Ausable History

As you leave Chase Bridge…

…you leave the 21st century. You are about to embark on an unusual adventure, one that you will long remember. This experience will take you through a very special part of a historic river… the South Branch of the Famed AuSable.

During the course of your canoe voyage down this fabled stream, you will pass many sites of historic interest. You will see a variety of wildlife and you will be surrounded by some of the rarest natural beauty in all of Michigan.

Wildlife abounds with beaver, otter, mink, deer, fox, duck, blue heron, and many more species. The famous Michigan author James Oliver Curwood had a log house on the river. Inspired by the great north and the AuSable, he wrote such novels as Green Timber and The Bear.

This same route was used by the Indians, missionaries, fur traders and pioneers, who traveled the river in birch bark canoes.

This was the most efficient way to penetrate the wilderness unmarked by trail or road. The AuSable River served as part of an East-West passage across Michigan.

An hour and a half down river from Chase Bridge you will come to the landing at Durant Castle. This 42 room mansion was built in 1931 at a cost of $500,000. The castle was adorned with eight gables, seven fireplaces, and a two-story tower entrance. The basement had a gym, recreation room, bar, barber shop and vault. Sadly, the uninsured mansion burned to the ground the day after it was completed.

Further down river you will see the only structure that exists in the Mason Tract, a chapel that was dedicated in 1957 to George W. Mason. He bequeathed this vast tract of wilderness to the people of the state, so it could be enjoyed for many generations to come.

The AuSable South Branch is also known as the Holy Waters by trout fisherman. They journey from all around the world to fish here.

So that all the history and beauty of the AuSable will remain safe for future generations to enjoy, it has been designated a “wild and scenic” river by the Federal Government.

Enjoy your visit to the historic AuSable. You’ll leave with memories to last a lifetime.