Lake County Michigan
Lake County got its name in 1843 for the many lakes inside its borders. Many Union soldiers and their families settled in Lake County, Michigan after the Civil War. The County had a booming white pine timber business from the 1880’s to the early 1900’s. As a result, many railroads and lumber camps sprang up.
Stearns Siding is located near Branch and named after Justin Stearns, who was later Michigan’s Secretary of State. Stearn had 2,700 residents at its peak. Marlboro, now a ghost town, had 400 settlers in 1905 and was a cement production center. It was founded by Fredrick Farnsworth, a banker and art collector from Detroit (the Detroit Art Institute today is on Farnsworth Street).
From 1912-1964, the community of Idlewild just east of Baldwin was a major summer vacation destination for African Americans, primarily from Chicago, Detroit, and many other large urban centers in the Midwest. Here black Americans could enjoy a slice of heaven in the cool north, and escape the sweltering heat of the summer cities. It also became a major tour stop on the “Chitlin’ Circuit” for some of the biggest names in African American musical entertainment. Visit the Idlewild Cultural Center for the fascinating story of the Midwestern summer home of black America’s rich and famous.
One of the more unique features of Lake County is the Shrine of the Pines, located just south of the village of Baldwin. This extraordinary collection of hand-carved furniture represents the entire lifetime work of woodcarver R.W. Overholtzer. His former log home houses an incredible assemblage of handcrafted furniture made primarily from the white pine tree stumps left behind in the 1920’s by the logging industry. Every year, thousands of visitors come to see R.W.’s tribute to the great white pine forests that once covered the entire state of Michigan. The Shrine is open mid May to mid October.