Glen Haven was first founded as a wooding station to provide fuel for the passing steamers. In 1857 a sawmill and an inn were built on the beach west of Glen Arbor by Charles C. McCarty, brother in law of John E. Fisher, the founder of Glen Arbor. McCarty called the area Sleeping Bearville. In 1865 a dock and the Sleeping Bear Inn were built. The Inn was used as a boarding house for lumberjacks and passengers. In 1868 McCarty built a sawmill on Little Glen Lake. Horses were used to transport the lumber from Glen Lake to Glen Haven. At that time 100 to 300 cords of wood were used by a steamer for a full trip from Chicago to Buffalo. By 1870 a two mile long tramway had been built to transport wood cut by the sawmill of Glen Lake to the docks at Glen Haven. During the winter of 1870-1871 214 people died because of shipwrecks on the Great Lake. In 1871 the U.S. Life-Saving Service was created. The Life-Saving Service conducted rescues from shore. That year the first Life-Saving Station was opened in the area.
In 1878 the President of the Northern Transit Company bought Glen Haven in order to make sure that there would always be a reliable supply of wood for the fleet. At that time D. H. Day moved to Glen Haven as an agent for the Northern Transit Company. In 1881 D. H. Day bought the town of Glen Haven. In 1901 the Sleeping Bear Point Lifesaving Station was built. At that time most of the workers at Glen Haven were of Norwegian and Swedish descent, a small group of workers were from a small Native American settlement a few miles away. As steamships began changing from wood burning to coal burning D. H. Day realized the need to expand his operations and changed his sawmill into a hardwood mill, which sold oak and maple boards to the building industry in Chicago. D. H. Day also promoted managed forests and farming. In 1910 he owned more than 5,000 acres of managed forest and 5,000 cherry and apple trees on his 400 acre farm. In the 1920s the Glen Haven Canning Company began canning and shipping D. H. Day’s fruit. In 1931 the Sleeping Bear Point Lifesaving Station was moved to its present site in order to protect it from the encroaching dunes. That same year the Glen Haven docks were closed. In 1972 the Sleeping Bear Inn closed and the buildings in Glen Haven were purchased by the National Park. Glen Haven has been restored to resemble the town in the 1920s. Just down the road is the Sleeping Bear Point Life Saving Station which has been restored and is now The Sleeping Bear Point Maritime Museum.
Glen Haven Links
Photo credit: Glen Haven Canning Co. by cyoas55