MICHIGAN GHOST TOWN: The Pile of Sawdust That Created Deanville
Deanville’s reputation wasn’t built on a post office, railroad station, or their successful lumber business…it was known far and wide for its giant, mountainous pile of sawdust.
Deanville was a flourishing town, with extreme success in lumber, shingles, and flour exporting. The massive excess sawdust from the mills was so continuous, it kept the pile ever-growing – so much so, it was given the nickname “Deanville Mountain”.
The residents felt this monster pile of refuse would never dissipate or diminish...and they were right.
Deanville began to grow when a post office began operating in 1874, at the corner of Galbraith & Brown City roads, in Burnside Township, Lapeer County. The town was a spur on the Pere Marquette Railroad, which added to the town’s success. Deanville’s first schoolhouse was nothing more than a boarded shack, but a newer school was erected in 1875.
John C. Dean was responsible for much of the community’s capital, thanks to his steam mill…so the new town became known as “Deanville”. But when timber began to run out and the trains stopped coming through, Deanville’s prosperity took a nosedive. The post office finally shut down in 1903 and Deanville withered and died a slow death.
You can get a better handle on the early settlers by visiting the Deanville Cemetery, just west of the old downtown intersection on Deanville Road. Deanville Mountain is still there, just a few feet further west. There’s absolutely no businesses left, but there are homes and farmland scattered throughout the area.
It makes for an interesting detour on your Michigan roadtrip!