South of Empire where Norconk Road makes a sharp bend about a mile west of M22 is the Treat Farm Trail. The trail is not posted but it is part of Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lake Shore. It is along the trail that you will find an old farm. It is not abandoned but maintained by the National Park Service.
The farm was originally started in the 1840s by John Tweddle. After living in a log cabin on the property for decades he built the current farm house in the 1880s. In 1912 Charles Treat and his wife, Martha bought the farm and raised their family on the remote countryside along Lake Michigan. The barn on the property was purchased near Detroit by Charles and he had is disassembled and shipped by rail to Empire. The pieces where transported by horses to the farm and reassembled.
Charles Treat’s education was in engineering and he used his knowledge on his farm. The house did not have running water. He tried drilling a well but it was plugged with sand. He set up a set of eve troughs on the house to collect rainwater in a cistern for the house. He also experimented with concrete making a root cellar in the side of the hill and a unique concrete domed garage. Eventually the property became part of Sleeping Bear Dunes and is open to hikers to explore and a trail leads up to a bluff overlooking Lake Michigan.
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