MICHIGAN SHADOW TOWN: Hamburg, in Livingston County
If you haven’t yet checked out any of the small towns I’ve written about, then you need to visit this one…Hamburg, in Livingston County.
Hamburg originated in 1835 when E.F. Gay built a sawmill and dam on Horseshoe Creek, a branch off the Huron River.
In 1837, the Grisson brothers from Germany bought the mill and added a new grist mill. With the success of the mills, the Grissons built a hotel and store. The hotel – called the “Hamburg House” – had a saloon and livery stable; the town had a barber shop, hardware store, Schafer’s grocery & general store, a town band, doctors, depot, blacksmith, and other shops and stores.
That same year, a council of 19 convened to give this new town a name. Eight of them wanted “Lenox” while another eight wanted “Steuben”. Reaching a stalemate, they decided to let the three Grisson brothers name it…and they decided to name it after their hometown, Hamburg, Germany.
Originally spelled “Hamburgh”, a post office began operations in that same year of 1837. In 1852 the name was changed to “North Hamburgh”. Then, finally, to “Hamburg” in 1894.
The Grand Trunk Railroad came through in 1883 and the Toledo & Ann Arbor Railroad did the same in 1886.
In 1968, the old hotel was burned down thanks to a local bunch of punk arsonists.
Today, Hamburg retains many, many of its old buildings and there are plenty of photo ops. Hamburg’s old district is found on a one-mile stretch of Hamburg Road, between E. Michigan 36 and Strawberry Lake Road. You’ll see the old railroad tracks, original old barber shop, cemetery, mill, old houses, and a nice handful of old downtown storefronts.
You wouldn’t think that within a conglomeration of lakes, resorts, modern neighborhoods, parks, townhouses, apartments, subdivisions, etc. that there would be this little old 1800’s hamlet stuck in time, right in the midst of it all!
Take a look at the photos below and see how cool this little community is!