This Michigan Island Could Have Been United Nations Headquarters
Michigan’s Sugar Island remains one of Michigan’s most secretive summer getaways.
On the island is the old original town of Payment, named after Michael Payment who settled the area in 1845. Once the people started dying off, they were buried in the island's first graveyard, Holy Angels Cemetery, which is also referred to as the Payment Cemetery.
Michael Payment had a trading post but it wasn’t enough to sustain economy on the island. The lumber business wasn’t working either. There was no railroad, no ferry…all they had were handmade boats and horses for travel and transportation.
Sugar Island’s post office was established on January 13, 1857 with – surprise - Michael G. Payment as first postmaster. That same year, Bishop Baraga built the Holy Angels Church down the road from the original schoolhouse.
The post office discontinued its service just a few short years later, in 1861.
Some makeshift ferries were constructed in the 1880s which brought more people, missionaries, and business. The number of residents soared, and with them, plenty of new businesses: shops, stores, and fisheries. Even with a handful of businesses, the dirt roads were terrible – and any vehicle that was transported to the island by ferry took the risk of getting stuck in the mud.
After re-opening, the post office closed again in 1942.
Here’s a surprising factoid about Sugar Island – in 1945 it was considered as the location for headquarters of the United Nations. Sault Ste. Marie made a valiant effort to coax the United Nations to the area, hoping to make the island a worldwide focal point with the 'Capitol of the World'. During the summer of 1945, many other U.S. cities & places tried to lure the United Nations...in the end, New York City won.
After World War II, Sugar Island’s ruddy, muddy, washboard dirt roads were finally paved and prosperity grew…but again, not for long.
Nowadays there is only a bar, church, community center, restaurant, and two shops. The population grew, fell, grew, and fell again, and now Sugar Island is more of a tourist getaway and summer homes.
There are a handful of old cemeteries on the island which are very cool, very old & historic, and makes for great exploration and discovery. If you visit, don’t expect much, except for some beautiful locales, historic locations, excellent fishing, and serenity.