Long Rapids in Alpena County has been referred to in some places as a 'ghost town' but I would classify it as a 'shadow town', meaning it's a shadow of its former self. All the original business are gone, but there are still a number of residents in the village.

According to posenmi.org, Long Rapids was settled in 1870, originally called “Merrillsville” after the man who built the area's first dam, Albert Merrill. In 1877 a post office began business, with a name change to 'Long Rapids'. The village and the township were so-called thanks to the mile and a half stretch of rapids on the Thunder Bay River, which flows through the village.

Long Rapids became a lumber town, with saw and shingle mills set alongside the river. Another source of income came from the making of maple syrup thanks to the abundance of maple trees. The town also sported a boot & shoe store, cemetery, church, general store, hotel, and school.

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When the general store was built in 1872, it became the most popular place in town. Locals would bring their goods to the store, such as butter, chickens, eggs, and wheat in order to exchange them for others things their households needed.  Things like tea (10 cents a pound), coffee (four pounds for $1), and three pounds of sugar and two pounds of lard, each for for 25 cents.

The store burned down in the early 1900s. The owners were forced to sleep in the schoolhouse until a new house was built (they had to leave every day when students began arriving for class).

In 1905, the population was down to 100 and the sawmills lasted until 1908, ending Long Rapids' prosperous pinewood trade. The post office closed down in 1933.

The gallery below has a few photos of what Long Rapids looked like in the early 1900s as well as how it looks today.

Long Rapids, Then & Now


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