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Mason County Memories

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History Column 307 Walhalla Dave Petersen Early on this area was referred to as Butters Junction (Lumberman Horace Butters) later when the railroad extended to Manistee is was called Manistee Junction. The locals referred to the community as Merritt and later in 1905 the post office was re-named Walhalla. Walhalla is defined as the Great Hall of Odin in Norse mythology, the place where the valiant souls of those slain in battle or died bravely would go for their eternal rest. Certainly the Walhalla area of Mason County in Branch Township appeared to be a heaven in comparison to the overly populated and settled sections of the olde world where many of the early settlers came from. One might think that influence is reflected in the name, but its not so. Dr. Barothy of Chicago discovered mineral springs on his property and defined Walhalla as meaning Haven of Rest and promoted that in his new lodge which offered mineral baths to its patrons. People came from all over the Country to enjoy the health spa and the local area. Even so when those first settlers arrived the pines towered above, the water was free and fresh, a place where a family could settle down, and set their roots deep. There was a battle to be fought though as all of the early loggers and settlers soon found out. That was a battle with the elements, Mother Nature and Old Man Winter were worthy adversaries but as a line in a movie I saw once said; "life will find a way." Life did find a way in Walhalla after the end of the lumber boom, many communities simply faded away completely after the boom but Walhalla became a resort area bolstered by the Barothy Lodge, the US 10 Highway that passed through the middle of the community and the plentiful lakes for fishing and National Forests for hunting. Tallman, just to the north and at one time Stearn's Siding was nearby too, both lumbering communities. Pictures of this area of the county are hard to come by but thanks to Wayne Johnston who shared the first 4 pictures in this weeks column we have some great views to share with our readers today. If you have photographs to share with our readers please contact me at 757-3240, e-mail to davep@blackcreekpress.com, or mail in care of the Ludington Daily News, P.O. Box 340, Ludington, MI, 49431 Pic1 Halliday's Store in the 1940's next to the Rendevous. What a great price for gasoline, at 17 cents I could afford Premium and ice cream for a nickel. The highway wasn't much of a road back then, it barely looks to be more that a single lane road. Pic2 Barney's Lunch on the North side of town in the 1920's. Art Barnhart is on the far right, he sold the business to George and Lulu Showers. A few years later they in turn sold the business to Weaver he changed the name to Wever's Inn. Pic3 Wever's Inn about 1933 was located on the western edge of the community. Some apparent improvements were made to the building at a time when the Country was in the throes of a depression. Take a look at the gas pump and globe at the right of the picture. Perhaps some of our readers can share more of this history of this business. Pic4 The Walhalla School was originally built in 1904 on the corner of Benson road and US 10. In 1918 a new building was constructed on First street. These youngsters were in school in 1946 and although they remain unnamed I suspect that some of our readers will know who they are.

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