Historical Society to present Ghost Tour ’24: Trains, Towns, and Lumber Camps

April 3, 2024

On Saturday, June 1, the Mason County Historical Society will present a special bus tour exploring an abandoned railroad along with ghost towns and abandoned lumber camps of northeastern Mason County.

In 1899, a group of lumber barons from Manistee and Ludington formed the Manistee & Grand Rapids Railroad. The standard gauge railroad ran from the City of Manistee, through Filer City, and Stronach and then traversed through northeast Mason County and into Lake before ending in Marion in Osceola County. The railroad operated for about three decades and included a mix of lumber, freight and passenger service with several depots in Mason County.

Over 100 years later, remnants of the former railroad hide in plain sight in Manistee and Mason counties. Join the Mason County Historical Society on a bus tour pursuing the ghost railroad that once was the M&GR. Along the route, the tour will visit ghost towns and abandoned lumber camps.

The day’s event will end with a dinner and special talk highlighting some of the history of Free Soil and Meade townships.

The day’s event will begin at the Meade Township Hall, 5435 E. Free Soil Road. Buses will depart at 2 p.m. sharp and travel to Manistee where the exploration will begin at the railroad’s terminus depot on Water Street in downtown Manistee. Buses will make several stops along the way, with guest appearances from some of the railroad’s founders, train crews, and property owners along the route. Participants will discover the old right-of-way, as it makes its way through northeastern Mason County. If the ghost train wasn’t enough, the tour will even visit some ghost towns such as Hoags, Elmton and Millerton!

The tour will end where it began, in the ghost town of Elmton at the Meade Town Hall, where a wonderful country meal will be served along with a presentation about the lumber era that built Free Soil and Meade townships.

Meade Township is handicap accessible but the school buses are not equipped with ramps. While the tour will have some stops that require walking, the walking will be either optional or minimal.

The event is a fundraiser for the historical society, a non-profit charitable organization that operates the Mason County Research Center, Port of Ludington Maritime Museum and Historic White Pine Village.

Tickets will be $75 per person, which include the bus tour and dinner and will go on sale for the tour on Saturday, April 13. More information will be posted, along with a link, on April 13. Also, visit the Historical Society’s website here.


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