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In Harbert, visitors will encounter art galleries, antique shops and a wonderful variety of dining opportunities. Harbert has changed since the days Carl Sandburg roamed its wooded lanes, but has lost none of its appeal. The influence of the Scandinavian families who helped create this thriving resort community is still felt today.
The emergence of the railroad secured the founding of Harbert. John Glavin, an engineer on the Lake shore and Michigan Southern Railroad, noted the area’s barren land on one of his runs between Chicago and Detroit. Glavin investigated and found the land affordable. Farmer Glavin had a new career. But while Glavin founded the community in the 1850’s, a Chicago industrialist who as instrumental in building the town’s train depot aced-out farmer Glavin when it came to naming the village. Agriculture was the mainstay of the Harbert economy. Orchards and vineyards were established.
A pickle factory thrived for many years. All of the town’s products would be gathered at the Harbert depot for transport to Chicago and Detroit. And, like nearby communities, Harbert had its own pier for Lake Michigan cargo. Perhaps Harbert’s best-known export comes from the Swedish Bakery which was established in the early 1900’s. But the community’s most famous visitor and resident was Carl Sandburg. Much of Sandburg’s Pulitzer Prize winning account of Abraham Lincoln was written at his Harbert home. He and his wife raised award-winning goats on his farm and shipped them throughout the country. The Sandburg’s lived in Harbert for 15 years.
Each summer the town of Harbert hosts the “Umbrellas of Harbert” charity auction, which features a display of original, hand-painted 9 ft. market umbrellas designed by various artists displayed along Red Arrow Hwy. throughout the summer. Each August the umbrellas are auctioned off, and the proceeds benefit different local charities each year.
As the Harbert Business Association says, “Harbert is out of the ordinary, not out of the way."
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