Nestled among the trees and over a small creek is an old iron truss bridge. The sign hanging from the top beams reads: MICHIGAN BRIDGE AND PIPE CO. LANSING MICHIGAN. You can see the old bridge from M-25 near Port Austin and it was part of the old sawmill town of Port Crescent. The town started back in 1844 when Walter Hume built a hotel and trading post near the mouth of the Pennebog River. A few sawmills sprang up in the area around the river and the town was known as Pennebog but another town upriver had the same name. It was decided to change the name of the town to Port Crescent for the crescent shape the river made as it flowed into the Saginaw Bay.
The lumber town continued to thrive and even survived the Great Fire of 1871. Woods and Company built a large steam-powered sawmill with a brick smokestack that soared into the sky. The town had several houses and even built a large two-story schoolhouse to educated the children. By 1881 the lumberjacks had cut most of the timber, and what was still standing, was mostly destroyed by the great fire that swept through the thumb. Slowly houses and buildings were moved or dismantled and taken to the surrounding towns such as Port Austin and Bad Axe. By 1894 all the buildings were gone and very little remained of the once prosperous town. The trees were gone, but a few people realized the sand was valuable for glass making and copper smelting and began mining and shipping the sand around the Great Lakes.
By the 1930s sand mining operations have ceased and that would have been the end of the land being used for anything. After WWII and the prosperity that followed Michigan families began vacationing during the summer. The state of Michigan acquired the property along the shoreline in 1959 and established the Port Crescent State Park. Little remains of the town of Port Crescent. The old bridge is used for a hiking trail and the foundation for the sawmill chimney stands near the entrance to the campground. Next time you visit Port Crescent State Park, or drive past the sign for it on M-25, maybe you will remember the town and the hard-working lumberjacks who lived there.
P.S. If you like camping in Michigan I hope you will check out my other website www.CampMichigan.org. you can find it by clicking HERE
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