MICHIGAN GHOST TOWN: Puddleford, in Jackson County
Ever hear of Puddleford? It's only a half mile north of Jackson State Prison on Cooper Street. You probably know this area, and have gone through it countless times...but did you realize there once was a whole town there? Cooper Street crosses over the Portage River on a bridge named Puddleford Bridge, that keeps the name of this lost, forgotten Jackson County town that completely disappeared. Another factor that keeps the name of 'Puddleford' alive is the historic fact that it's part of Jackson County’s first land transaction.
The little settlement of Puddleford was a mining town that was settled in Blackman Township sometime before 1860, taking it's odd name from a mining term, to "puddle," in other words, "to mix molten iron with iron oxide to make wrought iron by oxidizing carbon." A post office operated at this little burg for six years, 1895-1901.
When listed on atlases, the area was always printed as "Portage", first as a post office, then as the name of the community.
Taking a look at the photos above, you'll more than likely recognize the area. I recall an old general store that used to be just north of the bridge, east side of the road, where I went as a kid. I don't remember anything I ever bought there, but I remember stopping there and passing by it all the time. That store - built during the Civil War - may possibly still be there, except modified and re-constructed. I'm curious about something that shows up on Google Maps, though: a structure called the "Maple Grove Baptist Church." It actually looks like an old ramshackle barn to me (SEE PHOTOS ABOVE). Does anyone know if this really was a church at one time or just incorrect reporting on Google's part? Or is it just simply part of the Wing farm where inmates were sent to work?