HISTORIC MICHIGAN: The Old Shacks of Fishtown
Up within the Leelanau Peninsula in the town of Leland is a section referred to as "Fishtown". In the centuries before the 1800's, Native Americans were the first fishermen to take advantage of the massive amounts of fish to be caught from the area. Then, once Europeans made the trek to the area in the mid-1800's, their fishermen began sailing out of the harbor into Lake Michigan to catch their limits of trout and whitefish. Of course, they needed somewhere to process and preserve their catches, so shacks/shantys were constructed on shore along the Leland River.
This area was soon referred to as "Fishtown" and today there is still a thriving fishing business; not just a fishery, but a charter service where others can rent out boats/ships and do some serious fishing.
Many of the original old fishermen shacks have been turned into local businesses, mainly for the tourist trade. Other shacks are still used as shanties and smokehouses.
Fishtown merits its own Historical Marker, which reads: "This commercial fishing district has provided a livelihood for residents of the town for over a century. Fishermen reached the fishing grounds of Lake Michigan by way of the Leland River (Carp River) using small sailboats until the introduction of primitive gas-powered oak boats around 1900. Small fishing shanties and related buildings such as ice and smokehouses were constructed during the peak years of the industry, which spanned the first three decades of the twentieth century. Now gray and weather-beaten, some still serve their original purpose. Other buildings in the district date back to Leland’s lumbering and iron smelting era in the latter half of the nineteenth century. Leland continues to be a commercial fishing area as well as the headquarters for transportation to the Manitou Islands."
It's a pretty cool, historic place to visit. When you do, grab a sandwich at the Village Cheese Shanty, which gets raves from all those who enter & eat (you'll be taking home some cheese and sausages, no doubt). Also check out the gift shops, crafts, Rick's Cafe' and Carlson's Fishery (for some smoked whitefish, jerky and pate')!