Bringing History to Life!

In July 2017, the Chassell Township Planning Commission sent out a survey to township residents seeking their input for its 5-Year Recreation Plan. Over 70% of residents were found to be in favor of rustic walking or running trails. With this input in mind, a key priority set in the 2018 to 2023 plan included the enhancement of the recreational trail system, including both the potential development of a fitness trail as well as an historic interpretive trail on the former site of the Sturgeon River Lumber Company and Worcester Lumber Company that operated along Pike Bay from 1888 to 1902 and 1902 to 1929, respectively. Planning Commission member Doug Hamar who owns the mill site conceived the idea of creating the historic trail to help residents connect with this important part of Chassell’s past and as way for them to be more physically active.

In 2019, Chassell Township and the Chassell Historical Organization developed a relationship with James Schwaderer, a PhD candidate in the Industrial Archeology department at Michigan Technological University to start planning for the project. This partnership also included the involvement of Marco Guidotti, the history teacher at the Chassell Township Schools, and his students to do research and develop the content for the interpretive signs to be placed along the trail. Learn more about how this project got started by watching this Spring 2019 episode of Discovering starting at 14:02:

With a private funding commitment to support the construction of the boardwalk and production of the interpretive signs, steps are currently being taken to prepare for the construction of 400 feet of boardwalk across the wetland portion of the trail. Early last week, Doug Hamar, James Schwaderer, Dan Palosaari, and I walked the proposed location of the trail to confirm its location in preparation for brushing and chainsawing. On Thursday and Friday of last week, Julie and I cleared a corridor for sawyers to start their work this week.

On Tuesday, my fellow North Country Trail volunteer sawyers Mark Roberts, John Diebel, and Ken Rubin joined me for a morning of chainsawing. This involved cutting up fallen trees, cutting down dead standing trees, and cutting through tag alder and other scrub trees to provide a clear path for the trail and the unobstructed construction of the boardwalk.

On Tuesday afternoon, Marco brought a dozen of his history students out to the mill site to clear the trees and brush that had been cut from the trail and to learn more about the project.

Marco's students will be continuing their work this school year on the interpretive signs for the trail with James’ assistance with final review by the Chassell Historical Organization. Once an EGLE permit is approved, 400 feet of boardwalk will be constructed through the wetland portion of the trail by DP Construction.

It is exciting to see this project shifting from a vision to implementation and to see the spirit of volunteerism at work that Doug referenced in his comments during the Discovering episode. We can’t say thank you enough to the project’s volunteers and especially to Doug and our private funder for making this project possible to bring history to life!

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