Stag Island might be across the Canadian border, but I still consider it a “Michigan” destination.

In the early 1900s, the island was a vacation haven with plenty of things to do on a warm day: ball room, beach for sunbathing, boating, bowling, croquet, twenty-three cottages, dining hall, fishing, two hotels, pavilion, swimming, and tennis. To get to the island, you had to travel by ship: the Star Line steamers.

After World War I, island tourism began to decline. The automobile was replacing ship travel and soon the steamers stopped steaming and cruise ships stopped cruising – to Stag Island, that is. By the 1920s, many of the tourist cottages were put up for sale. Even so, a roller coaster was constructed there in 1928, possibly in anticipation of a resurgence. There was no real resurgence – the amusements and activities all disappeared and eventually all that was left were family and privately owned cottages.

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Stag Island remains a private island smack in the middle of the St. Clair River between Canada and the United States, just south of Port Huron. Summer homes and cottages line the whole Canadian side, up and around, until there’s a few on the States side. The majority of the island seems empty, maybe swampy, but might be worth a journey to hike the empty parts and see what remains.

Barely visible, just off the south end, is the Stag Island lighthouse. Originally set in 1900, it underwent numerous changes, additions, and repairs over the years and remains intact.

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