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Situated on an isthmus, between Lake Michigan to the north and Glen Lake to the south, Glen Arbor is bordered by the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore to the west and east.

The community is access by M-22 and M-109. M-22 crosses the bridge across Glen Lake, entering Glen Arbor in the south, then turning northeast, exiting Glen Arbor in the northeast. M-109 also comes from the south, but along the western shores of Glen Lake, making a sharp turn to the east and Glen Haven, entering Glen Arbor in the west, where it ends at its intersection with M-22.

Glen Haven, a restored port village on the shores of Lake Michigan, is just west of Glen Arbor, and the unincorporated community of Burdickville is direct across Glen Lake from Glen Arbor, a drive of about six miles. Traverse City is twenty-five miles to the southeast. Empire and Lake Ann are the only incorporated municipalities within twenty miles of Glen Arbor.

Glen Arbor is an unincorporated community and census-designated place in Glen Arbor Township, Leelanau County, in the northwestern Lower Peninsula of Michigan.

The village of Glen Arbor is the business and governmental center of the township. Although small, it includes a couple of churches, several small businesses, and a small park. As it is unincorporated, the village is administered by the township government. However, the township hall, post office, and fire and rescue department are located in the village, although they serve the township.

The first people in the area, of course, were Native Americans, including the Ottawa, Ojibwa, and Pottawatomi. French trappers and fur traders came into the region in the early 1800s. John LaRue opened a trading post along the Crystal River, north of Glen Arbor, in 1847. Also known as Crystal Run, the Crystal River is a 6.3-mile stream that winds its way from Glen Lake to Lake Michigan. Although the distance between the two lakes is only 1.2 miles, the stream wanders through swamplands for more than five times that distance.

In 1854, John Dorsey and John E. Fisher came. Dorsey set up a cooper shop, making fish barrels, and Fisher speculated on about a thousand acres of land on the north side of Glen Lake. Mrs. Fisher named the new community Glen Arbor, for a mass of wild grapes that she observed entwined in the treetops, declaring it a glen arbor created by nature. Mrs. Fisher's brother, C.C. McCarty, built the Sleeping Bear Inn as a residence for area lumbermen. In 1856, George Ray built a dock.

Originally, mail for people in the new community was left in a hollow tree. On July 6, 1857, an official post office was established, with George Ray as the first postmaster. By 1867, Glen Arbor Township had a population of two hundred, as well as three docks, two hotels, four stores, a blacksmith shop, and a cooper shop.

In 1886, D.H. Day purchased a large tract of land, including all of Glen Haven, to the west. He opened a sawmill along Glen Lake, planted fruit orchards, and established a cannery at his dock in Glen Haven.

In 1890, Gordon Earle built a water-powered shingle mill, and J.O. Nessen opened a lumber mill a few years later. As was the case in many Michigan communities, the community was originally dependent upon the lumber industry. The forest provided the lumber and shingles for homes, schools, churches, and businesses, and steamships on Lake Michigan purchased wood for fuel at wooding stations in Glen Haven and Glen Harbor.

Although Glen Arbor remains heavily wooded, the lumber era ended in the early 1900s, and tourism gained in importance as resorts were built along the shores of Glen Lake, and passenger steamers docked at Glen Haven. Men would travel from Chicago to spend weekends in Glen Arbor, while their wives and children sometimes spent the summer. By the early 1900s, there were two golf courses along Glen Lake, and a passenger excursion boat regularly stopped at area resorts and cottages.

The Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore was authorized by the federal government in 1970, transferring large tracts of private property to the federal government, and adding additional land in 2014, for a total of 71,199 acres, including nearby Glen Haven. Due to Glen Arbor's proximity to the national park, its future is irretrievably linked to tourism.

The focus of this category is on the census-designated community known as Glen Arbor, Michigan. Topics related to the community itself, or any individuals, businesses, industries, schools, churches, attractions, events, or recreational opportunities are appropriate for this category.


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