Harold “Spike” MacNeven opened Spike’s “Keg O’ Nails” for business the day after Prohibition ended (May 29th, 1933). Spike held a contest with a $20.00 first prize to name his new business. The winning entry “Keg O’ Nails” was submitted by Grayling resident, Laura (Welch) Smith, and reflected the areas lumber and timber heritage.
Even before the “Keg O’ Nails” opened, Spike was active promoting Grayling. In 1932, he and other local business owners held a “Canoe Carnival” in August and had the town “dressed up” by Bay City decorator, Jack Davis. The weekend concluded with a 50 mile canoe ride down the AuSable River. With the help of the Bay City Times, 105 people showed up for this free event. Each river guide that furnished a boat for the ride, was paid $1.00 and every boat in the county was used, even row boats! This event helped establish Grayling’s canoeing reputation.
During the first decades of business, baseball names such as Birdie Tebbetts, “Dizzie” Trout, Pete Fox, and “JoJo” White worked in the tavern during the off season. World famous boxers, “Kid” McCoy and Jack Dempsey, were friends of Spike. Dempsey visited Grayling, addressing a local civic club and visiting children.
Spike was also instrumental in developing the famous toboggan runs at the Grayling Winter Sports Park (now Hanson Hills). Six runs were constructed, which brought down state adventurers to the area via the “snow trains”. As many as seven trains per weekend arrived. The participants were transported from the trains to the park via open trucks to see the huge ice sculptures and throne constructed for the carnival Queen.
Spikes “Keg O’ Nails” has occupied the same location since 1933. After the original building burned to the ground, Spike immediately rebuilt a new tavern with an attached bowling alley. This building also burned and was replaced with the existing structure. There have only been four subsequent owners, Herb and Mary Holmes (1958-1967), Lon and Margaret Qualls (1967-1980), Victor Edwards and Kathy Bourrie (1980-2005), and the current owners in a joint partnership, Arron & Kelly Millikin and Jeremy & Darcie Bowers.
Millikin-Bowers acquired Spike’s on June 23rd, 2005. The two couples work, reside, and are raising their children as local residents of Grayling. They will continue to sponsor the “Spike’s Challenge Race” during Grayling’s Milltown Festival.
Since 1933, Spike McNeven’s family tavern, where parents brought their children has become a landmark where third generation customers continue the tradition of Spike’s “Keg O’ Nails”, being “The Meeting Place of the North”. We welcome you and thank you for supporting our little bit of history and helping to continue the tradition.
We are always looking for old Spikes memorabilia. If you have any old pictures or mementos, please let us know.