We're are the Lumbertown! It still permeates just about every corner of our community. From the historic homes of the moguls who ran the largest lumber operations to the bottoms of the lakes where timber that sunk can still be found, our logging era made Muskegon at one point in time one of the most concentrated areas for millionaires in the world. All the way up the West Coast the saws buzzed, the workers gave their blood sweat and tears and our first "boom" came when Chicago had a fire and we answered with providing the wood it took to rebuild.
We've had a couple more "booms" since. The foundry days, war production ...and as we face the next few years, we're watching the emergence of a new and vibrant Downtown along with a growing housing market as well as population base and many think the next "boom" will be tourism. Who knows, 100 years form now, someone might be sitting writing a story about out times.
That lumber boom came wit some costs of course. One was transportation. Getting that wood to the mills and down where it was needed from the logging camps wasn't as easy as it seems to be today. For the record, there's nothing easy about logging then or now. But, back then they had to rely on things like hydro power to not only move the trees but to run the mills and make the product. Moving the trees was a dangerous and difficult undertaking and if something got in the way, well, the times dictated that it got taken care of no matter the cost. There wasn't a lot of foresight, but there wasn't a lot of time for it either. If a part of a river couldn't handle the log flow, they looked for ways to make a river run faster and deeper and in the case of getting the logs through our area, making that happen meant closing off one portion of a river to move the water to another to streamline the moving. This meant a dam for the Maple River.
It all begins up at Higgins Lake. The Muskegon River Watershed begins all the way up there in the Houghton Lake area and winds it's way down to us. The Muskegon River Watershed Assembly is an organization that, from their website - " is dedicated to the preservation, protection, restoration, and sustainable use of the Muskegon River, the land it drains, and the life it supports, through educational, scientific and conservation initiatives." Not long ago, some of the people from the Watershed Assembly came to Cedar Creek Township to discuss their work that began in 2005 to restore this river in our county and bring back to life 6 miles of an eco-system that's been idle for nearly 100 years. In that time, not only has the eco-system suffered, but area residents have had to deal with excessive flooding and the habitat of the wildlife and fish has been absent. As the team from the Assembly made their pitch, I stood behind the camera intrigued enough to realize that it's probably a once in a lifetime experience to see a river come back to life, and I should probably dig a little more.
This is where I met Dr. Marty Holtgren and Scott Faulkner, Executive Director of the Watershed Assembly and said "Boys, we are going to need to talk about this" and they happily obliged. Yes it's been in the planning stages since 2005 and yes, it's still got a lot of hurdles and funding to find, but to be there at that moment and have the opportunity to grab a story that we can follow with you for some time to come, it was too good to be true. Meet Marty and Scott and hear where this miracle in Muskegon is heading.
This is truly a once in a lifetime happening. To watch a river be "reborn" after 100 years is not only significant for all of the life around it, it's significant in the idea of who we are as a community. We're evolving. We're growing. We did what had to be done, when it was needed but through all we've endured, the idea of "Watch us Go" has never been stronger. Be it the Native grains or just the right spot for fish, the evolution of Muskegon is coming full circle and we've got a front row seat for it. Buildings are great. Business is awesome. People are fun and even through the worst pandemic since the closed the Maple River in the first place, we've managed. Now, we get to watch something come back to the way it should be. This is a project to rejoice in and watch the splendor unfold. We've every intention of being right here to show you the progression every step of the way.
To see the presentation made at the Cedar Creek Township Trustee Meeting, click below.