Michigan: 50’s Trailer Time Capsule

When it comes to low budget getaways, many travelers choose to enjoy the wonders of nature as few hours from home as possible.  New Yorkers have the Catskills, Pennsylvanians have the Poconos, and we Michiganders have a vague vacationland we call “Up North.”  This depends on where you live, but by my definition extends North of Muskegon to the very top of the Upper Peninsula, which is a pretty vast area. Since the whole state is sprinkled with lakes both Great and small, old growth forests, a few rock formations and waterfalls, and hundreds of miles of hiking trails, there is a seemingly endless amount of outdoor recreation to enjoy the whole way up.  Here’s a bit of Ludington State Park and Manistee National Forest on the northwest side of the LP from a very fun trip I took last week:


Many families toward the southern state line choose to take advantage of the outdoor attractions by purchasing little plots of lands for vacation homes and trailers for affordable and easily accessible relaxation.  They’re often lake houses, but also manifest as hunting and fishing lodges and more rustic cabins used like campsites.  The typical interior of a Michigan vacation home was decorated so long ago that it’s transcended Outdated and come full-circle to Charming,  It also usually includes a lot of kitsch and novelty items.

I tried to find a picture of the kitschy cabin where I stay with my friends every summer to illustrate this point, but it appears we are always too busy doing Michigan Vacation Things like making burgers and playing with lasers to take actual pictures of the cabin.  So you get a picture of my friend making laserburgers instead.

This particular home was a trailer was located by itself on a dirt road, way out in the forest, not positioned on any water and easily forgotten.  I was camping nearby and found it while wandering.  The particle board in its door had swelled with moisture so far that it burst open and broke its own lock.  I thought the exterior was mildly interesting, so I peeked through the door to find a bright burst of color.


Orange curtains hung over the windows, a pink equestrian-themed quilt was draped over an oval streamlined sofa, and a bright blue chair sat directly in front of me at eye level in front of a retro teal kitchen.  The room was still mostly arranged as it once was, albeit a bit dusty and rifled through by scavengers.

And the kitchen!  All teal appliances and iridescent dishware.   There was still expired food and supplies in the cabinets and an old radio sitting on top of the kitchen island.


Beyond the kitchen, through a narrow hallway, were the two bedrooms.  Both were only large enough to fit one mattress and box spring and the walls were darkly paneled in wood.  The best part of this end was the bathroom, which had a cute little Formica shelf held by decorative brass bars and, of course, a teal sink to match the kitchen appliances.


Love that angular medicine cabinet, too.

There isn’t much of a history to tell here, but it was cool to see the little details of someone’s home away from home.

4 thoughts on “Michigan: 50’s Trailer Time Capsule

  1. Only you would go Up North and stumble onto this treasure of a little time capsule! I wonder what the story is … because the tea and canned good suggest the owner expected to return soon. And those blue appliances! And the towel still hanging from the loop in the bathroom! Wow. You must have been in heaven! Thank you for sharing these beautiful (if somewhat eerie) photos.

    PS: Do you have a good recipe for laserburgers you’d care to share? 🙂


  2. A good story, no doubt, is connected with why that little haven was left abandoned like that. Thank you for sharing this glimpse into what must have been a lovely get away retreat for someone. Once.


  3. I feel like an honorary Michigander as my grandparents lived on a small lake near Dowagiac and I spent a ton of time there. They took my brother and me on a vacation in 1976 up the Lake Michigan coast. We stopped for one night in Muskegon and then made our way up to Manistee, which by your definition is definitely Up North.

    They lived in their retirement in a single-wide mobile home. I remember when it came, in about 1971. Before it was a small pink trailer, and though my memories are dim (as I was not quite 4) this trailer you found speaks to me as being similar.

    Liked by 1 person

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