Vacationing Up-North in the late 19th Century


Below are some illustrated travel booklets; mostly published 1879 – 1884. They advertise the pleasures of vacationing in Northern Michigan, and also in Wisconsin, Minnesota, and other locations. The railroad companies began producing these guides soon after railway lines were completed to northern towns, marking the beginning of the tourist industry for most northern locations. It was estimated that the number of summer visitors in Northern Michigan exploded from a few hundred in about 1870 to nearly 100,000 in 1890.



Click on the page name to open it in a new tab, and you’ll find the recommended works there. They are listed alphabetically, by author.

Michigan Explorers & Travelers page

Chicago & Northwestern Railway Company, A Summer Holiday. A Brief Description of Some of the most Popular Summer Resorts in Wisconsin, Michigan and Minnesota etc. (1884)

Detroit, Lansing & Northern Railroad Company, Detroit and the Pleasure Resorts of Northern Michigan (1883)

Donan, P., Mackinac Island: The Wave-Washed Tourists’ Paradise of the Unsalted Seas (1882)

Grand Rapids & Indiana Railroad, Mackinac: the Wonderful Isle. Petoskey, Traverse City and other Northern Michigan Summer Resorts (1891)

Ingram, Helen K., Three on a Tour (1895)

King, John Lyle, Trouting on the Brulé River, or, Lawyers’ Summer-wayfaring in the Northern Wilderness (1879)

Little Traverse Bay Resort Ass., Michigan Resorts on Little Traverse Bay (1904)

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


Great Lakes Explorers & Travelers page

Charlton, James, Guide to Summer Resorts in Wisconsin, Minnesota, Michigan, & c. (1874)

Detroit & Cleveland Navigation Co., The Mystery of the Monogram; a Story of a Summer Tour on the Great Lakes via the Detroit & Cleveland Navigation Co., “The Coast Line to Mackinac” (1904)

Ogden, D. H., A Guide to the Summer Resorts of Minnesota. A Full Description of the Summer Resorts of Minnesota, with Routes of Travel, Principal Hotels and other Useful Information (1879)

Stennett, W.H., The North and West Illustrated for Tourist, Business and Pleasure Travel. The Popular Resorts of California, Nevada, Idaho, Montana, Utah, Wyoming, Colorado, Nebraska, Dakota, Iowa, Illinois, Wisconsin, Northern Michigan and Minnesota (1879)

Sweetser, Charles H., Tourists’ and Invalids’ Guide to the Northwest (1868)



To receive links to free history articles and resources every day in your Twitter or Facebook feeds, follow:

Century Past History (Twitter)

History of the Great Lakes States (Facebook)