A True Michigan Ghost Town: The Remains of Bell, in Presque Isle County
The ghost town of Bell, Michigan is truly a ghost town…and it sits alone in the woods in Presque Isle County within the Besser Bell Natural Area.
A little way north of Alpena and a little south of Presque Isle along Lake Huron lies what’s left of this lumber town, of which it centered around the Presque Isle Brick & Lumber Company. Bell resident William French was a state representative in 1883 and was also one of Bell’s original lumbermen.
The area of Bell was also known as ‘False Presque Isle Harbor’ and a post office was established in 1884 with Odell Smith as postmaster. The office closed in 1911. This caused residents to leave the town until every single one had vanished to various parts of northern Michigan. The town was left behind, just an empty shell of what it was. Once the town was completely devoid of people, inventor and concrete manufacturer Jesse Besser bought up the land. He truly must have wanted to save this patch of land from destruction and removal, so he donated it to the state, and as a result, was dubbed the Besser Natural Area.
Besser owned and operated the Besser Company in Alpena, which made him a very rich man. In 1964, he gave part of his assets to the Besser Museum in Alpena. He passed away in 1970 at 88 years old.
Okay, back to the town of Bell. Once you get inside the woods, you may come across a little graveyard that holds the original 1800s residents; I say ‘may’ because some explorers have a hard time finding this cemetery. The graveyard is west of Besser Bell Road, a little ways from the village remains. Best bet is to visit when there are no leaves on the trees or flowering bushes…go in winter time, which is the best time to find all the town remains. Besides, the mosquitoes are plentiful in summer, so visit when it’s cooler. You’ll also see the pieces of old houses & buildings, an old broken safe, walls of an old general store, and a still-standing chimney.
Some locals believe the spirits of Native Americans and old Bell residents try to discourage visitors, investigators, and tourists. But it ain’t workin’…people love visiting this place. Now take a look at the photo gallery below!
And as always, treat our state ghost towns with respect: don't vandalize, don't be obnoxious, and don't ruin it for others.
The Ghost Town of Bell, Michigan
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