Michigan Abandoned Places and Ruins Worth Checking Out: Part 5
Abandoned places and ruins continue to fascinate travelers, as they provide a window into the past as well as some amazing pictures. Many Michigan abandoned places and ruins sites are easy to find and visit, and we have been fortunate enough to have the chance to see many of them in person. While we are always looking to explore sites we haven’t yet been to, we decided to take a minute to highlight some of the amazing ones we have been to in this list. In January we shared our fist list of 10 Michigan Abandoned Places and Ruins Worth Checking Out and then we shared 10 More Michigan Abandoned Places and Ruins Worth Checking Out, sharing pictures from our visits and letting you know how you can visit too. We followed that up with our incredibly popular 10 Michigan Abandoned Places and Ruins Worth Checking Out, Part 3. All three of these posts were among our most-viewed articles in 2022! After adding in 10 Michigan Abandoned Places and Ruins Worth Checking Out: Part 4 we now return with 10 Michigan Abandoned Places and Ruins Worth Checking Out: Part 5 featuring 10 more sites. When visiting any of these sites it is important to respect private property and to “leave nothing but footprints, take nothing but pictures.” We hope you enjoy this list and we hope to be back soon with a list of 10 more incredible sites.
Silver Spray Shipwreck (Drummond Island) – It takes a bit of paddling to get to this shipwreck in Scammon Cove on the south side of Drummond Island. The Silver Spray was a 54 foot tug and it now lies in five to ten feet of water with great visibility on calm days. The ruins of the Johnswood lumber mill and the wreck of the schooner barge Troy are located on the opposite side of the cove and await further exploration on our next visit.
Elk Rapids Iron Works – A Michigan historical marker gives more information about this small set of ruins, all that remains of a once-great iron producing operation in Elk Rapids: “The brick ruin near this marker was the hearth of the Elk Rapid furnace, during the 1870s one of the nation’s greatest producers of charcoal iron. Forty-seven feet high and twelve feet in diameter, it was begun in 1872 and produced the first blast of iron on June 24, 1873. The local logging firm of Dexter and Noble constructed the furnace, locating it in Elk Rapids to utilize the vast stands of hardwood timber which surrounded the town. The hardwood was converted to charcoal to fire the furnace, and iron ore was imported form the Upper Peninsula by freighter. Once the town’s major employer, the furnace closed during World War I when the nearby forests were depleted, and cheaper smelting processes were developed.” You’ll find it on Ames St. just east of U.S. 31, at the far end of the parking lot for the Riverwalk Grill and Taproom.
Pequaming – Henry Ford once owned a lot of land in the Upper Peninsula. The hardwood forests here were rich with materials that could be used to create vehicle bodies and parts. A sawmill once operated at Pequaming, though today it is hard to picture this area booming with activity. A water tower still bears the Ford logo, Ford’s summer bungalow serves as a vacation rental, and what is left of the mill (pictured) is now privately owned. From L’Anse, head east on Main St. and follow it out of town as it becomes Skanee Rd. After about three miles take the left on Whirl-i-gig and follow that to Bayshore Rd. After four miles you will start to see Pequaming, please respect private property owners if you visit.
Tobacco River pumping station ruins – A small roadside park on Gay-LacLabelle road offers visitors a picnic area and access to the Tobacco River where it empties into Lake Superior. A pumping station once stood here and tied in with the Mohawk Mining Stamp Mill in Gay. The ruins above and a few dam remnants are all that survive today. The Tobacco River has several small waterfall drops before it reaches the lake, which makes this a fun stop on a Keweenaw driving tour.
Cobbs and Mitchell Mill (Cadillac) – A few foundations are all that remain from one of Cadillac’s major lumber mills. Located on the grounds of the Harbor View apartments, a Michigan historical marker there reads: “In June 1871, Cadillac’s first sawmill began to operate on this site. Originally called the Pioneer Mill, it was built by Indiana resident, John R. Yale. Jonathan W. Cobbs bought the mill in 1872 and took William W. Mitchell as his partner in lumbering operations on Lake Cadillac. The mill was then renamed Cobbs and Mitchell Mill No.1. Enlarged several times, the mill cut pine, maple and later other hardwoods. By 1885 the mill was a major contributor to Cadillac’s lumber production, having cut 5,679,000 feet of lumber. By 1940, it was Cadillac’s only remaining sawmill. When it was razed that year, material salvaged from it was used to build an addition for the Wood Parts Company.”
Round Island Lighthouse ruins (Whitefish Bay) – We were able to see the ruins of the 1800s lighthouse on Round Island while on a Soo Locks Boat Tours Lighthouse Cruise in 2017. Discontinued in the 1880s when range lights made it obsolete, only a few foundations remain here.
Union Mine Trail (Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park) – One of our favorite trails in the Porcupine Mountains is the Union Mine Trail, which we first traveled while searching for waterfalls. This one-mile loop trail has lots of interpretive signs that show where a mine operated in the 1800s.
Mandan – Only a few houses remain standing today, but Mandan was once a small community with many houses, a store, a post office, a school, and the Medora mine in the late 1800s and early 1900s. A small wooden sign marks the location on U.S. 41 south of Copper Harbor.
Quincy Smelter (Hancock) – We have mentioned the Quincy Mine in other posts, and this smelter along the waterfront is where copper from there was refined and shipped out. Since 2014 this “site is now open for guided tours Monday through Saturday, late June through mid-October. As the only remaining industrial site of its type left in the world, the Quincy Smelter provides an exceptional opportunity to learn about the machinery, processes, and workers that made Michigan’s copper industry so important to our nation.”
Fox River Hatchery Ruins (Seney) – A dirt road west of M-77 and seven miles north of Seney leads to a small state forest campground on the East Branch of the Fox River. This is where author Ernest Hemingway fished and was the true inspiration for his “Big Two Hearted River” short story. You can find remnants of the hatchery that operated from the 1930s to the 1980s spread through the campground here, as well as a stone monument to Hemingway.