I remember the hidden town of Gratiot along US41 very well. Every time I drove north I would notice a small line of three or so houses sitting far back from the road across an open field. Once I even drove up that road marked “Gratiot Loc” and checked those houses out for myself. They appeared abandoned, yet the kids tricycle on the overgrown lawn, and the faded coke cans on the stoop seemed to suggest otherwise. I found the place a little odd and spooky and left rather hastily – never finding the mine itself.
When we returned to the town of Gratiot a good six years later, that tricycle, those faded coke cans, and the houses themselves were long gone. When they were torn down I don’t remember, but nothing but dirt and grass remained. We almost left empty handed, until we notice something down an old railroad line that we crossed. It appeared to be a concrete bridge or tunnel down the line through a tunnel of trees. Curious, we turn the car down the line and slowly approached the structure.
As we left the narrow trail we found ourselves coming out to an open field. Ahead of us, the tunnel or bridge was in fact the concrete ruin of a rock house – still straddling the rail line that once served it. Behind it, towering high above the trees was a large poor rock pile. We
had found a mine all right, we had found the Gratiot Mine.