Historic Birch Lodge

Historic Birch Lodge
Historic Birch Lodge, Trout Lake, MI

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Whitefish Bay Scenic Byway, Bay Mills, MI ( Part 1)

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Whitefish Bay Scenic Byways Map, Bay Mills, MI
Whitefish Bay Scenic Byway Map
Many staying at Birch Lodge, in Trout Lake, MI visit Tahquamenon Falls Park.  However, another drive not to miss is a trip along Michigan's Whitefis Bay Scenic Byway, less than an hour a way.

Whitefish Bay Scenic Byway runs 27 miles between Bay Mills, MI and M 123 south of Paradise. This route follows along the south shore of Lake Superior.  There are a number of scenic and historic sites to enjoy.  The beaches are numerous, and the crowds are few, offering an opportunity to leave the crowds behind and enjoy the serenity of Lake Superior.

You could easily plan one day to see the historic sites, and return another day to hike segments of the North Country Trail and enjoy the shore. (Toilet facilities are situated along the route for your convenience.)  Pack a lunch or some snacks as much of this area is withing the Hiawatha National
Forest, and there are no places to stop once out of Bay Mills.  This tour begins at Brimley, MI, and proceeds to the west of Lakeshore Drive. (This is also FH 3150 and FH 42.)   

Spectacle Lake, Bay View, Mi
Spectacle Lake, Bay Mills, MI

Spectacle Lake Overlook.

Just a short way from the Bay Mills Indian Cemetery, is a turn off for the Mission Hill/Spectacle Lake Overlook.  It climbs the steep, tall (roughly 300') wood sand dunes via a narrow roadway to the top.  We found this road a little harrowing, but it was worth the trip to the top.
Road to Spectacle Lake Overlook, Bay Mills, MI

 The view is wonderful, and there are some hiking trails along the steep dune edge.

Hiking Trail, Spectacle Lake, Bay Mills, MI
Hiking Trail at Spectacle Lake Overlook

  Mission Hill Cemetery is across the small overlook parking area.

Point Iroquois Lighthouse, Bay Mills, MI
Point Iroquois Lighthouse, Bay Mills, MI

The Point Iroquois Lighthouse is located just west of Bay Mills, on Iroquois Point.

  It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and is open for tours.

It is the subject of of an earlier blog.   I hate to repeat myself!   Read about it here:  Point Iroquois Lighthouse.

The Big Pines Picnic Area is a beautiful  day use area on the lakeshore.  The area is covered in large red pine.  Toilets and grills are available, and the beach is sandy.

Least your eyes get weary, I think that is enough for now.   Check the next blog for our next exciting installment.....

Monday, March 25, 2013

Birch Lodge, Trout Lake, Mi is on Facebook!

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Birch Lodge, Trout Lake, MI page

Breaking News!  Birch Lodge and Motel are the newest Trout Lake, MI businesses on Facebook!

Oh  my goodness...will wonders never cease!  Neither Bill or I are techies, but we are slowly learning!  Our latest endeavor it to develop a Facebook Page for Birch Lodge.

 There we will post photos, happenings, and bits of information that you may need to know about the area. 

Because there are other Birch Lodges out there, our Facebook Page is called:

 Birch Lodge, Trout Lake, MI. 

 Please check us out and "Like" us.  Thanks, and wish us well.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Point Iroquois Lighthouse, Bay Mills, MI

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Point Iroquois LIghtstation, Bay Mills, MI

The Point Iroquois Lighthouse is located just west of Bay Mills, at Iroquois Point on Lake Superior.
This is about 40 minutes from Birch Lodge and Trout Lake, MI  The point itself, got its name from a battle between the Iroquois who had invaded the area in search of control of trade and fur trapping.  They were vanquished here at this place by the local Ojibwa.  This significant battle stopped the western progression of the Iroquois.  It was documented that in the 1700's a fur trader could still see human bones on the beach.
Beach at Point Iroquois Lighthouse, Bay Mills, MI
Beach at Point Iroquois

The first lighthouse on this site was built in 1855, two years after the Soo Locks were begun.  It was built to guide ships from Lake Superior into the St. Mary's River.

The original structure was built of wood and rubble, and stood 45 feet tall.  It was equipped with a Fresnel Lens.

 By 1867 the quality of the structure was questioned, and a new lighthouse and keepers home were planned.
Point Iroquois Lighthouse, Bay Mills, MI

The current lighthouse dates from 1870.  It is a white cape cod style structure, and has a 665 foot tall tower.  It operated until 1962 when it's function was replaced by the Canadian operated light at the mouth of the St. Mary's River.  In 1975 this light was placed on the National Register of historic Places.  It is currently part of the Hiawatha National Forest

.Daily tours are offered at the Point Iroquois Lighthouse, and you may climb the tower to view Lake Superior. Summer hours are from 10am to 5pm daily. 

Lake Superior at Point Iroquois LIght, Bay Mills, MICurrently they are searching for a volunteer caretaker to live at and care for the lighthouse.  They ask a minimum commitment of one year.  Are you interested?  Here is a link to click:
Point Iroquois Lighthouse Facebook 
Hasn't everyone always  secretly wanted to live at a lighthouse on Lake Superior??

Monday, March 18, 2013

Trout Fishing in the Eastern Upper Peninsula

Print Friendly and PDF While searching information for my blogs, I came across several links that may be of interest to those wishing to go trout fishing in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.   Trout Lake, (aka Carp Lake) where Birch Lodge is located, is rumored to have some lake trout, but in reality, many of the area lakes and streams contain several species of trout and are open to fishing.

Here is a map for our area I found from the Michigan DNR, other areas are also available on that link.  Streams and lakes highlighted are for trout, click on the DNR link above for more information.
All of these areas are less than an hour's drive from Birch Lodge, most are about 30 minutes.

In addition, beginning April 1, 2013, the Michigan DNR is employing an experimental increase in the daily limit of brook trout in several streams in Michigan.   This would double the daily limit from 5 to 10 in 2013.   One of these streams is the Eastern Branch of the Tahquamenon River.  Basically, this  experimental area pertains to the waters upstream from the bridge on M 123 north of Eckerman MI.
Eckerman, MI is 11 miles north of Birch Lodge, Trout Lake, MI on M 123.

Although we won't be open to put you up in April, I hope this will give you something use for planing your trip to the U.P.  In the meantime, you can dream about all those fish! 


Sunday, March 17, 2013

Old Indian Burial Ground, Bay Mills, MI

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Old Indian Burial Ground, Bay Mills, MI
While staying at Birch Lodge, you may wish to take a drive along the Whitefish Bay Scenic Byway... it runs along the south shore of Whitefish Bay, from Brimley to M-123 south of Paradise, MI.

Old Indian Burial Ground, Bay Mills, MI
One of the interesting sites along the shore of Lake Superior at Bay Mill, MI (besides the casino) is a scenic old Native American cemetery.  Although the cemetery is located along the busy roadway, you can not help but feel the serenity of pines, hear the sound of the waves, and feel the peace of this place.

The cemetery is fenced, and no access is allowed.   However, from outside the fence it is possible to see the wooden spirit houses over the graves.

Spirit Houses, Old Indian Burial Ground, Bay Mills, MI
During earlier times, spirit houses were built of birch or elm bark and placed over the graves; later graves were protected by spirit houses built of lumber.

 Besides protecting the grave, they held tools and resources that the dead would need to sustain them on their trip to the land of the spirits.

White Pine and Sign in memorial of Chief John Waishkey

Also at the cemetery, at the base of a large white pine tree, is a sign that reads:

 "Among the Indians who moved from Nay Oh Me Kong to what is not the Indian mission at Bay Mills was a little girl of fifteen named Eliza Waishkey nee Eliza Labranch.  It was Eliza who selected the tree, then only a twig, and planted it at the head of her father's grave who was Chief John Waishkey of the Waishkey band of Chippewa Indians.  The tree, a white pine, was planted about the year 1841."

Some searching found little information on Chief John Waishkey, however, his loving daughter, Eliza married Xazvier Labranch and passed at age 70.  They are buried at the Bayview Cemetery.

  I hope you will take time to visit this small and serene spot, and think of this place as it was in 1841, when Eliza planted that tree.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Eckerman, MI Trout Pond

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Eckerman, MI Trout Pond
Eckerman, MI Trout Pond Site
Eckerman, Mi Trout Pond
Bill and I were looking at topographic maps of the area, and noticed the Eckerman Trout Pond east of M-123 just north of M-28.  This is less than a dozen miles north of Birch Lodge, so we took a little trip.  The access trail leads down away from the road just south of where the Tahquamenon River crosses M-123.

This was once the site of a trout rearing pond, and now is an access point to the river and a great place for a picnic.

  A scenic old structure lies in ruin at the edge of the forest, and the sluice ways controlling the water flow are still apparent along paths across the bridge from the parking area.

Although I was not able to find the history of this particular facility, I did find out about the general history of the fish hatcheries program from the history page of the DNR.

As a result of logging, river damming, and the lack of quotas, the state's fisheries were largely devastated by the end of the 19th century, and there was a need to restock streams, rivers and lakes.

Old Sluice Gates
The first restocking attempt to rebuild fisheries led to the introduction of several foreign species that were popular with the recent European immigrants.   Carp, brown trout, and rainbow trout were introduced, and species like whitefish, herring and large and small mouth bass were spread to waters they did not inhabit previously.  Fish were released as fry, which had limited survival.

The next phase of stocking focused on sport fishing, and trout were of prime interest.  Again, several species of trout were introduced that were not native to Michigan.  With increased technology, fish were now released as fingerlings, but again, very few survived to reproduce in the wild.

Later, it was decided to grow the trout in ponds until they were of legal size to catch, and then release them.  No improvements had yet been made to habitat.  Avid fishermen would actually follow the release trucks to catch the newly released and easily caught trout.  Even though these trout were mature, they were not raised in the wild, and had a very limited success in reproducing.

Trout Photo From DNR Fisheries Poster
Finally, the DNR recognized that by providing the fish with the proper habitat, fish could reproduce naturally.  It was at this point that many of the trout rearing ponds were discontinued.  Hatcheries returned to raising fingerlings, and releasing them in suitable habitats to grow and reproduce in the wild.

I believe it was probably at this point that Eckerman Trout Pond was sidelined.

 Today it is a very pretty picnic site, as well as a good spot to fish on a stocked and established trout stream...perhaps a victim of the program's own success.