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Travel Index

Beaver Island, Michigan, USA (September 2000)

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Beaver Island is the largest in Lake Michigan and the third largest in the Great Lakes, at about 6 miles wide and 13 miles long. It is located 18 miles from both Michigan's lower and upper peninsulas. Native Americans settled Beaver Island originally and Irish immigrants began arriving by the 1840's. An early faction of Mormons also resided on the island during the mid 19th Century.

Font Lake

Island-on-an-Island, Font Lake

The island has a rich history. It's main town, St. James, sits on the largest natural harbor in the Great Lakes. It once served as one of the most important steamship supply depots in the entire region because of its abundant timber reserves. Later, fishing and farming rose to prominence. Today tourism and constructions underpin the economy. About 600 people live on the island year-round, although many others maintain second homes or weekend retreats that increases the population during summer months.

Abandoned Automobile

Abandoned Vintage Automobile

Beaver Island seems remote even though it really isn't that far from several major cities. But the 18 mile natural barrier makes all the difference. You really have to want to go there to get there. You don't just stumble across it accidentally while wandering around the backcountry. When we spoke to people on the island and they learned we had no natural connection to it, they would look somewhat puzzled and ask us how we found it. In my case I was leafing through a North America Road Atlas as I sometimes do, and I spotted a dotted red line denoting a "ferry" leading to a small island in the middle of Lake Michigan. I guess we visited because I was curious to see the other end of that dotted line and because my wife was a good sport and decided to humor me.

The next thing the residents would say was... "well, please don't say anything about this place or word will get out." I'm assuming that if you're reading this page then you've specifically searched for information about Beaver Island and you already know. But let's not tell anyone else. This place is real. No pretensions, no acting, no faux this or quaint that. Just pristine beaches, tons of hiking trails, and lots of relaxing enjoyment.

Beaver Island Travel Adventure Index

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