Exploring Michigan’s Historic M-22 Scenic Highway
One evening last fall I was invited to have dinner at the quaint Glen Lake summer cottage of two dear friends (and fellow lovers of Michigan travel and tourism memorabilia), Chris Byron and Tom Wilson, award-winning authors of the Vintage Views series of books. I’ve written about them before (scroll down to the June, 2013 blog entry) and consider them to be among the most inspiring mentors in my life.
After dinner, Chris and Tom asked me to do them a favor. They were working on their fifth book—Vintage Views Along Scenic M-22 including Sleeping Bear Dunes—and they wanted ME to write the Foreward to this title. To say I was honored would be an understatement. I was being entrusted with setting the tone for their book, about an iconic Michigan route, which would undoubtedly become another award-winner. Without question, this would be one of the most important pieces of my professional career.
Here is a sneak peak at the Foreward written for Vintage Views Along Scenic M-22 including Sleeping Bear Dunes:
I like to think I have a pretty good cache of historical tidbits about Michigan. And yet every time I flip through the pages of one of Chris and Tom’s books, or sit down to have casual discussions with them about our statewide travels, I discover new treasures to add to my trove. Having a sneak peak atVintage Views Along Scenic M-22 was as much an honor as the request to write this Foreword.
My first introduction to these inspiring collectors and authors was before their first Vintage Views book was even published, while I was working at the West Michigan Tourist Association and Chris was working in the Michigan History Room at the Grand Rapids Public Library. There was a natural connection and mutual fascination with Michigan’s early travel history and the marketing materials that were used to promote the various resorts, routes and communities—specifically along the Great Lakes shorelines.
Promoting M-22 isn’t a new concept. Since the early 1900s, tourism organizations have been touting this scenic 116-mile, three-county route for its year-round natural resources, quaint coastal towns and unparalleled vistas (which ironically haven’t changed much in the past 80 years).
Advertisements boast of white sand beaches, fragrant orchards and pure drinking water from artesian wells. Handwritten postcards—a lost art—give a glimpse at the day-in-the-life of vacationers and their love of the area.
Resort brochures offer seasonal rates of $200 (which today is often the nightly rate at the high end resorts along the route). While a handful of historic resorts, like Chimney Corners and Portage Point Inn, still welcome guests, others such as the Sleeping Bear Inn and Ken-Tuck-U-Inn have long since closed their doors. Also lost to time are the days of sand skiing, dunesmobiles, and horseback riding along the shoreline. Yet, glider rides—which saw their heyday soar in the 1930s from the towering sand dune areas—are still offered in Frankfort during the summer season.
Youth and church retreat facilities, artist colonies, and private clubs were prevalent in this area, providing members with the best in modern amenities and locales for rest, relaxation and recreation. Even today, the M-22 corridor is a haven for creative types, entrepreneurs and those seeking a slower paced lifestyle.
Flipping through the pages of Vintage Views Along Scenic M-22 is literally an historical journey through time, before cell phones and social media. Each photo, caption, and narrative evoke a longing to step inside the page and experience these captured moments firsthand: to sit on the porch of the Blue Lantern Tea Room on a sunny afternoon, take in a round of golf at Crystal Downs, walk through Lund’s Scenic Garden or purchase moccasins at the Indian Craft Shop.
It has been through the Vintage Views series, and a growing friendship with Chris and Tom, that I have started my own collection of Michigan postcards, souvenirs, collectibles, posters and other mementoes to decorate my home. Of course, autographed copies of each of their books are prominently featured in my collection and this M-22 edition is sure to be one of my most treasured titles.
Vintage Views Along Scenic M-22 including Sleeping Bear Dunes
Since the early 1900s, tourism organizations and destinations have been promoting the scenic 116-mile, three-county M-22 highway for its year-round natural resources, quaint coastal towns and unparalleled vistas. The latest title from award-winning Michigan authors M. Christine Byron and Thomas Wilson, published by Vintage Views Press, is an impressive collection of the advertisements, brochures, postcards, maps and travel memorabilia used to market this treasured trail—many items of which are from the couple’s extensive personal collection.
The 248 page, hardcover coffee table book, Vintage Views Along Scenic M-22 including Sleeping Bear Dunes, will be publicly released on Wednesday, June 17. A presentation will begin at 7 pm at the Grand Rapids Public Library main downtown branch. A Northern Michigan Book Launch is planned on Sunday, June 21 (1-3 pm) at the Cottage Book Shop in Glen Arbor.
Vintage Views Along Scenic M-22 including Sleeping Bear Dunes follows a trail of vacationers and travelers along one of Michigan’s most scenic roads as it winds through northern Manistee County, along the western side of Benzie County and outlines the Leelanau Peninsula.
Vintage postcards, photographs, maps and advertisements illustrate a time when M-22 first beckoned motorists to come north to the land of beautiful beaches and sand dunes, lakes and rivers, forests and woodlands, farms and orchards. Featured are quaint towns and villages, old hotels and resorts, and attractions along the road.
Through the pages of Vintage Views Along Scenic M22, you’ll stop at lighthouses and lifesaving stations, take a trip in a dunesmobile, fish for Mackinaw trout and shop for souvenirs. You’ll also visit state parks and learn how Sleeping Bear Dunes became a National Lakeshore in the 1970s.
Christine and Tom share a love of Michigan and a fascination with its history, especially the development and growth of Michigan tourism. Their collection of antique postcards and tourist and travel ephemera has inspired a total of five books: Vintage Views Along Scenic M-22 including Sleeping Bear Dunes (2015); Vintage Views Along the West Michigan Pike (2011); Vintage Views of the Mackinac Straits Region (2007); Vintage Views of the Charlevoix – Petoskey Region (2005); and Vintage Views of Leelanau County (2002).
Three of these titles have won Michigan Notable Book awards from the Library of Michigan; the West Michigan Pike also won a 2012 State History Award from the Historical Society of Michigan.
Christine and Tom are active in many heritage and travel related causes and initiatives, including consulting and contributing artifacts for exhibits with the Michigan Historical Museum in Lansing; contributing to the History Detectives program at the Grand Rapids Public Library; and this summer’s historical recognition of Pulitzer Prize winning author Carl Sandburg, who vacationed in the southwest Michigan community of Harbert, in an area known as Harbor Country.
Tom also operates Vintage Views Prints, which specializes in Michigan and Great Lakes travel prints adapted from travel guides, maps and brochures, dating from the 1800s to the 1960s.
Christine retired from her position as the Local Historical Collections librarian for the Grand Rapids Public Library in 2012; Tom is retired from Sears Roebuck and Company and serves on the board of the Grand Rapids Historical Commission. Christine and Tom are members of the Grand Rapids Historical Society, Historical Society of Michigan, Leelanau Historical Society, West Michigan Postcard Club and Society for Commercial Archaeology.
The couple lives in a 1912 Arts & Crafts bungalow in East Grand Rapids and they love spending as much time as possible touring Michigan’s scenic roads or vacationing at their cottage on Glen Lake on the Leelanau Peninsula. They are regular contributors to Michigan BLUE Magazine, penning a column called “Vintage Views” which highlights historic travel destinations around the Great Lakes State.
UPCOMING EVENTS – Vintage Views Along M22 including Sleeping Bear Dunes
Wednesday, June 17 (7 pm): Book Launch – Grand Rapids Public Library (Main Downtown Branch)
Sunday, June 21 (1-3 pm): Northern Michigan Book Launch – Cottage Book Shop, Glen Arbor
Thursday, July 2 (1-4 pm): Leelanau Books, Leland
Thursday, July 16 (TBA): Northport Historical Society
Saturday, July 18 (11 am-1 pm): Leelanau Historical Museum, Leland
Thursday, July 30 (TBA): Lansing Historical Society @ East Lansing Public Library
Friday, July 31 (4-6 pm): Horizon Books, Traverse City
Sunday, August 2 (TBA): Old Settlers Picnic Area, Burdickville
Saturday, July 8 (10 am-4 pm): Port Oneida Days, Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore (Leelanau Peninsula)
Thursday, Sept. 10 (4 pm): Benzie Area Historical Society @ The Mills Community House, Benzonia