The year before Ernest as born, Clarence, Grace, and
baby sister Marcelline, boarded a Great Lakes steamship for a
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.
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.