The famous Pere Marquette is a spring fed river system, which begins just east of the town of Baldwin, MI and flows nearly 100 miles west into Pere Marquette lake, neighboring the coastal town of Ludington on lake Michigan’s shoreline. The “PM”, as it’s known, is home to the famous “hex” fly, which hatches at dusk, in June and traditionally brings the largest trout in the river to the surface for their once a year feast on these giant mayflies. The Pere Marquette, being a moderate river in size, spans from 15-40 yards in width for a majority of the river system and is best fly fished via dry fly, streamer and indicator nymphing techniques. Designated a “National Scenic river” by the United States Department of Agriculture, and with a protected “flies only – catch & release” stretch, the PM draws both anglers and outdoor enthusiasts from across the country.
Water flow data for Pere Marquette river – Scottville, MI
Pere Marquette River Map
Pere Marquette River – M-37 to Custer
Lake County got its name in 1843 for the many lakes inside its borders. Many Union soldiers and their families settled in Lake County 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, located near Branch and named after Justin Stearns, who was later Michigan’s Secretary of State, 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. Read more about Idlewild here.
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.
Guide Services – Baldwin, MI