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Harbor Springs History
History is celebrated every day in Harbor Springs at the History Museum on Main Street...there is much to celebrate! Harbor Springs has been a trading center, mission, lumber center, summer destination and year ’round community.
In 1691, Catholic missionaries came to the area to work with the Odawa Indians. The area from Harbor Springs to Good Hart was known as L’Arbre Croche and during the 1880s, it was a thriving community to the Odawa who supported themselves with agriculture, trapping, carpentry, tailoring, fishing, and shoemaking, to name a few.
The Village of Little Traverse came to be in 1858 and in 1886, Emmet County’s first courthouse was built on Main Street in the structure that is now the History Museum. Harbor Springs became known as a summer retreat beginning in the 1870s as visitors came North to escape pollen and heat. Boarding houses and hotels were built and by the 1920s, Harbor Springs was known as the Naples of the North.
Harbor Springs has it all with outdoor year ‘round outdoor activities for the whole family. Summer is filled with outdoor play – golfing, biking, fishing, swimming, hiking, sailing, boating, and more. Harbor Springs has two city beaches, Zoll Street and Zorn Park, and nearby beaches are minutes away at the Petoskey State Park, Thorne Swift Nature Preserve, and north of town in Good Hart, Cross Village, and Sturgeon Bay.
Fall brings fabulous color and the still warm waters of the lakes. Winter sports with two ski resorts, Nub’s Nob and Boyne Highlands, plus miles of trails for cross country skiing, snow shoeing, and snow mobiling offer days and days of snow fun.
Tunnel of Trees
Head north out of Harbor Springs on M-119 for a drive through the Tunnel of Trees, the M-119 Heritage Route traveling to Cross Village. The route is a stunning display of Northern hardwoods located close to the roadway and overlooking Lake Michigan from steep bluffs. The rolling terrain, dramatic vistas, and many turns and curves make this drive a favorite year ’round.
Designated a Scenic Heritage Route, the views on this 27.5 mile drive highlight glorious woods filled with trillium in the spring, sparkling water in the summer, a frozen landscape and lake in the winter, and fabulous foliage in the fall.
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