Petoskey – Emmet County’s seat has a strong and varied past, since being formed in 1853. Rambling Victorian homes in the community of Bay View serve as a reminder of great history and as a summertime destination of vacationing city dwellers for several generations. On a late fall day in 1873, a reporter from a Grand Rapids newspaper dubbed the Petoskey area “Land of the Million Dollar Sunsets” when he was dazzled by one of our usual, beautiful sunsets as he stepped off the train. By the summer of 1874, Petoskey was a regular stop for many rail lines originating from throughout Michigan. Travelers boarded the trains to escape the often smoggy, dusty big cities and luxuriate in the fresh air and healing natural springs. Luxury resort hotels were constructed along the rail line as well as depots to accommodate all of the new visitors, including a young Ernst Hemingway on his way to spend summers on Walloon Lake and in Petoskey.
Hemingway’s first trip from his Oak Park, Illinois, home to northern Michigan was when he came as a six week old baby in 1899. From this initial visit, Hemingway would continue his annual summer visits until he was married at Horton Bay in 1921.
During his time in northern Michigan, Hemingway would venture out from his family’s Walloon Lake (just south of Petoskey) cottage and fish the region’s lakes and streams, meet fellow summer people and those who lived hear year round. He would store up these Michigan impressions and while he lived in Paris in the 1920s, he began writing a series of short stories featuring a young man named Nick Adams. Nick like, Ernest, spent considerable time in Northern Michigan and the stories are filled with delightful descriptions of the places and people Hemingway knew and created in his stories.
During World War I, Hemingway was severely injured and during the summer and fall of 1919 he healed physically and emotionally in this region. From October and December he lived in Petoskey becoming friends with locals and attempting to write fiction for publication. His first published novel, The Torrents of Spring, was set in Petoskey and includes a number of references inspired by his time living here.
"Here in the Little Traverse Bay region you can find those places and experiences that Ernest Hemingway would have known and about which he wrote extensively. Visitors leave with a deeper understand of the area, Hemingway as a person, and the stories set here," said Mike Federspiel, Executive Director of the Little Traverse Historical Society.
Stop by the Petoskey Regional Chamber of Commerce or the Little Traverse Historical Museum and pick up a copy of the Hemingway's Michigan self-guided tour brochure and take a spin around the area as Hemingway did all those years ago.
For more information on Hemingway's Michigan and his time in Northern Michigan check click on the following links: