Big Traverse Bay Historic District, photo submitted 1974 Big Traverse Bay Historic District, photo submitted 1974
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Big Traverse Bay Historic District
East of Lake Linden at mouth of Traverse River, Lake Linden vicinity - Houghton County
Other Names Grand Traverse Bay / Traverse Bay / Big Traverse
Property Type district
Historic Use DOMESTIC
Current Use DOMESTIC
Narrative Description Big Traverse Bay, located at the mouth of the Traverse River on Lake Superior, is a small Finnish fishing community. Many of the homes in the area are old fishing shanties joined by vintage gasoline pumps, net reels, ice houses and saunas that are still in use. The heart of the district is located on a narrow peninsula and on the adjacent mainland. The architecture of the district is not particularly distinctive, however, it is functional. A majority of homes are small, gable-roofed residences with undeveloped yards, shingle and cedar shake-covered fishing buildings, and Finnish sauna structures. Approximately forty box-shaped aluminum sided residences line the shoreline.
Statement of Significance Big Traverse Bay is one of the most scenic and culturally intriguing areas in Michigan. The site of the district was originally a logging camp owned by the Hebard Lumber Company, dating c.1880-1900. Finnish immigration to the area was particularly heavy, with most immigrants working as fishermen or for lumber or copper mining companies. By 1920 a primarily fishing-based community developed and many homes were built along with a one-room schoolhouse. Changes made during the 1950s were the most significant to the community in its history. Construction of a breakwater and a harbor modification project destroyed a number of homes and a picturesque wooden footbridge that had connected the two sections of the village. Currently, Big Traverse remains an active fishery and the isolated nature of the landscape allows the community to preserve its heritage without outside pressure.
Period of Significance 1866-1900
Significant Date(s) c.1890
Registry Type(s) 11/20/1975 National Register listed
02/21/1975 State Register listed
Site ID# P23279