Smack on the border of Clare and Gladwin counties sits the unassuming village of Meredith. It was a hotbed of the lumber business in the late 1800s and reached a population of 1,800. A post office operated from 1884 until 1895, with Meredith's short existence estimated to be from 1883-1900; once the timber depleted, Meredith's growth came to a halt.

During these peak years, Meredith came to be known as “The Toughest Town in Michigan”, thanks to the number of saloons and the brawling lumbermen who frequented them. According to Michigan Ghost Towns of the Lower Peninsula, when a lumberjack was killed during  a fight in a saloon (or by an accident in the woods), the other upstanding, church-going residents would not allow them to be buried in the local cemetery...”haul them out someplace else”.

Aside from saloons, Meredith had a city hall, depot, three hotels, jail, opera house, roundhouse, and a school that had three stories.

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And surprisingly, Meredith had a drive-in movie theater, located east of town on Meredith Grade Road. It opened in 1952 and lasted until (at least) the mid-1980s. Not far behind the theater was the old Meredith Cemetery, now abandoned, forgotten, and hidden from the world with maybe one or two graves left, now on private property.

These days, Meredith has approximately 300 residents and a few stores. If you visit, take a detour down Meredith Grade Road east and check out the old drive-in location.

Now take a look at the photo gallery below.

The Toughest Town in Michigan: 1883-1900

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