One hundred and fifty years ago, Willard A. Smith, editor/publisher of the Charlevoix Sentinel, along with friends, jumped on the tugboat Commodore Nutt for a voyage of discovery to Little Traverse (Harbor Springs) and Bear Creek ( Petoskey).
The Nutt had been the first motor boat to separate from the waters of Pine Lake (Lac de Charlevoix) a few years earlier. June 29, 1872, Sentinel (excerpt): “Up Little Traverse Bay. . . . Many objects of interest met our attention on the way up, which we had never seen before. Our attention was drawn to ‘Big Rock Point’, supposedly of a monstrous rock, which, according to lore, was thrown off the shore (by a monstrous human) in times gone by. When, upon inspection, we found that the rock was ten feet above the water and fourteen feet in diameter, we concluded that the tradition was lying somewhat. We cannot always believe such a thread. The Big Rock is still there, giving its name to a small point of land where Michigan’s first nuclear power plant once stood.
“After a two-hour run, we reached Bear Creek, which is just across from Little Traverse Harbour. Upon landing, we saw nothing but a dilapidated Catholic church, just behind which was a graveyard, said to contain bodies tightly packed together and three deep. We assume this is also the tradition. After a brief stay there, Smith and his friends re-boarded the Nutt for the journey across the water to “…Little Traverse Harbor (where) we found all the bustle and confusion, the streets and wharf being lined with (people) The tiny village of Traverse doesn’t have much to brag about, but it’s nestled in one of the romantic spots on the Great Lakes The perfectly landlocked harbor can’t be After begging for another handful of peanuts from one of the many shops the village was filled with, we prepared our way back. . . . then pointed our bows home, entering the river (the lower channel de Charlevoix) at dusk.
Part of that same journey can still be made today, with the return of the small steamer that now runs in the summer between Petoskey and Harbor Springs.
Fifty years ago, the Courrier de Charlevoix of June 28, 1922 reported a wave of crimes that crossed Charlevoix. “BANDITS ROB BAY SHORE MAN. Get him supplies and twenty-five bucks. Mackinaw police grab them, relieve them of their loot and let them go. Five large car loads of daylight bandits are unusual , even in these hard outlaw days, and in peaceful Emmet county they are rarer than the purple monkeys, but they arrived yesterday The cars were filled with itinerant people, mostly men , and as they drove south and reached a point two miles above Bay Shore, they met a farmer from Charlevoix County who had just bought a lot of groceries in Petoskey and was jogging with his horse tired. of the return.
“Two of the cars drove by, but the other three stopped, one right in front of the astonished farmer, one beside him, and the third behind him. The occupants searched him, took $25 cash, and drove him away. then relieved of all errands. He went to Charlevoix, notified the police there, and they informed the authorities in Petoskey who sent the alarm all the way down the line to Mackinaw City. The five cars bore Massachusetts license plates.
“In Mackinaw there was another robbery, but it was by the police there waiting for the robbers to arrive. The outlaws were searched and all their money taken from them as a settlement, it was considered cheaper to arrange matters in this way than to incur the expense of sending the mob back to Petoskey, identifying the real thieves and holding a trial. The thieves were happy to admit their guilt and give up the spoils.
“The outfit passed through Charlevoix on Tuesday, but was not authorized to stop. The group left a similar record throughout the southern part of the state. They were chased from place to place, arrested, and more. But they still manage to keep the path to a place not (previously warned).
The attached photo shows the Northern Creamery Co. building at 103 Clinton Street, half a block from downtown, which was built in 1920. For some reason it hadn’t transformed as much locally produced milk and cream. The same Courier has now reported that “The local creamery is doing excellent business”. Apparently, its proximity had slowly convinced farmers and dairymen in the area that they could indeed trust their local businesses and not have to ship their produce. “’Gold Coin’ butter is currently the creamery’s main product, while ‘McCool’s’ famous ice cream and sweet cream are sold locally. Weekly butter production will average over 3,000 pounds, and virtually every pound is consumed by the domestic market. Purchases (of cream) ranging from three to four hundred gallons per week come from outside sources.
The building became for decades Novotny’s plumbing and heating headquarters and is currently the site of the small parking lot of the Cercle des arts de Charlevoix.