WARNING: Under no circumstances should you enter this property. By doing so you risk bodily harm and/or prosecution for trespassing on private property.

Whenever I am asked about the best ghost town in Michigan, a couple come to mind, but the first one to cross my lips is Mandan. I’ve written about this town a few times and have visited it myself. Mandan sits in the UP’s Keweenaw Peninsula, off US-41, and down a small dirt road where it is nestled in the woods. It’s about 12 miles south of Copper Harbor.

What struck me about Mandan when I visited were all the house foundations that line the former downtown…in fact, you would never know this once had a downtown. We parked at an old intersection and got out. Pushing a few bushes aside, we found an old store, hidden from view. No walls or ceiling, but the foundation was there, outlining what the shop once looked like…kinda like a cement mini-maze.

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Mandan once had two copper mines, the Mandan and the Medora, which were in operation sporadically from 1864-1909. Mandan also once had its own railroad depot, east of the old downtown. If you visit, you will notice a couple of houses, still in decent shape. No one lives in these structures, but they are well-kept and used during hunting season for deer camps, and possibly a summer retreat. SO DON’T TRESPASS.

How to find Mandan? There are no road signs that mention Mandan, just a wooden plank stuck into the ground by the dirt road entrance, with “Mandan” scrawled vertically into the wood.

300 residents
25 houses
2 boarding houses
J.P. Peterman general store 1908-1911
Post office 1908-1931

…..and all of them are gone: no people, no shops. The gallery below shows a good variety of the remains of what was once a pretty decent little UP mining village.

One last thing:
I was very sad to see that someone has been building new hunting camps (maybe it's a summer home) in Mandan, taking away the "ghost town" atmosphere. New little structures means there will probably be "No Trespassing" signs, meaning we may not be able to walk back into the woods to explore the old house foundations. I hope this doesn't become a trend and it doesn't turn into a bunch of new little shacks and cabins.....and that whoever is building there stops with what they have and let us enjoy Mandan the way it should be enjoyed - as an exciting, historic, former old Michigan mining town.

The Ghost Town of Mandan, Upper Peninsula: Now & Then


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