Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore

Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore



The Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore is rich in history from early Native American cultures to the shipping, logging, and agricultural heritage of the area. Even the name of the area comes from the Native American Legend of Sleeping Bear.

Long before there were roads and highways in Michigan, people and goods were being transported regularly on the ships of the Great Lakes. The Manitou Passage (between the Manitou Islands and the mainland) was a busy corridor for commercial shipping. The location of the Manitou Islands made them ideal for a refueling stop for steamers to pick up wood for their boilers. That was one of the driving forces for early settlement of the islands. Docks were built, and trees were cut to fuel the growing Great Lakes Shipping fleet.


There are several places within the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore with historical significance. Glen Haven is the best preserved cord wood station on the eastern shore of Lake Michigan and perhaps the entire Great Lakes. It is a good example of the many small villages and docks that supplied fuel to the steamers of the Great Lakes. Glen Haven was a company town and eventually diversified into farming, canning of fruit, and tourism.

Learn about the Dunesmobile rides and how the D.H. Day Campground was established as one of Michigan's first State Parks.

The Sleeping Bear Point Life-saving Station/Coast Guard Station is now a Maritime Museum, where you can learn about the history of the men who served here and how they saved the lives of those in danger due to shipwrecks along the Lake Michigan coast. The high shipping traffic, shifting shoals, and unpredictable weather contributed to many shipwrecks in the Manitou Passage.

The lighthouse on South Manitou Island was built as an aide to navigation for the ships passing through the Manitou Passage. There was a lighthouse on North Manitou Island as well, but it is no longer standing. Learn about the lighthouses in the area including those which are near the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore.

The Port Oneida Rural Historic District is located in the northern part of the Park. It offers visitors a look at the farmsteads and fields of a farming community around 1900. Take a Virtual Tour of the farms and learn about some of the people who built and farmed this land.

While Port Oneida is the largest area devoted to historical farms, there are other interesting farms and cabins as well. Take some time to explore these also and spark your imagination as you think about what it would have been like to live and farm here.

There were several other small villages and docks in the area, which are no longer here. You can sometimes see telltale signs of a former village or dock. Learn about these "Ghost Towns" and the people who lived there.

North Manitou Island and South Manitou Island each have their own history, which starts with Native Americans fishing in the waters of the Manitou Passage, the cutting of wood to fuel the Great Lakes steamers, and providing lumber for the growing cities on the Great Lakes. Both islands were used for farming after the trees were cut, and North Mantiou Island has a history as a hunting and fishing resort.

Philip A. Hart

Philip A. Hart was a Democratic U.S. Senator representing Michigan from 1959 - 1976. He was born in Bryn Mawr, Mongomery County, PA on December 10, 1912 and attended Waldron Academy and parochial schools. He graduated from Georgetown University in Washington, DC in 1934 and from the University of Michigan Law School in Ann Arbor in 1937. He was admitted to the Michigan Bar in 1938. During World War II he served in the U.S. Army from 1941 until discharged in 1946 as a lieutenant colonel of Infantry. He was wounded during the D-Day assault on Utah Beach in Normandy. He served as Michigan Lieutenant Governor 1955 - 1958 and was elected as a Democrat to the U.S. Senate in 1958 and served until his death on December 26, 1976. The third Senate Office Building was named for Senator Hart in 1987.

Senator Philip A. Hart was instrumental in the establishment of Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. Through his tireless efforts, the legislature of the United States of America saw fit to protect the magnificent Sleeping Bear Dunes area in perpetuity...

"Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That (a) the Congress finds that certain outstanding natural features, including forests, beaches, dune formations and ancient glacial phenomena, exist along the mainland shore of Lake Michigan and on certain nearby islands..., and that such features ought to be preserved in their natural setting and protected from developments and uses which would destroy the scenic beauty and natural character of the area."

Native Americans

Paleo-Indian Period 11,000 - 8,000 B.C.E.

Hidden under the leaves and rocks of Sleeping Bear country is evidence that its first human inhabitants used it much as it is used today - for seasonal activities. Archaeological discoveries in the 1970s and 1980s identified artifacts from the Paleo-Indian Period of 11,000 - 8,000 B.C.E. Evidence included distinctive spear points on some moraines. The mobility of these hunters is attested to by the use of both local flint as well as flint from as far away as Bay Port, MI on Saginaw Bay. Their camps were temporary, and appear to have been used primarily for the butchering and skinning of game animals, since large leaf-shaped chipped stone knives and hide-scraping implements dominate the tool kits of these people. Most experts agree that people were passing through Sleeping Bear in Paleo-Indian times and hunting close to the edge of retreating glaciers.

Archaic Period 8,000 - 600 B.C.E.

During this period, retreat of the ice allowed the lakes to drain eastward rather than to the south down the Mississippi as they had in earlier times. The shores of Lake Michigan were about 400 feet lower than today. From about 4,700 years ago, there is direct evidence of occupation in the Lakeshore. Lake elevations were again high and beachlines from this period still exist across the Lakeshore. During this period, Platte Lake, Glen Lake, Crystal Lake, and other smaller lakes were actually connected with Lake Michigan as shallow bays creating favorable lakeshore environments. In addition, there is good evidence from North and South Manitou Islands revealing that these areas were also favored by Late Archaic peoples.

Trade or exchange of locally rare high status items such as flint from Indiana, copper from Lake Superior and conch shells from the Gulf Coast of Florida reflects wide-ranging social contacts. At a discovered burial site known as the Dunn Farm Site on the eastern shore of Big Glen Lake, artifacts made from exotic materials from across the Midwest and Great Lakes were found amidst cremated human bone.

At a site on North Manitou Island, one of the Lakeshore's richest sources of archaeological discovery, a large copper awl was found. Significant Late Archaic artifacts were also found at a site now covered by beech and maple forest along bluffs on the north end of the island.

Woodland Period 600 B.C.E. - 1620 C.E.

The last prehistoric period before European contact is called the Woodland, a time when archaeologists define cultural boundaries in terms of types of pottery, which people started making at that time.

Woodland pottery is most often tempered with coarse grit and the surface has a cord-roughened finish produced by malleting the pot with a cordwrapped paddle. The upper portions of the globular vessels often have pronounced shoulders and collars. Decoration is done with repeated application of twisted cords, puntates, or incised lines placed in geometric patterns on the upper rim and lips.

The earliest of the woodland occupations in the Sleeping Bear Dunes area is represented at a Fisher Lake site east of Glen Arbor, which had pottery dating between 200 - 600 C.E. This seems to be representative of the other sites in the Lakeshore and was probably a seasonal hunting or fishing village used by people passing through the area.

Historic Era - 1620 C.E. - Present

There does not appear to be a marked break between the prehistoric inhabitants of Sleeping Bear Country and those living there when the first French discoverers arrived. Natives taught the Europeans how to raise maize and how to live off the products of the wilderness. The birchbark canoe made it possible for the French to discover the Great Lakes. Footpaths of Native Americans blazed the trails for fur traders, settlers and the road-builders.

As the prehistoric period ended, tribal warfare inhibited Native American occupancy of the Lower Peninsula. During much of the 17th century, the powerful Five Nations Iroquois from upstate New York dispatched war parties to gain control of Michigan's fur trade, forcing the Potawatomi, Sauk, and Foxes to flee westward. The Iroquois aggression virtually depopulated the peninsula, making it a "no man's land" between themselves and the tribes occupying the Upper Peninsula and Wisconsin.

The Potawatomi, Ottawa, and Chippewa were called the "three brothers" of the Algonquin family. As the Potawatomi migrated south, the Chippewa and Ottawa co-mingled peacefully in northern Michigan. They shared several hunting and fishing territories including the Sleeping Bear area.

Henry Rowe Schoolcraft, Michigan's Superintendent of Indian Affairs negotiated 22 treaties between 1814 - 1831. He was the first American to provide a written record of having seen the Sleeping Bear region, wrote extensively on the history and conditions of Indian tribes. He was a federal Indian agent at Sault Ste. Marie and for 30 years lived and studied among the Ojibways (Chippewas). In 1823, he married Jane Johnston, whose mother was the daughter of Chippewa Chief Wabojeeg. In 1828 he was co-founder of the Historical Society of Michigan. He was the first American to make a shoreline survey of Sleeping Bear and provide a written record of having seen it. As Michigan's Superintendent of Indian Affairs, he helped prepare the way for the 1836 Treaty of Washington, under which the Chippewa and Ottawa ceded to the United States the northwestern lower peninsula including the Sleeping Bear Dunes area.

Much of the information on this web page comes from Sleeping Bear - Yesterday & Today, George Weeks, which is available at the park bookstores and the Village Bookstore in Glen Arbor.

Thomas Kelderhouse

Thomas Kelderhouse was born in 1821 in Albany, NY. He was a successful business man, who owned ships that carried cargo on Lake Michigan. During one of his trips, Kelderhouse landed on South Manitou Island and reportedly admired the mainland, undoubtedly sensing the economic opportunities provided by the dense forests. Striking a deal with Carsten Burfiend, Kelderhouse agreed to build a dock if Burfiend provided the land, and by 1862 the dock was completed. The community of Port Oneida was named after the SS Oneida, one of the first steamships to stop at the dock. The dock was a popular wooding station because it had a deep water approach.

With the completion of the dock, the mainland's extensive hardwood forest was harvested. Kelderhouse continued buying land and began to process cordwood for sale to passing ships by building a sawmill near what is now the John Burfiend farm. Over the next 30 years, Port Oneida grew to include a blacksmith shop, a boarding house, general store and post office, two barns, and the Kelderhouse residence. Kelderhouse owned most of these buildings as well as nearly half of the land on Pyramid Point. In 1866, he bought a gristmill on the Crystal River from John Fisher.

Lumbering drastically altered the appearance of the landscape. By the 1890's, most of the land had been logged off and most Great Lakes steamships were burning coal. Unable to compete with larger operations such as that of D.H. Day in Glen Haven, the dock and mill were sold. The loss of this industry and the death of Thomas Kelderhouse in 1884 led to the demise of the Kelderhouse fortune.

European Explorers

The first white man known to have visited Michigan's Lower Peninsula was trapper-explorer Adrien Jolliet, who came to the peninsula's eastern shores in 1669. Fur trappers may have preceded them, but it was in 1675 that the first non-Indians were recorded to have seen the Sleeping Bear area. They were Pierre Porteret and Jacques Largilier, attendants of Father Jacques Marquette, the famous French Jesuit missionary who established missions in 1668 at Sault Ste. Marie and St. Ignace in 1671.

Porteret and Largilier had accompanied Marquette on his last canoe voyage from St. Ignace to start a mission among the Illinois Indians. They went south by the customary route along the western shore on the Wisconsin side of Lake Michigan, but made the northward return trip along the lake's eastern shore after Marquette became mortally ill and wanted to take advantage of northwardly currents to return to St. Ignace before he died. The route was relatively unknown to the French because seventeenth century intertribal warfare as well as Iroquois animosity toward the French, made much of Michigan's Lower Peninsula inhospitable.

According to Father Claude Dablon, superior of the Jesuits in Canada, it was the first trip along Lake Michigan's eastern shore for Marquette, who was very ill to the point of having to be carried by his companions. They continued north after Marquette died at age 38 on May 18, 1675 at the mouth of a river near the Dunes. The location of his death is either Ludington or Frankfort.

During the late 1600s, several french and Canadian explorers traveled the eastern coast of Lake Michigan and began to map the shore and islands. Included in this group was Louis Jolliet, La Salle and Tonty, and St. Cosme.

In 1721, Jesuit historian-explorer Pierre Franscois Xavier Charlevoix described a large dune along Lake Michigan's Eastern shore as a "kind of bush" shaped like a reclining animal. His journal said "The French call it L'ours qui dort (the sleeping bear).

This web page is an excerpt from Sleeping Bear - Yesterday & Today, George Weeks, which is available at the park bookstores and the Village Bookstore in Glen Arbor.

Pierce Stocking

Pierce Stocking (1908 - 1976) spent his youth working as a lumberman in Michigan's forests. In 1948, he bought forest land from D.H. Day south of Glen Haven.

Day Forest Hill was one of the first managed forests in this part of the state. Its owner, D.H. Day, protected the smaller trees to promote a future lumber harvest. When Pierce Stocking purchased the land, there was enough new growth to warrant a selective harvest. The sawmill he set up near this spot produced considerable waste that was converted to charcoal in kilns located at the present site of the trailhead for the Alligator Hill hiking trail. This loose, dusty, random-sized material was packed in bags for shipment to stores in much of Michigan for sale to campers and picnickers. The sawdust pile from his mill can still be seen on the other side of Stocking Road. After the mature trees had been harvested, the mill was closed and the kilns abandoned.

Stocking loved the woods and spent most of his spare time there, developing a self-taught knowledge of nature. He used to walk the bluffs above Lake Michigan, awed by the view of the dunes, Lake Michigan and the islands. He wanted to share this beauty with others and conceived the idea of a road to the top of the dunes.

As a lumberman, he built roads in difficult terrain before. The planning for the road began in the early 1960's and in 1967, the road, then known as Sleeping Bear Dunes Park, first opened to the public. Stocking continued to operate the scenic drive until his death in 1976. In 1977, the road became part of Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. Several years later, based on public opinion, the drive was named the Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive.


The history of the Sleeping Bear Dunes area is the story of the people who once lived and worked in this place. Explore this section to learn more about some of the key figures in the history and development of Sleeping Bear Dunes. You will meet some of the people who's familiar names are associated with roads, buildings, and other sites in the area. Find out why they came to the area and what impact they had on the area.

The area was first settled by Native Americans at least as early as 3,000 B.C.E. during the Late Archaic Period. The last prehistoric period before European contact is called the Woodland. Pottery found at a fishing area at a Fisher Lake site east of Glen Arbor was dated at 200 - 600 C.E. The Ottawa and Chippewa became the some of the first families to occupy the Sleeping Bear area during the mid-seventeenth century.

The first European explorers to visit the area were the French. A team of missionary Explorers led by Jean Nicolet discovered Lake Michigan in 1634, and in 1675 the first Europeans were recorded to have come to the Sleeping Bear area. Pierre Porteret and Jacques Largilier, attendants of Father Jacques Marquette, the famous French Jesuit missionary who established missions in 1668 at Sault Ste. Marie and St. Ignace in 1671.

Shipping and logging brought an influx of European immigrants to the area in the mid-1800's. The first settlement of Leelanau County started on South Manitou Island to supply wood to fuel the steam ships that traveled the Great Lakes. John E. Fisher came to the area from Wisconsin in 1854 and founded Glen Arbor, which was formally organized in 1856. Not long after this, in 1862, Thomas Kelderhouse built a dock at Port Oneida and began logging and then farming the region that is now the Port Oneida Rural Historic District.

In 1865, C. C. McCarty, brother-in-law to John Fisher, founder of Glen Arbor, built a dock and inn west of Glen Arbor. He called his settlement Sleeping Bearville - now known as Glen Haven. He also built a sawmill near the northwest shore of Little Glen Lake, using a tug to haul logs to the mill where they were hauled by wagon or sled to the Glen Haven dock. By 1870, a tramway more than 2 miles long was built to haul the logs to the dock.

In 1878, Northern Transit Company (NTC) president, Philo Chamberlain acquired Glen Haven to assure a reliable supply of wood for their 24 vessel fleet providing service between Ogdensburg, NY and Chicago, IL and Milwaukee, WI. Glen Haven supplied about 25% of the fuel for the fleet. An average steamer required 100 - 300 cords of wood for a round trip.

Chamberlain picked D.H. Day, his sister-in-law's younger brother to serve as NTC's agent in Glen Haven. Before long, Day became the master of all Glen Haven, which became a company town supporting the D.H. Day lumber and shipping business. D.H. Day was a visionary and when he saw the decline of the lumber business, began to invest in fruit orchards and canning the fruit. He also began developing tourism in the area.

Pierce Stocking was a lumberman, who worked the woods of Northern Michigan. He built a sawmill just Southwest of Glen Arbor across the road from the current location of the Alligator Hill trailhead. The old charcoal furnace can be seen at the trailhead. He enjoyed the beauty of Sleeping Bear Dunes and wanted to make them accessible to more people, so in 1967, he created Sleeping Bear Dunes Park which had a road to the top of the dunes. He operated the park until his death in 1976.

Senator Philip A. Hart was instrumental in the establishment of Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. Through his tireless efforts, the legislature of the United States of America saw fit to protect the magnificent Sleeping Bear Dunes area in perpetuity by creating Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore October 21, 1970. The Visitor Center in Empire bears the Senator's name.

Several books go into much more detail than we can describe on this web site. Much of the information on this web site comes from the following books which are available at the park bookstores and the Village Bookstore in Glen Arbor.

  • Sleeping Bear - Yesterday & Today, George Weeks.
  • Farming at the Water's Edge
  • North Manitou Island - Between Sunrise and Sunset, Rita Hadra Rusco
  • Isle of View - A History of South Manitou Island, Charles M. Anderson

D. H. Day

David Henry Day was not the founder of Glen Haven, nor the first to capitalize on its access to the relatively cheap and rapid transportation that the Great Lakes provided. In 1857, C. C. McCarty, brother-in-law of Glen Arbor pioneer John E. Fisher, built a saw mill and inn on the beach west of Glen Arbor. In 1878, NTC President Philo Chamberlain acquired Glen Haven in order to assure a reliable supply of wood for a 24 vessel fleet.

To serve as NTC's agent in Glen Haven, Chamberlain picked D.H. Day, his sister-in-law's younger brother. The job involved many responsibilities including dockmaster when ships arrived at Glen Haven. Before long, Day became master of all of Glen Haven. In 1881, Day bought NTC's properties, including the village of Glen Haven, using his savings and money borrowed from his friend Perry Hannah of Traverse City's Hannah & Lay Lumber Company, where he served briefly as manager.

Day also announced that he and a silent partner had purchased the NTC steamers Lawrence and Champlain to form the Northern Michigan Line with freight and passenger service to Chicago, Milwaukee and a number of Michigan stops... Northwest Michigan became a popular destination for vacationers, and steamer was a popular mode of travel.

For about three decades, water was a far more pleasant way to travel than by road or rail. Many Chicago businessmen left their families in northern Michigan for summer vacations, joining them on Saturday mornings after an overnight trip from Chicago and then departing for Chicago on Sunday night. The one-way fare: five dollars.

Day initially paid his lumberjacks 15 cents an hour, and dock hands 35 cents an hour. Pay was often in the form of coupons redeemable only at the D.H. Day store, which also served as a telegraph office (Day built the telegraph line to Leland), a post office and a nerve center of the community. The second story of the store served as home for the Day family.

On 20 December 1889 David Henry Day, thirty-six years old, and Eva Ezilda Farrant, nineteen years old, were married. Over a span of twenty one years, they had nine children. A daughter died at birth in 1890 when Eva Day fell on stairs, forcing an early delivery. A son, Houston, died at age three in 1906.

By 1910, he owned more than 5,000 forested acres and long before the reforestation movement came to northern Michigan he promoted it. The 1,400-acre Day Forest, with its huge second-growth trees, was viewed by government researchers as one of the best timber stands in the Midwest.

By the 1920s, Day also had more than 5,000 cherry and apple trees at the 400-acre D.H. Day Farm, which he called "Oswegatchi" after the New York community where his father was born and the Oswegatchi River on whose banks D.H. Day played.

Day grew hay and corn to feed his 400 hogs and prize herd of 200 Holsteins described as among the best in the state. The farm, located just south of Glen Haven, has a massive white barn that stands today as a landmark of the heritage of Sleeping Bear Country. Day had the barn, house, and three out-buildings built in the late 1880s and early 1890s. One outbuilding was the pig barn, one the creamery, and the third, the bull barn.

As lumbering declined, Day planned for economic diversification... In the early 1920s, he established the Glen Haven Canning Company on the shoreline near the dock and shipped cherries and other fruits to various Great Lake cities. With improvement of roads, the Glen Haven dock faded in importance.

A diversification project promoted by Day that was far bigger than the canning company was resort development... His scheme was so grandiose that if successful, the Glen Haven/Glen Lake area would be transformed into the most elaborate and exclusive resort in the United States. In large part, because of the Depression, it was not successful.

In 1922, Day sold a large portion of land including reforested Alligator Hill for real estate development that was called Day Forest Estates. An 18-hole golf course was built, an air strip and clubhouse site were cleared, and access roads graded. The venture failed during the Depression, although the golf course operated for several years. Although the course is abandoned and overgrown, the outline of its fairways are evident today for those who hike the area.

In 1920, Day donated 32 acres along the shore of Lake Michigan between Glen Haven and Glen Arbor to the State of Michigan to become the D.H. Day State Park. The park is now part of the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore.

When D.H. Day died in 1928 at the age of 76, newspapers said Michigan had lost "King David of the North". He came to Glen Haven by steamer in 1878 at age twenty-seven, and went on to diversified achievements in lumbering, shipping, forestry, conservation, road-building, tourism, and growing and canning of cherries. He was the first chairman of the State Park Commission.

The content of this web page is excerpted from Sleeping Bear - Yesterday & Today, George Weeks, which has much more detail and includes many photographs. The book is available at the park bookstores and the Village Bookstore in Glen Arbor.


Glen Haven

C. C. McCarty, brother-in-law of John E. Fisher, founder of Glen Arbor built a sawmill and an inn on the beach west of Glen Arbor in 1857. He called the settlement Sleeping Bearville and the inn was named Sleeping Bear House. McCarty built a dock at Glen Haven in 1865. The location of the dock in Sleeping Bear Bay offered a more protected harbor than some of the other docks in the area. McCarty also built a sawmill on Little Glen Lake where they used tugs to move logs from various parts of the lake to the sawmill and once the lumber was cut up, it was transferred to the Glen Haven dock by wagon or sled. By 1870, a tramway more than two miles long was built.

Glen Haven's development was slowed when many of the settlers left to fight in the Civil War, but accelerated again through the Homestead Act of 1862. P. P. Smith, a returning Union soldier became foreman for Northern Transit Company (NTC) at the Glen Haven cord wood station and later became Glen Haven postmaster.

In 1878, NTC President Philo Chamberlain acquired Glen Haven in order to assure a reliable supply of wood for a 24-vessel fleet providing service between Ogdensburg, NY and Chicago or Milwaukee. To serve as NTC's agent in Glen Haven, Chamberlain picked D. H. Day, his sister-in-law's younger brother. Before long, Day had bought most of NTC's properties including the village of Glen Haven. He also bought shares of two NTC steamers (Lawrence and Champlain).

The Glen Haven beach and dock were popular meeting places, and arrival of steamers was a festive occasion, with area citizens often coming by small boat to watch the docking. Another event prompting locals to get out on the beaches of Sleeping Bear Bay occurred when lumber was swept from ships and docks during storms. The wood was gathered to build many a home and barn.

When times were good for ship owners, the unloading of cargo at Glen Haven took twenty to thirty men about an hour. With expansion of trucking companies and improved highways, steamboat freight and passenger revenues fell sharply. The Glen Arbor stop was eliminated around 1918 and the pier allowed to deteriorate. Service continued to Glen Haven but by the late 1920s, there was little cargo and few passengers. Insolvency for operators of the steamships in 1931 brought the beginning of the end of Glen Haven's maritime role - and it's massive dock.

According to an 1881 plat map, Glen Haven had 11 buildings including the inn, store, blacksmith shop, wagon shop, and school. Day retained the deeds to all of the more than 100 lots in the village. The D.H. Day store, which also served as a telegraph office, is currently operated as a General Store and Visitor Center for the Park. The second story of the store served as home for the Day family for some time. To the east of the store stood a granary and root cellar. To the north stood an icehouse where thick piles of sawdust kept as many as 5,000 blocks of ice weighing 150 pounds each frozen for summer use. The cutting of ice on Glen Lake was a major winter activity.

Near the dock on the west side of the road is the Sleeping Bear Inn. It was used as a boarding house for the lumberjacks and dock workers and for passengers that wanted to stay overnight or get a meal. The dock and Inn were built about 1865. The back part of the Inn was added on a few years later, and the porch was enclosed in 1928.

The rooms in front of the inn were nicer than the ones in the back. They were more expensive and were usually rented to businessmen while the workers stayed in the large bunk rooms on the second floor in the back of the building. Most of the socializing occurred in the large parlors on the first floor or on the porch.

The rails for the tramway that was used to haul logs from the sawmill at Glen Lake to the dock ran along the road in front in front of the Inn. The track was moved to come into town behind the Inn around 1907 when D. H. Day purchased the locomotive to haul the flatcars. Before that, they were pulled by teams of horses.

D.H. Day lived in a 2-room suite on the second floor of the Inn from the time he came to Glen Haven as the agent for the Northern Transit Company in 1878 until he married Eva Farrant (daughter of the Innkeeper) in 1889. The newly weds moved to an apartment in the second floor of the General Store.

Lumberjacks and dock hands worked 12 hours a day and six days a week. Most of them were single or their families had not come to join them yet, so they stayed at the Inn. The married workers lived in small shacks along Main Street. Most of Day's employees were of Norwegian and Swedish descent, and some came from a small settlement of Native Americans which was just east of the village and west of what is now the D.H. Day Campground.

Glen Haven was as an active recreation center for the Day family and neighbors, including the crew and families of the Sleeping Bear Point Lifesaving Service/Coast Guard Station. There was a 150x50 foot ice-skating and curling rink in the village. He also built a tennis court complete with bleachers.

Another popular pasttime was catching a ride on the tramway that linked Day's dock with his sawmill near Glen Lake, riding on flatcars pulled by the locomotive that Day bought in 1907.

In 1935, Louis Warnes and his wife Marion (D.H. Day's youngest daughter) began running Sleeping Bear Dunesmobile Rides out of Glen Haven. They started the rides with a used 1934 Ford that took four people at a time to the crest of the dunes and back for 25 cents each. By the time the rides ended in 1978, there were 13 dunes wagons each carrying 14 passengers on a 12 mile, 35 minute excursion.

By the mid-1970s, the National Park Service had purchased all of the village, although some residents retained occupancy rights. The inn closed in 1972, and the General Store closed in 1978 when the Dunesmobile rides were terminated.

Today, several of the buildings are being used for visitors to learn about the history of the Glen Haven area. Visit Glen Haven and stop in to learn more about local history.

Much of the content of this page was excerpted from Sleeping Bear - Yesterday & Today, by George Weeks. The book is available from the bookstores in the Park and other local bookstores. It has much more detail and many historical pictures for those who would like to get a better understanding of the local history of the area.

Life-Saving Station

The Sleeping Bear Point Life-Saving Station (now the Maritime Museum) was built in 1901 to house the crew and equipment which would be called upon to save the lives of passengers and crew of ships in distress in the Manitou Passage. The U.S. Life-Saving Service was merged with the Revenue Cutter Service in 1915 to create the U.S. Coast Guard. This station was similar to the stations on North and South Manitou Islands and was typical of the 60 stations along the Great Lakes and many more on the Atlantic coast. The North Manitou Island station began operation in 1887 and closed in the 1930s, while the South Manitou Island station was built in 1901 and closed in 1958. There was another station at Point Betsie, just north of Frankfort, which began operations in 1876.

The Sleeping Bear Point station had two means of rescue. They could send out surfboats that could carry 8-10 passengers in addition to their crews, or they could use a beach apparatus that could launch a projectile from the shore that would take a light line over the ship which could then bring a rescue device to the ship from shore.

Two basic designs were used for the rescue boats. One was a relativley light (1000 pounds) 23 foot monomoy boat that could be launched from the boathouse by rail or hauled on horsedrawn cart down the beach if a wreck were a long way from the station. It had a shallow draft, centerboard, and sail. The other design was a 26 foot Beebe-McLellan surfboat launched from the rails that extend from the boathouse to the water. Air tanks under the deck, in the bow, and along the sides made it buoyant. It also had a centerboard and mast, and was self-bailing.

The preferred method of rescue was to use the Lyle Gun, designed in 1877 by David A. Lyle, and army Ordnance officer, to take a rescue line from shore to a stranded ship. The Lyle Gun was kept on a cart, which could be pulled down the shore by men or a horse to the site of the stranded ship. A small bag of black powder provided the force to shoot a 19 pound steel projectile with a light line tied to it over the ship. As the light line fell across the ship, the crew could grab it and pull out heavier lines to rig a breeches buoy so it could be pulled back and forth between the ship and shore. The breeches bouy was a life ring with a pair of canvas pants or breeches sewn into it. A person to be rescued would sit in the breeches buoy and be pulled to shore.

Another rescue device that could be pulled back and forth from shore was a boat-like surf car. It was a metal capsule that could hold several passengers, who could crawl through a hatch which would then be bolted shut, and then the capsule would be pulled ashore.

Although beach rescues were effective only about 350 yards from shore, they were frequently used because most wrecks occur near the shore.

The captain and crew had daily routines that were standard throughout the service. The primary responsibility was to be on constant watch for ships in distress and to keep a record of passing vessels. On clear days, from sunrise to sunset, a surfman on Day Watch always manned the lookout tower. At night and on foggy days, the men walked beach patrol. They would light signal flares to warn off ships straying too close to the shore.

The first keeper of the Sleeping Bear Point station was Captain William Walker of Grand Haven. He brought along a 6-man crew as well as his mother, step-father, and two sisters. They lived in homes near the station.

The location of the Sleeping Bear Point Life-Saving Station was problematic. It was more exposed to wind and waves than any other station on the Great Lakes. This made it difficult to launch the boats. Periodically, the wind and shoreline currents extend the point out over what becomes a steeply sloping, unstable platform of sand. In December 1914, about 20 acres of land at Sleeping Bear Point slumped into Lake Michigan. The same thing happened again in 1971. The slump changed the shoreline and made boat launching even more difficult. But the biggest problem was the drifting sand, which threatened to bury it and the associated buildings.

In 1931, the station and other buildings were moved east to their present location. Horses were used to pull them over a system of rollers, track, and cables. After its move, the station became essentially an "eyes and ears" operation, providing shore patrols and relaying communications while leaving rescues to a motorized boat stationed at South Manitou. The station was closed in May, 1944.

Come to the Maritime Museum and see how the captain and crew lived. Learn about the rescue techniques and see the rescue boats and equipment they used.

The content of this web page is excerpted from Sleeping Bear - Yesterday & Today, George Weeks, which has much more detail and includes many photographs. The book is available at the park bookstores and the Village Bookstore in Glen Arbor.


The only lighthouse in the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore is located on South Manitou Island. Tours are available daily during the summer. To take a tour, plan a day trip to the island and talk with the ranger when you get there. For more details about the history of the lighthouse, visit the SMI Lighthouse web page. There was a lighthouse on North Manitou Island as well. It was built in 1896 and was closed in 1935 and unfortunately, fell into the lake due to shoreline erosion in October of 1942.

There are several other lighthouses near Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. The North Manitou Shoal Light, also known as the "Crib" is located on the shoal between North Manitou Island and the mainland. You will pass near this light if you take a ferry ride to one of the islands. The Point Betsie Lighthouse is located at Point Betsie, between the southern boundary of the Park and Frankfort. It is open to the public. The Grand Traverse Lighthouse is located at the tip of the Leelanau peninsula north of the Park. To see more details of these and Other Michigan Lighthouses, click the link.

Lighthouses were used as navigational aids to identify shorelines and shoals in the U.S. from the early 1700s to the early 1900s when electronic navigational equipment became available. The first lighthouse built in the U.S. was constructed in Boston Harbor in 1716, and the first lighthouse in the Great Lakes was built at Fort Niagra, NY in 1818.

At one time, there were approximately 1,400 lighthouses in the U.S. and today only about 750 remain. Several were sold as surplus in the 1930s and some keepers' quarters were razed by the U.S. Coast Guard.

Shipping on the Great Lakes increased along with the region's population and commerce, especially after the completion of the Erie Canal in 1825 and the opening of the locks in Sault Ste. Marie in 1855. Keeping pace with the growth in shipping, lighthouses marked the more prominent points and shoals along the shipping lanes.

The centerpiece of any lighthouse is the lens which magnifies and focuses the light for passing ships to see. Early lighthouses used a reflecting system known as the Winslow Lewis platent system. The parabolic reflectors were easily bent, though, and their silver coating was rubbed off with repeated polishing. A superior method of refracting light was developed in 1822 by French physicist Augustin Jean Fresnel. The Fresnel lens uses many panels of polished glass surrounding a light source to refract the light and focus it toward the horizon. U.S. lighthouses did not start using Fresnel lenses until 1852.

The source of the light which was reflected changed over the years too. Early lights were produced by burning wood or coal, but the resulting soot soiled the lenses. Whale oil burned cleaner, but it became expensive. Various vegetable oils were tried, and by the 1860s, lard oil became the standard. Kerosene was widely used by the 1880s. Acetylene lamps, which did not require wicks, gained popularity by the 1920s. This allowed the first step toward lighthouse automation, with the development of a "sun valve" which shut off the flow of fuel during daylight hours. Today's lighthouses use electric lights.

The Coast Guard's Lighthouse Automation Program began in 1968 and was completed in 1990, ending more than 200 years of manned lighthouse operation. The last manned Great Lakes lighthouse at Sherwood Point, WI, was finaly automated in 1983.

Though there was no radio communication with passing ships in the early days, the ships' pilots and lighthouse keepers used signals to exchange greetings. Ships would blow a salute with their whistles; lighthouse keepers would flash back a hello.

Each lighthouse looked and sounded unique. With different colored roofs and towers, they could be distingueshed during the day. At night, pilots would know each lighthouse by the pattern and color of its light signals. Even the foghorns were unique, varying in pitch and duration of the sound.

Much of the content of this web page is excerpted from Sleeping Bear - Yesterday & Today, George Weeks, which has much more detail and includes many photographs. The book is available at the park bookstores and the Village Bookstore in Glen Arbor.

Ghost Towns

Several of the earliest settlements in the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore vanished as the logging or shipping industries declined. The history of these villages is instructive as we learn how economic forces caused them to grow rapidly and then decline just as quickly until there is virtually no trace of them any longer.

Ghost Towns on the Mainland

Aral was located at the end of Esch Road where Otter Creek drains into Lake Michigan. The area's first white settler was a printer and photographer named Robert Bancroft. After service in the Civil War, he came north seeking peace and quiet. After a few years, homesteaders and loggers began to move into the area as well.

In 1882, Dr. Arthur O'Leary, who owned most of the land in Lake Township, built a sawmill on Otter Creek and began to harvest the great stands of white pine that grew along the lakeshore. The town of Aral grew up around the mill. By the mid-1880s it had a population of about 200 - mostly mill hands and loggers. The town consisted of several frame houses, 2 boardinghouses, the mill buildings, a general store and post office, and a camp for the Indian workers about 1/4 mile south.

In 1886, a Wisconsin lumberman, Charles T. Wright, leased the mill from O'Leary. By then most of the pine was gone, but Wright kept the mill busy turning out shingle bolts, fence posts, railroad ties, and hardwood for flooring and furniture, which he shipped across the lake to Kenosha in the company steam-powered barge.

In 1889 Charles Wright got into a dispute over taxes with the county authorities and on August 10, Sheriff A. B. Case sent two of his deputies, Neil Marshall and Dr. Frank Thurber with a writ of attachment for the logs at the Otter Creek mill. Charley met them there armed with a rifle and a pistol. He shot and killed both men and disappeared into the woods.

Word of the killings spread like wildfire and by late afternoon, a great crowd had gathered at the mill. The mood was ugly and their aim was to find Charley Wright and string him up. Wright was captured after one of his Indian workers, Lahala, revealed his hiding place after being tortured by hanging him nearly to death.

Wright was convicted of two counts of murder and was sentenced to life imprisonment at Jackson, MI. He was paroled in May, 1902.

Aral had a brief respite in 1908 when the mill was taken over by members of "King" Ben Purcell's House of David. By that time, the timber of all kinds had pretty much run out and the mill was closed down in 1911. The last resident of Aral was Robert Bancroft's son Bertie, who left in 1922. The only remnant of Aral today are a few pilings from the old dock.

This description of Aral was taken from Ghost Towns of Michigan Volume I by Larry Wakefield, pp53-58.

Good Harbor was another little logging village located where CR 651 ends at Lake Michigan. You can still see some of the pilings that remain from the dock. The village was settled by a small group of French and Native Americans.

North Unity was settled in 1855 by Czeck and German immigrants, who lived for a short time in Chicago and formed an association and delegated a few men to scout northern Lake Michigan in a sailboat for a suitable place to start a settlement. They docked at Good Harbor and scouted along the shore to the west until they came to a heavily wooded valley which was open to homesteading.

They reported their find to their group in Chicago and in August, 1855, several families decided to make the move. There was just time enough to clear a little land near the lakeshore and build a barracks, where all of them lived for a year or two until they could stake out their homestead claims and build their own houses. The barracks was 150 feet long and 20 feet wide with rooms partitioned off for each family. The site was covered with huge pine and hemlock trees.

The first winter was long and hard. They ran out of food early in the winter and survived by bartering for some corn from the Native Americans. Finally, on the point of starvation, Francis Kraitz and Victor Musil and a few others crossed the ice to North Manitou Island with a sled and brought back some potatoes which sustained them until early spring.

The village thrived during the next few years as more people arrived. It had a schoolhouse, sawmill, and store. In 1859, it was awarded a post office, and John Shalda built a gristmill on the Lake Michigan outlet of the creek that bears his name. In 1871 the village was destroyed by fire and the villagers moved inland to Shalda Corners (junction of M-22 and CR 669).

Anton Mikula's square-timbered cabin still stands in a field just west of Shalda Corners, and North Unity School stands near Narada Lake.

This description of North Unity was taken from Ghost Towns of Michigan Volume I by Larry Wakefield, pp 129-132.

Island Ghost Towns

Crescent was located on the west side of North Manitou Island was named after the shape of the shoreline. It was built beginning in 1906 when Peter Swanson leased a portion of his beachfront property to the Smith and Hull Company. The company also bought 4,000 acres of prime timber land on the island. Work on the dock began in 1907. Select trees were cut for dock pilings and hauled to the beach by horsedrawn loggers' big wheels. The dock was about 600 feet long and was built by the Monroe Dock and Dredge Company of Charlevoix, MI using a pile driver mounted on a scow and a steam-powered tug boat. The dock was completed in the fall of 1908. You can still see the remains of some of the pilings.

While it began as a tent city, it began to become more permanent when James White, operator of the A.J. White and Son Sawmill built his home on the site. The sawmill provided the lumber to build the houses and decking of the dock. Smith and Hull laid out a railroad grade approximately 6 miles overall that extended to the northwest corner of the island with spurs around the area known as the Big Field. During the construction of Crescent, they built a saloon, which eventually was closed and the building became the school, Sunday School, and church. The general store was well-stocked and carried groceries, clothing, shoes, household goods, and hardware. Each fall when the ship loaded with the winter supplies arrived, the mill was shut down and every man and wagon were used to move the supplies to the store and warehouse.

The sawmill generated electricity and lines were strung to houses, barns, and the shingle mill. Unfortunately, electricity did not extend to the dock. Crescent had a couple of baseball teams. One team claimed all native Americans - members of the Ottawas and Chippewas. Visiting teams came over from the mainland.

The mill cut it's last log in the spring of 1915, and Smith and Hull made plans to abandon Crescent and move to a new location. The Manitou Limited made her last trip down the old railroad grade. It was loaded aboard ship for the next logging job in Virginia. The mill was dismantled and was shipped out.

Crescent is also described in Ghost Towns of Michigan Volume I by Larry Wakefield, pp 160-165.

North Manitou was located on the east side of North Manitou Island. Little is left of the logging heyday except the sawmill which remains near the shore north of the dock. While the sawmill was built relatively late - around 1927 - it was built using the trraditional technology. The steam engine and equipment date from 1875, and the method of construction and style of layout are typical of sawmills of that era.

The village was used as the lodge for the Manitou Island Association, which by 1942 owned 70% of the island. The Association used the island as a hunting and fishing resort. The cottages that remain were used as summer cottages and guest houses.

South Manitou village on South Manitou Island was located in the natural harbor on the west side of the island. The strategic location of the island and the fact that it had one of the only protected deep water harbors between Chicago and Buffalo, made it ideal for refueling the steamers. As a result, it became the first settlement in the area. In 1847, the village included Burton's Warf, a house, blacksmith shop, grocery store, barn and a wooden tamarack railroad track extending from the Warf inland to haul wood for the steamers. The current village is located south of the original village near the Life-Saving Station and lighthouse. The houses in the village were used as summer cottages. The Visitor's Center is located in the former General Store.

Port Oneida

Human occupancy of the Leelanau Peninsula began sometime after the glaciers' last retreat. Little specific information about prehistoric or early historic activity in the Port Oneida area is known. People were initially drawn to the area because of the fisheries and forests. Later, agricultural development was benefited by the longer growing season provided by the lake effect along the shoreline.

Carsten Burfiend, Port Oneida's first European resident, departed Hanover, Germany in 1846 and landed in Buffalo, NY before traveling by steamship to North Manitou Island. His wife, Elizabeth, remained in Buffalo. Upon reaching the island, he built a cabin and worked as a fisherman until 1852, when the U.S. Government opened mainland Michigan to settlement. He then purchased 275 acres of land on the west side of Pyramid Point and moved his wife and small children to what later became Port Oneida. Continuing to work as a fisherman, Burfiend also ferried early settlers between the islands and mainland on his fishing boat. According to one account, one of his passengers, John E. Fisher, was the first settler on the mainland and the founder of Glen Arbor. The Burfiend family lived in a three-story log cabin on the beach until the fierce storms forced them to move their home to the bluffs above the lake. They faced extreme hardships in their early years, including the deaths of three sons from pneumonia or drowning.

With the completion of the dock, the mainland's extensive hardwood forest was harvested. Kelderhouse continued buying land and began to process cordwood for sale to passing ships by building a sawmill near what is now the John Burfiend farm. Over the next 30 years, Port Oneida grew to include a blacksmith shop, a boarding house, general store and post office, two barns, and the Kelderhouse residence. Kelderhouse owned most of these buildings as well as nearly half of the land on Pyramid Point. In 1866, he bought a gristmill on the CrystalRiver from John Fisher.

Lumbering drastically altered the appearance of the landscape. By the 1890's, most of the land had been logged off and most Great Lakes steamships were burning coal. Unable to compete with larger operations such as that of D.H. Day in Glen Haven, the dock and mill were sold. The loss of this industry and the death of Thomas Kelderhouse in 1884 led to the demise of the Kelderhouse fortune.

By 1908, all the buildings at the original Port Oneida town site, except the Kelderhouse residence, had been abandoned. The Kelderhouse family lived in this house until 1934, when it was sold to Fred Baker. In 1944, the boarding house was torn down, and by 1952 the other buildings and apple orchard were removed. The wood was used in constructing the Barratt barn and the Burfiend pig barn.


Gambling with late season Great Lakes weather, but wanting to make one last trip before winter, the Francisco Morazan left Chicago on November 27, 1960. The steel-hulled Liberian freighter was bound for Holland via the St. Lawrence Seaway loaded with 940-tons of general cargo.

The 24 year old captain, Eduardo Trivizas, and a multi-national crew of 13 men sailed the ship. Captain Trivizas had five years of sailing experience and was a graduate of the Greek Navy School. The Francisco Morazan was his first command. The Captain's wife and traveling companion, Anistasia, age 29 who was pregnant with their second child was also aboard.

By the next day, a 40-MPH wind blew out of the northwest, and the Morazan's decks were awash. After the ship passed the Point Betsie Light, blinded by fog and heavy snow, she ran aground about 300 feet off the southwest shore of South Manitou Island. The ship maintained contact with two Coast Guardsmen at the North Manitou Island Lighthouse and with a state forester stationed on South Manitou Island who flashed light signals to the stranded ship. Rescue vessels arrived the next morning along with two helicopters and an amphibian airplane from the Traverse City Coast Guard Station.

The lake was wild all day, but the ship did not seem to be in immediate danger, but the Captain was worried that some of the big waves might lift the ship off the shoal and carry it into deeper water. He arranged to have his wife lifted from the ship by helicopter on Friday, December 2. By Sunday, Dec 4, the crew abandoned ship and was taken by the ice-breaker Mackinaw to Traverse City.

The owners of the Francisco Morazan could never be found and nothing was done about removing the ship. It is now home to cormorants and gulls.


The Legend of Sleeping Bear

Long ago, along the Wisconsin shoreline, a mother bear and her two cubs were driven into Lake Michigan by a raging forest fire. The bears swam for many hours, but eventually the cubs tired and lagged behind. Mother bear reached the shore and climbed to the top of a high bluff to watch and wait for her cubs. Too tired to continue, the cubs drowned within sight of the shore. The Great Spirit Manitou created two islands to mark the spot where the cubs disappeared and then created a solitary dune to represent the faithful mother bear.