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Monument to the Dean Of Michigan's Tourist Activity.

Monument to the Dean of Michigan's Tourism Activity

Field review by the editors.

Kewadin, Michigan

If someone asked, "Who has had a rock pyramid built in their honor?" you might think of an Egyptian pharaoh or an Aztec king. You would probably not think of a bespectacled, middle-aged, midwestern man named Hugh J. Gray. Nevertheless, Hugh has one -- on a smaller scale compared to those in Egypt and Mexico, but a rock pyramid nevertheless.

Hugh was, according to the plaque on his pyramid, the "Dean of Michigan's Tourist Activity." The pyramid, erected in 1938, stands on Old US 31, renamed Cairn Highway in honor of Hugh's rock pile. The formerly busy thoroughfare is today a sparsely-traveled back road, which says something about the transience of fame.

Hugh J Gray.

Hugh's pyramid is built of rocks from each of Michigan's 83 counties, with a hollow "time capsule" interior that holds Michigan travel brochures and newspapers from the time of its dedication. Its plaque notes, at the bottom, that "This Point is Halfway Between the Equator and the North Pole." That is wishful thinking; the meridian is more than a mile north of here -- coincidentally, also marked by a series of plaques-on-rocks put up in 1938, in a line across Michigan and Wisconsin, by latitude-obsessed newspaper publisher and freemason Frank E. Noyes.

According to a 1940 tourism publication, Carefree Days in West Michigan: Playground of the Nation, the two-year old rock pile had already become "one of the most photographed points of interest in Michigan."

Also see: When Halfway is Far Enough

Monument to the Dean of Michigan's Tourism Activity

5899 Cairn Hwy, Kewadin, MI
US Hwy 31 north into Elk Rapids. Cross the bridge, then make an immediate right onto Ames St., which becomes Cairn Hwy. At the top of Elk Lake, Cairn Hwy becomes a left-hand turn instead of going straight; watch for it. Stay on Cairn Hwy. The pyramid is a mile or so north of the turn, on the right.
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Nearby Offbeat Places

Big Swan StatueBig Swan Statue, Elk Rapids, MI - 5 mi.
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Tiny Church - The Wayside ChapelTiny Church - The Wayside Chapel, Ellsworth, MI - 17 mi.
In the region:
World's Largest Cherry Pie Pan, Traverse City, MI - 20 mi.

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