The area which is now within the boundaries of Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore was first settled in the mid-1800’s and remnants of that history are scattered throughout the over 71,000 acre park. Many of the historic buildings are concentrated within the Port Oneida Rural Historic District north of Glen Arbor, but you will find many interesting historic sites in other areas of the Park if you are willing to explore off the beaten path.
The booklet Farms and Cabins, describes the following sites and gives directions to find each of them in the Park. The booklet is available at the Visitor Center in Empire for a $2 donation or it can be downloaded here for FREE: Farms and Cabins 020511. Click here to see a list of all 12 visitor guide booklets.
- Ken-Tuck-U-Inn – Bertie Bancroft, son of the founder of the village of Aral, built this inn in 1925 to serve the growing tourist industry in Northern Michigan. The inn is located on the east side of M-22 near the southern end of the Park.
- Boekeloo Lodge was built by the Cooper family in 1932 as a hunting, fishing, trapping cabin. There is a little pond in front of the cabin which was a cranberry bog filled with a canal dug from the Platte River. Drive the dirt road (Boekeloo Rd) west of M-22 to the cabin.
- Esch Farm was built around 1890 to provide produce and meat to the inhabitants of Aral, just down the road on Lake Michigan. The Esch Farmhouse is on Esch Rd west of M-22.
- Tweddle School is on the corner of M-22 and Norconk Road. This school was built in 1895 to serve the children from this little farming community.
- Pelky Barn located next to the school on M-22 was built in 1875 and is the only building of the farmstead still standing.
- Tweddle Farm was settled in 1867 by David Tweddle and is a picturesque farm used today for Park staff housing and for the Artist-in-Residence in the fall. It is located on the bend in Norconk Road west of M-22.
- Treat Farm requires a bit of a hike from the Tweddle Farm but it is worth the effort. The trail is especially beautiful when the spring flowers are in bloom.
- Shalda Cabin is located at the intersection of M-22 and CR 669 in the northern part of the Park. It is the oldest structure in the Park built in the 1850s. It has been restored and demonstrates some of the building techniques typical of the early settlers from Central Europe.
- Kraitz Cabin was built around 1856 and had been moved from its original location and was used as a cottage in the 1940s, but a look at the rear walls shows the original log construction. Interior log walls also tell the story of the Czech settlers who built it. The cabin is on the east side of CR-669 just south of School Lake.
- Bufka Farm is a picturesque farm on the north side of M-22 about 4 miles north of CR-669. It sets below the road nestled between M-22 and the woods behind. The family built the original log cabin in the 1850s and eventually a new house was built and the original cabin was made into a chicken coop, which still stands today.
- Eitzen Farm is located on Townline Road. The farm was built by John Etizen in 1890. The farm buildings are typical of the small family farms in the area. The silo has been taken down, but some of the lower tiles remain. It was built out of brown tile, which was also typical of early silos.
- Kropp Farmhouse is located on M-22 just north of the St. Paul’s Lutheran Church, and the barn and smokehouse is located on the east side of the church on Townline Rd. The house was built around 1890 and the family donated the land for the church.