Adapted from an article by Norma McAllister from the Dexter Historical Society.
At one time, it was the thing to do when visiting the Portage Lake Area; climb Peach Mountain.
Said to be the highest peak in Southern Michigan, it was once called Prospect Hill. At the foot of the hill is the site of what was once to be a great city. The Saratoga of the West founded by a New York actor, Gardner Lillibridge. The dream city never materialized. On its site, many years later, was located the Newport Bathing Beach, built by Birkett Newkirk, grandson of Thomas Birkett.
Many acres of land, including old Prospect Hill, was purchased by Thomas Birkett after his arrival in America from England. Near what is now Dexter-Pinckney Road and Bell Road he built his pretentious home. It was there that he first worked in a mill and later purchased the mill.
Among the many projects undertaken by Mr. Birkett was the planting of Peach Trees on Prospect Hill where they flourished for some time. From then on, the hill became known as Peach Mountain.
For years, it had been a popular place for weiner roasts, Boy Scout hikes, and other activities. From atop the "mountain" one could see all about the country side.
Finally, the land was sold to the University of Michigan and here today is located the observatory. Gone are most of the peach trees, but the name remains and the land has been put to good use.
View of Big and Little Portage Lakes from Peach Mountain taken in 1922