The Free Car Wash
In the village of St. James, Main street runs around the harbor, turning into Michigan Avenue when it reaches the east shore. Michigan Avenue runs south, past the Beaver Island Historical Society's Marine Museum, the former DNR building, and Mary Scholl's Toy Museum, ending at the former Coast Guard building which serves as the St. James Township Town Hall.
A hundred feet north of the Town hall, a road runs straight east, past the Bud McDonough Memorial Ball Field and into the cedars. It passes three or four small cabins on the inland side, and begins to curve northeasterly, along an arc that would, on a dry year, see it head straight north until it meets, at a right angle, the end of Lake Drive.
The middle stretch of this route passes over a shallow estuary which constitutes a natural bird and wildlife preserve. Lake Michigan too is very shallow here, with a bottom of limestone rocks. In the driest of years, one can drive this loop without a splash of water later showing on the fenders, but usually it involves fjording a few inches of water and carefully, slowly, for a stretch of perhaps 500'.
What is the condition of this route, as of 6-20-98? Take a look at this photo.
A Viewer Notes: "The low bay of Gull Harbor is not a natural feature. It was created in the early 1970's, when Henry Allen sold the gravel mining rights for this property, which he owned, to the Port of St. James. That's how all those subdivision roads got built. Afterwards, he offered to give the land to the Townships, but they turned him down. Now it's worth a half million dollars."