Cheboygan is an Indian name meaning “Through Passage”, this refers to the Indians “passing through” during their fur trading days using the Inland Route to Mackinaw Island, instead of the straits passage. Cheboygan was first settled in 1845 by Mr. McLeod who built the first dam on the Cheboygan River. In 1898 Cheboygan had a population exceeding 8,000. The lumbering operations were immense, with some being in operation since 1875. Fishing and shipping as well as lumbering were big industries during the boom years. The Phister & Vogel Leather Co. and Tannery had a large operation on the Cheboygan river.
Many steamers serviced the Cheboygan area. Two popular steamers were the Topinabee and the Liebner Davis.
At the southern end of the Cheboygan River was the Cheboygan Club House, The “Windmere”. The steamers had to go slow in the Cheboygan River due to the logs and booms. There is a lock in the Cheboygan River that has a 17 foot elevation difference. Many tourists would exit the steamer at the locks, and make a short walk to the center of Cheboygan, and greet the steamer as it landed at the dock. Many tourists stayed in the area, others went to the upper peninsula and some returned to their point of origin. Several steamers operated out of Cheboygan.