The ‘Lost’ Michigan Town That Began as a Saloon
The Village of Melvin began simply as one lone saloon, built in 1862. The saloon was popular enough that travelers decided to settle in the area. From, there, more businesses began to spring up. A drug store came next, opening in 1869 by Alex Donaldson.
Melvin got its name from one of the early settlers, but whether it was from a first or last name is debatable.
In the late 1800’s, the Port Huron & Northwestern Railroad came through, turning Melvin into a railway stop; it also became a postal station in 1874. By 1884, Melvin had a church, depot, drug store, general store, grocery store, grist mill, hotel, post office, the saloon, and sawmill. By the 1880's the railway was part of the Pere Marquette Railroad and in 1907 Melvin was incorporated as a village.
Then, when the timber was depleted, the businesses dried up and left. Nowadays, Melvin appears to have hardly any businesses left. There’s the Hog Town Tavern and a party store, along with the post office, township fire department, and two churches.
The original First Baptist Church still stands in Melvin, co-built by William Clayton Roof. If you visit the cemetery next to the church, you can find his grave.
According to old atlases, east of town there used to be a third church and a graveyard. Both are gone. The church could’ve been torn down or moved, but what happened to the graveyard? Did they move all the bodies or leave some behind? No gravestones are in that area anymore (SEE PHOTOS BELOW).
As of the summer of 2019, Melvin had a population of 175.
Add this little Michigan Thumb town to your Michigan roadtrip! It’s located in Speaker Township, Sanilac County. Check out the photos below!