After I visited the Point Betsie Lighthouse I started home but not before I checked out the scenery in an area known as Crystalia. This is the west side of Crystal Lake and homes along the highway on one side are on Crystal Lake and the homes on the other side are on the Lake Michigan side….tough neighborhood to live in huh?

closeup of birch with Crystal Lake background at CrystaliaI love to explore and wandered down to the beach on Crystal Lake and took some photographs.  I love this one of the birch tree framing the scene.  The clouds were scattered just enough that the sun shone in an ethereal kind of way.  I later realized that I was visiting an area that is the home of the Congregational Summer Assembly. I learned a lot about this area and it’s history by visiting the CSA website.

In 1873, Crystal Lake was lowered and is now celebrated as Archibald Jones Day and celebrated in Beulah, Michigan every year in August.  According to the website linked above,  “Archibald Jones is known for engineering the ‘Tragedy of Crystal Lake’ in 1873 by connecting Crystal Lake to Lake Michigan to assist his shipping business and not checking the elevation differences between the two bodies of water.  When the canal was completed and the lakes connected, the water level in Crystal Lake plunged.  As a result, there is now waterfront property all around Crystal Lake and the Village of Beulah was settled.”

August 7-21, 1904, the first meeting of the Congregational Summer Assembly took place in Frankfort, Michigan.  In the summer of 1906 the lodge was built in Crystalia and the first Assembly met on these shores.

road into woodsOne of the paths I came across during my exploration of the area was apparently a back road onto the grounds of the Congregational Summer Assembly.  I didn’t venture further than pulling in the drive and turning around.  Doesn’t this road just invite you to venture further?

Just a short distance to the south was the main entrance to the Congregation Summer Assembly with numerous buildings dotting the campus. I saw a road named Standish Street and thought of Miles Standish.  Now I’ve learned more about the area and it’s history I realize the local post office that opened June 20, 1923 and closed sometime in 1974 was named “Pilgrim”.

According to the CSA history timeline, in 1913 August – First live theater at the Assembly. (Glen Eyrie people came across Crystal Lake by boat to reenact on the shore the “First Landing of the Pilgrims.”)

broken cart in fall woodsBefore I left the area I drove down to Crystal Lake via the public access road and stumbled across this vignette that seemed to be waiting for me to discover it’s beauty.  The beachfront on the lake wasn’t the most picturesque but as I turned around to leave this scene more than made up for it. It’s amazing the little “gifts” in life that are so seemingly unimportant but if you take time to let them happen, you’d be surprise at how plentiful they can be. Most of us are to busy to see them when they appear. Don’t let the rat race of every day steal this joy from living in the moment, where life is meant to be lived.

I’ve oftened wondered how many things most people miss because they are glued to their smart phone, either texting or browsing social media websites.  Don’t they realize that life is short and the most important things are not things but moments in time spent with others or nature in all it’s beauty waiting to be enjoyed?  I’m glad I own a “dumb” phone.  I’m not tempted to miss out on all the beauty that surrounds me.  I may miss a call…but that’s ok, I have an answering machine at home.  My cell phone is only for roadside emergenices, of which I hope I have none.

Before I close my post I want to share this interesting video I found that documents what the area looked like in the earliest years of 1900 when the summer visitors from Chicago first came to the area known as Crystalia.


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