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Posts Tagged ‘Hiking Michigan’

History is not always right there in front of your face. In many cases, the older the historical site, the more time nature, weather and Man has had to change the surroundings. Storms bury things. Erosion and man-made things, change what was there in historical form. Sometimes it is as simple as heavy Forest and ground foliage growth.

This is one of the biggest cases at Haven Hill in Highland Recreation area. The forests around the hilltop Estate and Farm in the lowlands meadows, have been increasingly buried by the ever growing foliage in the Park, where the Estate is now located.

Carriage-house-side-bestSevere neglect from the State DNR has not helped matters either. Bury an old log building in ground foliage and do nothing about it, and it does not take long before the Forest literally eats the building.

But along these same lines, there is much that has been completely engulfed in Foliage and unless looked for in detail, one would never know they where even there.

For instance: The Ford family enjoyed Horseback Riding and Nature Walks on their

FordFarmPump

own private Trails. A few sections of these Horde & Nature Hiking Trails still exist as part of the regular marked Trails at the Park. But most must be discovered.

FenceTopThere are some remnants that you can find and follow that end up showing you Horse resting places, & Hitching Posts buried in the foliage. There are extensive Nature Trails with Board walks and Bridges and Gazebos, where the Fords would stop along their Nature Trail adventures. But it takes some exploring and close examinations.

You do not have to destroy anything to explore and search a Historical area like Haven Hill, and still discover exciting things buried in the Forest trees. It is a wonderful feeling to discover things dating back over 100 years, and know that it was YOU, that are the first one to stumble upon these things.

Remember to leave them as you found them, for the next possible person to come along and have the same thrill you experienced while exploring and then discovering historical sites and items.

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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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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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On March 17th, the Haven Hill Project, along with Hiking Michigan, will be doing an expanded Hike of the haven Hill area at Highland recreation area. The Hike will cover most of the Haven Hill designated natural area, located north of haven Hill lake. The lake created when Edsel Ford dammed the small creek in the area.

The Hike will circle through the many unique environments of the Natural area, and then head south into the rarely seen or used, Ford Private nature Trails. These private nature trails where created by the Ford family for the private use by the family and guests to the haven Hill Lodge. Wooden staircases embedded into hillsides, Benches overlooking Ornamental Ponds and many unique waterway Bridges dot this very interesting Nature Trails area of the Park.

The Hike will also circle back through the Lodge and Carriage house section of Haven Hill, to give everyone a well rounded view and idea of a major portion of the Edsel Ford estate at Haven Hill.

Come out and join us for this extended afternoon of Nature and Historical Hiking at Haven Hill, Highland Recreation area. Hikers will meet at the Circle Parking area and head to the haven Hill lake Dam, to begin the afternoons Hiking experience. Hope to see you all starting at 12pm, Saturday, 3/17/12 at Highland Recreation area.

You can download a detailed Flyer for this Hike here: HAVEN HILL AREA HIKE

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We have updated one of our main maps that covers the entire eastern side of Highland Recreation area. This whole east side of the Park, was the old Edsel Ford Estate. The updated map has been re-GPSed, and all the various Park Trail signs are also indicated on the map.

The Estate buildings and infrastructure is well marked on this new map, so exploring on your own can be done. We hope this map will enthuse many of you to go out to Haven Hill and wander the old Estate and the Haven Hill Natural area as well. Have fun in this great combination of history % nature in one setting.

DOWNLOAD THE NEW PARK MAP HERE:

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Well….the leaves are just about gone and the thick foliage has thinned immensely. Perfect conditions for exploring the Edsel & Eleanor Ford Estate on Haven Hill, at Highland Recreation Area.

Sunday, 11/27/11, 12pm-3pm, Hiking Michigan will be leading a History Hike for the HAVEN HILL PROJECT, and exploring the many features that made up this magnificent estate. We will see the Lodge remains, Carriage house, Pool, Tennis Court, Fountain area, Toboggan Run, Kennels and much more of what mad up this interesting place.

The Ford family built the Estate in the early 1920s as a home to raise their family at. Self sustaining, the Haven Hill estate had a working Farm, pumped it’s own water and handled it’s own Septic systems. Most of the infrastructure was way ahead of it’s time.

We will be examining many details that get overlooked at this Estate. There will be display boards with old Estate pictures and details, for discussion before the Hike. A detailed map of the Haven Hill area of the Park will be given to all in attendance, along with a History Time-line of the Estate and Park.

So relax over Thanks Giving, eat that Turkey, and then come walk it all off and enjoy an afternoon of History, Nature and fun on Haven Hill at Highland Recreation area.

DOWNLOAD A FLYER WITH MORE DETAILS

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