History of Resort Township

The area now known as Resort Township was originally inhabited by Native Americans. Most of these Native Americans spent the winter months farther south but returned each year to their settlements along the Bay and Walloon Lake. The Native Americans liked to camp near Walloon Lake because of the good fishing and hunting opportunities. After the arrival of the white settlers, the Native Americans stayed throughout the winter months and helped in the lumber camps.

In 1875, the land that would be Resort Township was opened to settlement. The first claims were filed in April 1875. Resort Township was formed as a Township in 1880 and was originally part of Charleviox County. Changes were made between 1896 and 1902, shaping Resort Township as we know it today being part of Emmet County.

The early Township settlers were primarily involved in lumbering, farming and the lime and cement production industries. In the early days, Resort was primarily forested and the early settlers cleared the land in order to farm and produce the food needed to support their families. Agriculture expanded to play a significant role in the history of Resort Township. Early farmers raised a variety of crops, including corn, beans, potatoes, sugar beets, radishes, strawberries and certified seed potatoes. Later dairy cows were also raised in the Township. Much of the Township still remains in agricultural use today, with a few centennial farms located in Resort Township. Building and maintaining schools was one of the first tasks carried out by the first Township officials and settlers. Included among the list of Township founders are the names Bacon, Botsford, Couch, Conn, Cole, Davis, Depew, Ernot, Eppler, Genshaw, Grimes, Henderson, Light, March, Morford, Miller, McConnell, Nadolsky, Nickles, Piehl, Ranall, Ramsby, Rehkopf, Reise, Rebery, Kalbfleisch, Shepard, Stark, Storck, Tubbs, Williams, Wright, Woode, and Zirk. Several descendants of these early settlers live in Resort Township today.

Lime and cement also played an important role in the industrial history of Resort Township. The first lime was shipped from the kilns in Resort in 1885. The lime industry employed many residents directly or indirectly, as coopers, blacksmiths, or in the sawmills, until 1920 when the lime kilns were abandoned by lack of demand. In 1921 the Petoskey Portland Cement Company began production of cement. The operation eventually grew to employ 375 people in 1952 and was sold to Penn Dixie Corporation in 1955. The corporation closed the 1,100 acre operation in 1980. After many years and a few failed development proposals, the property is now developed as Bay Harbor, a luxury mixed-use development. The conversion of the Penn Dixie (former Dundee) property to a luxury residential and recreational use is a contributing factor to the community growth and the changing character of the Lake Michigan shoreline in the Township.