About Au Train Michigan
Au Train, a French term meaning "at the shortcut or traverse" was one of the earliest sites visited by white men as they traveled along Lake Superior's south shore. The river was part of an ancient Indian route between Lakes Superior and Michigan
One of Alger County's oldest settlements, Au Train was first inhabited by white men in 1856 when William Cameron began hunting and trapping there. Rayel Whittlesey built a sawmill in 1882 and logging of Norway pine for dock pilings was begun. Later, choice white pine was hewed into squared timbers of shipment to England.
By 1873 the Sault Str. Marie & Grand Island State Road Extension was completed to the village.
A number of Ojibwa Indians lived in the area and they used the bluff just west of the village for a lookout and a fur pecking station. A field of corn was also planted at its base.
The population of Au Train had a big increase in 1877 when a number of settlers moved from Bay Furnace near Munising when that Iron-making community was destroyed by fire. Among the new residents were the Bovans, Doucattes, Larmonds, Carriers and Reffruchinn's who built small cabins where the Alger-Smith Company had begun lumbering operations.
Logging at the pine now began in earnest, and the Au Train River and its tributaries were filled with the big logs bound for mills there and in lower Michigan, Rock River, Marquette, and later, to Munising.
The Detroit Mackinac & Marquette Railroad reached the village in 1881. A school was built shortly which also served as the social, political and religious center of the community. In 1883 a post office was established.
A high point in Au Train's history came in 1885 when the northern part of Schoolcraft County was organized as Alger County, with Au Train becoming the county seat. The next year a town site was platted and a shingle mill was built. A business district typical of a county seat and sawmill town soon developed. There were several stores, two hotels, saloons and the Au Train Alpha- the county's first newspaper.
Commercial fishing became an important industry and the beautiful Au Train Lake and River attracted a growing number of tourists after advent of the railroad in 1881.
Settlers began homesteads south of the village on Au Train Lake, the first taken out by Emma Neilson in 1885, with others by Charles Paulson and Alec McKinnen.
One of the area's prominent early developers was Charles Schaffer of Marquette who was known as the "Charcoal King" because of his extensive activities throughout the region in the manufacture of charcoal for iron making. He platted the village and donated land for the courthouse and cemetery.
Brownstone was quarried for miles west for building purposes, and it was used in the construction of the county's first jail in 1890.
After the turn-of-the-century, the Standard Tie Company began extensive logging operations in the area, but by 1919 the last logs were boomed on the Au Train River, ending a colorful era.
In 1902, the county seat was moved to Munising, which was rapidly becoming the county's industrial and commercial center.
During its long history, Au Train has been an important transit and step over point for both Indians and white men, a sawmill town county seat, commercial fishing port and resort center.
Tourism and recreation now give the village its livelihood. With a picturesque location on Lake Superior, flanked by its winding river and skirting the beautiful shore of its inland lake, Au Train is still a busy village among the pines proud of its colorful history.
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Location Maps & Information
Au Train is an unincorporated community located in Au Train Township of Alger County in the U.S. state of Michigan.
Au Train Michigan Area Lodging & Accommodations
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