Page 94 - Visitors Guide 18
P. 94

‘Fever dreams
of fortune’
(Continued from Page 93)
the trees in the pine-needle lane that ran behind the townhall.
Much of the land that my father owned had originally been owned by D. H. Day, an earlier lumberman; Day had sold it in the 1920s to the men who built the failed golf course. Day had come from New York State in 1878 and established a large timber operation in Glen Haven, shipping the pine out  rst by schooner and later by steamer and still later by rail.
Those were the days when, with a little luck, hard work, and ingenuity, a man could make
a lot of money. Fever dreams
of fortune fueled the pioneers who headed into the woods, but few ended up as rich as D. H. Day. Like novice gamblers, they more typically took a
loss. Forty- ve miles south of Glen Haven, lots in the town of Kaleva, brilliantly and deviously named by developers for the Finnish mythical heaven, were sold to people in Finland in
1900 on the basis of beautiful pictures. People arrived to  nd nothing but timbered-off scrub pine and sand. They couldn’t go back to Finland. They had sold everything to come.
Lumbering was dangerous, but for those who knew how to do it and were lucky enough
to escape injury, it could be lucrative. In 1889, according to the Michigan Bureau of History, Michigan lumber outvalued
all the gold in California by a billion dollars. Michigan lumber rebuilt Chicago after the  re
of 1871. From roughly 1850 to 1900 Michigan was the national leader in lumber.
Elizabeth Westman, an Ottawa woman born in Glen Haven sometime in the late 1800s, was one of seven children. In Glen Arbor, in a passage quoted in Robert Rader’s book, “Beautiful Glen Arbor Township” and published in 1977 by the Glen Arbor History Group, Mrs. Westman is recorded as saying, “We lived in a long building built by Mr. Day. The building was a short way from Sleeping Bear Inn. We were share-croppers, too
94
[they could have a portion of the food from the vegetable gardens they worked on Day’s land], so we had enough food. We were given brown stamps for shoes and green stamps for vegetables.”
Day worked every angle to make money. He promoted tourism, becoming a leader
in the state, heading up the Michigan Pike Association which staged auto rallies in Glen Haven. He was a founder of the Western Michigan Development Bureau. In 1922, with the lumbering business played out, and no longer having a need for on-site workers, Day turned the old Ottawa  sh camp into the D. H. Day State Park, donating the land to the State of Michigan, thus  nessing the exodus of
the last remnants of the Native families living there. Day helped establish the Michigan State Park Commission and was its  rst chairman.
The developers who dreamed of getting rich with the nation’s most exclusive and restricted golf paradise put up imposing stone gates at the entrances all around Alligator Hill, announcing the Day Forest Estates. The stone gates were still there when I was a child and remained until the 1970s when the National Park Service (NPS), in an early phase of wanting things to return to
a wilderness state, destroyed them. Later, in the 1990s, in another phase, this time of wanting to restore some history, the NPS rebuilt some of the stone gates, but not all of them.
The old Alligator Hill of the
mill and the charcoal kilns, not the new Alligator Hill of the
big, gravel parking lot and the labelled and marked National Park trails, is in my mind as I drive away from the area one last time, along Day Forest Road where I used to ride my horse.
I cross the bridge at the Glen Lake Narrows and watch a seagull lift off the lake’s blue- green ice and  y towards the dunes.
I head up the steep Benzonia Trail. There’s a lookout on the west side of the road, a short way before M-72, and I pull
into it, rolling down my window, gazing south, out across the miles of forested hills rippling away toward the Platte River Watershed. I can pick out the
indentation for Crystal Lake,
in off Lake Michigan, south of Frankfort, because of the mist rising from it. I can smell balsam popple. This peninsula must have been like a cathedral when the towering pines were here, this place of high hills and deep lakes, this headland surrounded by water and ice, this place of pink light, this promontory of blazing, wake- up dawns in the east and soft, lingering twilights in the west.
I turn on the radio. Then I turn it off.
It’s a soft, pale-blue February afternoon. Too warm for this time of year. The air smells like spring. Soon the songbirds
and all the other birds will be migrating up the coast of Michigan. Here again the black and gray squirrels are running around. There are dark circles around the bottoms of trees.
The blackness of the trees draws down the heat of the sun, so the white snow is effectively polka- dotted. The bare ground around the base of the tree trunks is where the squirrels are  nding their food.
Pierce Stocking with two trout caught  y shing.
I begin to drive east back
to Traverse City, I see above
the low hills in the distance a  oating, gigantic, see-through gibbous moon, like a big balloon in the pearly-blue afternoon sky.
A perfect day at the beach includes
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