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Mason County Memories

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david k petersen

Article 347 Ludington State park History Column Dave Petersen My wife and I were out at the park this week and walked around a bit and looking over some of the changes since we had been there last. We took advantage of the new program to purchase a license tag with the State Park access with our license renewal. Someone in State Government came up with a good idea I think, something that doesn't seem to happen as much as we sometimes hope. The park is nestled between Hamlin Lake and lake Michigan and continues north until it joins up with the Manistee National Forest. The 5300 acres that comprise the park are beautiful and it is truly the gem in Mason Counties crown. I spent a lot of time out there during my high school years, and even spent one summer working for Ralph Morrell helping with the crafts program and some of the other activities. This year though it is not only Hamlin Township's sesquicentennial it is the 75th anniversary of the creation of the State Park in Ludington and I thought I'd share some of the postcard views provided by Carol Elve from her collection. If you have photographs to share with our readers please contact me at 757-3240, e-mail to davep@blackcreekpress.com, or mail in care of the Ludington Daily News, P.O. Box 340, Ludington, MI, 49431 Pic1 A nice long view looking towards the Dam, note the area to the left which is an open space and undeveloped and the majesty of the dune in the back of the Dam. Every time I look at the Dam I think of those kids who would slide down the cement dividers. Being a person who swims like a rock (straight to the bottom) not something I would do but they looked like they were having fun. Pic2 Call me sentimental but I like the old style rustic bridges that spanned the river out at the Park for years. The new bridge is probably very practical but it just doesn't have the same feel to it that the old one did. Pic3 Another view of Hamlin Lake looking north from the Dam. The area to the left in this picture is where the beach was created and where the picnic area, store and canoe and boat rentals are now. Pic4 Lost Lake and the Lost Lake trail has some of the shelters and some interesting little bridges across the water here and there which makes it a fun walk. The shelters were built during the CCC camp days at the Park along with the Beach House. The Park's creation and opening were during the times when the CCC was in full operation. Young men came from all over Michigan and lived and worked in the Park. They were also required to send a significant portion of their pay home to their parents during the depression. Pic5 Everyone is familiar with the present ridge and the river's route and exit into lake Michigan but it was not always so. At one time the river curved and went around the dunes near the present Pines Campground and made its ext near the Lifesaving Station to the north. One of the times that the Dam broke the waters picked up buildings and carried them out into Lake Michigan where they broke up. Pic6 A nice close up view of the Dam, it's a serene and quiet place now, but imagine for a moment the whir of the saw and the scores of men working at the mill. Think about logs so thick n the lake that the Lahaye children could run from one side to the other over the top of the logs. Once it was a logging community filled with the sounds of industry. Today though there is still a community there, it is filled with the sounds of families having fun. With a lot of luck maybe I can write the sesquicentennial article for the Park in 2086.

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