Port Oneida, Michigan

In 1852 Carsten Burfiend of Hanover, Germany moved from North Manitou Island to the mainland, just west of Pyramid Point. Burfiend continued his work as a fisherman on the mainland and ferried settlers from the Manitou Islands to the mainland on his fishing boat. In 1862 Thomas Kelderhouse’s dock was completed on Carsten Burfiend’s land. The S.S. Oneida was one of the first steamships to dock at Thomas Kelderhouse’s dock. The town was named after this first steamer, the S.S. Oneida. Kelderhouse soon built a sawmill to process cordwood to sell to passing steamers for fuel.

By 1880 many other families had moved to the area, many of whom were from Hanover or Prussia. According to the 1880 census 74 adults were working in the Port Oneida area. Port Oneida was soon a thriving town with a blacksmith shop, a boarding house, a general store and post office. At that time Thomas Kelderhouse owned mot of the buildings and almost half of the land on Pyramid Point. Just ten years later, in the 1890s most of the timber had been harvested and the Great Lakes steamships were burning coal. Competition with the much larger logging operations in the county forced the Port Oneida mill to close. The dock and mill were both sold. By 1908 all the buildings at the town site of Port Oneida had been abandoned, except for the the Kelderhouse residence. Families living on surrounding farms stayed in the area until the 1940s. In 1970 the Sleeping Bear National Lakeshore was founded by an act of Congress. The National Lakeshore included Port Oneida, and the first offical survey of historic buildings was completed in 1988.

Leelanau on Location

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