This hamlet was first settled by white people in 1858. It had been a camp site for Indians. In 1867, the village was platted by Albert S. French from New York State and a post office was established here. The name was selected because the place is sited on the west bank of gorgeous Tamarack Lake in the northern panhandle of Montcalm County.
By 1873, a lumberman from Alma, Ammi Wright, built a railroad to carry timber from St. Louis—about three miles east of Alma—to Saginaw where his line connected with the Flint and Pere Marquette. Mr. Wright’s line was the Saginaw and St. Louis and prospered as timber was cut. The Detroit, Lansing and Northern Railroad created another line, the Saginaw and Grand Rapids, presumably to extend the Saginaw and St. Louis west to eventually connect the two cities in its title using the existing Saginaw to St. Louis line as part of its route. By 1879, the Saginaw and Grand Rapids extended its lines as far west as Lakeview. In 1883, following a bankruptcy, that line was reconstituted as the Saginaw and Western. About six years later, they extended their tracks to Howard City. From Howard City, they used the Grand Rapids and Indiana to get their trains 34 miles south to Grand Rapids.
The Saginaw and Western was owned or controlled by the Detroit, Lansing and Northern and was not always a profitable operation since the stands of trees along its line had been cut by the 1880s. It went into bankruptcy in the financial panic of 1893. In 1897, the Detroit, Lansing and Northern merged with the Flint and Pere Marquette and the Chicago and West Michigan to form the Pere Marquette. That railroad, in turn, was taken over by the Chesapeake and Ohio in 1929 and merged into the C. & 0. in 1947. That line became CSX Transportation twenty years later.
In the 1890s, the Saginaw and Western cooperated with the Grand Rapids and Indiana to offer through passengers trains from Saginaw to Grand Rapids. It was a four and one-half hour journey with early morning and late afternoon departures from each city and all trains stopped for travelers in Lakeview. This through passenger train service stopped, I believe, shortly after the creation of the Pere Marquette since they had a more direct Saginaw to Grand Rapids line, one that went through Greenville rather than Lakeview and Howard City.
The Pere Marquette line west of Alma was a granger railroad without substantial freight or passenger traffic. By 1910, the only passenger trains serving the residents of Lakeview were a westbound Lansing to Big Rapids train, an Ionia to Big Rapids train and one eastbound train from Big Rapids to Lansing. By the 1930s, the only service was a six times a week mixed train that made a round-about trip from Greenville to Big Rapids. Howard City never developed into a major metropolis. Indeed, the eleven miles a rail west from Lakeview to Howard City was pulled up in 1943 but the line from Alma to Lakeview survived until 1974.
The former depot is now used by the Lakewood Elevator firm. It has not, so far as I know, been moved from its original location but has been very substantially changed to suit the needs of this farm supply firm that was once served by the Pere Marquette. Seven miles to the west is the community of Six Lakes whose very modest Pere Marquette depot has been converted into a modest museum.
The village of Lakeview is the demographic, commercial, educational and medical center of Cato Township. The Census Bureau, in 2014 estimated that Lakeview was home to 1008 residents.
Date of Construction: Probably shortly after formation of the Pere Marquette in 1899.
Architect: Unknown to me
Use in 2015; Lakeview Elevator LLC
State of Michigan Registry of Historic Sites: Not listed
National Register of Historic Places: Not listed
Photograph; Ren Farley; July, 2015
Description prepared, July, 2015
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