Lovers of the written word need not feel excluded from enjoying literary landmarks near Detroit. Although we don’t have the childhood home of Charles Dickens or Jane Austen, we do have our humble claim to intriguing niches beloved by bibliophiles. Whether you seek a quick day trip, weekend escape or rewarding staycation, you will find these gems convenient to visit from Detroit.
Burt Township, MI 49839
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow composed the 1855 epic poem, “The Song of Hiawatha,” which is set in Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore near Grand Marais, Michigan. The 22-chapter poem is based on the legends and ethnography of the Anishinaabe people who lived along the lake. The legend of Hiawatha and his lover Minnehaha was the first American epic to be composed of pre-European civilization material. The Anishinaabe had many legends about Gitche Manitou (The Creator) that were passed down from generation to generation. Gitche Manitou lived on nearby Mackinac Island which was considered sacred ground by the Anishinaabe. Archaeological evidence dates their presence on the island back to 900 A.D.
1 Grand Ave.
Mackinac Island, MI 49757
Richard Matheson wrote the novel “Bid Time Return” followed by the screenplay for “Somewhere In Time.” The latter was filmed on Mackinac Island and features The Grand Hotel. This romantic, stately Victorian structure opened in 1887 and is popular with honeymooners from Detroit and fans of Jane Seymour and Christopher Reeve. Many influential writers including Mark Twain, Herman Melville, Henry David Thoreau, Alexis De Tocqueville, Edward Everett Hale and Bill Bryson have written about and visited Mackinac Island. Mark Twain was particularly fond of the Grand Hotel.
Windemere Cottage on Walloon Lake, Michigan is a popular site for fans of author Ernest Hemingway. Near Petoskey, this lakeland area has always been a favorite weekend getaway for Detroiters. The local library still has records of the young Ernest’s book borrowings: “Robinson Crusoe” and “Tom Sawyer.” His childhood pastimes of fishing and boating were inextricably tied to his interest in penning “The Old Man and the Sea.”
Along Packer Drive NE
Plainfield Township, MI 49306
The late Dick York, author of “The Seesaw Girl and Me,” is buried in Plainfield Cemetery in Rockford, Michigan. A day trip from Detroit, York’s grave is a popular stop for fans of the TV sitcom “Bewitched” in which York starred as the original Darrin Stephens. He also appeared in prime-time TV shows including “Fantasy Island” and “Simon and Simon.” York’s book details how he lost his lucrative career and his struggles with addiction to pain killers and nicotine.
Hell, MI 48169
You’ve read about Hell, heard sermons about it and may even have been advised to go there, but even as Dante wrote “Inferno,” he hadn’t found the chance to visit such a notorious place. Some religions don’t believe in Hell while others are obsessed by it. But Detroiters find going to Hell, Michigan a rather fanciful day trip. People with outrageous senses of humor bury the ashes of their loved ones in the fields and woods of Hell. Others hold parties there on Dante’s birthday or during the Halloween season.
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