A Legacy of Cherries and an Abandoned Cherry Weigh Station: Traverse City, Michigan
Sure, we all know about Traverse City's legacy of cherries...but did you know the whole U.S. cherry boom began here in Michigan? Cherry production in the United States began in Traverse City in 1852 when Peter Dougherty, a Presbyterian missionary, planted numerous cherry trees in the Old Mission Peninsula. Residents and local Native Americans didn't give Dougherty's project much hope, but they were all fooled...the trees flourished and other area residents began growing their own orchards as well.
Decades of success pass by, and in 1924 Traverse City began holding a ceremony called “The Blessing of the Blossoms” in celebration of their successful enterprise. Not long afterward, it became known as the National Cherry Festival, and in 1926 they crowned their first Cherry Queen, Charlotte Kearns.
Next time to travel to the area, check out the abandoned Cherry Growers Weigh Station in the Old Mission Peninsula (seen in the gallery below). The weigh station was built in 1920 and lasted until the 1960s.
There were other weigh stations within Traverse City, but there were always long lines and the time spent waiting became tedious for many cherry growers. So this little station was constructed out in the countryside at the junction of Peninsula Drive and Bowers Harbor Road. It was much simpler to visit rather than the weigh stations in the big city: truckers would pull up to the platform, use dollies to move their crates, slip 'em on the scale, and get the weight.
As the years went by, more modern methods eventually pushed aside the need for this little station. After it closed, it sat abandoned until 1972 when it was used as a fruit, flower, and vegetable stand known as Lorey's Harbor Station.
Lorey's chugged along for 45 years until it finally shut down. It may still sit abandoned, but it was appreciated enough to merit its own spot in the Michigan Register of Historic Places.
Now, every July and August, the entire countryside in the Traverse City area is dotted with stands and markets with boxes, crates, and cartons of cherries for sale...or, you can pick your own. The gallery below has some old photos of Traverse City (and other Michigan) cherry growers, the abandoned cherry weigh station, and even the first Cherry Queen from 1926!
Has the rest of America thanked us yet?
Grand Traverse Cherries and Abandoned Cherry Weigh Station