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Central Reservations800-737-1899
Stafford's Hospitality PO Box 657 Petoskey, Michigan 49770

History of Little Traverse Bay


Native Americans first settled along the shores of Lake Michigan as early as the eighteenth century. European settlers began to arrive in the mid-1800s and French traders renamed the area Petit Traverse, or Little Traverse. Indian and white residents relied heavily on fishing, agriculture and trapping as a way of life. Towards the turn of the century, lumber was a dominant and thriving industry, and was instrumental in the rebuilding of Chicago after the great fire of 1871.

The availability of passenger trains and steamships played a vital role in developing the area as it stands today. From 1873 until 1960, several major rail lines brought thousands of summer visitors to the area from Detroit, Cincinnati, Indianapolis and Chicago. Steamships carried visitors from ports throughout the Great Lakes.

The trend continued and today tourism is Michigan’s third largest industry state-wide. Prosperous resorts, grand hotels, private associations, fine golf and exciting ski resorts all contribute to making Little Traverse Bay the magnificent area it is today.