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The Legendary Rousseau Bar

The original Rousseau Bar and hotel were built around the turn of the 19th century. The homestead purchased by Edward Rousseau, who had logging from Pori to the Firesteel Rivers was born in Quebec in 1858 and came to the U.P. as a surveyor for the Soo Line built by the Canadian Pacific Railroad in the 1880s. The railroad brought in people and supplies and hauled out logs and lumber.  In addition to the Bar/Hotel, there was a store and Post Office where the little shack on the corner now presides.  Prohibition and the decline in logging closed the business. After prohibition, Ed Penegor opened the existing Rousseau Bar in 1936 by moving a building from the Pori CCC Camp around the corner on Pori Road to its new locations at 26137 Dishneau Road 86 years ago.  A portion of the actual bar was moved from the hotel to the Penegor Bar, which is affectionately called Mahogany Ridge by those that have been coming for years.

1930s Rousseau Bar

Its clientele then consisted of locals, hunters and loggers and has expanded to include snowmobilers from far and wide, ATV’ers and side-by-side aficionados, vacationers, motorcyclists and tourists and just anyone out looking for their home-away-from-home bar.

The Bar has had 10 owners and a few names: Penegor Tavern, Joe’s Bar, Art’s Bar, Denny’s Dugout, and lastly, Rousseau Bar.  You can still see the sidewalks that existed from an earlier time.

Art’s Bar late 60s early 70s

The Rousseau Bar does seem to be in the middle of no-where, but the ride is so beautiful, especially in the summer and fall. Snowmobiler’s can take Trail 12, off the Bill Nicholl’s Trail and ATV and Side-by-sides can get there via the ORV East Connector Route.

We are happy to be a bar out in the middle of nowhere.  That’s what makes us so unique because one doesn’t expect to find a bar where we are yet so many people have heard about us.  We hear all the time, “I was wearing your shirt [down in Florida] and someone came up to me and said they know where that’s at.”  

A few things that make us unique

One of the cool things about Rousseau Bar is that you can write your name on the ceiling.  We have camps or groups that come every year and it’s pretty cool to see the years added each time they visit us.  People like to speculate how many names are up there.  It’s even extended in to the bathrooms.

Going to the bathroom is up hill both ways!  The “hump” gets higher every year and we are certain the family fortune is buried there. 

If you are missing us, during the winter we do a deer/weather report that you can see on our facebook page.  We started feeding the deer about 7 years ago and on a good day we can have 100 deer in the area.  Our average deer count is 50 and people have started to come and help feed the deer.

We have a nice menu of appetizers and hamburgers.  We also have an extensive clothing line so you can have a memento of your visit.  We can be found off of M-38 with our Pure Michigan directional signs, on the ATV trail and snowmobile trail 12.  We have many followers on Facebook.com/rousseaubar.  See you soon. •

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