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Situated on the western shores of Mullett Lake, east of I-75 and along M-27, which follows the western shores of the lake, the community of Topinabee, Michigan is in Cheboygan County, in the northern part of the Lower Peninsula.

Topinabee is in the southwestern part of Mullett Township, which is separated diagonally by the lake.

M-27 (North Straits Highway) passes through the center of the community. Lesser routes include Bennett Road, Ranch Road, Thompson Road, and Topinabee Mail Route.

Cities and villages within fifty miles of Topinabee include Pellston, Cheboygan, Alanson, Wolverine, Mackinaw City, Onaway, Vanderbilt, Petoskey, Harbor Springs, Gaylord, Millersburg, Boyne Falls, Boyne City, Charlevoix, East Jordan, and Rogers City, while the unincorporated communities of Indian River and Riggsville are within ten miles.

Topinabee was founded as a resort town by the Michigan Central Railroad in 1881. A branch of the New York Central Railroad, the Michigan Central Railroad had depots all along its line from Detroit to Mackinaw City. The railroad had an interest in establishing a resort community at Topinabee in order to promote passenger travel along its line.

Horace H. Pike built a hotel along the banks of Mullett Lake, adjacent to the railroad tracks, and people began to build homes in the area. Mr. Pike arranged to have the village platted, and named it for a Pottawatomi Chief Topinabee, although the Pottawatomi had resided in southwestern Michigan.

A post office was established in Topinabee on April 17, 1882, with Daniel P. Stofer as postmaster.

The area is situated along the Inland Waterway, which draws several tourists. Beginning at Lake Huron, it is possible to travel down the Cheboygan River to Mullett Lake, through the Indian River to Burt Lake, down the Crooked River to Crooked Lake, and, from there it's a short walk to Little Traverse Bay in Lake Michigan.

The railroad made it easy for people from downstate and Ohio to come to the area. Many people built cottages in the area, to which they traveled by rail.

Mr. Pike's hotel was a three-story structure that could accommodate forty guests. A boat dock, a tavern, and a casino were added.

The railroad began regular passenger service to Topinabee in 1886, and Mr. Pike subdivided thirty-six acres of land in 1884, selling lots for people to build cottages. At one time, four passenger trains stopped at Topinabee daily, bringing people from Detroit, Chicago, and other areas. Other railroad companies connected at stops along the way to other trains bound for Topinabee. The Topinabee Depot had a Western Union Telegraph and an American Express office.

Mr. Pike died in 1900, after which the hotel was sold to E.R. Bailey, who renamed it Pike's Summer Tavern. The hotel was destroyed by fire in 1917, but rebuilt as the Hotel Topinabee. It burned again in 1928, and was again rebuilt. In 1935, Ed Maloney bought the hotel, selling it to Irving ImOberstag in 1954. It was damaged by fire again in the 1960s, and was razed in 1970.

During the community's peak years, the Steamer Topinabee cruised the Inland Waterway, also stopping at Topinabee.

Today, the Topinabee post office is still in service. There are also two non-denominational Protestant churches, a public library, a br and grille, a breakfast cafe, a combination gas station and market, and a rustic furniture store. The township operates two public beaches and a public boat launch on Lake Mullett, along with a baseball diamond, a tennis court, a basketball court, and playground equipment.

As an unincorporated community, individual census records are not determined for Topinabee, but there is a sizable residential area within the community. Although the nearby interstate highway siphons off a great deal of the through traffic from the community, Topinabee still receives considerable activity along M-27 from vacationers and other travelers.

The focus of this portion of our web guide is the community known as Topinabee, Michigan. Local businesses, industries, schools, churches, organizations, activities, events, entertainment venues, and recreational opportunities are appropriate for this category.



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