These deteriorating brick walls not far from Lake Michigan are slowly crumbling, but a reminder of Michigan’s past. They are the ruins of the Frankfort Iron Works built in 1870 that smelted iron ore mined from the Escanaba region in the Upper Peninsula. They are named the Frankfort Ironworks but they are actually in Elberta on the other side of Betsie Lake across from downtown Frankfort. The workers used surrounding hardwood to fuel the furnaces, but over time they had to travel further and further into the Michigan wilderness to source the firewood. By 1883 they stopped production because of the limitations of fuel for the furnace. The railroad purchased the old ironworks and converted the grounds for use as a place to load railcars onto ferries. They also converted the buildings into shops and a roundhouse for maintaining locomotives. The marine terminal remained in operation until 1982. The grounds are now part of Elberta’s Waterfront Park.
The ruins are fenced off so you can’t walk inside them, probably because of falling bricks, but you can get rather close to the remains to view them. I have been to Frankfort many times, but I never went around to the other side of the lake, and did not know this place existed. If you are up that way you need to take a short trip over to the park.
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