The Michigan Ghost Town of Allenville and Its Neighbor, Moran
Moran in Mackinac County has been called a ghost town from time to time, but there are enough people and things going on there that doesn't warrant that label.
According to Michigan Place Names, the town was originally named Jacob City and founded on fraud. A man known as Mr. Jacob had an organization called the German Land Company in Detroit. It was “a colonization scheme by which land was sold to 27 of its members in 1881 and the rest in 1882-1883. Mr. Jacob was accused of fraud in 1883 and ousted from the organization”.
So now what were they going to do? One of the organization members, William Moran, lent money to the group in order to buy more land. This time it was legitimate, and in appreciation, the town was re-named after him.
Moran remains an unincorporated community around 14 miles northwest of the Mackinac Bridge with some great old original buildings lined up along M-123.
About a mile south of Moran is the ghost town of Allenville. This one really is a ghost town...I've been there many times.
Allenville began as a station on the Detroit, Mackinac & Marquette Railroad and was originally known as "Alley Town" named after the founder of the Alley Lumber Company, J. Alley, in 1873. A fire broke out in 1882 and almost wiped out the entire town.
The main business was a structure that was a combination post office, general store and hotel. The first time I visited Allenville in the 1970s, I was able to get into that old store. It had been closed for good since 1958 but there were still letters in the mail slots, groceries still on the shelves (I remember jars of mayonnaise that had turned brown from sitting there for so many years) and old magazines from the 1920s. I went upstairs and there were old hotel rooms just like you'd see in a western TV show or movie.
On the dresser was an old wash bowl that you would have to fill with a pitcher of water in order to wash. Unfortunately, all those great old items are no longer there........I think. Across the street in the field was the Brevort Dairy, whose remains can still be seen from the air and the road. Back when I was visiting this place, it was deemed okay with no problems. But when I attempted to visit again in the early 1990s, I was greeted and 'politely' asked to leave by a man wielding – and shooting - a shotgun.
Fortunately, Allenville has maybe two or three old buildings remaining and are great photo ops. Don't try to go into any buildings unless you want to be shot at.
All in all, these two UP towns are still worth a roadtrip visit.
Moran & Allenville
HERE ARE MORE MICHIGAN GHOST TOWNS: