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Fife Lake,Michigan from the Michigan D.N.R.

Fife Lake, Michigan

Fife Lake Michigan: The village of Fife Lake was brought into being by the building of the Grand Rapids & Indiana Railroad. In the spring and summer of 1872 two villages were platted, called respectively "North Fife Lake" and "Fyfe Lane." The latter was made in June 1872, by J. L. Shaw and others of Grand Rapids,  and the north town was platted about the same time by Thomas T. Bates, the present proprietor of the Grand Traverse Herald, who purchased the land of Hon. Morgan Bates.
Why the same name should be spelled differently by the proprietors of the two sites caused innumerable inquiries, and was at last explained by Mr.Bates, in the Herald, as follows:

"In the year 1867 the G. R. & I. R. R. was yet far south of Grand Traverse County and the territory now known as Fife Lake Township was a wilderness, without roads or inhabitants. In that year the Midland, Houghton Lake &Traverse Bay State Road was ordered built. Hon. g. e. Steele, now member of the real estate firm of Steele & Titus, surveyed the line of the new road. Knowing he was familiar with the circumstances attending the naming of the lake now known as Fife Lake, we requested him to furnish us the facts, and he has kindly done so, as follows:

Traverse City, Oct. 18, 1881. "Editor Grand Traverse Herald: "Sir: In reply to your inquiries in regard to the name of Fyfe or Fife Lake, I would say that I surveyed the western division of the Midland, Houghton Lake & Traverse Bay State Road from Traverse City to Houghton Lake, in the fall of 1867, in company with Hon. D.C. Leach, of Traverse City, who went to approve of the route as commissioner, and with William H. Fife, Esq., of Yuba, Grand Traverse County, who went as commissioner of the Traverse Bay & Houghton Lake State Road. The latter was to be built by Act 471, Law: 1867, with non-resident highway money, from some point in East Bay, probably Acme, to Houghton Lake; but it was proposed to unite the two roads from some point northwest of the Manistee crossing and to make the survey of the latter from that point to Acme on our return trip. This was never done, as the snow came before we left Houghton Lake; besides we could not get provisions. The road also was never built for in a test case the supreme court declared the act unconstitutional, and no money could be collected. The line of our survey on Monday, the 21st of October 1867, was extended only with much difficulty and perseverance through thick brush and in almost constant rain, till dark obliged us to leave our instruments and follow with quick steps the two of our party who had been sent on to select a camping place. By their shouts and the firelight we found them, and almost the first question was: 'Boys, have you got water for the camp? Did you find the lake?' 'Yes, we did. Don't you see it, not two rods from us?' The shore was lined with an almost impenetrable thicket and the campfire made darkness only darker, but sure enough, the pine torch revealed one edge of the clear, placid waters of a lake the government surveyors had omitted to name. Continue reading about Fife Lake History...


The Village of Fife Lake is within the township at the junction of U.S. Route 131 and M-186. Walton is an unincorporated community in the township near the junction of US 131 and M-113 at 44°31′15″N 85°23′58″W. Walton Junction is a place just north of the community, named for the junction of two railroad lines, and is now at the junction of US 131 and M-113.

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