HISTORIC MICHIGAN TOWN: Alden, in Antrim County
The Michigan village of Alden began in 1868 as a lone general store, constructed in what is now Helena Township, Antrim County. That one store was considered a noble gesture, all alone, surrounded by forests. So much so, the community that began springing up around it was named Noble.
More and more businesses and homes began to appear, and a name change was inevitable. Since the village was growing up near Spencer Creek, that's what the townsfolk decided to name their new hometown, beginning in 1869 with a new post office.
The town was excelling in the supply of timber when the Pere Marquette Railway came through in 1890. Evidently, the town residents were so pleased with the extra business that the railroad contributed to, they again decided to change the town name...this time, to "Alden", in honor of their 'benefactor', William Alden Smith, an official with the Pere Marquette Railway (and later a congressman and senator). On July 18, 1892, the town name became official.
The town's establishments included a blacksmith, church, depot, general store, grist mill, hotel, saloon, sawmill, schoolhouse, and a handful of other shops and stores.
These days, the town of Alden has preserved their history, their town, and their buildings. There are plenty of awesome original storefronts and structures still standing, and a drive through the town will bring you plenty of photo ops.
The historical marker found in front of the old depot reads "In 1891-92 the Chicago and West Michigan Railway, percursor to the Pere Marquette Railroad, extended the line between Traverse City and Petosky through Spencer Creek. William Alden Smith, the railway's general counsel, advocated the line through Spencer Creek, and in 1891 the town renamed Alden in his honor. Its location aided travel and shipping between Chicago and Petosky, supporting agriculture, lumbering and eventually tourism. The Pere Marquette built this depot in 1907 to replace one that burned in 1906. Northern Michigan newspapers called it the railroad's finest depot north of Grand Rapids. In 1981 the last train left Alden. Helena Township acquired the depot in 1986."
Don't pass up your opportunities to visit these historic Michigan sites!