History of Greilickville

HISTORY OF GREILICKVILLE

Greilick Sawmill, courtesy of Ted Wright and Lawrence Wakefield
Greilick Sawmill, courtesy of Ted Wright and Lawrence Wakefield

Greilickville, Michigan is located on the Grand Traverse Bay just north of Traverse City and is home to the Traverse City Harbor. An unincorporated community in Leelanau County, the area was first known as “Norristown,” after Seth and Albert Norris, who opened a local grain mill around 1853.

In the mid 1850s Godfrey Greilick moved his wife and six children from Chicago to northern Michigan hoping to seek their fortune. Godfrey, formerly a well-known architect in Austria, built a small, water-powered sawmill with his sons. It was replaced within a few years by the newer steam-powered Greilick Bros. Mill. The Greilicks’ sawmill was one of the most important mills on Grand Traverse Bay. In 1883 alone, it cut nearly 8.5 million feet of hardwood lumber. Unfortunately, like many of the sawmills of that era, it was destroyed by fire in 1907. But because the Greilick brothers were also leaders in important local industries at the turn of the last century, including shipping, lumber, furniture, door and window frames, they continued to play a formative role in the city’s early history and economic growth. Other nineteenth-century industries located in the town included a brickyard, a brewery, and a tannery.

In 1892 The Manistee and Northeastern Railroad came to town. The rail station was called “Greilicks,” which is additional evidence of the importance of the sawmill in the area. Shortly thereafter, this little town on Traverse City’s West Bay came to be known as Greilickville.

In 1925, Godfrey’s grandson, Clarence Greilick, was instrumental in acquiring 450 acres of property south of Traverse City for the local Rotary Club, which would later become known as the Boy Scout Camp and, ultimately, Camp Greilick.The oil and gas resources that were discovered under Camp Greilick that enable Rotary Charities and Rotary Camps and Services to undertake their many good works in the community, including the acquisition and stewardship of the Discovery Center ~ Great Lakes property.

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