Thursday, July 24, 2014

Leland's Famous Fishtown!

In northern Michigan sits the small town of Leland. Now most of you may not necessarily know about Leland, but it is home to the only working commercial fishing village in Michigan that is left today. Fishtown is situated along the harbor in Leland and if you find yourself in this area, get out of your car and walk around. It's worth the time and the effort.

Fishtown in Leland dates back to the 1800's and as you walk down the steps to the docks, you almost feel like you might just be right back in 1890. Forty years ago Carlson Fisheries decided it wanted to perserve the heritage of Fishtown which is why it still serves as a fishing village today. Later Carlson sold Fishtown to the Preservation Society to preserve it. I am so glad they did.

You'll find old fishing nets hanging off the side of the dock railings drying in the sun which I found especially charming. As I photographed this fishing net, several women looked at me like I was a little nuts, but I knew you guys would get the symbolic nature of the image.

As you turn the corner of the main walkway to the dock, look almost straight across and you see one of the best representations of an old weathered fishing shantie with its gear sitting out front ready to be put into service.

Walk around the docks and wander in and out of the shops if time allows, but especially stop and read some of the many printed billboard signs sitting outside that share the story of the 'famous' Fishtown fishermen. It really was heartwarming to read about the fishermen. The town obviously is very proud of their hardworking guys.

Behind the dam that flows into Lake Michigan stands a boardwalk connecting the two docks. Standing on the boardwalk, I captured this image of the weathered fishing shanties and the boats sitting in the harbor. It bears mentioning here that the green boat in the left side of the image is an old fishing tug. The tugs, back in the 1800's and early 1900's, were open mackinaw boats made of wood. In the mid 1900's the tugs were modified when gas engines replaced the sails and later when gas was replaced with diesel. At that time a protective cabin was added to the tugs, allowing the fishermen more protection from the elements and enabling them to travel further out from port, and extending the season further into the winter months. Today, the Janice Sue and the Joy, steel fishing tugs, are still in service in Leland. Now how's that for a history lesson!

As I walked out past the harbor toward Lake Michigan, a long rock wall sat adjacent to the marina. No doubt it was built to keep the lake at bay during stormy weather.

This area of Michigan is so 'cool' if you don't mind the term. It is situated about 35 minutes from Traverse City and is very close to the small artist's community of Glen Arbor. Nearby is Sleeping Bear Dunes, so if you didn't get enough of your drive down Pierce Stocking and you kept your receipt, you could take a second drive. I drove a tad farther south on this particular day to visit Point Betsie Lighthouse and Ranger Station. So many little towns just a hop, skip and a jump away from each other. ENJOY!


  1. Very quaint. I wonder if any of the old residents still live nearby?

  2. Really pretty for an inland port. I like the weathered shanties. Thanks for sharing the history of this way of life. Have a wonderful weekend. Pam