October 24, 2009

Winchester is our hometown.  Most of us were born here.  Some of us still live here.  We are proud of Winchester.  Some of our class members moved away.  They settled down in other cities, raised families there, became a part of that town.  They are proud of their new hometowns.  In an effort to share that pride with classmates, we invite our members to show us their special hometowns.

Lovells, Michigan

I believe that I have the dubious distinction of being the class member located farthest north.  My house is at 44 degrees 49 minutes north.  If anyone exceeds this, please correct me.

Lovells is a township in Crawford County, which is in the northern part of the Lower Peninsula, about 70 miles south of THE bridge.  The county population is about 15000 and has only one real town, Grayling, with a permanent population of 2000.  Most of the county is covered by national forest, state forest, and (Army National Guard) Camp Grayling, and so is tax-poor.  Relatively few of the county roads are paved, and their routes are severely constrained by the many rivers and the few bridges.

While Lovells is only a township, it does have a commercial center, and this is it: the Lovells Restaurant  (open for breakfast and lunch) and Caidís Store (convenience store/gas station/liquor store).  There is also a hardware store/garden shop/lumber supply, a B&B/flyshop, a taxidermy, a tavern, and a Minnetonka Mocassin store/flyshop.  If any of you are looking for a business opportunity, the restaurant is for sale.

What first attracted me to the area is the North Branch of the Au Sable River; here it is from my back yard.  My house is only about 6 feet above river level, but there is apparently no flooding danger.  This river is fed entirely by groundwater and does not rise when it rains.  Michiganís sandy soil quickly absorbs the rainfall.

To my knowledge, there are no working farms in Crawford County, other than tree farms and horse ranches.  The area is about 90% forest.  The spring-fed rivers run perfectly clean, and so are conducive to natural reproduction of trout.  Strict fishing regulations help prevent eradication of these fish.  There is no stocking of trout in this river system.

Trout are not native to the Au Sable River system.  The native fish was the grayling, but it was wiped out before 1900 by logging operations and overfishing.  Efforts to re-establish grayling have failed; they cannot compete with brook trout.  The river is now populated by brook trout from elsewhere in the eastern US, brown trout from Europe, and rainbow trout from the Pacific coast.

This little museum is on the grounds of the township building.  Who would have thought that you would need a museum for trout fishing?

Catering to fly fishermen is a serious economic activity here, but an even larger tourism business exists for snowmobiling.  The local tavern may have 15 trucks in the parking lot on a Saturday night in the summer, but in the winter you are likely to see 100 snowmobiles there.

If you would like to know more about Lovells (and who wouldnít?), take a look at:  The Area/History/Historical Photos/ at this web site:  http://www.fullersnboc.com/