Glen Haven is the best-preserved cord wood station on the eastern shore of Lake Michigan, and perhaps in the entire Great Lakes. It was a company town, eventually diversifying into farming, canning of fruit, and tourism. Today, the history of Glen Haven is still preserved within several buildings that you can visit during your trip to Sleeping Bear Dunes:
History of Glen Haven
In 1857, C. C. McCarty built a sawmill and an inn on the beach west of Glen Arbor. He called the settlement Sleeping Bearville. A dock was added in 1865, and he also built a sawmill on Little Glen Lake, where tugboats could transport logs. Once the lumber was cut up, it was transferred to the Glen Haven dock by wagon or sled.
D. H. Day
In 1878, NTC President Philo Chamberlain acquired Glen Haven. The 24-vessel fleet running between Ogdensburg, NY and Chicago or Milwaukee needed a refueling station, and Sleeping Bear Bay offered a protected harbor. Chamberlain picked D.H. Day, his sister-in-law's younger brother, to serve as NTC's agent in Glen Haven. Before long, Day acquired most of NTC's property, including the village of Glen Haven itself. He also bought shares of two NTC steamers (the Lawrence and Champlain).
Glen Haven Workers
The Sleeping Bear Inn, which was near the dock, provided food and board to lumberjacks, dock workers, and passengers. The front rooms of the inn were nicer and were usually rented to businessmen. Workers stayed in the large bunk rooms in the back, which were added later. Most of the socializing occurred in the large parlors on the first floor, or on the porch, which was enclosed in 1928.
The arrival of steamers was a festive occasion on Glen Haven beach. Locals often watched the docking in a small boat. It would take about an hour for 20-30 men to unload the cargo. When lumber was swept off ships in a storm, townspeople gathered the wood to build houses and barns.
Evolution of Industry
By the early 1920s, D. H. Day had established the Glen Haven Canning Company on the shore near the dock. He supplied the fruit from his farm and orchard, located south of the village, where he grew over 5,000 cherry and apple trees. The Canning Company processed the fruit and shipped it to market from the Glen Haven Dock. As roads and rail services improved, the importance of the Glen Haven dock continued to decline until it was finally closed in 1931. Today, the Cannery serves as a Great Lakes boat museum.
Since D. H. Day
In 1935, Louis Warnes and his wife Marion (D. H. Day's youngest daughter) began running Sleeping Bear Dunesmobile Rides out of Glen Haven. They began the business with a used 1934 Ford, taking 4 people at a time to the crest of the dunes and back for 25 cents each. By the time the rides ended in 1978, there were 13 dunes wagons each carrying 14 passengers on a 12-mile, 35-minute excursion.
Much of the content of this page was excerpted from Sleeping Bear - Yesterday & Today, by George Weeks. This book is available from the bookstores in the Park and in other local bookstores. It has much more detail and many historical pictures for those wishing for a better understanding of the local history of the Glen Haven area.
The red building is the original Blacksmith Shop. It was one of the first buildings built here. We don't have much use for a blacksmith these days, but before 1920, if something made of metal broke, the only way to get it fixed was to take it to the blacksmith. You couldn't run a logging operation without a good blacksmith. These fellows made horseshoes, fixed chains, anchors, and just about anything made of metal. The front yard was always cluttered with broken machinery waiting to be fixed. Today, you can still hear the ping of the blacksmith's hammer on a summer day.
By the early 1920s D.H. Day had established the Glen Haven Canning Company on the shore near the dock. Day had established a farm and orchard south of Glen Haven where he had over 5,000 cherry and apple trees. The Canning Company processed the fruit and shipped it to market from the Glen Haven Dock. With improvements in the roads and rail service, the importance of the Glen Haven dock continued to decline until it was closed in 1931. Today the Cannery is used as a Great Lakes boat museum.
Last updated: February 26, 2024