Saturday, July 30, 2011

Charlevoix Castle - an amazing stop

We had heard about the Charlevoix Castle located a couple miles out of Charlevoix and wanted to pay it a visit, but we never expected the amazing tour that we found.

The Castle Farms were originally built by Albert Loeb, acting President of the Sears and Roebuck firm in 1918 as a demonstration farm using Sears farm equipment. The farms were initially some 6,000 acres and housed a full dairy, horse barn, as well as living quarters.

Unfortunately, in 1924, Albert Loeb passed away and the farm was closed down. The farm property was sold a couple times and suffered great deterioration. Eventually, Linda Mueller purchased the farm and totally restored it to better than new condition, which was a huge undertaking. Li

Today the Castle is spectacular and is used for weddings, receptions and other events. We were told that 5 weddings of up to 400 folks each can be held at the same time. All the old barns are now social halls and wonderfully decorated.

One of the great surprises at the castle was the wonderful garden model railroad that consists of 1,600' of track. Rick was very happy and insisted on checking this part out carefully! Orinda thought our grandson would love Thomas the Tank engine as he tooled around the tracks.

Rick loves model railroads and this one was great. Garden railroads are able to handle outdoor weather and the trains are large and easy to see. The railroad consists of two general sections -- this detailed, urban area and then a large, elevated area.

The trains move between the levels by using this spiral helix system where the train climbs round and round until it gets about 8' in the air. This is quite an engineering feat.

The tower area above Orinda and the landscaped railroad area is the viewing area for the upper section. There has been quite a bit of effort in constructing this and we enjoyed checking it out.

This is the upper area and is over a garden maze for kids. It was cool to walk through the maze area and watch the trains chug across overhead.

We had a great time exploring the many courtyards and water features at the Castle. In addition to the great buildings, the grounds were manicured and beautiful. We could understand why so many brides wanted to be married here at Castle Farms.

The restoration included some of the original buggies, such as this one which is still in use for special occasions.

The castle is a huge complex and takes a couple of hours to explore. We were delighted to have taken the tour and this turned out to be a highlight of our visits to Charlevoix.


Chuck and Anneke's RV travels said...

Wow, great tour! I had no idea it was there.

squawmama said...

I have never heard of this place BUT you can bet it is on my to see list now!!! Loved the trains... GREAT photos!!!
Have fun & Travel safe