Updated: Nov 2, 2019
Not ever heard of Lake Missaukee? You are not the first. In fact many of our guests were not able to even pronounce the name, Missaukee…. “Miss-au-kee”. Yup, its an Indian name, probably an Ottawa Indian Chief from the early 1800s. ‘Missaukee’ meaning is probably taken from a word meaning, “at large mouth of river” or from an Indian Tribe name Mississaugua, meaning “people of wide mouth river”1. This area of Missaukee County was an area of prized game hunting. Because of this many arguments and wars were a part of this land between the Ottawa, Chippewa and Iroquois Indians.
Later in the 1800s, the Indian tribes moved on, and the white settlers began to move in around the Civil War era. The early settlers were looking for a new home. The first white man’s building, a 14x20 foot shanty, was built on the shores of Muskrat Lake (Lake Missaukee).
It was not long and others came north to look for lumber. The land was full of hardwood forests. Soon lumber camps popped up with sawmills. Boom-towns popped up around the sawmills. A lively railroad was also built for lumbering. After some years, the lumbering died down and Lake Missaukee became a vacation area for vacationers from Grand Rapids and other areas.
Our 3 properties on Lake Missaukee seemed to have had several roles to play in the early years of settlement.
It seems that where Jennings and Tranquility cottages are now, the property was a place where the lumberjacks could come to refresh themselves with a bath and hot meal. Years later (after lumbering was finished around the area), this property was sold to The Kings Daughters Girls camp association. Between the 1930s and 1984, this area was busy providing Christian instruction and fun to girls from all over Michigan.
Also, after the lumbering era, Arbutus’ property became the site of an early Lake Missaukee Resort (early 1900s). By that time a railroad branch ran from Grand Rapids to Cadillac and Lake City. One of the railroad stops on the way into the town of Lake City was a couple of blocks away from the Arbutus property. Guests traveling the railroad could step off the train and stay at the nearby resort. By this time, Northern Michigan had become known as a tourist destination, known also for its cooler temperatures and a respite from the city.
And so it is today. Northern Michigan is a playground for all types of outdoor recreational fun…freshwater ice fishing, skiing and snowmobiling for the winter…. camping, ATVing, hiking, fishing, swimming, boating and vacationing in the summer, and much more. It is also known for its beautiful vegetation and growing soil. Trees of spruce, pine and hardwoods grow wonderfully in this land as do vegetables and fruits of various kinds.
So because there is so much in Northern Michigan within our arms’ reach, WHY NOT check us out up here?! You may even find hints of the past right in our own backyard.