MICHIGAN SHADOW TOWN: Sandstone, in Jackson County
So many spots in Michigan can be called "shadow towns".....Sandstone is one of 'em, just a few miles west of Jackson in Sandstone Township.
Settled in 1832 and established in 1837, Sandstone was originally a part of Spring Arbor Township as a post office station, but didn't become incorporated until 2000.....163 years later. Originally named Barry (and sometimes Berryville), the village was located on the Michigan Central main railroad line. According to michiganrailroads.com, in 1920 it was a "prepaid station with no agent".
The area's name came from the sandstone quarries found in the southeast corner of the intersection of Sandstone & Michigan and near the banks of Sandstone Creek and Indian Brook. Sandstone also excavated coal & limestone, of which there was plenty.
So why didn't Sandstone become a full-grown town or village?
According to genealogytrails.com, "Sandstone village at one time bid fair to rival Jackson, and in 1837 it had two hotels, a bank, and quite a number of stores, but.....speculation soon passed away, and the village of Jackson - rapidly increasing in population - left Sandstone out in the cold."
Sandstone was briefly named "Barry" or "Berry" for awhile, and, along with the afore-mentioned businesses, boasted a post office and a Congregational church, whose first services were held in 1834 in a log schoolhouse. After initially being named the Barry Congregational Church, the name was changed to the Union Congregational Church of Sandstone, with the official church being built in 1870. The church still stands, south of the intersection, on the west side of Sandstone Road.
According to sandstonetownship.org, "the Village of Barry sprang up rivaling Jackson in importance for some time. There are still legal platted descriptions of lots based on a plan for the Village of Barry. At one time, Barry was being considered as a possible site for the capital of the new State of Michigan.....Barry was destined to flourish for a brief span of years and become one of the most thriving communities of this section of southern Michigan."
It seemed to have a promising start, overshadowing nearby Jackson. Sandstone Township's website continues to say that a Colonel John Anderson wrote, “we reached Jackson, a small Village containing one store kept by M. Blackman, and about twenty dwellings. Half the inhabitants were down with the plague, lots on Main Street were worth from $20 to $50 and a hard looking town it was, at that time.....the next day arrived at Barry, now Sandstone, six miles west of Jackson.....”
And, as mentioned in another Sandstone article, this time on mlive.com, Sandstone was kickin' Jackson's rear end when it came to "business and enterprise." But once Jackson erected the state prison, courthouse and grist mill, it became more prosperous and Sandstone finally had to relinquish it's popularity.
Sandstone now stands, quietly tucked alongside Michigan Avenue, just a few miles west of Jackson and four-and-a-half miles east of Parma.....many motorists passing thru the area don't even know it's a village and have no clue what promise it once had.
I don't know if Sandstone residents would appreciate their village being referred to as a 'ghost town,' but it's a nice, peaceful place that's nice to drive thru and recollect what it almost became back in the 1800s. Sandstone continues to be a successful supplier of sand & gravel to the area.
Pay a visit, stop at the party store, and enjoy a few moments in Sandstone.