The Ghost Town of Mentha: Van Buren County, Michigan
The old town of Mentha is located in Van Buren County, about 14 miles northwest of Kalamazoo and about 3 miles east of Kendall. This is one of southern Michigan's coolest ghost towns, getting its name from the vast fields of mint that was grown there, thanks to grower Albert M. Todd.
Mentha was settled in 1870 and was a station on the Kalamazoo & South Haven Railroad. The town achieved high praise for the high quality peppermint that was cultivated and was hugely successful; so successful, that Todd was swayed to move the entire operation to Kalamazoo in 1891. Even so, he kept one of his commercial farms in Mentha, developing hybrid mint plants, improvements and techniques.
Eventually, 90% of the entire world's mint oil came from this area.
Nowadays, it's a ghost town, with only a few old houses still existing out in the middle of nowhere. The main plantation house, barns, railroad depot, hotel, warehouse, greenhouse, some houses, and any other stores that may have existed are gone. Currently, there are a few old houses still there which seem to be occupied.
Michigan's mint output stayed strong up to the 1970's until the plant disease verticillium wilt ended peppermint's commercial cultivation. These days, most peppermint is grown in the Pacific Northwest - but Michigan still grows spearmint (which isn't affected by verticillium wilt) and is 5th in the U.S. for spearmint output.
The railroad was ripped up and is now used as part of the Kal Haven Trail. You can walk or bike along the trail to get a good look at the former town of Mentha. By vehicle, you can take 18th Avenue to 23rd Street and turn north...and you're there.
Some of the photos below include a couple of old pictures from over 100 years ago, the location, some atlases, and a look inside one of the deserted houses (permission was granted, I'm sure).
As always, if you come across any abandoned structures, seek permission to enter...and treat all these small towns & ghost towns with courtesy and respect. Don't ruin it for others.
THE GHOST TOWN OF MENTHA
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