A Tour of Hemingway’s Michigan Haunts

Papa’s Places: A tour follows Hemingway’s Michigan footsteps

Before Ernest Hemingway went on safari in Africa and worked as a foreign correspondent in Paris, he spent his summers in Northern Michigan among people and places that would inspire several of his short stories and a novel.

Until 1921, Hemingway came north from his hometown of Oak Park, Ill., by steamship and train to Windemere, the family’s summer home on Walloon Lake. He traveled to Petoskey and Horton Bay, learning to fish and hunt, both lifelong loves of the Nobel Prize-winning author. Hemingway also wed his first wife Up North.

“He always found [Michigan] exotic and interesting,” says Michael Federspiel, president of the Michigan Hemingway Society.

The lure of beautiful countryside and seeing the places Hemingway wrote about draws travelers to locales where he spent his early years, Federspiel says. Until now, fans of “Papa” had to fend for themselves as they sought out locations that inspired The Nick Adams Stories, the novel The Torrents of Spring, and many others. A new self-guided tour (mihemingwaytour.org), which includes bronze markers at 11 sites, allows visitors to more easily experience Hemingway’s Michigan.

There’s much speculation as to why Hemingway never returned to live in Northern Michigan. Federspiel says many believe he didn’t want to see changes come to the small town where he summered. Such a sensibility would also explain the rumor that Hemingway displayed a map of Northern Michigan on his wall in Paris.