Shelby Charter Township in Macomb County, Michigan — The American Midwest (Great Lakes)
Spring Hill Farm / Utica Nike Base
Spring Hill Farm
Peter and Sarah Lerich established Spring Hill Farm in the 1830s. Their daughter Liberetta wrote in 1923 that her parents, opponents of slavery, had built a hiding place into a hillside as part of the Underground Railroad. They planted a prominent cedar, known as "the Beacon Tree," to mark the location. Liberetta reported that African Americans escaping slavery hid in the shelter while fleeing. In 1939 World Heavyweight Champion Joe Louis purchased the 477-acre farm. An avid equestrian, Louis established a riding academy at the site, complete with a restaurant, dance hall, and lodge. Here he escaped from the world of boxing to live the life of a "country squire." Louis sold the farm in 1944, after which the property fell into disuse. Little of Spring Hill Farm remains today.
Utica Nike Base
During the 1950s the U.S. Army developed its Nike anti-aircraft program. The conventional Nike Ajax guided missile and its nuclear-capable successor, Hercules, provided America's cities with a "last line of defense" against attack by Soviet long-range bombers carrying atomic warheads. The Detroit region's
Erected 2007 by Michigan Historical Commission-Michigan Historical Center. (Marker Number L2183.)
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Abolition & Underground RR • Parks & Recreational Areas • Settlements & Settlers • War, Cold. In addition, it is included in the Michigan Historical Commission series list.
Location. 42° 38.863′ N, 83° 3.631′ W. Marker is in Shelby Charter Township, Michigan, in Macomb County. Marker is on unnamed road 0.7 miles east of Ryan Road when traveling east. Marker is near the east end of the unnamed park road at the turn to the trap and archery range. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Utica MI 48317, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 2 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Utica Cemetery (approx. 1.4 miles away); Made for Speed (approx. 1˝ miles away); Extreme TestingPackard Takes Flight (approx. 1˝ miles away); In Times of War (approx. 1˝ miles away); The Vincent Family (approx. 1.6 miles away); "Quality First" (approx. 1.6 miles away); Base of Operations (approx. 1.6 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Shelby Charter Township.
Also see . . . Joe Louis, Grounds for Hope - 1938. Article in Macomb Now that gives a little more information about the history of the property. (Submitted on August 13, 2019, by Joel Seewald of Madison Heights, Michigan.)
Credits. This page was last revised on August 13, 2019. It was originally submitted on August 13, 2019, by Joel Seewald of Madison Heights, Michigan. This page has been viewed 152 times since then and 16 times this year. Photos: 1, 2, 3. submitted on August 13, 2019, by Joel Seewald of Madison Heights, Michigan.