The Heart of the Irish Hills – Onsted, Michigan: 1900-1950s
The town of Onsted lies amongst a bevy of tourist attractions:
Michigan International Speedway
Cambridge Junction State Park
The old abandoned Frontier City
Hidden Lake Gardens
…..and all the former amusements in the Irish Hills – and there were many.
Onsted's beginnings go back to when US-12 was once an Indian trail called the Sauk. Various tribes resided near that trail, the last being the Potawatomis from 1700-1830. It was in the 1820s when the European (white) man came and began settling in the area. In 1825 the military surveyed and laid out the trail as a legitimate road.
Among the first attractions-to-be was Wampler's Lake, developed in the later 1800s. One of the landowners was the Hayes family, whose donated land expanded the Cedar Hill State Park and later named after Walter J. Hayes, a U.S. Senator. Other nearby lakes began catering to travelers: Wolf Lake, Sand Lake, Devil's Lake, and many others.
The town of Onsted began its creation when John Onsted bought land in that area. The community was soon organized by his son, William Onsted, in 1883; and thanks to the Michigan & Ohio Railroad laying tracks through the area, the community became a town in 1884. Another Onsted, Peter, showed up and settled near present Onsted in 1855. It was finally incorporated as a Lenawee County village in 1907.
Throughout the 1800s there were plenty of stagecoach stops all back and forth on the road that led from Detroit to Chicago. Inns and restaurants were the tourist attractions, followed by the Irish Hills Twin Towers, and amusements that began in the 1950s with Frontier City.
The town of Onsted continues to this day and is a good place to do some mom & pop shopping. Check out the gallery below for some images of Onsted, many going back over 100 years...
Vintage Photos of Onsted: 1900-1950s