Historic Birch Lodge

Historic Birch Lodge
Historic Birch Lodge, Trout Lake, MI

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Governor G. Mennen Williams and "Moore"

Print Friendly and PDF Birch Lodge has long been more than a place merely to welcome vacationers. In 1918, a unit of the newly established Michigan State Constabulary (forerunner of state police) was stationed here - keeping their horses in the small barn still behind the lodge - to run mounted patrols. The story goes that they nearly froze without adequate heat, stacking tables to get near the ceiling to stay warm!

The lodge’s association with local law enforcement continued after Charles and Estelle Moore acquired the property in during the 1920s. Charles was elected Justice of the Peace and his son was appointed deputy sheriff. One can imagine there may have been Prohibition violators brought before Moore in his courtroom in the east wing of the lodge, which ironically, was transformed after World War II and remains today, the somewhat less “sobering” Birch Bar.
Vintage Entrance to Birch Lodge
Moore had the vision of a “first-class hotel-resort.” The grounds and shoreline were cleared, and the lodge was refurbished with central heat. The lodge and its large dining room became a focal point for community events such as the Annual Game Suppers that were held there between 1926 and 1940. During the 1940s and 1950s, state-wide meetings such as the Michigan Association of County Drain Commissioners met at the lodge, featuring keynote speakers such as Victor A. Knox, who was Speaker of Michigan House of Representatives from 1947-1952 and a US Congressman from 1953-1965.

Governor Wllliams at Birch Lodge Perhaps the high point of Birch Lodge’s “social life” occurred during the 1950s after owner Cliff Badgley became a prime mover with the Upper Peninsula Sportsmen’s Association, a politically active group. On July 19, 1953, Michigan Governor G. Mennen “Soapy” Williams and his family visited the lodge for a “Governor’s Picnic”, a combined political and social event featuring a buffet luncheon, entertainment, boat races, and a ball game.

We discovered photos of the governor at the lodge, towering above the locals, and other images including racing boats, one of which is named “Soapy” , another at the dock is "Soapy Too".

Vintage Speed Boats at Birch LodgeVintage Hydroplane at Birch Lodge

Christmas Card Governor Williams, President Kennedy

The governor apparently was favorably enough impressed that Ann and Cliff Badgley were added to his Christmas card list, which continued through the 1960 edition--which included “President-Elect” John. F. Kennedy.

In closing, Governors and Congressmen Have Visited Here, Maybe You Should Too!!!!

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