Posted by: Kath Usitalo | August 18, 2010

Manistique Is A Cool 150, Believe It or Not!

"New" Paul Bunyan greets visitors at the information center in Manistique

In the old days, before the US-2 bypass was built around Manistique, we’d drive through the U.P. town past a huge Paul Bunyan sign (below right) and over the famous Siphon Bridge en route to visiting relatives in the Escanaba area and beyond. The Manistique bridge crossing was always a highlight of the trip because a). we knew we were almost to our cousins’ farm in Rock and b). the landmark bridge was a Ripley’s “Believe It or Not!” feature in the funny papers.

There's a movement to bring back the "old" 40' tall Paul Bunyan; phone 906-341-2290 to contribute

This notoriety was a big deal at the time and came about due to the construction of the 1919 bridge, which placed the roadway below the water level of the Manistique River: the water helped support it. On every crossing I expected the river to slosh over the sides of the bridge. I never quite understood how it worked, which is one of many reasons I did not become an engineer.

Our Splattered Jeep and the elegant Manistique water tower

The adjoining brick water tower, constructed in 1921 is quite grand. I had a chance to peak inside of the 200′ tall tower, now the centerpiece of a museum compound that includes a couple of historic homes (open seasonally).

Sky dome mural in the 200' tall water tower

Manistique is celebrating its 150th anniversary this year, and it seems the Lake Michigan location has been discovered as something more than a lumbering center.

Several years ago I predicted to TJ that Manistique would be a UP hot spot, and I wasn’t basing it on the construction of the Kewadin Casino in town.

Located about 1-1/2 hours west of the Mackinac Bridge, Manistique has a nice inventory of historic buildings downtown, a 2-mile boardwalk on Lake Michigan, and is close to attractions like Fayette Historic State Park and Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore on Lake Superior. It’s got irresistible potential and a transformation may be underway.

The first hint was my chat with the owner of a cool cafe in town who relocated from Chicago (watch for a Road Food Report).

The work of an area artist at the Mustard Seed

Then I browsed the Mustard Seed, a gift store and gallery that carries the work of local artists.

And offers Reike massages.

A couple of weeks ago I mentioned Manistique’s new and improved Jack’s supermarket, a sure sign that change is afoot. I suspect the expanded produce section, bakery, international foods and improved wine selection may have some connection to the nice new homes being built along the Lake Michigan shore.

Manistique may be unveiling a new look for her second 150 years. I’m glad it’s just a short drive from Blue Skies. You never know when you might need a Reike massage.

Museum memories of old Manistique

Visitor Info Click: Manistique

Upper Peninsula Travel & Recreation Association

Travel Michigan:



  1. I shall have to go on thru to Manistique instead of turning at Blaney Park…..haven’t been there in years! Looks like all kinds of neat places!

    • Great base for exploring Fayette, Garden Peninsula, lighthouse, state parks…I like it.

  2. While coming to visit Manistique, stop in & visit the Schoolcraft County Chamber of Commerce. We have information on our Schoolcraft County Circle tour, great restaurants and lodging of all types from camping to really nice hotels, motels, resorts and more. Our local area has many sites to see. We are located on US 2. Look for Paul Bunyan in our front yard. Happy to visit with you, we are open 7 days a week. See ya soon;>}

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