Markers can be a structure, a natural geographic area, or any other unusual or significant site. Before a marker can be placed on any given site, the site must be approved to be listed on the State Register of Historic Sites. After approval, a sponsor or committee must submit a plan and contact the Bureau of History. Once approval is granted, the sponsor must submit proposed text for the marker, plus, of course, a check to pay for it, although the final text is determined by the Bureau. Once everything is in place, a dedication ceremony is planned. There are five types of markers permitted, but any free-standing marker must have text on both sides, either the same or continuing text. Its an interesting way to make any travels of the area an impromptu history lesson, as well.
Some of Emmet Countys most interesting Historic Marker Sites include the following:
Staffords Bay View Inn
Located on U.S. 31 north in historic Bay View and constructed by J.W. Howard, this inn was first known as the Woodland Avenue House in 1887, and later the Howard House. In 1923 it was renamed the Roselawn in honor of Hiram Rose, local pioneer and entrepreneur. He renamed it the Bay View Inn, and later it became Staffords Bay View Inn. Its continuous operation in Bay View fits in nicely with that cultural and educational center founded in 1875 as a tent community.
Bliss Pioneer Memorial Church
Organized in 1880, the East Bliss United Brethren Church was dedicated in 1903. It was disbanded in 1949, purchased by former members, and renamed as Bliss Pioneer Memorial Church. Located on Sturgeon Bay, west of Pleasantview Road, the church still holds regular Memorial Day services.
Pioneer Picnic Park
Located on Round Lake, also known as Larks Lake, it was created in 1915 as a memorial to the settlers of Northern Emmet County, and was deeded over to the County in 1950.
The Ephraim Shay House
Located at Main and Judd Streets in Harbor Springs, this hexagonal building is made of metal, and is an easy standout among the more traditional homes in the town. Ephraim Shay invented the Shay locomotive, a prominent feature in logging and mining operations.
Andrew J. Blackbird Museum
Andrew J. Blackbirds former house, located on Main Street in Harbor Springs, is now a museum. It was constructed around 1868 and was the home of Chief Blackbird, who served as the towns first postmaster. Blackbird wrote two books on Indian language and legends, one of which is a continuous best seller at the History Museum. Located next to the Shay house (see above), the museum has its own intriguing marker, which is in English on one side and is translated into the Native American Odawa language on the other.
Passenger Pigeons marker
Passenger pigeons are now extinct, yet they once flocked in the millions in Northern Michigan. A marker in their honor is located one mile west of Oden on U.S. 31 North, at the State of Michigan fish hatchery. The Little Traverse Historical Society also has an in-depth wing dedicated to the passenger pigeon, explaining how such a populous bird came to be extinct.
Fort Michilimackinac at Mackinaw City
Built by the French in 1715. British troops entered the Fort in 1761, but were routed by the Chippewa Indians in 1763. The British, however, moved to Mackinac Island in 1781. The Fort is located in Mackinaw City.
Little Traverse Bay
Yes, the bay has its very own marker and offers incredibly panoramic views of the bay from Sunset Park, located on Petoskeys U.S. 31.
St. Francis Solanus Mission
Located on West Lake Street in Petoskey, is believed to be the oldest building in Petoskey; it was built during the term of Bishop Baraga, who founded the areas Indian mission.
Located in Cross Village, Legs Inn is one of the most recent Northern Michigan locations to receive its own historical marker. This unusual restaurant was created by Stanley Smolak, a Polish immigrant, who combined European and American Indian cultures to great effect, and decorated the outside edge of his buildings roof with an assortment of inverted stove legs, hence the inns name. The specialty of the house, of course, is authentic Polish cuisine. The inns interior features unique driftwood carvings, tree root sculptures, and thick timber beams, and the lakeside vantage point - complete with garden in the back - provides clear views of the neighboring islands.