The Confusing Ghost Town Tale of Palatka, Michigan
This particular Michigan town bears the questions:
“Does it still exist?”
“Did it ever exist?”
“Is it a ghost town?”
“Did it get re-named?”
“Was it moved?”
All legitimate questions that I will attempt to answer the best I can.
The U.P. town of Palatka has been called a 100% ghost town. But is it? Well, there is absolutely nothing there: no people, no businesses, no roads, no homes. Was it ever even there? The story of Palatka can be extremely confusing, so I'll try to explain this as simply as possible and the best I can.
In the 1900's, this particular area in Iron County opened five mines: the Baltic (1900), Caspian (1903), Young (1904), Fogarty (1907), and Berkshire (1908). With each new mine came new miners and their families – but the problem was, there was no housing. So the various mining companies began constructing homes for their employees, and afterward, a business section popped up to serve this new community.
A depot was erected in 1901 and given the name “Palatka”, for no reason other than it was the name of a town in Florida. Palatka was located between the Caspian Mine and the Baltic Mine; when a post office finally got authorization in 1906, it made 'Palatka' sort of official.
By 1908, there was the Prosser & Loo grocery, a second grocer/general store, two hotels (including the Spring Valley Hotel), William Young's livery stable, post office, Andrew Webber's saloon, and Peter Costa's shoe shop, among others.
In order to turn this community into an official village, two plats were registered. The first one in 1908 was called 'Palatka', alternately as 'Spring Valley' and 'Old Caspian'. The second plat in 1909 was registered as 'New Caspian' (residents sometimes misspelled the name, as 'Palatha' and 'Pulatka').
By the time 1913 rolled around, both were incorporated as just plain 'Caspian'. The Palatka post office closed for good after Caspian had been incorporated. The mines shut down in 1950.
Even though there was now no town called 'Palatka', the area continues to use that name. It still shows up on maps, but when looking at satellite maps, you'll see that there is absolutely nothing there. Why? Because 'Palatka' was where 'Caspian' is now and today's 'Palatka' is just the name of the area south of Caspian.
Confused? Me too. It took me a few re-writes to get this sounding like it made some kind of sense. Different sources had different facts....so let the disputes come.
Over the years, Palatka became legendary as a 'ghost town', even though it became Caspian. Explorers would come to search the 'Palatka' area, looking for shreds of evidence of a town but usually came up empty handed. However, there are still pieces and parts of old mines strewn throughout the 'Palatka' area.
The most successful of these old mines was the Caspian, which still stands, as you'll see in the photo gallery below.
THE PALATKA AREA
MORE MICHIGAN MINING COUNTRY:
Ghost Town of Baltic
Abandoned Unknown Mine, Upper Peninsula
Abandoned Mining Building, Upper Peninsula
Caspian City History