The Michigan village of South Boardman has been called a ghost town. The book Michigan Ghost Towns of the Lower Peninsula calls it a “real, live ghost town”, but I have to disagree. According to, a ghost town is described as being: "an abandoned village, town or city, usually one which contains substantial visible remains.....The term can sometimes refer to cities, towns, and neighborhoods which are still populated, but significantly less so than in years past..."

Even so, I still can’t bring myself to call South Boardman a ghost town. ‘Shadow Town’, yeah…but not ‘ghost’ town. I have written about this town a couple of time already, but I have discovered some extra vintage photos that I wanted to share.

To recap, the town is located about 25 miles southeast of Traverse City in Kalkaska County, Boardman Township. It still has a good number of residences, even though the original business section seems to be basically all gone.

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South Boardman was settled in 1872 with a population of 25. In 1874, Hamilton Stone constructed and began operating a train depot and hotel. In June 1875, the post office was established.

Thanks to the lumber trade, the population rose to 400 by 1918. To serve this growing community, the town featured:
Boarding house
Four churches
Flour mill
Two hotels
Three lumber mills
Post office
Five saloons

The townspeople had no grocer to get food, so they had to walk 25 miles to Traverse City for food and walk back again.

In 1923 South Boardman suffered a major setback when a fire blazed through downtown, devastating all the shops and stores.

Driving through South Boardman in the 2000s takes you through neighborhoods with new homes mixed with the old, and only a very few original old buildings left. Even though it may not appear to be an historic spot, it very definitely is…and it’s worth a drive-thru on your next Michigan roadtrip.

Vintage Photos of South Boardman


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