A Return To the Ghost Town of Mandan, Michigan
I have visited this Michigan ghost town and it’s pretty cool. Best time to go would be in the fall when the leaves are falling or all fallen. That way you can see much more that is hidden back in the woods and in the underbrush.
Driving thru the hamlet of Mandan you can only see a couple of still standing homes, but back in the brush there are a good many old house & building foundations, including an old general store that used to sit on the downtown corner. In the gallery below, I have included a satellite photo of Mandan during winter time. This way, you can see all the homes and foundations that are secluded and hidden back in the woods without all the tree leaves getting in the way. As always, when it comes to any still-standing structures that are abandoned, adhere to the following warning: “Under no circumstances should you enter this property. By doing so you risk bodily harm and/or prosecution for trespassing on private property.”
Mandan sits in Grant Township, Keweenaw County, in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula on US-41, a few miles south of Copper Harbor. It was the site of two copper mines, organized in 1864: the Mandan and Medora mines. How long they lasted is up for debate: it is written the mines closed in 1866, stayed closed and empty until 1899, reorganized in 1905, then ceased operating and were abandoned in 1909.
Most of the buildings have fallen down (or they will shortly) but there are a couple that still stand and are used for summer cottages and possibly deer camps…so don’t enter these.
Driving thru Mandan’s dirt roads, it’s hard to fathom that 300 residents lived here in approximately 25 houses; there were two boarding houses, schoolhouse, depot, dump, and the J.P. Peterman general store. The store opened in 1908 and closed in 1911. Peterman also owned several other local stores. No churches, but services were held in one of the residences.
The depot – which included a telegraph and Wells Fargo office - was east of Mandan. There was also a post office that began operating in 1908 and lasted a good while, until 1931.
Thanks to the small amount of copper, the mine companies ended up letting some workers go; when the mines shut down in 1909, many Mandan residents left town. It lasted a few years later but the village had very little upkeep - houses were abandoned, stores were deserted, houses collapsed, and other structures were lost within the ever-growing bushes, weeds, brush, foliage, and trees.
Again, the best time to drive-thru would be in late fall, or even winter if ya wanna brave the snow. Other than that, feel free to visit, and make sure you keep an eye out just in case someone has put up any extra “no trespassing” signs.
It's said that the name "Mandan" did not come from a combination of words, some other town, or someone with the last name of 'Mandan' - scuttlebutt says it was named after a Canadian miner named Daniel Spencer, who his co-workers referred to as 'that man Dan".
The gallery below includes some rare early-1900s photos of Mandan, some satellite shots, and current images! A previous article I did on Mandan includes some satellite photos of the town, showing some old crumbling foundations scattered throughout the woods - foundations that are so hidden in summer, a visitor may not know they even exist. These images have since been deleted from Google Maps.
The Ghost Town of Mandan
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