Northern Michigan in Focus: Thompsonville Marker

There’s many historically significant places around northern Michigan that people have no idea about.

But there’s one Benzie County town about to change that. Corey Adkins explains in this week’s Northern Michigan in Focus.

“The question to me wasn’t ‘should there be a historical marker’ but ‘why isn’t there a historical marker here?’” said Chuck Kraus with the Benzie Area Historical Society.

During the lumber era, downtown Thompsonville was a happening place.

“The village never got over probably 1,200 people as its population, but it was a very vibrant community,” explained Chuck.

Trains by the hundreds brought freight, lumber and passengers all right here. 10 07 20 Nmif Thompsonville.mov

A lot of the reason why this was such a popular place was because of a diamond-shaped piece of railroad track. It allowed east/west and north/ south traffic to all go through Thompsonville junction, but it didn’t last.

“The demise of the town was really related to events in history.  The cutting down of all the hardwood forests and the advent of automobile, which affected the passenger traffic,” said Chuck.

Now the junction is a Rails to Trails stop. Chuck wanted this ground to be historically recognized.

“When Chuck approached us about putting historical marker here, I thought it was a great idea and so we’re here to do whatever we can do to help facilitate making that happen,” said Eugene Allen, Thompsonville village president.

And it happened! There’s now a plaque marking the historic place, and you can be one of the first to see.

“At 2 in the afternoon there will be a formal dedication, at which time the marker will be unveiled. It’s a double-sided marker. One side devoted to village and the other side is devoted to Thompsonville Junction which is what the diamond is, or was,” said Chuck.

Weldon Twp. Supervisor Ron Hitesman added, “If we don’t remember history, history is gone. So many people who move into the area have no concept of why Thompsonville is even here. Had it not been for the railroads, had it not been for the diamond crossing, you know, Thompsonville probably would have not even on the map.”

“On Sunday, October 11, we’ll be able to officially dedicate it and I think it’s another great asset to the community,” said Eugene.

Unfortunately, the October 11 dedication has been postponed. Once it is rescheduled, we will bring you the new dedication details.

Categories: Northern Michigan In Focus