Aviva Directory » Local & Global » North America » United States » States » Michigan » Cities & Towns » Harbor Springs

The City of Harbor Springs, Michigan is a resort community on the north shore of Little Traverse Bay on Lake Michigan, in the northern part of the Lower Peninsula.

The Harbor Point Peninsula, southeast of the city, provides the city with a protected harbor and contains the unincorporated community of Harbor Point. Wequetonsing is an unincorporated resort community adjacent to the eastern border of Harbor Springs, along the bay.

Petoskey is across the bay from Harbor Springs, although the driving distance from one city center to the other is 9.9 miles. The villages of Alanson and Pellston are nearby. The chief route through Harbor Springs is M-119, which runs around the north side of Little Traverse Bay, through downtown Harbor Springs, and terminates at Cross Village, about fifteen miles to the north. Another route is C-77, which begins at Harbor Springs and runs north to Cross Village.

Harbor Springs is a small city of just over a thousand people on what may be the deepest harbor on the Great Lakes, formed by the projection of Harbor Point across the northern portion of Little Traverse Bay. The city is surrounded by quiet resort communities.

The population of Harbor Springs peaked at 1,805 in 1910. Since then, its population has fluctuated, trending downward, and at the time of the 2010 census, there were 1,194 in the city.

Other groups of Native Americans were probably in the area prior to that time, but the Ottawa (Odawa) settled there around 1740. They knew the area as Waganakising, which meant "it is bent," a reference to a prominent crooked tree that jutted from a steep bluff along the Lake Michigan shore, under which they held their council. Later, the French named the area L'Arbre Croche and, still later, the English knew it as the Land of the Crooked Tree.

Jesuit missionaries established a mission to the Ottawa called New L'Arbre Croche in 1829. Later, this mission became the Holy Childhood of Jesus Catholic Church and Indian School. The building stood on the west end of Main Street until 2007 when it was demolished.

The community that grew up around the Ottawa village and Jesuit mission later became known as Little Traverse. Richard Cooper came to Little Traverse on a trading schooner in 1853 and opened a store for Captain Kirtland. That fall, Charles R. Wright, Albert Cable, and James Moore came. They were fishermen. Wright and Cable initially stopped at Harbor Point, while Moore came to the village. Before long, fishing became a significant industry, and many of those who came to fish became leading citizens within the village.

Associated with the fishing industry were coopers, who kept shops near the fishing shanties along the coast. Cooperage was the first manufacturing industry in Little Traverse. Small stores and trading posts did business with both the fishermen and Native Americans.

A post office was established in Little Traverse on March 27, 1862, with William H. Fife as postmaster. Real estate sales offices opened, and other professionals set up shop in the growing village. New docks were built, W.E. Parker opened a sawmill, and a newspaper began publishing from Little Traverse.

The Grand Rapids and Indiana Railroad built a line to Petoskey in 1874, and a branch line to Harbor Springs in 1882, which included a depot. Designed by Sidney J. Osgood, the depot was constructed in 1889. Acquired by the Pennsylvania Railroad in 1918, the depot was in use as a passenger station until 1962. The depot was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2000.

In 1881, the village was incorporated as Harbor Springs, and the post office adopted that name, as well, on March 17, 1881. The name was derived from its harbor and the presence of several springs in the area. Prior to its incorporation, the village was sometimes known as Bayfield, although Little Traverse was the more common name.

By 1890, there were more than a thousand people in Harbor Springs. Harbor Springs became a city in 1932.

Construction of the Harbor Springs Railway began in 1900. Chartered by Ephraim Shay, inventor of the Shay locomotive, the narrow gauge railroad was designed largely to haul lumber. Nicknamed the Hemlock Central, the railroad originally operated a route of seven miles, to Stutsman and Race Mill, and was extended to Carter's Mill in 1904. Shay and his family had moved to Harbor Springs in 1888, building the Shay Hexagon House, since been listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The railway ceased operations in 1910. Shay also built an all-steel boat that he named the Aha, the remains of which are now preserved in Harbor Springs.

The focus of this category is on Harbor Springs, Michigan. Appropriate topics include online resources representing the city, as well as any individuals, businesses, industries, schools, places of worship, attractions, events, local sports, and recreational opportunities.


Faith & Spirituality

Places to Eat

Places to Stay

Property Sales & Rentals

Services & Industries

Things to Do & Places to Go



Recommended Resources

Search for Harbor Springs on Google or Bing