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Bear lake

​​The year before Ernest as born, Clarence, Grace, and baby sister Marcelline, boarded a Great Lakes steamship for a trip to the wilderness of northern Michigan. They had heard stories of Michigan's beauty and the wonderful effect the fresh air there had on people's health and Dr. Hemingway was interested in seeing it himself. It took the family two days to reach their destination near Petoskey- Bear Lake -- where they stayed with Grace's cousins at Wildwood Harbor.

What the Hemingways discovered was a region in the midst of change. The lumbering era was coming to an end after having turned tremendous old growth forests into bare stump fields. Tourism was emerging as an economic force, replacing lumbering and taking advantage of rail lines and areas opened up by the loggers. Large resort hotels were being built on a number of inland lakes and steamship and railroad companies began to promote the region as a tourist destination. Soon people from all over the Midwest were enjoying the beautiful views, fresh water, and outdoor activities in northern Michigan.

What happened at Bear Lake was very typical of what was happening at other lakes in the region. Once a rail line was completed to Walloon Village, it became possible for resorters from as far away as St. Louis and Kansas City to easily reach the lake. Rail companies such as the Grand Rapids and Indiana and steamship companies operated elaborate publicity campaigns to lure tourists north. Resort hotels were opened and people came to enjoy the beautiful views, great fishing and boating, and socializing with other resorters. As it grew in popularity, locals changed the lake's name in 1900 from Bear Lake to Walloon Lake to avoid confusion with other Bear Lakes in Michigan.

Cruise for a WeekThe Hemingways' first trip in 1898 was when some visitors were deciding that  they would prefer to own a cottage rather than stay at a resort hotel. This  appealed to Dr. Hemingway and he liked the idea of his family enjoying summers in a healthy natural environment where opportunities for hard work  and for enjoying nature were plentiful. The lake was beautiful and opportunities for fishing, boating, and swimming abundant. The Hemingways decided they wanted to buy property on the lake and investigated available sites. One particular parcel interested them more than others. It was a full acre of waterfront on a small bay with maple, birch and hemlock trees and a lakeshore perfect for swimming. It was owned by Henry Bacon, a farmer whose property bordered the lot, and was close to "Bacon's Landing" - a spot where the lake steamships regularly stopped. Before they returned to Oak Park, the Hemingways purchased the lot on which they would build their cottage and where they would spend their future summers.


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