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Posts Tagged ‘Haven Hill Project’

Recently, I have had the same conversation with many different people. That conversation is all about watching after our Heritage and Natural resources. Not just ignoring bad behaviour while out on the Trails, or in a Historical setting.

One of the biggest things destroying Haven Hill, besides the years of neglect from the State DNR, is Vandalism of all sorts. I am not just talking about Punks, spray painting the Carriage House or Pump House. I mean stuff like crawling on the roof of the Carriage House to cut away the copper flashing around the Fireplace for scrapping money.

Then there are the the Metal Detector people. It is illegal to use these devices absolutely anywhere on the state designated Historical areas. Which means the entire Hill-top and surround hill-sides +. These people digging up even door hinges that were hand-made for all the different Doors at the Estate, are just plain STEALING from all of us.

DO NOT HESITATE to report thieves and Criminals like these. Take their pictures, and maybe walk back to the Parking lot and take down their license plate numbers. These criminals that are stealing from all of us, including our children and future generations, deserve Jail time. Their thinking only includes themselves, and no one else. That is how they should be treated in return.

If we all do not watch out for our Historical places and special grounds, there will be nothing left for others. DO NOT be afraid to report these people. They are quickly destroying many of the Historically unique places at Haven Hill. And then there will be nothing.

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OK…..here we have the 1909 Survey Platt map of White Lake Twp. and what was to be eventually the Ford Estate and then Highland Recreation Area. In 1909 the area was all still mostly private lands, held by some of the original Homesteaders and a couple of small Investment Groups. The Investment Groups used their holdings for a number of things, from private Hunting preserves, to Logging and other interests.

The still private lands were mostly Farmed out by this point, although there where still some on-gong family Homestead/Farms in existence. The last of the Native Americans in the area were located in the far southeast corner of what would be the eventual Ford Estate.

Hunting was pretty good around the Haven Hill area because of the many natural springs and Cedar Creek which flowed steady year round. At the time of this 1909 Map, Cedar creek flowed unhampered west to east, until it dumped into Cedar Lake on the far southeast corner of the Map. Beatty Lake was part of this watershed as well, and was also part of the purchases made by the Ford family when the Estate was being established.

Milford,MI1909

Download a printable version of this 1909 map here:

Ford representatives would not start purchasing lands in the area for another 10 or so years yet, and when they did start buying lands, they did so secretly under a trust company, as not to show the locals just who was buying up the land in the area. Knowing that the Ford family was purchasing land in White Lake would have driven up the price of these individual parcels tremendously. And with so many different owners of so many individual parcels, the costs for just what Edsel ended up buying, would have been outrageous.

In the 1920s after all the land purchases where complete, and the Boundaries you see indicated on the 1909 Map, in red, the first thing Edsel got working on was the Huge undertaking of Damming up Cedar creek and forming what is still, Haven Hill Lake. It took much more then just the Dam to produce this Lake. Look closely at the new Map of the Estate/park and notice just how many Empoundments were also created to be able to form the Lake and hold back all the flowing waters of Cedar creek. It was an enormous undertaking.

HavenHillTrailsMap

Download the modern Highland recreation Park Map here;

Print out the two Maps we have here and head out to the Park and EXPLORE. Some of the small ponds and Lakes still exist. Some of the flowing smaller creeks around cedar creek are still in place. Others have dried up or vanished completely. Notice on the 1909 Platt Map, that there are small black squares. These black squares indicate old Homes and Farms, or buildings of some sort. Most are gone now, but with some investigating and exploring you can still find the remnants of these structures. Foundations, old fence lines and Farm implements appear in the middle of what is Forests now.

Remember as you explore and discover, that you should leave what you find, where you find it. This is a Historical area, and these places are protected by state law. Just your integrity should stop you from disturbing these historical places and items. leave them for others to also discover. Just maybe eventually some real Historical work will take place at Highland and these places will serve great purposes in revealing what once was, at Haven Hill. Please be respectful here. I cannot emphasize this enough. If you see Vandals or people with Metal detectors, please either stop them, take their pictures and report them. There has been much lost at Highland to self centered thieves and treasure hunters, looking for something for themselves.

We print these maps and give everyone this information because History is an important part of all of our lives. Lets all pull together and stop the few from ruining that for all of us now and for future generations.

Staircase copy

Enjoy the discoveries……Have Fun with the Explorations……decipher what you have found…..and then

leave it where you found it, for others to discover. You are exploring an area over 104 years old since the original Platt Map above was first produced.

As a challenge…..see if you can find these amazing stairs, built right into the side of a Hill on what once was the Ford families private Nature Trail system. The staircase is a wonderful place. There is much more to be discovered around these stairs, so look closely at what might be hiding in the underbrush. Sit for awhile and imagine what the area would have looked like some 90 years or so ago, when the Fords created their Estate.

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It is always a great time to wander Haven Hill around the old Ford Estate, or the State designated NATURAL area. Which is basically the areas that surround the man-made lake that Edsel made by damming Cedar Creek and forming Haven Hill Lake. As a side note: The Dam project at Haven Hill Lake, was the first thing Edsel started at the Estate. The project was immense! Take a close look at one of the free Maps from the Haven Hill Project web site and look closely at all the empoundments that where built, as well as the Dam, to truly create Haven Hill Lake.

RetainingLakeWall

Remnants of some of the many impoundment retaing walls, buried along side the Trails that surround the Lake. Look closely as you walk around these Lake Trails.

JustHillMap

Why is this this extra special time of year so special at Haven Hill? Because right after the winter months, and the leaves are gone, and the landscape has been washed clean, much is exposed around the Estate.

FordFarmPump

Things that where buried in the thick growths of summer foliage and ground cover are revealed. Benches and old Horse Trail buildings become apparent. The Ford family had an extensive Hiking and Horse Trails system through out the Estate grounds, complete with rest stops, Water pumps, Benches and small rest stops. Not to mention small creek bridges and many other small Trail structures.

Most have been lost to age. Others are no longer part of the regular Trails system marked on any of the Parks Maps. But remnants of these places are everywhere, and can more easily be found at the time of year, just after the winter months.

FishPond

Ornamental Pond built at one of the Bench rest-stops on a Trail that was for the Ford Family use only.

So…..right before all of those Spring flowers and young growth start to pop up around the Park, take a visit around the Haven Hill Estate and explore. Truly explore there. Wander off the main Trails, and keep your eyes open for a Horse Hitching post, or that old resting Bench. You will be very surprised at what you will discover while you enjoy what the Fords loved so much of their home and this once beautiful Estate and Grounds.

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To get and idea of just what was going on in the world and Michigan, before during and after Edsel and Eleanor built their Estate on Haven Hill, we put together this Time-line. We hope this gives you a better understanding of the amazing things taking place just about everywhere.

We have added things like the Great Depression and some of Edsel’s fathers activities, so everyone can truly grasp what had taken place up to the purchasing of all the land in White Lake Twp., to the selling of the Estate, after Edsels death. We hope this Chart helps give all of you a better understanding of it all.

WORLDCHARTFORD

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Since all of our Publications will FINALLY be released in 2013, we are showing off a number of things from these Books and Guides. We are starting with a condensed version of the History of Haven Hill and Highland recreation Area.

Lodge-Back-EditPANO

This two page History sheets, starts in the late 1800s and will take you to the present day. Remember that this is the shortened version, so we only cover the highlights, starting with some of the earliest Settlers in the White Lake area, and take you to a time after the Fords had sold their Estate on Haven Hill, to what is now the Department of Natural Resources, who created Highland Recreation area, shortly there after.

You can download these History sheets at the Link below. For a truly fun packed afternoon, may we suggest that you download these History sheets and the two Maps available from both this Blog and the web site, and then head out to the Park.

DOWNLOAD THE CONDENSED HISTORY SHEETS HERE:

Take a Hike/Exploration tour of what remains of the Ford Estate on Haven Hill. head back down the Hill and enjoy a break and some Picnic Lunch at the meadows Picnic area. From there, head over to the Dam on Haven Hill Lake and follow the trails around the Lake and through the main grounds of the state designated Natural area that surrounds Haven Hill Lake.

HavenHill-LOGO2 copyYou will not forget this afternoon for quite some time. The combination of Nature and History, with a relaxing break in-between at Haven Hill Lake, will be so packed with something for everyone, you will not soon forget it. Definitely bring your Camera along!

History1History2

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If you want to explore History on your own, then head out to Highland Recreation area, and visit the Edsel Ford Estate on Haven Hill. Built in the late 1920s, by the only son of Henry Ford, Edsel and Eleanor Ford raised their family on this once huge Estate.

The entire Estate makes up what is now the whole eastern side of Highland Recreation area, from Duck Lake rd. to Ford rd. This was an enormous Estate with full working Farm, Lodge, Carriage house, Pool, Gardens/Fountain. The small creek running through the property was dammed to form Haven Hill lake. These days, the property surrounding the lake is a state designated “Natural Area”.

The main house on Haven Hill, known as the Lodge. Burned down in 1999

The Lodge burned down in 1999, but the foundations remain. The Carriage house, Pool, Kennels, Toboggan run, Fountain/Gardens, Tennis Court and remnants of the gigantic Green Barn, still remain to be examined and explored.

The Carriage house. This was the Ford’s Drivers home and kids playhouse.

There is much still hidden in the surrounding forests of Haven Hill. The Ford family’s private Nature Trails, Horse riding rest stops, Ornamental Ponds and many other features at the Estate, now buried in the foliage there.

The Pool and Tennis Court is now buried in the surrounding forest.

At this time of year, the thick forest and undergrowth has died back and so much more can be seen of the Estate and it’s hidden features. Wander off the main trails and explore what maybe few people have seen. Keep your eyes open because there is also much wildlife in the rolling hills there. Some of the highest points in Oakland county are here on the designated Historic, and Natural areas of the Park.

The Farmhouse and Horse Stable, now being used for Park Maintenance.

The Green Barn. Most has been blown down over the last few years.

I suggest you head over to our web site set up to study the Estate for the last 4 years now. On this web site you will find the History of the area, Historical Maps, Estate and Ford family details, and much more to get you started on a wonderful afternoon of Historical and Nature filled explorations.      http://www.havenhillproject.org/

One of three free maps available on the Haven Hill Project web site. These maps are very detailed and are great exploration guides of the entire Park. GPSed multiple times, the maps indicate the Estate features, as well as the modern Trail signs and much more. The drawing above are renditions of what the Estate’s structures looked like in their prime, in the late 1920s.

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Although it is always beautiful at Haven Hill in Highland Recreation area, no matter what time of year, Fall is the most special of times for exploring the history there. After much of the thick foliage and ground cover has dies off, there is much to be reviled.

Right now is a perfect time at Haven Hill. There are still some very colorful trees with leaves on them, but enough of the thick ground cover has gone away to expose much of the old forgotten Nature Trails and historical features that get swallowed in the Spring and Summer months.

We suggest you download the two maps we offer here on the Blog, and also head over to the Haven Hill Project web site, and get an idea of some of the historical sites you would like to visit on your Fall Colors exploration tour. The Colors happening in the far west end of the old Ford private Nature Trails are just spectacular! Or if you are really energetic……take the long 5 mile journey, all the way around Haven Hill lake and through the heart of the Haven Hill Natural Area. Again……you will experience some of the very best Fall colors anywhere in S.E.Michigan.

No matter what you end up doing at Haven Hill at this time of year, the lack of thick cover, no insects or Skeeters, and the combination of history and Nature will make for just a wonderful afternoon Fall experience you will not soon forget.

See you all out on the Trails at Haven Hill, Highland Recreation area!

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