Friday, December 2, 2022

Late Summer Road Trip – Michigan’s East Coast headed North

…continuing our late summer road trip.

After leaving my cousin Nathan and his better half Janice in Fenton, Laurie and I headed north along Interstate I-75, exiting from the ‘super-slab’ on US Hwy 23 toward Standish.  Our goal for the next couple of days was to drive north along the east coast of Michigan to Rogers City and then cut across the two-lane highways to the west coast of Michigan.  We had never driven along the east coast of the state which borders Lake Huron so it was discovery time...

Almost as soon as we entered Standish, we spotted the old railway depot I’d wanted to find.  The first railroad to serve Standish came about due to the construction of the Jackson, Lansing and Saginaw Railroad’s new line from West Bay City Michigan to Mackinaw City.  The first depot was built in 1871 or 1872 probably from white pine.  By 1885, there were 8 passenger trains coming through Standish on a daily basis. 

In 1887, the Michigan Central Railroad told the citizens of Standish that the railroad would provide the stone masons to build the depot if local farmers would haul their large field stones to the site for the new depot.  The depot was completed in 1888.  The depot was our first stop on the US Hwy 23 “Heritage Route”, a 200 mile stretch of roadway the runs from Standish to Mackinaw City near the bridge over to the Northern Peninsula of Michigan.

The last steam engine passenger coach to be pulled into the Standish Depot was on October 28, 1955.  I don’t know when the above photo was taken but I was interested to note that the locomotive appears to be Pere Marquette steam locomotive #1225…now owned by the Steam Railroading Institute in Owosso Michigan.  By 1965, all passenger service was discontinued.

I ran across this little historical tidbit as I did my research.  “February 1, 1916: Sam Good expects to ship another carload of horses from Standish next Tuesday by express.  They will be shipped to Chicago where they are reshipped to Europe for use in the war.  The express charge for this carload of horses headed to Chicago was $50.00.”

To learn more about the historical Standish Depot, its museum room, the Visitor’s Center and the adjacent War Memorial, just go to  We love to see old buildings that have been adapted and preserved for the community...

I couldn’t easily get close to the second depot that was built in Omer Michigan to serve this small town and the Detroit and Mackinac south division main line.  The first structure has been used as a Senior Center in the years since the railroad ceased service.

I did find a photo of the earlier depot (ca. 1889) at this location complete with a train pulled by a steam engine.  A branch line to Au Gres Michigan was also located here at one point. 

Omer was settled ca. 1966 on the Rifle River after a saw mill was built here.  Originally the town was named Rifle River Mills but the first postmaster wanted to name it Homer.  But another town in Michigan already had the name so he simple dropped the leading “H”…hence “Omer”.  Omer has the distinction of being Michigan’s least populated city with 259 residents being recorded in the 2020 census.

We took this photo of wildflowers and weeds just because we thought that the composition was quite appealing.  

Our next stop was in Tawas City, the County Seat of Iosco County Michigan.  The views shown above are all from a pier down along the town’s waterfront on Lake Huron.  Those condos look pretty inviting… As for that photo of yours truly, I think that I scared off the seagulls.

Tawas City was founded in 1854 and it has a population of 1,834.  When considering the population of Tawas City, one must consider that it shares a border with East Tawas, a bit larger town with a population of 2,663.  As with Omer, originally Tawas City was all about the lumber industry and the fact that Tawas Bay offered shelter from the storms on Lake Huron.  Native Americans had camped here for eons…notably a band from the Saginaw Michigan tribe of Chippewa (aka Ojibwa).  Their leader was Chief O-ta-was and the bay was known as O-ta-was Bay.  Verbal evolution changed O-ta-was to Tawas City…or Tawas Bay

While driving through Tawas City, we spotted this old building…the Liberty Building Shoppes…at 402 Lake Street/US Hwy 23.  We love antiques and collectables so we had to check it out.  The building was constructed in 1885 and it is one of 8 listed antique shops that are located in Tawas City or East Tawas.

I did find that old photo of the Liberty Building from back in the ‘horse and buggy days’, probably from around 1900.  The second photo gives you an idea of the large eclectic collection of antiques and collectables on display in the store.  The owners live in the building and…oh yes, it is haunted by a ghost named Mary.

To learn more about Liberty Building Shoppes, you can go to:  They are open 7 days a week.

To be honest, I don’t remember where I met “Bigfoot”.  It probably was in Tawas City.  Apparently I wasn’t his type.  Heck, I even held hands with him in an effort to win him over.  Michigan has been a ‘hot spot’ for Bigfoot aka Sasquatch hunters…but I didn’t have to look very hard to find one.

This view of Lake Huron from the side of a very pretty and well situated cottage really grabbed our attention. 

For those who don’t know about or who don’t understand the size of Lake Huron, here are a few facts.  The lake is one of the 5 Great Lakes that stretch from Minnesota to New York State in the USA and from Ontario into Quebec in Canada.  The name of the lake came from early French explorers who named it for the Huron people who inhabited the region.  The lake is connected to Lake Michigan with a 5 mile wide 120 feet deep channel at the Straits of Mackinac.  The lake’s primary inlet is the St. Mary’s River and its primary outlet is the St. Clair River.

Lake Huron has a surface area of 23,007 square miles.  By way of comparison, that is just a little smaller than New Jersey, Connecticut and Massachusetts combined.  It is the 3rd largest fresh water lake in the World.  The lake’s average depth is 195 feet and its maximum depth is 750 feet.  More than 1,000 ship wrecks have been recorded in Lake Huron.

This photo is of the Lake Huron Pier at the Oscoda Beach Park in Oscoda Michigan.  We love to walk out on piers and just chill out…

However, in this case, despite a cloudy day  and a cool breeze, ‘chilling’ wasn’t in the cards.  The pier is where we encountered Thor’s twin brother. (Thor himself is shown above) 

Even I was impressed by the 6’6” handsome beast of a man with flowing locks of hair and a muscular wedge-shaped build.  He even had a nice dog with him…plus he was friendly and easy to talk to.  OK…fact is that Laurie didn’t really notice the dog due to our Thor carbon copy encounter.  No, sorry ladies, I didn’t take a photo!

Back to reality!  Not only does the Oscoda Beach Park feature a nice pier, it also has a long and expansive stretch of nice sandy beach for family fun.  There are benches along the board walk, picnic tables and restrooms as well.  

In lieu of a photo of Thor’s twin and his dog, Laurie took this selfie of us on Oscoda’s pier. 

The area was first settled as early as 1867 when a firm bought land here and platted the community.  It was all about the lumber business.  Both Oscoda and the adjacent ‘town’ of Au Sable are unincorporated census designated places.  However, the 1890 census showed that the area booming!  Oscoda had a population of 3,593 and Au Sable had 4,328 residents. (7,921 combined!) A huge forest fire in 1911 pretty much wiped out both towns.  In 1931, Au Sable only recorded 61 residents.  Today, the combined population of both towns only totals 2,369.

Harrisville is my last stop for this segment of our Michigan adventures.  Finding the former Detroit and Mackinac Railway Depot was a bit of a challenge.  It is not in what would be considered a central point in this small town but as you can see, we persevered.  Like the depot in Standish, this old passenger depot is made with stone…one of only 2 along the rail route. 

The depot was completed in 1902 to serve Harrisville and it was a busy place.  Several daily passenger trains departed for locations such as Cheboygan and Detroit.  Like the other towns along the shore of Lake Huron, the lumber business was the initial driving commercial force.  The last passenger train left this station on March 31, 1951.  Mail and freight service continued through the early 1960s. 

Harrisville was incorporated as a village in 1887 and as a city in 1905.  With a population of about 470 residents, it is the county seat of Alcona County.  The population peaked here in the city back in 1890 with 987 residents.  The city is located near a variety of state parks and beach areas.  It also has a safe harbor for pleasure craft that is protected with a series of jetties.

Our search for the old Detroit and Mackinac Railway Depot in Harrisville took us down a couple of side streets or roads and through a residential neighborhood.  Then we saw these deer… They slid into the woods when we passed them to approach the nearby depot, but when we returned, they’d either decided that we weren’t a threat or that this apple feast was worth the risk.  Question… Can deer overdose on ripe apples?  Apparently a few apples won’t hurt them but too many apples can do significant harm to their digestive system.  We hope all of these pretty deer survived their feast!

Just click on any of the photos to enlarge them…

Thanks for stopping by for a visit!

Take Care, Big Daddy Dave


  1. I love that stone house in Standish. Such a cute photo of you and Laurie. You two make such a sweet couple, David. I have no idea whether the deer could overate the apples, but animals are smarter than us human, dietweise :-)

  2. I enjoy following you on a map as I read your post and I often look at the towns on Google Earth.

  3. I had to open a map (Google style of course) to see your travels. Never having been to Michigan (well, somehow I count that I have, but don't remember when) I had little knowlege of it's coasts. Thanks for great photos, and brother of Thor wouldn't impress me one bit. Now deer...that's another story!

  4. Dave, I just spent time traveling backwards and reading your posts about your Michigan road trip. I didn't comment on each one, but wanted to say how much I enjoyed the information. The Curwood Castle was quite an intriguing place and loved the woodwork and that staircase. And, I too had never heard of the author.