When you step into the stagecoach stop in the Irish Hills, it's a step back in time. The founder, 85-year-old Fred Bahlau started building the western town for tourists in 1965. From there, it grew into a booming business in the southern portion of the state.
Bahlau says, "We first started building here about 55 years ago, we built the first 200 foot long building...started at 50-cents to get in."
Fred's son Randy Bahlau says, "We used to be one of the most popular tourist attractions in south eastern Michigan."
Son Dan Bahlau helped to run the establishment. He said, "We had a blast and served thousands of thousands of people." However, the Bahlau's say as times changed, the taste for the old west lessened. They decided to close the Stagecoach Stop in 2008 because of a drop in visitor numbers.
Now more than 2000 antiques are hitting the auction block. Everything's for sale, including an old kitchen sink. Dan Bahlau says there are also leaded glass fixtures, pot bellied stoves and player pianos. Rick Bahlau says, "There's a lot of old mounts that are going to be in the auction. We've got caribou, deer bear..."
Fred says an old gambling wheel from the 1800's is also available for sale along with horned chairs, trinkets, books, and anything and everything from the old west. He says most antiques came from Indiana, Ohio and Michigan. Locally, the Bahlau's say there are a lot of antiques from the Lansing and Jackson area that will also be for sale.
One of the largest items up for auction is a presidential railroad car that Dwight D Eisenhower used to take across the country. The Bahlau's say he used to wave from the back side of the car while on tour.
Dan says, "President Eisenhower's car toured all over the United States."
After the sale, the family says they would like to re-purpose the buildings for Michigan's film industry. Fred says, "We're working really hard to let them people know that they don't have to build a western town. The buildings are right here."
While Fred looks forward to the auction, he says it's still a sad affair. He says, ."It just gets sad, but you know, it's a change of time."
The auction takes place May 30th and 31st. You can see a list of the auction items online. Just click on the Hotbutton link on our website for a direct link to that site.