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Mason County Memories

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Article 295 History Column Dave Petersen Butters and Peters This week we will continue with some additional photographs related to the logging operations of Butters and Peters. There are a few images here that are quite rare and some that logging fans will recognize. Overall all though they make a nice collective story of a long past era of history in our county. Pic1 This is an early view of what appears to be the Pere Marquette River landing at Stearns Siding before the main operation was moved to the north to be closer to the railroad line. Stearns Siding was just over the county line in Lake County and was founded by Justus Stearns. Each lumber company would brand their logs and send them down the river where they would be sorted and sent to booms for each of the mills. Pic2 Plated in 1880 by Horace Butters the village of Tallman was a planned community. Often the shanty towns that sprang up around the mills were haphazardly laid out without much planning or thought. Up to 500 men worked around the village of Tallman and any of them could build a house on a lot there and live free as long as they worked for the company. Pic3 The offices of Butters and Peters can be seen in what appears to be another view of Tallman. Originally named Wever the name was abandoned because another town already claimed the name. The village was then named after a cousin, H Tallman who loaned the concern the final 10,000.00 needed for startup capital. Pic4 The Mason & Oceana appears to have jumped the tracks and overturned in this circa 1890 view along the narrow gauges line. These fellows seem to be saying hurry up and get your picture so we can get back to work. Work it was, much of it accomplished with sheer brawn of man and animal. Pic5 Another view of the Butters and Peters logging crews posing for posterity. Note the Big Wheels an invention by Silas Overpack of Manistee to help move large logs through the woods to the tracks or rivers for ease of transportation to the mills. These mammoth wheels were ten feet in diamater and were shipped through out the country. Pic6 These lumberjacks are loading logs near Peachville on the Mason Oceana Railroad line operated by Butters and Peters. Peachville was just over the line into Oceana County. The plan was to extend the railroad to Grand Rapids but between the demise of the great forests of white pines and other financial difficulties the expansion was never completed. Now all that remains of the M&O are grassy grades where tracks once ran, the train's steam whistle and sounds of the axe are long since gone.

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