The Michigan ghost town of Rugg doesn’t seem to show up on maps anymore. In fact, it may not have ever shown up on a Michigan map, even though there is proof of the village’s existence.

According to Michigan Ghost Towns and Michigan Place Names, Rugg was/is in Rapid River Township, Kalkaska County, a little over five miles from Kalkaska. Located on the Pere Marquette Railroad, it was founded in 1867 as ‘Rapid River’ and given a post office in 1871.

The post office ceased in 1874 but was given another in 1885. This time, the village was called ‘Mossback’, a name that local lumberjacks labeled people they didn’t care for (the term “mossback” came from the Civil War; soldiers who hid in swamps and marshes attempting to avoid battle was called a “mossback” – meaning, if they stayed hidden long enough, moss would grow on their bodies).

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Finally in 1898, the village was christened “Rugg” after two original settlers, Roland and Ward Rugg. The Rugg post office closed for good in 1906.

In 1902, a fire swept through the little downtown area, burning down the general store owned by John Morey.....Morey was also the postmaster.

Another fire occurred in 1916, burning the store of Waldo Yoemans. Waldo and other members of a search party went out looking for the body of fisherman Fred Hill who drowned in the nearby Rapid River. When they all returned from the search, Waldo was faced with the sight of his beloved store on fire – it completely burned.

By 1910, Rugg had a population of 21 people.

In the 2000s, there are no old business establishments left – just a few old barns, maybe an old home or two, and a few residents scattered here and there. See the gallery below!

The Ghost Town of Rugg, Michigan


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