Historic Birch Lodge

Historic Birch Lodge
Historic Birch Lodge, Trout Lake, MI

Thursday, February 24, 2011

The Birch Lodge Motel and Trout Lake, MI

Print Friendly and PDF Lodge Motel Postcard Birch Lodge remains as one of the oldest buildings in Trout Lake, MI, but what is the history of the Birch Lodge Motel? Although Birch Lodge operated with 34 guest rooms and two log cabins, apparently it wasn't large enough to meet the demands of the guests who wanted to stay there.

Historic Cabins John (Jack) and May Bell (Mabel) Taylor, a brother and sister who owned the lodge in the 1940's, owned seven cabins in Trout Lake across from the post office. Perhaps because of their small size (and with apologies to Walt Disney), the dimunitive structures were called the "Seven Dwarfs." After acquiring the lodge, the Taylors moved several of these to the area where the Birch Lodge Motel now stands.

When Ann and Cliff Badgley purchased the property in 1954, the need for expansion must have been clear. According to a booking plans for the first week of deer season, during each year of the 1950s they had over 74 registered guests, filling the place to capacity. In 1963 they moved two cabins to the area behind the lodge (still standing as the work shop and "bait shop"), and began construction of the Birch Lodge Motel. The location between the woods and the birches takes in some of the best views of the lake. This was showcased by giving each room a large picture window looking onto the lake.Room 4 Each room included mocha colored tile in the bath with "modern" mosaic tile floors, and was fitted with very cutting edge Mid-Century Modern furniture, including Danish Modern "Z" chairs, which are retained today.Tiled Bath The exterior and interior of the 8-unit motel retain the original "feel" offered to the first guests nearly a half century ago.

Room 4

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Trout Lake, MI Area Civilian Concervation Corps

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  1. Trout Lake CCC Camp

The Trout Lake, MI area was home to a number of camps during the era of the Civilian Conservation Corps. Between 1933 and 1942 the Civilian Conservation Corps, created by President Franklin D. Roosevelt, undertook an extensive program of tree planting, road building, campground construction and wildlife habitat improvement.

Several of these camps were situated in the St. Ignace area. A Civilian Conservation Corps Memorial and display has been constructed in the clearing formerly occupied by the Round Lake CCC Camp. It is west of St. Ignace just north of US-2 on Brevort Lake Road at the trailhead of the sand dunes cross-country ski trails. A number of CCC-related locations are included in a related CCC Driving Tour created by the Hiawatha National Forest.

(The Michigan Historical Center has established a CCC Museum in North Higgins Lake State Park south of Grayling.)
CCC Museum N. Higgins Lake State Park

Some of the camps were only occupied for a couple years until work in the area was completed, projects that mainly involved forestry and construction, such as pine plantations, roads, fire breaks, and campgrounds.

At the Brevort Lake Campground, the CCCs constructed the access road, original bath house and log shelters, tables, wells, and toilets. At Soldier Lake Campground east of Strongs on M-28 members of Strongs CCC Camp constructed a log shelter that survives today. The CCCs also branched out to assist with other public works, such as the St. Ignace City Hall.
Camp Kenneth CCC Camp

CCC Legacy.org gives a partial list of CCC camps in the Trout Lake region numbers at least 18, as described below, with camp number (F is Federal, S is State), company number, location, and date established:
At Raco (5/2/1933), at Strongs (5/6/1933), S-64 at Eckerman(6/12/1933, 6/24 1933) at Rudyard (6/12/1933), at Kenneth about a dozen miles southeast of Trout Lake (5/16/34), and 15 miles northwest of Moran (12/9/1933 and 6/24/1933).
At Newberry (6/21/1933), and north of Newberry (6/21/1933), at Rexton (6/21/1933), 2 miles southwest of Raco (6/15/1935), 2 miles northeast of Strongs (6/12/1935), at Kenneth (6/12/1935), at St. Ignace (7/2/1935), 15 miles west of Moran (6/12/1935), 12 miles north of St. Ignace at St. Martins (7/5/1935), 10 miles from St. Ignace at Round Lake (5/1/1938), at Rexton (6/15/1935), and 4 miles west of Trout Lake. Camp Marquette, the "Indian CCC Camp", was established for Native American enrollees about 8 miles north of Eckerman (4/25/1935).

Roosevelt's Tree ArmyMichigan's Civilian Conservation Corps by Roger L. Rosentreter states:
Michigan's 102,814 CCC participants—eighth highest among all states—occupied an average of fifty-seven camps annually. Only five states had a higher average. More impressively, Michigan enrollees planted 484 million trees-more than twice as many as any other state.

They spent 140,000 man-days fighting forest fires, planted 156 million fish and constructed 7,000 miles of truck trails, 504 bridges and 222 buildings. They revitalized the Michigan State Park system, established Isle Royale National Park and built campgrounds in Michigan's national forests. http://www.michigan.gov/dnr/0,1607,7-153-54463_18670_18793-53515--,00.html

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Deer at Birch Lodge, Trout Lake, MI

Print Friendly and PDF Fords and Fawns When we used to visit Birch Lodge and after we bought it we wondered why Ann Badgley fenced off the area around her laundry lines with ten feet of chicken wire. Was it to keep animals away from her sheets? Do Upper Peninsula wildlife eat pillow cases?

Recently, while going over some of the old photos we found in the lodge, we had an "Ah HA!" moment. While historic post cards show fawns were "adopted" at the lodge,

Mr. Moore and Fawn Cliff and Ann Badgley apparently carried on the tradition, and there are a number of images that show at least one fawn that was "domesticated." It is shown with people on the lodge lawn and in the lake,Fawn in Lake
Fawn and Guest

and even more surprisingly, in the lodge itself in the lobby and kitchen ( Ann didn't look too happy--wonder what the health inspectors would say about that?)

Fawn in Kitchen

Fawn in the Birch Bar

Fawn in Lobby
The deer even made it into the Birch Bar!
Our revelation - the fencing was not to keep deer out but to keep deer IN. One image shows Ann with a fawn in the pen and another with guests.Ann With Fawn in Pen
Couple With Fawn

Even though we appreciate those who over the years were "fawning" over Birch Lodge, we imagine the MDNR deer regulations would not treat such behavior too kindly today(!).

Guess our guests will just have to be satisfied to be greeted by our dogs; Ralph, our mixed breed from Trout Lake, and Polly, our basset hound . . . always willing to take a treat!

Top of the Lake Snowmobile Museum at Naubinway, MI

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Top of the Lake Snowmobile Museum
Top of the Lake Snowmobile Museum

This week we visited Top of the Lake Snowmobile Museum in Naubinway. The museum is a 501c3 non-profit organization displaying 80 vintage sleds, owned by 37 private collectors. Also on display are vintage outfits, and accessories, vintage oil and gas additives, photos, and everything else snowmobile. It also has gift shop area, T's mugs, novelties and toys including these wonderful custom painted "rocking snowmobiles" for toddlers.
Rocking Snowmobiles I confess, I am not that "into" snowmobiling, but seeing these machines was really interesting. Quite a few were proto-types which were never brought into production. I was amazed at how many home-built machines were attempted to fill the "need for speed". There is something here for everyone. From the large, like the 1957 Polaris Sno-Traveler ; to the small, like the "Pocket Rocket"

1957 Sno-Traveler
1972 Pocket Rocket

Some of the vintage styling was TOO COOL. I think my favorite has to be the 1971 Sno Coupe. Marilyn Vallier, secretary of the museum, and our guide today, said she thought that model was used in a James Bond movie. With the gold-flecked paint, I think anyone could imagine themselves just as cool as Bond. Or my other favorite for cool, is the sleek white and black 1967 Stanaback, built by Ken Stanaback of Grand Rapids, MI.

1971 Sno-Coupe1967 Stanaback

Also geared toward bring in the ladies, was this great pink 1969 Galaxy. I am woman hear me roar! Maybe not too fast though, the horse power offered on these was from 8- 23 hp!

1969 Galaxy The early machines were really the most fascinating though, you will just have to go and check this place out. There is way too much to see there in just one trip, so plan to return again. If you can't get there in person, please check out their website for great pictures and information on vintage snowmobiles. They have a great section showing photos of each snowmobile and it's history. Reviewing this, I see that I missed seeing quite a few.

Old Sleds

Their museum is full, and the need for more space has resulted in plans to build a new building on the north side of US-2. They are doing fund raisers, and accepting donations toward the construction of the new building. Please help support this really unique museum!
Back Room of Snowmobile Museum

More Vintage Sleds on Display

The third weekend of February they hold their vintage snowmobile show and rally. In September, they hold their vintage snowmobile swap meet, this is a fun event with enough time to get "project" machines up to speed for the rally in February! Last year nearly 200 vintage "snow machines" participated. This year the rally is set for February 18-19th and over 500 people are expected to attend. I know two of them will be us, hope to see you there!