MICHIGAN GHOST TOWN: The Rise & Fall of Mentha
The old town of Mentha is located in Van Buren County, about 14 miles northwest of Kalamazoo and about 3 miles east of Kendall.
This is one of southern Michigan's coolest ghost towns, getting it's name from all the mint that was grown there, thanks to grower Albert M. Todd. The town achieved high praise for the high quality peppermint that was cultivated and was hugely successful; so successful, that Todd was swayed to move the entire operation to Kalamazoo in 1891. Even so, he kept one of his commercial farms in Mentha, developing hybrid mint plants, improvements and techniques.
Eventually, 90% of the entire world's mint oil came from this area.
Nowadays, it's a ghost town, with a handful of structures still existing out in the middle of nowhere...some have been demolished. The main plantation house, barns, railroad depot, and some houses are gone...but there are a few old houses still there which seem to be occupied (SEE PHOTOS BELOW).
SO WHAT HAPPENED?
Michigan's mint output stayed strong up to the 1970's until verticillium wilt ended peppermint's commercial cultivation. Currently, most peppermint is grown in the Pacific Northwest - but Michigan still grows spearmint (which isn't affected by verticillium wilt) and is 5th in the U.S. for spearmint output.
You can walk or bike the Kal Haven Trail to the location of Mentha, or take 18th Avenue to 23rd Street and turn north...you're there. Take a drive there during your next Michigan roadtrip!
As always, if you come across any abandoned structures, seek permission to enter...and treat all these small towns & ghost towns with courtesy and respect. Don't ruin it for others.