Sculpture parks are increasingly becoming some of my favorite places to visit. The coolest ones are usually run by grumpy old men, who own a piece of property and decided to do with it what they please, damn the neighbors and damn the local government. That is exactly what happened out near Marquette Michigan at the Lakenenland Sculpture Park.
Lakenland is nestled in the woods up in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. A sculpture park created all out of wrought iron and junk, it is an artists paradise, owned and operated by Tom Lakenen. A dirt road cuts through thirty seven acres surrounded by Tom’s creations. While you explore the property, you will be greeted by Snoopy in his plane, giant skeletons keeping watch, humongous flowers that make you feel like Rick Moranis in “Honey We Shrunk the Kids”, and the list goes on and on. Around every curve is another work of art, some with a tongue in cheek political theme, and some just fun for funs sake.
Interestingly, the park started from Tom’s love of beer. “I never got into any hard stuff, but I really liked beer,” he said. “It was nothing to drink until 2 o’clock in the morning, then go home and 6 o’clock in the morning you’re gone to work again.” Then, his wife told him he had to cut it off and like any smart husband, he listened. Now he had the problem of filling his drinking time and there is the origin story of Lakenenland.
One of the most fun(ny) parts of the story though, is the pushback that Tom has gotten from the local government. As the entire operation is self funded, and free to anyone who wants to come, it ruffles some feathers. It seems the more the city pokes him, the more he pokes back. Even though his permits are always in line, there is always an issue with the permits. He has tried giving away hot chocolate and hot dogs to snowmobilers in the winter, but was told he needs a $750 permit to serve food. If he gives away marshmallows to cook over the fire, that opens up another set of problems. It seems they are always after him for something. Currently when you enter, a sign is displayed clearly stating that Tom is within his rights to operate this park as is, and any official can stay out!
This entry wouldn’t be complete without talking a little bit about the Upper Peninsula. This is really a wonderful area that I think most of the country doesn’t even know exists. Hugged on both sides by Great Lakes, I was left in wonder driving through the forests. Eagles fly often overhead. Sail boats dot the horizons. It’s absolutely magical. I have been told by multiple people about wolf experiences too. I didn’t see any, but keep your eyes open and you might get lucky. Chargers are few up here, but luckily there is a level 2 up in Marquette to ease range anxiety. A level 2 charger WILL be needed up here. There are currently two supercharger stations with construction permits within 100 mi, but as of yet, nothing constructed.
Closest Charger Marquette MI 5 mi
130 W Washington St, Marquette, MI 49855
Lakenenland Sculpture Park
2800 M-28, Marquette, MI 49855