I have some great old photos of Cheboygan to show ya…but first, just a brief background on this city on the Lake Huron shores…

Not only does it lie along Lake Huron, but also next to the Cheboygan River. Going back many, many years pre-1800, the land was occupied by the Ojibwe tribe as their campground. Then, in 1844, along came Jacob Sammons who settled the area, calling it “Duncan”.

According to britannica.com, a later name change to “Inverness” soon gave way to a new and permanent name, “Cheboygan” – an Anglicized version of a Native American term that means either ‘Chippewa water’ or ‘the river that comes out of the ground’. However, there are other theories as to the name: “Cheboygan" has been linked to the word "zhaabonigan," which is Ojibwe for “sewing needle." Yet another explanation says it’s from the word "Chabwegan", meaning "a place of ore.” As to which of these is the right one? Maybe none of them.

By 1853, Cheboygan was made the seat of Cheboygan County.

Cheboygan began its prosperous period as a lumber and fishing town; but with time, the timber depleted and so did many fish. To stay afloat, Cheboygan became a tourist town, which it remains to this day. The town also made good money by making auto parts, industrial machinery, metal products, and paper goods.

Aside from Lake Huron, the area provides many lakes teeming with fish: Burt, Crooked, Mullett, and Pickerel lakes in particular. Burt Lake is also excellent for swimming.

1877: Cheboygan Opera House
1884: Cheboygan Crib Light (preserved in Gordon Turner Park)
1900s: Brass era cyclecar maker, Flagler, based in the city
1944: Home to the Mackinaw, a Coast Guard cutter/icebreaker.

Cheboygan still serves as a ferry transport to Bois Blanc Island, a favorite summer getaway for those who like it more rustic than Mackinac Island. I’ve been to Cheboygan and Bois Blanc many times over the past number of years, and it is still a fun place to visit.

Now take a look at the gallery below and see what old-time Cheboygan was like over 100 years ago…

Vintage Cheboygan


Vintage Photos of Ann Arbor

Vintage Photos of Charlevoix

More Vintage Mackinac Island Photos

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