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The Ghost Town of Waterville in Ionia County, Michigan

Waterville – or what’s left of it – sits at the junction of MacArthur Road and Morrison Lake Road in Ionia County.

It goes back to 1836 when a Grand Rapids man, Robert Hilton, purchased a huge portion of land near Lake Creek in Boston Township. He proceeded to plat a village on this property, which he dubbed ‘Waterville’. James Hoag built a mill along the creek along with a general store, and he was made postmaster of Waterville’s short-lived post office in 1838. Thanks to a lack of economy there was no prosperity and the following year the post office was moved to Saranac.

Robert Hilton’s dream of a rush of settlers to Waterville was dashed. It was believed there would be a major road coming through – the Grand River Turnpike – that would bring people to the area. The turnpike never came near Waterville and the village ended up closing down.

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James Hoag hung in there and continued to run his mill, even though the village was basically null and void. Hoag’s mill-running days came to an abrupt halt in 1851 when he was killed by a falling tree.

Fortunately for history-seekers, the old mill still stands, the only reminder that there was once a village called Waterville. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find any old photos of Waterville…every time I thought I found one, it turned out to be ‘Watervliet’ that was mistakenly marked as ‘Waterville’.

These days, the old mill sits just off the junction of MacArthur Road @ Morrison Lake Road in Boston Township, Ionia County. It’s a cool place to visit, kind of reminding me of some old village in New England, like Vermont or Connecticut. Take a look at some photos in the gallery below!

Click here to view photo gallery


Click here to view photo gallery
Click here to view photo gallery
Click here to view photo gallery

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