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Situated about fifteen miles northeast of L'Anse, Skanee, Michigan is on Huron Bay of Lake Superior, across the bay from the Keweenaw Peninsula, in the northern Upper Peninsula.

Skanee is in the northeast portion of Arvon Township in Baraga County, and home to the township hall.

The chief routes to and from the community are Skanee Road, which forms the southeastern and southern boundaries of the community, Roland Lake Road, which forms its eastern boundary, and Lower Skanee Road. Peterson Road forms Skanee's northern and northeastern boundaries. As an unincorporated community, these boundaries have no legal status, however.

Cities and villages within fifty miles of Skanee include L'Anse, Baraga, Houghton, South Range, and Hancock. The unincorporated community of McComb Corner is about five miles to the east.

The former community of Huron Bay is generally considered part of the Skanee Community. A post office was established as Huron Bay on July 29, 1892, with Azade V. Bourret as postmaster. The office was closed on January 18, 1894.

Captain Walfrid Been, Olof Zellen, and Oscar Zellen were the first to move their families to Skanee in 1871. Later that year, Anders Westrom, Carl Roselle, and John Frederickson filed for homesteads in Skanee.

According to a history of Arvon Township written by Marvin C. Hanson, Captain Been was a Swedish sea captain who sailed his ship to the L'Anse and Baraga area, and took shelter from a storm in the region of Skanee, and liked the area so much that he stayed to found a village.

Attractions for homesteaders and early land buyers included a deep protected bay for shipping, an abundance of valuable timber, commercial fishing opportunities, and fertile soil for agriculture. Additionally, the beauty of Huron Bay and the Huron Mountains have added benefits.

The Homestead Act of 1862 was an attraction for European immigrants, who could file a claim on 160 acres for a filing fee of $26 and be granted citizenship after five years of residence.

In order to grow, Skanee needed a road to the railroad in L'Anse, as early settlers traveled by water or along an old Native American trail along the shores of the bay. To this end, Captain Been presented a petition to the state legislature in 1873 and returned with the authorization for a road. Originally laid out further in the interior, Skanee Road was later located nearer to the bay. While there were hopes of extending M-35 through the Huron Mountains, that never came about.

A post office was established in Skanee on June 23, 1876, with Captain Been as the first postmaster. The village was named for his home province of Skåne in Sweden. The post office remains in operation, serving a large portion of the township.

The first school in Skanee was housed in a rented room at the Oscar Zellen home in 1875, with Oscaria Zellen as a teacher. A dedicated school building was constructed the following year where the township hall parking lot currently is. The building also served as the township hall. Later schools were larger and served a wider area.

The Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church was organized by the Swedish Lutheran Church of Marquette in 1893. Originally named the Swedish Lutheran Church of Skanee, it later became Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church. The Swedish Mission Church was organized in the late 1890s. Two acres of land were donated for a church, but it took several years for the building to be completed. Unable to support a full-time pastor, the church closed in the late 1930s.

Captain Been opened the first store in Skanee around 1880, with deliveries of merchandise arriving only in the spring and fall. Captain Been stocked only those items he considered practical. Frivolous clothing and alcohol were not available from his store.

Although the land was fertile, not enough acreage were cleared for commercial farming, one problem being the distance and cost of marketing products. Some apples and potatoes were exported, although most farms were for family subsistence or for sale locally. There were more dairy and livestock farms, however. Most of the local farms had orchards.

Timber resources included virgin forests of conifers, mostly white pine and hemlock, although sugar maple, red maple, and yellow birch were also plentiful. Once considered a weed tree, aspen later came into demand. Some small railroads were erected to carry lumber to the bay, where they were towed by tugboats to mills in L'Anse. Several local sawmills were later opened.

Although Lake Superior was not considered ideal for commercial fishing, the deeper waters had a good supply of lake trout, whitefish, herring, suckers, and some sturgeon. Captain Been and his partner, Mr. Giddings, fished Huron Bay. Other early commercial fishermen included Carl Roselle, Charles Anderson, and John Falk.

This portion of our guide focuses on Skanee, Michigan



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