Did you know there are ghost towns in Michigan? As Michiganders, we have toured many ghost towns and will take you on a tour in this article. You might be surprised to learn why there are so many abandoned places in the state.
Keep reading to learn where you can find ghost towns in the mitten-shaped state. And maybe they’ll make it on your next road trip through Michigan.
Let’s take a peek.
What Are Ghost Towns?
Ghost towns are abandoned cities, towns, or villages. They once had a community living there with buildings or structures of some sort. Today, it has no more residents, leaving unoccupied buildings. Therefore it’s referred to as a ghost town.
Why Are There so Many Abandoned Places in Michigan?
There are a couple of reasons for ghost towns in Michigan. Decades ago, mining companies set up many towns in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula for its workers. But after the mining stopped in the area, residents relocated. Some of the towns still have a few people living in or near them.
Another reason for abandoned places in Michigan is the closing of factories. When jobs end, people move to find their next employment opportunity. The reality has left towns nearly empty of civilization.
If you are looking for a lot of ghost towns per area Michigan’s Upper Peninsula offers a ton in the mining areas. They can be harder to find but we mention a few below.
Why Is Detroit So Abandoned?
Although a large city, Detroit has taken the brunt of many of Michigan’s factory closings. Some streets in Detroit are completely abandoned due to job losses and the middle class leaving the city to the suburbs.
However, Detroit is attempting to revitalize. It’s a slow process, but there is progress. Hopefully, in the future, we’ll see thriving communities once again instead of abandoned houses.
Pro Tip: Would you rather relax in a beach town instead of a ghost town? Check out these 5 Best Beach Towns in Michigan.
The 9 Most Fascinating Ghost Towns in Michigan
Ghost towns in Michigan are fascinating since some are in the midst of forested areas and surrounded by the state’s lakes. Let’s look at nine abandoned towns.
About: Fayette, Mich., became a ghost town in the 1890s due to the decline of the iron industry. Due to this, the once mining town’s residents moved away for new jobs.
You can visit Fayette and walk through the historic buildings against the backdrop of a bay of Lake Michigan with beautiful cliffs. It has school programs and other events.
How to Get There: Fayette is in the Upper Peninsula on Lake Michigan and approximately 55 miles east of Escanaba.
About: Pere Cheney is a ghost town in Michigan known as one of the most haunted. There have allegedly been ghost sightings at the cemetery since people abandoned it in the 19th century.
Once a lumber town, the population dwindled in 1893 when diphtheria spread through Pere Cheney.
The cemetery is the only part of the town remaining today. You can visit it during the daylight hours.
How to Get There: Pere Cheney is in Northern Michigan just south of Grayling.
About: Rawsonville is a rare underwater ghost town in Michigan. The town existed during the Civil War and housed a sawmill, shops, and houses. But businesses started to close, and people left town when they couldn’t make it a railroad hub.
In 1925, a hydroelectric dam was constructed on the Huron River next to the town creating Belleville Lake. The remains of the abandoned town were submerged underwater.
You can visit the lake, but a historical marker is the only thing left to see.
How to Get There: Rawsonville is 15 miles east of Ann Arbor in Southern Michigan.
About: Central Mine is a preserved ghost town in Michigan’s most northern point of the Upper Peninsula. People mined copper here in the 1850s, and it had approximately 1,200 residents.
Harsh winters and the closing of the mine drove people out. The now abandoned town still has quite a few buildings standing. You can visit between June and October.
How to Get There: The Central Mine is 5 miles northeast of Phoenix, Mich., off US 41. And it’s 22 miles southwest of Copper Harbor.
About: Glen Haven is a preserved cordwood station that dates back to the 1920s. The logging village has been restored for visitors.
You can walk through the buildings and listen to some educational narrations. You can also see the fully restored blacksmith shop that has demonstrations daily. And the entrance to the historic town is free.
How to Get There: Glen Haven is on the north end of Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore.
Pro Tip: After exploring Glen Haven, spend the night at one of these 7 Best Places to Camp While Visiting Sleeping Bear Dunes.
About: Jacktown was built near a railroad that transported lumber from northern Michigan. But when the rails stopped running, the town also disappeared. It no longer has the buildings and homes, but the Bland Cemetery remains.
You can visit the cemetery and may even stumble upon some building foundations. However, you’ll have to trek down dirt roads to get there.
How to Get There: The only way to get to Jacktown is via Oviat/County Line Road near Traverse City, Mich.
About: Old Victoria is an abandoned copper mining town and restoration site. It has several rebuilt log buildings, which you may find beautiful to see up close. You can visit and view the site from the road or pay a small fee for a guided tour.
Certain archaeological features show that people lived in the area before the first settlers arrived in 1766. However, the townspeople of Victoria built the homes around 100 years ago.
How to Get There: Old Victoria is in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula at 25401 Victoria Dam Rd, Rockland, MI 49960.
About: Established in the 1800s, Gibbs City had a sawmill along the Paint River. But the sawmill burned in 1921, causing many to abandon the town. The post office hung on until 1952, but the abandoned buildings burned down.
You can visit this ghost town in Michigan, but it doesn’t have much to see except for some pilings left from the sawmill by the Paint River’s shore.
How to Get There: Gibbs City is in the Upper Peninsula just north of Iron River, Michigan.
About: Deward is a ghost town in Michigan that was once the home of the state’s largest sawmill. In the early 1900s, about 800 people resided in the town. But it closed in 1912, and trees grew over the site. Only a few ruins remain in the woods of Northern Michigan.
How to Get There: Deward is northeast of Grayling, Mich. You may have difficulty finding the ruins, but you can get there from county road 612.
Pro Tip: While in Michigan check out these 5 Best Tahquamenon Falls State Park Camping Options for Waterfall Lovers.
Are Michigan Ghost Towns Worth Visiting?
Ghost towns in Michigan are definitely worth visiting. It’s a fun way to explore the state and learn more about its history. And you can imagine yourself living back in the day when life looked drastically different without technology and the transportation systems we have today.
We hope you take a road trip through Michigan and see some of these ghost towns. Tag us in your photos if you do. We would love to hear about your experience.
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