They may not be haunted by resident apparitions, but these ghost towns in Michigan have an unearthly atmosphere nonetheless.
Whether lost to the unrelenting passage of time or simply left behind in search of greener pastures, the ruins of these abandoned towns are appealing to visitors from both near and far.
Have you ever wanted to see a Michigan ghost town for yourself? Visit one of these destinations on your next tour of the Great Lakes State.
The mining era in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula ultimately produced many ghost towns — one of the most famous being Baltic. It existed just a few miles south of Houghton and came into its own as a result of the successful shaft located in the area.
When mining operations shut down in Baltic, the town disintegrated. Today, the ruined mine shaft is all that remains in the former town.
While most of the ghost towns in the Upper Peninsula are the remains of mining communities that went defunct along with the mines themselves, Bete Grise is a different sort of ghost town. It rests on the shores of the mighty and ferocious Lake Superior, and it was once home to a handful of miner families.
In 1940, only 10 people continued to call Bete Grise home, and the community was abandoned shortly thereafter. If you visit now, you will find that the clapboard buildings remain intact, allowing you to truly get a sense of what life might have been like in this remote corner of the world.
In the Lower Peninsula, the Michigan ghost towns are fewer and farther between. Brookside could have easily been forgotten if it weren’t for a postcard sent in the late 19th century that was postmarked from this community.
Located on the west side of the state in Newaygo County, Brookside was a tiny town that was home to just a handful of residents. There was a successful mill, a general store, and even a small one-room schoolhouse.
Today, the schoolhouse is the only thing that remains of Brookside, and it has been converted into a residential home — making it incredibly easy to pass without realizing that this was the spot of a charming little farm town.
Butternut was as charming as its name during its peak in the 19th century. In an idyllic location near the rail line that connected Middleton and Carson City, it was the perfect place to call home — until the station closed.
Once it was no longer a connecting point for those going someplace else, Butternut quickly began to disappear. Its population dwindled, and today, all that remains are a few boarded-up buildings.
While visitors can stop by and take pictures of the old general store and former residences, it’s important to remember that these buildings are privately owned and currently being used as storage facilities.
Nestled in the heart of Copper Country in the Keweenaw Peninsula, Central Mine was a mining community established in 1854. During the mining industry’s boom, the town’s population blossomed, and the community flourished.
However, it was a steep fall for the community — the population peaked at about 1,300 residents in 1887. By 1905 — less than 20 years later — only 100 people remained. Today, Central Mine is considered to be one of the most well-known ghost towns in Michigan.
The mining community is being restored now as the land is a designated historic site. Visitors can see the remains of the mining operations and residential dwellings that once housed the miners and their families.
Crescent is a ghost town situated on the west shore of North Manitou Island, located off the Leelanau Peninsula in Leelanau County, Michigan. The town was established in the 1860s, following the arrival of logging and farming industries, as well as European immigrants.
During the early 1900s, Crescent reached its peak with the logging industry on the island. However, after the mills closed down in 1917, the town was abandoned. The island shifted its focus from industry to small-scale tourism.
Over the years, the buildings and other remnants of the town were demolished. The remaining few buildings are currently under the supervision of the National Park Service, as part of Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, following the purchase of the island in 1983.
Today, Crescent ghost town can be accessed via trails on the island, which can be reached by ferry from Leland.
Cutcheon flourished during the lumber boom of the 19th century. With a population of just more than 1,300 people, this town in Missaukee County was one of the larger towns in the region.
However, it met a tragic end when a fire essentially destroyed the town, forcing most of its residents to leave the area. The town never rose from the ashes, and today, visitors will find just a few foundations scattered throughout the area.
Just north of Rose City in Ogemaw County, you will find what remains of a Michigan logging town. The history of the town, which was known as Damon, is relatively unknown.
It was likely a quiet logging community that existed within the confines of the Ogemaw State Forest. The town likely peaked in the mid-19th century, when it had its own post office and several residential buildings.
Today, if you journey to this desolate town, you will see the remains of a warehouse that was once part of the community and the ruins of the post office. There’s a small cemetery nearby where the town’s residents were ultimately laid to rest.
From 1867 to 1891, Fayette was a bustling manufacturing community in the Upper Peninsula along the shores of Lake Michigan that made charcoal pig iron. Now, the cliff-side community is a historic townsite with a visitor center, scenic overlooks, and 20 historic buildings. It can take about two hours to tour the whole area.
Above the longest cave in Michigan is the ghost town of Fiborn — now known as Fiborn Karst Preserve. The ruins were once a thriving limestone quarry near Trout Lake Township.
This remote location in the Upper Peninsula doesn’t get a lot of foot traffic, but you can explore the area and the structures that remain in the town ruins — including one that housed rail cars and another where ore was loaded onto freight cars.
There’s a less than 1-mile hike to Fiborn and two self-guided trails that pass sinkholes, a creek, a second-growth forest, and Fiborn Pond.
Having been established in 1910, Freda was a relative newcomer to the Michigan mining scene when it was developed — and it also lasted longer than most.
Even at its peak, Freda was only home to about 500 residents. The tiny community was centered around a Catholic Church and also included a hotel, a movie theater, and a doctor’s office.
The town continued to grow and prosper for decades until the mining rails that went into the heart of town were removed in 1971. Shortly after that, the economy forced residents to move on to other parts of the state, making Freda another ghost town in the Upper Peninsula.
Glen Haven is one of the most unique ghost towns in Michigan because it’s currently in the midst of a revival. Located not far from the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, the town was a settlement that developed in the middle of the 19th century. A sawmill established on the beach was the heart of the community, which eventually grew to include 11 buildings.
Today, visitors have the opportunity to visit a functional blacksmith shop and a general store. Not to mention, if you head to Glen Haven, you get to witness first-hand as a ghost town comes back to life.
Having been built along the shores of Torch Lake, Gregoryville would have been one of the most attractive and welcoming towns of its kind in the 19th century.
During its golden era, the town was home to a successful sawmill operation and a state-of-the-art racetrack, adding a sense of luxury to this Michigan community. Today, it’s all but ruined, with just a portion of the grand house remaining.
Located in the Upper Peninsula in Calumet Township is the former town of Laurium, which is one of the best-preserved ghost towns in the state. It was once the company town for the Laurium mine, and it was where all of the miners and their families lived, worked, and played.
When you visit this area today, you will see that many of the buildings remain relatively intact. The former Laurium Village Hall defines the streetscape, and Victorian-style buildings line the streets of the town.
Mandan is yet another abandoned mining town along the Keweenaw Peninsula. During its heyday, it was a smaller mining community. Its location near two operational mines made it idyllic for those looking for a peaceful yet profitable life.
In the middle of the 19th century, about 300 people called Mandan home, and the community had its own school and doctor. When the mines were abandoned in the early years of the 20th century, the population plummeted.
Visitors today will encounter the sad, eerie remains of a once-bustling town. Many structures have fallen into disrepair and only a few homes remain.
For a truly haunting experience, Old Victoria is one of the best ghost towns in Michigan to visit. Located in the Upper Peninsula, it’s yet another mining ghost town.
Today, visitors will find this ghost town engaging and informative because it is currently being operated as a museum. Four log homes have been lovingly preserved, allowing people to truly see what life was like for the mining community in the 19th century. Guided tours are available too.
Found in Michigan’s Thumb region near Port Austin, Port Crescent was a town that once thrived thanks to the lumber industry.
Today, however, the land that was once the lumber town of Port Crescent has reverted to its natural state. No buildings remain, but visitors can explore the area when they visit Port Crescent State Park.
See What the Past Has Left Behind at Michigan Ghost Towns
Naturally, most travel itineraries in Michigan include stops at quaint lakefront towns and thriving communities with sprawling downtown areas, but you don’t want to forget to include a stop at a Michigan ghost town.
By visiting these ghost towns, you will develop a deeper understanding of the past and a greater respect for the people who have long called Michigan home. Choose a Michigan ghost town, and plan your own adventure today.