Macatawa's Castle Park LbNA # 41640
|Placed Date||Jul 9 2008|
|Last Update||Aug 4 2013|
The stone castle at Castle Park was built in 1890 by Michael Schwarz, a retired German immigrant, to recreate a Germanic feudal estate, and to insulate his family from what he considered to be uncivilized American influences.
Legend says that one of his daughters fell in love with a local Dutch boy. Schwarz disapproved of the match and was determined to keep them apart. One moonlit night, the young couple eloped - fleeing by buggy to the church at Graafschap. Schwarz pursued them on horseback, caught up with them, carried his heartbroken daughter away, and locked her in the castle tower.
Many still claim to see the sad face of the girl looking for her lost love from the window of the castle tower.
The Schwarz family abandoned the castle after only two years. Rev. Parr of the Chicago Preparatory School, purchased it to be a summer camp for children. Parents fell in love with the surrounding area, and it soon evolved into a summer resort. In 1985, Castle Park residents bought the castle, closed it to the public, and it is now used as a library and bingo hall for summer residents.
The Castle is also said to be the inspiration for the Witch's castle described on Frank Baum's "The Wonderful Wizard of Oz." Baum developed the story while he summered in Macatawa. For years, Oz fan clubs held their annual conventions at Castle Park.
From the intersection of 66th St and 146th Ave, head west on 146th for ~3/10 mile. Look for the Land Conservatory sign on your right, and park on the shoulder. From the split rail fence, take the trail ~40 paces west into forest. You are standing at an intersection. Take the path heading north. Follow it as it winds around, and up and down. It will eventually rise sharply to a ridge with a home visible to the right. Follow the trail to the left as it descends along the ridge. The trail turns right and ascends into an open, grassy area. You'll see a white boundary marker on a sturdy maple to the right of the trail. Twelve paces further, the trail is flanked by two trees with blue flashings. At the trees, look to your right for the tree with two trunks ~nine paces away. Look for the box between the two-trunked tree and the log lying in front of it.
After the find
Follow the trail around for a short hike through some spectacular back-dune forest, and for glimpses of the roadbed for the old inter-urban train. When you get back to your car, drive a bit further into Castle Park to see the haunted castle.
This box is also listed on Geocaching.com as a Letterbox (hybrid). It is in a camouflaged lock-n-lock, with an archival-quality journal and a hand-carved stamp. I did not load it with trinkets, but you might find geocoins or travel bugs. These are the equivalent of hitchikers and are meant to travel from cache to cache.