County Seat Newspaper
of Clare County

20 Lakes in 20 Minutes Sign: Then and Now


Most people who are familiar with Harrison have heard the phrase and the area’s claim to fame, “20 Lakes in 20 Minutes.” A sign with arrows pointing in the general direction of those 20 lakes has been on First Street in Harrison for over 70 years.

The first mention of the slogan “20 Lakes in 20 Minutes” in the newspaper is in a 1933 Cleaver article. It touts the areas trout streams, lakes and natural beauty.

The “20 Lakes” sign at Murton Oil Company was branded with their name and the Texaco brand. They also sold Firestone brand tires and offered tire repair. The Murton station also had a slogan of their own which was “Be Certain, See Murton.” And “Harrison’s Downtown Station.”

The original sign was created by Thelma Hubbell, artist and longtime Murton Oil Co. employee. It was located near the station across the street from the State Saving Bank in the area near the current Rite Aid parking lot. The bank can be seen in the oldest photo of the sign.

The “20 Lakes in 20 Minutes” slogan was originally coined by Harrison resident J.M. Van Deusen but widely used by real estate developer James A. D’arcy. D’arcy used the slogan in advertisements selling small cabins and lots in subdivisions he developed.

James A. D’Arcy purchased a large tract of land from the Weatherhead family, and it was platted into the Weatherhead-Hughes subdivision and included all the lake lots north and south from Hughes Point on Budd Lake. D’Arcy developed the unique idea of selling cabins and lots as a package deal. The affordable, ready-made vacation getaway between $495 and $795 was marketed to factory workers in the Detroit area. D’Arcy also originally developed the Snow Snake Mountain Ski Resort in the late 1940s.

D'Arcy also developed the Piney Woods subdivision just north of Harrison. The draw for these small cabins was the proximity to lakes and state land.

Many of those popular properties were seasonal cabins called “wooden tents”. An uninsulated cabin just a step above camping in a tent for comfort. Five of this style of prefabricated cabins were on Hughes Point in Harrison which over the years have all been replaced with beautiful lakeside homes.

Clare County actually has over 90 lakes. Many of which are just a short distance from Harrison, the county seat of Clare County.


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