FOHRA "Paves the Road" to Haven Hill

The Friends of Highland Recreation Area, the MDNR, and Cadillac Asphalt, L.L.C. worked together to put some much-needed repairs into the Haven Hill Road up to the historic Edsel Ford Carriage House and Lodge site this last weekend. Haven Hill Road Gate

Some areas required small patches, others whole sections of roadway.

Road Crew

Repairs were in dire need, as sections of the roadway were worsening with the spring run-offs each year.

Repair Asphalt Section

The team at Cadillac Asphalt put down 30 tons of asphalt into many severe potholes and damaged sections of the old road. Donated manpower, time, and energy were a much-appreciated gift from the folks at Cadillac.

The Friends of Highland Recreation Area are assuming a Lease soon that includes the upper section of the road. Eventually, even the old parking area up near the site will be refinished.

There's a lot going on with FOHRA at Highland Recreation Area. Come on out and join us as we "pave the road" to saving the historic features of the Recreation Area.

Fords, Friends, and Fun Fantastic!

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Yesterday's 1st annual Fords, Friends, and Fun in the Park event at Highland Recreation Area was terrific! Vintage Ford Model A and Model T vehicles lined the Goose Meadow Parking lot and attracted visitors from all over the Detroit metro area to what was once Edsel Fords' Haven Hill Estate.

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Park Users' Groups such as the Highland Trail Riders, the United Flying Organization, and even visitor groups such as the Pontiac Lake Horseman's Association (PLHA), the Kensington Trail Riders, Michigan Barn Network, the Highland Equestrian Conservancy, and the White Lake Historical Society (to name a few) all put on great displays for the visiting public as well. Kyler's Koral of wonderful petting farm animals was a big hit too.

Below: A smiling goat who's about to get a snack in Kyler's Corral from the PLHA.

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The Michigan Department of Natural Resources had the park and meadow in tip-top shape for everyone. The smell of grilled hot dogs, donated baked goods and the sounds of music, all traveled across the Meadow on a light breeze during the warm summer day. Ice cream and cold pop and water were enjoyed buy all.

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Above: The Highland Trail Riders display at Fords, Friends, and Fun in the Park 2009.

Games for young and old kids included fishing casting, wiffle ball golf, butterfly collecting, and frisbee toss. Below, an Optimist's volunteer shows fishing tackle to a family enjoying the day.

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Members of "the Livingston A's", a regional Model A Restorer's Club (MARC), brought their prized vehicles from all over the area. Horns tooting and vintage engines purring made everyone reminisce of a by-gone era, while overhead the wizz of model airplanes from the United Flying Organization filled the sky.

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The Highland State Recreation Area provides visitors with a wealth of activities from quiet forest hikes, to horseback riding and model airplane flying. The Haven Hill section of the park, entrance located off of Highland Road (M-59), is the site of what was once Edsel Ford's grand country estate. The estate was built in the 1920's and 30's, and preservation/repurposing plans for the historic structures are being pursued by the MDNR and the Friends of Highland Recreation Area (FOHRA).

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Above: Pam Sienkiewicz, , Marge Sawruk, and Dick Russell, all members of FOHRA, pose amidst the vintage Ford cars.

The Fords, Friends, and Fun in the Park event was held primarily as a fund raiser for the Friends of Highland Recreation Area (FOHRA), the parks' support organization. Thanks goes out to everyone who attended and supported yesterday's event. Web links to groups' websites include:

Highland Trail Riders

Pontiac Lake Horseman's Association and Kyler's Corral

Kensington Trail Riders

Michigan Barn Preservation Network

The White Lake Historical Society

Crown V Ranch

Community Sharing

The Highland Equestrian Conservancy


The United Flying Organization

and FOHRA...

Have a great summer!


Edsel Ford Barn Clean-Up Nearing Completion

The storm-damaged Edsel Ford Barn within the Highland Recreation Area has been given tender loving care just about every two weekends on Sundays this Spring and Summer. The Friends of Highland Recreation Area volunteers, with the help of Oakland County WWAM teams and the MDNR, have cleared of debris over 2/3 of what was the barn's interior concrete pad. The June 8, 2009 storm heavily damaged the barn when 80+ mile per hour winds roared through Oakland County, Michigan. IMG_5180 1280x1024

Great progress has been made through teh efforts of FOHRA, the parks charitable support group. Plans continue forward for a revitalization of the barn into a shared public space for the area's residents. A conceptual drawing can be seen below.

EFB Pavilion Concept 640x480Heavy equipment and heavy-lifting volunteers have made all of the difference... a coordinated effort to rejuvenate an amazing historic structure commissioned by Edsel Ford and his family in what was once his Haven Hill Estate.

IMG_5166 1280x1024Come on out for future workdays and help with the project. The debris is being salvaged as much as possible for re-use. Hand sorting of wood, metal, functional components, etcetera is a tedious business. Work day information can be found at the FOHRA website,

Fords, Friends, and Fun in the Park

Friends of Highland Recreation Area members are readying themselves for a great summer family event: "Fords, Friends, and Fun in the Park" will take place on Saturday, August 15, 2009 at Highland State Recreation Area in Highland/White Lake, Michigan.

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The big day will be an alternative to the famous "Dream Cruise" which will occur the same weekend on Woodward Avenue. The event will feature vintage Ford automobiles such as Model T's and Model A's. "The old cars don't take kindly to the slow speeds of cruising. These vintage car owners often drive them to locations and gather for picnics, contests, barbeques, and other activities, but they don't cruise much at all", said Jay Fitzgerald, event coordinator.

Activities for families will include the "Kyler's Corral" petting farm, historic displays, park Users Groups displays, educational information about the Haven Hill Estate (once owned by Edsel Ford), and radio controlled model plane flying demonstrations. Children's activities such as kite making, butterfly/bug hunting, frisbee toss, fishing pole casting pools, and more will be available all day. A "Family Horseshoe Challenge" will allow families to throw horseshoes for points to win prizes. Food sales will include hot dogs, ice cream, popcorn, and other summer items. Period music will be played all day to add to the atmosphere.

Fitzgerald said, "A fun item for sale at our food pavilion will be a picnic basket of 4 hot dogs, 4 cookies, and 4 soft drinks of your choice. The whole basket of items will be sold at a discount compared to the individual price of each item. We're hoping to encourage families to come out and enjoy a picnic in the park!"

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FOHRA will use the day as a fundraising event for the Recreation Area, and as a membership drive.

The event will be free of charge, except for the normal $6.00 vehicle permit pass for Michigan State Parks, or an existing $24.oo annual vehicle permit sticker which many people already have in their car window. "We've put together a fun time for a whole family in the outdoors where the expenses add up to far less than the price of a single movie ticket and a trip to the snack bar. You can't beat the Fords, Friends, and Fun in the Park event for something to do at such a low cost to you for your family".

The fun will be from 10 am until 4 pm Saturday at the Goose meadow picnic site of of Haven Hill Road. Highland Recreation Area is in Oakland County off of M-59 between Bogey Lake and Duck Lake roads.

"Vintage vehicle owners need to contact us at "" or call 248-787-1750. We also have a website just for the event,", commented Fitzgerald. "Owners will be let in free for the day, but need to register so that we can get them on a list for free entry into the park."


Edsel Ford Barn Project: FOHRA Signage In Place

This last weekend at one of the regular 2nd and 4th Sunday FOHRA work sessions, a new sign advertising FOHRA work days was installed on the front of the Edsel Ford Barn inside the Highland Recreation Area. The sign was assembled on the ground and installed using a lift. FOHRA EFB Sign

Great progress has been achieved throughout the spring and into this summer on the green salvage project of the debris field in back of the damaged Edsel Ford Barn. The barn's animal quarters, comprising nearly 3/4 of it's total length, was severely damaged during a June 2008 storm.

Photo by Tom Slaga

As can be seen above, the huge concrete pad beneath the barn is being exposed nicely. Team members expect full clearing of the pad in upcoming weeks. FOHRA members, community volunteers, Oakland Community College students and professors, and WWAM work crews, plus many more folks, have all contributed to the hours worked to save the barn's resources for the rebuild.

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DSC_9662 1280x1024Come on out and join us to help finish up the salvaging of the barn's materials - check the FOHRA website at for details! Below... a conceptual drawing of the future plan for the barn's rise!

EFB Pavilion Concept Drawing

The Friends of Highland Recreation Area are a 501(c)(3) organization.

FOHRA Receives Official 501(c)(3) Status!

fohra-hh-logo-fohra-320x240As of June 25, 2009 the Friends of Highland Recreation Area are now an official IRS-approved Public Charity under section 501(c)(3) of the IRS Code. The status is actually retroactive, to our incorporation date within the State of Michigan of March 28, 2008. It took several months and a lot of effort, and now we have achieved a status that will permit us to seek and receive tax-free funds to support our efforts on behalf of the Highland Recreation Area. Your charitable donations to FOHRA are now tax deductible. Receipt of the our approval letter from the Internal Revenue Service was the culmination of a lengthy and detailed application process. The government has stepped-up the intensity of the application process to help eliminate approvals of fraudulent "charitable" organizations.

The Friends of Highland Recreation Area (FOHRA) are committed to help support the Highland Recreation Area State Park by assisting and promoting interpretive, scientific, historical and educational visitor services.

Crown V Ranch Grand Opening

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FOHRA members were ranch hands for the day on Saturday, April 18 at the Grand Opening of the Crown V Ranch equestrian facility at Highland Recreation Area.  TJ Sullivan and his wife and family enjoyed a wonderful day for the celebration of the opening of their new proprietorship.

Crown V Ranch Ribbon Cutting April 18, 2009. Highland Recreation Area.

A great time was had by all... it was truly an amazing Spring day with temperatures in the 70's and sunshine.

Mr. and Mrs. TJ Sullivan Cutting the Ribbon at the Grand Opening of the Crown V Ranch

Members of the MDNR staff, FOHRA members, the Highland Trail Riders, other community organizations, friends, family, business owners, and lot and lots of children attended the event. The Crown V Ranch opened the facility with hay rides, horseback riding, and pony rides for the kids.

Cowboy and Proprietor TJ Sullivan Leading the Cutting of the Ribbon

FOHRA members staffed an increasingly sophisticated display of the history of Edsel Ford's Haven Hill Estate, membership materials, baked goods for sale, and a cool collection of area finds that everyone really enjoyed.

A Section of the Friends of Highland Recreation Display at the Opening of the Crown V Ranch

The FOHRA Tent at the Crown V Ranch Grand Opening. April 18, 2009.

FOHRA Member Tom Slaga's Colelctuion of Interesting Finds from the Highland Recreation Area

To say the least, the Grand Opening of the Crown V Ranch at the Highland Recreation Area stables was a terrific event marking a new Spring and Summer season in the great outdoors. Come out and enjoy a horseback ride someday in one of Oakland County and Michigan's best natural resource areas. The Highland Recreation Area!

Learn more about the Crown V Ranch at and always make sure to stop by the FOHRA Website at