MICHIGAN SHADOW TOWN: Brutus, in Emmet County
Brutus in Emmet County was originally a lonely stagecoach stop/inn called the Brutus House in 1874. In 1882, after more settlers and businesses arrived, Brutus was moved two miles east to a better location, along the Grand Rapids & Indiana Railroad.
In 1883, other establishments started popping up: a larger general store opened in 1888 and approximately five stores existed by 1890. Other businesses in Brutus included two hotels, several doctors, a saloon, and a blacksmith shop. Unfortunately, even a few stores couldn’t survive in a town as small as Brutus. The general store burned down in 1915 and a new one was built, which still stands to this day.
According to the April 28, 1915 edition of the Petoskey Evening News, “For nearly five hours Wednesday morning it appeared as though the whole of the village would be destroyed by fire. Two store buildings, four residences, a blacksmith shop and two barns is the toll taken by the flames in the early morning fire. The fire was discovered shortly after 12 o’clock Wednesday morning in an old store building adjoining the building owned and occupied by Mr. Maxfield with his general store. The building had been used as a sort of club room by the ladies, who held socials and various meetings there. Tuesday evening a tramp was noticed hanging about the building and it is thought he might have set it on fire or the fire he made to cook his meal might have been responsible for the damage.”
Brutus’ logging boom years lasted for a good 26-year stretch, from 1894-1920, thanks to Hinkley’s Mills.....and a new modern school, and the Pier House hotel. When the timber depleted, the logging businesses closed down, followed by the hotels.
>The old saloon gave way to a new automobile service station in 1921. A couple of owners later, the new proprietors added a grocery store and rental cabins to the community. More shops closed and one or two others burned down.
Today, Brutus is an interesting little burg to drive thru. You should when you take your next Michigan roadtrip. Check out the photos below!