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Northern Michigan Residents Have Been Talking About the Same Stuff for 100 Years

Pnews Oct 1923
Affordable Housing 3
No Snow

Issues that dominate news cycles and conversations today can seem like revolutionary fresh takes — but often they are not. Frequently, generations of people have come to the same conclusions about conventional concerns in our communities. A dig through local newspaper archives proves that some Northern Michigan stories withstand the test of time.

Affordable housing

A near-constant hot-button issue in Northern Michigan is fairly priced housing, or the lack thereof.

Credit: Greenwood Cemetery Newspaper Archive

In an article titled “No Cheap Homes,” published in the Petoskey News in 1923, one couple struggles with high rent and steep property values.

“The couple who were tired of paying high rent for apartments, and having their money go too fast with too little to show for it, decided to look into the matter of purchasing an inexpensive lot and building – ‘just a nice little inexpensive house.’ They found after investigating that ‘there is no such thing.’ Every lot that was at all desirable was high in price. Every house plan, ‘with everything you really want eliminated,’ was almost too expensive for them to consider. Nevertheless, they took their courage in both hands and made a down payment on a lot.”

In 1946, the problem was reported by the Harbor Light. Indication came when cherry farmers in Leelanau County were eager to hire seasonal workers to pick cherries.

“’A lack of housing facilities combined with the unexpected influx of workers, is responsible for the present shortage of picking jobs.’ Mr. Kunky said. In parts of northern Leelanau County a few pickers can still be placed but only if they are fully equipped with tents, or house trailers, bedding, stoves, cooking equipment and transportation.”

Again in 1966, experts suggested Petoskey is missing commerce opportunities due to the problem. The Petoskey News-Review reported:

“The Chamber of Commerce, reflected on the affordable housing issue, an issue which the local chamber and many others have identified as a key economic challenge.”

“According to Lesher (realtor), some people have turned down jobs in the Petoskey area because they cannot find the housing they want. Petoskey, Colwell (realtor) said, has lost new industry because it could not provide adequate housing for an influx of families.”

Credit: Greenwood Cemetery Newspaper Archive

Once more in 1999, Harbor Light touched on the problem.

“‘We have a very strong economy up here,’ Johnson said. ‘And that is good, but there are side effects. One is the lack of affordable housing. Housing prices in this area continue to be bid up leaving little in the $100,000 range and under,’ Johnson said.”

Recently, 9&10 News shed light on the lack of housing in 2023.

“Housing is definitely a problem. We’re not just seeing it in this area. We’re seeing it all across Michigan and across the country with our housing stock and such. I know myself personally, I moved to this area just about two years ago now, and it was not the easiest thing trying to find a house,” said Katie Mehl, planning and zoning administrator in Manistee.

Where’s the snow?

Every winter there seems to be a time where residents ask, “Didn’t we have more snow in the past?” Turns out the query is nothing new. Residents have been asking just that for centuries.

In 1900, the Independent Democrat reported as such.

Credit: Greenwood Cemetery Newspaper Archive

“Twenty-one years ago, according to our older residents, snow began to fall on Nov. 7, more or less falling every day thereafter for 120 days, the total snowfall being over 21 feet. Nineteen years ago there was practically no snow during the winter, neither was there any ice formed on the bay. Hundreds of bushels of potatoes remained in the ground all winter, much were better for having them there.”

In 1925, varying winters is experienced again, according to the Cheboygan Daily Tribune.

“The custom of holding a winter sports carnival to celebrate Washington’s birthday, Feb. 23 may be revived here this year. Last winter the event was impossible because there was no snow on the ground but weather forecasts promise ample cold for all forms of winter sport this season.”

Just this month, 9&10 News reported an recounted the topic in an article titled ““.


Northern Michigan consistently relies on tourism to support the economy. Between beautiful scenery and ample opportunities for recreation it’s no wonder many travel Up North to find some serenity.

In 1923, The Charlevoix Courier published an article titled “Will the 1923 Resort Season be a Success?”

“Will Charlevoix have a successful tourist season? Now, that all depends on how you are going to judge success. Is it a question of how many more tourists will be here than there were last year; or how long and how long will the merchant’s cash registers jingle? Or is it this: in what frame of mind are we sending the tourists back to their homes? That’s it!”

“You simply have to get in line and build your business on a foundation of service – satisfactory service to your patrons, the tourists.”

In 1948, Joe Bachunas of West Michigan Tourist and Resort Association was interviewed by the Petoskey News-Review.

“Buchunas reminded those dealing directly with the tourist that Michigan always has had the reputation of giving good value for the dollar. ‘Lets not start scalping or trying to get rich quick now. It can hurt 1949 and all later years.’ The association is also checking with a large group of 1947 visitors to see how they feel about the treatment they received while touring West Michigan.”

In September 2022, on the end of summer tourism for the year.

“As Labor Day weekend arrives, it’s also the unofficial end to the summer season for tourism and hospitality businesses. Traverse City Tourism President/CEO Trevor Tkach says, ‘It was a great summer, but a little bit of a roller coaster ride comparatively to other summers.'”