Ghost Town or Shadow Town? Pompeii in Gratiot County, Michigan: 1900-2000s
Pompeii is one of those Mid-Michigan towns that seldom gets visitors or tourists. It is called a 'ghost town' by some, referring to the fact that it is not what it once was. Looking at the photo gallery below, you'll see that Pompeii appeared to be a thriving little community; compared to some images from the 2000s, which show many original old buildings completely gone.
Sitting in Gratiot County, Pompeii was settled in 1854 as “Joe B's” - a weird name for a village, but the first settler was Joseph B. Smith, who named it after himself. When a post office was implemented in 1856, it was called “Pompei” with one “i”.
In 1886 the whole village was torn down and re-built a mile and a half south so it could take advantage of the railroad and the travelers it brought in. It took another forty-one years for someone to point out that 'Pompei' needed an additional “i” since that other 'Pompeii' in Italy had two - and so it was. As the town's years of prosperity continued it had a bank, depot, elevator, hospital, hotel, and schools. The town was also a popular stagecoach stop which brought even more travelers to peruse (and remain in) town.
In the 1920's, thanks to the construction of a new state highway and less trains coming through (at one time there were thirty trains a day!), the depot, businesses, and schools shut down.
Pompeii is not that far out of your way to do a drive-thru. It's a cool little community that was once a successful Michigan small town...and still hangs in there.
Vintage Photos of Pompeii, Michigan
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