Oden Island

Oden Island Sunrise

Oden Island is an approximate 110 acre island in the center of Crooked Lake (2,300 acre surface area). Visible from several points along US-31 Highway, Oden Island is a lovely spot to explore.

The bridge to Oden Island wasn’t constructed until 1959. It cost approx. $15,000 to complete with a 9ft. clearance for boaters. According to a 1960 Petoskey News Review article, Mr. Cy Jordan (of Alanson) worked for four years to be able to bridge Oden Island to the mainland. He had to introduce special legislation to the State of Michigan and several bills were required to be passed in order to start his project. It was noted in the article that the island had been platted for subdivision in 1901 with six cedar stakes having been found. After approvals, Mr. and Mrs. Jordan subdivided their 60 acres on the western shore of the lake. Over the next few years, they sold off lots and homes were built upon the island. The lots were priced at $40 and $50 per foot dependent on their position on the lake.

There is some confusion as to exactly when Mr. Jordan became the owner of his property as it states in the Emmet County Register of Deeds (online record search) that the mortgage from the First National Bank of Petoskey was recorded to Circuit Controls Inc (Mr. Jordan’s company) on May 17th, 1960 then granted to Mr. & Mrs. Jordan on May 18th, 1960. This was for the purchase of Oden Island Development lots 1 & 2 of the plat that was recorded in February of the same year. It is clear that they were the owners of this land (the entire development) prior to the platting of the development. It is not clear when they took ownership.

In 1963 an easement was granted from lots 3 & 4 of the Minne-Wa-Wa Beach Plat for owner Cy Jordan to to gain access to the southern part of the island. At the time of the Minne-Wa-Wa Beach Plat recording (1911) it was noted that Amos B. Amon, Lizzie B. Amon, Levi Pond, Minera Pond and May L. Ball were the proprietors. (It also unclear when these individuals took ownership of their portion of the island).

The Oden Island Development is upon the island’s southwestern shore. The Minne-Wa-Wa Beach plat is along the northwestern shore.

In 2000, with the news of a projected development on the eastern shore, the Little Traverse Conservancy stepped in and protected the land through a $1 million dollar purchase. Today, there are hike-able trails and a nice parking lot for visitors on approximately 50 acres of the island’s northeast shore. Hikers can view the beautiful waters of Crooked Lake along the mile-long shoreline. The loop is a total of about 1.2 miles and is a lovely moderate walk through a cedar forest and protected wetlands. Link to conservancy.

Oden Island got its name from Mr. William Oden Hughart, a president of the Grand Rapids & Indiana Railroad with services between Cincinnati, Ohio, and the Straits of Mackinac passing through Petoskey, Oden and to Mackinaw City. The Oden name was given in the 1880s.

The Crooked Lake sandbar is a very popular spot among boaters to anchor and enjoy a sunny day. The sandbar is just northwest of the island.

On a calm day, the island offers an enjoyable view to kayak paddlers who are welcome to paddle under the bridge on their journey around the island.

Rocky Point Nature Preserve (the eastern most point of the island) was established in 1986 by the Little Traverse Conservancy was originally only accessible by boat. (Approx. 5.5 acres).

The center part of the island is owned and controlled by the Oden Island Association (approximately 9 acres).

Directions: (From Petoskey) Take Pickerel Lake Road east until it becomes Channel Road. Follow Channel Road until it becomes Oden Island Road. Cross over the bridge and turn right onto Leeward Drive. The parking lot and trailhead are at the end of Leeward Drive.


Fairbairn – A History

How can we say that Fairbairn has been a trusted name in Northern Michigan since 1895?

W.W. Fairbairn & Sons has been in business for over 125 years and through 5 generations. (Paul Fairbairn’s father, Tom Fairbairn Sr., was among the 4th generation of owners.)

In Northern Michigan, Fairbairn is a well respected and well known name.


Walter Wayne Fairbairn started his business in downtown Alanson in 1895 during the lumber boom. At the time, he worked to sharpen axes and saw blades for the lumbering camps. He eventually grew his industry to include the sale of hardware and became the first master plumber north of Grand Rapids.

An excerpt from Alanson, Our Town 1882-1982-

“Thomas Hurst had the first general store in 1884 or ’85, on the corner of Milton and River Street, facing Milton. After the new railroad depot was built on its present location, he moved to the corner of Burr and River Streets, where Jerry’s Marathon now stands (in 1982). His business grew as the population increased due to the mills that came to town. Needing more space, he hired Mr. Oberholtzer to erect a large building which he stocked with hardware on one side and general merchandise on the other. He then built a fine, new home on the site of the old store, which is now a part of the Marathon Gas Station.

In 1895 Thomas Hurst sold his hardware stock to Walter W. Fairbairn…eventually, Mrs. Hurst sold the business entirely and Fairbairn took over the whole building. Mr Fairbairn enlarged his business to include tin-smithing and plumbing. His first venture in heating was in the sale of wood stoves. As demand for central heat grew, he opened a furnace servicing department. Walter’s two sons, Clifford [owner Paul Fairbairn’s grandfather] and Morley, were taken into partnership and a corporation was formed. The business has remained a family affair, with Clifford’s two sons, Walter and Thomas [owner Paul Fairbairns’ father], operating the company, which is well known throughout the County.”

This store eventually became part of the W. W. Fairbairn & Sons Hardware
The home of Thomas and Margaret Hurst was in the location of our office; Coldwell Banker Fairbairn Realty.

W.W. Fairbairn worked to install and maintain plumbing systems in cottages on the Inland Waterway, travelling by boat often to reach remote customers.

The Fairbairn business remains in Alanson and the focus on service has been handed down throughout the generations of Fairbairns.

A business like that of Walter Wayne Fairbairn doesn’t last for over 125 years without honesty, hard work, and the support of community.

This is why we can say that Fairbairn has been a trusted name in Northern Michigan since 1895.

Our office location has had a varied history of its own. At one point, the home of Thomas and Margaret Hurst stood at the location of our office. Then the home became a popular Gulf gas station. Eventually, in 2008 our Owner/ Broker bought the building and converted it into a real estate office.

As Mr. W.W. Fairbairn did so many years ago, we’re asking you to trust us. Our legacy stems from that of the House of Service and we believe that you can trust us with your real estate needs.

We’re ready to serve you.

Our office stands on the right corner of Burr Avenue (US-31) and River Streets.
The GULF sign on the right of this image marks our business location at Coldwell Banker Fairbairn Realty.


Historical Lodging Along the Inland Waterway

Mullett Lake

According to The Pageant of Tuscarora, the first summer resort built on the Inland Waterway was the “Mullett Lake House,” on Mullett Lake, of course. This hotel was built on the east side of Mullett Lake when the developers had erroneously believed that the railroad would come to that section of Tuscarora Township. The railroad went west however, and the Mullett Lake House was deemed a failure after guests failed to book their rooms.

The hotel was dismantled board by board in 1886. (It is rumored that many nearby homeowners helped themselves to the boards too.) Much of the hotel went to Sault Ste. Marie to rebuild accommodations after a fire had destroyed much of the city. The boards were rebuilt and renamed as the Iroquois Hotel. However, in 1896, fire yet again destroyed, finishing what was left of the hotel.

It is said that you can still see the pilings from the dock that once stood waiting for the guests to arrive.

Horace Pike’s hotel in Topinabee fared better thanks to the westly built railroad. Built in 1882, the three story hotel roomed upwards of 40 guests on the shores of Mullett Lake. The hotel operated under the name Pike’s Summer Tavern but when the hotel succumbed to fire in 1917 it was rebuilt the following year as the Hotel Topinabee. As it happens, fire destroyed the hotel in 1928 but it was rebuilt again. Sadly, the hotel was condemned in 1969 and when the hotel’s casino was leveled by fire in 1974, the Topinabee was never rebuilt. Great history and photos can be found here.

A quick dive into the name Topinabee –

Mr. Horace Pike chose the name Topinabee based on his appreciation of the Potawatomi Chief (1758-1826). Mr. Pike had previously lived in Niles, Michigan and is said to have operated a hotel (the Pike House hostelry- 1867) there as well before moving north.

Topinabee means “he who sits quietly” or just “sits quietly”. A most appropriate name for the tranquil shores of Mullett Lake, don’t you think?

Burt Lake

Sager’s Resort, according to a 1917 nautical chart, was on the southwest side of Burt Lake. The Sager family was one of the first to settle along Burt Lake, having transplanted themselves from Trumbull County, Ohio. Now, perhaps The Buckeye House name is more familiar to you. The settlement was renamed the Buckeye House (in the 1890s) to honor it’s owners and visitors’ home state.

Having purchased 64 acres, the Sager family built their log cabin in 1877 and built the first framed home to be built in Tuscarora township (shortly after). At the time of settling, the Sager family was just one of 3 white families on the west side of Burt Lake.

In a 1904 edition of the Cheboygan Democrat, a letter to the editor claims that Mr. (Edwin) Sager originally built a store adjacent to his home but as demand grew, he expanded his building no less than 3 times into the three story, 25 room hotel seen in many historic postcards, and it was no small building. A store was later built off the kitchen of the Buckeye House.

Mr. Sager passed away in 1893 but his family continued on his legacy and by 1897 the hotel was offering “tent and board” to fishermen.

In the publication; “Our Burt Lake Story,” there is a chapter recounting how Mr. Sager was well known and well liked in the community by both the Native American population, nearby farmers and fishermen.

(Note, it often published that the proprietors were the Sager Brothers but in other publications it is noted that the single owner – JNO. M. SAGER, was the proprietor. Perhaps this confusion is due to the multitudes of Sagers having assisted in the running of the hotel. John (perhaps JNO. M?) and Will Sager are said to have seen it necessary to improve the dock for mail boats.)

During the time of John and Will Sager, they saw to it that much of the 64 acres was subdivided for cottagers to build and enjoy the property. This is why you will often see both the Sagers Resort and the Buckeye name together. (The resort identifies the area in which the cottagers resided.) The brothers joined the informal community of Sagers Resort to the Buckeye through the use of a boardwalk.

The Buckeye House was known to be one of the most popular destinations of the Inland Route. Known for its cuisine, the resort hotel was frequented by locals and tourists alike. One ad (1920 edition of the King’s Official Route Guide) notes that special fish and chicken dinners were available by appointment in the porch dining room. The ad continues to note “fine flowing wells”, abundant in the region, and telephone/ post available at the hotel. At some point, the local Burt Lake post office moved to reside within the walls of the Buckeye House. As with almost all of the Inland Water Route hotels, the Buckeye House burned down in 1924 but boy did it thrive in its time.

NE Burt Lake Tuscarora Alanson MI RPPC RH Sagers Buckeye House & Inland Waterway Resort Steamer TOURIST II Ferry Boat Lake Taxi north Crooked River mouth CHEBOYGAN GHOST TOWN

Alanson Swing Bridge

The world’s shortest swinging bridge is just one of the “feathers” in Alanson’s “cap”!

The original swing bridge was built in 1901.

A manual key was used to turn the one-lane bridge from 1901 until the mid1960s. The newer version of the bridge now uses a hydraulic motor to turn.

The Inland Waterway spans 87 miles. In it’s earliest history, it was used for Native American routes then fur trading. When the railways reached Petoskey, they brought tourists and steamer ships took passengers along the Inland Waterway.

From the late 1800s until the building of the swing bridge in 1901, Alanson had what was called the “High Bridge”. This bridge was approximately 14′ tall, standing over the river. During the “High Bridge” years, ships passing along the Crooked River had to hinge back their stacks to be able to pass under the bridge. The popular S.S. Topinabee, a double decker passenger ship, had to move it’s pilot house. Cumbersome, indeed.

In 1968, the bridge was in desperate need for repair, see article below.


Just ten years later, in 1978, the bridge was again being discussed due to need for repairs.



Then again, in 1984…

and 1986…


There are different reports on the actual length of the swing bridge. In 1909, a report of the Inland Water Route between Cheboygan and Petoskey (Chief of Engineers, U.S. Army dated October 9th. 1909) noted that the Alanson Swing Bridge had a span of just 22.3 feet. This may be where the bridge got it’s reputation as the “World’s Shortest Swing Bridge”. Other reports have the bridge at 53 ft. (above). Perhaps, this is due to the new construction or just poor data. Many of today’s reports have the bridge at 64ft.

The Songo Lock Bridge in Maine may actually be shorter than the purported “World’s Shortest Swing Bridge” in Alanson at 60 ft. compared to Alanson’s 64 ft. (latest figures) but they were both built the same year, 1901. The Songo Bridge is still manually cranked, see video here.

So, the Alanson bridge may not actually be the “World’s Shortest” or even America’s shortest but it is still significant in that it is one of very few of its type. Though it has had issues throughout the years, it remains a wonderful gem in Northern Michigan and piece of our history that for the foreseeable future will continue on.

See video here of the bridge from the water (Note, the boathouses fell into the river after a heavy spring snow in 2014 and the pizza shop was torn down and has not yet been rebuilt).


Oden – State Fish Hatchery

“Many men go fishing all of their
lives without knowing that it
is not fish they are after.”

Henry David Thoreau

Driving along Crooked Lake’s shoreline on US-31 you’ll note the Michigan Fisheries Visitor Center sign welcoming travelers to visit. The driveway intersects the North Western State bike trail which was once a part of the railway that the fishery used to transport their stock. Adjacent to the parking lot and the Oden Visitor’s Center is the replica railcar that visitors can tour and learn more.

The visitor’s center was built in 1920. Then, it was used as the original hatchery on the property. In the early 1900s, hatcheries were the main rehabilitating technique used by biologists to help support our Great Lakes and inland fish populations. Hatcheries raise fish from eggs and then transport them and stock them in waterways.

A newer hatchery was built in 2002. (View a map of the grounds below.) It’s here that the tour begins, at the gazebo. Tours happen twice daily during peak season. Call the visitor’s center to confirm at 231-348-0998.

The visitor’s center offers a wonderful gift shop which is operated by the Friends of the Oden Fish Hatchery. The proceeds go toward sponsoring educational activities on the grounds.

The expansive grounds allow you to do self and guided tours. You can head to the ponds and feed the fish, check out the railcar, or walk through the hatcheries with a guide. There is a phenomenal exhibit cut along the riverbank to view the natural habitat in the river. This is also a part of the Sunset Coast Birding Trail. Check out the approx. two miles of nature trails to see the three spring-fed ponds which ultimately empty into Crooked Lake.

The hatchery rears brown and rainbow trout which are used to stock our inland and Great Lakes. Millions of eggs are harvested from the over 15,000 “broodstock” (or as the hatchery calls them, “the mamas and the papas”).

There are five wells on the property. (It takes a lot of water to raise and transport fish!) The wells can pump 1,000 gallons of cold water per minute but it needs to be treated before the fish will take to it. Because ground water has large amounts of nitrogen and very little oxygen, the water is injected with oxygen and nitrogen is released, to grow healthy fish. When the water is eventually too dirty for the fish, it is used as a fertilizer for farmers.


Checklist: Getting Licensed in Michigan

  1. Complete your real estate prelicensure course. Your school will submit your certificate of completion to the State of Michigan on your behalf. There are many wonderful in person and on-line courses to help prepare you for the licensing exam. A list of courses can be found here.
  2. Submit an application to the State of Michigan to become a licensed real estate salesperson. You can apply online at https://www.michigan.gov/miplus.
  3. Register to take your real estate salesperson exam.
  4. Once you have scheduled, taken and passed your exam, you may choose your broker and begin work!

Do you have more questions? Contact us and let us know!

Visit our Careers page here.


Enhanced life estate deeds (Lady Bird Deed)

An enhanced life estate deed is often called a Lady Bird Deed. This type of deed transfers ownership of real property to beneficiaries outside of probate – the court process of finalizing an estate. 

(Technically, this type of deed is a term that describes a method of transferring real property by a warranty or quit-claim deed to a person or trust).

An enhanced life estate deed gives the deeded property away during the owner’s lifetime.  The owner of the property makes a gift of it to their beneficiaries, but can continue living in the home until the time of their death. The property is transferred to beneficiary at the owner’s death.  

(This type of deed is recognized in just five states: Florida, Michigan, Texas, Vermont, and West Virginia.)

The deed is an estate-planning instrument, transferring real estate to one or more beneficiaries during the owner’s lifetime without the necessity for probate at the time of the owner’s death (when the property actually transfers).

The owner of the real estate, referred to as the “life tenant,” retains control over the property while alive with an enhanced life estate deed. The life tenant has the right to mortgage or sell the real estate without the consent of their beneficiaries named in the deed because they haven’t actually given the home to them yet. The real estate doesn’t actually transfer until the life tenant’s death. 

As of 2020, the property is considered to be a contribution to the homeowner’s estate which does become an inheritance to the beneficiaries. However, estates valued less than $11 million + are not subject to federal estate taxes. Homes are subject to a “stepped up” basis, though. Which means that the home’s property tax is uncapped and reassessed at the current market value which could cause a rise in taxes for the beneficiaries.


Special thanks to Attorney Sonja M. Markwart for reviewing and ensuring accuracy of our post!


Coldwell Banker Commercial National Real Estate Outlook 2021

                A Review

The Coldwell Banker Commercial publication highlighted 3 lessons learned in 2020:


  1. The pandemic expedited the declining demand for traditional brick-and-mortar retail (e.g., enclosed malls, department stores) and forced consumers to adopt online shopping more quickly than they ever planned.
  • As with any economic disruption, there are winners and losers. While the coronavirus outbreak halted the hospitality industry with widespread hotel and restaurant cancellations, it spurred demand for industrial space primarily to support distribution and storage. Freestanding retailers (especially drive-thrus) and net leased office space also held up exceptionally well compared to actively managed retail.
  • The sudden shift to work-from-home has created new expectations about flexibility that cannot be undone. People are making new choices about where they want to live, how and where they want to work; and the massive deployment of remote work technology platforms has only accelerated this push.

The national commercial outlook is promising:


While we wait for a widely available vaccine, we expect the recovery in 2021 to be led by industrial, grocery retail, multifamily, land, single-tenant net leased, and drive-thru retail properties. The leasing of small office spaces will be preferred over larger ones and tenants will look for flexibility in lease terms. Secondary and tertiary markets will grow echoing people’s current preference where to live. Vacant malls will be repurposed for nontraditional tenants as obsolete retail space is recommissioned. The new administration in Washington D.C. will hopefully be successful at reducing economic uncertainty related to combatting COVID-19, bringing back market stability (e.g., foreign capital), and steadying the job market. A recovering economy paired with continued low interest rates should help sustain the private investor market and may push commercial real estate asset prices higher in 2021.

Context is important – this was not a real estate led recession. Many investors are well-capitalized and remain active in the market, even during the shutdown, especially local private investors and those with 1031 tax-deferred exchanges. As a result, cap rates should see steady to downward movement when the crisis eases, with exceptions in retail, hospitality and mid/high-rise office which could remain unstable over the next few years. Expect land sales for housing and industrial development product to continue to be in short supply in 2021. Freestanding net lease formats, drive-thru retail and essential businesses should also hold up well compared to actively managed retail over the next few years.

Local commercial outlook:

On the local level, the below data provided by the Northern Michigan MLS shows year over year comparisons from 2019 to 2020 and beginning of 1st quarter 2021.

To summarize, Emmet County specific commercial sales were increased by 5% year over year (2019 to 2020). 

Market Statistics Emmet County MLS Data
Statistics for: Class=Commercial, Date Range 01/01/2019-12/31/2019; As Of: 2/8/2021
Total ListedNum SoldPct SoldAvg List Price SoldAvg Sale Price SoldSale Price/List Price RatioAvg DOM SoldAvg List Price UnsoldPct Expired
Market Statistics Emmet County MLS Data
Statistics for: Class=Commercial, Date Range 01/01/2020-12/31/2020; As Of: 2/8/2021
Total ListedNum SoldPct SoldAvg List Price SoldAvg Sale Price SoldSale Price/List Price RatioAvg DOM SoldAvg List Price UnsoldPct Expired
Market Statistics Emmet County MLS Data
Statistics for: Class=Commercial, Date Range 01/01/2021-02/28/2021; As Of: 2/8/2021
Current ActiveAvg List PriceAvg DOM
Total New ListedNum SoldPct SoldAvg List Price SoldAvg Sale Price SoldSale Price/List Price RatioAvg DOM SoldAvg List Price UnsoldPct Expired

Emmet County 2020 Equalization Report

According to the 2020 Emmet County Report of Assessment Roll Changes and Classification (L-4022) there were 2,047 commercial parcels in Emmet County valued at 411,664,700 including 10,264,900 in new parcels on the roll.

4.8% of those parcels were listed in 2020 and 1.7% sold at an average sale price of $315,250 with a potential sale volume in total of $11,033,750.

Commercial property in Emmet County makes up 9.80% of the total of all parcels and is the second largest taxed parcel type in the county, second to residential.

Taxable values of commercial properties rose 3.47% in 2020, despite the pandemic. Rising from a 2019 total taxable value of 332,539,779 to 344,070,719.  

(Coldwell Banker Commercial)

(Northern Michigan MLS, 2021)

(Department, 2020)


A Look at Wealth 2020: New Affluent Trailblazers

Affluent Relocation Index

Priorities have been realigned.


2020 will be remembered as an unprecedented year. Priorities have realigned toward home, family, health, and wellness due to the pandemic. These profound lifestyle changes, combined with other factors such as increasing numbers of people teleworking, have led to a U.S. luxury real estate boom and a migration of wealth to new markets.

In past reports, we have focused on traditional demographic classifications, such as net worth or age. But 2020 has ushered in new affluent demographics. We’re calling them trailblazers because they are charting a new path forward, choosing housing locations based on family, health or lifestyle reasons, rather than being close to business or work. They are turning their attention away from cities and relocating to small town hidden gems, suburbs and popular second home destinations. Many of these trends were already underway prior to the start of 2020; the pandemic simply accelerated them. 

These trailblazers are looking at the following criteria when considering their relocation destination:

  • Property size
  • Property Amenities
  • Close to Nature/Outdoors
  • Privacy
  • Safe Environment
  • Hobbies or Lifestyle Considerations
  • Cost of Living
  • Driveabilty/ Accessibility (freeways, airports)
  • Proximity to workplace
  • Access to Luxury Amenities
  • Schools
  • Health
Market Statistics Emmet County Residential
Date Range 01/01/2020-12/31/2020, County Emmet; As Of: 2/9/2021
Current ActiveAvg List PriceAvg DOM 
Total ListedNum SoldPct SoldAvg List Price SoldAvg Sale Price SoldSale Price/List Price RatioAvg DOM SoldAvg List Price UnsoldPct Expired 

Emmet County market data shows the average list price at $975,882 for 2020.

According to Coldwell Banker Global Luxury standards, a home in Emmet County is considered luxury at a minimum price threshold of $500,000.

Filtering for homes listed above $500,000, the Northern Michigan MLS data (MLS, 2021) shows that there were 183 residential sales. Of those, 113 sales took place within an association.

The majority of these sales took place in Harbor Springs, Petoskey and Bay Harbor.

Emmet County 2020 Equalization Report

Taking a dive into the 2020 Emmet County Report of Assessment Roll Changes and Classification (L-4022) (GIS, 2020), there were 26,295 residential parcels with a total value of $3,603,058,998 to the county.

The highest assessed values were in the townships of Bear Creek, Resort, Little Traverse, West Traverse, and the cities of Harbor Springs and Petoskey, as expected.

Assessed values in these municipalities increased.

BEAR CREEK$600,708,000$618,584,3002.98%
LITTLE TRAVERSE$456,103,550$513,169,05012.51%
WEST TRAVERSE$423,725,900$459,404,2508.42%
HARBOR SPRINGS$339,883,500$369,836,4508.81%

(Coldwell Banker Global Luxury)

(GIS, 2020)

(MLS, 2021)


Congratulations to our Award-Winning Agents!

Coldwell Banker has unveiled their 2020 International Award Winners and we’re so proud of our four!

Please join us in a BIG CONGRATULATIONS to –

Paul Fairbairn, Owner/ Broker
Karen Petrimoulx, Associate Broker
Craig Wilson Jr., Realtor
Jim Bell, Realtor

NEWS RELEASE                             


Jennifer Murphy, Office Manager & Associate Broker



Alanson, Michigan 2/5/2021 –Paul Fairbairn of Harbor Springs, Karen Petrimoulx of Mackinaw City, Craig Wilson Jr. of Alanson, and James Bell of Mackinaw City, sales associates with Coldwell Banker Fairbairn Realty, have earned membership in the company’s International Diamond Society and International Sterling Society, levels achieved by only the top ten and fifteen percent of all sales associates worldwide in the Coldwell Banker® system.

^Each sales associate/representative is an independent contractor affiliated with a Coldwell Banker franchised office, including a Realogy Brokerage Group owned and operated office, and nothing herein shall be deemed to render any such sales associate/representative as an employee of Coldwell Banker Real Estate LLC.

Paul Fairbairn established Coldwell Banker Fairbairn Realty in 2008.

Karen Petrimoulx has been an Associate Broker with Coldwell Banker Fairbairn Realty since 2011.

Craig Wilson Jr. has been a sales associate with Coldwell Banker Fairbairn Realty since 2014.

James Bell has been a sales associate with Coldwell Banker Fairbairn Realty since 2018.

Coldwell Banker Fairbairn Realty located at 7569 US 31 South, Alanson, can be reached at 231.548.9336. Coldwell Banker Fairbairn Realty has been an affiliate of the Coldwell Banker® system for 13 years. 


24/7 Free Flowing Artesian Water

If you’re a property owner in Littlefield Township, you likely received the township’s bi-annual newsletter discussing the history of the free flowing wells in our area. If not, we’re sharing it with you below!

“Flowing wells (along with springs and geysers) symbolize the presence and mystery of subsurface water, and as such they have always evoked considerable public interest”. – (From Groundwater, Freeze and Cherry, 1979)

An artesian well is defined as an aquifer containing groundwater under positive pressure. The word artesian comes from the town of Artois in France, where the best known flowing artesian wells were drilled in the Middle Ages. A “flowing artesian well” runs clear, cold water without pumping — a real gift. Seeming to defy gravity, the water pressure builds up between layers of rock and is relieved when the water finds a path to the open air.

Emmet County has a large flowing well district that extends from Harbor Springs to Littlefield Township, mainly along the north side of Crooked Lake and Crooked River. In the late 1800s over 100 artesian flowing wells were identified from Conway to Alanson.

With the railroads making transportation to Northern Michigan accessible in the late 19th century and early 20th century, flowing wells attracted visitors to Michigan resorts that advertised the therapeutic benefits of their artesian mineral waters.

With the railroads making transportation to Northern Michigan accessible in the late 19th century and early 20th century, flowing wells attracted visitors to Michigan resorts that advertised the therapeutic benefits of their artesian mineral waters. In 1884, there was an effort to contain a flowing well in Oden in a search for suitable water for boiler use in the busy railroad engines of the Grand Rapids and Indiana Railway. There was an excellent flow, but the water was found to be too hard for use in boilers.

The flowing artesian well (fondly named Crystal’s Well by locals) on US 31 just north of Alanson has been a very popular spot for many years. Due to its location and easy access people often stop by to fill their water bottles.

This well was placed into the hands of Littlefield Township by the Fairbairn family to make sure the flowing well remained in public use.

This well was placed into the hands of Littlefield Township by the Fairbairn family to make sure the flowing well remained in public use. The township maintains 2 flowing artesian wells in Oden as well.

Some of the earliest water supply legislation in Michigan dealt with regulating the use of artesian wells. State regulations concerning flowing wells can be found at:



Crystal's Well
Crystal’s Well donated by the Fairbairn Family Image by Matt Mikus

Artesian Well
Free Flowing Well US-31 Image by Matt Mikus

Unique video of Crystal’s Well (5 seconds of 5 images)



What is the MLS anyway?

You’ll hear Realtors talk about the MLS often. It’s probably one of the first things a Realtor mentions when talking about a marketing plan to sell your home or when they’re helping you to look for a home to purchase. So what is it?

The MLS or multiple listing service, is an online portal that allows agents to work together to share listings and sold data.

Listings include homes, lots and acreage, multi-family dwellings and commercial properties for sale. Having access to this information helps agents to know what is going on in the real estate market to serve their clients quickly and efficiently.

All Realtors agree, as part of their Realtor membership, to share their listings with other Realtors. This spirit of cooperation allows all agents to have access to sell the same listings (i.e. a buyer doesn’t need to seek out only the listing agent) and offer a portion of the commission contracted with a seller, to other agents.

The information entered into the MLS begins upon the initial listing of a property for sale. It is detailed with numerous required fields such as number of bedrooms, bathrooms and square footage, school district, address and legal description.

Once a sale occurs, that information is updated into the MLS for all agents to see. This information will include the sales price, date sold and how the property was sold (i.e. cash, conventional mortgage, land contract, etc.).

There are many websites that are available for the public to view listings on. These websites take the information that agents input into their local MLS and export the data through a “feed”. These feeds, while mostly accurate, do not always import information into the websites correctly. Because of this, it’s important to verify information with an agent.

What’s more is, these sites often give you the opportunity to view your home’s value. What their system is actually doing, is averaging a home sales price based on many home values that are not necessarily similar to your own. While a fun system to play with, it isn’t necessarily accurate, another reason to confirm pricing with a Realtor.

The MLS is one of the most valuable tools an agent has. Here at Coldwell Banker Fairbairn Realty, our agents belong to two Multiple Listing Services. We chose to do this so that our clients can have access to more information and exposure for their listings.

We’re one of the few area offices that do this and we really enjoy gathering the data to better educate our clients. We believe that this dual membership is invaluable as it allows our clients to have access to more accurate sales information when pricing their properties and allows buyers access to more homes available for sale.

Coldwell Banker Fairbairn Realty Home with Yard Sign
Coldwell Banker Fairbairn Realty has access to two Multiple Listing Services allowing double the exposure for your home.



Great Lakes Water Levels

Great Lakes Water Levels are rising to a record high since record lows of 2012 and 2013.

According to the National Weather Service and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, “the water level of Lake Michigan continues to rise after generally staying below long term average values for over a decade…”

For the combined Lake Michigan/Lake Huron Basin…it adds up to 20.17 trillion gallons,” – NOAA.

The peak water levels of this summer (2019) were 2.13 feet higher than the average peak of record low level summers (2012/ 2013). “For Lake Michigan alone… that’s 9.95 trillion gallons of water more than 2012/2013. For the combined Lake Michigan/Lake Huron Basin…it adds up to 20.17 trillion gallons,” – NOAA.

“Great Lakes Water Levels are continuously monitored by U.S. and Canadian federal agencies through a binational partnership,” – NOAA. That binational partnership uses the International Great Lakes Datum (IGLD of 1985); a reference system which is adjusted every 25 to 35 years.

Great Lakes
Photo by Melanie Wupperman on Pexels.com

According to the Coordinating Committee on Great Lakes Basic Hydraulic and Hydrologic Data, “the harmonious use of these waters requires international coordination of many aspects of their management” … the common datum is periodically revised “due to isostatic rebound, sometimes referred to as crustal movement. Isostatic rebound is the gradual rising or ‘bouncing back’ of the earth’s crust from the weight of the glaciers that covered the Great Lakes – St. Lawrence River region during the last ice age.” This movement causes benchmarks to shift. However, the data shows that from 1955 to 1985 the low water datum levels for Lakes Michigan and Huron were increased from just 576.77 ft. to 577.43 ft.

…water levels on Crooked Lake are raised to elevation 595.4 ft (IGLD 1985) by May 27th.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers uses the IGLD of 1985 to raise and lower lake level elevations along the Inland Waterway. Specifically, water levels on Crooked Lake are raised to elevation 595.4 ft (IGLD 1985) by May 27th and held to 595.4 ft, or as near as possible, through Sept. 30th. After Nov. 1st, the locks are opened and the lake is drawn “down to the maximum possible, leaving the gates fully open throughout the winter as long as conditions allow,” according to the US Army Corps of Engineers.

Photo by fishweb.com

For comparison, as of January 20th, 2020, the water levels on the downstream sensor show the water levels at 595.30 ft (indicating higher than usual water levels). Meanwhile, the water level in Mackinaw City was 581.43 on IGLD.

“Lake Michigan-Huron is forecasted to begin its seasonal decline and fall to be below its record high August levels by 2 inches. Over the forecast period, the levels are projected to remain below record high levels by 2- 12 inches and above their levels from last year by 7 to 15 inches. Likewise, levels are expected to remain above their long-term average by 28 to 31 inches,” – The US Army Corps of Engineers; July 2019 Great Lakes Water Level Summary.

For more information, the US Army Corps of Engineers updates their site weekly on Great Lakes Water Levels. Click here for a link to the weekly forecasts.

Lakes Michigan-Huron Water Levels January 2020
Lakes Michigan-Huron Water Levels January 2020 provided by the Army Corps of Engineers.

Printable version – Lakes Michigan-Huron Water Levels January 2020 PDF