Chicago : High Rise and After the Fall


First View of Chicago from the Chicago Skyway is always exciting

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Labour Day on the Hart-Montague Trail


The Hart-Montague Trail is primarily a bike trail and it follows a disused railway track between Hart and Montague, two small towns in Oceana and Muskegon Counties in West Michigan just east of the Lake. The trail was the first designated Linear State Park in the US. It’s 24 miles in total and primarily used by cyclists but any non-motorised vehicles may use it and walkers too, of course. No horse riding is allowed, though.

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Stony Lake History Tour by Boat

History Tour by Boat

Stony Lake is just inland from Lake Michigan, one of the five Great Lakes of North America. The Stony Lake Property Owners Association cares deeply (47 feet deep at its maximum, I’m told) about the state of the lake itself, its flora and fauna, about possible sources of pollution and about the immediate banks where many individuals and some organisations have property.

Boat Tour Ticket

Last year the SLPOA introduced a new activity to their summer calendar – The Stony Lake History Tour By Boat. This event is scheduled to take place annually in August visiting a different property each year. Although my visit was in September I had the good luck to stay with a member of the Association’s Committee and my own private, individual, tailor-made tour was arranged by my hosts. We didn’t actually visit a lakeside home. But that was no problem as I was lucky enough to be staying in one myself – and a very special one it is too!

Aerial view of Stony L

Aerial View of Stony Lake with the Shore of Lake Michigan Along the Top (the view looks approximately west)


Our Stony Lake Retreat

Some of this commentary is taken or adapted from the notes from which the docents read during the Tour.

Stony Lake has a lot of tradition. Much of the land, and in many cases the cottages, have been lovingly passed down for generations, shared or sold to friends or family members or even neighbours. 

But things change over the years, and the way of life many long time cottagers grew up with is changing too. More people come for short visits … They have less time to participate in community activities. One reason for doing the Tours is to help getting to know each other a little better.”

A Stony Lake History

“In the 1980s The Property Owners Association organized a project to publish A Stony Lake History, which was published in 1986. We hope it can be updated and republished.”

Huey House

The first house we ‘visit’ is The Huey House built by  John and Myra Huey in 1902.

Public beach

The Public Swimming Beach – I enjoyed a few swims here

Beach from Boat

The Beach from the Boat

Stony Lake Store

Just across the road from the beach is The Stony Lake Store – once it housed the local Post Office, alas no longer.

As we moved around the Lake I was able to view the several Youth Camp Sites including Camp Miniwanca owned by The American Youth Foundation and in existence since 1924.

Miniwanca dock

Here is the Miniwanca Camp Dock

I’m afraid that whenever I see these camps I can’t help singing this to myself :

Remember Allan Sherman?

Another camp on Stony Lake is the Lutheran Camp with a sandy beach and its own swimming area and on the opposite bank and near to ‘our’ cottage is Camp Ao-Wa-Kiya. “Everyone who has a property on Stony Lake should appreciate the special atmosphere that the three camps on the lake provide. These large  chunks of land remain mostly undeveloped, and because of that there is less traffic on the lake. And most nights when the camps are in session the air rings with sounds of happy campers singing and cheering.” 

Shore line cottages

South Shore

Single storey cottage

Some Stony Lake Properties that caught my eye

Boat House

A Stony Lake Boat House

My thanks to John and Julie for being magnificent and generous hosts and for taking me on my own private History Tour Boat.

Quiet area

A Quiet Area of Stony Lake (that’s a heron over to the left there)

Along The West Michigan Pike: From Sand Trails to U.S.31

We spent the first fortnight in September this year at our friends’ cottage in Michigan. We’ve visited several times before but it’s always a pleasure to stay there with them and make new discoveries in the area as well re-visiting old haunts.

The Book

On the bookshelves at the Cottage my attention was drawn to a book by friends of our hosts called ‘Vintage Views Along the West Michigan Pike‘. Christine Byron and Thomas Wilson have collected memorabilia and old photos and postcards and assembled them together to produce an illustrated history of the road that wends (or wended) its way along the eastern side of Lake Michigan from the Indiana State Line to the Mackinac Bridge that links the Lower Peninsula of Michigan to the Upper Peninsula.


The West Michigan Pike has been more or less swallowed up by the highway U.S.31 which actually starts way south of Michigan in Alabama.

WMP author talk

I’ve picked out a few  pages of places that I’m more familiar with and included some of my own photos of places along the route.

WMP map


WMP Accommodations SH

South Haven Accommodations in yesteryear

Sun 'n' Sand

Our 1950s Sun ‘n’ Sand Resort Accommodation 2013

WMP S Haven

WMP South Haven

South Haven was our overnight stop between Chicago O’Hare Airport and Stony Lake where the Cottage is located.


Saugatuck is always a favourite stopping off point just off the 31 on journeys between Stony Lake and Chicago.


The S.S.Keewatin, moored on the south bank of the Kalamazoo Lake near Saugatuck is one of the few remaining of dozens of passenger ships that criss-crossed Lake Michigan. The Scottish-built ship is now a museum and is the biggest vessel to ever enter Saugatuck’s Harbour. I haven’t yet managed to visit as the museum is closed after Labor day and our trips are normally in September.

Moving on north up the US31 you come to Holland with its very Dutch buildings and atmosphere. We visited Downtown Holland for the first time this trip but it’s not easy to take picturesque pictures these days, with cars parked everywhere. Better to view it from the old time postcards and pictures.

Welcome to Holland

Welcome to Holland

Holland Tulip Town

Holland – Tulip Town


Holland Postcard – I love this style but no longer available these days!

Grand Haven

Next along the route is Grand Haven. We’ve visited a few times and love this wide  streeted town with its individual shops like Hostetter’s Newsagent and Bookshop and old style deli Fortino’s.


Hostetter’s, Grand Haven, MI

Another favourite town of ours is Pentwater. Dubbed “A Norman Rockwell Kind of Town” it is, like the many of the others, just one wide main street with good eateries and shops. Sailing is also very popular here and the yachts big and small bob up and down in the harbour/marina as you approach the centre of town.


Main Street Pentwater 2007

North of Pentwater has usually been outside our holiday ‘comfort zone’ but we made a day-long excursion this year via Manistee and Benzonia to the delightful small city of Traverse City. It’s one of those places listed in Top 10 Small Town America lists such as this and we thought it deserved its placing.



Benzonia sign

Welcome to Benzonia!


Description of Benzonia

A Motoring town

Traverse City ‘A Motoring Town’ – Still Full of Parked Cars Today!

Traverse City

Traverse City – Also, ‘The Heart of Nature’s Playground’!

Cinema Traverse City

The Cinema that Local Film Maker Michael Moore helped to Save

And here’s Lake Michigan itself – By Day

Lake Michigan

… And At Sunset

L Michigan sunset

The City that Built Chicago : The Hackley and Hume Houses in Muskegon, MI

On Saturday 7th September as we drove into Muskegon, a city of 38,000 in the State of Michigan more or less opposite Milwaukee on the eastern shores of Lake Michigan, and drew to a stop outside the Hackley and Hume Houses I thought I had arrived in pre-revolutionary Russia!

The Hackley House

The Hackley House

Hume House

The Hume House

Look at the pictures and you will see what I mean. But I could get no satisfactory answer from the tour guide as to why the houses were built in this particular style. But otherwise we had a most interesting tour of both houses and were able to compare and contrast the house styles and the lives of their former inhabitants.

Our guide referred to Muskegon as the city that built Chicago due to its huge influence and reliance on the lumber (timber) trade.  Needless to say that was what Charles Hackley and Thomas Hume were involved in.

Hunts' Guide

Victorian love of ornament may have reached a new height in the 1888 home of Muskegon’s great benefactor and richest lumber baron, Charles Hackley. Together with the house of his partner next door and the elaborate, prominent carriage house they share, it forms a remarkable urban ensemble, almost Oriental (we thought it Russian) in its turretted silhouette and rich colors and textures. Houses of this size and splendor were usually made of brick or stone, but Hackley and Thomas Hume, his friend and business partner since 1875, built with the material that made their fortunes. It is said to have taken years for German woodcarvers to finish the Hackley House’s fanciful, fascinating carvings of birds, dragons, bats and a portrait of Hackley himself.”

Taken from Hunt’s Guide to West Michigan (above).

Carriage House

The Prominent Carriage House

Charles Hackley

Charles H. Hackley carved in wood

Bat carving

Bat Carving

Hackley Fireplace

The Hackley Carved Fireplace

Ornate Room

Ornate walls, ceiling and door in the Hackley House

Hackley Stairs

Staircase at The Hackley House

Wedding preparations

The Hume House was being Prepared to Show a Wedding Party

Charles Hackley was a generous benefactor to the city of Muskegon and many buildings and sites still survive today as evidence of this. We visited the park, the library and the art museum, all very near the houses, but there’s also a hospital, a school and other philanthropic institutions.

Hackley Library

The Hackley Library

Library poster

Welcome to The Hackley Library – the Hackley Park is behind

Hackley Library 1

Hackley Library 2

Inside The Hackley Library Today

Glass Floor

The first floor mezzanine has a glass floor to allow as much natural light into the building as possible.

Art Museum

The Muskegon Museum of Art