When Dr. Oscar Kraft discovered Watervale in 1917, the once pristine community near the historic village of Arcadia had become a ghost town. But the buildings of this planned community built in 1892 by the Leo Hale Lumber Company including a saw mill, boarding house for single men, general store, homes for married loggers and post office remained and the location, on the shores of both Lake Michigan and Lower Herring Lake was spectacular. Kraft’s vision was to create a playground set against the backdrop of coastal charm.
And so Kraft, a Chicago ophthalmologist, bought the town as a retreat for himself and his seven siblings. Kraft kept the town’s original name and opened it as a resort with the first guests arriving in 1918, and its remained in the family and much the same as well. Now a stop of the delightful M-22, a curving highway along the western shores of Northern Michigan, both Arcadia and Watervale still retain the charm of yesterday.
With its wide sandy beaches, organic and local food served in the inn’s dining room and peaceful charms of long ago, the Watervale Inn, on the National Register of Historic Places, is an old fashioned delight.
While in Arcadia, take the 1.5-mile walking tour of Arcadia, past 35 19th and early 20th century sites. Pick up a map at the Arcadia Area Historical Museum, built in 1884. While there take a look at the museum’s interesting collection.