JUST FIVE MINUTES WEST OF CADILLAC, MICHIGAN
OPEN DAILY 10:00 A.M. - 6:00 P.M. MEMORIAL DAY THROUGH LABOR DAY
Manton Tribune-Record, Manton
September 20, 1967
JOHNNY’S WILD GAME AND FISH PARK
It was on Tuesday, September 13, 1966, when TV commentator Ron Gamble featured in south and movie at 7:00 p.m. on Detroit Channel 4, a Cadillac Area outdoor attraction.
Johnny’s Wild Game and Fish Park had come into its own, a place where grown-ups and kiddies could enjoy and make acquaintance with the wonderful world of domestic and wild life animals. It was a serene and well-documented story, which unfolded a “paradise” hidden in a wooded area, a five-minute drive from Cadillac.
The following weekend forty-seven families from Detroit made the trip up to Johnny’s Park. This year well over 10,000 visitors have enjoyed its many attractions. The attendance record shows that in 1966 people came from 432 cities, 20 states and three foreign countries. This year’s record has not as yet been tabulated.
Back in 1955, Herb Johnson, a Cadillac restaurateur, had an idea which, at that time, was nothing but the beginning of a hobby. He owned a “big piece of wilderness” off Tobacco Road, close to its intersection with East county road 44. This area was also known as part of the head waters for big Pine River. It was a natural location for what Herb had in mind, a perfect spot for a fish pond and a sanctuary for many species of wildlife.
During the years that followed, Herb’s hobby grew into a project. One thing brought on something else and by 1964 Johnny, as he is affectionately known , open by public request his Game and Fish Park to everybody.
The park covers a 13-acre fenced in area where families can mingle with scores of wild and domestic animals or fish for trout. His animal kingdom includes White Tail, Fallow and Sika deer, five kinds of pheasants, Canadian geese, wild turkeys, wild mallards, quail, wild partridge, red fox, turkeys, guinea hens, goats, lambs, guinea pigs, coon, wild rabbits, and Moskovy ducks, and even a couple of pussy cats.
Three trout ponds, each stocked with several thousand trout, are available for fishing. In addition, there are three rearing ponds with some 50,000 fingerlings which eventually will be transferred to the fishing ponds.
For those who are botanically interested, more than fifty varieties of trees add to the beauty of the landscape.
It is quite an experience to watch the children tenderly stroking the animals and have them nibble corn out of their hands. Only a child can cherish the true association with wildlife and the many wonderful tales from storybooks. In listening in on the parting remarks when the families are leaving the park, one can well understand its growing popularity.