Portage Lake Land Company

Portage Lake Land Company

The Portage Lake Land Company was formed in 1902, although it was not incorporated until 1908. The original founders were W. H. Sweet, Louis M. James, Maro M. Read, James E. McGregor, Robert H. Killian, H. L. Stoup, J. H. Nickels, and John E. Bassett. The Articles of Incorporation, shown below, indicate all were from Ypsilanti, although another source indicated that J. H. Nickels was from Ann Arbor.

The company bought land on the east shore of Portage Lake in Dexter Township that was part of the Cobb Farm. The widow of the late William Cobb reportedly sold the land for $7000. An article in the Pinckney Dispatch published in 1934 indicated that the entire eastern shore of Portage Lake was offered previously to Charles Stannard, the former Postmaster of Dexter, for $700 but he was unable to raise the funds. The original subdivision was (and still is) known as Portage Lake Resorts. What locals now refer to as the Pontoon Canal was originally known as "Cobb Creek".

The original subdivision ran from First Street to Second Street, with Portage Boulevard and Orchard Street between those two. Orchard Street was so named because it was part of the Cobb Orchard. At some point, First Street became Bass Ave. and now only Second Street remains with no First or Third. We have been told that the "Edison Lighting System" mentioned in the advertisement below was powered by a generating station located at the corner of Portage Lake Ave and Portage Boulevard. The building later became Busby's Store and still stands as a private residence.

Portage Lake Land Company was a very successful endeavor, expanding to the north to what is known as Fox Point. It was responsible for constructing the roads in the area and, as indicated by the handwritten letter of agreement below, apparently constructed the bridge over Cobbs Creek and dredged the stream to create a navigable waterway between Portage Lake and the Huron River. The letter of agreement does not mention the name of the highway, but it is probably reasonable to assume it was named after James McGregor who co-signed the agreement as secretary of the corporation.

The company remained in existence until the 1960's. The remaining assets are now privately held.