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Annual Christmas Meeting: “When the Big Trees Fell”
December 10, 2017 @ 2:00 pm - 4:30 pm
Speaker: Al Eicher
Two hundred years ago, the early pioneers of the Michigan territory wrote about the majestic forests, the tall white pines, and the great oaks. Early expeditions and survey teams commissioned by the Congress of the new Union of States, reported Michigan lands were dense marshes and soil conditions were not fit for farming. The value of the timber was not considered.
Our lecture series on the history of lumbering in Michigan covers the first settlements and earliest forms of lumber harvesting. We use an historic outline to progress from hand hewn logs to finished lumber. ..from water powered mills to the 1883 steam engines which powered most of the sawmills throughout lower Michigan.
By the mid 1850’s, most of the people in Michigan lived south of line from Grand Rapids to Port Huron. At this time, 600 lumber camps employed a wonderful mix of humanity. Germans, Swedes, Poles, Italians, Norwegians, and Native Americans. The woodsmen performed a variety of tasks as riverhogs, buckers, swampers, limbers, and cookees helper. Our video portion of the lecture shows historic movie footage and photos of this period in Michigan’s history.