NAUBINWAY, Mich. (WJMN) — It’s the northernmost point of Lake Michigan, 45 minutes west of the Mackinac Bridge, the fishing village of Naubinway holds a lot of charm and history.

“I’ve done research,” said Stephen King, a writer, photographer and Naubinway resident. “I’ve done quite a few articles on it. The first reference I saw was in a survey in 1845. They came through and checked the area and at that time down by where King’s (Fish Market on Lake Michigan) is now there was a field down there. It said it was a burned out cabin and three graves. No idea who they were or what was that. But the conjunction was, was that it was a fishing camp. And then the actual first settlers was around 1870: a guy named William Boucha and his wife was Catherine. They moved here from Mackinac Island. They settled here and originally was the idea I got was actually like a trading post. This was an Indian settlement for a hundred, probably thousands of years. He came here basically to trade with the Indians.”

King says that in 1870, Boucha applied for a patent for the village of Naubinway. The government received that request in 1871 and it was granted in 1872.

“The actual name of the town Naubinway, at the time of the centennial, they wrote a little book called, ‘Place of Echoes,'” said King. “Everybody since then has decided that Naubinway means ‘Place of Echoes’ but there is kind of a theory that they kind of made it up. I’m Anishinaabe and speak a little bit of Anishinaabe and I’ve looked it up and I’ve never found any reference except that word of mouth says they just made it up back then. But if you Google it now, it’ll say ‘Place that Echoes.'”

Once Boucha came to the area, it became a logging town.

“The bay was lined, I think there was three saw mills,” King said. “The whole bay was lined with saw mills. There was actually a railroad that came into town and there was actually a little engine on it called a peggy. It was a narrow-gauged railroad and it didn’t really go anywhere except north and it would cut the trees and bring the trees into town and process them in the sawmills and after the (Great) Chicago Fire (in 1871), a good portion of the lumber that rebuilt Chicago came out of Naubinway. This was actually a big port.”

Eventually the logging industry died but one industry still hung on.

“The fishing kind of hung on and I can remember in the ’60s, there was probably eight or 10 different boats out of Naubinway and people working on the dock or on the boats,” King said. “We had jobs back then.”

Many of the people who call Naubinway home have lived there most or all of their lives.

“We swam over here at the plant,” Naubinway resident Carl Fraizer said. “There was a dock right here, right behind this facing to the north. We had reels over here where they put their nets up to dry, cotton twine like that. We literally played ball in the summer, swam, played ball, swam and we grew up to be good people.”

“Graduated from Engadine High School, I came to work the day after I graduated from Engadine High School and I’ve been here my entire life,” Gene Beaudoin, another Naubinway resident, said.

You have to driver 45 minutes to Manistique or St. Ignace to find the nearest grocery store, but you’ll find many of the necessities to get you through the week at the Marathon gas station that Beaudoin owns. Asked what people say when they drive through the town, Beaudoin said, “‘I didn’t know that this was here.'”

“That’s the amazing part,” he continued. “But once they find it, ‘Yeah, I know where that is.’ You’ll go a place and someone will say, ‘I know that place.'”

Frazier’s career led him to the water. 

“I’ve been in the commercial fishing industry for many years,” he said. ‘In the ’60s when we came back Detroit or Lincoln Park, my dad was dabbling into the white fishery here in Naubinway. And then after I got our of the service, I went to work for a guy in Manisitque. Big fishery up there. I married my wife, we moved back here and raised our family. I’ve been in the fishing industry; in fact, I was on the lake yesterday putting my nets out to see if there is any whitefish left. This has been a good life for me. Good place to raise children.”

Now, you’ll see that many of the residents are in their retirement years.  

“We had a lot of people, a lot of doctors and lawyers, in the early years, ” said Frazier. “From that stemmed the migration of other people and now I think a lot of them the people that are school teachers and when they retire, they come here.”

“As every community has, we’ve lost our children,” Beaudoin said. “I’m afraid with maybe that being said that down the road, we may lose our identity because we have lost our children. They all, as natural, want to go out and chase the bone or chase the world. Which is great, but at the end of the day, it’s pretty hard to have a ball game with a bunch of 90-year-olds. You can, but there is nobody stealing any bases. They pay taxes, they live in houses, they need upkeep but that’s the biggest change, there’s no children in town.”

All seem to agree, there’s no place like Naubinway. 

“It’s a beautiful place to live in,” Frazier said. “No other place in the world that I would rather live in.”

“This has been a wonderful place to live,” Beaudoin said. “I’ve been able, my family’s been able to make a living in Naubinway, which is very fortunate. This is a hard place to make a living and to be settled here in a place where people want to come, to give their eyeteeth to come here and stay for five days. This is just a wonderful place to live. Everything is a little bit remote and maybe that’s the secret of the place.”

To learn more about Naubinway and the surrounding area, click here.