The Michigan ghost town of Harlan lies in Cleon Township in Manistee County, a few miles southeast of Copemish.

 

The first settler arrived in 1857 with a team of oxen from Benton Harbor.

In 1889, the Toledo, Ann Arbor & Northern Railroad relocated, going through Harlan and the town began its prosperous period. The railroad originally went through the town of Cleon but scheduling that particular route was difficult, thanks to uphill climbs and sharp curves. The tracks were inevitably re-routed through Harlan.

Harlan experienced an amazing growth. Within a couple of years, the town had a blacksmith, church, depot, two general stores, hotel, pickle factory, post office, potato storage warehouse, two sawmills, schoolhouse, and a telephone operator.

By 1912 the population of Harlan was 75.

But soon the prosperity began its decline. The post office shut down in 1935, the school and church in the 1950’s and the main general store in 1959.

 

In the 1970s, the Sargent Sand Company built a plant east of town, giving Harlan a little resurgence. But It closed down, thanks to the Ford Motor Company closing down its foundry in Flat Rock in 1982.

 

Nowadays Harlan barely shows up on any maps with just a smattering of villagers left in the area. The few, sparse remaining homes are lined in a small row along the highway that lead up to the old church, which is the only original public structure (SEE PHOTOS BELOW). It still stands as a reminder of what the town once was.

Visit this old Michigan lumber town and get some great photo ops during your Michigan roadtrip!