Area History

Part II: The Settlers 

Much as they had attracted the first people, the natural resources attacted those who followed. Some wished to use the resources to make a living, others for recreations, still others for conservation. Those different interests sometimes led to controversy. 

The first to follow to the Dunes is believed to have been Gurdon Hubbard, the head of an American Fur Company fur brigade. Hubbard visited the Sleeping Bear Dunes in the summer of 1823. Although he was sent to supply a score of trading posts, Hubbard and his companion climbed the face of dune, enjoyed the vistas, and jumped and tumbled down the 400 feet of sand on the face of the dune, becoming perhaps the first tourists to visit!

An entreprenuer by the name of John LaRue, who came from South Manitou Island, is believed to be have been the first non-native to settle in the area. In about 1848, LaRue set up a trading post at the mouth of the Crystal River and began trading with the Native Americans.

In 1854, more settlers - the Fishers and John Dorsey - came to the area. The Fischers speculated on land buying more than 1,000 acreas on the north shore of Glen Lake. They named the community and its lakes and river. The Dorsey's established a copper shop making fish barrels for outside markets.

About a year later, Mrs. Fisher's brother, Charles McCarty, established a cordwood station at Glen Haven and built a 300 foot dock to service the steamships. McCarty also built a dormitory as a residence for the immigrant workers who cut and hauled his wood. But a few miles away, saw and grist mills were established by W.D. Burdick and lumbering - first for cordwood and then for hardwood - became Leelanau County's first "industry".

Part III: D.H. Day