Ghost Towns of Michigan, Vol. 2

Larry Wakefield

   Thunder Bay Press (Holt, Michigan)


(c) 1995

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This book is loaded with pictures, and divided into 47 chapters, each representing a ghost town in Michigan. Some have complete buildings and graveyards, others are just holes in the ground and freestanding chimneys.

The author, Larry Wakefield, wants you to know how each of these towns came into being, stories of their inhabitants, and why they became a ghost town.

According to Wakefield, the backstory of almost all ghost towns is this: Business (such as mining or logging) comes in, people come to work for that industry . They bring their families, and soon more businesses come in to make money off those families. Businesses like grocery stores, saloons, and hotels, all which bring in more people and resources.  Soon, the main business leaves, because all of the trees or ore is gone, or because they can make more money elsewhere. The majority of people are laid off, and they  go off in search of more work. The smaller businesses are left with no one to sell to, so they pack up and leave as well. Now all that is left in the town is a few residents, who soon die off.


One of the most fascinating stories in this book is the story of Crawford’s Quarry and its many courtroom battles (some of them quite violent) with the neighboring city of Rogers. Both of them wanted the county seat, and the extra money and power that came with it. Each was so sure that they would be chosen that they each built separate courthouses. Unfortunately for Crawford’s Quarry, Rogers got the seat, and Crawford’s Quarry was left with an abandoned courthouse, with no money to pay for it. They eventually faded into a ghost town, and later were swallowed up by Rogers City.

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Ghost Towns of the 21st Century

After factories close, will one-time manufacturing hubs ever recover?


OCT 20, 2015

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     In the article above, Brucetown, TN, is a modern day ghost town. When the Henry I. Siegel Company laid off the last of their workers in 2000 and went overseas, the town was left with almost nothing. The few businesses left in Brucetown soon packed up and left for greener pastures. Now the small Tennessee town is desperate to attract new businesses, but because the town isn’t on a major highway, small businesses are hesitant of setting up shop where they can’t be found. All over the country, small rural towns whose entire existence is dependent on one or two companies are falling into ruin, due to outsourcing of jobs overseas.


I see the correlation between Wakefield’s’ ghost towns of old and these modern-day empty villages.   There is no town exempt from being the next ghost town. There must be a plan.

In my research of ghost towns, past and present, I’ve found examples of leaders that are trying to revitalize their towns from a dusty old past in many different ways.  Perhaps if towns could utilize some of the ideas below, there could be one less ghost town.

One such example is that of Vickoryville, MI. Listed as a ghost town, ( Vickoryville was resettled by Old Order Mennonites from Indiana in 1992, who then started a produce auction that runs 2-3 times a week, from April through October. The Mennonites sell their produce there, and hundreds of people come from miles around to get in on the bounty.


Other towns will hire people, like Roger Brooks, who are professional “Town Revitalizers”.


Businesses who move into towns are often given tax incentives. When given these tax incentives, the city or town should also ask for a decommissioning surety bond, often found on wind farm agreements (in my own little Clinton County), which provide money to return the property to its original state.  In the windmill example, this is to you won’t be left looking at decaying, broken down windmills. Likewise, in a town, you wouldn’t be left with old pavement and structurally unsound buildings, for which the city is left liable.

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I also found city leaders who were getting support from the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency), with grant money for redevelopment of brownfields (industrial property that has real or perceived environmental problems).