In 1856 Dexter and Noble Company began building an empire with their sawmill and mercantile business. In 1872 they built an iron smelting plant, one of the largest charcoal furnaces in the country. At each step of their building that empire, local workers were required.
A small community grew from the labors of these workers. This growth of the small village of Elk Rapids required the services of many trades people, such as carpenters and stone masons to construct buildings, doctors to heal the sick and accident victims, farmers to feed the families along with all the other services that a growing community might need.
At one point there was an acute shortage. Labor was recruited from Norway, Sweden and Europe, as well as New York, Canada and other parts of the country.
From 1865 to 1910, there were three major docks built for the Great Lakes shipping business that came to Elk Rapids.
Business was booming in Elk Rapids during the 1890's and early 1900's. The railroad came to town in 1891. by 1910 the lumbering came to an end. In 1913 the iron blast furnace was shut down, the Elk Cement & Lime Co. was gone, the Grist Mill and Dexter and Noble Company Store ceased operation.
At one point, the population of Elk Rapids swelled to 2,000 inhabitants. By 1930, it dwindled to only 615 residents.
Northern Michigan Transportation Co. car ferry ran from Northport to Manistique and points in between.
The Spinner and Bachi Meat Market in Elk Rapids, c.1890's.
Gremel's Brewery was also located on Grand Traverse Bay along South Bayshore Drive and operated from c.1866 to c.1891.
The Cement Plant was located on Grand Traverse Bay along South Bayshore Drive between 1899 and 1911.
Photos courtesy of the Elk Rapids Area Historical Society. The Elk Rapids Area Historical Museum is located at 301 Traverse St. in Elk Rapids. Map Courtesy of Michigan Maps, Inc., Elk Rapids.
©2012 Village of Elk Rapids Parks and Recreation Commission.