(Editor’s note: Ron Rademacher has recovered from an intense battle with COVID-19 and returns with our “Road Trip of the Week” series. You can read about his COVID-19 experience here.)

SAGINAW, Mich. (Great Lakes News) – You just never know where or when you will discover one of the best kept secrets in Michigan. I was sitting around the lounge at the Nahma Inn when two couples at the next table started talking an upcoming trip to Saginaw. I couldn’t remember the last time I heard people saying how they just couldn’t wait to visit Saginaw. So, I excused myself and asked, “What is all the excitement about?” They responded, “Just wait until you tour the Castle and go through the secret passage. If you are a history nut, you’re going to love it”.

I began to plan a trip to Saginaw to find out for myself.

It turns out there is an historic structure downtown that has every resemblance to a castle with high walls, towers and turrets. There isn’t a moat because the Castle was modeled on a French chateau. The design was French, but the turrets were meant to represent a frontier fort. This was considered the western frontier when the building was erected in the 1890’s. It was to be a federal post office. The castle survived demolition twice.  The Historical Society of Saginaw County took over the building in 1979 and it became the Castle Museum.

There is a lot to see inside this museum and there is a secret passage. The passageway is on the second floor and is from days when the “Castle” served as a post office. The passage is painted black and has very narrow slits along one wall at about shoulder height. If you peer through any of those slits you’ll see a large well-lit room. That room was used to sort incoming mail for delivery to local addresses. A postal inspector would use the passage to keep a surreptitious watch on the mail sorters working below. The idea was to deter theft. The employees knew the observation passage was there, however the postal inspector had a private entrance to the building so employees were never certain when he was on the premises and watching. The passage goes all the way around the room so every angle could be covered.

The secret passage was worth effort. Find out more here.