The Twin Towers of the Irish Hills in Onsted Michigan were the gateway to summer fun for children...As a kid we occasionally got to ride 45 minutes west of my home to the Irish Hills which meant we were going to see and do some pretty cool things. There was Frontier Village, Go Carts, a Super Slide, Wampler's Lake, Mystery Hill and even Prehistoric creatures lurking nearby.
Looking back, the attractions were kind of hokey but it was so exciting to glimpse the big Towers..just around the bend from Hayes State Park and swimming in Wampler's lake! In my later years I spent a lot of my summer weekends watching the car races at Michigan Speedway...drove past the Twin Towers a lot and looking at them still brings joy to me!
Until today when I read that the towers maybe demolished if the funds aren't raised to save them, I knew very little about their history. How depressing for the children...I saw the towers beginning in the early 1960s and my daughter loved seeing them beginning in the late 1990s. When I see them even today...my spirits lift and I get that feeling of impending FUN is about to happen! We must help save the IRISH HILLS TWIN TOWERS..
What we can do to help is donate any amount to the save the Towers group...every little bit matters...
In the early 1920s, the Michigan Observation Company sought places of high elevation to erect 50-foot-high (15 m) enclosed platforms to boost tourism. In southern Michigan, a tower was placed atop Bundy Hill in Hillsdale County and officials sought a knoll in the heart of the Irish Hills in Lenawee County.
A farmer who owned half of the knoll, Edward Kelly, turned down the company's offer to purchase his portion of the land. The adjoining land owner, Thomas Brighton consented to the sale of his plat, and construction of the Irish Hills Observatory commenced.
The opening of the Irish Hills Observatory was announced by The Brooklyn Exponent in September 1924. In a gala celebration on October 4 and October 5, hundreds of people ascended the hill and tower to gaze upon the rolling landscape and crystal blue lakes in all directions.
Kelly seemed spited by the exploitation of the MOCs venture, and protested by erecting his own tower. By the end of November, 1924, his own observation platform was in place, just feet away from the MOCs structure, and several feet higher.
The Michigan Observation Company responded by adding a second observation enclosure to the top of its own facilities, now designated as the Original Irish Hills Tower. Kelly proceeded to add a raised platform to his "Gray" tower (named as such because of its gray-painted exterior), an act which brought the two edifices to an even height.
The MOC informed Kelly that if he attempted to compete with more height given to his tower, they would tear down their own and construct a metal observatory so large that Kelly's efforts would be nullified. He conceded, and turned his efforts instead to drawing more revenue to his creation.
The Irish Hills Towers operated as separate and competitive entities through the 1950s, when Frank Lamping acquired both and connected them with a gift shop at the ground floor. They briefly closed in the late 1960s, and refurbished in 1972 by Allen Good. They were given new observation platforms and as a result attained a near identical look.
The Irish Hills Towers closed to the public at the end the summer of 2000.