A view of the Porcupine Mountains in the Upper Peninsula.
A view of the Porcupine Mountains in the Upper Peninsula. (Scott Krasnick)

Scott Krasnick estimates that he’s seen 100% of all towns in Michigan’s Lower Peninsula and 75% of all towns in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.

Explorer Scott Krasnick has taken more than 38,000 photos of towns across Michigan.

While living in Downtown Detroit, Krasnick, 50, decided to see where Van Dyke Road ended. “I didn’t look at a map,” the Hillel Day School employee says. “I just drove it.”

Throughout the drive, Krasnick saw what he calls “tons of wonderful towns.” Since he lived in a Detroit home at the time that was built in 1877, he was fascinated by old buildings and architecture.

A windmill in Bridgeville
A windmill in Bridgeville Scott Krasnick

Krasnick, who now lives in Roseville, decided right there and then that he wanted to explore every town in Michigan. He strived to find more charming places and hidden gems like he was seeing on his drive up Van Dyke Road.

The journey began in 2014. Today, Krasnick estimates that he’s seen 100% of all towns in Michigan’s Lower Peninsula and 75% of all towns in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. In the summer and good weather, he spends nearly every weekend making road trips across the state.

Since driving is his preferred method of traveling, Krasnick, who doubles as an amateur photographer, says being on the road helps him discover surprising places he might not see traveling by other means, like train or plane. He especially likes to drive down back roads.

Scott Krasnick on the roof of the old Packard Plant in Detroit
Scott Krasnick on the roof of the old Packard Plant in Detroit Scott Krasnick

“I’ve been everywhere on the official state map that they give out at rest stops,” Krasnick says. “I’ve been to every city, and then some that aren’t on the map, like ghost towns in the Lower Peninsula.”

At each location, Krasnick takes hundreds of photographs. His goal: to preserve what towns look like in their current states, particularly towns that have remained unchanged for decades or in some cases, centuries.

“You see postcards of different old towns across Michigan,” Krasnick explains. “A lot of them were taken in the 1870s to the 1930s. I thought it would be cool to do the same.”

By next year, Krasnick hopes to complete his travels of the Upper Peninsula. Then, he plans to swim in all five Great Lakes in one summer. He also wants to visit all Michigan islands that are publicly owned.

Inside the Octagon barn in Gagetown
Inside the Octagon barn in Gagetown Scott Krasnick

In his collection of 38,000 photos that document a vast array of people, places and things across the state, Krasnick has a specific process that he adheres to. The very first picture he takes in a new town is through the window of his truck. This is to both create a marker, so he knows where that batch of photos begin and to give a nod to his signature style of photography.

Documenting the Journey

Krasnick shares his travels and photographs on his Facebook page, Scott’s Michigan Adventures on Facebook. He believes he has one of the largest collections of old post office photographs in the state, if not the largest. Yet it’s not just architecture that Krasnick photographs. He also enjoys documenting roadside attractions and community cultural events, like small car shows.

So far, Krasnick’s trusty 21-year-old truck, which has taken him all across Michigan and back countless times, has clocked more than 300,000 miles. After he finishes visiting every town in the Upper Peninsula, he plans to retire it so he can say it’s been everywhere in the state.

Dinosaur Gardens in Ossineke
Dinosaur Gardens in Ossineke Scott Krasnick

“You have to remember that you have to drive up, then you’re only there for three days,” Krasnick laughs. “Then you have to drive all the way back down and back up again the following weekend.”

Krasnick’s favorite towns in Michigan include Three Rivers, Albion and Allegan. “In Three Rivers, I like that the original downtown is almost 100% intact,” he explains. “They have a beautiful movie theater called the Riviera.” In fact, one of Krasnick’s winter projects includes visiting old movie theaters across the state to catch movies and other showings.

A sculpture in Onaway
A sculpture in Onaway Scott Krasnick

In the immediate area, Krasnick recommends a visit to Cook’s Dairy Farm in Brandon Township, not far from Tamarack Camps, for farm-fresh ice cream. He also suggests taking a short road trip to check out the amusement park Dinosaur Gardens in Ossineke, which is in Alpena County. “That’s the ultimate hidden gem in Michigan, as far as I’m concerned,” Krasnick says.

Once Krasnick wraps up his Great Lakes, islands and movie theater projects, he plans to continue traveling locally, even if he’s seen it all. “There’s always things to do in Michigan,” he says. “When I’m traveling, I just fly by the seat of my pants.” 

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