MICHIGAN GHOST TOWNS: Donken & Toivola
Up in Michigan's Keewenaw Peninsula nestled in the deep woods area of Houghton County, are two old lumber towns - now ghost towns - that are worth seeking out: Donken and Toivola (SEE PHOTOS BELOW).
Over the years, the old lumber town of Donken has been misspelled as either Donkeyn or Donkyn, so pay no attention to those spellings if you come across 'em.
Donken got its start as a station on the Copper Range Railroad, with help from Earl J. Case. Case founded Donken's first businesses, the Case Lumber Company and a general store. Once the town got rolling, it acquired its own post office in 1919 with Case as postmaster.
However, over the next couple of decades, business and trade dwindled, thanks to the depletion of timber, as was the case with most of the northern Michigan lumbertowns. By the 1930's, residents had moved elsewhere, leaving the town's population at 100.
Yes, there are a very few people still there but the abandoned homes and structures well outweigh the rest of the town. Most of these old homes & shacks are dilapidated with some hidden within the woods. It's worth a drive-thru for some great photo ops!
Now, onward! Four and a half miles north of Donken on M-26 is another old lumber town, Toivola. It was founded by a group of settlers from Finland who gave the village its name, which is said to mean either "Vale of Hope" or "Community of Hope". They felt they needed to find a place where hope was eternal, as they had fled Finland to escape the Great Famine of the 1860's.
Thanks once again to the timber trade, this logging camp of Toivola became extremely successful...so much so, that they eventually had a total of THIRTEEN schools! Also a train depot and post office, which opened in 1905 and is still there.
Toivola is very Finn traditional, as they still celebrate 'Juhannus', or the Summer Solstice. There's also an Artesian well down Misery Bay Road near the old Misery Bay School...drive down that road, get a drink, and check out even more old structures.
Very cool area to check out on your Michigan roadtrip...!