The Once-Booming Michigan Lumber Town of Luther, in Lake County
The village of Luther is located in Lake County, sharing space in Ellsworth & Newkirk Townships.
The community was homesteaded in 1868, and named in 1881 after William A. Luther, a pioneer settler who arrived from the east coast. Luther was an extremely successful lumber town, thanks to Mr. Luther's sawmill along the Little Manistee River on Old State Road. The Grand Rapids & Indiana Railroad came along in 1882, changing to the Manistee & Grand Rapids Railroad in 1903. Luther's prosperous period lasted throughout most of the 1800's.
During this time, the village had many, many establishments and businesses, including a bank, blacksmith, charcoal kilns, 4 churches, cigar factory, 3 doctors, dry goods store, flour mill, several hotels, 2 newspapers (The Ideal and The Observer), opera house, photographer, 4 saloons, schoolhouse, shingle mill, and a turpentine factory.
The decline began in 1885 when a fire broke out, burning down half the town. Despondent and not having the willpower to rebuild, many businesses and residents left for good, returning to the town of Belding from where they originated. The population went from well over 1,000 down to 300. The town's population remains in the 300's to this day.
Luther's downtown has few establishments still open and many old storefronts still stand, making this a cool village to visit and get some photos. The town hosts its annual Luther days Festival which might entice you to pay a visit or drive-thru.