Explorers and Travelers in Michigan History

These nonfiction books are accounts by or about explorers and travelers in Michigan history. See the right column for more info about this website.

History of Brulé’s Discoveries and Explorations, 1610-1626 : being a narrative of the discovery …

Cleveland: Helman-Taylor 1898
Butterfield, Consul WillshireGo to Book

(title continued)”…, by Stephen Brulé of lakes Huron, Ontario and Superior; and of his exploration (the first made by civilized man) of Pennsylvania and western New York, also of the province of Ontario, Canada, with a biographical notice of the discoverer and explorer, who was killed and eaten by savages”

There is a great deal of uncertainty about Stephen (Etienne) Brule’s explorations and discoveries in the early 1600s because he left no written accounts. Historians have relied on brief mentions in accounts of other explorers, such as Champlain, to trace his movements.

Soon after his arrival in New France he was tasked by Champlain with living with the Huron Indians to learn their language and customs. He apparently stayed four years and mastered their ways thoroughly. Throughout most of his career he seems to have been a pathfinder or scout for the better known explorers, probably visiting some areas that they never reached. He is now believed to have been the first European to visit four of the Great Lakes, as well as western New York, western Pennsylvania, and some regions of Canada.

See also related works on this site: Early History of the Great Lakes region on Great Lakes General History

Links to Museums & Historic Sites in the Michigan U.P.: Thinking of Visiting Northern Michigan?

Forests, Streams, Lakes, and Resources of Northern Michigan

Marquette, Longyear and Case 1884
Carey Go to Book

A Summer Holiday. A Brief Description of Some of the most Popular Summer Resorts in Wisconsin, Michigan and Minnesota, and the Routes by which they can be Reached

Chicago: Rand, McNally 1884
Chicago & Northwestern Railway CompanyGo to Book

“This promotional pamphlet provides brief descriptions of popular tourist destinations along the Upper Midwestern route of the Chicago and North-Western Railway in 1884. The Michigan communities of Escabana, Gogebic, Marquette, and Menominee are included, as are the Minnesota towns of Stillwater, Lake Madison, and Waseca. The information in the entries is not always consistent, but usually includes sites of interest, hotels and rooming houses (with occasional prices), and commentary on the health-restoring properties of the local air and water. A “How To Get There” section accompanying each entry alerts the reader to the number of trains going to a particular place as well as the best routes to travel. Engravings and a map accompany the text, as do a few tables analyzing the chemical properties of water. The pamphlet also includes brief descriptions of Yellowstone and other resorts further west, and an advertisement for the Chicago and Northwestern Railway itself.”
– Library of Congress American Memory website

For links to tourist booklets from the 1880s and 1890s, see: Vacationing Up-North before Autos

A Tour from the City of New-York, to Detroit, in the Michigan Territory …

NY: 1819
Darby, WilliamGo to Book

(title continued)”…: made between the 2d of May and the 22d of September, 1818 the tour extends from New-York, by Albany, Schenectady, and Utica to Sacket’s Harbor, and thence through Lake Ontario, to St. Lawrence river, and down that stream to Hamilton village. Thence along both banks of the St. Lawrence, from Hamilton to the Thousand Islands; thence to Sacket’s Harbor by water; from that place by the route of great Sodus, Geneva, Cananaigua and Batavia, to Buffalo; and from thence to Black Rock, Fort Erie, the Falls of Niagara, Queenston, Lewiston, and the memorable fields of Bridgewater and Chippewa after viewing the interesting place of Niagara, the author traversed the south shore of Lake Erie to the City of Detroit, and visited in the latter range, Dunkirk, Erie, Cleveland, Sandusky, and other places of less note. The tour is accompanied with a map upon which the route will be designated; a particular map of the Falls andRiver of Niagara, and the environs of the City of Detroit”

The book is made up of a series of letters written during the author’s journey, and are very literate and readable. He does a fine job of recording what he observes, but doesn’t limit himself to that. He also writes about many other topics. For example, during the part of the book in which he is traveling on and around Lake St. Lawrence, he provides considerable information about economic activity in the region.

It took Darby three months and 187 pages to reach Detroit. About 20 pages are then devoted to Detroit and the nearby area before he starts his return voyage.

For several early-19th century descriptions of the Great Lakes states and adjoining areas, see: Settlers’ Guides for the Great Lakes Region

For historic maps of the Great Lakes region and states, see:
Great Lakes Maps, Atlases & Map Collections
Ohio Maps, Atlases & Map Collections;
Indiana Maps, Map Collections & Gazetteers;
Illinois Maps, Map Collections & Gazetteers;
Michigan Maps, Map Collections & Gazetteers;
Wisconsin Maps, Map Collections & Gazetteers

Explorers and travelers in Michigan history

Detroit and the Pleasure Resorts of Northern Michigan

Detroit: Eby 1883
Detroit, Lansing & Northern Railroad CompanyGo to Book

(title continued) “Compliments of Passenger Department of Detroit, Lansing & Northern”

“This pamphlet was designed for distribution to travelers and business people, “compliments of the passenger department” of the Detroit, Lansing, and Northern Railroad. It promotes tourist destinations, resorts, and towns in late nineteenth-century northern Michigan, especially those of the Northern Peninsula, recommending the area for its healthful climate, hunting, boating, and fishing opportunities, as well as its hotels and developed transportation network. A special section is devoted to Detroit, and another lists its leading business institutions. There are copious illustrations of scenic attractions, cityscapes and street plans, in addition to advertisements ranging from camping gear and guide services to pianos, carriage goods, and medical services. There is also a railroad route map.”
– Library of Congress American Memory website

Mackinac Island: The Wave-Washed Tourists’ Paradise of the Unsalted Seas.

St. Louis: Michigan Central Railroad 1882
Donan, P. Go to Book

This small illustrated booklet indicates that Mackinac Island already had a thriving tourist industry in the early 1880s, with “…six hotels, a number of summer boarding-houses, stores and shops of all kinds…” The fort and other tourist attractions are described, with background history and legends. There is a chapter on the neighboring attractions of Bois Blanc Island, St. Ignace, Mackinaw City, Sault Ste. Marie and other places.

Explorers and travelers in Michigan history

East Michigan

Bay City: East Michigan Tourist Ass. 1937
East Michigan Tourist AssociationGo to Book

“Recollections of Early Explorations on Lake Superior”

Historical Collections Vol 11, 1888, 161-174

Lansing: Michigan Pioneer and Historical Society
Everett, PhiloGo to Article

The author was a resident of Jackson Michigan in 1845 when he organized a company to explore the Upper Peninsula for ore and establish a claim. He describes the exploratory trip and some of the subsequent actions, up to 1857, in developing his mine and company.

“Across Michigan Territory Sixty Years Ago”

Historical Collections Vol 26, 1896, 228-235

Lansing: Michigan Pioneer and Historical Society
Goodrich, EnosGo to Article

The author describes a trip he took from Detroit to Chicago in 1834. He walked from Detroit, stopping in the hamlets of Ypsilanti and Ann Arbor. In Ann Arbor he took the stage to Chicago over the “old Territorial road” (now roughly the route of Hwy 12), through the wilderness. He found towns at Coldwater, White Pigeon and Niles, stayed briefly in Dowagiac, then continued to La Porte, IN. From Chicago he sailed up Lake Michigan for Mackinaw Island.

“Pioneer Sketch of Moses Goodrich and his Trip to Michigan in February, 1836 with his Brother Levi”

Historical Collections Vol 17, 1891, 480-490

Lansing: Michigan Pioneer and Historical Society
Goodrich, EnosGo to Article

The Goodrich family were farmers in Clarence, NY, near Buffalo, when they decided to emigrate to Michigan to seek enough farmland for all their growing children. Brothers Moses and Levi were selected to make the initial trip, to identify and purchase land. Most of this article is a description of their trip by ox-sled from Buffalo, through Canada via Lake St. Clair to Detroit. It was a difficult and dangerous trip, often in bitter cold. They eventually arrived and acquired 1,000 acres in Atlas Township, Genesee County. Over the next two years the remainder of the Goodrich family and 30 other families from Clarence followed them to Atlas. Immediately after this article is a short article about the Goodrich clan 50 years later.

Mackinac: the Wonderful Isle. Petoskey, Traverse City and other Northern Michigan Summer Resorts

Chicago: Poole Bros. 1891
Grand Rapids & Indiana Railroad Go to Book

In addition to descriptions of the locations in the title, this booklet contains illustrations, many maps of various regions in Northern Michigan, and a long list of hotels, with their rates.

For links to tourist booklets from the 1880s and 1890s, see: Vacationing Up-North before Autos

Travels and Adventures in Canada and the Indian Territories, between the years 1760 and 1776

NY: Riley 1809
Henry, AlexanderGo to Book

Henry, born in New Jersey, went to Montreal as a young man to engage in the fur trade. On his first expedition, he arrived in Fort Michilimackinac in 1760. He went to Sault Ste. Marie in 1762, where he began learning the Chippewa language. When fire destroyed the fort there in December 1762 the garrison moved to Michilimackinac, where Henry was staying at the time of the Indian massacre of the English in the fort on June 2, 1763. He was taken prisoner with three other Englishmen, and his captors probably meant to torture them to death. However, through a fortunate series of events Henry survived his captivity and later that month arrived at Niagara, in time to accompany an army of 3,000 soldiers to relieve the siege at Detroit. He afterward was granted a license to trade with the Indians on Lake Superior, and was for some years involved in a mining venture on the Ontonagon river.

A Complete Guidebook to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula

Sault Ste. Marie: 1959
Horton, Irvin W. and Horton, Georgia M.Go to Book

Three on a Tour

Detroit: Detroit and Cleveland Steam Navigation Co. 1895
Ingram, Helen K.Go to Book

A promotional booklet of over 100 pages produced by a ‘cruise ship’ company on the Great Lakes in which, “… the authoress has interwoven a love story with description and all the information a tourist desires if interested in a lake trip.” The ship departs Cleveland and makes several stops along the Lake Huron shore of Michigan and at Little Traverse Bay, from where the travelers make excursion trips to many popular Michigan destinations. Numerous drawn illustrations.

Trouting on the Brulé River, or, Lawyers’ Summer-wayfaring in the Northern Wilderness

Chicago: Chicago Legal News 1879
King, John LyleGo to Book

Trouting on the Brule River is a literary account of genteel sportsmen’s fishing expeditions during the summers of 1875 and 1877. Originally published in the Chicago Sunday Times and the Chicago Sunday Tribune, the book’s chapters tell how a group of Chicago lawyers traveled by rail, foot and canoe to destinations along the Menominee, Michigami, and Brule Rivers in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. The author describes the delights of fly-fishing in lyrical detail, along with bobbing for pike, shooting rapids, deer and duck hunting, and encounters with birds and animals.”
– Library of Congress American Memory website

“Expedition to Detroit, 1793; The Quakers, the United States Commissioners, and the Proposed Treaty of Peace with the Northwestern Indian Tribes …

Michigan Historical Collections Vol. 17, (1890): 565-671

Lansing: Michigan Historical Commission
Lindley, Jacob; Moore, Joseph and Paxson, OliverGo to Article

(title continued) “…Contemporary Accounts of the tour to Detroit, the sojourn in that vicinity and the return to Philadelphia”

A fascinating and literate book-length account of a journey from the east coast to Detroit by a delegation of three Quakers who were to attend the 1793 treaty of Sandusky. They spent several weeks in Detroit, met individually with many Indian chiefs or delegations from tribes, and visited many of the local dignitaries as well as farmers and others. The author was inquisitive about every aspect of social and economic life and related all that he heard and observed.

See also related works on this site: histories of Michigan on Michigan General History

Michigan Resorts on Little Traverse Bay

Petoskey(?): Little Traverse Bay Resort Ass. 1904
Little Traverse Bay Resort Ass.Go to Book

(title continued) “Petoskey, Harbor Springs, Harbor Point, Bay View, Wequetonsing, Roaring Brook, Emmet Beach, Oden, Walloon Lake”

Numerous photos.

“Traveling on the Great Lakes when Detroit was Young”

Historical Collections Vol 7, 1886, 131-133

Lansing: Michigan Pioneer and Historical Society
Massey, H.Go to Article

(title continued) ” … Old Time Captains and Boats; Governor Cass’s Trip to Green Bay “

Michigan : A Jewel of Many Facets

Lansing: Michigan Tourist Council 1944
Michigan Tourist Council Go to Book

The “Soo”; Scenes in and about Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan

Milwaukee: 1887
Osborn, C. S., ed. Go to Book

North to Adventure in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula – Travel Guide

Detroit: Putnam Feature Services 1960
Putnam, Beatrice MorganGo to Book

Explorers and travelers in Michigan history

History of a Trip to the Great Saginaw Valley, June, 1871, by Invitation of the Fort Wayne, Muncie, and Cincinnati Railroad …

Indianapolis: Bright 1871
Ream, LauraGo to Book

(title continued) “…and with the co-operation of the Bee line, Fort Wayne, Jackson and Saginaw, and Jackson, Lansing and Saginaw railroad companies”

As is apparent from the title, this journey by Ms. Reams was sponsored by the railroad. A new line from Fort Wayne, IN to Jackson, MI had recently been completed, and the railroad invited a number of journalists and writers, as well as other VIPs, to make the trip to the end of the line, in Saginaw. This volume is a short, chamber-of-commerce sort of account, interesting mainly as a record of a railroad trip through the heart of southern Michigan in 1871.

Scarborough’s Road Map and Motor Guide of Michigan

Detroit: Wolverine Automobile Club 1913
Scarborough CompanyGo to Book

Narrative Journal of Travels through the Northwestern Regions of the United States …

Albany: Hosford 1821
Schoolcraft, Henry RoweGo to Book

(title continued) “… extending from Detroit through the great chain of American lakes to the sources of the Mississippi River, performed as a member of the expedition under Governor Cass in the year 1820”

The book covers journeys from Detroit to Michilimackinac, on to Sault Ste. Marie, to copper mines at Ontonagon river, through various areas in Wisconsin, to Chicago, back to Michilimackinac by boat, then back to Detroit. It contains geographical and geological notes along with observations about Native Americans in the region.

For Henry Schoolcraft’s autobiography and also a short biographical note, see Biographies & Memoirs in Michigan History on this website.

Among the Wolverines: a Series of Letters on the Resources, Growth and Business of the Principal Towns and Cities of Michigan

Chicago: Chicago Printers Co-op 1869
Schooley, August C.Go to Book

This 40-page volume from 1869 is dedicated to the traveling salesmen of Chicago. It is a sponsored trip, and the book is a series of letters to a periodical called “The Chicago Price Current” for publication. Mr. Schooley’s method is to provide a paragraph or a page of economic and demographic facts for each town he passes through. He goes through quite a number of towns in southern Michigan by a circuitous round trip to Saginaw, although it isn’t clear that he actually stepped off the train in many of them. It is striking how rapid and comfortable travel had become, and how these towns had developed, over about 30-40 years.

Explorers and travelers in Michigan history

A True Description of the Lake Superior Country …

NY: Graham 1846
St. John, John R.Go to Book

(title continued) “… its rivers, coasts, bays, harbours, islands and commerce, with Bayfield’s chart (showing the boundary line as established by joint commission) also a minute account of the copper mines and working companies. Accompanied by a map of the mineral regions; showing, by their no. and place, all the different locations: and containing a concise mode of assaying, treating, smelting, and refining copper ores”

This book was written in the early part of the era of copper mining in the upper peninsula. It was intended as an effort to map and describe the locations of mines and mineral deposits in the region where they exist. The first portion of 50 pages or so is mainly a travelogue, describing the route to the copper country along Lake Superior shores, the geography of the region where the mines are located, and the harbor towns.

“This descriptive discussion of the Lake Superior country emphasizes geographical features and is directed primarily towards those interested in locating and exploiting the region’s mineral deposits of copper and iron. Nevertheless, it is written as a travel narrative, with the author progressing along the shoreline areas, noting their scenic beauties and providing anecdotes and opinions along the way. The reader is told what to wear and what transportation facilities and amenities will be found en route. The book lists mining companies already functioning in the area and gives information about their management and the nature of their operations. Among other information, there is also a glossary of mining terms, a list of grantees, a short vocabulary of French and local Indian words, and a list of steamship and sailing vessels.”
-Library of Congress American Memory website

Links to Museums & Historic Sites in the Michigan U.P.: Thinking of Visiting Northern Michigan?

For historic maps of the Great Lakes region and states, see:
Great Lakes Maps, Atlases & Map Collections
Ohio Maps, Atlases & Map Collections;
Indiana Maps, Map Collections & Gazetteers;
Illinois Maps, Map Collections & Gazetteers;
Michigan Maps, Map Collections & Gazetteers;
Wisconsin Maps, Map Collections & Gazetteers

Copper mines and mining, Lake Superior region, Description and travel

Boys and Girls Camps in Michigan

Automobile Club of Michigan 1950
Stone, John L.Go to Book

A directory of over 300 summer camps.

Journal of a Trip to Michigan in 1841

Rochester, NY: 1904
Swan, Lansing B.Go to Book

This book originated as an edited diary that was in fact written for family members of the author rather than for publication. It is more interesting for its details on travel logistics in southern Michigan in 1841 than for (meager) details about the places the author visited. He took a steamship trip to Detroit, then went on to Ypsilanti, and Ann Arbor. He then took a stagecoach to Jackson, where he had tea, and continued to Marshall. He says about Marshall, “This is to be the capital of the state.” Then he went on to Kalamazoo and Niles, coming back toward the east through Sturgis, Coldwater, Clinton, Ypsilanti and then Detroit again, before going to Ohio.

For several early-19th century descriptions of the Great Lakes states and adjoining areas, see: Settlers’ Guides for the Great Lakes Region

For memoirs and biographies of life on the frontier in the Old Northwest, see:
Biographies & Memoirs in Ohio History
Biographies & Memoirs in Indiana History;
Biographies & Memoirs in Illinois History;
Biographies & Memoirs in Michigan History;
Biographies & Memoirs in Wisconsin History

You can find more works like these at our other ‘Explorers and Travelers’ pages. Check ‘Explorers and Travelers in Great Lakes History’ for more material covering Michigan.

Explorers and Travelers in Great Lakes History

Explorers and Travelers in Illinois History

Explorers and Travelers in Indiana History

Explorers and Travelers in Ohio History

Explorers and Travelers in Wisconsin History

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