Imagine stepping back to a time when you would hear the sound of horses’ hooves clip-clopping down the cobblestone streets of Manistee as you board a street car at the station in your neighborhood to go downtown for the evening. This was a regular occurrence experienced by many residents and visitors to Manistee, day in and day out. Manistee’s street car system was an elaborate network of rails that ran people to and from their destinations for years until the automobile ultimately forced the street car to cease operations.
Even though street cars no longer operate in Manistee, you will often see the vehicular version of the street car (also known as a trolley) in operation throughout Manistee touring various historic attractions. My family and I decided to take a tour on one of these beautifully restored trolleys to learn about and explore some of Manistee’s prized historic treasurers. As we boarded, we were be met by friendly and knowledgeable guides dressed in period attire which created a unique experience for seemingly everyone aboard the trolley.
Beginning on River Street, we toured the City of Manistee and River Street’s (the downtown area) unique, historic buildings. We listened intently as our tour guide told us the background and history of the various buildings as well as the people who had built some of them. Later, we were guided past the homes of the city’s millionaire lumbermen who constructed lavish mansions. We then made our way out to the beautiful Orchard Beach State Park and saw many rural attractions.
Once we returned we were encouraged to ask questions and we were so intrigued that we decided to go and explore some of the historic sites on our own. The trolley tours last approximately one hour, and begin at the Manistee County Transportation Center on Memorial Drive in Downtown Manistee. Tours begin at 11:00 am, 12:00 pm and 1:00 pm and are a great way get your bearings when visiting Manistee County for the first time.