The City Docks and Waterfront
Throughout our history, the Harbor Springs waterfront has always been a hub of activity. From the first Odawa who traveled here in birch bark canoes to early homesteaders who arrived by steam ferry, their first glimpse of this little village came from the water. The first trading post was established by Richard Cooper in 1854, near where the Depot building stands today. As white settlement around Little Traverse Bay increased, so did the industry around the harbor. At the head of the harbor, there was a lumber mill, a grist mill and a toothpick factory. Prior to the arrival of trains, most goods arrived via ship.
Even with the arrival of trains in 1882, the harbor continued to bustle with government ships on training missions, local steam ferries and passenger ships from Chicago and Detroit. Imagine 400 passengers aboard the 274-foot SS Manitou or the 518-foot Greater Detroit docked at this same pier! Passenger ships continued to make Harbor Springs a port of call through the 1950s.
Another long-standing tradition on the waterfront is sailboat racing with regattas on the harbor dating back to the 1890s. The Little Traverse Yacht Club was founded in 1895, making it one of the oldest yacht clubs in the Midwest.