Northwest Lower Peninsula

The Legend of Michigan’s Dogman

Michigan's Dogman standing in a foggy forest

Once upon a moonlit night in the dense forests of Michigan, a creature of folklore and mystery roams the shadows – the legendary Dogman. While many websites touch upon the surface of its existence, we embark on a journey to delve deeper, exploring sightings and unraveling the enigmatic history that shrouds this canine-like being. Buckle up, as we navigate through the untrodden paths of Dogman lore, bringing you not just the usual, but the extraordinary. The origin of the Dogman legend in Michigan can be traced back to the late 19th century. The first reported sighting of the Dogman was… Read More »

Village of Thompsonville

Hart's Lumber Camp Thompsonville. Men and Horses pulling large log on sled

Thompsonville is a small village located in Benzie County and was founded in the late 19th century. The history of Thompsonville is closely tied to early European-American settlement, the lumber industry, agriculture, and its transformation into a community near Crystal Mountain Resort. The lumber industry played a significant role in the local economy during the late 19th century. The vast forests in the region were logged to provide lumber for construction and shipping, contributing to the growth of the community. The Railroads In 1889 two railroads, the Chicago & West Michigan and the Frankfort & Southeastern had line that crossed… Read More »

Woolsey Memorial Airport

Captain Woolsey and Lt. Benton leaving Coquimbo in the plane name Detroit that was part of the Pan American Flight

Woolsey Memorial Airport is a publicly owned, public use airport located 3 miles northeast of Northport in Leelanau Township on the Leelanau Peninsula. It was built in 1935 and is owned and operated by Leelanau Township. The Airport is quite a site and unlike any other airport. The grass field is accented by a charming stone-sided air terminal and a gazebo-like observation deck. The airport has two runways. The East-West runway is 3,663 feet long and the North-South runway is 2,500 feet long. The terminal is unmanned and there are four hangars. History of the Airport Woolsey Memorial Airport has… Read More »

Shay Locomotive

Drive side of the Class B Shay locomotive No. 1 Dixiana at the Roaring Camp & Big Trees Narrow Gauge Railroad, Felton, California

The Shay locomotive, also known as the Shay gear and locomotive, was a type of steam locomotive used primarily in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, especially for logging and industrial purposes. It was invented by Ephraim Shay, who was a schoolteacher and a civil servant in Northern Michigan. Shay designed this unique locomotive to better navigate the rough and uneven terrain of the forests and industrial sites where it was used. Shay locomotives were known for their distinctive features: Geared Power Transmission: The Shay locomotive used a vertical, non-rotary power transfer system that included gears, drive shafts, and… Read More »

Hauntings in Northwest Michigan

Francisco Morazan, which grounded and became a total loss in 1960 off the south shore of the island

Come along on a journey through Northern Michigan’s history in our captivating 5-part series, where we delve into the eerie tales of the most haunted locations in the region. Our inaugural installment focuses on the Northwest Lower Peninsula, where an array of ghostly encounters await, from haunted restaurants and theaters to chilling asylums. In northwest Michigan, the spirits of the past are far from scarce. Cadillac Former Escape Bar and Grill: Originally the Northwood Hotel in the 1800s and is rumored to be haunted. There have been reports of a woman in an old-fashioned dress in the ballroom and a… Read More »

Legs Inn

Legs Inn Cross Village

Seems many great family stories start with an eccentric, creative and fun relative. Legs Inn’s story is no different. Current owner George Smolak’s Uncle Stanley came to Northern Michigan in the 1920’s looking for a place that would remind him of his homeland, Kamionka, Poland. He wanted a place that would let him explore his many talents. Uncle Stanley loved to make sculptures out of the trees in the region. Stanley Smolak (1887-1968) was a polish immigrant that settled in Cross Village in 1921. Before heading north, he worked in the auto factories in both Detroit and Chicago. It was… Read More »

Grand Traverse Bay

Sailboat in West Grand Traverse Bay Traverse City Michigan

Grand Traverse Bay is composed of two main arms: the West Arm and the East Arm. The West Arm stretches about 20 miles from its entrance at the Manitou Islands to its junction with the East Arm. The East Arm is slightly shorter, extending around 15 miles from its entrance near Elk Rapids to its confluence with the West Arm. The bay has a rich history that dates back thousands of years and encompasses various periods, including Native American settlements, European exploration and colonization. The Anishinaabe (Ojibwe) and Odawa (Ottawa) tribes were among the first known inhabitants of the area,… Read More »

Power Island

Power and Bassett Islands in West Grand Traverse Bay

Power Island in West Grand Traverse Bay in Northern Michigan. The island is owned by Grand Traverse County and offers many recreational activities. There is a boat dock, picnic area, trail system, sandy beaches, and rustic camping. Basset Island is connected to Power Island via an isthmus. The islands are a popular destination for boaters, kayakers, and nature enthusiasts. There are opportunities for wildlife viewing, fishing, and exploring the natural beauty of the area. The trails lead visitors through wooded areas and along the shoreline, providing scenic views of the surrounding waters. Trail Map The 200-acre Power Island has over… Read More »

Michigan Rail Ferries

SS Landsdowne carrying passenger train cars in 1905.

We wrote about the Michigan Car Ferry System that primarily took cars across the Straits of Mackinac last week. While researching those ferries we discovered that there were ferries that transported railcars. We touched on it a little last week with the Chief WaWatam that would transport the railcars across the Straits.  Michigan State Car Ferries, also known as the “Michigan State Railways,” had a significant role in the transportation history of the Great Lakes region. Operating primarily during the early to mid-20th century, these ferries were responsible for transporting railroad cars across Lake Michigan between Michigan and Wisconsin. The… Read More »

Excelsior Town Hall and School District No. 1

Excelsior Township Michigan Hall

Excelsior Township, a township in Kalkaska County was established in 1875, but the first settlement in the town was made in 1874. As of the 2020 census the population was 991. Kalkaska County, formerly named Wabassee, was an unorganized county in 1840. It was separated from Michilimackinac County and in 1843 it was renamed Kalkaska County. At that time, it was attached to Grand Traverse County and then Antrim County before it was organized on January 27, 1871. In 1874 Nathaniel Woodfield built a home in what is now Excelsior Township. Followed by James Elliot, W.W. Crippen, D.E. Wherry, and… Read More »

Caberfae Peaks

Caberfae Peaks

Caberfae was the first destination ski resort in Michigan and one of the first in the country. It is the 4th oldest ski resort in the United States, celebrating 86 years in 2023. Caberfae’s Scottish Roots Caberfae is the Scottish name for Stag’s Head. Colin Fitzgerald, founder of the MacKenzie Family saved King Alexander III of Scotland’s life from a hunted stag deer. Colin was granted the name in 1255 by the King. The land was named Caberfae by Kenneth MacKenzie of Chicago in 1919 because of his ancestral roots and the abundance of deer herds in the area. From… Read More »

Don’t Forget The Fudge!

Michigan Fudged

Ever wonder how Fudge became a staple Up North? Atlantic City is known for Saltwater Taffy, Maine for Lobster and New Orleans for Beignets. Many tourist areas have their own specialty that you have to try when you visit and take some home for later. Northern Michigan is known for many things, the views, pasties, the dunes, wine, craft beer, and so much more. There is one common treat found in almost every town up north and that is fudge. You will find many local candy/fudge shops where you can watch the fudge being made, enjoy a sample, and buy… Read More »

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