Historic Birch Lodge

Historic Birch Lodge
Historic Birch Lodge, Trout Lake, MI

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Trumpeter Swans on Big Trout Lake

Print Friendly and PDF
At our home on Blush Lake, north of Manistique, MI we have Trumpeter Swans which have nested in the adjacent wetlands. I have enjoyed watching the pair raise their young, and look forward to seeing them return each spring. I was feeling sorry that when we sell our home, I would no longer be able to watch these wonderful birds.

Late last summer, while at Birch Lodge, I heard their familiar call. There on the lake in front of the motel swam a pair of adult Trumpeter Swans. I saw them once more and thought they were probably passing through. A week ago, we went over to check on things at the lodge. The river is open, and at the mouth were some common mergansers, some ducks, and following behind two adult Trumpeter Swans.

I am now hoping that these are in fact local residents in the area. These swans are an endangered species, and programs to re-establish their numbers at Seney National Wildlife Refuge have met with success. Many swans are now breeding outside the refuge. These are the largest North American swan, and may stand about four feet tall and have a wing span of seven feet. When they swim they hold their neck straight. The only other swan which does this is the tundra swan, and it is much smaller. The Tundra Swan can also be distinguished by a yellow spot on the corner of its eye. The Trumpeter has a distinctive wedge shaped head, with a black bill which has an orange streak close to the head on it's lower bill. The biggest difference is their sound.

There is good reason why they are called TRUMPETER Swans. Their call is loud, sounding truly like a trumpeter. Tundra Swans are also known as whistling swans, and make only muffled honks similar to those geese make. These large powerful birds are known to drive mute swans and Canadian Geese from lakes which they call home. Please respect their space on the lake, and if you see a nesting area, please stay well away. For more information on these birds, check out the Trumpeter Swan Society.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Trout Lake, MI and the Ice Age--Esker About It!

Print Friendly and PDF Map with Trout Lake, Mi Eskers
Growing up in Michigan, you learn as a child that our state was once covered by glaciers. The hills, ridges, plains and lakes of the area today largely took shape during the last glaciation 100,000 to 10,000 years ago. In Chippewa Co., many interesting unique glacial features are evident in the area today. There are several marginal moraines, marking the edge of where the retreating Wisconsin ice sheet stood across the county, outwash plains, drumlins, glacial beaches, and eskers. An esker was formed when sand and gravel were deposited by rivers of melt water running through or under the standing ice sheet. Here is my driveway re-enactment. Driveway Ice Cave Driveway Ice Cave River Sediment dredged up by the glacier (or snowplow) is washed through the glacier through ice caves as it melts. This is deposited as the glacier retreats, leaving ridges of sediment behind, notice the meltwater flows behind and around this ridge as it melts, creating another line of sediment. Driveway Esker What does an esker look like? Well, in Trout Lake, along the north edge of town, there is a high sandy ridge. This is actually one of the Trout Lake Eskers!

This ridge is about fifty feet in height and varies to a couple of hundred feet in width. It begins about three miles east of town, and ends about a mile to the west. It is a little untypical in that it also has some branches which extend almost at right angles to the north, but it is a lovely example. Other eskers run close by probably related to the shifting of the river as the ice sheet moved. One esker is a little further to the east, separated from the main sandy Trout Lake esker, by a bit of a gap. This esker is made up of gravel and limestone rocks, but may be part of the main esker. Perhaps I will put together a little driving tour of more glacial features for the area. But for now, as you drive through town on M-123 and see that high sandy ridge, you can marvel at the sight of the remains of a glacial river which flowed there over 10,000 years ago. Source: Geology of Chippewa County Michigan by Walter VerWiebe 1927

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Big Trout Lake, Trout Lake, MI

Print Friendly and PDF Big Trout Lake, Trout Lake, MI
Big Trout Lake, aka Carp Lake, at Trout Lake MI, is a 560 acre all sports lake. It has a maximum depth of about thirty-five feet, although much of the lake is less than twenty feet deep. The water, although clear, has a tea color, typical of northern lakes that contain tannin from the bark of conifers which grow along the banks of the streams and shores.
Autumn Beach, Trout Lake, MI

The lake is part of a drainage network which connects Little Trout Lake, Frenchman's Lake, Wegwas Lake and Mud Lake, and is the headwaters of the Carp River, which flows into Lake Huron, east of St. Ignace.

Outlet, Little Trout Lake

The DNR constructed a spawning bed for walleye a couple of decades back, and the lake now has a sustaining population. The lake also has bass, perch, bluegill and some trout and even salmon can at times be found. The lake has a public boat launch at the Township Park on the north side of the Lake.

Fishermen, Trout Lake, MI

The earliest settlement in the area was related to logging the forest prior to 1880. Before the railroad was constructed, the lake and the river were used for transporting logs to the Bay of Moran on Lake Huron. The town of Trout Lake was founded as the railroad came through the area, in 1881.

North Shore, Trout Lake, MI
Although much of the lake is surrounded with cottages and summer homes, they are largely a product of building since the 1950's. Birch Lodge, on the northeast shore of the lake, is probably the oldest structure standing on the lake. Earlier in the 20th century, winter ice was cut on the lake for the use of the town of Trout Lake as well as the lodge. Ice was stored at a local barn, and covered with sawdust until it was needed in the warm weather.

View from Deck, Birch Lodge, Trout Lake, MI
Summer visitors today enjoy fishing, boating, swimming and cook-outs on the lake. The township park is a popular location for family reunions, camping and celebrating the Forth of July with fireworks. Of course those fireworks don't often compare to what we see relaxing on the shore and watching the sun go down.

Sunset, Trout Lake, MI

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Historic Preservation Tax Credits in Michigan - and Trout Lake

Print Friendly and PDF Birch Lodge,Trout Lake, MI May 2010

The federal and state historic preservation tax credits were a significant incentive in our decision to undertake the restoration and renovation of Birch Lodge. As such, we were part of a larger movement to reinvest in old buildings and participate in heritage tourism.

Birch Lodge Foundation Work

Birch Lodge Under Rehabilitation

According to the Michigan Historic Preservation Network, in just over a decade of the State's historic preservation investment tax credit $138 million dollars in credits have been approved, which led to 36,000 jobs and leveraged direct investment on these credits of $1.46 Billion. For every credit dollar tax payers are getting $10.56 OF DIRECT INVESTMENT. Because Michigan's historic credits are tied legislatively to a similar federal historic credit, the Michigan credit has leveraged $251 Million in federal funds - federal money returning to Michigan, at a time when the State really needs it.

Birch Lodge Roof Replacement

The historic preservation tax credit process consists of three parts: 1) verification by the State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) that your building is historic (eligible for or listed in the National Register of Historic Places); 2: construction plans approved by the SHPO - generally, those that meet the Secretary of Interior's Standards for Rehabilitation that focus on retaining historic elements of the building; and 3) post-construction documentation and approval of the final product by the SHPO. After the process is completed, all approved work qualifies for a combined 25% credit on taxes owed
(20% federal and 5% state).

Birch Lodge Power Wash and Painting

We are in progress using these tax credits to rehabilitate the "Birch Lodge Sanitarium and Summer Resort", now Birch Lodge and Motel - eligible for tax credits because it is list on the National Register of Historic Places. We have invested tens of thousands of dollars of our savings with the objective of receiving tax credits.

The reasons we undertook this project include our special relationship with the lodge (and former owner Ann Badgley), love for old buildings, and commitment to Michigan. We are using the past to invest in the state's future. In our own small way we hope we can contribute to Michigan's economic recovery and evolution to a more diversified economy.

It has already had an impact. Last year we were a major employer in Trout Lake with all the construction and clean-up required on our property. Specialists we brought in from outside the area also spent earnings at local businesses. After we re-open we will also be providing jobs for the depressed local economy. Unfortunately, both our proposed renovations and economic impact will be reduced if the state program is eliminated, as slated under the proposed state budget.

Birch Lodge Refenestration and Residing

Thus far we have completed exterior renovations, and as you can see from these "Before" and "After" views, I think we are making good progress. Of course, we would certainly appreciate it if you would stop by and tell us you agree with us in person!

Birch Lodge - Before
Birch Lodge - After