Driving north on 127, you finally get to Clare County and pass by that huge rest area/picnic stop that sits in the median (it's called the "Michigan Welcome Center", yet it's in the middle of the state. If you're welcoming out-of-state visitors, shouldn't it be at the state line? Just sayin'...). Once you're past this, you start noticing all the signs for Harrison...but have you ever veered off the road and gone thru that town?

In 1877, a board of supervisors were searching for a place to be the county seat.  By early 1878, they settled on a heavily wooded area that would become Harrison. With the county seat set in place, the Flint & Pere Marquette Railroad came through bringing business and settlers.

The town was named in honor of former President William Henry Harrison. Harrison was the United States 9th president and served the shortest term: 32 days. Not long after his inauguration, he caught a cold which turned into pneumonia and died on April 4, 1941.

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The lumber trade was in full force, and Harrison was saturated with boisterous lumberjacks. With the 'jacks came many fights, rowdiness, drunken brawls...so many in fact, that Harrison soon became known as the “toughest town in Michigan”.  Finally, a little over a decade later, the lumber biz began to ebb, lumberjacks left little by little, and families started migrating to Harrison, thanks to the beautiful lakes, streams, and land. Their oft-used promotional phrase “20 Lakes in 20 Minutes” drew more people to Harrison.

The lumber railroads were ripped out and turned into roads, streets, and trails for the influx of new “respectable” residents, settlers, and tourists. No longer a wild, beer-soaked timber town, Harrison has turned into a peaceful place for all of us to visit...and move. Take a look at the photo gallery below for some vintage images of Harrison from over 100 years ago!

Images of Harrison, Michigan: 1910-1960


Vintage Images of Gaylord

Vintage Photos of Grayling, 1900-1964

Vintage Photos of Houghton Lake/Prudenville

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