Nestled along the AuSable River where it meets Lake Huron, the AuSable area of Michigan offers a wonderful environment for visitors and residents alike. The clean, clear and cool waters of the AuSable River offer a variety of pastimes. Whether your preferences run towards canoeing the quiet backwaters of the river or water skiing on one of the many area lakes, or enjoying miles of gently sloping sandy beaches, the AuSable area has what you need. For the angler, endless opportunities arise along the serene AuSable River, on the vast waters of Lake Huron, or in the many small lakes and ponds throughout the area. Whether fishing from the bank, enjoying a chartered expedition or even fishing through the ice, the abundance of trout, salmon, walleye and perch (to name just a few) is sure to bring a smile to your face!
The AuSable area offers a wonderful opportunity to enjoy the bounty of Mother Nature. Whether skiing the nearly 100 miles of groomed trails during the winter, hiking along the AuSable River during the spring and summer, or enjoying the spectacular colors during the autumn, the AuSable area can provide breathtaking beauty all year long. With thousands of acres of public lands, the AuSable area is also host to a wide assortment of wildlife for your enjoyment.
Along with the many outdoor activities available in the area, the AuSable area also offers a variety of other pursuits. The AuSable-Oscoda Historical Society sponsors a history museum in downtown Oscoda. Based in two hangars at the former Wurtsmith AFB, the Wurtsmith Division of the Yankee Air Force stays busy with their museum and hosting special events and fly-ins. The Gagaguwon Powwow celebrates this areas first human inhabitants with traditional Native American dancing, food and authentic arts & crafts. The Shoreline Players theater group, the Sweet Adelines barbershop chorale and the Northeast Dance and Movement dance studio contribute to the lively and expanding performing and visual arts scene.
Government records show that Louis Chevalier, in the year 1800, was the first to settle in what is today, the Iosco County area. He primarily engaged in fur trapping along the AuSable River and traded with the local Indian settlements. Not long afterward however, the abundant fisheries of the AuSable River area began to receive significant attention.
By 1848, the local population had expanded to a point where they felt a survey and the establishment of corporation boundaries should be performed. This was the birth of AuSable Township, whose economic base was supported by the commercial fishing industry which harvested the abundant trout and grayling. Supporting a fleet of fishing boats, the AuSable area would primarily remain a fishing community for less than 30 years though.
Near the end of the Civil War, the lumber barons were attracted to the area by the many stands of extremely tall, virgin pine within close proximity of the AuSable River. Since the river provided adequate depth and wide, winding curves, it became an excellent avenue for floating logs down to the shores of Lake Huron. Over the next thirty years, lumber became the number one business of the area. And what a business it was! Resulting in the establishment of eight mills in the sister cities of AuSable and Oscoda, and a population of up to 10,000 in AuSable alone!
Around 1900 however, the AuSable area went through a serious transition. By then the lumbermen had clearcut virtually all of the easily accessible trees and had, for the most part, moved on westward to Wisconsin and Minnesota. The trout and grayling were also all but fished out in the area, which signaled the end of the commercial fishing industry also. With the loss of the economic bases upon which the local residents thrived, the sister cities of AuSable and Oscoda slowly began to die. The final blow however, did not come until July of 1911.
The first weeks of July in 1911 had been unusually hot and stifling in the AuSable area. About 3:00 PM on the eleventh of July, a west wind sprang up and fanned some small, unimportant brush fires well west of the cities of AuSable and Oscoda. Quickly growing in size, the flames spread and swept across the logged out areas like a torrent. Driving cattle and other animals before it, the fire spread eastwards towards the towns until it hit the Loud cedar yards. It was only then that the residents of the towns really took notice of the fire, but it was already too late. The fire divided at Piety Hill and swept north and south, as well as eastward. The residents of the towns had little choice. Fleeing to the beaches along the Lake Huron shoreline, and to the steamship docks, the residents could only watch in horror as their towns were devastated by the fire.
The next morning showed the extent of the destruction. While there were only five recorded deaths during the fire, both AuSable and Oscoda were virtually gone. AuSable had three buildings which were still standing and Piety Hill was all that remained of Oscoda. Although both towns did rebuild afterwards, it was many years before they even approachedthe size and population that had been theirs, before the fire.