2018-09-08 / People

Buck Sharrow To Retire After 50 Years of Driving Carriages on Mackinac Island

By Stephanie Fortino


Buck and Alice Sharrow Buck and Alice Sharrow A fixture of Mackinac Island’s summer daily scene is retiring after 50 years of driving carriages. Buck Sharrow and his wife, Alice, will say goodbye to their decades-long summer dwelling on the Island and take up year-around residence at their Charlevoix home.

For 19 years, the couple has lived during the summer in an apartment above the carriage house at Mike and Wendy Young’s West Bluff cottage, which they’ll leave at the end of October. Mr. Sharrow, who was reared in Charlevoix, was a natural for his Island job because he has been around horses since his early youth.

“I always had a horse,” he said.

His love of horses brought him to the Island in 1957 when he was just 18 years old. He remembers watching from the Island as the final stages of the Mackinac Bridge construction went up that summer.

By 1958, he was working for Mackinac Island Carriage Tours. During his time there, he drove tour buggies, taxis, and wedding carriages. He wore one of his three fancy uniforms and drove stately carriages for weddings and other similar special events.

In the last 19 years, Mr. Sharrow has driven for the Youngs. Mr. Sharrow got to know them while using horse trailers from his Charlevoix farm to help haul their horses nearly 20 years ago. That led to the driving stint from which he now retires.

The Youngs bring four horses to the Island for the summers from their farm in Frankenmuth. Mr. Sharrow looks after the horses and takes care of the barn. Having four horses on the Island is useful, he said, in case one horse goes lame or needs a rest. The horses are always paired with the same partners.

Mr. Sharrow drives the Young family and guests, taking them around town and on special tours.

“I just go all over,” Mr. Sharrow said, “through the Annex, by Sugar Loaf Rock, Arch Rock, Fort Mackinac, and sometimes down the back roads to Silver Birches.”

He likes the job because he can converse with his passengers, sharing stories and some of the Island’s history.

“You can sit and visit,” he said. “It’s fun when you get a good team of horses and go.”

For the Young family, Mr. Sharrow mostly has driven an eightpassenger carriage, although a two-passenger and four-passenger carriage are available.

Horses are a family tradition for Mr. Sharrow, who’s proud his 13- year-old granddaughter, Makayla Sharrow, recently acquired a horse for barrel riding, her new passion. A hardworking young lady, she helped pay for the new barrel horse with money earned helping neighbors with household chores and baby sitting, he said.

Mr. Sharrow gave Makayla her first mount, “a quiet little horse,” he said, that was perfect for her to learn how to ride. He encourages young riders to start on a pony or calm horse before graduating to barrel riding.

“A pony will teach how to ride,” he said, because they’re a little bit stubborn and need more direction.

Mr. Sharrow said his granddaughter also wants to learn how to drive carriages by using a driving horse he keeps in Charlevoix. He also has an old barrel-riding horse, “that is more or less an ornament in the pasture,” he said, and another little horse.

On the Island, Mr. Sharrow enjoyed taking the late Jeannette Doud for special carriage rides whenever he got the chance. He started the tradition while working for Carriage Tours, with the permission of company president Bill Chambers, and Mr. Young allowed him to continue offering the rides until Mrs. Doud passed away in 2015. He said Mrs. Doud always was eager to go on an adventure.

“We’d just ride,” he said. “We’d never know where we were going. . . She really enjoyed the rides, and you’d learn a lot; she was here all her life.”

Alice Sharrow taught elementary students for 30 years in the Petoskey area. She continues to help at Charlevoix schools in retirement.

Buck Sharrow expects he will remain a familiar face on the Island.

“I can come up and visit any time I want,” he said, noting Charlevoix is only about an hour’s drive from the ferry docks in Mackinaw City.

Mr. Sharrow will be celebrated at an open house hosted by Mike and Wendy Young, from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday, September 9, at the Community Hall on Market Street. Everyone is invited.

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