True Value

  • Fish Fry –  Burgers, fish & additional menu items 5:00 p.m.-8:00 p.m.
  • Karaoke 7 p.m.

Saturday Feb 18 – At Caseville Resort & Marina Events start at 11am and run all afternoon.

  • Broom Ball competition
  • Human Bowling
  • Chick On A Stick 3 person race, 2 guys carry their gal.
  • Winter Cardboard Sled Race – 2 person race.
  • Build your sled out of cardboard & duct tape.
  • Polar Bear Dip

Sunday Feb 19 – Kids Day at Caseville Resort & Marina and Caseville Eagles. Various events for youth

 

We will update this post and re-publish as information trickles in. Stay tuned.


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Fun in Port Austin – Tip of the Thumb


img_0199Most states in our country have small towns tucked away from the hustle and bustle of state capitals and big cities.  In Michigan’s greater Detroit area, Port Austin fits the bill.  This harbor town is two hours away from Detroit in a straight drive up M-53 all the way to the tip of the Thumb of Michigan. This budding artist colony nestled between farms and pasture land to its south and the expanse of Lake Huron to its north. As a result of this unique position the town offers breathtaking sunrise and sunset views over the big lake.  With a small year around population just over 600, it’s a summer destination with cottage owners and weekend tourists seek the cool breezes of Lake Huron while the parents take the kids out to enjoy the numerous sandy beaches throughout the area.  Boaters and cruising sailors carefully motor past the rocks and the iconic Port Austin Lighthouse to utilize the strategic port to stock up with groceries or make repairs before heading over to Canada’s Georgian Bay or the pristine waters of the North Channel.

This historic and unique town embraces visitors and its community with activities thatimg_0305 allow everyone to get out and fellowship with one another forming lasting bonds.  There is an “Art in The Park” event every Labor Day weekend and White Church gallery is minutes away in Grindstone City.  During the summer months, the Port Austin Farmers Market Welcome Signtown holds a weekly farmers market full of fresh veggies and produce accompanied by arts and crafts.  No need to ask for directions as it’s located downtown one block from the harbor.  This laid-back event is much anticipated by the locals and serves as both a marketplace and social gathering.  The newest event to hit the town has been the Porchfest. Here famous and not-so-famous music groups preform folk, country, jazz and even a little rock. Participants stroll from house to house and take in each entertainer. The event is held each June and we will update our readers with dates as the event gets closer.


Turnip Rock Near Pointe Aux Barques MichiganThe outdoor enthusiast will find no shortage of things do or places to explore in Huron County.  Turnip Rock is at the foremost of many beautiful sites.  Only accessible by water (as any route taken by land would trespass on private property), the 5-hour kayak round trip is the best way to experience this natural treasure.  The 2 hours heading out seem shortened by the anticipation of seeing something so marvelous and the 2-hour paddle back allows ample time to explore the rocky shore let the experience sink in. If you’re a fisherman, the Port Austin harbor is home to several charter boats that specialize in finding the numerous Lake Trout, tasty Walleye and Steelhead Salmon that are out in the big lake.

For those who like to enjoy their site seeing underwater, Port Austin has an entire underwater park full of shipwrecks from the 19th century.  Scuba divers and snorkelers can be seen here daily in summer months.  On the other hand, if you feel the need to stay dry and hit the links, head just south of town to Bird Creek Golf Club and test your skills at the “best greens in the Thumb”. If putting is more your style, Port Austin has several classic mini-golf attractions for the kids and the popular Sandy Dunes Adventure Golf which claims the only waterfall in the Thumb. Horseback riding is available for kids age 8 and up at the Knoblock Riding Stables and the stable offers Pony rides for the little ones.

The Tip-of-the-Thumb offers some of the finest home cooked and Great Lakes fare in the The Bank 1884 Food and Spirits, Port Austin Michiganregion. With over twenty restaurants, grills and pubs there is a choice for just about every taste. Some of the more outstanding establishments include the epicureanism of The Farm Restaurant, the classic dishes of The Bank 1884 Food and Spirts and breakfast at the Lighthouse Café. For those who like a sense of history venture to the recently reopened Garfield Inn. The 20th President of the United States, James Garfield, did not build or own the landmark 1850’s Inn, but he was a rather frequent visitor. A few minutes from Port Austin in Grindstone City are the dueling ice cream shops of the Grindstone General Store and Rybak’s Ice Cream.

img_1428If you like to enjoy the great outdoors Port Crescent State Park is the perfect place.  Located on 640 acres with 3 miles of sugar sand beach, the park offers excellent scenery making it the perfect place for a beach walk or to relax among the sand dunes and enjoy a good book.  The park is located on the site of an 1860’s lumber town that has long since faded away. Some remnants of the original town of Port Crescent are still seen inPort Cresent State Park River Bank the park such as the chimney base from the salt works and lumber mill. Much of the park literally resides on a ghost town. The park also supports canoeing on the gentle Pinnebog River with rentals nearby. For those who want to venture on foot there are 7 miles of dunes and woods hiking terrain will satisfy the adventurous souls.  Other amenities include, hunting, fishing, cross country skiing, and birding. Port Crescent State Park has been designated as one of the few areas qualified to be listed as Dark Sky Preserve. With little light pollution from nearby metro areas, this park is a haven for astronomers each summer.

Port Austin is affordable resort town with a budding artist colony in a family friendlyPort Austin's Farmers Market atmosphere.  Visitors can find numerous places to stay. Lodging is available on the waterfront overlooking the famous Broken Rocks, a favorite of kayakers, to cozy knotty pine cabins in town and near the shops. Couples can also experience the romantic and classic touches of several Bed & Breakfasts in town. Camping is also available at several commercial, county and at Port Crescent State Park campgrounds. Port Austin is a place to call home, or to spend a long weekend in an atmosphere reminiscent of the early to mid-1900’s America at the tip of Michigan’s Thumb.

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