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A History of Boyne City

One of Boyne City’s several historical markers

Some of Boyne City's earliest settlers were led to the area by a dream. Harriet Miller, a New York spiritualist and wifeof an Irish Immigrant, dreamed of a cabin on a bear-shaped lake. The Millers' hunt for the cabin led them west toMichigan and Lake Charlevoix. John Miller named the river leading to the lake for one in Ireland – the Boyne River.

The industrial revolution arrived in Boyne City in the early 20th century. One of the community's industrialists was W.H. White, owner of White Lumber Company. Knowing that bark from hemlock lumber could be used in tanning leather, White convinced Canadian tanner W.S. Shaw to open a tannery. By 1907, Shaw's tannery produced 6 million pounds of shoe sole leather annually. Shaw also helped found Boyne City Clay Products, which made bricks used in several buildings still standing in Boyne City including the Wolverine-Dilworth Inn. Railroads were instrumental in the growth of the area's lumber industry. Products were shipped to customers throughout the Midwest. At its peak, there were 90 miles of track into the logging camps, 13 locomotives, and several hundred logging cars. Boyne City's heritage also lives on its historic buildings. Huff's Pharmacy, opened in 1896, has a coved, pressed tin ceiling which was typical of that era. The Boyne River Inn, a local pub, was founded in 1893, and still operates on its original site.

***In 2012, downtown Boyne City achieved its listing on the National Register of Historic Places.  The downtown historic district includes the 100 and 200 blocks of Water and Lake Streets, parts of Main between Lake and Park, the 100 block of South Park, and the local Pearl Street Histric District.  A complete history of all the buildings within the historic district is available at

For further information about Boyne City, contact the Boyne City Historical Museum, 231.582.2839.

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