After the settling of nearby Clare, the Pere Marquette Railway began to make their way north, towards the lumber settlers in the area that is now called Harrison, Michigan. First setting up shop here in 1879, the railroad greatly helped the lumber town, providing their sawmills easy and rapid transport of their wood to the nearby towns, and to the major cities such as Detroit and Chicago. This also enabled expansion of trade of water – actually ice – to faraway cities from Budd Lake to provide for ice boxes in the time before electrically powered refrigerators became a commonly owned appliance.
In subsequent decades, as the means of transportation diversified, so did Harrison’s economy. Going from a lumber community to a city with a rich mixture of small businesses benefitted the town as a whole, but it cost the business of the Pere Marquette railway that helped the town get off the ground. In 1944, the tracks were finally pulled up. However, the people of the town have consciously left mementos of the railroad – the cement right-of-way markers that flanked the former tracks.
The city has an official population of 2,114 as of the 2010 census. Its first recorded census, in 1880, yielded 129 people. With the development of the railroad, the population quadrupled in a decade, but gradually declined for the next three. Since the 1920s, however, it has grown in size every census. Though it is not the largest city within Clare County, it is the county seat. In terms of area, it covers just over four square miles, with just over 3.7 of it being land. The city’s population density is nearly 570 people per square mile.
There are three main highways travelling through the city of Harrison. The north-south running US Highway 127, which can take travelers through most of the length of the Lower Peninsula, nearly bisecting it. Harrison also has a business route of US 127, which is in a loop formation around the city. East-west running M-61 is a relatively short highway of just over 62 miles, but is convenient to get to nearby counties from the city. In terms of bussing, Clare County Transit Corporation makes four daily trips to and from Harrison and the city of Clare.
Harrison has been blessed by natural attractions in its surrounding area, and consequently attracts thousands of visitors every year, many of them coming to visit the lakes in the places right outside the city. Though it only has 0.31 square miles of water directly within it, Harrison is right in the middle of a series of lakes, with its downtown area and relative beauty making it a popular place to stay for people who want immediate striking distance to “twenty lakes in twenty minutes.” Harrison is directly against Budd Lake, which covers 175 acres worth of surface area. Though the lake is enjoyed by boaters and swimmers, it is most noted for its fishing. The most popular fish that are pursued here are the giant muskellunge, though there are also bass, walleye, perch, crappie, and bluegill. Premier Green Lawns looks forward to making this naturally beautiful scenery even better with our lawn care treatments.
The city’s largest park is Harrison City Park, which is located on Spruce Street. It is 40 acres in area. It contains horseshoe pits, tennis courts, a basketball court, pavilions which can be reserved for special events, as well as events hosted by the city, baseball and softball diamonds, a children’s playground complete with swings, slides and climbing equipment, picnic areas with electricity available, smaller baseball fields for Little League, and bathrooms. The park has an impressive outlay with verdant fields and lawns, the kind that Premier Green Lawns can provide you with for years to come.
Wilson State Park covers an area of 36 acres, and is adjacent to Budd Lake. The land on which this park resides was donated to the state by the Wilson Brothers Sawmill and Company Store, who handed it over in 1927. The scenery surrounding the park will remind you of why this was a lumber town. It is mainly a wooded area, having no trails. However, there are campground paths and park roads. The primary activities are swimming, fishing, boating, picnic areas, playgrounds, and camping. There are 160 campsites, along with a lodge and a cabin. In addition, this park is also a preferred site for people in the metal detecting hobby.
The two most popular local events are the annual Clare County Fair, and the Frostbite Winter Festival. The latter event features the Frostbite Open golf tournament, which takes place on the iced over Budd Lake. A multi-city event, known as the Michigan Old US 27 Motor Tour, an exhibition of old, classic cars, occurs in late August, and Harrison is proud to be one of the stop points.
The public school system in Harrison consists of one early childhood preschool, two elementary schools, one middle school, and one high school. In addition, it also has an alternative educational school.
Harrison also has retained an exceptional amount of their history in terms of architecture, having a unique amount of historical buildings for a small city. One of the most famous is the Surrey House. It was built in 1880 during the beginning of the city’s first expansion, and at the time was called the Lockwood House. It served as a boarding house and restaurant during that period. It changed names twice more before taking its current moniker. It has been known as the Surrey House since 1945, and the upstairs rooms are rumored to be haunted by a prankish but harmless small boy. Another noteworthy building is the Clare County Newspaper Building. This is located in downtown Harrison, and is one of its oldest buildings, having been constructed in the year 1898.
Premier Green Lawns is happy to serve the city of Harrison as well as its surrounding towns and cities. We are proud to be among the locally owned, small businesses that help make this town the friendly, beautiful place that it is. Please call on us to help you keep your lawns healthy and free of weeds throughout your entire growing season.