Ghost Town USA’s

Guide to the Ghost Towns of


“The Great Lakes State



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Western & Eastern Treasures

Ghost Town USA Column Index for Michigan.

Bounded by four of the five Great Lakes, Michigan is a unique state in that the physical body of it is divided into two sections, the Upper Peninsula, and the Lower Peninsula.  These two peninsulas are separated by two of the huge lakes, but nearly touch at a narrow strait known as the Straits of Mackinac. (pronounced – MACK-in-naw)


Of all the states east of the Rocky Mountains, Michigan is probably the most written about in ghost town literature.  There are a number of books currently in print about the ghost towns of Michigan, which is very unusual for most of the eastern or central states.


Early Michigan’s economy was based on agriculture, logging and mining, and as a consequence, many towns were established to support these trades.  In the Upper Peninsula (U.P.) gold and copper mining defined the economy.  Beginning in the 1840s, copper mining was big business, while gold mining was primarily a by-product, albeit a lucrative byproduct of the copper mines.  Up until fairly recently iron mining was also big business, especially around Ishpeming.  Major slowdowns occurred in the mid 1990s in both the iron industry and the last remaining large copper mine.


As mining faded, people began to leave, and Copper Country had to capitalize on the beauty of the area, and the historic past to draw tourists.  A locally produced tourist agency at the west end of the U.P. has produced a map of the region pointing out "over 20 locations that are called ghost towns if no residents exist, or historic townsites, if a small fraction of the once-booming population still lives there."


In the Lower Peninsula (L.P.) lumbering was the prime economy maker and breaker, and the source of hundreds of ghost towns, most of which were sawmilling centers, rural communities supporting the nearby timber industry and transitory lumber camps.  Other ghost towns were located along what were once main highways, that today have been relegated to backwoods scenic drives.


Michigan’s ghost towns are still out there, but don’t expect to find Western-style ghosts filled with empty buildings.  For the most part, the ghost towns of Michigan are either tiny, badly faded villages or well-hidden, completely forgotten sites waiting for you to discover.



Where photos are indicated thusly (PHOTO!), please use your browser’s “BACK” button to return to this page.  More photos will be added over time.





Charlevoix Co.

Hidden in the Beaver Islands Archipelago in the far northeastern end of Lake Michigan, are old French and Mormon colonies, now long forgotten.  Big Beaver Island was the headquarters for French trappers and hunters long before the first permanent settlement was established around 1603, but this settlement later disappeared without a trace.  In 1847, a Mormon colony was founded near present-day St. James.  That colony eventually closed and its site burned.


Keweenaw Co.

This old class E copper mining town is located at the northern tip of the Keweenaw Peninsula, on the northern side of the Upper Peninsula.  In 1843 copper was discovered, and a small town grew up, booming as a copper mining, lumbering, and port town.  The mines faded by 1867, and Copper Harbor followed suit.  Today it is a tiny tourist-oriented resort.


Chippewa Co.

From 1812-1822, the British operated Fort Drummond here, but abandoned it when the area was determined to be on American soil.  A number of logging camps and lumber mills were also located on this island off the eastern tip of the Upper Peninsula.  Their locations are not determined. 


Cheboygan Co.

This information was contributed by Richard Knack of Cheboygan.  Thanks Richard!

Duncan City was a logging town, and was the county seat of Cheboygan County from 1853-1857. It was located on the southern point of Duncan Bay, in the present city of Cheboygan.  Duncan City once was more important than Cheboygan, supporting a sawmill, and acting as a fuel stop for Great Lakes steamships. In 1898 the sawmill burned and the town was abandoned.  


Keweenaw Co.

Active between 1843 and 1867, this class B copper mining town was once located 15 miles west of Copper Harbor, at the west end of the Upper Peninsula.  The post office was closed in 1959.



Delta Co.

With over 20 buildings, Fayette is a restored, class C/F, iron-smelting center originally founded in 1867 by the Jackson Iron Company.   Once home to over 500 folks, it was located on a small peninsula jutting from underside of Upper Peninsula, just east of Escanaba, just outside the present town of Fayette.  In 1891 the furnaces were dismantled, and in 1959 it became a State Park. 

This was our Ghost Town of the Month for August 2005.


Mackinac Co.

Originally built by the French in 1712, the fort at Michilimackinac was surrendered to the English in 1761.  Then on June 2, 1763, the British post was attacked and the soldiers massacred by Chippewa Indians.  The British reoccupied it until 1781.  



Keweenaw Co.

A mile east of Copper Harbor is Fort Wilkins State Park, the restored site of Fort Wilkins, an 1844-1870 era Army post that was built to protect the area's copper miners, and occupied intermittently, as needed.


Marquette Co.

This iron mining and smelting center was located off US 41, just west of Ishpeming.  A class B site, it boomed between 1865 and 1875, and was a company town, supplying all the necessities for the smelter crews.  Once the hardwood forests were stripped, the smelters slowed, which affected mine production.  When the smelters shut down the town died.  All that remains are a few ruins hidden in second growth forest.


Huron Co.

This class C lumbering town is now a museum, and is located on SH 25, eight miles east of Port Austin, just east of the northern tip of the "heel" on the east side of Saginaw Bay.  The first sawmill started here in 1837, and it quickly grew into a booming lumbering center.  It was destroyed by wildfires in 1871 and 1881, and rebuilt after each one.  Huron City faded, and the post office closed in 1905.   


Isabella Co.

This class A manufacturing village was active from 1871-1878.  It grew up around a factory built by Major James W. Long.  The factory didn’t do well, and it closed, the small town disappearing with it.  Actual location not determined, but it was located in Union Township.


Baraga Co.

On east side of Keweenaw Bay seven miles north of L'Anse, this class D company lumber town began life in 1878, and within five years had 500 people, a church, general store, post office, school and a sawmill, all lit by electric lights. In 1922, Henry Ford purchased Pequaming and the surrounding forest for use in production of automobiles.  The company town quickly filled with neat white houses and other niceties lacking in the original lumber town.  By the late 1940s, wood wasn’t used in automobile manufacturing, so the operation shut down.  Pequaming faded, and by 1995 only 15 families still lived here.


Houghton Co.

This old copper mine in the U.P. was active through 1945.


Marquette Co.

In the 1870s, Julius Ropes was postmaster of Ishpeming, as well as an amateur explorer, geologist and chemist. In 1880 he opened an assay office to assay ore samples. In 1881 Ropes abandoned his laboratory to open the Ropes Mine on the Dead River. It operated until 1897, producing over a half million dollars of gold.  


Allegon Co.

Laid out in 1838 near the mouth of the Kalamazoo River, the location of this old lumber town is not determined.  The first mill and a bank were established in 1839, but the wannabe village did not do well.  By 1875 it was forgotten.


Ontanagon Co.

Located on Victoria Dam Road,, about two miles southwest of Rockland, this class C (partially restored) copper mining town was originally founded in 1847.  It reached a population of 1800, many of whom were Cornish miners.  The mines were active until 1921, while the post office remained open until 1935.  It currently has four buildings restored, and the Society for the Preservation of Victoria is actively in process of raising money to continue efforts to restore other buildings in the old town.  Guided tours are available for a nominal fee.

This is one of the towns featured in my newest book, GHOST TOWNS: Yesterday & TodayTM.


Barry Co.

The location of this 1830s roadhouse, stage station and tavern is not determined.  It was established in 1836, and operated until 1855 when a new road was built, reducing the amount of traffic passing by the old roadhouse.  The site is now part of the Yankee Springs State Recreation Area.




Historians estimate that there may be as many as 50,000 ghost towns scattered across the United States of America.

Gary B. Speck Publications is in process of publishing unique state, regional, and county guides called

The Ghost Town Guru's Guide to the Ghost Towns of “STATE”

These original guides are designed for anybody interested in ghost towns. Whether you are a casual tourist looking for a new and different place to visit, or a hard-core ghost town researcher, these guides will be just right for you. With over 30 years of research behind them, they will be a welcome addition to any ghost towner's library.

Thank you, and we'll see you out on the Ghost Town Trail!


For more information on the ghost towns of Michigan, contact us at

Ghost Town USA.


E-mailers, PLEASE NOTE:

Due to the tremendous amount of viruses, worms and “spam,” out there, I no longer open or respond to e-mails with unsolicited attachments, OR messages on the subject lines with “Hey”, “Hi”, “Need help”, “Help Please”, “???”, or blank subject lines, etc.  If you do send E-mail asking for information, or sharing information, PLEASE indicate the appropriate location AND state name, or other topic on the “subject” line.




These listings and historical vignettes of ghost towns, near-ghost towns and other historical sites in Michigan above are for informational purposes only, and should NOT be construed to grant permission to trespass, metal detect, relic or treasure hunt at any of the listed sites.


If the reader of this guide is a metal detector user and plans to use this guide to locate sites for metal detecting or relic hunting, it is the READER'S responsibility to obtain written permission from the legal property owners. Please be advised, that any state or nationally owned sites will probably be off-limits to metal detector use. Also be aware of any federal, state or local laws restricting the same.

When you are exploring the ghost towns of Michigan, please abide by the

Ghost Towner's Code of Ethics.




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First Posted:  June 01, 2003

Last Updated: August 07, 2010




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