Yates Township, Michigan located along the near southeastern border of Lake County, contains the community of Idlewild, which surrounds
the lake it was named for. The headwaters of the Pere Marquette River run through here, with a couple of public access points adjacent
to Broadway Road, where it crosses. About half of the township is contained in the Manistee National Forest.
Idlewild began around
1915 when the real estate firm of Branch, Anderson & Tyrrell bought and platted the site, then selling lots to blacks. The Pere Marquette
Railroad built a branch line to the area by 1923. A post office opened that same year, with Susie J. Bantom as the first postmaster.
The winding, curvy lake area became a popular vacation and resort spot for blacks, eventually being associated as part of what was
then known as the "Harlem Renaissance." Many black celebrities visited here during the 20ís and 30ís, with two daily train runs from
Chicago at the height of its popularity.
In 2007, Yates Township was selected to partipate in the Transformation Initiative established
by Governor Jennifer M. Granholm to "create jobs, build a thriving community and ensure a bright future for Idlewild". The initiative
is collaboratively led by the Department of History, Arts and Libraries, Michigan Economic Development Corporation and representatives
of Yates Township and Idlewild, Michigan.
Among the many projects of the initiative include the recently completed Lake Idlewild Park
and Access Area; a partnership effort between Yates Township and the Michigan Department of Natural Resources.