Port Milford was a small lakeside community that began as a shipping port during the mid-1860s. In those days, barley was a major commodity. James Cooper, an enterprising Irishman, began building docks and warehouses where they could store and trade barley with passing mariners. Along with his brother William, they began to expand the operation by building houses and a store. The area attracted more residents and within a few years there was a second store and a hotel. By the 1870s, the community added a small ship building industry.
The boom lasted until the 1890s when the U.S. government, bowing to protectionism, slapped a hefty tariff on imported barley. Around the same time, the ship building industry began to wane. By then larger steamships were more widely in use. The bigger ports were better able to deal with the larger vessels.
Post Milford however got a second chance at life with the opening of the Port Milford Packing Company, an immediate hit with the local farmers. By 1900, its fortunes had improved to the point where it boasted almost two dozen buildings, along with a church and school.
Port Milford lasted until the 1930s, when the cannery ceased operations. Almost everyone left. Following that, they demolished most of the buildings. What remains today are the foundations from the cannery and the general store, now used for storage. Learn more