SMALL TOWN MICHIGAN: Willard and Beaver
No, NOT "Wally and the Beaver".....it's Willard and Beaver. Two small towns five miles apart in Bay County that are worth visiting or driving through (SEE PHOTOS BELOW).
Both towns are located in Beaver Township; Willard was named after Levi Willard, a farmer and shoemaker who moved to the area in 1856 and was eventually elected as town supervisor.
Beaver Township was organized eleven years later in 1867. The lumber industry became a business staple in the township during the 1880's & 1890's and with the area's prosperity and a new lumber mill, more businesses sprang up: blacksmith shop, cheese factory, general store, hotel, houses, post office, saloon, saw mill, three schools, and other stores.
According to an unknown writer in October 1873:
"Our town has been organized about six years, and in that time we have opened up about twenty-five miles of roads, four rods wide, the most of which are passable at any time of the year.....there is plenty of vacant land to be had cheap -- the prices ranging from $2.50 to $5.00 per acre.....We are but five miles from the graded bed of the Bay City & Midland Railroad; when the iron is laid it will only take us about an hour to reach Bay City; we have a post office, stores, saw mills, etc., near by; therefore, taking all things into consideration, we have advantages here for settlers that are not offered anywhere else in the county."
Willard is located at the intersection of 11 Mile Road and Beaver Road. There are a few old buildings still around that will make great photo ops.
Beaver is located at the intersection of 9 Mile Road and Parish Road, five miles northeast of Willard. It's been called a 'ghost town' by some but there are a handful of residents there...and some cool old buildings still standing. Drive-thru this year as part of your Michigan roadtrip!
Too many travelers take the main Michigan highways: 127, 75, 96, 94, 131, etc. and miss SO much in our state. There are thousands of things to see, do & discover on Michigan's back roads, dirt roads and side roads.
Save the highways for work.....take the backroads for pleasure!