I was camping at Rifle River Recreation Area and the nice people camping next to me said hi, and we got to talking, I told them I take pics of Michigan, and they asked me if I had been to the “secret bunker”. What secret bunker? And they told me of this concrete bunker of the road near the viewing tower. I have been to the park several times before and have never noticed it. There is a sign on the tower that said the property originally belonged to Harry M. Jewett, but I really did not think much about it, I just figured he was some farmer and had a little cabin or something. Doing some research on the internets I found out all sorts of interesting facts about him and the lodge he built.
Harry Mulford “Hal” Jewett was born in Elmira, NY in 1870 and was a world class athlete for the University of Notre Dame. He was a two-time US National champion and he set the American record for the 220 yard dash in 1891 and in the triple jump in 1890. He also equaled the World Record for the 220-yard dash in 1892. He scored the very first touchdown for Notre Dame Football in a game against the University of Michigan on April 20, 1888, Michigan did win the Game 26-6. (It was said that the Wolverine fans in Ann Arbor were upset that the team was scored on by Notre Dame since It was the first time in over 4 years the team had allowed an opposing team to get a touchdown)
After graduating from college and serving in the Navy during the Spanish-American war he eventually became the president of the Paige Motor Car Company in Detroit. Paige even built a low price model named the Jewett.
In the 20’s Jewett was looking for a place to take his dogs and their trainers to hunt. He fell in love with the area near Lupton and purchased 7000 acres of land, He eventually built an enormous lodge bringing in Finnish “axemen” from the Upper Peninsula to fell and trim the logs for the construction of the lodge. Workers were brought in from the Detroit area, and overcoming difficulties in the rural area, the large two-story log lodge was built with all the modern conveniences, including steam heat, electric lights, a private bath and a large living room featuring a huge fireplace. There was also an observation room on the roof with a spectacular view of the area.
Jewett protected and restored the area for hunting ruffed grouse, partridge, and pheasant and made the area a world-class preserve. He also worked with the U.S. Bureau of Fisheries in stocking the headwaters of the Rifle River with trout, making it one of the best fishing areas in the state. It was reported that Jewett had spent over a quarter of a million dollars on grousehavens lodge and preserve.
When Harry Jewett died of a heart attack suddenly in 1933, his heirs lost interest in Grousehaven and in 1945 it was sold to the state of Michigan for $75,000, and was used by the Department of Conservation for fish and game research. In 1963 the lands were deeded over to the parks division and the lodge was torn down in 1967 you can still see some of the remains of the lodge near the observation tower.
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