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Seney, Michigan is a historic community in southeast Seney Township, northeast Schoolcraft County, in the Upper Peninsula.

As an unincorporated community, there are no defined boundaries for Seney, but it's at the eastern end of the Seney Stretch, a 25-mile portion of M-28 that crosses the Great Manistique Swamp. Between Seney and Shingleton, that portion of the highway is known for being completely straight, and the longest such section of highway in the state. At Seney, M-28 meets M-77.

Cities and villages within fifty miles of Seney include Newberry, Munising, and Manistique, while the unincorporated communities of Germfask, Danaher, and Laketon are within ten miles of the village.

Today, Seney is a small community of only a couple of hundred people. In its boom years as a lumber town, however, it had a population of about three thousand, twenty-three saloons, four or five blind pigs, and a few brothels. Seney was known as one of the most dangerous towns in Michigan. Seney's Boot Hill is situated just outside of town.

Seney came into being when the Alger, Smith Company began logging in the area in 1882, and was named for George R. Seney, a director of the first railroad from St. Ignace to Marquette.

A post office was established on December 28, 1882, with John F. Chisholm as postmaster.

The Detroit, Mackinac and Marquette (DM&M) Railroad, the Duluth, South Shore and Atlantic (DSS&A) Railway, and the Manistee and North-Eastern (M&NE) Railroad each had junctions in Seney, supporting the lumber industry.

The first railroad to come through was the venture of James McMillan, a Michigan Senator who received a state land grant in 1880 to build a railroad from St. Ignace to Marquette and Sault Ste. Marie, and the town sprung up to house and support railroad workers and lumbermen. Seney was named for George Seney, who never actually visited the town.

Lumber firms, such as the Chicago Lumber Company, recruited workers without promising them a payday, and even charging them for a ride to town.

Seney was made famous as the subject of a series Nellie Bly stories in the Police Gazette, in which the town was portrayed as a hell-camp of slavery. The series included reports of strangers being shanghaied on the frontier, and transported to the camps by box car, where they were required to work without pay, and tracked down by dogs when they tried to escape.

It was a rough time, to be sure, but these stories weren't true. There was a lot of drinking, and there were gunfights. In 1896, drunken lumbermen tried to stop the presidential campaign train of William Jennings Bryan by placing blasting caps on the tracks, but they were unsuccessful in stopping the train. Among the lumbermen who resided in Seney was Leon Czolgios, who successfully assassinated President William McKinley in 1901. He had worked in the Seney lumber camps in the 1890s.

Seney was also a fishing destination for the author, Ernest Hemingway, who came each year to fish the Fox River, which flows through the town. Hemingway mentions the town in some of his writings. Other authors, such as Louis Reimann (Incredible Seney) and John Riordan (The Dark Peninsula) also wrote of life in Seney prior to the 1900s.

Seney's boom years were short-lived, however. By the turn of the 20th century, the pine forests were depleted, due to logging and fires, and the lumber companies left, along with most of its population.

Nevertheless, Seney had a grade school and a Catholic Church in 1905, as well as a hotel, a couple of stores, a bank, and other businesses.

By the end of World War I, there were barely fifty people in town. However, the paving of M-28 and M-77 in the 1950s gave the community hope through tourism, particularly involving fishing the Fox River. Snowmobiling is also popular in the winter.

In recent years, the lumber industry has made a resurgence, although on a much more subdued level, and trains still come through a few times a week with lumber destined for paper mills.

The Seney Historical Society renovated the DSS&A depot, which had been closed since 1971, for use as a museum, and many of the town's circa 1900 homes have been restored or rebuilt. Seney's Boot Hill Cemetery also brings tourists into town, as the grounds and grave sites were beautified as a village project in 1965.

This portion of our guide is dedicated to the historic community known as Seney, Michigan. Websites representing any governmental entities within the community, as well as local businesses, industries, schools, churches, organizations, attractions, events, and recreational opportunities are appropriate for this category.



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