Restored Iron Smelting Town.

Fayette, Michigan.

Summer 2007.

After about an hour of driving and eating lunch at a saloon in Garden, Michigan; I found that the show Dallas sucks and then I found myself in Fayette, Michigan.

Fayette was once a company town for the Jackson Iron Company & also one of the Upper Peninsula's most productive iron-smelting operations. The town of Fayette had nearly 500 residents, a large portion being immigrants from Canada & Europe, working to produce pig iron from the raw materials of hardwood for fuel and limestone from the bluffs to purify the iron ore.

The decline of the charcoal iron market, coupled with cheaper and more productive facilities in Pittsburgh & Gary eventually led to Fayette's demise. The Jackson Iron Company concluded operations here in 1891. The property changed hands several times after that, until it was acquired by the state of Michigan in 1959.

The State of Michigan then worked to restore the historic town site in one its great state parks.

One of the highlights of Fayette is its location. Fayette sits on an isthmus of land that connects the Upper Peninsula's Garden Peninsula with a small piece of land extending out into Lake Michigan.

The day I went was perfect. Nice & windy, not too hot, not too cold.

The tract of land being so beautiful that I first walked the shoreline before even exploring actual Fayette.

The furnace buildings and the inside of the furnace areas.

A kiln for manufacturing charcoal.

The pillars are all that remain from the nearly 900 feet of dock that once existed at Fayette.

Another section of Fayette is where you would find the majority of the upper & middle class houses.

This was the doctor's house I believe.

I'm not sure if you were supposed to go into the doctor's house; but there was plenty of houses to go into that were nicely restored.

Inside of each of the houses contained information about the house.

The above picture pertained to an area where students found a chute with hidden morphine & concluded that a morphine addict had occupied the house.

Inside of the houses there was also rooms that were fully restored and you could only see through a pain of glass.

The above was a parlor where people would entertain guests or conduct funerals.
(There were no funeral homes back then)

The company store was not restored to the extent of the other buildings.

I didn't mind, I found that the other buildings sort of blended in, while this one was unique.

The machine shop had plenty of information in plaques and pages.

The above shows the houses present and the family that occupied each, the head of the household and any boarders. It also explained their age, job & place of birth.

Form where immigrants would pledge allegiance to the U.S.A.

Back in the day...

The sad truth.

Shiny rocks galore!

Fayette's graveyard was located about 2 kilometers from the town site.

I've never really seen a graveyard so forgotten. I was trying to respect the dead & it was quite hard to determine the pattern of the graves.

The only thing left was another kilometer walk to the "old church ruins."

Sort of lame.

Anyway, Fayette is an alright place to check out. I don't really like how many people were there, but I went on a perfect day. I'd have to say it is worth it regardless though, since the land is so beautiful.

Beware though, Lake Michigan is still cold in late June; I found out the hard way. I wanted to check off Lake Michigan from my "Great Lakes that I've swam in" list; so I threw on some shorts and headed down to the beach. There was one family there and they looked sort of perplexed that I was going swimming. Anyway, the beach was all rocks and I only got to about my waist and got my cold ass back to shore. The family asked about it being too cold and I let them know. The funny part of the conversation with them was where we discussed where we lived and they said they lived near Ann Arbor.

"Oh, where near Ann Arbor?" I asked.

"A small town; Pinckney," the lady replied.

"Oh, I know where that is!"

"Now, how do you know where Pinckney is?"

"Uh, well I have this hobby of going into abandoned buildings...and you see there's this plastic factory..."

The family looked strangely at me, we chatted a bit longer and I departed.

Back to Main(e).